United States: City revolts after Minneapolis police murders african american George Floyd
(«Proletarian»; Nr. 16; Spring-Summer 2020)
During a police check on Monday, May 25, George Floyd’s car is stopped; the police gets him out of his vehicle, handcuffs him with his arms behind his back, and makes him lie down. A policeman restrains him by pressing his knee on George’s neck for several minutes, while three other cops stand up in surveillance. George Floyd complains and says multiple times: “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” People around ask the policeman to stop and point out that the man’s nose is bleeding as they record the scene on camera; but the cop keeps pressing his knee on George’s neck to immobilize him. Soon after, George Floyd dies. An ambulance arrives and picks him up. Witnesses share the video on social networks.
Minneapolis’s African American community reacted immediately – as did people all around the country. Protests, riots, clashes with anti-riot police, fires erupted in Minneapolis and, in a matter of days, spread to dozens of cities, from Louisville to Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Detroit, New York, Chicago and Denver.
George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black American from Houston, had been living in Minneapolis for five years; he used to work as a security guard in a restaurant that had to close down because of the confinement in March, and he was looking for a job. He had the misfortune to be arrested by white cops – a misfortune that cost him his life.
The four policemen involved in George Floyd’s arrest and murder have been dismissed; in a quavering voice, the mayor of Minneapolis declared: “George Floyd deserves justice, his family deserves justice, the Black community deserves justice and our city deserves justice.” But what would have happened if the scene hadn’t been recorded on camera? George Floyd would have been labelled an alcoholic and a drug addict, just like the Minneapolis Police Department tried to do, before the video belied these claims.
How is Trump, the current president, reacting in the face of the clashes, vandalizing and fires that express the anger, built-up for centuries, of an enslaved, segregated, marginalized, stamped on, Black American community who falls constantly victim to harassment and murders – in the country that claims to give lessons on democracy and civilization to the world? He is boasting about sending the Army in the cities on fire; he is calling the protesters “terrorists”; he is declaring that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts (1)”
But this anger is not caused only by yet another Black’s cold-blood murder; it is the consequence of social conditions that, because of a pandemic responded to lightly and arrogantly by Trump and his presidential advisers, have aggravated the situation of millions of American proletarians. Today, there are about 40 million more unemployed Americans due to the “public health” crisis. Reactions could only be violent, and the response from Trump and the police could only be even more violent.
George Floyd is not the first Black to be murdered by white cops in the US, and, sadly, he will not be the last. Every time the police kills African Americans, every self-righteous media and every Democrat is outraged and let loose his wailing; and they call for peace, peaceful coexistence and the respect of every American citizen’s rights, regardless of whether he is Black, White, Indian or Asian. Fancy words that have never make racism go away; indeed, there is an innate racism in every ruling class and, with the bourgeoisie, it has reached levels unheard of in previous societies.
The bourgeoisie is the class who has merged, in its ideology, the notion of intellectual and civil supremacy on all the other classes, with the “natural” privilege of being the class who first overcame the primitive barbaric conditions of life, thanks to production techniques, industry, innovations and scientific discoveries. But this supremacy, this privilege, rest on a mode of production – capitalism – based on the most advanced form of slavery: wage slavery, under which most of the population has no choice but to sell their labor power and bodies in order to survive. A form of slavery that carries all the most abject forms of previous societies with it, showing how the capitalist society, from the standpoint of human relations, is the most dehumanizing and inhuman class society in history.
The bourgeois racism against the proletarian class, against the wage workers’ “race”, exploited for the sole purpose of making profit and thrown away like garbage when they can no longer be exploited, this racism has not replaced the former ruling classes’, the nobility’s, the clergy’s, the feudal lords’ or the antique slave owners’ racism; it has added up to it.
In the era of private property raised to its highest power, the ruling bourgeois class has introduced – thanks to the capitalist mode of production – another, much more decisive form of private property: the private appropriation of production. This private appropriation, which allows every entrepreneur to decide the fate of the wage workers he employs even when he doesn’t own the means of production, and even when the funds to start the production, or its distribution, have been borrowed, this private appropriation is the basis on which rests the bourgeois privilege – a privilege attached to the entrepreneur “race”, the capitalist “race” who has, in effect, a right of life and death on the proletariat and most of the population. And since every bourgeois competes with other bourgeois and must therefore use his social privilege and stamp on both wage slaves and bourgeois competitors, he finds an ready-made tool in the racial oppression forms inherited from former societies, these forms being perfectly compatible with the state-of-the-art capitalist oppression’s own ones.
Racism against Blacks, against Jews, against Indians, against Latinos, or against Asians, dates back a long time ago. The modern capitalist mode of production, which has revolutionized the world, has its historical roots in Europe, in Italy, in England, in France, in Germany; White peoples who, with the development of industry, have colonized the world and subjugated peoples on every continent. And as long as capitalism exists, so will the myths of the individual, the great boss or the supreme leader, the self-made capitalist; so will racism in all its many forms, always determined by the time’s economic, political, social and cultural requirements.
In order to get rid of racism, whose roots can be found in the economic and social structure of bourgeois society, it is the mode of production on which it grows that must be gotten rid of, starting not with culture and “conscience”, mere reflections of the capitalist economic and social structure, but with proletarian class struggle, in which the decisive element is the shared wage worker condition, regardless of the color of the skin, the race, or the country of origin. The only way to successfully oppose every form of racism is the struggle against the ruling bourgeois class, regardless of the color of its skin, its race or its country of origin, because it is benefiting from all oppressions, from all forms of racism, from all forms of slavery.
To demand the respect of rights that the ruling class never respects, rights on which it is always ready to stamp to defend its power onto all and everything, is falling for an illusion that, with time, has always shattered the reactions to bourgeois malfeasance. It is might, not right, that matters. This is a lesson that the bourgeoisie teaches us every day. Only through might, the might of proletarian class struggle, will it be possible to face the bourgeoisie, in the US as well as everywhere in the world, by paving the way for the anti-capitalist, anti-bourgeois revolution.
June, 2nd 2020
(1) This phrase is not innocent: in 1967, during the civil rights movement, Miami police Chief Walter Headley used the same words; so did George Wallace, a segregationist presidential candidate, during his 1968 campaign.
International Communist Party