The State And White Supremacy

| Educate!

The Inextricable Link.

The demand for “justice” by the public had the ironic result of re-legitimizing the state as an institution that could in fact render justice – but only an empowered people can establish a just order.

“It is the settler state, and the corrupt colonial/capitalist system and the interests that it upholds, that must be the target.”

As an ongoing phenomenon, the analysis of what is referred to as the George Floyd, or now the “Black Lives Matter” demos, must be necessarily tentative. It has been instructive to observe how the energy and passion of the spontaneous militant response to the murder of George Floyd went from a movement that saw the burning of a police station transformed into one in which, according to Martin Schoots-McAlpine , the most militant demand was to make “minor amendments to municipal budgets.” I will resist the temptation of attempting to address all the components and will only focus on one central element in this short essay. That element is the nature and role of the state — an element that has almost disappeared from liberal/left discourse and analysis but is essential for understanding the current political moment.

As the article by Schools-McAlphine lays out in meticulous detail, the state was able to engage in an effective counterinsurgency strategy in response to the protests in cities and towns across the country, which achieved many of its goals and objectives. And while I will not attempt to cover those arguments, I will restate my analysis that corresponds to many of the points in the article.

“The state was able to engage in an effective counterinsurgency strategy.”

The state was able to meet many of its counterinsurgency goals primarily because of the unevenness of political development that is reflected in the spontaneity and the narrow and amorphous demands for something called justice and then for ending “racism” or “white supremacy.” I characterized those objectives as to 1) get people off the streets in mass numbers, 2) split the movement by empowering moderates and isolating radicals, especially white radicals, 3) flip the oppositional energy into a re-legitimization of the state and 4) drive the remaining energy into the dead-end of policy wonkism.

I wrote about this as it was unfolding in real time: The media’s fixation was on property crimes and the “violence” of the protestors; the white outside agitator; the PR stunts by the police kneeling and even joining in with some of the protests; the state’s attempts to colonize/co-opt with the painting of BLM slogans on the street; and state officials joining demos – that is, after they had effectively separated out the militants and created the narrative of the good, peaceful protestor.

And finally, the appropriation of the actions by the Democratic Party as a referendum on Trump since, of course, he is responsible for racism, police violence and state repression!

We Must be Clear About the Nature of the State

In contrast to the liberal conception of a state and government, V.I. Lenin asserted in the pamphlet, State and Revolution, that a state was essentially “an organ of class rule, an organ for the oppression of one class by another.”

A central component of that class rule is that the state has a monopoly over the legitimate exercise of coercive force. But beyond the element of force, the state is made up of government, social institutions like educational institutions. But the modern, advanced capitalist states also have incorporated into the state all of the cultural and ideological apparatuses like the media, entertainment, and now the social media.

All states represent the interests of its dominant class. A state representing the interests of workers and all oppressed through the colonial capitalist order would be fundamentally different than the current U.S. state, which represents the interests of the white male super-minority capitalist ruling class.

The U.S. state that was established coming out of its bourgeois war of independence and consolidated in 1791, represented the interests of the white male slavocracy. The white power represented in its founding documents, and its constitution represents a continuity of white supremacist power right up to this very moment. That is why the concentration on the so-called confederacy, at the time when people are talking about removing symbols of white supremacy, is so absurd and ahistorical.

“The U.S. state represents the interests of the white male super-minority capitalist ruling class.”

As an instrument of class rule, and in the context of a settler colonial-capitalist state ruling on a white supremacist ideological foundation, the state is not a neutral force that can be appealed to. It has no autonomous rational character. It does not arbitrate disputes or contradictory demands from the oppressed people. Rather, it will modify those demands so that they remain within the bounds of the existing state. The state will give the appearance of attempting to respond to certain demands as an ideological device only when open repression is not necessary or would create political problems.

