United States: On the Events of Dallas and Baton Rouge

The following is a translation from Italian of a comment made a few hours after the Dallas Shootings and before the subsequent shootings of police in Baton Rouge. Our US comrades will be making a further statement shortly but in the meantime have sent some updates to this piece in the paragraph below.

The forces of imperialism are coming home to roost. Both the shooters were in the US military and their state of mind is a product of a very prolonged period serving in a war. The Dallas shooter was killed with a remote controlled robot like that used in Afghanistan. The shooters themselves weren't a part of any protest movement at all, despite the fact that now Black Lives Matter is being portrayed as a violent organization for the purposes of political repression. The Democratic Party's chosen "leader" of Black Lives Matter Deray McKesson (who allegedly earns a six figure salary talking about race at Yale) and after a chat with President Obama has come out now calling for Black Lives Matter to "cooperate" with the police...that is to say isolate the militants and help the police in repression of the movement he supposedly leads. So BLM is to be sacrificed, just as the Occupy movement was crushed with over 7,000 arrests. The political conventions of the Democrats and Republicans are like armed military camps as a result of the killings. The US is in for a long period of unrest and repression.

Internationalist Notes

After Dallas

The tragic events reported in the news tell us that a black, former US Army soldier, who fought in Afghanistan, tired of seeing his black "brothers" being killed like stray dogs by the state police, took a rifle and killed five white police officers during an anti-racist demonstration organised for the umpteenth killing of an unarmed black boy for who knows what offence [1].

The episode itself could be headlined in a thousand ways: an act of despair, the act of a madman, a symptom of social malaise, a response to the nth act of racism. You could go on and on with amateur sociological and criminological speculation.

Obama, as a good fireman for the system, has taken aim at both sides, saying that the murders perpetrated against unarmed young blacks must be condemned as must the massacre of the five white police officers executed by a black citizen. America is great, its democracy is the strongest with fair and timely justice (even if the facts deny it). All is well under the Washington sky and in the shadow of the stars and stripes.

Hypocrisy aside, there is not a word of truth in these statements. The US economy, far from having overcome the devastating crisis that it itself created, survives distributing its negative effects to the four corners of the world market. And, it is involved in constant war on several international fronts, from Africa to the Middle East, although the Obama administration prefers to act indirectly using soft power by funding the political forces in the various civil wars which it has caused. These wars are about allowing the dollar to remain the dominant currency in financial markets and thus a very reassuring haven for speculation. But despite an outlay of 3,300 billion dollars to the banks, this capital has not gone to the real economy that is struggling to recover. Speculation is always around the corner, public debt is increasing (130% of GDP), the federal deficit is 15 trillion dollars, unemployment is at least twice that declared (6.2%) and the risk of new speculative bubbles bursting is on the cards.

Things are even worse socially, and it is within this disastrous situation that the causes of such police violence and the exasperation of the American black community, and beyond, must be sought.

This crisis has reached alarming proportions for those who control economic and political power. Even the official statistics issued by government agencies have calculated that the process of impoverishment has intensified alarmingly, and figures were already worrying before 2008. At the base of the social pyramid, consisting mostly of blacks and Latinos, there has been an increased propensity to commit crimes against people, theft, against property, and robbery. It has given the establishment the opportunity to turn things on their head by placing the burden for "black" deaths on the African American community itself.

The argument is simple and straightforward. Out of a population of 320 million people, only 13% are African American. But that 13% carries out 57% of murders and 63% of robberies. The conclusion is equally simple: arm yourselves and take the law into your own hands, to the delight of Donald Trump and the powerful gun lobby. So the police must act with an iron fist against this black "deviancy"; if it becomes excessive it is only because the police do not want to risk having a white policeman wounded rather than a potential black thug. If the black turns out not even to have been a delinquent don’t worry. If he was black he was likely to be a criminal. According to this logic, in 2015 there were 346 deaths among the African-American population, including many minors and many who were unarmed. In June 2016 the number already stands at 123 and is likely to increase, despite the mass protests that have occurred in major American cities.

