May Day 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada: More Rhetoric from a Union Rep: The Case of the President of the Ontario Public Services Employee Union (OPSEU), J.P. Hornick, Part Two: Do Corrections Officers Protect Us?


In my previous post in this two-part series, I showed that J.P. Hornick, the relevatively new president of the Ontario Public Services Employees Union (OPSEU) holds social-reformist or social-democratic views. I showed that she used the social-reformist and euphemistic phrases, such as “fair contract” and “good jobs”–which the management rights clause contradicts.

I thought it appropriate to post the second part of the series now because Ms. Hornick appears to be a militant union leader who defends the rights of workers. She does indeed defend the rights of workers–to bargain collectively–but not their right to be free of exploitation and oppression (see Solidarity with Union Members–and an Occasion for Discussing the Limitations of Collective Bargaining: The Ontario Ford Government’s Legislation to Force CUPE Education Workers to Abandon Their Strike).

Further evidence of her reformist views is her praise of the work of correction officers–whom she believes “keep us safe” in some fashion.

From  , dated May 3, 2022:

Honouring our Corrections members this week – and every week

Corrections Division logo (keys crossed)

It’s Correctional Services Staff Recognition Week, and we feel privileged to lead a union that represents thousands of these dedicated professionals.

OPSEU/SEFPO members include correctional officers, probation and parole officers, Nurses and Social workers, recreation and administrative staff. They put their lives at risk every day to keep Ontarians safe.

We were honoured to attend the Correctional Services Ceremony of Remembrance on Tuesday at the Ontario legislature, a tribute to Corrections workers who have died on the job. [my emphasis]

Our members care deeply about their communities, and it does not stop at the end of the workday.   OPSEU/SEFPO’s members created a Corrections Cares campaign recently, where they have raised money and collected food for community support groups.

OPSEU/SEFPO has for years warned of a crisis in the Corrections system. Understaffing and crumbling infrastructure have put the health and safety of both inmates and staff at risk.

In addition to the day-to-day challenges of working in Corrections, our members have had to contend with COVID-19. Some of our members have contracted COVID more than once during the pandemic.

Thanks to our union’s efforts, progress has been made, but so much more remains to be done. Most institutions continue to house far more inmates than they were ever designed to hold. The proportion of Correctional Officers to offender population continues to pose serious risks, leading to overwork, stress and burnout.  Probation and Parole are constantly having to juggle higher caseloads with inadequate staff.

As the Correctional Bargaining Unit is in the midst of negotiating a new collective agreement, we again demand that the government repeal Bill 124 [which “generally limits annual salary increases to one per cent for many parts of the public sector in the province” of Ontario]. Corrections is an inherently hazardous occupation. Working conditions are among the worst imaginable. If we wish to attract and retain correctional workers, they must be paid commensurately with the exceptional risks they take every single day on the job. [my emphasis] 

OPSEU/SEFPO will back its Corrections members at every step of the way with every possible professional and financial support. We are determined to ensure get the kind of contract that properly reflects their professionalism, integrity and contributions.

During Correctional Services Staff Recognition Week, OPSEU/SEFPO joins every Ontarian in thanking Corrections workers for their courageous and selfless work to keep us safe [my emphasis]

In solidarity,

JP Hornick, OPSEU/SEFPO President
Laurie Nancekivell, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer

This evident defense of corrections officers (prison guards) is interesting. Why the emphasis on corrections officers and not, say, on nurses (another profession which OPSEU represents)?

Questionable Assumptions

False Assumption 1: Unions Have the Power to Force Employers to Act Safely

Perhaps Ms. Hornick could provide research that substantiates that corrections officers’ work is much more dangerous than most workplaces. It may be the case, but  suassumptions should be looked at in relation to the issue of the health and safety of workers (and of citizens, immigrants and migrant workers). Thus, she wrote a message (dated April 27, 2022) for the April 28 Canadian National Day of Mourning of those who have died or been injured at work (

Day of Mourning 2022: OPSEU/SEFPO remembers lives lost

April 27, 2022 – 11:33 am
Awareness Days, Health and safety
Workplace health and safety is one of the fundamental reasons unions exist, so that every worker feels safe and protected while doing their jobs. On this Day of Mourning, we remember those who were killed on the job because of workplace incidents, and we also stand in solidarity with those who have been injured due to workplace hazards.

Day of Mourning is observed annually on April 28. This day also commemorates the United Nations’ World Day for Safety and Health at Work, marked to highlight the importance of accident and disease prevention at work and to foster strong Occupational Health and Safety workplace cultures.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated workplace health and safety hazards in Ontario and around the world. It has increased the stress of our members working on the frontlines of the pandemic. They’ve faced increased risks and it has taken a mental and emotional toll.

OPSEU/SEFPO stands with our allies to honour those who were killed as well as those injured on the job. We must continue to work together to make sure Occupational Health and Safety legislation and workplace policies are strengthened and enforced. As safety risks increase, employers must work with us to ensure that the necessary protections keep pace.

We will continue to keep health and safety a top priority in every conversation with employers and the government, because all workers deserve to feel safe in their workplaces and return to their loved ones when the work day is done.

Find Day of Mourning events across Ontario that you can take part in.

In solidarity,

JP Hornick, OPSEU/SEFPO President

Laurie Nancekivell, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer

This is typical union rhetoric. Should workers not ask whether “Occupational Health and Safety legislation and workplace policies” actually provide protection–aka safety? Unions undoubtedly have provided some protection from death, injury and disease, but their power to do so should not be exaggerated.

Let me quote a union rep in relation to health and safety as quoted from Steven Bittle’s doctoral dissertation, Still Dying for a Living: Shaping Corporate Criminal Liability After the Westray Mine Disaster. The quote is in the context of legislation to make it a criminal offence for corporations to harm workers (ultimately diluted, of course). Page 202:

Another union representative expressed concern [with the proposed government legislation] that unions can be held responsible for workplace accidents, noting that unions and employees have little decision-making control with the organization:

…basically we wanted the legislation to go after corporate bosses, basically, because
they’re the ones that make the decisions. At the end of the day any decision that’s
made on anything to do with the business comes about as a result of management’s
decision. It doesn’t come about because of a union decision. We wish, but it doesn’t.
They have the ultimate authority to manage, and that authority is only restricted by
terms of a collective agreement, and in very few cases, maybe in terms of regulations or legislation. So we were hoping that it would focus more on criminal liability for those that have the power to make decisions. But in reality what it does is that it will hold anybody accountable if the investigation shows there was any part played in any particular incident by anybody from the janitor right up to the CEO. Now some people will argue, why not? Well normally, in my experience in almost forty years, is that any decision made by the janitor is usually something that is usually handed down from above, right. And there are very few cases where you could actually cite where somebody at that level had any type of malicious intent to do anything to cause harm “(Union representative, Interview 12).

Ms. Hornick simply engages in union rhetoric and does not address the fact, as the union rep above admits, that workers–whether unionized or not–have limited say over their own health and safety.Working for an employer is often dangerous and leads to injury–and sometimes death.

How is the work of corrections officers any different in this respect? Let Ms. Hornick provide concrete statistics to substantiate her assumption that corrections officers are subject to “the exceptional risks they take every single day on the job.” I doubt that she has looked at any such statistics. She assumes, without question, that correcions officers’ lives are more subject to risks” (why else use the adjective “exceptional”)? Such is the nature of the rhetoric of leaders of unions these days.

Interlude: The Prison System and the Property System in Which We Live

Let us look at the prison system, briefly. Obviously there is some truth in the function of prisons as protective; there are people who are violent and would probably do harm to others if they were not controlled in some way (Trump comes to mind). However, to appreciate the nature of prisons, it is necessary to link them up to the kind of society in which we live.

Most people in Canada and in many other countries need to work for an employer in order to obtain money. Some people–like me–do not want to work for an employer since, among other reasons, they find having to do so to be in effect a denial of our freedom to choose; in effect, having to work for an employer is a dictatorship (see for example Employers as Dictators, Part One). Being treated as a means for other person’s ends (see The Money Circuit of Capital) is hardly an expression of freedom; rather, it is an expression of a dicatorship.

For some of those people who find working for an employer to be disgusting, it would seem preferable to seek alternative means of obtaining money and hence an alternative means to live. Many legitimate alternative means to live have been gradually eliminated, leaving the need to engage in the exchange process with an employer as the primary means by which to obtain the means to live.

Exchange involves mutual recognition of the right of the other to own the property that is offered for exchange. In other words, it excludes direct coercion to obtain what one needs. You must have something to offer the other party that that party to the exchange relation wants  if you are to obtain what the other party owns.

Here is where the police, law, the courts, prisons and of course corrections officers enter the picture. In general, a system of general exchange has two forms of law to deal with breaches of exchange: civil law and criminal law.

Civil law deals with any breach of the exchange relation (or contract), and it usually applies to breaches between individual parties to a contract. A typical example these days is the credit card. Let us say that you use the credit card to purchase food at a grocery store. By using the credit card, you have implicitly agreed to pay the company that issued the credit card money after a certain time. If you fail to do so, the company can take you to civil court, and if proven, the court can force you to pay the company (unless you declare bankruptcy–which is another issue). You, legally, freely entered into an implicit contract with the company, and by breaching the contract, the civil court is forcing you to hold up your end of the bargain. The issue is a particular breach of contract between you and the company; you have not breached the general structure of exchange relations and the principles on which they are based.

