'Baltimore unrest' thread

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boomerang
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May 6 2015 14:21

Jamal, can you expand on those thoughts? I haven't been following the Black Lives Matter movement beyond what I see on these threads and brief news headlines I read. So I know hardly anything about its "rhetorical content" and can't really have an opinion on it one way or another. If you have some constructive criticisms I'd like to hear em!

Why is it a win for Democrats and capitalism?

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May 6 2015 14:27
Jamal Rayyan wrote:
They probably even "let it unfold" to some degree. Either way mark it down as a win for the Democrats and capitalism.

Are you talking about black lives matter as a whole? That seems to strip the agency out of it. There seems quite a widespread feeling that 'black faces in high places' isn't enough to stop the state murdering black people, and that's all the Democrats have got, surely? (I mean, they could disarm the police, but I would expect the police to go on armed strike before they'd surrender their firearms to appease angry black people).

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May 6 2015 20:56

If we define "agency" as "the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices", we can see how complicated of an issue "agency" becomes in capitalism.

In a way, I'm referring to all social movement that are not explicitly anti-capitalist. Explicitly communist or anarchist. So basically I'm referring to all social movements.

In these movements and all other places in society today, workers have no political power, no class awareness, not much unity. What unity that does happen is dissected along the lines of whatever broad social category is relevant.

The people at the protests for the most part considered themselves good "citizens" standing up for "their community". They don't identify as proletarians standing up against a system, even if we as militants are smart enough to codeswitch and understand the core issues. But I think we then project onto these social movements.

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May 6 2015 21:11
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If we define "agency" as "the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices", we can see how complicated of an issue "agency" becomes in capitalism.

FWIW, I define agency as utilizing the admittedly limited "capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices" in spite of the hierarchies of capitalism, patriarchy, etc.

And, while I'm not cheerleading what's happening in Baltimore as some sort of revolution, I think it's worth remembering that, more often than not, action precedes consciousness. And, outside of an established radical current, people express their ideas in the language of the dominant ideology, so I think some codeswitching, as you put it, is probably going to be necessary.

Again using the Occupy Movement - which needed and needs a deep critique - as an example, their methods were far, far ahead of their rhetoric in terms of having a class character.

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May 6 2015 21:31

Yes agency is constrained in all sorts of ways, but that doesn't mean movements are just puppets of the bourgeoisie (maybe that's exaggerating your position? If so, it's not intentional). I mean I agree we should be critical, but critique is about close engagement with tensions and possibilities and limits, not dismissing things out of hand or just 'being against'.

What material difference would it make if a social movement said it was explicitly anti-capitalist? (I mean, Syriza say that). How would a movement (as opposed to a formal membership organisation) even make such a claim? I mean if Deray or someone said they were a communist, what would change (apart from his FBI file)? Slogans of most revolutions have had more to to with bread or land than the commodity form, even where the movements have gone far beyond them, imho.

Maybe I'm misreading you, but I'm wary of setting communism up as this pristine ideal possessed by an enlightened few, against which all really existing movements are just capitalist pawns.* In my (admittedly limited) experience of mass movements, there's (i) no means to speak with one voice, (ii) practice is often more advanced than rhetoric, (iii) identities are open to change and often do, permanently, and (iv) communists have no better idea of 'what is to be done' than anyone else (and often are more comfortable skulking at the back and writing up a critique after the fact, something I've been guilty of too, but consider problematic).

I'm not saying we should project communist fantasies onto social movements, but neither do I think we should dismiss them as always-already recuperated (or even 'allowed to happen' or actively orchestrated by the bourgeoisie). Movements are generative of new identities, ideas, analyses etc. I think it's a mistake to assume (I'm not sure if you do?) that communists have got it all figured out, have nothing more to learn, and that real movements inevitably fall short (especially based on them not using the right communist shibboleths - 'they say community, but the only community is capital - gotcha!').

