Thursday, August 11, 2016

Racist and sexist attacks follow Green Party successes.

Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired
member GPUSA

There are increasing attacks popping up on Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate and her running mate Ajamu Baraka. Baraka has been accused of being a Holocaust denier which is not the case. Also it is absurd to think that Stein, who is Jewish, would select a Holocaust denier as her running mate. Before I went to the Green Party Convention in Houston I started a blog post about the rise of capitalism in England and the brutality that accompanied it. I read Ajamu Baraka’s article that was posted on a GPUSA list and it prodded me to return to my earlier attempt.

As Julian Assange said of Jill Stein, she will be faced with vicious attacks now as will our party’s Vice Presidential candidate Ajuma Baraka, Stein as a woman and Baraka as a black American. His name alone will be used to whip up fear among white workers and the most oppressed, beaten down and socially marginalized white workers especially. We can only expect these attacks to increase as we gain momentum and we must confront them head on.

We are dealing with brutal and violent opponents and I agree with brother Baraka’s comments about the role of European capitalism and the white capitalist ruling class’s construction and use of the idea of white supremacy in its colonial conquests of the darker skinned people’s of the world.  The colonial powers were joined in this expansion by the churches of capitalism, portraying their victims as savages, uncivilized and in need of salvation much as they did their own working classes. The church hierarchy and the rising capitalist class were and are still joined at the hip. As Baraka points out, European and white lives had more value than the colonized people of color. But not all were equal. As Lerone Bennett suggested in The Shaping of Black America: 
“….before Jim Crow, before the invention of the Negro or the white man or the words and concepts that describe them, the Colonial population consisted largely of a great mass of white and black bondsmen, who occupied roughly the same economic category and were treated with equal contempt by the lords of the plantation and legislatures. Curiously unconcerned about their color, these people worked together and relaxed together.  They had essentially the same interests, the same aspirations and the same grievances. They conspired together, and waged a common struggle against their common enemy-------the big planter apparatus and a social system that legalized terror against black and white bondsmen………….the available evidence, slight though it is, suggests that there were widening bonds of solidarity between the first generation of blacks and whites.  And the same evidence indicates that it proved very difficult indeed to teach white people to worship their skin.”  

But here we are to today and the bias is plain to see; the outpouring of grief and media coverage after events in Europe like the Paris bombing or the Charlie Hebdo attacks, or those in Brussels, not to mention the gathering of world leaders that takes place to condemn them compared to the examples Baraka himself gives, has to be pointed out as the political theater that it is.

Every innocent death is mourned, but the body count from the carnage and slaughter waged by European capitalism as it spread beyond its borders in its rapacious search for new markets, natural resources and the labor to extract it, exceeds the oft quoted figures used by the capitalist media and political parties in the West to portray Mao and the Chinese Stalinists as the world’s foremost killers.

While the issue of skin color and color as race which is the case in the US, plays a huge role in the arsenal of the white racist ruling class, there are other issues that come in to play. Like racism based on color, nationalism is also a very powerful tool used to divide and weaken the working class and at all times a war against women. In Britain recently I think the Punjabi population voted to leave Europe and I know many Punjabi’s who were born in England and are very proud of their Sihk/English culture. They too faced considerable racism when I lived there 43 years ago and no doubt still do but, from what I have learned since leaving, a strong national consciousness has developed there among subsequent generations. Nation's change.

Before British capitalism went in to Africa it occupied Ireland. These people have white skin. They were even labeled “white chimpanzees” by the press of the English ruling class.  I remember when I was young a common joke about Irish women was that there were two types, “Nuns or Whores”.  This was both a racial and religious assault as most Irish people are Catholics. Racism and the demonizing of colonized people and oppressed classes is the hallmark of capitalism and all class societies. Every ruling class justifies its rule in some fashion.

