Sunday, August 9, 2015

Black Lives Matter Shuts Down another Sanders Event

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I have not been active in the Black Lives Matter movement, but I did comment on the slogan "Black Lives Matter" with regard to attempts to counter it with "All Lives Matter," and defended the former after  BLM activists interrupted Martin O'Malley and Sanders, two Democrats, at an annual meeting of NetRootsNation, a left Democrat or progressive Democratic Party grouping.  O'Malley initially responded saying "All Lives Matter".

Saturday, BLM activists also shut down a Bernie Sanders event after getting up on the stage.  BLM has criticized Sanders for not dealing seriously enough with police violence, gentrification and other issues.  My immediate reaction to the event in Seattle was confusion and a bit of suspicion. I do not know enough about the BLM movement, who leads it, what its program is, and other details. I am also not a Sanders supporter, and the statement on Sanders by the Project for a Working People's World of which I am a supporter can be read here.

My suspicion is strengthened by the piece on the Black Lives Matter movement written by Bruce Dixon, editor of the Black Agenda Report, I agree with his position.  Why does the BLM movement not criticize the black petty bourgeois and those black politicians who play a crucial role in suppressing the revolutionary potential of the black working class and youth?  Whenever the righteous anger of the black working class raises its head in the streets or through some form of direct action, the black petty bourgeois and black Democratic politicians ensure this movement does not threaten the system or the Democratic Party and instead try to steer it into that party. They throw a blanket over the movement, calling on the youth to "work within the system, look at us, we made it" and all that nonsense.

I remember years ago when a black youth was killed by a white mob in NYC, I think it was a young man named Yussef Hawkins. Black folks just about shut down the NYC subway system through mass action. It was not a violent response. The city's black mayor, David Dinkins, a Democrat, came out and encouraged people to get off the streets and work through the system basically.  This is the role they play as defenders of capitalism and black capitalism in particular. This is another point Bruce Dixon makes, the BLM movement never mentions capitalism it seems.

As long as I have been a conscious socialist, I always understood that the way the white racist ruling class dealt with the rise of the Civil Rights and black power movement of the 60's was twofold, responding with the stick and the carrot. The most radical actors and those that couldn't be bought off were murdered. I think some 39 members of the Black Panther Party were assassinated that way. But they also purposefully encouraged and opened doors for the growth of a black middle class, a black petty bourgeois layer that we see today and who have a home in the Democratic Party. This middle class layer acts as a buffer zone used to hold back the revolutionary potential of the black working class and youth. Jobs, mostly in the public sector, became available that were not available before as doors once closed were forced open by the black revolt.  The white racist ruling class were forced by the black workers and youth in the streets to make some concessions, and the concession they made also created for them a layer of what Mr Dixon refers to as an "elite." This elite holds back a genuine movement from below just as the labor officialdom does in the union movement.

The other thing is that there will be many fresh young activists inspired by Sanders for the right reasons, surely it would be more productive to appeal to them, try to win them over rather than simply shutting down a speech.  What about Hilary Clinton and the Democratic Party machine and power base?  Dixon raises this also.  Here is Mr Dixon's commentary that we reprint from the Black Agenda Report

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