Friday, August 31, 2012

Deflecting blame

Two weeks ago in South Africa, police fired into a crowd of striking mineworkers. Thirty-four miners ended up dead.

The police claimed the miners, on strike against a London-based mining company, charged at them with guns and machetes. The police claimed they had no choice but to open fire. Others have claimed that the violence was a result of a struggle between an established miners' union and an upstart that represented miners at the Marikana mine.

Now the government has come down on the miners, charging 270 miners with the murder of their co-workers. Prosecutors allege that the 270 men acted with a common purpose and that their actions led to the deaths of the 34 miners shot by police.

The men, none of whom are alleged to have fired a shot, were denied bail.

None of the police officers who killed the miners have been charged.
"The policemen who killed those people are not in custody, not even one of them. This is madness." 
There's something seriously wrong when the men who fired the shots are free while the men who were fired at are sitting in a jail cell awaiting their next court appearance. By blaming the striking miners, the government is able to distract the public's attention from the way in which the might of the state was used to crush a worker's rebellion.

Instead of the issue being the exploitation of workers and the transfer of wealth out of the country by a foreign corporation, the focus is now on the conduct of the striking miners. Instead of questioning the control of local resources by a foreign company, the public's attention is focused on whether the miners doth protested too much.

All around the world, and throughout history, those who control the means of production have used the force of the state to try to break the resolve of the working class. The police, whose mantra is to protect and serve, do in fact protect and serve their masters.

The government's actions are nothing more than a capitulation before the forces of international capital. The rule of law is tossed on its head and replaced with, as Mr. Gamso would note, the law of rule. The state charges the miners with murder because it can and allows the killers to walk free because it can.

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