By Ed Dalton
Most Austin residents believe they are about to elect their first social democrat, Jose Garza, to Travis County District Attorney. Since Garza handily defeated incumbent Margaret Moore by 68 percent in the primary runoff elections, securing his place as the Democratic Party’s nominee, he only has to defeat Republican candidate Martin Harry. The reformists could not be happier, but what does this really mean for the working class, the poor, and protesters?
Like many other social democrats, Garza is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. He is also a former federal public defender and a board member of Workers Defense Project, an Austin-based non-governmental organization (NGO). Workers Defense Project mostly assists undocumented workers in navigating bureaucracy, and in spite of its name does not actually defend the proletariat—a more fitting name would be Workers Assistance Project.
Social democrats excel at making themselves appear more left, more militant, and more combative than they really are. While being a public defender is certainly a commendable job, especially in the federal system where over 90 percent of cases result in a guilty verdict, Garza has now switched sides and is campaigning to become Austin’s top cop. The rest of us get the privilege to be put in jail by a ‘socialist’ where we will get ‘socialist’ sack lunches with the same rancid meat provided for so long in the dungeons of Travis County.
Presumably, Garza believes that going from defending the accused masses to putting them in jail is a step forward. This is the rationale of a scab who crosses the picket line—they believe that through working respectfully with the boss and without harming productivity, somehow, the men on the picket lines will benefit. There is also a reason that scabs are perhaps the most detested creature in American history, and with them the prosecutors, vermin in their own right.
Garza argues, and sadly the pro-imperialists who pretend to be friends to the people believe, that he can implement changes to the system of incarceration, criminalization, and torture known as the prison system. He claims that he will abolish cash bail, and of course no one is a fan of having to bribe their way out of prison, however, Travis County already awards personal recognizance bonds for most non-violent and first offenders. For non-violent offenses, bonds are generally low enough where there is little opposition from either side on the system of PR bonds. The distinction is mainly one of semantics.
What about the so-called ‘violent offenders?’ Is it still at the discretion of the police, who have proven to have no real popularity or trust in Austin, to determine who is ‘violent’ and who is not? They have proven they believed completely non-violent people to be violent when they shot Mike Ramos to death for nothing, and they have proven that they believe violent fascists to be ‘non-violent’ when they allowed Daniel Perry to go home after murdering Garrett Foster. The fact is, the police anywhere routinely overcharge offenses and trump up “violence” wherever they can, especially if this is what they need to do to keep someone locked up.
The social democratic infatuation with dividing the people into ‘violent’ and ‘non-violent’ categories borders on the religious. It is a devotion in which they justify their own backward capitalist views that the imperialist state should maintain its use of violence, and those they use it against are forbidden from responding in kind, hence foreclosing any hope the workers might have for socialism and liberation. Garza makes good use of the mass movement against the police for his own electoral ends, but cannot be anything other than an enemy of the people—an agent of the state committed to incarceration and the enforcement of law in the interest of the owning class. He has ridden on a wave of anti-police sentiment all the way up to the gallows. There he prepares “socialist” nooses for workers’ necks.
It is almost certain that Garza will not only come off of some of his ‘leftist’ rhetoric when elected, but that he will continue viewing political charges as criminal charges and make no distinction between the two. And of course, he will continue serving the police by allowing them to separate protesters into who they decide are ‘violent’ and ‘non-violent,’ based on nothing more than how these protesters treat the very police they are protesting.
Garza represents a smiling face of the repressive state, and he does so by courting the so-called ‘left.’ Recalling the history of social democracy in Europe dispels any illusions one might have about Garza. It was social democrats who held top prosecutor and police positions when the May Day massacre in Berlin took place in 1929, and it was actual socialists that were lowered into the ground. Swindlers who call themselves socialists will still be prosecuting Communists, whom the police will try again to prevent from marching in next year’s May Day. There should be no confusion—a prosecutor is the police, and there are no good police. It is no good to join such an outfit, regardless of who the individual might be.
Far from harming the repressive state, Garza does wonders to reconcile with it, to give it a friendly appearance, all while carrying out the same repulsive function. The ‘honest prosecutor’ only allows the torment of the people to be legitimized and sanitized. In this way, the good cop is actually the worst one. It is he who helps the rotten system survive past its expiration date by masking the rotten taste and smell with a flowery deception.
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