by The Editors May 29, 2020
We cannot feel anything but horror upon seeing the latest video of police executing a black man. We cannot help but feel gratification at watching the guilty precinct burn. But we also must reflect that many decades of tearing down symbols of racist oppression have not caused racism to end or even abate. What else must be done?
There is no doubt that US Capitalism cannot live without violence towards people of color. From the murder of the indigenous to slavery to Jim Crow to mass incarceration to police murders, it continues apace. In segregated schools, neighborhoods, workplaces, hospitals we are kept apart. But this is not “human nature” or historical accident. It is a plan. A plan to divide and weaken and intimidate us, all of us. Generations of politicians, mostly liberals, have been forced to acknowledge racism. Black politicians have been elected to high office and many now sit atop police departments, but still nothing changes. Because capitalism depends on having an army of the unemployed, an army of low-wage workers, a predominance of lousy schools and hospitals, segregated by race, in order to lower the standards for all and keep profits high. And racism allows the capitalist class to blame such inequities on its most affected victims.
It is heartening to see that many of the protests in Minneapolis are multiracial, mass actions in a city under 20 percent black. Because one aspect of a successful movement to challenge US capitalism is that it must be multiracial. It is heartening to see rebellions in many cities where police brutality was not publicized last week. But such a movement cannot be one that emerges only in moments of outrage after another racist killing. The success of action cannot just be measured in how many fires are set or windows broken.
If there is be an actual overturning of capitalism, which will be a massive violent struggle, it will rely on the difficult process of educating our fellows to understand how and why racism is embedded in capitalism and that one cannot reform the police or elect a Democrat to fix it or rely on a legal victory. It will depend on building ongoing struggles on the job, in classrooms and in our neighborhoods during ordinary times – struggles to win reforms and serve as schools of political understanding. It will rely on winning soldiers and National Guardsmen to turn the guns around. It will rely on depending on ourselves, not politicians or other “leaders” to make change for us.
There is an inspiring history of many multiracial struggles in the US, from that against slavery, to the Wobblies (the IWW), to the Communist Party led integrated CIO to the Civil Rights movement and many more. So yes, let us march together, let us yell loudly and act boldly, but let us commit to building ties with our fellow workers, students and soldiers in order to plan how to discard capitalism and fight for a society which we run for our own benefit and which will have no need for racism or sexism, which will outlaw those practices – communism. We must examine the successes and failures of previous revolutions, overcome the cynicism engendered by the reversion of the USSR and China to capitalism. We must examine the failures of other strategies which have failed to elevate workers such as national liberation. It is a long hard road, but possible if we keep in mind that we are the vast majority and we are one.