* In fact if we want to talk about bourgeois ideology, the idea that I see through it all with my critical consciousness but they are all just uncritical followers seems like bourgeois ideology par excellence wink

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May 7 2015 00:04

I'm headed off to work but just wanted to thank Joe and Chili for the thoughtful and provocative responses. Too much to respond to in a rushed before work post BUT...

I have to say I agree that communism isn't an ideal.

“Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality will have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things.” (Marx, German Ideology via PBJ)

How much are these social movements "abolishing the present state of things"? How much are they enforcing the present state of things?

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May 7 2015 04:14
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Maybe I'm misreading you, but I'm wary of setting communism up as this pristine ideal possessed by an enlightened few, against which all really existing movements are just capitalist pawns.* In my (admittedly limited) experience of mass movements, there's (i) no means to speak with one voice, (ii) practice is often more advanced than rhetoric, (iii) identities are open to change and often do, permanently, and (iv) communists have no better idea of 'what is to be done' than anyone else (and often are more comfortable skulking at the back and writing up a critique after the fact, something I've been guilty of too, but consider problematic).

I think these are some of the most important points, but I feel iffy on the fourth one. I mean, I think a lot of communists have good ideas about what is possible/what to do, we just our in a bind in terms of implementing most of the tactics/strategies. Further, there were historical movements, that did raise to the mass level demands for communism/anarchism, or even a step back were organized enough to raise concrete demands on a class basis (End of death penalty, end of conscription, 8-hour day, abolition of child labor). Why should we accept as a substitute unfocused and unclear rhetoric?

Once defined, understood, the question is: How do we identify people within those groups/movements who find themselves coming up against those limits and encourage them, work with them, or pull them forward, developmentally? And this does not = shibboleths, obviously. It's not like they're striking and calling it something else. They're engaged in a particular set of activities that are very limited.

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May 7 2015 05:46
bastarx wrote:
Joseph Kay wrote:
Wire creator David Simon pleads for order http://davidsimon.com/baltimore/

Saw this on facebook: "Season 6 of The Wire has been great so far."

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May 7 2015 06:18
Pennoid wrote:
I think these are some of the most important points, but I feel iffy on the fourth one. I mean, I think a lot of communists have good ideas about what is possible/what to do, we just our in a bind in terms of implementing most of the tactics/strategies.

I see what you're saying, but this is kind of what i'm getting at. So e.g. when my bosses announced they were outsourcing a bunch of workers, it was easy for me to say 'we need a strike that shuts things down', but what it takes to actually achieve that... I don't think being able to quote chunks of Capital put me in any better position than anybody else.

Now sure, aiming at a strike is better than say, appealing to the boss' moral sense, or writing to the local MP. But in terms of doing it, i.e. the actual choices movements face, I don't think communists have any special insight (or at least, not as communists; they may additionally be creative tacticians or whatever).

So in the case of Black Lives Matter, it seems to me there is an understanding of the need to bring pressure to bear. There's various tactics being explored (road blocks, mall occupations, riots, mass curfew-breaking), and an understanding that it's a long game. There's also quite a lot of wariness at professional leaders (Sharpton, NGOs) trying to coral and make the movement respectable.

Pennoid wrote:
Further, there were historical movements, that did raise to the mass level demands for communism/anarchism, or even a step back were organized enough to raise concrete demands on a class basis (End of death penalty, end of conscription, 8-hour day, abolition of child labor). Why should we accept as a substitute unfocused and unclear rhetoric?

I'm not saying we should 'accept a substitute', I'm more saying that isn't the choice. It is what it is; it may become things yet to be determined. Fwiw, I don't think Black Lives Matter is unclear, it's basically 'stop killing us'. And that's a class demand, cops ain't rolling round rich neighbourhoods beating on black millionaires (or nowhere near as much, and if they did there'd be consequences, since those millionaires fund the cops bosses' campaigns).

Pennoid wrote:
Once defined, understood, the question is: How do we identify people within those groups/movements who find themselves coming up against those limits and encourage them, work with them, or pull them forward, developmentally?

