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THE MILITARIZATION OF LABOUR: The Unionization of Security Guards (an article revived from the vaults of 2006)

Communists, Socialists, Leninists, Trotskyists and other left leaning organizations
and groups on the whole take a dim and negative view of security guards. The Security
Guard and Security professional is lumped in with the police, fascists, theocrats and right
wing extremists as enemies of the working class and the people, to be dealt with in harsh
terms and excluded from left organizations. Though one can certainly find fascist
elements within security organizations, this is by no means universal. One can also find
fascists in virtually any field of endeavor. To discern the truth in any field, a closer look
is required, which is what shall be investigated and exposed here. This is a requirement of
the dialectical approach, which some Marxists claim they adhere to in principle if not
always in practice. As capitalism heads towards its limits and inevitable death, the
owners and captains of capitalism will force members of the working class into
protecting their ill gotten interests and wealth. This becomes increasingly true as more
and more people are dumped onto the streets from their former jobs and wealth
concentrates into fewer and fewer hands. Capitalists are on record of saying such things
as “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” Capitalists have
conscripted/drafted millions of workers into the armed forces for the purpose of
imperialist and expansionist aims. The result of war to the working class has been
monumental misery with 160 million workers killed in war since WW1 and far more
were maimed for life. Within the armed forces one can find both left thinking persons and
fascist types.


The traditional regard of the left toward security has been negative, the one
exception being the IWW who has made a call to organize security guards. Lenin,
Trotsky and Rosa Luxemburg, if alive today would understand that people being forced
into security jobs, is a type of draft against their will. Thus we have unemployed people
victimized by capitalism with the choice, starve on the street or become a security guard
and protect capitalist wealth from the starving, homeless unemployed. Victim is pitted
against victim, Rothschild fashion, in this war of one worker against another. It is not a
pretty picture, but oh too real! As in a military draft where people are forced against their
will into imperialist service to fight for country, God and king/president, to the end of
imperialist expansion and protection of ill gained property, so too are security personnel
drafted against their will to protect the self proclaimed property of capitalists. The
military exercises its force on the imperialist front while security forces exercise its force
strictly on the home front. The military force is armed to deal violently with imperialist
forces on the front lines and with what capitalists see as a threat at home, such as a
protracted general strike or other demonstration of mass upheaval. The military also
protects the capitalist order from invasion and the loss of real estate, the means of
production and wealth. The security force may or may not be armed to protect capitalist
ownership of real estate, the means of production and wealth from the rest of the working
class.


Let’s look at property for a moment. Soldiers, police and security guards act
within the capitalist order to protect that property deemed private under the law. If they
are ignorant of the true nature of commodity production, they buy into the propaganda of
private property promulgated by the legal system as promoted by lawyers hired by the
bourgeoisie. In reality, all people of the world have equal rights to the resources of the
world, which is the common property of the masses. The masses after all are the ones
who find, mine, grow, process and manufacture everything of value, which obtains that
value as a direct result of labor input. In effect then, the real owners of anything of value
are those who found, mined, grew, processed and manufactured these items, whether
food, roads, refined metals, buildings, ships, clothing, vehicles, art, etc. In other words, it
is the workers who one way or another, processed these items out of raw resources into
something of value and are thus the legitimate owners of that property. Property was
taken from the legitimate common owners by force, in effect, robbed and declared as the
property of clergy and kings and now the bourgeoisie /capitalists. Without waxing in
depth into the historical development of that robbery, suffice it to say here that all the
accrued wealth of the bourgeoisies was obtained by robbery and theft and transmitted
across the generations by inheritance. It was taken by force from the common legitimate
owners. When this system of robbery invaded the Americas, the Indians were quick to
realize that an armed robbery was going on and declared it as such in their own way.
Now security, as the front lines are hired to protect that ill gained private property robbed
from the masses, who continue even now to produce all that has value thus further
enriching the ruling parasites. Thus protecting so called private property is actually
protecting common property appropriated by force into the hands of a few. Security
forces drafted from the masses against their will are in a prime position to transfer all of
that property back to the rightful owners. But it takes class consciousness to make that
leap and to act as a revolutionist during the insurrection of the masses against the
common oppressor. When drafted military personnel make the same leap, the masses will
have the core of an armed militia as well. Both security and the armed soldier must throw
off the shackles of the capitalist state and smash it. Security will act to protect the
property of the common owners, preventing its destruction by bourgeois forces in a war
against the masses, which surely will erupt when they are ousted. The military will fight
the war to drive the capitalist robbers and parasites out of the lives of the people. As for
the police, since they willingly support the bourgeoisie, they must go the way of the
bourgeoisie.