The white English ruling class had entire families working in coalmines, young children of 7 or 8 years old which meant tunnels could be smaller. I saw those tunnels when I visited a coalmine some time ago. As black people picked cotton in the US South, young English children worked as many as 18 hours a day in factories in Lancashire processing it. But when the US South sent emissaries to England to pressure the government to drop the cotton blockade, the support for the North among starving Lancashire cotton workers was strong, as they had a class interest for doing so. If the “negro” won the vote, the chance of British workers winning it would increase. The class bond is the strongest bond of all which is why the capitalists, along with the academics that legitimize their rule do everything they can to weaken it and if they can, ignore it altogether.

As capitalism developed in England, it needed free human beings, not tied to the land, not able to feed themselves and grow their own food. The peasantry was forced (like the tribal people in the colonies) off the land, removed from their means of subsistence. NAFTA did the same to Mexican farmers in our era. Marx described it:

“… the forcible expropriation of the people from the soil, this “free” proletariat could not possibly be absorbed by the nascent manufactures as fast as it was thrown upon the world. On the other hand, these men, suddenly dragged from their wonted mode of life, could not as suddenly adapt themselves to the discipline of their new condition. They were turned en masse into beggars, robbers, vagabonds, partly from inclination, in most cases from stress of circumstances. Hence at the end of the 15th and during the whole of the 16th century, throughout Western Europe a bloody legislation against vagabondage. The fathers of the present working class were chastised for their enforced transformation into vagabonds and paupers. Legislation treated them as “voluntary” criminals, and assumed that it depended on their own good will to go on working under the old conditions that no longer existed.”

Capitalism hadn’t yet developed to the point that it could consume this mass of free labor power so there were masses of people with no means of subsistence. It was similar to how they deprived Native Americans of their food, the buffalo, to starve them in to extinction. We are talking about a class of people whose violence knows no limits.

Here are two examples of what the now “free” human being in Britain was confronted with after they were removed forcibly from their means of subsistence:
“Elizabeth, 1572: Unlicensed beggars above 14 years of age are to be severely flogged and branded on the left ear unless some one will take them into service for two years; in case of a repetition of the offence, if they are over 18, they are to be executed, unless some one will take them into service for two years; but for the third offence they are to be executed without mercy as felons. Similar statutes: 18 Elizabeth, c. 13, and another of 1597.”

“James 1:
Any one wandering about and begging is declared a rogue and a vagabond. Justices of the peace in petty sessions are authorised to have them publicly whipped and for the first offence to imprison them for 6 months, for the second for 2 years. Whilst in prison they are to be whipped as much and as often as the justices of the peace think fit... Incorrigible and dangerous rogues are to be branded with an R on the left shoulder and set to hard labour, and if they are caught begging again, to be executed without mercy.

In his book The Great Transformation, Karl Polyani describes this process arguing that the slaughter was so acute were it not for the intervention of the state (the Tudor and Stuart regimes) the catastrophe would have been even greater. The process was then carried out throughout areas of the world that capitalism colonized, there was no centralized state to intervene, to temper the excesses.

Marx wrote of the brutality of capitalism. He wrote of how the “…turning of Africa in to a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production.” (makes you think about police murders of blacks today), and that wherever “they set foot, devastation and depopulation followed.”.

What are the conditions in the factories of Bangladesh, Cambodia and the East where the industrial working class now resides but a continuation of capitalism’s bloody rule. Today, most of the world’s industrial workers are in the East and more than 50% of them are women.

We cannot expect capitalism to resolve crises of its own making. The reality is that with climate change alone, humanity is heading for an end to life as we know it.  A global community of democratic socialist states is the only way out of this and I agree with Malcolm X when he said, “you can’t have capitalism without racism.”

The Green Party is not perfect, and we will have our differences, but it is growing, changing, and stands in opposition to all forms of oppression. It's class character or where it will end up is not yet determined. Our candidates are by far the right choice for workers this November. With growth will come more vulgar personal attacks, racism and sexism in the most crude form. It is an attempt to sow division among our ranks and in society as a whole.  It is also a sign of our opponents’ weakness.

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