In light of the above, why do we assume that we have the answers, and we just need to get others to come around to them? Like I say I'm wary of a paternalistic attitude (not saying you have one, just that's what I'm wary of here). The collective intelligence of struggles, if not captured by would-be representatives, usually explores and pushes the available possibilities. Maybe this is me being (a) white and (b) across an ocean, but I'm not sure what development would look like, nor how best to achieve it. And I'm sure there are participants with a better idea than me, working on that right now.

I mean I think it's the same as anything, get involved in ways you can; if you're white don't deign to lead, maybe do support like legal observing/street medic stuff. As you build up relationships with people, ask questions, float suggestions. Help to counter attempts at co-optation without trying to co-opt things yourself...

Pennoid wrote:
And this does not = shibboleths, obviously. It's not like they're striking and calling it something else. They're engaged in a particular set of activities that are very limited.

I'm an anarcho-syndicalist, and I wouldn't say striking's the be-all and end-all. I mean in the part of Baltimore where Freddie Gray was picked up, unemployment's like 1 in 3 or something. In any case, there's been highway blockades, school walkouts, and mall occupations. There's a developing tactical repertoire and what seem like open conversations on what to do. That seems healthy to me. A lot healthier than a set-piece, one-day, top-down union strike imho.

Jamal Rayyan wrote:
How much are these social movements "abolishing the present state of things"? How much are they enforcing the present state of things?

I love that Marx quote as much as the next person, but the question is what kind of 'abolish'. A wildcat strike movement forcing a doubling of the minimum wage wouldn't abolish wage labour, but it would abolish the prior conditions, and get most people on here pretty excited I suspect.

It seems to me that racist police harassment and violence is very much part of the present conditions for a large section of the proletariat. And people are fighting back against that. I'm not even sure their modest demand to 'stop killing us' can be met without serious changes to the state apparatus which will be vigorously opposed by the cops, the right, and many chauvinistic whites. Is there a state in the world that doesn't racialise and brutalise a section of its population?

bastarx
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May 7 2015 09:17

"Why we don't make demands" by Crimethinc.

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Chilli Sauce
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May 7 2015 10:31

Crimethinc may be less shit than they used to be, but they're not the fucking Situationists and I wish they'd realize that.

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May 7 2015 15:05

Largely, I agree with what you're saying, but I think these organizations are much more limited, and are as on the "outside" as we communists are. They may have more black and latino members, but my understanding is that they are still largely student based, and obviously ideologically very liberal. In the sense that they continue to use race-centered lines of discussion and demand, they will end up being the counter-revolutionary wing of anything else that develops on a more class-focused basis. My sentiment is that there is no "autonomous" movement of the class. It is always a disjointed movement, impressed upon by various ideas about what's possible etc. As groups of communists/anarchists, we ought to be perfectly clear about where we stand, and yes offer practical assistance. You're also right that we're as lost on like, short-medium term vision as anyone else, while we have plenty of medium-long-term vision. This is the most persistent problem.

Erm, I guess I'm just trying to disentangle the groups from the class more generally, and point out the limitations of he groups. From afar, I think this is a good strategy. That way, students don't get roped into Maoist front groups, capitalist rackets, etc. Not exactly a super radical cause, but useful? I'm saying that unless we put our ideas and critiques out there, we cede ground to shitty groups.

boomerang
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May 7 2015 15:24
Joseph Kay wrote:
In light of the above, why do we assume that we have the answers, and we just need to get others to come around to them? Like I say I'm wary of a paternalistic attitude (not saying you have one, just that's what I'm wary of here).

I agree with Joseph Kay's post @ #105.

There've been a few people on here either saying or hinting at having some ideas for tactics or strategy that would make the Black Lives Matter movement more effective. So what are these great ideas?

I hope that doesn't sound sarcastic or rude or rhetorical, it's an honest question.

