The following is a review of the events in Ferguson, Missouri by a communist ally observing from the UK. The views expressed are solely those of the author and have been published here to provoke thought and discussion.
By N. Volginn
On Saturday, August 9th 2014, an armed hooligan of colonial power, Officer Darren Wilson, shot dead an eighteen year old named Michael Brown, just days before the latter was due to start college. The next day, the people came out in protest to demand that justice be served, and riots soon followed. Heavily armed and militarized police confronted the protesters and rioters with violence and brutality that shocked the world. Is it any wonder that the police force, an institution specifically designed to maintain the status quo by means of repression and coercion, behaved in such a manner?
Almost three and a half months later, Officer Darren Wilson was allowed to walk free by a so-called ‘grand jury’, which judged, effectively, that in murdering an unarmed black teenager who posed no threat to anyone, Officer Wilson had acted appropriately and had done nothing wrong. Is it any wonder that a ‘justice system’, an institution, like the police force, designed specifically to coercively maintain the dictatorship of the rich against the poor, let this thug of the state who has come into the public eye off the hook?
Ultimately, neither the murder of Michael Brown nor the acquittal of his murderer by the so-called ‘justice system’ should come as a surprise to anyone. The United States witnesses police brutality and racist violence on a daily basis, and even the most deluded of American liberal ‘progressives’ are beginning to doubt the common story of the police being given a bad name simply by ‘a few bad eggs.’ Indeed, one would have to be blind not to acknowledge that there is a much deeper institutional problem when until fairly recently a black person was murdered by police every twenty eight hours. This deeper institutional problem is white supremacist capitalism, the oppressive and exploitative relationship between a repressive white state and the repressed non-white ethnic and national groups, practically internal colonies, which lie within the borders of this state.
The Problem and its Explanation
The United States is an imperialist country. Imperialism is monopoly capitalism, under which the class of super-rich property owners not only rob the proletarian laborers of the surplus value which they produce (surplus value = the difference between the value necessary for the reproduction of the workers’ labor power and the value which the workers’ produce, i.e. profit), as was the case under pre-monopoly capitalism, but also concentrate capital in the hands of a few giant monopoly trusts, businesses and banks. Thus, the exploited class of proletarians is ground down even more as the class which exploits it, the property owning bourgeoisie, shrinks and shrinks as capital becomes more and more concentrated, and the proletariat which produces the wealth of these property owners grows and grows.
Upon the material and historical basis of the development of capitalism had arisen the modern nation which, by Stalin’s definition, is “a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture.” Stalin further said, “It goes without saying that a nation, like every historical phenomenon, is subject to the law of change, has its history, its beginning and end.” Therefore, the historical body of the nation as we understand it today arose and could only arise as a result of the development of modern capitalism and thus the material and social intra- and inter-relationships of nations were determined by the basic laws of capitalism. Thus, the nation being subject to the law of change, the characteristics of nations, their intra- and inter-relationships changed as modern imperialism came into existence and became determined by the laws of modern imperialism.
Thus, the dawn of modern imperialism fundamentally changed the relations between nations, as well as the intra-relations of the nations themselves. And it goes without saying that as economic power and capital became concentrated in the hands of an ever-shrinking class of super-rich property owners, the relations of nations too became relations of dominance in which the vast majority of the world’s ‘oppressed’ nations became chained to a handful of wealthy ‘oppressor’ nations. These few ‘oppressor’ nations are dominant in the world, for they possess finance capital and their monopolies have structured the entire economic base of the globe, with all its institutions, to suit their interests. The maintenance and reproduction of the dominance of the advanced imperialist nations is absolutely dependent upon the exploitation and oppression of the ‘backward’ nations, the value produced in which is transferred by numerous processes into the hands of the ruling classes of the imperialist nations. Hence why Lenin said, “uneven political and economic development is an absolute law of capitalism.”
The contradiction between oppressor and oppressed nations is the primary contradiction in the modern world. The oppression of nation creates within the oppressor nation a common community of interest with imperialism, even within the working class which stands in large part to benefit materially from the exploitation of the oppressed nations. Meanwhile, within the oppressed nation a common community of interest against imperialism is created which includes sections of the population, such as the urban petit-bourgeoisie and even sections of the national bourgeoisie, which would otherwise take on a reactionary, anti-Labour character. Therefore, the struggle for the liberation of the oppressed nations from the yoke of imperialism must be considered a key component of the international revolutionary struggle of the proletariat – indeed, these two things are inseparably bound up with one another, they are one and the same.