Make no mistake; the capitalist has no interest in the lives of their appointed
cannon fodder so long as property and wealth is protected. War is also one of the biggest
wealth generating bourgeois enterprises. What is going on whether or not it is recognized
is class war! The trouble is that most people do not realize that the real war is between the
self declared propertied class and the class without property that was robbed from them,
between capitalists and working people. Propaganda has its effect to brainwash people
into believing that war is about destroying some enemy that is “out to destroy our way of
life.” Often when the soldier gets to the front, they soon learn that the reasons for the war
are far different than what he was told before leaving for the front. This knowledge leads
to demoralization among soldiers and security conscripts alike, which can be recognized
and cultured by those with revolutionary consciousness. Demoralization comes from lack
of opportunity, lack of chance for advancement, feelings of no way out, supervisors firing
on a whim and telling staff they are expendable. In the military, the soldier must serve his
term, but in security there is a high staff turnover for the reasons given.


Security forces today are following what has occurred in the past with the
military, i.e., they are conscripted or drafted from the ranks of the unemployed into
service frequently against their own wishes. Conscripted and drafted security forces come
from all backgrounds from university educated, to trades through to labourers that have
become unemployed by deregulation of industries and the condition of surplus labour due
to mechanization of industry and information sectors. As chronic unemployment
becomes a condition of capitalist life, the bourgeoisie becomes increasingly uneasy and
becomes interested in security issues. Thus security personnel hired from the ranks of the
disenfranchised have been placed into positions of sensitivity and are in a strategic
location to effect radical change in society. Lenin, Trotsky and Rosa Luxemburg would
understand the issues of what the working class is forced to do under capitalist
domination and would work to enlist the radicalized elements into a vanguard force to
seize the state from the capitalists. Further, Lenin, Luxemburg and especially Trotsky,
once the leader of the Red Army would be able to use these specially trained forces to
over run and smash the capitalist state. Soldiers and security personnel would both be
needed in the emerging new order of international socialism, needed to smash capitalism
and to defend the emerging new order of an international socialist working class.
Ultimately we would evolve to a classless society with a planned economy that has
extremely important implications for humanity, the planet and our collective future.
The security guard is often entrusted to protect sensitive information, locations
containing vast wealth and the very lives of the robber barons who hold that information
and wealth while the great majority of humanity grovels in poverty, ignorance, filth and
disease. The security guard controls access, often equipped with keys, access control
cards, access and alarm codes and computer passwords. The security guard is
increasingly conscripted from members of the desperate working class who have no other
choice for work. It is a choice to take the job or starve. Security guards are also drawn
from members of immigrant populations into low wage, bottom feeding security jobs to
protect the vast information and wealth of the security company’s clients. Those who
arrive on capitalist shores from foreign lands looking for a better life often land into
security work.


