The Socialist

The Socialist 5 October 2016

Tories out!

The Socialist issue 919

Combative, vibrant unions should be central to the Corbyn movement


Tories out!

Come to Socialism 2016!

Sam Allardyce corruption shame: reclaim the game!

Asos workers fear taking toilet breaks, sacked for panic attacks

UK workers born in early 1980s half as wealthy as those born in 1970s

Millions have less than £100 savings

Them & Us

What we saw


Fighting racism today


RMT president Sean Hoyle speaks to the Socialist

Durham teaching assistants ballot for strike

Napo conference 2016: new mood of determination

London Met strike against job cuts and victimisation

Workplace news in brief


Corbyn's praise for Cardiff Labour is mistaken

Review: where you live can kill you

Review: international jazz protest storytelling

The Socialist inbox


Socialist ideas - winning a new generation of students


Thousands march against Tory conference

Protests against children's centre closures in Bolton

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Fighting fund record smashed again!

Leeds: Solidarity demo with Irish abortion fight

London: Socialism Today milestone celebration

Worcester: Public meeting discusses Corbyn


Poland: Fighting back against anti-abortion law

Ireland: repeal the 8th Amendment!

Joint declaration by Izquierda Revolucionaria and the CWI

 
 
 
 
 

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Fighting racism today

photo Rabble/Creative Commons

photo Rabble/Creative Commons   (Click to enlarge)

  • Fighting racism means fighting capitalism
  • Solidarity with Black Lives Matter
Hugo Pierre, Socialist Party black and Asian group

The police killing spree in the United States has unleashed a mass movement.

As in the 1950s and 1960s with the civil rights movement, a new generation of black youth has been forced into action against racism. First in the belly of the beast - the US - but also other parts of the world, particularly the UK.

This movement is not limited to the narrow confines of police brutality. It has spread its wings to tackle all the political issues facing black people and oppressed racial groups. Some are drawing the conclusion that capitalism itself is the root of the problem.

The federal investigation into Ferguson Police Department following the police murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown shines a spotlight on the real issues facing blacks in particular. In a city where 69% of the population is black, the investigation found a justice system riddled with institutionalised racism:

  • 93% of all arrests were black - and in 90% of these arrests, force was used
  • Black drivers made up 85% of all vehicles stopped, even though these searches revealed they were 25% less likely to be carrying anything illegal
  • 95% of those jailed for more than two days were black
  • Blacks were 68% less likely to have their case dismissed

But the findings also revealed a corrupt justice system that had become focused on bringing in income from fines. This income was necessary to maintain the whole justice system, as it had become commercialised through a succession of cuts and sell-offs.

For-profit justice

Meanwhile, a system operated where white people who faced fines would be let off by friends, acquaintances, neighbours - and even themselves - working in the court system. Racist emails, even by senior staff, were a matter of course.

This profit-driven approach had lethal consequences for Michael Brown. But the picture is repeated one way or another in police forces around the US. And a black US President and countless black city mayors have failed to take action against a for-profit justice system.

Jails are full of young black men. They are typecast because of petty misdemeanours in school, fallen foul of 'zero tolerance' policies. They end up being statistics in privatised US jails which have to meet their quotas to get government payments.

More young black men are in US jails than on US college campuses. Black communities are blighted by poverty, unemployment and de facto segregation. Growing filming of racist incidents shows how brutal police action is, as testified recently by the killing of Philando Castile in his car in front of his girlfriend and her young child.

Resistance

But black youth across the US have organised mass civil disobedience in response. The #BlackLivesMatter movement has acted as a lightning rod for the discontent and anger of the many. Demonstrations are now a feature following almost any police killing.

Protests in cities have shut down freeways, closed city centres. Some have been attacked by police. Some have led to uprisings against state forces. In Ferguson, the chief of police was forced to resign. But no officer responsible for killing unarmed black men or women has been found guilty of murder.

Rallies, demonstrations and direct action are not limited just to tackling police murders. And the outrage against police killings isn't limited to the US.

Black Lives Matter demonstrations started in sympathy in London, Birmingham, Sheffield and other cities. Of course, black workers and youth in the UK have our own victims. The killings this year alone of Mzee Mohammed and Dalian Atkinson at the hands of British police have caused outrage.

These anti-racist campaigns have brought to the surface the often-hidden inequalities that face young black people: higher rates of unemployment, lower access to higher education, lower access to graduate jobs.

