Wednesday, June 03, 2020

And so it goes on

The United States of America is once again at a pivotal moment in its history. We have to go back 60 years for another comparable time of nation-wide dissent. There has been peaceful demonstration and there has been aggressive, destructive protests. We fully expected the media to focus its attention on the latter, as it makes better viewing than well-behaved expressions of solidarity. 

We need to clearly recognise the common enemy which is capitalism which in turns empowers white supremacy. Working people must come together to oppose the harmful divide and rule policies of racism. Many segments of the American population are not viewed as fellow citizens but are seen to be the enemy - and we should acknowledge that we are indeed the foe of the oligarchs and plutocrats. Our wrath should be against this capitalist system.

The socialists’ standard analysis is that the police are part of the coercive structure of the state but as socialism grows, just like many other workers, they will become disaffected with the system and side with the revolution. But for the moment in the United States we see a polarised effect. Them and Us. It is incongruous that a movement to highlight police brutality is being met by police brutality.

But glimpses and glimmers of hope shine through.

 In Flint, Michigan, where the local and members of his department joined the protest, saying he wanted it to be a “parade not a protest”. In Newark, New Jersey protest ended without any arrests. “The police showed an uncanny level of restraint. They did not come downtown with tanks and body armor.” In Camden, New Jersey, the police chief and other police officers marched with protesters. In Tennessee the National Guard showed their support for the protests by laying down their riot shields. 

We are not saying that the overwhelming number of police are sympathetic to the protests, their loyalty remains primary to themselves and then secondly to the authorities that pay their wages. We will, however, only get such gestures of empathy when protests remain peaceful. 

While we can understand and sympathise with the rage and fury our best weapon remains peaceful civil disobedience, not bricks and bottles. The tactics of nonviolence can be a frustrating but, nevertheless, popular, peaceful protests have the best chance of winning. Once enough people and organizations within a society (trade unions, community groups) are engaging in civil disobedience and withholding their cooperation, the power will gradually wither from political starvation.

Non-violent means will increase our chances of the police and the National Guard refusing to obey orders. But if you go over to violence, they will remain loyal to one another, perceiving a physical threat against themselves.

Our advice to our fellow-workers across America is the same as we offered fellow-workers in Hong Kong:
To combat despots with violence is to cede to them the choice of battleground and tactics. Amateurs using violence against experts is the quickest way to defeat.

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