It goes without saying that those on the Marxist left should understand the
operation and intricacies of capitalist economic dynamics. However, the fact that many
left organizations back reforms within capitalism betrays a lack of real understanding, at
least in public. Capitalism grew out of the industrial revolution and the opposition to the
monarchy and theocratic feudal order. It arose from the wealthy who had vast land
holdings expropriated from the peasants and from their subsequent exploitation of their
only remaining asset of their labour power. The proto capitalists also controlled banking.
These wealthy barons achieved power via the French Revolution when the bourgeoisie
took power from the monarchy and church with the aid of the oppressed masses. It didn’t
take long for the new power to begin oppressing the very people who assisted them to
power. From there, the work place became increasingly mechanized and concentrated in
fewer and fewer hands. Working conditions were abominable with no regard to safety,
conditions, health or working hours. It is a necessary function under capitalism to
increase exploitation of the labour force and of resources. The ultimate aim is to expand
as this is the only way to guarantee profits, which is the “holy grail” of capitalism. As
capitalism expands via imperialism and hostile take over of competitors, it eventually
reaches an upper limit. As businesses get bigger, maintenance and upgrading costs
escalate and the profit margin shrinks. The upper limit to capitalist expansion today is the
entire planet. After that, there is no more growth except through the incredibly wasteful
destruction of war. When capitalism can no longer expand and profits become zero or
end as losses, it must resort to war, planned obsolescence, engineered famines, greater
exploitation of the oppressed and things like harvesting human organs for profit from
unwilling hosts. War destroys old markets and methods of production to make way for
the new. Planned obsolescence guarantees that there will be continuous new markets for
ever shoddier products. New products and the encouragement of rampant consumerism
helps in maintaining profit. Increased exploitation includes things like the destruction of
social services, longer work hours, less take home pay, huge unemployment, depressions,
starvation, disease and homelessness. The bourgeoisie also resort to using the same
tactics as the church including enlisting their help of priests to help dumb down the
masses, to keep them virtually as babies, in groveling fear and ignorance. There is not a
single aspect of society that is untouched by this methodology and tactics of
accumulating wealth. Little wonder there are calls for revolution to send the bourgeoisie
into the same direction as the monarchy and church when the bourgeoisie first took
power in France. There the monarchy was executed and the priests driven out. The same
situation occurred after the Russian revolution. However, there are major differences
between the French and Russian revolutions. That is the subject of another study.
Part of the exploitation of the working masses is to divide and conquer, which
includes recruiting from their members to oversee, control and deny access to the
necessities of life to the majority. To this end we have the military, the police and
security forces. The hierarchy is as follows. The police have the greatest authority in the
domestic and national sphere as defined under the bourgeois order and legal structure.
Next in order, is the military elite and the following hierarchical structure down to the
voluntary, conscripted or drafted private recruit. Finally, those with the least authority,
but often being within the closest contact with the security of the bourgeois, are the
security guards. All of these, willing or unwilling, operate for the protection of the
capitalist order.


The security guard exists in a curious role, a state between the military and the
police officer. The security officer is often trained in the law, powers of arrest and martial
arts. Variably, they may or may not be armed, may or may not use hand cuffs and may or
may not have and use batons. Security guards can be found guarding construction sites,
towers, closed residential communities, malls, streets, hospitals, events, warehouses, rail
yards, airports, transit systems, hotels, ships, casinos and acting as body guards.
Regardless of their position or powers, the chief role of security is as a deterrent and as a
professional witness. To this end they are trained where training exists, which is not
universal. Despite the position of security, the left stands in opposition to security, The
left also are forced to appoint someone or a group of members to act as security during
public and not so public meetings and functions, thus exposing a contradiction.
Regardless of the security guards position, they are entrusted to protect a lot, i.e.,
property, information and life. This means that security guards are in a strategic position
and that can be an asset or a detriment depending on how this reality is handled,
especially during times of tumult.


Many security guards are ignorant of the real nature of what they are guarding.
Security is often in the role of protecting assets of criminal activity such as in organized
crime. Even within security businesses there is criminal activity occurring as defined
under bourgeois law. These are not the faults of the individual so much as the fault of
how the masses are raised in bourgeois capitalist society, especially with dumbing down
and specialization. With capitalist drive for profits, contract security companies compete
by offering cheaper contracts, which translate to low wages for the guards. Only the
richest companies consider “in house” or private security. Many guards are hired from
immigrants seeking employment, as they will often accept lower wages and worse
conditions and these guards form the majority of security guards and low wage contracts.
Alternatively, in the drive to eliminate the social safety nets, especially after the demise
of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic starting in 1989 and culminating in 1992,
many people had the choice of doing security work or starve on the streets. These guards
consisted of degreed university graduates, disaffected certified trades people from
deregulated trade industries like construction, wood working trades, metal work and
electrical trades, unemployed factory and warehouse workers and the like. In so called
good times, none of these even considered security work as a living, being content with
former jobs now closed off to them. Interestingly and in parallel to the boom in security
work, deregulation lowered wages, employers hired non certified employees and caused
many problems, especially in the building trades demonstrating the nature of capitalists to
operate in blocks and in unison due to competition. These disaffected trades, university,
resources, warehouse and other workers form the next level of majority within security
ranks. Historically, there was a time where only those who sought to work their way to
policing, considered security work. Today this type of person is in an extreme minority.
Immigrants, deregulated trades people, college and university grads, unemployed
resource, factory and warehouse people make up the overwhelming majority of the
security forces. What is really needed at this time is to unionize and to educate the entire
security force. This forms a prelude to an even more important role security guards can
play in history and the development unfolding of socialist revolution as the next great
leap forward for human society.