Even the empirical truth is very simple. Whilst concentration of wealth and exclusive financial crime that has put millions of Americans on the streets is reserved for whites, petty criminal survival is reserved for the black population. The crisis has produced, according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure, 49.7 million Americans living below the poverty line of $23,283 per year for a single-income family of four. Of these, 20 million are well below that and survive on $20,000 a year. Then there are about 50 million who are above the poverty line, but only just, and risk being sucked into the "below the threshold" hell. Statistically it means that nearly one third of American citizens live or survive around either side of the threshold. The African-American population is in a huge chunk of this category. 90% of its 13% part of the total population is under the fateful threshold. No health insurance, often homeless, no work or casual badly paid jobs as well as poor schooling and high infant mortality. Of the three million poor children two thirds are in African-American families. Lack of economic integration means impossibility of social integration, which only means hunger, economic and social misery and greater propensity for crime. In a capitalist society, of course, money isn’t spent on prevention, on education, on health care for all. Just as an aside, Obama’s health reform has been wrecked in the meshes of the lobby of the Insurance Companies lobby so that it only partially reaches a few million citizens of average social means and some of the more affluent, but remains out of reach for "below threshold" people. The amount spent on law enforcement operations, and strengthening of law enforcement agencies costs less and results are immediate. The money that is spent on dealing both with the immediate emergency, and in preventive action, is not so much and not only against petty crime, but because of the fear that from the bowels of capitalism the suffering might fight back, which would seriously put the entire apparatus of the largest middle-class society in the world in crisis.

The social hell in which the new slaves of capital are ghettoised is now at the gates of the rich bourgeois citadel.

Their fear is that, with the continuing crisis, demonstrations against racism, against the killing of black citizens, will become episodes of more intense and serious protest. The Los Angeles revolt of 1992 still sticks in the memory of the American ruling class when first “the city of angels”, then half of America, was criss-crossed with the anger of the desperate and black underclass who started deadly clashes with police departments, without any organisation, without an objective and with a minimal level of political consciousness.

Our fear, on the other hand, is that if the exasperation of millions of blacks, workers, the underclass and the dispossessed were to raise its head, there will be a repeat of the failure of '92 in Los Angeles. Or that they take to the already defeated roads of the reformist Martin Luther King, or those unrealistic Black Panthers and the Black Muslims of Malcolm X. The first is somehow revived in the Black Lives Matter movement, and the latter (the New Black Panther Party) are re-starting forty years after their dispersal in the late seventies. In all these cases, the danger is always to put the racial aspect before that of class. "Black power" is not what is needed today nor is a race war between whites and blacks, but the struggle of the international proletariat against the power of capital, whether white, black or yellow, is.

Racism is a form of control of the labour force at the command of capital. The counter-racism of blacks against whites is an instrument of division between proletarians that makes it so much easier for the ruling class everywhere. Wage labour has no colour except the grey one of exploitation which has increasingly strong shades of poverty, hunger, war and death. And that goes for the unemployed and the dispossessed of the old imperialistic "citadels" as it does for black proletarians who are the first to be affected. It also goes for the white working class who suffer the same fate with only some months delay and with a few guarantees more. It applies to migrants who flee from one hell to arrive at another, where all workers have the same grey colour and live in the same state of subjection to the crisis of capital that oppresses them by land and sea.

This is not a clash between the races but it has to be a confrontation between classes. Class struggle not race war.

FD

July 15 2016

[1] The anti-racist demonstration was apparently organised as a reaction to two deaths, one being a young man who was walking away from police unarmed (as mentioned here) and had done nothing wrong whilst the second was a legally armed man with a broken tail light, shot four times while going for his ID which the cop had asked him to get.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Comments

I like this article because it tackled a difficult topic honestly, recognising the difficult issues involved, but managed to set an understanding of events in the context of class rather than race. I came across a report on a study which whilst not tackling the question of income group and police stops had found that the proportion of black men shot during arrest is no higher than the proportion of whites or latinos etc in the same situation and suggested that the discrimination lies in the high proportion of blacks who are stopped and searched. I think the racial problems are going to get more complex and it can be hard to keep clear perspectives just from what is presented in the press and hope that future articles can continue to respond head on like this and provide a clear framework for understanding events

Racism is an issue which I hope can be tackled in Aurora. I could see an anti racist headline going down well in the workplace.

WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE! RACISTS OFF!

I know you like it!

The formatting removed the four asterisks!