Democrats Hope To Bury Black Lives Matter Under Election Blitz

| Educate!

The movement that is emerging under the banner Black Lives Matter is not yet one year old, but it will be dead before it reaches the age of two if the Democratic Party has anything to say about it. The movement’s greatest challenge will be to survive the impending mass mobilization of Black Democratic officeholders and operatives in a $5 billion presidential election season.

The current Black-led grassroots campaign is, in very important ways, even more vulnerable to Democratic cooptation and dismantlement than was the white-led Occupy Wall Street movement, which succumbed to a combination of Democratic infiltration and repression – on top of its own contradictions – in the early months of 2012. Although its slogans remained imprinted in the minds of much of the “99%,” by the time the November election rolled around, Occupy had long been a spent force, swept from the streets and encampments by mainly Democratic mayors acting on orders from their Party leader and president, Barack Obama.

The Democratic Party poses a far greater institutional threat to the Black Lives Matter movement, by virtue of the fact that the Party permeates every aspect of African American civil society. Not only are virtually all Black elected officials Democrats, but all the major civic organizations – the NAACP, the Urban League, most Black local churches and labor organizations, fraternities and sororities, not to mention Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow-Push Coalition and “King Rat” Al Sharpton’s National Action Network – are annexes of the Democratic Party.

Put another way: the nascent Black-led movement for social transformation poses a grave threat to the Democratic Party’s chock-hold on Black politics. Therefore, the movement is inevitably on a collision course with the Democratic Party, although this may not yet be clear to many activists.

As I said at the closing plenary of the recent Left Forum gathering in New York City, the Democratic Party sits atop the Black polity “like a grotesque Sumo wrestler,” squeezing out the Black radical tradition. The Black Lives Matter movement consciously draws on this authentic – and still deeply honored – radical tradition, seeking to put it into practice under 21st century conditions.

“Black Democratic politicians and power brokers have facilitated the exponential growth of the Black Mass Incarceration State in all its genocidal aspects.”

In both its resistance to a criminal justice system designed to contain, criminalize and crush Blacks as a people, and its broader demand for social and economic transformation and global peace, the nascent Black-led movement picks up where a previous mass movement left off, two generations ago. The Sixties liberation movements were shut down through a combination of government repression and the rise of a class of Black office-holders and aspiring corporate collaborators whose interests lay in joining the existing order, not transforming it. Their political vehicle was, and remains, the Democratic Party – the organization through which this “Black Misleadership Class” became embedded in local and national power structures. As a loyal and key component of the ruling political duopoly, these Black Democratic politicians and power brokers have facilitated the exponential growth of the Black Mass Incarceration State in all its genocidal aspects, and greased the wheels of gentrification that is dispersing Black populations to the four winds, limiting the geography of effective Black political self-determination.

Malcolm X anticipated the rise of such a class, in the early Sixties, well before passage of the Voting Rights Act. His verbal assaults on the “Big Six” – the NAACP, Urban League, SCLC, CORE, SNCC, and A Philip Randolph – warned against Blacks becoming too close to the white power structure: specifically, the Kennedys and the Democratic Party. Malcolm advocated an independent Black politics:

“It’s just like when you’ve got some coffee that’s too black, which means it’s too strong. What do you do? You integrate it with cream, you make it weak. But if you pour too much cream in it, you won’t even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it puts you to sleep.”

Under the political hegemony of the misleaders, the Black polity slumbered, fitfully, for more than 40 years.

As appendages of the Democratic Party, the Black political class has gone from coffee with too much cream, to being the Kahlúa, the coffee liqueur, in the milk. (Or, more like a thin, chocolaty syrup in a foamy, homogenized corporate concoction.)

“The political battlefield of the movement is largely delineated by a Black internal politics that has for two generations been warped and turned against itself by the deep infestation of the Democratic Party.”

The mission of the movement is to challenge the legitimacy of the Black Mass Incarceration State, the machinery that killed Michael Brown and thousands of others, imprisons and permanently stigmatizes millions, and makes the entire Black community fair game for every atrocity imaginable at the hands of armed occupiers, the police. This direct confrontation with the State also explicitly rejects the rule of the classes that the police and military protect.

Black America is by far the most radical population group in the United States. History has made us so. The Black radical tradition, which encompasses the whole Left spectrum, is quite sufficient to inform the Black Lives Matter Movement – and to teach something to non-Black allies.