Figures released by the Trade Union Congress showed that London, often considered to be diverse and tolerant, had one of the highest gaps between black and white youth unemployment rates. This was not simply an issue of 'skills mismatch'. When looking at workers with comparable qualifications, black youth could be two to three times more likely to be unemployed.

Studies by UK trade unions have also found that during the post-2007 'Great Recession' and its mass shedding of jobs, black workers were more likely to face redundancy. Some local councils have sacked black workers five or six times as fast as their white workmates. Shamefully, there is little difference in the outcome for black workers whichever party controls the council.

The 'Movement for Black Lives' campaign in the US is drawing political conclusions.

This has come not long after the anti-establishment Occupy movement. It's hot on the heels of the outline of a political campaign against the super-rich represented by self-described socialist Bernie Sanders' presidential nomination campaign. Young people have lifted their sights.

Demands

American footballer Colin Kaepernick photo Mike Morebeck/Creative Commons

American footballer Colin Kaepernick photo Mike Morebeck/Creative Commons   (Click to enlarge)

The Movement for Black Lives has started to raise many political demands around which various campaign groups can organise political action. These include "an end to the war on black people", "economic justice", and investment in education and health rather than "the criminalising, caging and harming of black people".

These are the beginnings of a programme for a political alternative. This is very welcome. But although it highlights many issues seriously, it also currently has some limitations.

The campaign's platform recognises the fundamental right of workers to organise, and the need for collective action. There is criticism of the weakness of current US legislation which enshrines the right to organise, but then is toothless when employers refuse to allow workers to exercise that right. It notes the strength of unionised workers in raising the living standards of black people in both the public and private sectors.

Calling for tougher pro-union legislation, and the repeal of anti-union legislation, is right - but alone will not lead to a change in the situation.

The trade unions will be crucial in developing bold, campaigning organisations to bring workers of all races together to fight for rights at work, against discrimination, and against poverty pay and conditions. Especially in the US - but also in the UK - changing the rotten, pro-capitalist leadership of many of those unions, and widening union democracy, are crucial to this task.

The need to challenge the racist capitalist state will also be central to any successful programme. But simple reforms aimed at encouraging full participation in the current 'democratic' process will not lead to a fundamental shift in the balance of power from the super-rich 1% to the 99%. For that, we need to take economic power from the capitalists.

Anti-establishment

As in the 1960s, campaigns around voter registration could mobilise substantial numbers to engage. But voter dissatisfaction with both Clinton and Trump means these campaigns will have to break with establishment politics to make real headway.

The two successful Seattle City Council elections campaigns for Kshama Sawant, a member of the Socialist Party's US co-thinkers Socialist Alternative, show what achievements are possible when workers have socialist representatives to back their campaigns.

Sawant helped win a $15 an hour minimum wage in Seattle, the first major US city to adopt it. She plays a leading role in fighting poor housing conditions and anti-working class housing regulations. These are major gains, and have helped to inspire a new generation of black and white young people into political activity.

Corbyn

Similarly, in the UK, the campaign to keep Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party has given some political expression to the millions who want a fight against austerity. Some blacks have taken part, but many more will be wary at this stage, because of the right-wing Labour establishment blocking their participation.

Momentum, the 'official' Corbyn support group, must not fall into the traps Labour's right wing has set. Blocking forces outside the Labour Party from getting involved, and backing down to establishment Labour politicians, will blunt or blot out the mobilising effect Corbynism could have.

In the 1950s, '60s and '70s, the mass civil rights movement was initiated by trade unionists and socialists. They enlisted the services of the churches and the broader community to help organise mass campaigns throughout the US.

The leaders that came through this movement were forced to change their views - and ended by groping towards the ideas of genuine socialism. Figures like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King started their political lives with a religious fervour, but were assassinated because they took the side of the working class.

Socialism

Malcolm X said "you can't have capitalism without racism." Martin Luther King said "There must be better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism." He was assassinated a day after marching with striking sanitation workers. The Black Panther Party correctly adopted the ideas of socialism - but unfortunately, without a thorough understanding of what it would take to achieve a socialist society.

Black youth have opened a new chapter of struggle against racism. New movements like Black Lives Matter could play a key role in bringing young people to participate in this essential struggle. The conditions they face will force them to fight to the end.

The lessons of previous movements will have to be learnt quickly. The key lesson is that the struggle to end racism is linked at every level to the struggle against the rule of an economic and political elite which relies on racism to justify exploitation and keep workers divided against each other. That means the struggle against racism must also be the struggle for a socialist society.