THE SECUITY GUARDS AND TRAINING


Security guards taken from the mean streets of capitalist society, whether by
personal dent or as a result of being drafted by “forced choice” into security, all must
undergo some form of training. This training can be anything from site specific training
though the rudiments of bourgeois law, to martial arts, psychology, first aid and weapons
handling. The greater the training, typically, the more value the guard holds. A fully
trained guard with the additional education of Marxian science can end up as a valuable
instrument in effecting the future revolution in smashing the state. Karl Marx in his
redraft of the Communist Manifesto in June 24th, 1872, added only that the state and its
bureaucracy needed to be smashed. Otherwise, the Communist Manifesto remained as
written in 1844. On April 12th, 1871, Marx addressed the issue of smashing the state.
“…If you look up the last chapter of my Eighteenth Brumaire, you will find that I
declare that the next attempt of the French Revolution will be no longer, as before, to
transfer the bureaucratic-military machine from one hand to another, but to smash it
[Marx’s emphasis – the original is zerbrechen], and this is the precondition for every real
people’s revolution on the Continent. And this is what our heroic Party comrades in
Paris are attempting” (Neue Zeit, Vol. XX, 1, 1901-02, p. 709)…”


“The words, “to smash the bureaucratic-military machine”, briefly express the
principle lesson of Marxism regarding the tasks of the proletariat during a revolution in
relation to the state. And it is this lesson that has been not only completely ignored, but
positively distorted by the prevailing, Kautskyite, “interpretation” of Marxism” pp 288,
Lenin Selected Works, State and Revolution.


This resulted from his experience of the Paris Commune uprising of 1871. Some
Marxist see security as part of the bureaucracy of the state that must be smashed along
with the state during the revolution. In the minds of some, not only are security guards to
be rejected from the party, ousted or prevented from joining unions, but also killed off en
masse during and after the revolution as being enemies of the people along with police,
priests, capitalists and their bureaucratic functionaries and supporters. Security guards are
lumped into the category of minor bureaucratic functionaries. This blanket solution
disregards the fact that most employees of security companies are there due to “forced
choice” and lack of other opportunities. This solution ignores what many people can
contribute to a revolution. Together with the lumpen proletariat petty criminal element,
they are already negated before the revolution even begins.


Thus, the instrument of Marxist training must be the informed workers among the
working class. Those Marxist trained guards form the nucleus to forge a union and a
corps of guards who will be in a strategic position come the revolution. Opportunists and
ultra-leftists will be part of the problem during an actual worker led revolution.
Opportunists will jump in at the last moment feigning support for their own ends and
ultra-leftists will attempt to co-opt the leadership and carry out their agendas including
liquidation of all opposition.


The bourgeoisie has invested a lot in security training in these people to serve and
protect them. The tables can be turned with a Marxist understanding. This then should be
one of the tasks of the security union leaders to seek out and train these guards who are
typically disgruntled at the betrayal they received under capitalist society. The security
guard brings a package of training already provided by the bourgeois state. As Marx
stated; “Capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction.” Some of these seeds are in
the rank and file of security.


Defense is one aspect of security, whether it is an awareness of hazards and how
best to respond to these hazards be they bombs, chemical or biological, or personal
defense tactics used in a combat situation. In Canada, basic defense is open handed
defensive and take down tactics. Elsewhere, and to a limited extent in Canada, defense
can include closed handed martial arts or the deadly force of fire arms.
In many situations, security personnel must be familiar with First Aid and
continually re-certify and/or upgrade their skills as the bourgeois demands. In the field,
First Aid can spell the difference between life and death in trauma and shock situations.
Security guards in this training are drilled and drilled again to build confidence and assist
in calmness during a real medical crisis. As protectors of life and limb, they are trained in
crisis intervention of many types. Security guards often stabilize trauma patients before
emergency paramedics arrive on scene to evacuate the patient to the hospital. Most
patients that security guards deal with are members of the working class often working in
dangerous jobs. This is a type of public relations, especially in high profile locations such
as malls, high profile construction sites and casinos.

