What Happens To A Dream Deferred?
Secretariat, League of Revolutionaries for a New America, June 2020
It took 8 minutes and 46 seconds for the Minneapolis police to murder George Floyd. The explosion of four centuries of collective pain and anger was immediate. The moral outrage was immediate.
The police met protestors with another dose of the violence they were protesting. Inciting hatred, the president agitated vigilante violence and called for the military to dominate the people. The Secretary of Defense called the protests “battlespace” and encouraged governors to “dominate” it. Retired 4-star generals spoke out against the president’s actions and against the call to send in the military against the American people — sounding the alarm about the threats to the US Constitution.
All sections of society are drawn into motion. A rebellion of anger and moral outrage is rolling over the country.
What is the meaning of this rebellion?
The rebellion speaks of centuries of struggles for justice. It escalates the national conversation from this point forward.
The rebellion says that a people that have been enslaved, segregated, imprisoned, impoverished, terrorized, murdered, and demeaned will not take it anymore. It says that people from other sections of society know and feel that “Black lives matter.” Moral outrage is a solid step to political understanding.
Through five months of the pandemic, the scars of slavery and inequality were there for everyone to see: Black people died of coronavirus at about three times the rate of white people. Every need raised by Black people is also a demand for the working class as a whole. The population as a whole cannot achieve its goals without achieving them for Black people. Everywhere, young people came out in huge numbers. They inspire great confidence in the morality and the potential of the younger generations.
The rebellion rejects the immorality and decay of the political order. A political order that strains to support a self-destructing capitalism can offer nothing but empty promises and more destruction. In the big picture, the revolutionary movement has to progress from scattered economic struggles to united political struggle. This rebellion is a powerful step in that process.
It is pointed in the right direction. People from all sections of society, all ethnicities and nationalities, lifted their voices and put their bodies on the line to say that police terror against Black people is inhumane and immoral. They will tolerate it no more. Millions of Americans are beginning to understand that they are not free as long as any section of the population is terrorized.
In the face of a brutal, decayed, and destructive political order, the 2020 rebellion sets the political tone. The battle for basic needs in the face of the pandemic is not against an unconscious virus. It is a struggle against a political order that will not give up its power and wealth to guarantee the health and welfare of every section of society. The rebellion sets the tone for struggle through the November election (if there is one), and beyond.
What is to be done?
Rebellion has just begun. As we finish up this brief assessment, there comes the news of the Atlanta police murder of another young Black man. Struggle and discussion will continue, deepen, and escalate.
Let all of us not forget the terror that ignited this rebellion. We in the LRNA stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those fighting to defund the police, to abolish prisons, for public health and safety, for every demand of the movement against police terror.
As revolutionaries participate in struggles on all fronts, we keep at the fore the political tone the rebellion sets and its message that a struggle is only as strong as its demand for the needs of the most exploited and oppressed among us. All of us, as revolutionaries, participate to keep the struggle moving forward: Toward its aims and goal, along its most direct path. Expanding the ranks of the revolutionaries equipped with a grasp of the direction and ultimate results of the movement.
History carries lessons for this moment: During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, all sections of the African-American population were in motion, a broad social struggle for equality. In 1965, police terror in Watts, CA, sparked a rebellion that held the streets for nearly a week. The proletarian element within the broad social movement for equality asserted itself as the driving force of that struggle. The proletarian demands rose to predominance. The wrath of the movement was aimed at the State. What was once a social struggle without a political target now took a dramatically political course.
The Watts Rebellion changed, and energized discussion and struggle throughout the country. This 2020 rebellion is much broader. Today the ruling class has nothing more to offer in response to the struggle.
People everywhere crave discussion about what is happening, what it means, and what to do. The learning spaces are everywhere — on social media, within organizations in struggle, in discussion groups and study circles, in the struggles to defund the police and abolish prisons, to fund schools and healthcare in the face of the coronavirus. The possibilities are limitless. Understand this moment. Stay on course to prepare for the future of the movement.
What happens to a dream deferred . . . after it explodes?
[“What happens to a dream deferred” is the first line of a poem by Langston Hughes. For the complete poem, visit the POETRY FOUNDATION page.]
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