Read more

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

The Autobiography of Malcolm X   (Click to enlarge)

  • Malcolm X: Autobiography £10
  • The Politics of Windrush by Peter Fryer £7
  • Black Jacobins by CLR James £13

All available from www.leftbooks.co.uk


In this issue


What we think

Combative, vibrant unions should be central to the Corbyn movement


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories out!

Come to Socialism 2016!

Sam Allardyce corruption shame: reclaim the game!

Asos workers fear taking toilet breaks, sacked for panic attacks

UK workers born in early 1980s half as wealthy as those born in 1970s

Millions have less than £100 savings

Them & Us

What we saw


Black History Month

Fighting racism today


Workplace news and analysis

RMT president Sean Hoyle speaks to the Socialist

Durham teaching assistants ballot for strike

Napo conference 2016: new mood of determination

London Met strike against job cuts and victimisation

Workplace news in brief


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Corbyn's praise for Cardiff Labour is mistaken

Review: where you live can kill you

Review: international jazz protest storytelling

The Socialist inbox


Socialist Students

Socialist ideas - winning a new generation of students


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Thousands march against Tory conference

Protests against children's centre closures in Bolton

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Fighting fund record smashed again!

Leeds: Solidarity demo with Irish abortion fight

London: Socialism Today milestone celebration

Worcester: Public meeting discusses Corbyn


International socialist news and analysis

Poland: Fighting back against anti-abortion law

Ireland: repeal the 8th Amendment!

Joint declaration by Izquierda Revolucionaria and the CWI


 

Home   |   The Socialist 5 October 2016   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:

Racism:

triangleTV: Noughts and Crosses

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: How was Thatcher’s poll tax beaten?

triangleGermany: Right-wing terror attacks - fight racism, fight capitalism!

triangleUnite against terrorism, racism, war and austerity

triangleObituary - Bob Lee: 1954 - 2019

Black:

triangleBuilding a working-class movement for Tamil rights

triangleNHS in critical condition

triangleBlack Liberation... Only possible through socialist struggle

triangleBoot racism out of football - reclaim the game!

US:

triangleFully fund hospices to care for vulnerable children

triangleScandalous conditions in food distribution centre

Police:

triangleTV review: The Trial of Christine Keeler

triangleThe Socialist inbox

Workers:

triangleBuilding the Socialist Party

Youth:

triangle'Roses are red, violets are blue, BP and Shell - we're coming for you'

Socialism:

triangleHelp us continue to fight for workers and socialism

Black youth:

triangleThe life and legacy of Martin Luther King

Racist:

triangleProtest against Modi's racist law

Unemployment:

triangleCapitalism and human progress

Profit:

triangleNHS supply chain worker: privatisation has cut equipment quantity and quality

Young people:

triangleYoung people who voted for Corbyn's manifesto will now ask... How can we win those ideas?

Capitalism:

triangleCapitalism means empty shelves, food insecurity, and soaring profits - the case for a socialist alternative

Black Lives Matter:

triangleDefend socialist councillor Kshama Sawant against lawsuits

Malcolm X:

triangleBristol North Socialist Party: International & British Perspectives

Poverty:

triangleAusterity kills

Martin Luther King:

triangleMexico: The movement of 68 and the massacre of Tlatelolco

Trade unions:

triangleNew laws: Unions must be on guard against attacks on workers' interests

Civil rights:

triangleNorthern Ireland, August '69: 'Battle of the Bogside' and British troops on the streets

Jobs:

triangleEssential workers deserve more

Housing:

triangleSelf-isolation class divide: decent homes for all!

Unemployed:

triangleLeicester Socialist Party: Universal Credit - Universal Misery

Socialist Alternative:

triangleSocialist change to end climate change

Occupy:

triangleLeeds pensioners occupy BBC to save free TV licenses

War:

triangleAll in this together? The 'Blitz spirit' myth

Discrimination:

triangleCardiff Socialist Party: Fighting for the rights of young workers

Asian:

triangleRacist jobs discrimination same for 50 years - unions must fight for jobs for all

Austerity:

triangleNHS workers speak out: austerity has left us unprepared

Hugo Pierre:

triangleHackney Socialist Party: A general strike - What, how, why and when?

Momentum:

triangleNo retreats: Corbyn must stand firm against Blairites