Criminal law and criminal courts and crimes, on the other hand, deal generally with breaches of the general structure and the principles of exchange, which includes but is not limited to the employer-employee relation. This general structure and principles of exchange constitute the basic conditions for the class power of employers, the economic dependence of workers on employers and economic coercion since it is in and through exchange that workers are exploited and oppressed. (Undoubtedly, the distinction between civil law and criminal law is more complicated than this, but this initial distinction is useful for outlining the essential functions of police and corrections officers as defenders of exploitative and oppressive relations.)

The criminal system thus protects a property system that results in the exploitation and oppression of workers. That some people may become violent in such a system in order to achieve their ends, of course, then involves a demand, not only by employers but also by workers, of some form of protection from such violence. However, since the violence perpetrated by the class structure (such as the killing and injury of workers on the job) is not generally addressed by such a system, the police, the courts, the prison system–and correction officers– do not effectiely protect workers, citizens, immigrants and migrant workers from the dangers they face in such a society.

Prisons do not protect workers, citizens, immigrants and migrant workers from such violence. Do they, however, protect us from violent criminals?

Let us first look at the issue of whether prisons protect us from the dangers characteristic of a society dominated by a property system that protects the property of a class of employers.

False Assumption 2: The Legal System Protects Us Against the Dangers That We Face in Our Lives

Ms. Hornick’s rhetoric of corrections officers ‘keeping us safe” flies in the face of the real dangers that we face–real dangers that arise from a system driven by the class power of employers which, ultimately, is for the pursuit of profit. From Harry Glasbeek (2018), Capitalism: A Crime Story:

Law’s different definition of risk in non-capitalist

Welfare in terms of what people need to be safe and healthy plays no special role, certainly not a central role, in the normal practices of capitalism. If the central goal of production was not profit but the satisfaction of needs rather than wants, that is, if it was to meet people’s essential necessities rather than their desires (inbred or stimulated), the business plan of producers (even if still private) would be quite different. Some of the principal needs to be satisfied by the productive activity would
be the health and safety of the workers, of their communities, and of their physical and cultural environments. The balance between risk-creation and outcome would be totally different than it is under capitalism. There would still be injuries and harms, but they would be different both in kind and
number: the rate and kinds of “accidents” and “spills” would be totally different

Workplace and environmental injuries, diseases and deaths are linked to the class power of employers and the pursuit of profit, but they are not considered “violent crimes.” From Glasbeek:

She [Lisa Heinzerling, a writer on ethics and environmental law] notes the extent of some of the actual harms caused by ethical inattention and records that unchecked, uncalculated, but
checkable and calculable, impacts of for-profit activities, such as mining, mean that “fine particulates in the ambient air kill tens of thousands of people every year in the United States alone … 26% increase in premature deaths are attributed to fine-particulate air pollution … [and that] widely used chemicals such as vinyl chloride pose risks of lethal cancers and other diseases … greenhouse gases [also have grave impacts on health and welfare].”86

There are many similar data that strongly suggest that not taking precautions when there is a practically foreseeable certainty that harm will ensue inflicts a lot of injuries and environmental and other ills on society. Take, for instance, a summary compiled by David Whyte of the U.K. reports on the incidence of health and safety harms. His overview led him to conclude that

managements are responsible—and are legally liable—for the majority of deaths caused by working … we can say with little doubt that the minority of deaths caused by working can be regarded purely as “misfortunes” or “accidents” which were not avoidable … the majority of deaths at work do not result from “out of control” or haphazard circumstances, but are the result of decisions or non-decisions that could … be traced to the authors of those decisions. [emphases added by Glasbeek]

The infliction of potentially foreseeable deaths and harms short of death by routinely exercised inattention,87 by failures to act as the ethics and morality espoused by an idealized liberal society dictate, is commonplace in capitalism.

Worldwide, the actual harm characteristic of a society dominated by a class of employers undoubtedly remains one of the hidden facts which Ms. Hornick simply ignores. From Glasbeek:

Unlike fighters or hockey or football players, who all run a very similar risk of being the injured party as a result of the violence of their interaction, this is markedly not the case when the risks to workers,
consumers, communities, and the environment are created by capitalists and their corporations. Among the two million deaths, 270 million injuries, and 160 million occupational related diseases inflicted per annum worldwide, a miniscule number are suffered by employers. Of the millions of people adversely affected by pollution arising from profit-maximizing activities, the overwhelming majority are not profit-maximizers. Rather, they are people who cannot live on top of the hills, away from the prevailing winds, in wooded lands, or more pointedly, they are people who live in the
economically impoverished parts of the globe; they are non-capitalists and, among them, the poorest are likely to suffer the most.97 In capitalism, the risk of harm does not constitute an equal opportunity terrain. The riskcreators are not the risk-takers. In capitalism everything is upside-down. The point being belaboured is that, even when regulated capitalists search for profits within the boundaries set by regulations, their conduct is criminal in nature as they are allowed to continue to inflict harms on non-consenting individuals. Capitalism’s legitimacy should always be in issue.

What is the situation in Canada? As I pointed out in another post:

More than 1000 employees die every year in Canada on the job, and about 630,000 are injured every year (Bob Barnetson, 2010, The Political Economy of Workplace Injury in Canada. Edmonton: Athabasca University Press, p. 2). The same year as the publication of that work saw 554 homicides (Tina Mahonny, 2011, Homicide in Canada, 2010. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, p. 1) —the number of employee deaths at work under the power of employers was around double the number of murders.

Murders are the focus of the social media and the criminal legal system. Inquiries into murders do occur, and some are very thorough. On the other hand, inquiries into the extent to which the pursuit of profit played a major role in the death of employees (or the extent to which the undemocratic nature of work of public-sector employers) are lacking. There is an implicit assumption that such deaths are acceptable and the cost of living in the modern world. Should not those concerned with social justice query such an assumption? Is there much discussion concerning the facts? Or is there silence over such facts?

But Hornick does not call into question capitalism’s legitimacy. Rather, through her rhetoric, clichés or abstract slogans of “fair contracts” (see my previous post in this series, May Day 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada: The Case of the President of the Ontario Public Services Employee Union (OPSEU), J.P. Hornick, Part One: A Fair Contract)  and corrections officers ‘keeping us safe,” she herself contributes to the legitimacy of capitalism. And this from a so-called radical union leader.

False Assumption 3: Prisons Provide Major Protection for Workers, Citizens, Immigrants and Migrant Workers From Violent Crimes

Let us now look at the other question: Whether prisons protect us from violent crimes?

Not much, if at all.

I will use several quotations with brief commentaries by me from Jeremy Reiman’s and Paul Leighton’s book, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison: Ideology, Class, and Criminal Justice (2017) to show what I mean.

From Jeremy Reiman’s and Paul Leighton’s book, pages 40-41:

The Brennan Center concluded that during the 1990s, incarceration had no effect (zero percent) on violent crime and reduced property crime by six percent; from 2000 to 2013, incarceration had no effect (zero percent) on violent crime and reduced property crime by 0.2 percent.79

The models from seven high-quality studies, when updated with new data for subsequent years, showed that between 2000 and 2013 incarceration caused between a four percent decline to a one percent increase in violent crime. This is consistent with the findings of the National Academy of Sciences panel on incarceration, which found that “mandatory minimum sentence and three-strike laws have little or no effect on crime rates,” and with respect to the effect of the overall increase in incarceration, “the evidence suggests it was unlikely to have been large.”80 This distinguished panel of criminologists noted further: “The evidence reviewed in this report reveals that the costs of today’s unprecedented rate of incarceration, particularly the long prison sentences imposed under recent sentencing laws, outweigh the observable benefits.”

The imprisonment binge had only a modest effect on crime rates because American jurisdictions have   always been highly likely to imprison violent offenders, so the increase in incarceration swept up more people with less significant criminal propensities. Incarcerating people who are less dangerous means there is less of
an impact on public safety. Indeed, a substantial number of those admitted to prison were people who had their parole revoked for technical reasons, not because they were charged with or convicted of a new crime.

False (Hidden) Assumption 4: Prisons Protect Us Without Discrimination

Correction officers do not just protect us from those who have committed violent crimes; They disproportionately “protect” us from poor male indigenous youth. Although the following claim would have to be modified by referring to other characteristics–such as being Aboriginal–it probably applies for the most part to the situation in Canada. From Reiman and Leighton, pages 82-83:

This was the Typical Criminal in 1974, but little has changed since. Let us look more closely at the face in today’s criminal justice mirror, and we shall see much the same Typical Criminal.

The person is, first of all, a he. Of 8.8 million persons arrested for crimes in 2014, 73 percent were males. Of persons arrested for violent crimes, 80 percent were men. Second, he is young. More than one-third (36 percent) of men arrested for all crimes were under the age of 25, and the same is true of violent crimes (37 percent). Third, he is predominantly urban.19 Fourth, he is disproportionately black: In 2014, with blacks representing 13 percent of the nation’s population, they made up 38 percent of violent crime arrests and 28 percent of all crime arrests.20 Finally, he is poor. Almost one-third (29 percent) of 2002 jail inmates were unemployed (without full- or part-time work) prior to being arrested, an unemployment rate considerably higher than that of adults in the general population.21 A 2004 study, updated to include inflation through 2014, found that the pre-arrest income of incarcerated males was 41 percent less than comparably aged nonincarcerated men. As the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice reported in 1967, “The offender at the end of the road in prison is likely to be a member of the lowest social and economic groups in the country.”

