23-07-2016 – The deadly intimidation towards African-Americans residing in the United States of America continues unabated. Police in the US routinely extinguish their lives without fear of being held to account. Alton Sterling and Philando Castille follow Mike Brown and Tamir Rice as only the most well-known US citizens to have been blown away by cops. Latino Americans and a small minority of white Americans are also taken out without cause, but the overwhelming majority are African-Americans, suffering the brunt of a racist society founded on slavery. The website Killed by Police tracks the fatalities committed by cops in the US. It lists 96 fatalities in May this year, followed by 100 in June. That is, close to two hundred in two months – with African-Americans predominating.
The daily discrimination perpetrated against African-Americans in the US takes on a plethora of forms. African-Americans suffer higher levels of unemployment, vast inequalities in financial wealth as opposed to white Americans, higher rates of poverty, lack of access to higher education, disproportionately higher levels of incarceration and much more. Approximately one quarter of African-Americans live below the poverty line in the US, compared to less than 10 per cent of white Americans. African-American males have a 1 in 4 chance of being imprisoned, compared with white American males having a 1 in 23 chance of being imprisoned.
US society is falling apart at the seams, but it is important to trace this latest unravelling to the devastating impact of the “Global” Financial Crisis which began in 2008. The “normal” functioning of capitalism in the US proceeds with extreme racism against African-Americans at the best of times, but when the profit system falls into crisis, working people and the most oppressed are made to pay for it. It is for this reason that there has been a spike in the number and extent of brutal police killings of African-Americans in the last couple of years. Capitalism means the breakdown of society. In the US, this means even more extreme racial oppression domestically, combined with even more US led wars of regime change internationally. The two are interlinked, and actions in response should reflect this reality.
The theme of “Black Lives Matter” is also directly applicable to the Australian context. Here, the Aboriginal people, who had been custodians of this continent for at least 40 000 years before British colonisation, continue to endure racial oppression no less significant than that which occurs in the US. After almost being wiped out in a genocidal war of occupation which lasted for 150 years, the Aboriginal people miraculously survived, with parts of their ancient culture intact. Yet the establishment of Australian capitalism has prevented Aboriginal people from basic participation in society as equals. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that modern Australian society was founded on the dispossession and brutalisation of its indigenous people. To seriously acknowledge this would call into question the very basis of the “Commonwealth of Australia”.
A brief glance at recent figures indicates the depth and extent of Aboriginal disadvantage in Australia. Aboriginal people die ten years earlier than non-indigenous people in Australia, and they are 15 times more likely to be imprisoned. The indigenous infant mortality rate is double that of non-indigenous people. Only 60% of Aboriginal students finish year 12, and only 47.5% of indigenous people in Australia are employed. Aboriginal deaths in custody continue to occur, 25 years after the Federal Government’s Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. In fact, since that commission, a further 330 indigenous people have perished in custody. Essentially there has been no reduction, and no progress on the basic right of Aboriginal people to be treated as others are treated in custody, or in society.
If the US ruling class has no regard for Black Lives domestically, it certainly doesn’t in its prosecution of its wars for Empire. During the US led war of regime change against the former government of Libya in 2011, the US, with the assistance of Saudi Arabia, armed and funded mercenary Islamic fundamentalists in order to overthrow the imperfect but nonetheless anti-imperialist government led by Colonel Gaddafi. The US had in fact never ceased it’s funding of Islamic fundamentalists since it’s arming of the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 80s. Due to the fact that these mercenaries in Libya had little domestic support, they were unable to overthrow the Gaddafi led government. So in stepped the US and its NATO allies with a lethal bombing campaign which brought about a horrific end to Libya as it was known.
The armed Islamic fundamentalists were referred to by the corporate media as “rebels”, and many liberals were unable to break from this spurious imperialist pretext. Some left parties even lauded them as “revolutionaries” and cheered them on even as their atrocities became known. Many of these atrocities were carried out against Black Africans, who are mainly concentrated in the south of Libya. These Black Africans were seen by the “rebels” as supporters of the Libyan government, and thus were targeted for slaughter. As leading Hands Off Syria academic Jay Tharappel has pointed out, despite the massacres of Black Libyans, the “rebels” were politically backed by some left parties, who fell into line with the US as it went to war. These parties in Australia include the Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative, Solidarity and the Communist Party of Australia. Despite their silence on the extermination of Black Libyans, most of these groups now throw their support behind Black Lives Matter.
The hideous racial oppression of Black people in the US and Australia, and the prosecution of imperialist wars overseas – from Libya to Syria to Ukraine to the potential wars against Russia and China – are thus all linked. Capitalism needs racism to survive, both to divide their domestic working classes against themselves, and to gain at least their passive acquiescence to racist imperialist wars against the Third World, and any country which even hints in the direction of political independence from the US Empire. Canberra plays its own role as an imperialist power in the Asia Pacific, as well as a foot soldier for the largest US wars of conquest. Fighting the oppression of African-Americans in the US, and the Aboriginal people in Australia requires a simultaneous struggle against all facets of imperialism.
In a sense, the police patrolling the streets are the domestic embodiment of imperialism. In essence, police are mercenaries, hired by the ruling class to protect the private property of the ‘captains of industry’. To do this, they must suppress the workers, who create every dollar of capitalist profit through their labour. The harshest repression, however, is meted out to those with black skin, either in the US or Australia. Police officers are virtually licenced to harass, threaten, beat, incarcerate or kill those they see as black, with impunity. To end this requires the overturn of the entire system of capitalist exploitation and violence, through workers’ revolution and the victory of socialism. This requires the formation of a multi-racial workers’ party, which can champion the liberation of black people through leading class struggle. While Black people experience the worst effects of capitalist repression, it is only by allying with the working class that enough social power can be mobilised to undermine, and eventually overthrow, the ultimate source of oppression – private capital.
FOR BLACK LIBERATION THROUGH WORKERS’ REVOLUTION!
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