Mighty Force Rising for a New Society
It started as an explosion of agony and righteous anger at the police murder of unarmed African American George Floyd. It became a rebellion against the police, systemic racism, and the government bolstered by and defending them. The demand to defund the police envisions a new society. It calls for cities and other public entities to divest from armed law enforcement and invest in human needs: health and mental health services, housing, education, jobs, drug treatment, community-controlled public safety, and other vital social services.
This movement’s daily collective actions are in the context of the coronavirus pandemic that has taken over 129,000 U.S. lives (increasing daily). Impoverished workers with disproportionate numbers of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people die at over twice the rate of the wealthy. The protests today are spurred by our government’s response to both the Coronavirus and murders committed by police.
Despite the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, our state and federal governments prioritize profits over human lives by forcing the “reopening of the economy.” Working-class people who still have jobs and are unable to work from home must choose between risking their lives with COVID-19 or risking their family’s economic survival. Over 45 million Americans have become jobless in the past three months, with no guarantee of those jobs returning.
If the government can use trillions of our money to bail out the banks and corporations, it can certainly take care of us. The people are starting to understand this: A new poll says that 82 percent of Americans want a monthly stimulus check to continue until the end of the COVID-19 lockdown. About 80 percent want universal healthcare, 55 percent say that mortgage and rent payments should be frozen during COVID-19, and 63 percent say that student loans should not have to be paid now.
The movement against the police and to meet basic human needs is on a collision course with the capitalist system that prioritizes private property over human lives. This system is particularly brutal in its disregard for Black lives, but the lives of all workers are inconsequential to this rapacious ruling class. Trump doesn’t even care about the lives of his own supporters. His campaign held an indoor rally in Oklahoma, despite the warnings of public health officials. The attendees had to sign liability waivers stating that they cannot sue if they catch COVID-19.
Why doesn’t this ruling class care about Black lives or the masses of unemployed and destitute of all backgrounds? Why aren’t there adequate masks, ventilators, testing, or treatment? Why are politicians sending us back out to work even though the COVID-19 death toll is rising? Because a ruling class that doesn’t need us will not pay to keep us alive.
Automation of the means of producing goods is step-by-step, eliminating jobs. Digital technology, such as computers and robotics, can produce more cheaply and efficiently than human labor. They don’t require wages, but they also do not consume what is produced.
As highlighted by high-tech capitalist Andrew Yang in his presidential campaign, this reality faces tens of millions of workers in every sector of the economy — manufacturing, service, education, legal, medical, etc. The problem is not the technology itself. It’s that the new technology is owned and controlled by a tiny ruling class that uses it to enrich itself while the rest of us move further and further away from a decent life.
The elimination of jobs by new technology creates a new class of workers that cannot survive under these conditions. As ever greater sections of the working class are pushed out of the economy, they are driven to confront a system that will no longer provide food, homes, healthcare, and education. The capitalist ruling class is increasingly viewing this growing class with open antagonism.
Fascism is the only way the ruling class can maintain an economy of private ownership when the system of jobs, bribery, and capitalism itself is no longer sustainable. The police, courts, prison system, and institutions of force are not the same as 30 years ago. The U.S. capitalist State is reorganizing itself as an unrestrained apparatus of coercion to contain and control the social revolution set in motion by these revolutionary changes in society.
The military-style of policing imposed on Black and Latino communities is used more and more against other sectors of American society. While most sharply targeting Black and Latinx communities, deadly force and brutality are becoming common wherever the new class is found. If you are in the new class, you are a target.
We are witnessing this new class acting as a social force driving an objective revolutionary movement. Members of the new class are leaders within the movement motivated by the murder of George Floyd and so many others. Their fight for justice, healthcare, housing, education, and an opportunity to contribute to society reflect the new class’s demands that can only be achieved with a transformation from a system of private property to a cooperative system organized in the interests of humanity.
The outcries and protests from Americans of all regions of the country led to the firing and arrest of all four Minneapolis officers involved in George Floyd’s murder. Also, to the firing and arrest of several officers for using a stun gun and dragging two Black college students from a car during the rebellion, and the arrest of two cops in Buffalo for shoving a 75-year-old white protester whose head hit the ground and is now in serious condition. Several police chiefs have resigned or been fired, including in Portland, Atlanta, Louisville, and Richmond, VA.
The movement in the streets has pressed the government to pass several new laws. The Louisville City Council unanimously passed Breonna’s Law banning no-knock search warrants after the killing of emergency room technician Breonna Taylor in March. The use of chokeholds by police is illegal in Miami and New York. Several cities, including Austin, Seattle, and Berkeley, have barred police from using tear gas on protestors.
Plans to defund the police are being considered, though details of the investment in human services have not been specific in most cases. The Minneapolis City Council pledged to end the city’s police department and invest in a “new transformative model for cultivating safety.” The Los Angeles City Council voted to redirect $150 million from the LAPD budget to disadvantaged communities. New York City and San Francisco have similar proposals. The defund police motion includes public schools and colleges where armed police forces have increased over the years, contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, Portland, Oregon, and Oakland, California, the police have been kicked out of the public school districts. In terms of basic needs, the California legislature is considering ending the ban on affirmative action, which increases access of people of color and women to jobs and education. In Kentucky, the Governor has pledged to provide free health care for all Black Kentuckians who need it.
As we fight for control of our communities, we must keep in mind the big picture. History has shown that replacing one police chief with another, regardless of color, guarantees nothing. Under a private property system, the police’s role is to protect private property and control the population. Today the movement demands that the community should control the police, not the other way around.
The stability of having a job is gone and, with it, the ability to secure the pursuit of happiness. The only real solution is a complete transformation of society.
As a core of the current movement against outright murder of our brothers and sisters by police, and for the containment of the pandemic, the new class is forming itself up as a social force that can lead the fight for a cooperative society. In the daily battles, this social force is broad, working-class, multiracial, and learning to unite around its own interests.
The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011