Christopher Dorner – A Capitalist Tragedy

Revolutionaries frequently write about the tragedies of capitalism. Sometimes it seems more ink is used to talk about the horrors of capitalism rather than highlighting examples of working class struggle, large or small. As internationalists, we believe the ushering in of a new society (that we call communism) will be the result of a revolution by the working class. This revolution will not automatically result from the “tragedies” or horrors that capitalism produces, but through the conscious effort of the working class wanting to transform the world.

This article is about a different kind of tragedy; a tragedy in the dramatic sense.

The media in the United States has been occupied with coverage about Christopher Dorner. Every American by now knows who he was, what he did, and his predictable but tragic demise. Somewhat amusing though has been the public sympathy for the ex-cop turned cop hunter. For a country that relentlessly propagates that the “men in blue” serve and protect selflessly and that cases of police abuse are either exaggerations or rare, the fact that there has even been a lack of outright vicious denunciations of the man by the media comes as a surprise.

Revolutionaries (either legitimate or self-styled) have already written about the “political lessons” we can learn from this. The perceptive ones recognize that acts of individual violence are not revolutionary and that Dorner’s manifesto is politically reactionary (criticizing the LAPD because it is “corrupt”, yet praising the military, all within a theme of American nationalism). Others viewed that Dorner was waging some sort of one man’s protracted people’s war against the police. Dorner was not against the police – he wanted to change police from being a corrupt, racist institution to one that exacts legitimate “justice.”

We must do more than pat ourselves on the back, congratulating ourselves on not being dumb leftists who cheerlead anything they interpret as being “against the system.” We must also do more than perform armchair psychoanalysis. Dorner’s extreme acts, his reasons for doing them, and the surprising amount of sympathy he received should be looked at as a symptom of capitalism itself, or as how Dorner said himself: “I am the walking exigent circumstance you created.”

Dorner saw wrong in an unfair world. A recurring theme throughout his manifesto is of the bad guy who gets away with injustice, and that nobody is able or willing to stand up for what is right. He writes about his time in grade school where a schoolmate calls him a “nigger”, retaliating against him, and his disbelief that he gets in trouble as well. You can feel his deep seeded disgust as he describes LAPD police taking photographs of dead bodies on their phones and having contests on whose is more gruesome. His account of his reporting of an officer for abusing a mentally disabled man, the proceeding cover-up, and his dismissal from the police force is enraging and believable.

For him, there could only be one way to right these wrongs. He declared war against the LAPD. He named names, spoke at length about how his police and military training will be used the police, and had no illusions he would is someway survive. Dorner is in this sense a capitalist tragedy – a man, with a clear set of what he perceives to be justice, placing himself against an overpowering force that he knew he couldn’t defeat.

Capitalism maintains itself through injustice. Capitalism maintains itself through exploitation of labor. Capitalism enforces itself through war, through racism, through sexism, and the police which enforces the “justice” of capitalism. Dorner could no longer handle these contradictions, but yet could not see the contradictions within his own outlook. It is only up the working class, all over the world, to restore a real form of justice that respects humanity through taking the reins of society and transforming it through revolutionary action against the capitalist system.

  • R. S.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013