This is the Typical Criminal feared by most law-abiding Americans. Poor, young, urban,
(disproportionately) black males make up the core of the enemy forces in the crime war. They are seen as a menace, threatening the lives, limbs, and possessions of the law-abiding members of society, necessitating recourse to the ultimate weapons of force and detention in our common defense. This picture is widely shared.

In Canada (from,Manitoba%20and%2076%25%20in%20Saskatchewan.), dated July 14, 2021:

Yet the number of Indigenous people incarcerated in federal prisons has been steadily rising — Indigenous people currently make up 30% of federal inmates despite making up only 5% of the general population in Canada

The class bias of the legal system against the lower layers of the working class  can also be seen in the length of sentences of those who obtain less income or who are unemployed. From Reiman and Leighton, pages 140-141:

Research on adult offenders consistently finds economic discrimination. D’Alessio and Stolzenberg’s study of a random sample of 2,760 Florida offenders found that poor offenders received longer sentences for violent crimes, such as manslaughter, and for morals offenses, such as narcotics possession.100 A study of individuals convicted of drunk driving found that increased education (an indicator of higher economic status) “increase[d] the rate of movement from case filing to probation and decrease[d] the rate of movement to prison.”101

Chiricos and Bales found that, for individuals guilty of similar offenses and with similar prior records,
unemployed defendants were more than twice as likely as their employed counterparts to be incarcerated if found guilty.102 McCarthy noted a similar link between unemployment and greater likelihood of incarceration.103 In his study of 28,315 Southern felony defendants, Champion also found that offenders who could afford private counsel had a greater likelihood of probation and received shorter sentences when incarceration was imposed.104 A study of the effects of implementing Minnesota’s determinate sentencing program shows that socioeconomic bias is “more subtle, but no less real” than before the new program.105

Tillman and Pontell examined the sentences received by individuals convicted of Medicaid-provider fraud in California. Because such offenders normally have no prior arrests and are charged with grand theft, their sentences were compared with the sentences of other offenders convicted of grand theft who also had no prior records. While 37.7 percent of the Medicaid defrauders were sentenced to some jail or prison time, 79.2 percent of the others convicted of grand theft were sentenced to jail or prison. This was so even though the median dollar loss due to the Medicaid frauds was $13,000, more than 10 times the median loss due to the other grand thefts ($1,149). The authors point out that most of the Medicaid defrauders were health professionals, while most of the others convicted of grand theft had low-level jobs or were unemployed. They conclude that “differences in the sentences imposed on the two samples are indeed the result of the different social statuses of their members.”106

Data on racial discrimination in sentencing tell the same story of the treatment of those who cannot afford  the going price of justice. A study of 9,690 males who entered Florida prisons in 1992 and 1993, and who were legally eligible for stricter sentencing under the habitual offender statute, shows that for similar prior records and seriousness of crime, race had a “significant and substantial” effect: Black defendants were particularly disadvantaged “for drug offenses and for property crimes.”107 Based on a total of 40 recent studies of both federal and state data, Spohn concludes that “Black and Hispanic offenders—particularly those who are young, male, or unemployed—are more likely than their white counterparts to be sentenced to prison; they also may receive longer sentences than similarly situated white offenders.”108 The National Academy of Sciences panel on incarceration finds that the racial “disparities are enormous,” not only with incarceration but also capital punishment and life sentences.

Ms. Hornick’s acceptance of the rhetoric that corrections officers mainly “keep us safe” hides the reality of an oppressive racist and classist legal system.

Indeed, as already pointed out above, Hornick plays into the stereotypical view of corrections officers as ‘keeping us safe,” since the real threats that we typically face in the real world are swept under the rug. From Reiman & Leighton,  pages 90-91:

This last point is important. It indicates that we have a mental image not only of the Typical Criminal but also of the Typical Crime. If the Typical Criminal is a young, lower-class male, the Typical Crime is one-on-one harm—where “harm” means physical injury, loss of something valuable, or both. Certainly this is the Typical Crime portrayed on any random sample of police or private-eye shows on television.

Moreover, the media portray violent crime way out of proportion to its occurrence in the real world. One in-depth study of local and cable news found that 30 percent of all stories on news programs were about crime, and half of those were about murder.33 In contrast, murder makes up about 14,000 of the 9.4 million crimes reported to the police.34 Further, popular police TV programs do not show the policing of consumer fraud, environmental pollution, financial crimes, or unsafe workplaces. When Law & Order detectives track down a well-heeled criminal, it is for a one-on-one harm, usually murder.

Notice, then, that TV crime shows focus on the crimes typically committed by poor people, but they do not present these as only committed by poor people. Rather than contradict the Pyrrhic defeat theory, this combination confirms it in a powerful way. The result of this combination is that TV crime shows broadcast a double-edged message: (1) that the one-on-one crimes of the poor are the typical crimes that rich and poor criminals alike commit—thus, they are not caused uniquely by the pressures of poverty; and (2) that the criminal justice system pursues both rich and poor criminals—thus, when the criminal justice system happens mainly to pounce on the poor in real life, it is not from any class bias. By overrepresenting violent, one-on-one crimes, television confirms the commonsense view that these are the crimes that threaten us. Since, in the real world those crimes are disproportionately committed by poor people, the image that it is the poor who pose the greatest danger to law-abiding Americans is projected for all to see.

It is important to identify this model of the Typical Crime because it functions like a set of blinders. It
keeps us from calling an industrial “disaster” a massacre even if 14 men were killed and even if someone is responsible for the unsafe conditions in which they worked and died. One study of newspaper reporting of a food-processing plant fire, in which 25 workers were killed and criminal charges were ultimately brought, concludes that “the newspapers showed little consciousness that corporate violence might be seen as a crime.”35 More recently, the Washington Post reported that the Peanut Corporation of America “knowingly shipped out contaminated peanut butter 12 times in the past two years.” The company’s salmonella-tainted peanuts were linked to 9 deaths and over 700 cases of illness, many requiring hospitalization.36 Media covered the recall of more than four thousand peanut-based products but made no mention of “mass murder” or even “crime,” although federal law makes it a felony to intentionally place adulterated food into commerce. A press conference, at which the victims called for criminal charges, received no attention from mainstream media.37 This is due to our fixation on the model of the Typical Crime. This particular piece of mental furniture so blocks our view that it keeps us from using the criminal justice system to protect ourselves from the greatest
threats to our bodies and possessions.

What keeps an industrial “disaster” from being a mass murder in our eyes is that it is not a one-on-one
harm where the desire of someone (or someones) is to harm someone (or someones) else. An attack by a gang on one or more persons or an attack by one individual on several still fits the one-on-one harm model of interpersonal violence. Once he selects his victim, the rapist, the mugger, or the murderer all want that person to suffer. A executive, on the other hand, does not want his employees to be harmed. He would truly prefer that there be no accident and no injured or dead workers. What he does want is something legitimate. It is what he has been hired to get: maximum profits at minimum costs. If he cuts corners to save a buck, he is just doing his job. If ten men die because he cut corners on safety, we may think him crude or callous but not a murderer. He is, at most, responsible for indirect harm not one-on-one harm. For this, he may even be criminally indictable for violating safety regulations but not for murder. The men are dead as an unwanted consequence of his (perhaps overzealous or under-cautious) pursuit of a legitimate goal. So, unlike the Typical Criminal, he has not committed the Typical Crime and therefore should not be a target of the criminal justice system—or so we generally believe. As a result, men are dead who might be alive now if cutting corners of the kind that leads to loss of life, whether specifically aimed at or not, were treated as murder.

This is our point. Because we accept the belief—encouraged by our politicians’ statements about crime and by the media’s portrayal of crime—that the model for crime is one person specifically and directly trying to harm another, we accept a legal system that leaves us unprotected against much greater dangers to our lives and well-being than those threatened by the Typical Criminal.

This focus on “individual crime” as opposed to the actions of institutions that harm us diverts us from focusing on those institutions and the economic, political and social structures that support them. From Reiman and Leighton pages 177-178:

Any criminal justice system like ours conveys a subtle yet powerful message in support of established
institutions. It does this for two interconnected reasons. First, it concentrates on individual wrongdoers. This means that it diverts our attention away from our institutions, away from consideration of whether our institutions themselves are wrong or unjust or indeed “criminal.”

Second, the criminal law is put forth as the minimum neutral ground rules for any social living. We are taught that no society can exist without rules against theft and violence, and thus the criminal law seems to be politically neutral: the minimum requirements for any society, the minimum obligations that any individual owes his or her fellows to make social life of any decent sort possible. Because the criminal law protects the established institutions (the prevailing economic arrangements are protected by laws against theft, and so on), attacks on those established institutions become equivalent to violations of the minimum requirements for any social life at all. In effect, the criminal law enshrines the established institutions as equivalent to the minimum requirements for any decent social existence—and it brands the individual who attacks those institutions as one who has declared war on all organized society and who must, therefore, be met with the weapons of war. Let us look more closely at this process.

What is the effect of focusing on individual guilt? Not only does this divert our attention from the possible evils in our institutions, but it also puts forth half the problem of justice as if it were the whole problem. To focus on individual guilt is to ask whether the individual citizen has fulfilled his or her obligations to his or her fellow citizens. It is to look away from the issue of whether the fellow citizens have fulfilled their obligations to him or her. To look only at individual responsibility is to look away from social responsibility. Writing about her stint as a “story analyst” for a prime-time TV “real crime” show based on videotapes of actual police busts, Debra Seagal describes the way focus on individual criminals deflects attention away from the social context of crime and how television reproduces this effect in millions of homes daily:

By the time our 9 million viewers flip on their tubes, we’ve reduced fifty or sixty hours of mundane and compromising video into short, action-packed segments of tantalizing, crack-filled, dope-dealing, junkiebusting cop culture. How easily we downplay the pathos of the suspect; how cleverly we breeze past the complexities that cast doubt on the very system that has produced the criminal activity in the first place

Seagal’s description illustrates as well how a television program that shows nothing but videos of actual events can distort reality by selecting and recombining pieces of real events.