Most importantly, it must be understood that the political battlefield of the movement is largely delineated by a Black internal politics that has for two generations been warped and turned against itself by the deep infestation of the Democratic Party. Blacks in the U.S. cannot move forward, cannot resist the mass incarceration regime, cannot forge truly effective alliances with other groups in the U.S., or join the struggling peoples of the world, except to the extent that they break the internal stranglehold of the Democratic Party and its operatives in Black civil society. These are the lessons of Ferguson and, especially, Baltimore.

To succeed, the Black Lives Matter Movement must transform the politics of Black America. By definition, that means declaring war on the Democratic Party, and forcing Black politicians and activists to choose between the Party and the people’s struggle. The Democrats understand the logic, and have mounted a systematic cooption-repression response that will intensify as the election season – and Black cities – heat up.

As usual, the Democrats will try to make Black people more angry at the terminally racist Republican Party than at the police and local administration of their (typically) Democrat-run city. Hillary Clinton is already making noises of empathy with Blacks suffering under the urban police state. However, the Black Lives Matter movement has no institutional stake in the victory of either party, but is, in fact, locked in mortal political struggle with other Black people in the Democratic Party. These Black Democrats will insist on a truce, a cessation of agitation against national or local Democrats, until after the election. As with the Occupy movement, this will be accompanied by intensified police pressures against activists. At the end of the process, the Black Lives Matter movement is meant to go the way of Occupy, lost in the electoral Mardis Gras – killed by Democrats, not Republicans.

  • Aquifer

    Well, OK, that’s true – but what does it mean practically speaking – the formation of a “Black political party”? Simply egress from electoral politics altogether? What would that accomplish?

    I distinctly remember thinking in ’08 that that “old white guy”, Nader, would be better for the advancement of all prog causes, including Black ones, than that “young black dude”, Obama, but that line of thinking went over like a lead balloon …. are the majority of black folk ready to vote on the basis of principle rather than color, or the majority of white folk, for that matter, including the ones who voted O to “prove” that racial politics was “over” …

    Identity politics, of whatever stripe, are the poison pill in any prog movement … Which is why I would really like to see “Black lives matter” replaced by “All lives matter” – only when we come together around basic human needs and rights, irrespective of color or gender, do we have a prayer of overturning the powerful political machine that keeps us all down – dividing the “99%” into subgroups only provides the fertile ground for making the divide and conquer strategy so adroitly practiced by Dems the successful ploy it has been for so long …

  • kevinzeese

    The solution: Keep building the Black Lives Matter movement so it changes the political culture of the United States so neither political party can oppose them. This is essentially what happened in the Civil Rights era of the 50s and 60s. Both parties had strong opposition to ending Jim Crow, voting rights etc. But a movement was built that made it impossible for them to ignore the movement. No election results changed anything, African Americans did not run for office, blacks could not even vote. Yet they changed significant laws. It is not all about elections.

    In fact, the problems for the civil rights movement got worse when they started focusing on elections. They elected a lot of African Americans and became a mainstay of the Democratic Party. The result — a downward spiral in law, police and outcomes for African American communities. Focusing on elections was actually counterproductive.

  • mwildfire

    “All Lives Matter” as a slogan doesn’t work, because the point of the Black Lives Matter movement is that in the eyes of many, notably police, black lives matter much less. Challenging this notion is the point, and All Lives Matter would just dissipate that point.
    I agree that we need to unite across racial lines, rather than segregating on the basis of race or gender or Red Versus Blue. But we can’t expect unity with radical black people when their screaming problems are ignored.

  • Aquifer

    OK – the civil rights movement succeeded, i maintain, because the cause was fought for just that, “civil rights” a term that crossed all color, gender lines – and it gained power because of that – it became clear that denying civil rights to one group, while allowing them for others was simply untenable. The same was/is true for the gay marriage issue … Focusing on police brutality as an issue for only one segment of the population, even if that population represents the vast majority of victims of it, I think is less likely to produce the degree of solidarity you need; if other folks think of this solely as a “black issue”, what does this have to do with them … Regrettable, indeed, that this type of thinking is still extant, but there it is. But if folks stop and think about whether this type of brutality is acceptable for anyone, that no one should be subjected to it, when they consider it “in the abstract”, if you will – they may have to admit it is not …. Once you add an adjective that separates one set of folks from another, the folks “not included” don’t feel invested in it ..

    As for elections – I think you are simply re-enforcing my point. Folks thought that just by electing folks of the same color, their lives would be better – identity politics … The problem was not with elections, per se, but with the folks people chose to elect … they made their choices on the basis of color, or gender, or party affiliation not on fundamental principles. I suppose the first time around, it is understandable – some sort of metric needs to be used when all the relevant facts are not known – but folks keep re-electing them, using the same metric, even when it becomes clear that such a metric is no guarantor of true representation of their needs as black, female, etc ….

