Revolution #73, December 17, 2006
Police Murder: What’s the Problem? And What’s the Real Solution?
How do we get out of this situation, with the police gunning down Black and Latino and other “minority” oppressed nationality youth? With over 2 million people in prison or jail here, in the so-called “greatest country in the world?”
Through “buying Black” – or going for revolution?
Right now people are fighting mad about the murder of Sean Bell. How many more must die? How many more must be added to the endless list of people – to the millions of human beings – who were slaughtered in the “middle passage of slavery? Who were lynched by the thousands during the days of Jim Crow? And who now are murdered by cops in the big cities, over and over?
When will this chain of enslavement, exploitation, and massive imprisonment be broken? And how could this happen, for real? Right now this is being debated, in a way that it isn’t in “normal times.”
Some people are saying that Black people need to boycott non-Black-owned businesses and spend their money with Black businesses and look that way for for the solution. They want to build up the class of small “entrepeneurs” – that is, capitalists -- among Black people.
But where would this go? This class of small-time capitalists must still exploit other people to survive. And who would those people be? They must still depend on the big banks and financial institutions for loans and other forms of financing. And who would control that dependency and how would that be used? And these small capitalists would still have to compete with each other, with “only the strong surviving” – all of which would compel them to throw whatever power they did accumulate into extending and defending that exploitation, and strengthening their position in the dog-eat-dog competition. And they’d have to do all that as part of a global empire that feeds off the sweat and blood of people the whole world over. Who wants to be part of that? The point is NOT that Black capitalists are somehow the enemy – in fact, they too are held down in this racist system and should be united with in their efforts to resist discrimination and when they step forward against the system. And in fighting against police brutality and the system more generally we should unite with people who put forward and follow this strategy. But the cold truth is this: going down that capitalist road can’t lead to real liberation.
Look at this way. If you’re sick, you need to know what’s making you sick. You can’t treat stomach cancer like it was just a flu bug. You need the right diagnosis, and then you definitely need the right cure for it.
“Buying Black” may seem easy and logical and common sense – but it doesn’t cure the disease. The disease that’s making people sick like this – and that’s been afflicting people for hundreds of years – is capitalism. Capitalism, with its law of profit over everything.
Capitalism fueled slavery in the first place – and in turn gorged itself and grew fat and ugly on the labor of the slaves. Capitalism kept Black people on the plantations during Jim Crow – until it became more profitable to mechanize the farming, throw people off the land, and then exploit them in the cities as low-wage workers, last hired and first fired. Capitalism threw Black people out of the jobs when something else became more profitable, and trapped today’s youth in a world where they are forced to bounce between crime, prison and low-wage work. Capitalism generated and fortified the vicious white supremacist political and social institutions, and the equally vicious racist ideas, that continue to define so-called “American civilization.” Capitalism today has nothing to offer the youth but dead-end drugs and equally dead-end religions. And the capitalists have people running things now who have a definite genocidal logic and element against Black people in their ideas and programs.
You can’t cure the ills and outrages of capitalism with more capitalism.
The people need a whole different thing, something radically and fundamentally different. A radical break – where you uproot the whole economic and political system that produced and keeps producing this oppression, instead of trying to get in on it. Where you bring forward a new state power which is determined to eliminate all oppression and, as a crucial part of that, the oppression of Black people and other oppressed nationalities – and which takes giant leaps in every sphere of society to make that happen ASAP. A society where the leadership welcomes and encourages wrangling and dissent, as a key part of getting at the truth and transforming the world and creating a society where people can breathe and flourish. And where the leadership leads all this in a way that supports and fights for and helps people bring forward new ideas and institutions based on getting at the TRUTH. Ideas and institutions that say no more to haves lording it over the have-nots; to whites oppressing non-whites; to men oppressing women. No more to one group controlling the wealth and power and making the other slave for them to make them richer and more powerful. And no more to the lies that justify it all.
No, you don’t cure capitalism with more capitalism; you cure it by revolution – a communist revolution, one that sweeps away everything reactionary.
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