Crowd Control is an aspect of security training that is often applied in managing
demonstrators and picket lines of strikers. This is the source of much of the stereotyping
and prejudice directed toward security often labeled as reactionary, pigs, police-wannabes,
rent-a-cops and the like. But, like anything else, this can be stood on its head.
Security guards typical role is to observe and take notes as a professional witness and at
most, engage leaders in questions and direction to prevent a purposive crowd from
becoming what is defined as an unruly mob. For reasons of public relations, the guard
cannot take sides in the context of bourgeois interests. The reverse of this under
revolutionary circumstances, guards can direct crowds to strategic places and even unlock
the doors and gates for them during the “smashing of the state and its bureaucracy.” The
knowledgeable guard can even site agitate to rally other guards. Such a guard would be
stepping outside the bounds of bourgeois limits and into revolutionary leadership through
recruitment to a revolutionary union.

Conflict resolution is another aspect that guards are trained in dealing with.
Conflicts that a guard can expect to deal with range from an agitated crowd, the mentally
disturbed, the fleeing robber, unhappy customer/retailer conflict and youth conflicts
among others. Each situation has its own characteristics and they are handled in a safe
manner to defuse the conflict. The greatest conflict of the ages is between the ruled and
the rulers, the oppressed class and the oppressor class. It is not suggested here that
security guards attempt to make peace between these two as is expected by the
bourgeoisie. The guard with revolutionary understanding is not interested in placating a
justly angered people against a common oppressor. The revolutionary minded guard is
interested in calming conflict between workers and resolving the class conflict by
assisting in the process of “smashing the state and its bureaucracy.” In a strike situation,
security guards must identify with the striker. Picket lines mean “Don’t cross!” As they
are also workers, security guards must identify with their working brothers and sisters
and support strikes. The unionized security guard can also strike and refuse to cross the
picket lines of strikers in unrelated professions. Thus, it is important to unionize security!
The ideal is the general strike which can serve as an opening event for a revolution.
Security often must deal directly with the police at the scene where trauma results
from violence or an accident. Also they deal in concert with the police over criminal
activity as defined by bourgeois law, even including crime inside security organizations.
As a rule, police are often resentful of security guards as they see this as an incursion on
what is police work. But, the police officer’s role is to enforce bourgeois law, whereas the
security officer’s role is to protect property, information and life. The police officer
“maintains the peace” while the security guard “keeps safety”. Security is a Latin
derivative for safe. The police are empowered with sweeping powers of arrest, including
on suspicion of a crime about to be committed and a notwithstanding clause upon
discovery of unrelated crimes to which they are in actual pursuit. The security guard has
citizen’s power of arrest only and must be in full possession of continuity of crime before
the arrest can be affected. Further, they can arrest only under charter rights and this must
by law be detailed to the arrestee. The police officer’s arrest count to the record is thus
very much higher than a security officer’s. In the police force, arrests occur daily. In the
security force, arrests are rare, sometimes never occurring in the extent of an entire
career.

One of the most strategic and important roles of security is access control. After
thorough testing and a probationary period, the guard is given the keys to the “kingdom”
including access cards of various types, alarm codes and access codes from sensitive and
valuable locations to computer information. This is a big responsibility. This is something
that can seriously back-fire in the face of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie though aware
of this, are more concerned for profit and “hope for the best” when using and deploying
security personnel. The guard force is in a strategic position to effect close occupation of
any and all sites and information. They can effectively lock out the bourgeoisie and
access revolutionary councils. As many locations are under 24/7 protection, this gives
security great power under the right circumstances, even surpassing that of the police.
Security is most visible in their role of protecting real estate. Here they attempt to
intervene to prevent property destruction whether accidental or intentional. They also
stand as a deterrent to break and enter situations. They must be familiar with fire alarm
response protocol and the layout of the property so that fire fighters can deal with
potential fire damage. They must also be prepared to deal with leaks and floods and the
protocol in handling this. Damage can arise from people breaking windows, doing graffiti
or vandalism.


