R. Rose - Eye of the Needle
September 4, 2020

Challenging the foundations- part 2

It must be clear to all who follow developments in the USA that it has failed to solve its problems of inequality, injustice and racism. To understand its roots and massive implications for the rest of us on the planet is another matter entirely.

As it stands today the protests against racism and the wanton shootings/murder of black people have provided the catalyst for the global demand for justice. It has also given tremendous credit to the Black Lives Movement which has been spearheading the protests. Yet the very success in promoting the black cause has itself raised a number of contradictions which can prove to be serious weaknesses in the same struggle to end racial discrimination.

In the first place, there is the issue of leadership. With such a glorious and unprecedented global support for the cause, it is still not clear what the concrete demands are or who is in charge. The Black Lives Movement has certainly gained prominence, but not yet acceptance on an international level as the spokespersons for black people.

Its slogans and symbols are all over, but what are our concrete demands? We have to go beyond the obvious “Black Lives Matter” and come up with concrete proposals/ measures to guarantee outcomes favourable to us and global society as a whole. There is a lot of sloganeering and calls for “justice”, but what do these mean in practice? In fact some of the demands are so lacking in clarity that they create room for those fundamentally opposed to the goals to distort the aims of the movement. “Defund the police” is a clear example. Meant to speak about how money spent on the police is misdirected to oppression and repression of blacks, opponents play on the fears of ordinary folk about insecurity from crime to deflect from the real purpose.

While the “Black Lives Movement” (BLM) has become acceptable, or at least tolerable, and has exerted significant influence globally, there is no broad agreement as to what this means. Leadership is a major factor in this for the BLM is still an amorphous gathering with many different strains and trends. It is an historic weakness among black people with which we must grapple, going back to the days of Marcus Garvey, continuing through the needless feuds between supporters of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, down to the present.

It leaves us, the oppressed, very distrustful of our own and tending to claim “purity” in aims and objectives, the only “true” ones, rather than joining common cause. We end up splintering our goals and often trying to prove that we are “holier” than the others, or more revolutionary, providing room for the enemies of all of us. Of course, inflated egos and self-interest play an important role.

In the context of the USA this leadership void is especially significant. The movement for justice, equality and human rights for Black people in the USA has been historically beheaded. Slandered by the media, harassed by the agencies of so-called “law and order”, black leadership has been literally beheaded and cowed into timidity. There is a pressing need for the emergence of a strategically-focused black leadership with broad acceptance among black people.

But broader than this is the crisis in US society itself. We have been taught about the supposed “strength” of the “democratic institutions” in countries like the USA and the UK. Is this really so? When there are aberrations and shortcomings in developing countries, we are derided. “Banana Republic”, a coining of the US media, is a favourite term used.

We are told that examples such as Idi Amin in Kenya, Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines or even the Kim dynasty in North Korea, prove that people of colour are incapable of democratic, and even “civilised” government. These things “cannot happen” in western democracies, we are told, and many of us believe.

The USA today demonstrates the fallacy of such theories. The governing party, the Republicans, has itself been overtaken by buccaneering capitalism, and in mockery to Abraham Lincoln, has become the haven for racist injustice and oppression on a scale unimaginable in the modern world. It has been overpowered by the face of this trend to the extent that both party and state have been overwhelmed. It is as if the USA, which was formed to get rid of monarchical rule, has now become itself a monarchy, replete with all the corrupt practices associated with such a state of affairs, and has now embraced the rule of a family.

What it tells us is that the supposed entrenched strengths of “democracy” are but illusions. A President of the “greatest democracy” in the world is on public record of not pledging to accept the results of a democratic poll and in engaging in voter suppression. Grave dangers about not only undemocratic rule but also fascism with a racist face, stare us in the face.

This is the massive challenge facing not just black people in the USA, not just people of colour worldwide, but we all who inhabit the planet earth. It is a danger which goes beyond Donald Trump, for he could only succeed with the acquiescence of many others. It is in our interest to challenge, to seek broad coalitions and to fight to eradicate this danger.