A study of 69 TV crime dramas finds that fictional presentations of homicide focus on individual
motivations and ignore social conditions: “Television crime dramas portray these events as specific
psychological episodes in the characters’ lives and little, if any, effort is made to connect them to basic social institutions or the nature of society within which they occur.”15 (Criminology, too, focuses on why individuals break the law, and the study of neighborhoods, cities, and larger regions is “the road not taken.”16)

To look only at individual criminality is to close one’s eyes to social injustice and to close one’s ears to the question of whether our social institutions have exploited or violated the individual. Criminologists James Unnever and Shaun Gabbidon in their important book A Theory of African American Offending link black criminality with a “long history of public dishonor and ritualized humiliation”—including by the criminal justice system—due to racism.17 As a result, African Americans are less likely to have respect for the law and weaker bonds with conventional institutions. Focusing only on individual responsibility obscures the contribution of racism to African American criminality.

Justice is a two-way street—but criminal justice is a one-way street. Individuals owe obligations to their fellow citizens because their fellow citizens owe obligations to them. Criminal justice focuses on the first and looks away from the second. Thus, by focusing on individual responsibility for crime, the criminal justice system effectively acquits the existing social order of any charge of injustice!

This is an extremely important bit of ideological alchemy. It stems from the fact that the same act can be criminal or not, unjust or just, depending on the circumstances in which it takes place. Killing someone is ordinarily a crime, but if it is in self-defense or to stop a deadly crime, it is not. Taking property by force is usually a crime, but if the taking is retrieving what has been stolen, then no crime has been committed. Robin Hood’s thefts from the rich to give to the poor are seen as heroic and just even though the legal system run by the rich declared him a criminal. Further, acts of violence are ordinarily crimes, but if the violence is provoked by the threat of violence or by oppressive conditions, then, like the Boston Tea Party,18 what might ordinarily be called criminal (even terrorist) is celebrated as just.

This means that when we call an act a crime, we are also making an implicit judgment about the conditions in response to which it takes place. When we call an act a crime, we are saying that the conditions in which it occurs are not themselves criminal or deadly or oppressive or so unjust as to make an extreme response reasonable or justified or noncriminal. This means that when the system holds an individual responsible for a crime, it implicitly conveys the message that the social conditions in which the crime occurred are not responsible for the crime, that they are not so unjust as to make a violent response to them excusable.

Although we definitely need to take into account the social context within which society has been or not been responsible towards the individuals who commit crimes, we should also take into account that characterizing them as pure victims is one sided. To be a pure victim of society takes away the capacity and responsibility of individuals to make decisions towards their own social situation and towards others. Thomas Mathiesen (1980) calls the view that those who suffer from societal oppression and exploitation the symptom theory. The opposite theory, which attributes responsibility purely to individual activity, he calls action theory. From  Law, Society and Political Action Towards a Strategy under Late Capitalism, pages 243-244:

… it is also true that the ‘action theory’ which Hollie presents (the expression is mine, as a counterpart to ‘symptom theory’), leads, if that theory remains alone, to a one-sided reform-oriented policy out of touch with the fundamental conditions which necessitate the use of drugs for an increasing number of
people. While Hollie is right in emphasizing that the symptom theory alone is politically pacifying, the action theory alone is obstructive to the political perspective. The action theory is necessary for the mobilization to struggle, the symptom theory (or a refinement of the symptom theory) is necessary for the understanding of the forces one struggles against; neither of the theories is sufficient in itself; both are necessary because both contain elements which together comprise a total truth. Again the combination is implemented this way: the information which a given political action provides about the system which the action opposes is captured and made into common knowledge through continual discussion, so that a continually larger number become more and more alert to the deeper
premises of the system.

Both the victimization of individuals by the class system and the need for individuals to take responsibility for their actions are required–as are discussions of how individual actions against the class system affect that system.

Mathiesen’s distinction between symptom theory and action theory is useful since it addresses the problem of whether social structures completely determine our actions, or whether individuals can be agents of their own actions and change their social circumstances or conditions:

From Mathiesen, page 246:

The insurmountability of the structural barriers presupposes (i.e. has as a necessary and sufficient condition) precisely the political demoralization and passivity which follows from the perspective of
domination if it reigns alone. In other words, the insurmountability of the structural barriers presupposes a phenomenology, on the part of the suppressed with potential power, which emphasizes the futility of opposition. This phenomenology is itself generated by the domination perspective, if it prevails alone. The compelling imperatives of domination, the insurmountable boundaries of the structure, are, on the contrary, in principle able to be abolished if the main condition for domination—the political passivity, the phenomenology of futility—is abolished in those who are suppressed and also have potential power. In society a series of consciousness-producing agencies are established, the function of which is precisely to maintain the ‘domination perspective’ as a single perspective among the suppressed. Thus the surmountability of domination, which exists in principle, is prevented from being materialized.

This does not mean, if we return to the economic level of the mode of production, that the individual capitalist may act very differently from normal if he wishes to survive. Neither does it mean that the individual worker may act very differently if he wishes to survive. For both, individually, the structural barriers constitute insurmouhtable boundaries for action: the capitalist must accumulate
in order to survive; the worker must sell his labour in order to survive. It does tnean, however, that the workers collectively may break the barriers of the structure. In principle and in the end the workers can, if they stand entirely united and ict in unison—nationally and internationally— with one stroke abolish the earlier insurmountable and structural barriers.

It should be sufficient from the above that Hornick deals with rhetoric, cliches or abstract slogans by claiming that correction officers “keep us safe.”

Not only does Hornick, by claiming that corrections officers “keep us safe,” assume that those who are in prison are the real threat to our lives, but she assumes that she (like her fellow former trade-union bureaucrat, Herman Rosenfeld, who refers to the police protecting us from murder and theft  (see Reform versus Abolition of Police, Part Two),there is some homeogenous “we” (direct object form “us” in her “keep us safe”) that are being kept safe by corrections officers (and others, like the police).This is another myth and cliché. From Reiman and Leighton, page 173:

Households with annual income below the poverty level were victims of violent crimes at a rate nearly twice that for high-income households. Indeed, as Table 4.1 shows, rates of victimization by all categories of “common” crime are substantially higher for the poorest segment of the population and drop dramatically as we ascend the economic ladder.

The difference in the rates of property-crime victimization between rich and poor understates the difference in the harms that result. The poor are far less likely than the affluent to have insurance against theft, and because they have little to start with, what they lose to theft takes a much deeper bite out of their ability to meet their basic needs. Needless to add, the various noncriminal harms documented in Chapter 2 (occupational hazards, pollution, poverty, and so on) also fall more harshly on workers and those at the bottom of society than on those at the top.

What is Hornick’s situation? Would she face the same probability of experiencing a crime, violent or non-violent, when compared with the lower levels of the working class? As a professor at the School of Labour, in 1921, she received $116,957.02 + $74.25 in benefits, for a total of $117,031.27 (  Hornick is much less likely to experience crime, however defined, than the lower echelons of the working class. Her reference to the work of corrections officers who “keep US safe,” hides how the legal system is both bias against the lower layers of the working class and their personal actions when compared to the impersonal but violent actions of employers and against the greater likelihood of being incarcerated.

False (Hidden) Assumption 5: Implicit Connection Between the So-Called Exceptional Risks Taken by Corrections Officers and the Risks Taken by Police Officers

When we look at the OPSEU webpage for the event “Corrections Ceremony of Remembrance”  (,Park%20Cres%20E%2C%20Toronto%20ON.), we read the following:

2022 Corrections Ceremony of Remembrance

Corrections Bargaining Unit logo
Tuesday, May 3, 2022
12:00 PM to 1:00 PM

The 2022 Corrections Ceremony of Remembrance, which honours Correctional workers who died in the line of duty, takes place May 3 at 12 noon at Queen’s Park.

The ceremony takes place beside the Ontario Police Memorial Park, at  23 Queen’s Park Cres E, Toronto ON.  Queen’s Park Circle. It is just to the east of the legislative buildings.

It is instructive to note that the place of the memorial for corrections officers who have died at work is “beside the Ontario Police Memorial Park.” This is hardly a coincidence. The memorial for murdered correction officers is obviously meant to be closely tied to murdered police officers. Toronto Police Service

We read the following (http://Ontario Police Memorial – Toronto, Ontario, Canada):

Ontario Police Memorial – Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Ontario Police Memorial

Preserving the memory of fallen officers

The Ontario Police Memorial is dedicated to all of the brave police officers in Ontario’s history who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

The memorial is made up of a bronze statue of a male and female officer standing atop a large granite pedestal. The names of fallen officers are carved into a granite wall – the Wall of Honour – that stands on each side of the pedestal.

The words, “Heroes in Life, Not Death,” are carved on the memorial. This is to recognize that police officers risk their lives, every day, to protect people and neighbourhoods, and deserve the respect and gratitude of the citizens they serve [my emphasis]. The Ontario Police Memorial is in a small park at the corner of Queen’s Park Crescent and Grosvenor Street in Toronto.