Edit: I wrote this post as Pennoid was writing theirs and only now read it. Seems for them their idea for improvement isn't about tactics or strategy but about there needing to be more of a class analysis?

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May 7 2015 15:50

Spreading it to workplaces seems like a good idea, for one. Taking that anger and energy and using it to tackle other issues of race and class - housing, for example - that can then have an anti-police/anti-police brutality element built into them, for another.

Say, for example, if there was some sort of tenants' union built, it could not only deal with the dire state of housing in Baltimore but could have some sort of mechanism where if the police showed up on the block, the member of the tenants' union could have trained-up legal observers who keep the pigs in line.

The only mass protest movement I've (sort of) been a part of was the Gezi park stuff in Turkey. And what I took away from that is that that sort of street politics only have a certain lifespan. Either people will burnout or the state repression will eventually take its toll - most likely a combination of both. If that struggle doesn't become practically integrated into people's day-to-day life, it's incredibly difficult to keep up that momentum.

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May 7 2015 15:50

Sorry, I'll try to be clearer: My particular tactic is critique of limits of existing orgs because from afar there is little concrete that I can do. In my area, the tactics are 1. Engage rank and file members of liberal/racket-esque groups, as well as anyone that just shows up, with our ideas. 2. Try and figure out ways to offer practical support (legal aid, immediate safety) if similar things happen. 3. Push for the education of ourselves and other workers. 4. Think about how to organize in a more direct, powerful, effective way. (Direct action, Solnets, syndicalist-unions) which has it's it's own set of logical necessary premises.

Again, I think we're all on the same page with this stuff, I just think maybe I'm more doubtful (from what I've seen) about a lot of these "movements" and their relationship to the class.

There is definitely potential though. And I haven't said a lot about that (mostly because that's hard to identify from afar). Even in Occupy there was potential. So I don't mean to be a curmudgeon. Does that make sense?

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May 7 2015 16:22
Pennoid wrote:
In the sense that they continue to use race-centered lines of discussion and demand, they will end up being the counter-revolutionary wing of anything else that develops on a more class-focused basis.

Why are race and class mutually exclusive? I don't think you can really separate race and class like that, in the context of the US proletariat at least. There are shit liberal race politics, but there are also shit liberal class politics. I don't think communists should be trying to juxtapose race to class, as if they can be separated out like that. Like I say, imho the demands around police violence, incarceration, housing, unemployment/shit jobs are all class demands; race is articulated through class, and class relations are racialised.

On the other points; yeah I'm not saying radicals should hide their politics or anything. Just that - especially white ones, but anyone really - shouldn't be acting like we've got nothing to learn from movements however supposedly limited (especially since communist politics on race are usually no more than platitudes that 'racism is bad but also class struggle').

In terms of whether it's 'super-radical', well it doesn't really effect me, as I'm white and in the UK. But it seems as least as radical as economic demands over wages or rent (i.e. not inherently, but potentially). In fact you could argue that every state is a racial state, and the demand by those subjected to racialised state violence for the violence to stop - if followed through - necessarily challenges the state.

On ceding ground to shitty groups, that's true. But we should bear in mind that anarchist/communist groups are usually very white, and most of the analysis of race I've seen is really weak, and may well come across as 'shitty' to BLM participants. So we also cede ground by having weak zero-sum 'class not race' politics imho. And standing caveat that movements aren't just potential audiences for 'us' to proseletyse to, but generative, and we should be open to that.

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May 7 2015 16:28
Pennoid wrote:
There is definitely potential though. And I haven't said a lot about that (mostly because that's hard to identify from afar). Even in Occupy there was potential. So I don't mean to be a curmudgeon. Does that make sense?

Yeah I'm not sure we disagree, but I think it's worth talking through this stuff 'out loud'. Obviously I'm mainly following it via twitter/blogs/media, and have no direct experience.

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May 7 2015 18:05
Joseph Kay wrote:
the demands around police violence, incarceration, housing, unemployment/shit jobs are all class demands; race is articulated through class, and class relations are racialised.

