Thursday, June 04, 2020

The Despair of Protest

“A riot is the language of the unheard” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Not so long ago Trump was praising anti-lockdown protesters which included armed white militia men who occupied the Michigan state capitol buildings demanding an end to public health measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. Many of them were haranguing hospital workers nurses and blocking ambulances from reaching the hospitals, but to Trump he described them as “good people.” There were no such police responses to the anti-lockdown protests which were composed mostly of white people. Despite many of wielding assault rifles the police dealt gently with them. Yet for Trump, you are a “thug” for demonstrating against police brutality. He wants the regular US army to be deployed to suppress “anarchist antifa agitators” as he perceives the protesters. He is only the personification and odious symptom of a deeper diseased malaise.

There comes a moment when patience runs out. Reform and legislation has failed to eliminate the curse of racism. . The tactic of firing tear gas and shooting rubber bullets into peaceful crowds has been repeated at protest after protest. Socialists are not at all surprised that so many of the protesters against the killing of George Floyd by police have resorted to violence and  destruction to express their anger. They have grown weary of the unfulfilled promises to end the persistent prejudice. The status quo has failed to address their grievances. The death of George Floyd is not the cause of the unrest; he has become the symbol of the centuries of harassment and those complicit and culpable for the the racial hatred never being held accountable.

Revolution is the goal of the World Socialist Movement but we acknowledge that no viable mass socialist organisation yet exists that can help workers in their workplaces to coordinate a campaign to agitate for and demand collective expropriation of the means of economic production from the capitalist class and for common ownership. We are still very far away from social revolution.

 The WSM concedes that the majority of our fellow-workers are not yet class-conscious revolutionaries. Even for those who say they support socialism, most have little understanding of what it really is. As of early 2020, 28 percent of Americans hold a favourable view of socialism, which includes almost 40 percent of Americans aged 18 to 38 but they share Bernie Sanders view that socialism is a Scandinavian-style welfare state. A mixture of private ownership and government-run public services. A few hold a more radical opinion on what socialism is and accept Richard Wolff’s description of it as a form of economy based upon cooperatives and employee-owned enterprises. Clearly, we are very far from any sort of understanding that socialism means the end of capitalist commodity production for profit.

In light of the current uprisings in numerous cities in the United States we should be careful not to romanticize rioting and mistake it as revolutionary action. Perhaps the protests will work towards developing a better class awareness of exploitation but it requires to grow very much more to become significant. Without a knowledge of the irreconcilable class conflict within capitalism there is little chance of political and economic transformation of society. People are not just asking to breathe; they are asking for a breath of fresh air and to breathe freely. We can only hope for a better future if we are true to the victims of the system who cry for justice

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