“You Can’t Have Capitalism Without Racism”
The United States is a fundamentally racist society with white supremacy at its very core. Police, courts, and the entire government systematically exclude non-white people from political and economic power. Police officers shoot unarmed black people on the streets with impunity. This violence is not individual, it is systemic. As Malcolm X once said, “you can’t have capitalism without racism”. The basic function of racist state repression and police violence is to uphold capitalism. Police apologists often claim their role is simply to “protect and serve”, to impartially enforce the law. But history has shown us the police exist to protect and serve the bosses and landlords, not us. In summary, All Cops Are Bastards.
Capitalism relies on dividing the working class, on the marginalization and super-exploitation of non-white, immigrant, and queer workers. In the United States it was founded on genocide, slavery and Jim Crow. Capital relies on continued oppression and exploitation to maintain itself both through the division of the working class and through internal imperialism, what Marx called the primitive accumulation of capital, a violent process where wealth is torn from marginalized communities and fed back into the capitalist machine. This process can be seen in action through the gentrification of black communities, built up by marginalized people only to be broken down and reabsorbed by white capital.
Without the ability to continually revert to this process, capital would collapse into continuous economic crisis, and without the division of the working class created by the violent repression of some parts of the class (and the relative privilege of others), the bosses and landlords would not be able to maintain their political and economic power for even a single hour. “It is impossible”, in the words of Malcolm X, “for a white person today to believe in capitalism and not believe in racism” for the simple reason that any consistent anti-racism must lead to the dismantling of the capitalist system and any socialism that does not begin with militant anti-racism is doomed to failure.
Unconditional Solidarity Against Police Violence
In the wake of the brutal police murder of George Floyd, DSA Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky stands in unconditional solidarity with working class people fighting for their lives against state repression and reaffirms our commitment to police and prison abolition. The murder of George Floyd has started a cascade of demonstrations of working-class outrage in cities across the country, including the destruction of a police precinct in Minneapolis. This display of proletarian fury is a good reminder to the bosses, landlords, and class-traitorous cops that when we say “Black Lives Matter”, we mean it. This world was built on the backs of working-class people. We have every right to destroy it and build a better one from the ashes of the old.
There can be no socialist movement without confronting white supremacy. The working class must stand together against the murder of black and brown people by police. This moment does not call for the passive sympathy of white bystanders, but active solidarity. We must struggle in this moment not to be allies, but to be comrades. We have already seen tremendous displays of working-class solidarity and comradeship. Unionized bus drivers are refusing to transport cops and arrested protesters. The Twin Cities Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 released a statement expressing how their members also experience racism on a daily basis and firmly stand against the police. The working class united is much stronger than our oppressors.
We demand the prosecution of Derek Chauvin, the prosecution of every officer that has murdered black and brown people in this country, and an end to the mass murder of black and brown people by law enforcement. We demand law enforcement in the United States be defunded. We demand universal healthcare, housing, food, and security during a pandemic, rather than state violence and poverty. We demand a society that cares for people to replace one that murders them.
Towards Working Class Power
We know our complete demands cannot be realized within the context of capitalism. The current state cannot be reformed, it must be dismantled and replaced. DSA is a police and prison abolitionist organization, we call for the complete overturn of the capitalist system and the establishment of a socialist society in its place. But the bosses and landlords will not abolish the police that protect and serve them, the capitalist class will not abolish itself. The workers must take power into our own hands, and to do that we need organization.
Yet even as we organize for the socialist overturn, the everyday horrors of capitalism continue. In order to organize effectively within the existing capitalist system, we must do so on the basis of a series of transitional demands that both address the immediate needs of our class and demonstrate the contradictions inherent in the capitalist system. On a national level, DSA demands the end of cash bail and pretrial incarceration as the first steps toward dismantling the prison-industrial complex. We further demand the abolition of prison labor, the elimination of private for-profit prisons, the right to vote for all adults, and an end to the racist ‘war on drugs’ as the first steps to dismantling the white supremacist power. We call on the AFL-CIO to expel the so-called police ‘unions’ from its ranks in solidarity with oppressed communities and to decisively demonstrate that bourgeois cops are not, and can never be, a legitimate part of the labor movement.
In the particular context of Cincinnati, we recall the murder of Sam DuBose and the city’s protection of the killer cop Ray Tensing. We also condemn the brutal treatment of the homeless in the city and demand adequate housing for all. Even the full realization of these demands would not yet be socialism as we envision it, but it would be the first step on a road toward united working class power.
“Why Don’t You Struggle For the People”
In addition to this country’s long history of police brutality against black and brown people, the uprising that we’re seeing in Minneapolis and elsewhere is an enraged response to the past two and half months, in which the ruling class has forced poor and working people into the jaws of a deadly plague in order to maintain unlimited profits for corporations. The people who protest do so knowing that to publicly gather, march and chant, means exposing themselves to the virus and risking their lives. They braved the tear gas and rubber bullets of the Minneapolis Police Department until the MPD was forced to retreat because they ran out. And in an unprecedented display of militancy and courage, they lay siege to the MPD’s 3rd Precinct, ran the cops off, and occupied their opponents’ territory before razing it to the ground. All of these actions required ordinary people to risk their health and lives in ways that might have seemed impossible just months before, but which we are now witnessing in real time because the people have had enough.
The struggle against police brutality and for a socialist world requires all of us to organize and fight together. It is only when we come together to confront white supremacy and capitalism that we will be able to win. We conclude with the words of revolutionary Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party:
“We don’t think you fight fire with fire best; we think you fight fire with water best. We’re going to fight racism not with racism, but we’re going to fight with solidarity. We say we’re not going to fight capitalism with black capitalism, but we’re going to fight it with socialism. We’ve stood up and said we’re not going to fight reactionary pigs and reactionary state’s attorneys like this and reactionary state’s attorneys like Hanrahan with any other reactions on our part. We’re going to fight their reactions with all of us people getting together and having an international proletarian revolution.”