I very much agree here.

Joseph Kay wrote:
communist politics on race are usually no more than platitudes that 'racism is bad but also class struggle'

Fair critique, but given the first quote (that class demands are also anti-racist demands), what are we supposed to do? What does it mean to develop better race politics, and to become better in fighting the anti-racist struggle, if racism mostly manifests itself by making class issues more brutal and widespread for the racially oppressed? Doesn't this indicate that class struggle is then the best way to address race issues?

And yet, the crude class focus that minimizes and marginalizes race bothers me. I feel like there needs to be more to it, but I don't know what that more should be.

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May 7 2015 18:29
boomerang wrote:
Fair critique, but given the first quote (that class demands are also anti-racist demands), what are we supposed to do? What does it mean to develop better race politics, and to become better in fighting the anti-racist struggle, if racism mostly manifests itself by making class issues more brutal and widespread for the racially oppressed? Doesn't this indicate that class struggle is then the best way to address race issues?

And yet, the crude class focus that minimizes and marginalizes race bothers me. I feel like there needs to be more to it, but I don't know what that more should be.

I'm probably not the best placed to say, but I tend to find myself reading either academics, or black/brown radicals who want little to do with the existing radical groups when I want to learn about this stuff. I dunno, just feels like there are plenty of commies who'd write about the difference between the relative and equivalent forms of value, but lump e.g. anti-black racism, anti-immigrant racism, anti-indigenous racism, anti-muslim racism etc into a single category, and even then don't really specify either the lived experience or the structural aspects of it. Exaggerating only slightly there. Not exempting myself here, was sorting my books last year and realised like <5% weren't by white people. That absence has to filter through into theory/analysis/practice (insofar as reading affects anything, I guess).

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May 7 2015 19:45

By shitty groups I mean the array of lefty-liberal groups out there, the NOI, the democrats, NGO's focused on helping kids out of the ghetto via grooming them for mid-level management positions and petit-bourgeois positions etc.

Joseph - You're right, I didn't mean to counter-pose race and class as such, but what I might have said is that race-specific politicing tends to run into the problem of raising an abstract "community" of interests that don't exist, or at least gloss over class conflict. You mentioned the no community but that of capital line in a way that implied that it is somewhat passe. I know it's likely repeated a lot. Is it untrue though? I'm open to the idea that race has something of a social-objectivity, operates like a mystification of social relations, but I haven't read enough theory in this regard. What social relations manifest necessarily as "race"? (Maybe this framework is hopeless to apply here, tho).

As a point of further clarification, I think there can be race-focused demands made that unite the class. Police brutality has that potential. Discriminatory housing and hiring practices as well. But potential is to be emphasized. I'm not sure if they are even tendencies. Those demands could be taken in a really compromising direction, or a really intense and class-conflict direction.

Again, I do think class and race are intimately intertwined. But that's a truism.

I am sort of searching for a better look (as I mentioned above) at the role of race in capitalist society. One thing I've seen mentioned is that is also part of the logic of a social division labor, but to what end? A pool of cheap labor? A socialheuristic/group to target the worst parts of sinking wages onto?

Further, I think that the appeals to the "authentic black experience" are kind of weird. I mean, certainly there are unique experiences, and certainly there are plenty of accounts of them. It doesn't mean they're any more correct at getting to the heart of the matter of social relations, ideology etc. I mean what can Thomas Sowell tell us about the black experience more informing than Thomas Sugrue?

Also, the idea of every state being racial, and the potential for the internal-other being a revolutionary subject really smacks of post-colonial natlib hogwash. Not saying you buy into that stuff whole cloth, but it seems really similar. Then again, it might play into the above stated question, what is the relationship between race/ethnicity/etc. and class in capitalism?

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May 7 2015 20:13

Nah, I would say most communist "groups" are a little less than groups. We're still trying to figure out effective methods of organizing. A lot of the groups I'm referring to are perfectly comfortable and effective with their racketeering, their business enterprises, their party politicking, etc.

