By Danny Haiphong
The nascent movement against racist police brutality in the US received a boost of energy from the non-indictment of Eric Garner’s murderers in blue. Thousands filled the streets from New York City to Berkeley, California to protest racist injustice and declare #BlackLivesMatter.
In typical fashion, the militarized police and mass incarceration state responded by arresting, beating, and using dangerous weapons like the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) on protesters. The LRAD is a powerful “sound cannon” capable of deafening and causing long term health complications for intended targets. This device has been used by numerous US-backed reactionary governments. During the 2009 Obama-backed coup in Honduras, LRADs were used against supporters of the legitimate party of President Zelaya. The LRAD is also used frequently by Zionist Israel to break the resistance of the Palestinian people.
The LRAD is just one of many weapons the US sells around the world to loyal regimes of imperialism. One of the largestbuyers, Israel, is US imperialism’s top ally. The Zionist state receives billions in American-made military equipment to expand its settler regime. The US also possesses over 900 military bases in 156 countries. Bloody proxy wars and drone strikes in Africa and the Middle East are a product of US imperialism’s global military and intelligence operations. Although US imperialism’s primary goal as a system is to enrich the profits and wealth of the capitalist ruling class, this has become increasingly difficult to maintain without the investment of trillions of dollars in the war machine.
The same war machine imperialism unleashes abroad is aimed at the oppressed living in the belly of the beast. This has always been the case for Black America, which has lived under the gun of US imperialism and white supremacy for more than two centuries. Over this period, Black America has been enslaved, lynched, convict-leased, sold onto sharecrops, and thrown into the largest prison state in world history. In each “reform” of white supremacy, state-sanctioned murder has been a common thread. Louisiana, a state which is over 30 percent Black, has the most prisoners per-capita than any other nation-state on the planet. Every 28 hours, a Black American is murdered by US security forces of some kind. These developments of white supremacy are the historical bedrock of imperialism and the driving force that set the #BlackLivesMatter movement into motion in cities around the US.
“The capitalists manipulated the political landscape by empowering a Black misleadership class and labor union leadership heavily tied to Wall Street and the Democratic Party.”
The racist police state has a history of igniting Black resistance and political organization. Almost five decades to this day, a revolutionary movement was born from the murder of a young Black man in Richmond, California. On April 2, 1967, 22-year old Denzel Dowell was murdered by a local police officer. Official reports indicated that he was shot from behind in a similar manner to Michael Brown. The Black Panther Party of Self-Defense had already been organizing community patrols of police and saw the moment as an opportunity to organize Black people to defend themselves. The Panthers organized a rally in the Richmond community to promote armed self-defense as protection from the “army of occupation” (police) in the Black community. Residents came to the rally in the hundreds. Some brought guns to affirm the Panther’s firm belief that only armed self-defense could protect Black people.
The Black Panther Party gained national attention for its response to the Denzell Dowell murder. Similarly, the #BlackLivesMatter campaign is gaining national attention for its massive spontaneous demonstrations in the streets of the Empire’s urban centers. Directly before the formation of the Black Panther Party and the broader Black liberation movement, spontaneous armed rebellions against the police electrified cities across the country. The militarized police state that is attempting to stifle the energy of the current movement has its roots in the Pentagon’s efforts to put down the spontaneous Black rebellions of the mid 60’s. The design for the SWAT team was written during this period and finally implemented in the LAPD raid of the Black Panthers in 1969. It was here that the long-standing relationship between Washington’s military apparatus and local killer cops was officially born.
The revolutionary organization that formed out of the Black urban rebellions of the past has yet to manifest against 21st century racist police occupation. There are obstacles and challenges now that did not exist five decades ago. Each and every one of them must be discussed and acted upon if we are to build an organized movement capable of making transformative, revolutionary change. First, finance capital’s global assault on working class and oppressed communities has created a state disorganization. Gentrification is further breaking up the most oppressed sectors of US society, especially Black America. Austerity, low-wages, and privatization have dampened the expectations of poor and working class people across the board as the capitalists continue to push millions into a state of bare survival.