Given the intent of making a close tie between murdered correction officers at work and murdered police officers at work, and given that the main function of the police is to maintain social order in an exploitative and oppressive society dominated by a class of employers (see Reform Versus Abolition of the Police, Part 8: The Police and the Political Economy of Capitalism), it is highly likely that the main function of correction officers is also to maintain social order in an exploitative and oppressive society–and not “to protect people and neighbourhoods,” After all, there is an obviously close connection between the power of the  police to arrest and the prison system.


Ms. Hornick’s political tendency is towards social reformism at best. She makes a number of false assumptions (more or less open) concerning the work of corrections officers and unions. Unions do not, generally, have the power to enforce health and safety on the job. The legal system does not protect us agains the major dangers that we face in our lives. Prisons do not provide us with protection against violent crimes. Prisons do not protect us from discriminatory practices against the lower-sections of the working class and Aboriginal and Afro-American peoples. Corrections officers no more than police protect us from many of the dangers that we face but rather protect a system that involves systemic exploitation and oppression.

My prediction is that Ms. Hornick, as leader of OPSEU, will be more militant than the former president Mr. Warren “Smokey” Thomas, but she will still be a typical union bureaucrat. Her belief in the collective-bargaining system as a system that produces “fair contracts” is typical of most Canadian union reps. Furthermore, her belief that corrections officers really “keep us safe,” although it contains a grain of truth, hides the reality of many unsafe environments for Canadian workers, citizens, immigrants and migrant workers.

Anti-Neoliberalism Need Not Be Anti-Capitalist: The Case of the Toronto Radical John Clarke, Part Four: The Welfare State and Neoliberalism, or The Infinite Back and Forth Movement of Capitalism


Perhaps it is me, but I am getting a sneaking suspicion that many who talk about being anti-capitalist are really referring to anti-neoliberalism. There is little if any talk about aiming to eliminate exploitation,  oppression and economic coercion or the creation of a socialist society (except in some vague, far-off future that has little relevance for their daily activity.

John Clarke’s Radical Social Democracy as a Case in Point 

John Clarke, a radical social-democratic reformist here in Toronto, is a case in point. We have already seen, in earlier posts, that Mr. Clarke’s aim is primarily an enhanced welfare capitalism and not the abolition of capitalism (see for example Critique of the Limited Aim (Solution)–Decent Wages–of a Radical Social Democrat: The Case of the Toronto Radical, John Clarke: Part One). Despite Mr. Clarke’s references to economic exploitation and economic coercions and his rhetoric of anti-capitalism, Mr. Clarke ultimately assumes that these features of modern social relations are fixed and cannot be abolished–and this despite his apparent recent radical turn due to the pandemic, calling for a radical change in capitalism (see a brief reference in An Inadequate Critique of a Radical Basic Income: The Case of the Toronto Radical John Clarke, Part Three).

Mr. Clarke tried to justify his critique of the proposal of a basic income by referring to the need to take into consideration the fact that economic coercion forms a vital part of a capitalist society–which indeed is the case. Unfortunately, Mr. Clarke failed to integrate this accurate observation with his proposal for an enhanced welfare state (and his belated call for the abolition of capitalist relations). In his daily activities, Mr. Clarke aims, practically, at reforming the class power of employers and not abolishing them; his aim is to abolish neoliberalism but not capitalism.

Mr. Clarke’s Recognition of the Double Movement in a Society Dominated by a Class of Employers (A.K.A. Capitalism)–and His Lack of Aiming for the Abolition of Such a Double Movement 

The nature of capitalism is such that it tends always to erode any temporary peace made between capitalists and workers but also provokes a countermovement (hence the double movement), as Streeck points out in note 14 in his book (2009) . Re-Forming Capitalism Institutional Change in the German Political Economy. Streeck quotes Karl Polanyi (a Hungarian economic historian, anthropologist and sociologist), before expressing his own view:  page 270:

“For a century the dynamics of modern society was governed by a double movement: the market expanded continuously but this movement was met by a countermovement checking the expansion in definite directions. Vital though such a countermovement was for the protection of society, in the last analysis it was incompatible with the self-regulation of the market, and thus with the market system itself” (Polanyi 1957 [1944], 130). In 1944 Polanyi believed that the double movement had come to an end, in line with similar expectations famously held by Schumpeter and others about the secular
 demise of modern capitalism. With the benefit of hindsight, I disregard this prediction and assume that movement and countermovement have continued and will continue until further notice.

Mr. Clarke recognizes that a pure capitalist market system would pose a threat for the existence of a market for workers because it would undermine even the life of workers and would undermine the legitimacy of a society dominated by a class of employers, so it is necessary that the capitalist state provide some limits on it by providing income supports–by preference at a minimal level from the point of view of employers.The following is a more or less partial verbatim report of what Mr. Clarke stated in his YouTube (see Mr. Clarke’s YouTube presentation

But such a system of brutal exploitation can become problematic. Firstly, it can compromise, on a large scale, the health–and hence the job-readiness–of the workforce. Secondly, it can contribute to massive organized protests and even rebellions. Consequently, the capitalist state steps in to save the capitalists from themselves by ensuring a certain level of services; these services form the basis for income-support systems.

The general rule of income-support systems within a capitalist system is that they will provide as much as is necessary but also as little as possible. There are two opposite factors working in that regard. The first is the needs of capital: the need to maximize profitability and to remove barriers to exploitation. For the capitalist class, the need is to minimize expenditures for income-support systems. Indeed, if profitability becomes more difficult, there will be intensified pressure to increase exploitation and to minimize expenditures on income-support systems. The second is the needs of the working class and its level of organized power within capitalist society as well as how resistant are poor and unemployed people.

Historically, there has been a class struggle over the amount and form of income support, with the levels and forms not really intended by the authorities but needed to quell working-class tendencies towards rebellion. On the other hand, with changes in the capitalist system, the capitalist class, via the capitalist state, has pushed back and changed the forms and levels of income support over the centuries. The working class, both during the Great Depression but especially after the Second World War, in turn fought back by organizing the unemployed and workers into mass unions, with the result that income supports and standards of living increased substantially. Gains were really made because of working-class resistance.

As a result, there is a need for the capitalist class to engage in a counter-offensive since increased working-class living standards had reduced capitalist profits. This counter-offensive, begun in the 1970s, is known as neoliberalism. In order to increase exploitation, it became essential to gut income-support systems. The adequacy of programs was reduced, and eligibility for the reduced level of income supports became more difficulty in various areas: for single parents, for injured workers, for disabled people, among others.

Mr. Clarke thus recognizes this to and fro movement of capitalism. However, does he aim to end this to and fro movemnt? Not at all. Such an aim at best is to be realized in the vague future rather than being aimed at via policy prescriptions for the present.  

Thus, Mr. Clarke’s immediate aims are, as I pointed out in a previous post: 

There’s a need to fight for increases in the adequacy of healthcare. The pandemic has made that absolutely clear. We need pharmacare, dental care, a unviersal childcare program that is not an empty perennial liberal promise. We need post-secondary education to be free; we need free public transport systems. On all of these fronts, we need to take up a fight.

We do indeed need to engage in fights on all these fronts–but we also need to link up such fights with the need to abolish the class power of employers (see Critique of the Limited Aim (Solution)–Decent Wages–of a Radical Social Democrat: The Case of the Toronto Radical, John Clarke: Part One); there is no evidence that Mr. Clarke sees improves wages, pharmacare, etc. as not only reforms but as also stepping stones to the abolition of the double movement.

If Mr. Clarke’s aims of achieving increases in wages, pharmacare, etc. were realized, some employers would, eventually, try to escape from such limitations as they did increasingly from the 1970s. The movement of seeking to enhance income support systems would, if not immediately then eventually, be met by a countermovement of employers seeking to avoid such restrictions. If they succeeded, then of course many workers, citizens, immigrants and migrants would seek to expand the income support system once again–and this process would have no end.

Aiming for a socialist society, without a class of employers, would seek to put an end to such class struggle–and not perpetuate it. Mr. Clarke’s position, by contrast, is the perpetuation of class struggle for eternity. It sounds radical, but it really is not; its aim is to achieve what cannot be achieved permanently–economic and social security in the context of economic coercion and the class power of employers.

Without any explicit aim for ending the power of the class of employers being used to organize present activities and critiques, this constant to and fro often leads to insecurity, turmoil and suffering among workers, citizens, immigrants and migrants. From Streeck, (2016), How Will Capitalism End: Essays on a Failing System:

The tensions and contradictions within the capitalist political-economic configuration make for an ever-present possibility of structural breakdown and social crisis. Economic and social stability under modern capitalism must be secured on a background of systemic restlessness4 produced by competition and expansion, a difficult balancing act with a constantly uncertain outcome. Its success is contingent on, among other things, the timely appearance of a new technological paradigm or the development of social needs and values complementing changing requirements of continued economic growth. For example, for the vast majority of its members, a capitalist society must manage to convert their ever-present fear of being cut out of the productive process, because of economic or technological restructuring, into acceptance of the highly unequal distribution of wealth and power generated by the capitalist economy and a belief in the legitimacy of capitalism as a social order. For this, highly complicated and inevitably fragile institutional and ideological provisions are necessary. The same holds true for the conversion of insecure workers – kept insecure to make them obedient workers – into confident consumers happily discharging their consumerist social obligations even in the face of the fundamental uncertainty of labour markets and employment. In light of the inherent instability of modern societies founded upon and dynamically shaped by a capitalist economy, it is small wonder that theories of capitalism, from the time the concept was first used in the early 1800s in Germany and the mid-1800s in England, were always also theories of crisis. This holds not just for Marx and Engels but also for writers like Ricardo, Mill, Sombart, Keynes, Hilferding, Polanyi and Schumpeter, all of whom expected one way or other to see the end of capitalism during their lifetime.