My terms aren't like, super rigid, sorry.

Nothing but love for my comrades in the "name-of-that-movie-with-the-shins-music" place.

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May 7 2015 20:34
Pennoid wrote:
You mentioned the no community but that of capital line in a way that implied that it is somewhat passe. I know it's likely repeated a lot. Is it untrue though?

Yes and no, imho. I think the critique is technically correct, but often in a way that misses the point. E.g. usually the 'community' people are defending is actually a product of the struggle, erroneously attributed some primordial status.* But it's often nonetheless, real, a community of struggle. The error is in thinking there was some prior community, but I don't think it's necessarily a consequential error, unless it leads to defining e.g. 'community business leaders' as on-side, which hasn't seemed to be the case too much afaics. And plenty of people have noted the community is created in the struggle:

Pennoid wrote:
I'm open to the idea that race has something of a social-objectivity, operates like a mystification of social relations, but I haven't read enough theory in this regard.

Me neither. I think a start is recognising that 'socially constructed' ≠ 'not real'. Race is a real social force - has social-objectivity if you like - because processes of racialisation create some people as less human than others, more killable than others. Often these processes are bound up with property ownership (e.g. racially restrictive covenants), labour markets (discrimination in various forms), policing (cops use skin colour to spot people to jump out and harass - anthropologist Didier Fassin observed this riding with French banilieu cops, and concluded racialisation's essential to the dehumanising treatment required by policing), the state (e.g. war on drugs mandatory sentences)... I suspect these processes are historically specific and have their own logics in each case.

Pennoid wrote:
One thing I've seen mentioned is that is also part of the logic of a social division labor, but to what end? A pool of cheap labor?

I can't remember the US stats off the top of my head, but I'd imagine poverty is disproportionately black (and latino?). So that would be one function, though it isn't necessarily a conscious function. I suspect it's more the outcome of various institutional/structural racisms which reproduce themselves over time, of which police harassment/criminialisation is one aspect.

Pennoid wrote:
idea of every state being racial, and the potential for the internal-other being a revolutionary subject really smacks of post-colonial natlib hogwash. Not saying you buy into that stuff whole cloth, but it seems really similar.

Why's it hogwash? Can you think of a state that doesn't racialise an 'other' population? The home secretary here had vans driving round London with 'Go Home' written on them recently, while the border cops conducted illegal document checks on black people at transport hubs. Sure, that doesn't prove it's essential to the state, but it's certainly ubiquitous. I don't see why recognising states are institutionally racist implies national liberation politics; anti-statist surely? I mean, national liberators the ANC are now overseeing a racialisation of South Africa's 'foreign' blacks, leading to xenophobic violence.

Achille Mbembe wrote:
Chains of complicity go further. South African big business is expanding all over the Continent, at times reproducing in those places the worse forms of racism that were tolerated here under Apartheid. While big business is “de-nationalizing” and “Africanizing”, poor black South Africa and parts of the middle class are being socialized into something we should call “national-chauvinism”. National-chauvinism is rearing its ugly head in almost every sector of the South African society. The thing with national-chauvinism is that it is in permanent need of scapegoats. It starts with those who are not our kins. But very quickly, it turns fratricidal. It does not stop with “these foreigners”.

(Mbembe's usually labelled a post-colonial thinker; it's a label he rejects, fwiw. still, seems a sharp account of what's been going on)

* This is probably a more defensible claim outside of major urban contexts, where you quite often have people there for generations who all know each others' families etc.

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May 7 2015 23:23

In the context of racism in the U. S. (and I think pretty much elsewhere as well) the project that unites the class has to be race specific sometimes (or “race-centered”). This means organising as a community to confront racism as an issue in itself, not just something embedded in shared, cross-ethnic economic struggles.

The problems those economic struggles deal with, take their current form because of historic racism and how it has been used to divide the class. One of the main perpetrators of this is not just the state or the bourgeoisie, but the historical American white worker –organised worker, particularly in the south.