“Young people are taught at an early age that the Democratic Party’s subservience to fascism is the only “progressive” political choice.”
Second, the rise of finance capital and deindustrialization also carried political reforms to account for heightened economic exploitation. These reforms mainly dealt with the need to fortify a buffer between the swelling number of dispossessed people and the dictatorship of finance capital. The capitalists manipulated the political landscape by empowering a Black misleadership class and labor union leadership heavily tied to Wall Street and the Democratic Party. Much of this generation’s political energies have been channeled into the hopeless words and deceitful actions of these parasites. So instead of seeking a revolutionary alternative to US imperialism and racism, young people are taught at an early age that the Democratic Party’s subservience to fascism is the only “progressive” political choice. Such political conditions have bred an obsession with personal achievement within the rule of Empire.
A crucial historical reform that the anti-imperialist movement has yet to recover from was the end of the military draft. Washington’s imperialist ventures have since been fought either by oppressed people pressured economically and psychologically into mercenary activity or by fervent agents of Empire. The monopolization of the corporate media has further weakened the left’s ability to fight back against an arguably more ruthless imperialist system than what existed during the Vietnam War. Corporate media lies are often the only readily available source of information for the oppressed. For this reason, the billion-dollar media syndicates work around the clock as mouthpieces of Washington to ensure that the Empire is exonerated for its crimes.
Despite these challenges, the US Empire is in rapid decline. The US once accounted for over 50 percent of the global capitalist economy after World War II. But this is no longer the case. According to the IMF, China has surpassed the US economically. The US is now a mere twenty percent of the world capitalist economy. US economic decline is set to spiral further downward as the American dollar becomes less and less trustworthy to nations around the world. This development threatens the prestige and even the existence of the US ruling class. The ruling class has escalated its brutal military footprint as a means of terrorizing oppressed people into alignment with its widely hated system.
“The billion-dollar media syndicates work around the clock as mouthpieces of Washington to ensure that the Empire is exonerated for its crimes.”
Even with all of its violence, US imperialism is finding it difficult to maintain legitimacy. On the African continent, where AFRICOM has spread to all but three African nations, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir took a defiant stance against US imperialism. President al-Bashir rightfully stated on RT that US imperialism is the source of misery and war in the Middle East and North Africa. He reiterated that AFRICOM would not be allowed to base itself in Sudan. This came just days before US imperialism’s Zionist pariah state, Israel, bombed Syria repeatedly near the Damascus International Airport. Since 2011, Israel has arming and aiding foreign terrorists in Syria in a joint attempt with US imperialism to overthrow the Syrian government. And yet, Syria remains a sovereign state despite being ravaged by proxy war.
These conditions reveal the holes of a sinking imperialist boat. There is a clear link between US imperialism’s ceaseless wars abroad and the development of the Black Mass Incarceration State. Both are necessary conditions for keeping imperialism alive in the midst of permanent political and economic crisis. Imperialism is characterized by the tendency of capitalism to monopolize into the hands of a tiny financial ruling class. The tendency of imperialism to monopolize wealth into the hands of a few creates a crisis of under consumption and over production that can happen at any moment. Each crisis sharpens the antagonistic relationship between the billionaire capitalists and the three and a half billion people who live on less than ten dollars a day.
The miserable conditions imposed by Imperialism can and will come to an end, but it remains to be seen how the developing #BlackLivesMatter movement will play a role. During the Occupy Movement, many on the left hoped that solid organization would come out of the spontaneous occupations across the country. This did not occur. Unlike Occupy though, the #BlackLivesMatter movement is led by Black Americans who are fed up with the experience of daily police murder and racist occupation. The fact that the struggle against police brutality will not stop without the complete overthrow of the existing US imperialist system is becoming clearer. Oppressed people all over the world are watching and willing to contribute. The opportunity is there to revive anti-imperialist, revolutionary consciousness and relationships of real solidarity. It is up to us to take it without hesitation.