Mr, Clarke’s political position, despite his rhetoric to the contrary of anti-capitalism this and anti-capitalism that, is not to end the power of the class of employers and the associated economic, social and political relations but their reform in order to leave behind, not class relations, but neoliberalism. Mr. Clarke recognizes that there is a “to and fro movement of capitalism” without taking it into consideration in formulating his anti-neoliberal but not anti-capitalist strategy.

Mr. Clarke’s Reformist Solution of an Enhanced Welfare State Fails to Abolish the Double Movement but Only Temporarily the Neoliberal Variety of Capitalism

Mr. Clarke’s solution of an enhanced welfare state is utopian in that such a solution has not and cannot address the fundamental features of a capitalist society. From George McCarthy (2018), Marx and Social Justice Ethics and Natural Law in the Critique of Political Economy, McCarthy, page 329:

Inquiring even further, Marx unearths the inherent logical flaw and historical tendency toward the overproduction and destruction of capital which makes the long-term prospects and continued viability of capitalist production highly questionable: rising organic composition of capital [rising value of machinery, raw materials, buildings, etc. relative to the amount of labour power employed], tendential falling rate of profit, intensification of labour exploitation, lengthening of the workday and expansion of labour time and constant capital (means of production), increased productivity of the machinery and technology of constant capital, growing disproportionality of capital development and rising surplus population, economic concentration and centralisation, growing disparity between capital accumulation and profit realisation, and, finally, functional stagnation and systems breakdown. Of course Marx … is aware that there is dialectic within the mode of production between logic and history, economic natural law and fundamental economic structures, and that these tendencies also encounter counteracting influences that may blunt for a time the necessary development of the logic of capital.

There is no indication in Mr. Clarke’s writings and presentations that he incorporates the aim of abolishing class relations characteristic of a society dominated by a class of employers into either his theory or his practice.

Mr. Clarke, by failing to address directly the exploitative nature of capitalist society, and by failing to integrate into his critique his recognition of economic coercion, in effect pushes into the far off future (never really ever to be attained) the creation of a movement for the abolition of capitalist relations of production, distribution, exchange and consumption. This is exactly what the social-democratic movements in the past did–and Mr. Clarke fails to recognize that his own solution does the same thing. 

Walter Streeck, by contrast, implies that there is a difference between an anti-neoliberal approach to capitalism and an anti-capitalist approach. An anti-neoliberal approach seeks to “embed” the capitalist economy in a network of social security structures that protect workers and citizens from the viciousness of a mainly capitalist market system. From Streeck (2009), Re-Forming Capitalism, pages 234-235: 

The socialization of capitalism, as it were, and its social-democratic organization were made possible not least by the enormous task of reconstruction after the devastations of the Second World War. For roughly two decades, capitalist accumulation could proceed without the “creative destruction” on which it normally depends, given the massive destructive destruction afflicted on the core capitalist regions by the war. Busy rebuilding the world, capitalism was able for a time to respect the desire of the period for predictably increasing prosperity for all, combined with security and stability. As early as the mid-1960s, however, open-ended demands for political protection and redistribution encouraged by progressive de-commodification of labor markets—in the form, above all, of a political guarantee of full employment—resulted in rising inflation (Fellner et al. 1961) hiding profound distributional conflicts (Hirsch and Goldthorpe 1978) and a widening mismatch between popular expectations and what a capitalist economy was able and willing to deliver. Temporarily strengthened by the worker revolts of the late 1960s, social democracy in the subsequent decade undertook to push to its limits and beyond a policy that regarded capitalism as a shared resource, a common pasture for society as a whole to be administered by expert technicians elected on a promise to provide for eternally growing prosperity-insecurity.

Today, we know that the problem of mainstream social democracy in the 1970s, with its strong belief in the power of democratic legitimacy and the efficacy of the modern state as an instrument of social control, was that it mistook capitalism for a neutral apparatus for the joint production of shared prosperity. Indeed, it did not take long for technocratic fantasies of capitalism as a politically governable “economy” to turn out to have been just that. Capitalist firms and those that own and run them can only for so long be treated as patient cogs in a collectively serviceable machine. Then, their true nature must come to the fore again, revealing them to be the live predators that they are, for which politically imposed social obligations are nothing but bars of a cage bound to become too small for them and for their insatiable desire for the hunt. In fact, by the end-1970s at the latest, capitalism had become determined to break out of the social-democratic stable into which it had been pressed after the war, being no longer willing and able to make do with the sensible but small servings of profit allowed to them by their political masters. Safe as life may have been under social-democratic tutelage, it also was boring, calling forth increasingly resolute efforts by capital to liberate itself and start a new cycle of accumulation, by expanding beyond the narrow confines of the neo-traditionalism of a social-democratic economy dedicated to the supply of fixed social needs.

Against all expectations, capitalism in the 1980s and 1990s recaptured its dynamic and once again became an unwieldy stochastic source of unplanned social and institutional change. As we have seen in the German case, the new dynamism, which for a variety of reasons soon gained the support of the very states and governments that only a short time before had aspired to be capitalism’s keepers, gradually began to undo the Durkheimian institutions that had been set up to tie capitalist accumulation to the discharge of social obligations. Capitalism redux began to absorb the slack that had been tolerated by the protected production regimes of the postwar period; migrated to new markets outside national control, pushed by domestic constraints and pulled by foreign opportunities; and did its utmost to empty the modern village of the welfare state, in its relentless search for new land to be subsumed under capitalist relations of production. Thus capitalism returned even though it had never really been gone.

Although the pandemic may have created some conditions that, to a certain extent parallel the devastating effects of the Second World War (such as the need for governments to intervene in the capitalist economy to a much greater extent–I will leave such an analysis to those more competent)–there are undoubtedly many differences, such as the organizational capacities of the working class immediately after the War and their organizational capacities in the current situation. Furthermore, having emerged from the War, the working class had military skills that could have posed a threat to the capitalist state. 

To expect that the working class could obtain the concessions from the capitalists that organized workers achieved in the aftermath of the Second World War to a certain extent achieved without threatening the foundations of capitalist society in the current situation is itself utopian; the class of employers have been on the offensive for several decades, as Mr. Clarke himself recognizes. From a post on Facebook (May 10, 2021), Mr. Clarke wrote: 

Matgyggatgatco S10p onsanoontetr 8elg:31d hlAM  ·    I spent more than three decades involved in anti-poverty struggles. During that whole time, the agenda of neoliberal austerity kept intensifying. Poverty and homelessness increased in scale. Social cutbacks deepened and had an ever more dreadful impact.

Let us assume, however, that Mr. Clarke and his social-democratic supporters achieve what they set out to achieve–an enhanced welfare state through struggle; let us assume for the moment that Mr. Clark’s aim of obtaining improved wages (not decent wages), improved social housing, pharmacare, dental care and so forth is realized. Employers may well, for a time, be satisfied with such a situation, but eventually they will likely, perhaps in a disorganized and individual fashion, attempt to bypass regulations associated with the welfare state–as they did when neoliberalism was just emerging. Would the welfare state be capable of withstanding such a move? Or perhaps Mr. Clarke believes that social movements and a renewed union movement could prevent such a move? Did they before the emergence of neoliberalism? What makes Mr. Clarke believe that they could do so now? Even if they could for the moment, would there not always be a threat of undermining previous gains?

Firstly, such a strategy has already been tried–during the post-Second World War period. It ended in the reversion to a more capitalist economy via neoliberalism. Unions and the social-democratic left, instead of constantly challenging the legitimacy of the class power of employers, accepted it. Mr. Clarke’s solution creates its own problems and its own negation–the double movement referred to above.

Furthermore, Mr. Clarke’s strategy fails to even address the dangers of a movement that only aims at reforming the class power of employers rather than abolishing that power. The emergence of more extreme far-right movements are always a threat as various classes and fractions of classes experience the ups and downs of the double movement.

Why not aim, from the very beginning, for a socialist society and hence the elimination of both the class of employers and classes in general? Or is that somehow utopian? If so, perhaps Mr. Clarke and his social-democratic brothers and sisters can explain how it is utopian.

Mr. Clarke’s Reformist Solution of an Enhanced Welfare State Fails to Address the Co-Optation of Radical Labour and Social Movements

Secondly, the Norwegian Marxist criminologist Thomas Mathiesen (1980) has this to say about the capacity of the present capitalist state to deal with radical leftist movements, Law, Society and Political Action: Towards a Strategy Under Late Capitalism, page 228 (what Mathiesen calls the “absorbent state” is a state that co-opts others):

The late capitalist social formation is, as we have seen, a distinctly absorbent social formation’. The question of contradiction therefore becomes especially difficult and especially important for revolutionary movements in this, our own social formation. The danger that the absorbent social ‘formation, through the process of defining in, will transform contradiction into accord, is especially great in this very absorbent social formation. The possibilities of yielding or deflecting are legion, and we have already given examples of how they become realities such as European social-democratic movements and eurocommunism. Maintaining contradiction, avoiding contradiction being transformed into accord, is the distinctive problem of the late capitalist social formation.