But, the reader may well ask, how does all this relate back to the murder of Mike Brown and the institutional white supremacy of the United States? The United States of America is a monstrous and murderous imperialist project built upon the oppression, enslavement and genocide of non-white peoples by white settler-colonialists. Few Marxists would deny the obvious fact that the non-white peoples of the United States – Blacks, Chicanos, Mexicans, etc. – constitute oppressed nations, but what many self-proclaimed ‘Marxists’ vehemently deny, or more often accept in principle but deny the real-world implications of, is the dialectically logical conclusion. In order for there to be oppressed nations there must also be an oppressor nation, which, in this case, is the white population of the United States. The dominance of this white population is built upon the subjugation of the oppressed nations to the interests of supremacist monopoly capital, and as a result many non-white communities have been transformed into ghettoized colonies within the boundaries of a single State, oppressed nations within an imperialist State.
It follows, therefore, that the repressive instruments of the power of the propertied classes i.e. the police, the military, the courts, the prisons etc. are also the enforcers and protectors of white supremacy and as such – their actions legitimized by a racist ideology which both arise from and reproduces the oppressive relations of supremacy – feel themselves quite entitled to attack and murder people of colour, knowing that their actions will go unpunished by the supremacist monopoly capitalist state which they serve. Thus, we find that the constant murders and incidents of racist violence which appear almost daily on the American news media are the result neither of a ‘militarized police force’ nor of the deranged opinions of a few individual ‘bad eggs’, but rather are symptoms of a systemic problem – white supremacy, national oppression and monopoly capitalism.
What’s happening and what shall we do?
The murder of Mike Brown and the acquittal of his racist murderer, Officer Darren Wilson, have exposed white supremacy in the eyes of the world and has split anyone with the slightest political and social knowledge into two irreconcilably hostile camps – those who wish to defend white supremacy, and those who wish to consign it to the rubbish heap of history.
The defenders of this brutal system of white supremacy do not have to be exposed, for they expose themselves by their own actions and pronouncements. The private media which holds a virtual monopoly on public opinion has, from Ferguson to Folkston, labelled the protesters and rioters who express their rage and anger at the system of institutional racial oppression as ‘thugs’ and ‘hooligans’ – reducing their profound protests to ‘looting’ and ‘an excuse to be violent’, and has shaded it all with overtones of chauvinism and petit-bourgeois indifference. The Ku Klux Klan and other right-wing vigilante organisations have declared their ‘solidarity’ with the pig who murdered an unarmed black teenager on the threshold of adulthood, donating to this smug, self-righteous little rat hundreds of thousands of dollars. And of course, once again, the liberals, presenting themselves as the ‘rational’ alternative to the racists of the KKK and Co., decry the resistance of the oppressed and the destruction of property, comparing it to the violence utilized by the oppressive bourgeois dictatorship against the downtrodden and exploited people who have committed the greatest of all sins – standing up for themselves against their masters.
Yet, we also see a widespread disillusionment with supremacist capitalism, for all over the United States progressive whites are joining hands with the oppressed national minorities in protests and demonstrations, many of which have been hammered at by significant violent repression themselves. All over the world people from Gaza to the eastern Ukraine and to London are demonstrating in solidarity with Ferguson. The battle lines are being drawn, and the class war appears to have spilled into the open.
So, the fundamental question is, what will happen? People are in the streets, energized with a counter-hegemonic rejection of all that the existing order stands for, and are actively resisting the repressive forces which have kept them bent double under the boot of monopoly capital and racism for far too long. However, the great tragedy of the situation is that it seems this situation, which has the American ruling classes shaking in their boots, seems destined to come to nothing. The people must transform themselves and their entire society, by seizing the means of production, by throwing out the settler-colonialists and establishing control over their own communities and their own destinies, by tearing down all the structures of white power and private property and by surging forward towards Socialism. In order for this to happen, there must be guidance and leadership from the advanced of the masses, which recognizes the terrain and the line of march and is capable of leading the people – this vanguard is not there, for opportunism and the prominence of the mass petit-bourgeoisie have ravaged the Communist movement, it finds itself on the fringes, incapable of leadership, incapable of transforming the situation into something more than spontaneous revolt. But we know that in building institutions of the oppressed, in taking steps to combat opportunism and revisionism and unite all those who can be united, the day will come when the masses and their vanguard will have the opportunity to deal the death-blow to capitalist-imperialism.
Solidarity with the people of Ferguson and the revolutionary masses everywhere!
Death to supremacist capitalist-imperialism!
Justice for Mike Brown!