Prisoner Writes on: “Why can’t racial oppression be ended under this system of capitalism?”



Editors’ note: We at periodically publish letters from prisoners on revolutionary theory and struggle, as well as other aspects of human experience and thought, including conditions and struggle within the prisons themselves. We appreciate and learn from all correspondence from the prisons.

The following from a prisoner in the Southwest is a follow-up to an earlier letter from this prisoner posted at “In ‘Racial Oppression Can Be Ended—but Not Under This System,’ Bob Avakian perfectly presents the case.” The opinions in the letters we publish are those of the writers and not necessarily those of

Why can’t racial oppression be ended under this system of capitalism?

It all has to do with the fact that, the origins of capitalism are deeply intertwined with the system of racial slavery. The genocide of the American Indigenous people, and the enslavement of the African people, is what generated that primitive wealth that allowed capitalism to emerge. It is what led to the idea of race and racism to be conceived. In order to divide and to justify the oppression, brutal exploitation, slavery and the genocide of a group of human beings at the hands of other groups of humans for the sole selfish purpose of accumulating wealth.

Racism is not something you find in the biology or nature of human beings. It is a historical invention. It is a consequence of slavery, not the other way around. The enslavement of the African people began as an economic tool that was used as a means to appropriate capital wealth. That is what gave rise to ideas of a racial division between white Europeans who were pursuing such wealth, and people of color, who white Europeans saw as a means to appropriate wealth. The differences in how those two civilizations had developed, one being more advanced than the other (which has nothing to do with the people or race, but through other factors such as location, technology such as the invention of tools and the domestication of animals, and plants etc., inconsequential to what group of people did it first and developed from it and the group of people who were in a different position). This led to believing there was some sort of supremacy to the white race. But it all started with pursuit of wealth and the people of color being the means to that wealth. The horrific and brutal means to get this wealth out of the less developed people was then justified by the invention of race, racism, and ideals of white supremacy.

Those brutal means of appropriating such wealth, like the genocide of the indigenous Americans and the enslavement of the African people, is what allowed the system of capitalism to emerge. That means that racism and racial oppression can be counted among the many features and dynamics that make up the capitalist/imperialist system.

That being the case, you can’t end one without ending the other. If one truly desires to see an end to racism and racial oppression, you would have to get rid of the capitalist system. There is no other way around it. Put it like this: racism and racial oppression are among the many cells that make up the whole body organism of capitalism. There’s not just simply eliminating that single cell you want, because its life blood, its essence is being a part of the main organism. It will always regenerate and even mutate in its adaptation, but never disappear, not unless you destroy the main body organism that it is a part of.

The violence and oppression dished out by the state institutions against Black and Brown people is done to keep those submitting themselves to the exploitation in line, and criminalizing, in order to put or do away with those the capitalist system itself forces society to exclude by the very dynamics and nature of capitalism. Since capitalism is set up to polarize the capital wealth of society to one side, the opposite side is thus condemned to poverty, which consequently results in creating the conditions for crime. So if there’s whole sections of people, specifically Black & Brown people, who while at the same time, being the source of society’s wealth through their forced submission to exploitation are also those who, by a capitalist society inherent racism, can so easily exclude people of color, right after it already used and abused them.

Under capitalism, it is impossible to provide a living to those it is forced to exclude. The state is then tasked with, among many things, two things I’ll point out: It is tasked with expanding the capitalist economy by finding new people and resources to exploit. It is also tasked with keeping in “order” or outright doing away with those it already used up. Being that they are now considered a “drain” to society. It does this “cleaning up of society” by criminalizing those it has excluded and forced into crime or other form of informal economy and even a life of vagabonds.

So the “war on crime” “war on drugs” really translates to a war on Black & Brown people as well as poor people in general. Such a profound contradiction you find in this type of society, the act of waging a “war on crime” when you create, through your chosen means of production, the conditions that create and harbor crime. And when you force these conditions on sections of people through government policy and through consequential machinations of the capitalist system, you’re essentially criminalizing whole sections of people, in this case Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans.

Blacks & Latinos are criminalized as they are segregated into purposely maintained ghettos and barrios, which lack many opportunities at a decent living. In their desperation, are forced to get into crime, like robbing and selling drugs (drugs that the state has purposely made illegal and which the government has been exposed, time and time again, to have a hand, directly and indirectly in these drugs making it to the streets).

It is this segregation, and the deplorable conditions, along with the nature dictated by capitalism that one must adopt to succeed in such society, that played a major role in certain sections of Black & Brown people to develop into the ruthless, cut-throat, money obsessed individuals you find today. Which gives the repressive forces of the state, that excuse, to unleash all manner of violence and terrorism against the Black & Latino oppressed people.

There can be no ending of racial oppression without ending capitalism, as also, there’s no reforming the police. The police, as they have manifested in a capitalist society, are to protect and serve the interests of the state, which serves the interest of capital and the capitalist class. The police are tasked with enforcing the law, the law under capitalism having mainly to do with keeping in order, keeping in check, the people who either step out or are forced out of the formal way of doing things. They also hide or sweep up, the physically visual contradictions of capitalism. Speaking here of the people that develop from poverty. And this the police do so ruthlessly.

The police’s hyper aggressive approach to Black & Brown people has essentially criminalized them. Yes, through racism, but also through economic policy. The limitations of the capitalist system in America, forces Black, Brown and poor people to be regarded as “loose ends to cut” as they get wrongfully blamed for certain economic calamities in Society. When the blame actually lies in the workings of the capitalist system itself.

But truly, when it comes down to it, the police’s violent ruthless approach to Black and Brown people is about also enforcing and establishing the dominance of white supremacy and the capitalist state. Keeping in check, through violence, terror and manipulating the oppressed people. Who, if they were to ever to gain a scientific political consciousness and were to unite and led under scientific leadership could spell the beginning of the end for the capitalist/imperialist system. Knowing this, it is no wonder that there exists in America, a so-called “War on Crime,” “War on Drugs,” and the new “operation legend” which are terms that mask the genocidal intentions of the state against Black & Brown people. A slow genocide carried out by the police through its unrestrained murder of Black & Brown people and also their mass incarceration, preventing a lot of Black & Brown people from reproducing, which is also a form of genocide.

So how can one expect to reform the police under this system when the police is also a dynamic feature of the capitalistic system as they are among the instruments of its enforcement and defense.

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