Frankly, it is naive to suppose that any movement whose aim is to challenge not just neoliberalism but capitalism must not deal with the capacity of the capitalist state to co-opt (absorb) such movements and transform contradiction into accord. Mr. Clarke does not even address this possibility.

I have shown the co-optation of part of the labour movement (especially the union movement) here in Canada, which often refers to “decent wages,” “decent work,” “fair contracts,” “fair wages” and the like (see for example Fair Contracts (or Fair Collective Agreements): The Ideological Rhetoric of Canadian Unions, Part One: The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)). Mr. Clarke does not address how we are to prevent such co-optation.

This failure itself contributed to the emergence of neoliberalism.

Mr. Clarke never really engages in any critical inquiry into how the union movement, by accepting collective bargaining as somehow fair, has contributed to defensive actions rather than offensive ones. The defensive status of the union movement was certainly a partial consequence of the acceptance of collective bargaining as fair. Part of the purpose of this blog has been to bring out such limitations of modern unions.

In addition, the union movement has also largely idealized public services, neglecting to engage critically with the often oppressive nature of such services (for an example, see The Expansion of Public Services Versus a Basic Income, Part Two: How the Social-democratic Left Ignore the Oppressive Nature of Public Services: Part One: Oppressive Educational Services). Mr. Clarke does not question the limitation of the labour movement in general and the union movement in particular.

Hence, Mr. Clarke’s own political position would likely feed into a neoliberal reaction since the “leftist” strategy would not directly and immediately begin to challenge the legitimacy of the existence of the class power of employers. Such reformist efforts, if cut off from efforts to abolish economic exploitation, economic coercion and economic oppression will likely be co-opted.

A proposed radical basic income, in conjunction with struggles on several fronts for improved and extended public services, could prevent such co-optation by maintaining an immediate or short-term contradiction or conflict between the interests of workers and employers (and not just a long-term contradiction or conflict of interests). Mr. Clarke’s strategy of an enhanced welfare state simply ignores the problem.


Mr. Clarke’s radicalism is a radicalism rooted in the continued existence of economic exploitation and economic coercion–despite appearances to the contrary. Mr. Clarke, although he recognizes the double movement characteristic of a society dominated by a class of employers, proposes a solution (an enhanced welfare state) that fails to solve the problems that arise from the persistence of such a double movement. Furthermore, his solution of an enhanced welfare state does not come to grips with the problem of how to prevent radical labour and social movements from being co-opted.

It would be better to propose radical solutions that, while incorporating any reforms that we can achieve in the near future (such as greater benefits from the capitalist government), point to a different kind of society, a society where human dignity is real. An enhanced welfare state is hardly an expression of such a kind of society. 

Reform or Abolition of the Police, Part One

In at least two posts, I will explore the issue of reforming the police versus its abolition. Conveniently, there are a couple of articles that address the issue.

Mr. Rosenfeld, a self-declared radical and Marxist living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in an article published in the social-democratic magazine Canadian Dimension on April 20, 2020, Reform and Transform: Police Abolitionism and Sloppy Thinking), responded to another article published on April 12 in the same magazine, written by James Wilt,  Abolishing the police is the only reasonable response to Winnipeg Police killings. Wilt argues that the police cannot be reformed but must be abolished since their function is essentially repressive, and that essential function is sufficient for demanding its abolition:

Unlike what many liberals claim, police cannot be reformed with better training, oversight, or diversity. Nor can police violence be eliminated by following the victim-blaming advice from (mostly) white social media users like “improved parenting” or “better decision-making.” Both of these supposed solutions reflect deeply naive and ahistorical understandings of what it is that police do—and how police actively harm communities, especially those of Indigenous peoples and racialized minorities.

The left’s response to the police killings of Eishia Hudson and Jason Collins must be to recommit to the only just solution: abolishing the police and reallocating the massive resources currently committed to policing to measures that actually keep our communities safe, like housing, harm reduction, strong public services, non-carceral crisis response, food security, income supports, returning land to Indigenous peoples by acknowledging existing sovereignty, and a whole lot more. At the root of this demand is resistance to the call for a “better balance” of policing and social services. On the contrary, policing must be dispensed with entirely.

Mr. Rosenfeld argues against abolition. Mr. Rosenfeld, however, not only argues against abolition; he finds the idea of the abolition of the police absurd–as his subtitle says. Indeed, Mr. Rosenfeld’s subtitle: “Police Abolitionism and Sloppy Thinking,” reflects the hostility that I faced here in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, when I questioned the ideology of “fair contracts,” “fair wages,” and “decent work” expressed by some trade unionists and social democrats.

I will try to show, in at least two posts if not more, that Mr. Rosenfeld’s view that the proposal of the abolition of the police is not absurd and that the proposal of the reform of the police as the rational solution–is absurd.

But let us first listen to Mr. Rosenfeld:

Having heard some of the younger activists with whom I work in the free transit movement muse about getting rid of the police force, I often found that most were not really serious about it as an immediate demand but were expressing their vision of how we might do things differently in an imagined future [my emphasis]. There are other activists, many of whom are passionate defenders of the rights of the homeless, the poorest and those most targeted by the system and its repressive apparatus, who argue that police budgets need to be radically trimmed in order to pay for the kinds of social programs and services that could contribute to addressing some of the most glaring forms of inequality and injustice. Few of them seriously demand the complete elimination of policing, but some do.

The issue of the reform of the police versus its abolition has become a focal point of controversy  since the murder of George Floyd has now come to light. Mr. Rosenfeld’s social-democratic casual dismissal of the abolition of police has been challenged practically as millions protested against the police throughout the world. Mr. Rosenfeld’s claim that the proposal that the abolition of the police involves sloppy thinking has been practically refuted as some who protested did propose abolishing the police.

Indeed, even before the mass protests against the murder of George Floyd, there have arisen movements for the abolition of the police in the light of systemic racism among the police. Why does Mr. Rosenfeld not refer to such movements?

For example, Meghan McDowell and Luis Fernandez published an article in 2018 about the movement for police abolition, titled “Disband, Disempower, and Disarm’: Amplifying the Theory and Practice of Police Abolition,” in the journal Criminal Criminology: 

In July of 2016, the popular Fox News program “Kelly File,” hosted by conservative T.V. personality Megan Kelly, held a town hall style forum to discuss race and law enforcement. The forum brought together what Fox News considers a diverse cross-section of the U.S. public: former FBI agents, retired NYPD officers, conservative Black pastors, community organizers, and “regular” Americans whose views spanned the ideological spectrum. The recent deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of law enforcement, uprisings in Ferguson, Baltimore, Milwaukee, and Charlotte in the past year, and Micah Johnson’s targeted assassination of five Dallas police officers earlier in July, not only formed the backdrop for the conversation, but also set the conditions of possibility for such a conversation to air on a mainstream media outlet in the first place.

At one point the conversation turned toward an indictment of the Black Lives Matter
(BLM) movement. Many forum attendees began to condemn BLM, reiterating racial tropes [a figurative or metaphorical use of a word or expression] about Black-on-Black crime and “personal responsibility.” In a clip that has now gone viral, Jessica Disu, a Chicago-based community organizer and artist, tried to reframe the conversation: “Here’s a solution,” Disu interjected with conviction, “we need to abolish the police.” The Chicago Reader, a weekly alternative newspaper, described the ensuing reactions  to Disu’s comment:

“Abolish the police?” came [host Megan] Kelly’s incredulous response, as a clamor of boos and protests rose from the forum. “Demilitarize the police, disarm the police,” Disu pushed on, undeterred by the yelling. “We need to come up with community solutions for transformative justice. Can we all agree that a loss of a life is tragic?” [Disu] asked the forum, attempting to explain her vision. “Who’s gonna protect the community if we abolish the police?” Kelly asked, a this-must-be-a-joke smile spreading across her face. “The police in this country began as a slave patrol,” Disu managed to squeeze in before being engulfed by the noise.

I suppose Mr. Rosenfeld would also consider Disu’s view of the need  for abolishing the police to be “sloppy thinking” and “absurd.” Mr. Rosenfeld shares the same view–and attitude-towards the abolishing of the police as do those who defend the status quo. Not a very good beginning for a person who considers himself to be “a 70 year-old Marxist and democratic socialist.”

McDoowell and Fernandez continue:

In her call for police abolition, on Fox News no less, Disu challenged the hegemonic idea that the police are an inevitable fixture in society, and moreover, that the police are analogous to community safety. Disu’s presence on a national mainstream talk show illustrates that crises are also opportunities (Gilmore 2007). The uprisings, and corresponding organizing that expanded alongside or formed as a result of the rebellions, enabled Disu, and others, to publicly challenge law enforcement’s right to exist. That is, activist and movement organizers had already been pushing toward police abolition, but the difference is that this time there was an audience more willing to accept the challenge. In this article, we examine abolitionist claims aimed at law enforcement institutions in the aftermath of Ferguson and other subsequent rebellions. [In Ferguson, Missouri, Michael Brown Jr. was murdered by the policeman Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014].

Mr. Rosenfeld’s evidently lacks a  concern with researching the issue in at least a preliminary manner.

McDowell and Fernandez note that the movement towards the abolition of the police gained ground after the Ferguson murder:

Under the headline “the problem”, the anonymous collective For a World Without the Police (2016) argues, “The police force was created to repress the growing numbers of poor people that accompanied the rise of industrial capitalism, while on plantations and in agricultural colonies, [the police] formed in response to the threat of slave revolt.” Their analysis outlines the core functions of policing under racial capitalism [my emphasis]: protect the property of the capitalist class; maintain stable conditions for capital accumulation; and defend against any threats to these unequal conditions of rule (For a World Without Police 2016; see also Williams 2015; Whitehouse 2014). [see the website For a World Without Police].