    I hope you do realize what you said – “They elected a lot of African Americans and became a mainstay of the
    Democratic Party. The result — a downward spiral in law, police and
    outcomes for African American communities.” Think about it … I don’t think you meant what was implied by that statement, but there it is …

    “It is not all about elections.”

    Please, don’t keep implying that that is my position – i have said over and over it is not – we need BOTH, movements AND elections – good heavens, if we can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, we have a problem … One of the main “movements” we need, I maintain, is a movement to really use the polls to get what we want, instead of for LOTE which, indeed, is what produces that downward spiral you refer to ..

    I find it so ironic that we keep touting the success of the civil rights movement – when a major “success” of that movement was getting the right to vote – apparently that was a hollow victory, because now we are told voting is pretty useless … so what was the point? If we really want to honor the success of that movement, i suggest we use that right with vigor and discernment …

  • Aquifer

    It is not just in the eyes of the police ….
    “All Lives Matter” would not result in ignoring the plight of black folk – but in including them in our concerns about fundamental human rights, the rights that “white folk” value for themselves – Please see my response to Mr. Zeese above …

  • mwildfire

    Again, “all lives matter” misses the point that cases of police killing white people are fairly rare. As for the elections bit, I disagree. The problem with the state of politics in the US is not that people are voting along the lines of identity (tho a Hilary campaign may seem to reinforce that point). The problem is that we have a system in which it’s enormously expensive to run a credible campaign, and the SCOTUS has made it clear that it will not allow any change in the system in which money decides who gets elected. 90% of the time, the candidate who spends the most wins. So either you’re already wealthy yourself–in which case you’re unlikely to be full of concern about the 99%–or you have to get money from the rich and the corporations, and that money comes with expectations–the favor must be returned with favorable legislation, which NECESSARILY comes at the expense of the public interest. This is a rigged system, one we cannot break into–and if all else fails though some amazing set of circumstances and a third-party candidate is set to win, the PTB can always rig the vote count on the machines their friends control. Their other friends in the media will allow no stories questioning the legitimacy of the outcome. Consequewntly, I say, go ahead and vote, it only takes 20 minutes after all (if you’re white and not a college student) but don’t waste any more time than that on Lucy and her football.

  • Aquifer

    No, I think you missed the point – though cases of police brutality against whites may be “fairly rare” – the point is that they can and do happen. i.e. police brutality is bad news for all, whenever and wherever it occurs – “an injury to one is an injury to all” is the point we must focus on – we ALL have a stake in this and until we realize and understand this, white folk will feel “safe” and feeling safe, will be less inclined to become involved – we see the same dynamic re the gov’t surveillance issue “If you are not doing anything wrong, you don’t need to be concerned” becomes “if you are not black, it is not an issue to worry about”.

    As for voting – “90% of the time” leaves 10% where it is not true – so what distinguishes that 10%? The same thing applies to medical diagnoses – if there is a “90% chance” you will be dead in 5 years, there is a 10% chance you won’t, so do you just throw in the towel, or do your damnedest to try to be one of that 10% – if the stakes are high enough, if it is important enough to you, you will …

    As for the media – we need to be our own media – we don’t have money to reach folk through the “big boys” so substitute shoe leather – yeah, boring, unglamorous, won’t get you exposure on-line, a lot more grueling than typing on a keyboard – but that’s how it was done for ages ….

    We give up too easily, allow ourselves to be convinced by TPTB, using “reason” and “logic” and statistics, to “prove” it can’t be done until someone says “the hell with that” – and does it …

    What were the odds of a grossly underfunded GP getting on enough ballots in enough states to get enough EC votes to actually win? But they did it in ’12, one of only 4 parties, including D/Rs, to do it – all we had to do was pull those levers …. The irony is, there are a mountain of Sanders supporters out there who don’t care about the “logic” you display about his chances – so, if he pulls it off, will you argue that is only because he was “allowed” to by TPTB, meaning it is obvious he was adequately bought off?

    Don’t get me wrong – I am not a Sanders supporter because he has made it clear he will support whatever Dem gets the nomination, even if that means abandoning all the principles he is running on, even if it means there is a 3rd party candidate much more in line with his “causes” – i.e. party over principle, like Kucinich when he did a 180 on health care …

    But the same “suspension of disbelief”, and the energy, funding and enthusiasm that accompanies it, if applied to 3rd parties as it is to Sanders, could make them one of that 10% – only giving them “20 minutes” of your time, and no money is simply insuring the fulfillment of your own prophecy ….