For example, the call to defund and abolish the police can be viewed as a democratic or transitional strategic demand that represents an understanding of the role of the police as a protector of oppressive white colonial power. The strategic ideological and organizational objective of that demand should be to create awareness of the real role of the state and to facilitate the building of an independent organizational power based in the working class in order to create the conditions for the elimination of the police — the capture and dismantling of the oppressive bourgeois state.

With that basic understanding, there is clarity that two interconnecting errors were being made by the forces who separate the demand for abolition of the police and prisons from the state and its role as an instrument of class rule: first, operating within context of a liberal idealist framework; and secondly, normalizing the existing state by the implication that the state can make alterations in its basic institutions of class control without having to be fundamentally changed.

That is precisely why the protests and the demand for something called “justice” by the public had the ironic, or contradictory, result of re-legitimation of white supremacy by re-legitimizing the state as an institution that could in fact render justice!

Reversing the Effects of the 1970s Counterinsurgency Against the Radical Black Movement

As a consequence of the vicious counterinsurgency waged against the Black Liberation Movement, which intensified during the administration of Richard Nixon and continued throughout the 1970s, even after the revelations of the FBI’s COINTELPRO, the Movement was devastated. This created opportunities for the ascendency of the Black petit-bourgeois administrative/managerial class that assumed political positions in municipal governments and even in Congress.

For our liberation forces, the disruption of organizational continuity meant that the experiential knowledge from militant struggles of the past and the moves made by the state to counter mass resistance has also been disrupted. It has meant that the last few generations have been forced to construct new knowledge — a process heavily influenced by their experiences in academia. Post modernism and Afro pessimism has produced a toxic brew of confusion which, out of the necessity of the battle being waged over the last few weeks, some are just beginning to emerge from.

That is what is hopeful.

Although the state was able to achieve its goals, these goals were/are short-term and stop-gap. The objective conditions of the collapse of the national and global economy and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic translates into a situation where the state is still facing a formidable challenge because the structural crisis of capital has produced a set of irreconcilable contradictions.

Subjectively, large numbers of the young unemployed and underemployed petit bourgeoisie have been radicalized. Disparate but increasingly connected processes are developing that are leading toward the consolidation of a “new left” that will be grounded by the leadership of Black radical organizations, networks, and coalitions.

This will be the foundation of the intellectual and organizational leadership of the more longer-term resistance in the U.S.

“The structural crisis of capital has produced a set of irreconcilable contradictions.”

These Black formations will not see a dime of the massive amounts of money coming down the pipeline from the settler state and its associated institutions and the corporate sector. Why? Because these Black radical organizations, networks and coalitions are clear that it is the settler state, and the corrupt colonial/capitalist system and the interests that it upholds, that must be the target.

And while we recognize the righteous anger that our people have for the occupation forces in our communities, we also recognize that the police are one, albeit important, institution that must be brought under the control of the people if we are to have community self-determination as a collective human right.

The complete control of and democratic governance of territory where Black working-class people reside will represent a necessary qualitative development in self-reliant organization.

However, we operate under no illusions about what it will take to develop that capacity. Moreover, when it comes to the state’s repressive function as the leading edge of white capitalist rule, we understand that it will not voluntarily relinquish control of that apparatus. Therefore, the task is crystal clear: If one wants peace, human rights, self-determination and social justice in societies — in harmony with the needs and rights of mother earth — we must take and dismantle the capitalist state apparatus, take power from the capitalist minority, and build socialism. Any position short of that is a liberal and reactionary distortion.

Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. Baraka serves on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Peace Council and leadership body of the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC). He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch. He was recently awarded the US Peace Memorial 2019 Peace Prize and the Serena Shirm award for uncompromised integrity in journalism.   

  • Alice X

    Social (economic) power is the problem.

  • Richard Burrill

    An excellent essay about the real truth in America and the world.

  • SCM

    ” Therefore, the task is crystal clear: If one wants peace, human rights, self-determination and social justice in societies — in harmony with the needs and rights of mother earth — we must take and dismantle the capitalist state apparatus, take power from the capitalist minority, and build socialism. ”

    BS. Where is this working anywhere? Or ever? Or is this just a hypothesis? The systems we’ve seen that tried this (I know I know not your perfect vision) have all failed and ended in police states. It seems some humans abuse systems and choose not to work hence Gulags and other camps to force compliance.