The white worker and his trade union displaced black labour on street railways, in firemen’s job on railroads, in the jobs of switchmen and shopworkers, in contruction work and shipbuilding, and in hotel service and barbering. […] Blacks who had spent years acquiring the skills needed for craftsmen’s work were denied membership in white unions, which had signed closed-shop or union-shop agreements with the employers, and were forced into menial service at low wages. -Philip Foner (1982) “Organized Labour and the Black Worker 1619-1981”, NY, IB.

Class solidarity has to include the whole class, but historically it has often been reciprocal only within certain ethnic communities (white, black). White working-class doesn’t necessarily give equality for the black worker, even if it would mean higher bargaining power in the future versus the destruction and impotence of the labour movement in the long term, if they think that racism secures relatively better conditions for themselves. In economic terms, it’s a case of quick short term gain versus long term interest.

Heroic attempts to bridge the gap within the class by left organisations (like the IWW and many black political organisations) have been smashed though racist state violence many times in the past, which puts black political movements into a difficult position. Class solidarity isn’t always strong enough for basic demands if a precondition for them is to deal with racial (or other privileges) dividing the class.

They have to be ready to fight against racism autonomously, as a black community because cross ethic solidarity from whites can’t be taken for granted.

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May 8 2015 03:57

It seems really similar to natlib hogwash to suggest that there is a revolutionary agent (in the communist sense of the term, not that used by political science to mean personnel change of rulers) that is, as an ethnic/racial group "against the capitalist state". I think immigrants are kind of a different case. But it should be clear the the category "African American" and "Immigrant" do not thoroughly overlap.

Again, I don't think you're suggesting natlib politics, but much like "the community" (not the one in struggle, but the one that politically organized forces in Baltimore are using to beat rioters over the head with constantly) the framework does seem to suggest some possibility that the racialized "other" could unite and rule, just like the "community" can be restored and sanctified.

EDIT: But also maybe we should split this or end it or keep this thread for news reports etc?

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May 8 2015 06:52
Pennoid wrote:
EDIT: But also maybe we should split this or end it or keep this thread for news reports etc?

Maybe. Baltimore seems to have quietened down for now, but if it starts distracting from updates we can start a new thread?

Pennoid wrote:
It seems really similar to natlib hogwash to suggest that there is a revolutionary agent (in the communist sense of the term, not that used by political science to mean personnel change of rulers) that is, as an ethnic/racial group "against the capitalist state"

I think it's a leap to go from 'structural racism exists' to 'X ethnic group is the revolutionary class'. The whole point of structural racism is you can have black cops, black mayors, and a black president, and the machine still (disproportionately) murders black people. To me that suggests (i) you can be a black member of the ruling class in a way you can't be a proletarian member of the ruling class (a proletarian mayor is an ex-proletarian - i wouldn't follow some black nationalists in saying a black mayor is white); (ii) the state itself is the problem; therefore (iii) no racialised group forms a revolutionary class, rather the class relation and thus the (potentially) revolutionary class is racialised in various ways.

Pennoid wrote:
I think immigrants are kind of a different case. But it should be clear the the category "African American" and "Immigrant" do not thoroughly overlap.

Yeah this is true, though I think they're different modes of racialisation, and they can be fuzzy. The anti-immigrant campaigns here mainly involve hassling non-white people in the street, the overwhelming majority of whom aren't 'foreign'. See also 'where are you from? no, where are you really from?' (which might be more a British racism thing with the former colonies, I doubt people ask African Americans if they're 'really' from Ghana?). It seems like in the US anti-black racism has far more to do with the history of slavery, then de facto slavery in the post-emancipation period, i.e. very much bound up with class relations, exploitation, and post-industrially, a racialised surplus population. Though my knowledge of US history is pretty thin, so I'm guessing.

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Jamal
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May 8 2015 11:53

Re: Sharkfinn's post #121 and similar sentiments...