The police undoubtedly has other functions, but its core function is to maintain the power of employers as a class so that they can continue to use human beings as means for obtaining more and more money (see  The Money Circuit of Capital).

The abolitionist movement against the police, as McDowell and Fernandez indicate,  involves the slogan “disband, disempower and disarm the police”:

The call for police abolition gained national traction soon after the 2014 Ferguson rebellion and is encapsulated by the slogan: “disband, disempower, and disarm the police!”8 This is more than a slogan however. The over-arching strategy is to eliminate the institution of policing, while disarmament and disempowerment are two inter-related tactics used to achieve this goal (Vitale 2017).

The recent call for defunding the police, therefore, can express a reformist position or an abolitionist position. The reformist position does not aim to “disband” the police but rather only to decrease funding for the police and, often, increase funding for social programs. The following question posed by Mr. Rosenfeld expresses this reformist view:

Shouldn’t that institution be thoroughly transformed, by political struggle, into a more humane, limited and less autonomous one?

The abolitionist stance, by contrast, sees defunding (disempowering and disarming) as means to the end of abolishing the police institution altogether–along with a society characterized by the dominance of a class of employers. Social reformers like Mr. Rosenfeld, on the other hand, at best see disempowering and disarming as ends in themselves–while preserving the existence of the police as a repressive institution and hence preserving its core function.

Historically, the abolitionist movement has a long history that was not restricted to the abolition of the police. The idea of abolition includes the movement for the abolition of slavery in the United States and elsewhere, the abolition of child labour, the abolition of prisons and the abolition of capitalism.

In relation to capitalism, I first became aware of the idea of proposing the abolition of prisons when I read Thomas Mathiesen’s works The Politics of Abolition and Law, Society and Political Action: Towards a Strategy Under Late Capitalism. Mathiesen argues that the capitalist state has become particularly adept at co-opting or neutralizing more radical movements so that it is necessary to emphasis the abolition of structures rather than their reform in order not to contribute to the continuation of repressive structures. From Law, Society and Political Action, page 73:

In the fourth place, we have seen that legislation which breaks with dominating interests, legislation which in this sense is radical, is easily shaped in such a way during the legislative process that the final legislation does not after all break significantly with dominating interests, as the examples from political practice of trimming, stripping down, the creation of pseudo alternatives, and co-optive co-operation, show.

I have referred, in another post, to the whittling down of the criminalization of employer actions following the murder of the Westray miners in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1992 (see  Working for an Employer May Be Dangerous to Your Health, Part Three). Co-optation is a real danger for the left–and Mr. Rosenfeld minimizes the power of the capitalist state to co-opt movements through reforms. This minimization of the danger of co-optation can be seen from the following:

In reality, though, bourgeois democratic institutions are not simply a façade for a bloody and murderous dictatorship over the poor and colonized. Yes, there are instances of state acts of murder and even terrorism. The liberal democratic state and institutions facilitate private capital accumulation and are structured in ways which seek to repress, diffuse and co-opt alternative political and social movements, but these are mediated by the necessities of legitimating capitalism [my emphasis] The relative power, political ideology and organization of the working class and colonized Indigenous peoples also affect the character of liberal democracy (and in the subordinate strata, there are forms of class differences and other contradictions that also matter). We don’t live in a fascist dictatorship.”’

I will address in another post Mr. Rosenfeld’s trivialization of the brutality and terrorism of the American government in other countries (“instances” makes it look like American murder and terrorism is an isolated event).

Let us limit ourselves to the question of the relevance of Mr. Rosenfeld’s reference to the need for the capitalist state to legitimate the rule of  employers over the daily working lives at work. He separates the diffusion and co-optation of alternative political and social movements from the need for “legitimating capitalism.” However, one of the major ways of “legitimating capitalism” is through diffusing and co-opting alternative political and social movements.

Mathiesen saw this danger to which Mr. Rosenfeld is blind. He calls the state absorbent when it has a refined capacity for neutralizing radical and revolutionary movements and demands. Mathiesen calls being co-opted “being defined in” and being shuffled to the side as irrelevant extremists “being defined out.” He calls “finished” the impossibility of contributing to the overcoming of the economic, political and social structures that characterize the dominance of the class of employers. Page 252:

The strongly absorbent late capitalist society has in fact managed, by the process of defining in, to absorb large parts of the Left into political work of a structure maintaining kind, while at the same time, through the process of defining out, it has managed to neutralize the remaining part of the Left as so-called extremists. By an interchange of the forces which define in and define out, on the one hand, and internal organizational reactions to these forces on the other, the parties of the Left have to a large degree either become ossified organizations which are defined in, or ossified organizations which are defined out. In any case they are, in our sense, finished.

Mr. Rosenfeld, however, fails to distinguish between reforms that form part of a movement to abolish a social institution and specific social relations and reforms that emerge as co-opted and that do not lead to questioning the oppressive and exploitative social institutions and social relations characteristic of the society in which we live.

Thus, Mr. Rosenfeld accuses Mr. Wilt of advocating immediate revolution–as if that is the only alternative:

Is he saying that reforms do not matter and that short of an immediate social revolution, nothing can change?

Abolitionists will take any reform that improves the lives of working-class communities–but there is a condition attached to such a view. Reforms that limit the capacities of workers and community members to think and act critically to oppressive and exploitative social relations and social institutions, without any positive change, are regressive. But most reforms can be simultaneously defended and criticized if some aspects are positive, while other aspects are regressive., such as the movement for a $15 minimum wage, which in Canada is coupled with the concept of fairness. Let us indeed fight for a minimum wage of $15 an hour (and other reforms associated with the movement, such as paid sick leave), but we should never link such a movement with the idea that there is “fairness: in receiving the minimum wage and other needed reforms. Coupling the fight for a minimum wage of $15 with “fairness” freezes the movement–rather than indicating that the achievement of the $15 minimum wage is a temporary resting place (given the balance of class power) that is inherently unfair since the wage system is itself inherently unfair and needs to be abolished. No “minimum wage” that involves the need for workers to work for employers is fair–and the idea of coupling the fight for the $15 minimum wage with the idea of “fairness” must be criticized constantly if any gained reforms are to go beyond contributing to the maintenance of the power of the class of employers.

Thus, Mr. Rosenfeld did not raise any objection to the pairing of a fight for an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour with the term “fairness.” I have raised that issue often enough on this blog, and Mr. Rosenfeld had ample opportunity to criticize my position–but he chose not to do so. Why is that? I certainly support an increase in the minimum wage and other “reforms,” but they should never limit the capacities of workers and community members in their critical questioning of the system characterized by the class of employers.

Mr. Rosenfeld creates a straw person when he asks whether there should be reform or immediate revolution. Calling for abolition does not mean immediate revolution: it means making explicit the need to aim for abolition of an oppressive or exploitative institution from the very beginning. If we do not have the power–for now–to abolish a repressive or exploitative situation, that does not mean that we should not aim to do so  when we have more power. It also does not mean that we should reject all reforms out of hand merely because we cannot, for the moment, abolish the repressive or exploitative institution or social structure.

A further, personal example. I worked as a bilingual library technician at the District Resource Center for School District No. 57 in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada,from 1990-1992 (before I moved to Winnipeg). We had a collective agreement between support staff and the district that was coming up for negotiations. I volunteered to be part of the negotiating team because I wanted to learn about the process first hand (I was also the union steward for the board office). We bargained in the usual way, with a small group of union negotiators engaging in demands in the context of meetings with the negotiating team of the employer.

When our bargaining team was ready to present the results of negotiations to the members, I volunteered to draft the list of demands that we had made in a two-column set of papers, with an x beside the demands that we did not get and a check beside the ones that we did get. The union business manager was obliged to read this out during a public ratification meeting (she, however, noted that my presentation was very negative). When she sent out the ballots for voting to those who were not able to attend (School District No. 57 is a large school district geographically), she only sent out the demands that we obtained. The agreement was ratified.

The point is that I wanted to demonstrate the limitations of collective bargaining (and the corresponding collective agreement) while not rejecting any changes in the collective agreement. Furthermore, the demonstration of the limitation of reforms–or the politics of exposure as Mathiesen calls it–forms an essential element of the politics of abolition. From The Politics of Abolition Revisited, page 143:

Here lies the significance of the exposing or unmasking policy which the
above-mentioned sequence of events illustrates. Let me repeat: By unmasking
the ideology and the myths with which the penal system disguises itself – for
example through political work of the kind described here – a necessary basis
for the abolition of unnecessary and dangerous systems of control is created. The
example illustrates the struggle involved in such a work of exposure. The system
continually tries to adopt new disguises. We must continually try to unveil them.

Given the predominance of social democrats or social reformers–among the left here in Toronto–my prediction is that, unfortunately, the movement for the abolition of the police will be overshadowed by the movement for merely defunding the police. This will, in turn, result in further watering down of such a movement to a form acceptable to economic and political conditions dominated by the class of employers.

However, at least we can expose the limitations of the political position of the social-democratic left or the social-reformist left so that, when further murders by the police arise, we can point out the limitations of their political position and prepare the way for a more adequate politics–a politics of abolition.

I will continue the issue of reform versus abolition of the police in another, later post.