It is not an accident, of course, that this escalation of police repression, as well as the militarization of policing connected to it, parallels both the rise of neoliberalism since the late 1970s and the brutal austerity policies that have been used to respond to this economic model’s crisis more recently.
Although it is often equated to the pursuit of small government, neoliberalism…is above all a political project aimed at redistributing wealth from the bottom to the top and at increasing the power of capital over labor. As this ongoing project understandably leads to popular protest, certain branches of the state grow rather than being reduced.
To reduce social benefits, labor and democratic rights and to sell valuable public assets for a pittance to private investors, a government needs to beef up its police force, while also building new prisons to manage the “surplus population” that neoliberal policies invariably produce.
In other words, the use of rubber bullets, arbitrary arrests, intimidation of journalists and violation of the right to assemble are integral to the functioning of a capitalist system in crisis. And this, of course, is just one of the ways that capitalism is fundamentally at odds with democracy.