Workers Vanguard No. 1071
10 July 2015
On the Charleston Massacre: Whos Next?
Hate Your Enemy!
The following contribution was submitted to Workers Vanguard by Spartacist League Central Committee member Don Alexander.
The soil is extremely fertile for resurgent racist terror and fascist provocations. Too few victorious strikes; too few victories wrested through bitter struggles from the hands of the exploiters prepare greater defeats.
The Charleston massacre is one of the bloody signatures of the Obama years. The nine black people mowed down at the hands of a vicious racist killer is not just a “wake-up call” but, more importantly, the moment to raise in its full force the question: What road to black liberation, revolutionary integrationism or submission to the yoke? No amount of praying can cover up the truth that, 150 years after the end of the Civil War, black skin is still being hunted.
We view the burning questions of the day from a class standpoint: Whose interests are served, the oppressed or oppressor, the exploited or the exploiters? Depending upon the answer is the only way to judge one’s friends or one’s enemies. As long as our class remains tied to the parties and agencies of the class enemy, the exploiters win hands down. We need our own party—a revolutionary workers party that is a tribune of the people, that tears the masses away from capitalist ideology promulgated by the ruling class and their political agents within the labor movement.
The fight for black liberation through socialist revolution is the only way out. A class-struggle program for black liberation—a revolutionary integrationist fight against the special oppression of black people, not on the basis of inch at a time, go slow gradualism (i.e., liberal integrationism), but militant, racially integrated class struggle for black freedom. This fight is bound up with the liberation of the entire working class from the brutal capitalist system.
“Separate but equal” is effectively the reality in this country. The brutal whips of the modern-day slaveholders emanate from the White House (with a smile), the halls of Congress, the Supreme Court, the “Justice” Department, no matter who are their occupants. As they shed crocodile tears for the dead, their entire system reeks of capitalist greed, venality, mass murder, brutal poverty, repression and hunger targeting workers, black people, Latinos and immigrants, women, gays and youth.
Don’t forget that it was only recently that the Democrats—black and white—and their liberal allies were basking in the glory of bloody Selma to cover themselves with the mantle of civil rights martyrs, while pretending that this was “ancient history.” At the same time, their lying capitalist propaganda machine endlessly repeats the big lie that “much progress has been made and there is still work to be done.” In other words, we can be half-free and half-slave. NO! BLACK PEOPLE ARE OPPRESSED BY THIS DECREPIT, VIOLENTLY RACIST CAPITALIST SYSTEM.
Black oppression—the legacy of slavery and segregation—has been and remains the foundation of “free world” racist American capitalism. Look around—the only institutions that black people have “taken over” are its jails and prisons. The men and women, young and old, gunned down in a black church form an unbreakable link with the thousands who perished before them through countless lynchings and police murders.
This could happen again. Multiracial labor’s power should be mobilized to strike a blow at the modern-day lynchers. It is at the point of production and distribution, where its strength lies, where it can throw a wrench into the exploiters’ machinery. This power is feared and hated by the bosses, their kept labor statesmen and capitalist politicians of all colors and sexes. The labor lieutenants of capital in Charleston and elsewhere view the world through the lens of what’s good for the exploiters’ profit system. In the course of class struggle, the Confederate flag must go the way of smallpox.
As the 2016 elections get underway, some of the capitalist politicians of both parties “see the light” and have started talking about removing this symbol of “hate.” (They are echoed by the International Socialist Organization, which claims that if the South Carolina politicians don’t remove it, then it means they don’t care about black lives.)
It is evident that having the flag of slavery so prominently displayed is bad for business. This is a state that is actively courting more corporations to invest so they can expand their open shop empire. So it doesn’t look good for doing business if they send out on their letterheads logos of homage to slaveholders.
At any rate the Confederate flag is more than a “symbol of hate”; it is a call to arms for racist terror everywhere.
Now Obama and his administration can piously intone (croak) how the flag should be removed—backed up by his aspirant presidential successor, Hillary Clinton. In 2008, when Obama first ran for president, he spoke in South Carolina to celebrate his victory in the state’s primary. The New York Times commented:
“The voting took place at the conclusion of a weeklong campaign, where issues were interwoven with discussions of race. A poignant reminder of South Carolina’s historic racial divide, the Confederate flag, swayed in the cool breeze on Saturday only a few yards from where supporters waved placards for Mr. Obama, who if elected would become the nation’s first black president.”
—“Obama Carries South Carolina by Wide Margin,” 27 January 2008
His speech is worth reading because at the time Obama bragged about how a former prominent supporter of arch-segregationist Strom Thurmond was then campaigning for him in South Carolina. That is why I began by saying the murder of the nine is one of the bloody signatures of the Obama years. Oppressed black people were further beaten down and chained under his presidency. Yes. Beaten down by a “brother.”
It took a bloody civil war in which over 200,000 black soldiers and sailors, arms in hand, played a critical role in smashing the slavocracy and black chattel slavery. They provided a powerful answer to today’s advocates of gun control for the oppressed.
P.S. WV 572 (26 March 1993) has a good article, “Down With the Confederate Flag and Monuments to Slavery!”