Having lived in the US south for 25 years now, I've learned there are plenty of historical examples of Black/white working class unity around labor issues in the early 20th century up until WWII. You just need to look.

Read about the workers movements in Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia and other states around these times you might be surprised. Workers in these states were uniting not just in spite of racial difference but also national and linguistic barriers.

Flint
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May 12 2015 15:16

For those who don't know, I posted a lot of stuff about what was going on in Baltimore during the uprising publicly to my facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/flintsparc

Latest news that the Mayor's right to call a curfew (instead of the Governor) has been challenged. The City's District Attorney office has dropped all charges in regards to curfew violations.

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May 12 2015 15:46

Joseph, you said you could argue that every state is a racial state, and that "other" fighting for rights, would challenge that state. I think that sounds like natlib garbage. It isn't the same, it is like a softened liberal/anarchist-y version, but I don't see A) how "challenging the state" is inherently positive B) Any "racial state" existing now wherein the other is not in some way incorporated into the bourgeoisie, wither formally, or within their own spaces.

As for the white-worker: I think a discussion of the white worker and racism needs to take as it's point of departure the span of the last 60 years, in stead of always beginning and ending prior to that. But there are examples, from Philly Local 8, to Louisiana and so many more than the IWW, of interracial organizing. But so many people think that white supremacy and racism take the form they took like 60 years ago. They do not, and that is important. Certainly, awful racist strikes, riots, and lynch mobs are the history of the white working class back then, but what are our problems now, and their more recent roots of development?

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Joseph Kay
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May 12 2015 17:08
Pennoid wrote:
Joseph, you said you could argue that every state is a racial state, and that "other" fighting for rights, would challenge that state. I think that sounds like natlib garbage.

I wonder if it sounds like that because we don't have a shared vocabulary to talk about this stuff? So other more familiar politics are used as a reference point, understandably enough. But analogy isn't identity, and maybe this is a symptom of the fact that (afaik) there isn't much contemporary black communist analysis/theory, or if there is I (and many others) are ignorant of it.

What I suggested was it's arguable that all states racialise, and therefore challenging racialisation challenges the capacity of the state to rule. I don't know if that's true. Racialisation seems a ubiquitous part of state governance*, but that doesn't mean it's an essential one. And it doesn't mean any particular group has to get shuffled to the bottom of the hierarchy; the South Africa example shows how anti-Apartheid black identity has fractured into chauvinist nationalism/xenophobia against non-national blacks. That seems like the fruit of the ANC's national liberation approach, as they transformed themselves into a black bourgeoisie. Something like Abahlali baseMjondolo seems more like a form of black struggle that's simultaneously internationalist class struggle, as opposed to a natlib 'race not class' one.

Pennoid wrote:
I don't see A) how "challenging the state" is inherently positive B) Any "racial state" existing now wherein the other is not in some way incorporated into the bourgeoisie, wither formally, or within their own spaces.

A) The state is the political form of class society. When tens of thousands of black proletarians are challenging its capacity to exercise violence, that seems positive. B) Of course. It's not either/or. The state is necessarily a class apparatus, it can simultaneously be a racial one (either contingently, or necessarily, depending on how we theorise it I guess). Like I say, the incorporation of black faces into high places is a hallmark of the contemporary state that's nevertheless shooting black people every 28 hours.

On the white worker stuff I obviously don't disagree with cross-racial class solidarity! I just don't think a colour-blind class analysis is conducive to that. I don't know so much about contemporary US race relations so I'm gonna have to skimp on specifics.

* Back in the day, before 'race' and 'class' emerged as clearly distinct categories, the proletariat was racialised as a savage, uncivilised mob. That kind of language still comes back now and then, I guess because when you need to e.g. repress a crowd, dehumanising it does a lot of ideological work.

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May 12 2015 19:05
iexist wrote:
Ur not Gram Negative?????

I don't know who is behind the Gram Negative user name. Though the odds are we probably know each other.