Computers and information are another area for which security is responsible for
protecting. As computers and electronic data proliferate and more business is done via the
internet, security keeps a watchful eye on all of it. Often security is entrusted with the
sensitive information of the bourgeoisie. They have access codes and passwords and
computer areas are usually monitored on camera by security. Security is involved in
monitoring the internet including preventing electronic spying and virus attacks.
A few guards serve to protect the lives of prominent people as body guards. Their
job is to protect their client from bodily harm, catching bullets if necessary. In this arena
they act most like private police.

UNIONIZING SECURITY GUARDS

Due to the nature of security, it is wide spread, diverse in function, operates
around the clock and has a high staff turn over. Remember that most people working as
security guards would rather be doing some other work. They are either “forced choice”,
i.e., conscripted/drafted or find their way into security due to lack of any other
opportunity. Many immigrants wind up in security due to the low wages available and
bars to other employment. Even within security there is a hierarchy and favoritism. The
law pays lip service to equality in the work place including the security profession, but in
reality under capitalism, this is not followed. There are also a host of grievances that are
suffered by security personnel on a daily basis. This partly accounts for the high turn over
in security personnel. Otherwise, people leave due to burn-out, the constant threat of
danger (especially in events, malls, hospitals, transit, airport and casinos), the lack of
respect received from the public and in shop friction and factionalism. Security guards as
a result are a real challenge to organize into fighting unions.

Most security organizations have a small nucleus of guards who are long timers,
being in the same company and site for a year or more. These people can be organized by
education into the mind set necessary to become unionized. They already know how
unjust the hierarchical structure and wage differential between individuals is. Favoritism
is rampant where for subjective reasons, one person advances over another regardless of
seniority, intelligence and qualifications in contravention to sense and many so-called
contracts. Many advances verge on whimsy and on some form of favoritism. There are
common grievances concerning education opportunities, pay discrepancies and wrongful
disciplinary and termination issues. Safety issues are often ignored, even after someone is
injured, to the detriment of all. If a client is somehow offended or frightened, all hell
breaks loose. When a customer slips, falls and injures themselves, security must turn
themselves in-side-out to make sure the client is not liable in the pursuit of a law suit by
the injured party. When a guard is injured, they cannot sue by force of their security
contract. Other provisions and understanding is in force. Provisions like the Workers’
Compensation Board (WCB) and an understanding that there is a danger and risk
associated with the job and the guard must sign an agreement before even working a
contract. Even in the face of unjust practices by the bourgeoisie toward security workers,
they are still viewed en masse as enemies of the people. Thus education must extend from
the knowledgeable security guard to other guards and out to the public at large and to the
ultra-left opposition.


Given that, someone must start the union ball rolling and this must be done
carefully and in secret, potential union member by potential union member until a corps
of a union is built. Not all persons will be equally approachable, some being for, some
antagonistic and many neutral. At the point where much of the shop floor is in favour, the
proto-union can either certify as a union within the company and independent thereof or
join an existing union as a local. The more individuals as members that are thus
unionized, the safer for all individuals when the news of the new union is announced to
the bosses. The certified union can then begin to deal with shop grievances, negotiate for
benefits and declare strike notice. But even this is not the end all and be all. Ultimately, a
fighting union must be revolutionary with the aim of eliminating the wage system and the
capitalist order. It must join all workers in a common cause; a cause to end oppression,
end exploitation for profit on all quarters, end all prejudice no matter what kind, eliminate
brutality, end bureaucracy and bourgeois terror. Anything less is reform and subject to
corruption, accommodating to capitalism and betrayal.

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Tags: Lenin, Smashing, apparatus, choice., forced, guards, labor, leftist, military, police, More…security, state, the, union

Comment by William Prest on October 4, 2011 at 12:22am
If it has not been already stated, then I emphasize here that increasing numbers of security guards are being drawn from the ranks of immigrants into N. America and the UK. This puts another spin on the whole question so that accepting or blanket condemnation of security workers is not such a cut and dried question, but needs further analysis

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