The killing of yet another unarmed Black teen – eighteen year old Mike Brown – by a white police officer, this time in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, took its place in the annals of open class struggle when peaceful protesters were confronted night after night by militarized and sniper-sporting police. Within the same consciousness that summer was the social media advice to protesters in Missouri on tear gas from comrades in Gaza, who were themselves experiencing loss of hundreds of their children during weeks of Israeli military assaults on schoolyards, hospitals and playgrounds.
The Arab Spring, the Wisconsin state employee standoff and the worldwide Occupy movements of 2011-2012 were earlier examples of worldwide class struggle – these outbursts and uprisings tend not to respect national borders; their energy is contagious. Let’s return to the Gaza / Ferguson pairing to unpack it, examining Ferguson in light of American Constitutional history in particular.
It has been noted in the pages of the Red Vine and on Anti-Capitalist Radio broadcasts that the Nazis and the Zionists gained much of their inspiration from American history. The physical and cultural genocide of the Native Americans and the enslavement of millions transported as stacked cargo from Africa are the foundations of American capitalism. The federal government of the United States has been the most destructive and racist imperialist power in human history.
Libertarians say that the militarized police have taken away rights that we must get back. We contend that those rights never existed. Firstly, county governments are “reserved for the People” (meaning the writers of the Constitution and those like them) and those sorts of governments are products of feudal, aristocratic, and mercantile ages. County sheriffs then and now are potentially the most powerful public officials at the local level, and consequently in most peoples’ lives, especially in emergency situations. The St. Louis County Sheriff took full advantage of his power in Ferguson on those fateful days and nights of protest.
Municipal governments – cities – are “incorporated”. They are akin to corporations in the way they work – not in theory, but in practice. It is highly questionable whether the resident citizens of a city have much power over that corporation, or that they are even the “owners”. The many municipalities included in any metropolitan area is indicative of the futility of democratic regional planning and control by anyone other than elites with money to command speech that cannot be counteracted by tear gas, water hoses, sniper intimidation, and sound concussion trucks.
It is at the popular level, including at the local union level (where it was demonstrated in Ferguson, but frustrated or ignored at federal bureaucratic levels) that the struggle is and must always be made. But the struggle against oppression in one region or sphere of life must be connected to others around the world if it’s going to be truly effective. People must remember to organize. That includes things like old-fashioned contact lists, party organizing and publishing stories of individuals and groups involved in the struggles against injustice and deprivation.
This is the call to us from Ferguson and from Gaza. This is the call of the ages of workers and oppressed people, from Wounded Knee at Pine Ridge to Times Square in New Nork City and from Tiananmen Square in Beijing to the plateaus of the Niyamgiri hill ranges in Orissa, India. Workers and oppressed of the world, stand together!
(From the Red Vine.)