    Naw man I’m a follower of proven systems. I’m a capitalist with huge redistribution needed which Adam Smith called for and since dejected… It’s what brought the largest middle class in the history of man to mid 20th century America and Europe. Not socialism.

  • deanosor

    I agree with Mr. Baraka as far as he goes, but in his view (“A state representing the interests of workers and all oppressed through the colonial capitalist order would be fundamentally different than the current U.S. state, which represents the interests of the white male super-minority capitalist ruling class.”) the liberal cooptation would exist in another form. Leninism is the leftist form that the state takes when the white supremacist capitalist rule cannot control people thru lesser means. The state must not be created anew. It must be smashed allowing for people’s agency, not a new bureaucracy, a vanguard system of some type, but a whole new formation where the working class and yes the low level petit bourgeoisie can figure out their own freedom and destiny.

  • Nylene13

    You think Capitalism is a proven system???

    You can’t create a healthy world where a few greedy people control everything.

    That is what Capitalism is. They will destroy the world with their own sociopathic goals, which is exactly what is happening now.

    We need some kind of a Socialist System, and we need an Environment First Policy.

    And we need to make large amounts of personal wealth illegal. We need to make it Not Possible.

  • SCM

    Unregulated or crony capitalism we have has major issues. Life threatening even. But it was reformed once and can be again. Let not throw baby out with bathwater for unproven and even worse systems. Capitalism serves as a driver for innovation and improving human condition more than any system to date. Just needs heavy regulation and redistribution is all. Like I’d tax all inhertance 100%. Anything after 1 million per annum 100%. etc. And heavily regulate scams in securities and environmental degradation.

  • Bill Rood

    I’ve been supportive of Ajamu Baraka because he makes an effort to see the problems of the US political system in terms of class. The Black Alliance for Peace recognizes the link between the oppression of all working class people in the US, but especially people of color, and an imperial, militaristic foreign policy. Black Agenda Reports is famous for holding the “Black Misleadership Class” accountable for its complicity with the rest of the corporate elite power structure.

    Mr. Baraka starts out well in this article, referring to Lenin’s characterization of the state as essentially “an organ of class rule, an organ for the oppression of one class by another.” He goes on to point out that “…beyond the element of force, the state is made up of government, social institutions like educational institutions. But the modern, advanced capitalist states also have incorporated into the state all of the cultural and ideological apparatuses like the media, entertainment, and now the social media.” So far, so good. He’s recognizing that all these institutions are integral parts of the state, directed by the same corporate and other financial powers that direct the formal organs of our supposed democracy. Thus, when social media demonitizes or deletes information viewed as problematic by corporate power, that’s not just a private decision. It’s state censorship.

    He’s correct to say, “All states represent the interests of its dominant class. A state representing the interests of workers and all oppressed through the colonial capitalist order would be fundamentally different than the current U.S. state,…” because he’s inclusive of “workers and all oppressed.” However, he goes off the rails when he continues with “…which represents the interests of the white male super-minority capitalist ruling class.” The use of “white male” does not trigger me personally because I believe I know what he’s really referring to, which is the extremely wealthy minority comprising the corporate and financial ruling class, which does happen to be overwhelmingly white and male, especially if you consider the disproportionate contingent of Jews within this class to be “white.” Since I understand that, I don’t consider this phraseology to be a crime. It’s worse than a crime. It’s a mistake, because it triggers and alienates working class and poor white males who might otherwise be allies in this effort to fundamentally restructure the U.S. state. Simply calling them “fragile” does not alter the reality of their entirely rational (from their point of view) emotional reaction. What’s more, those two words are totally unnecessary, as the phrase would still identify with pinpoint accuracy a “super-minority capitalist ruling class” (hereafter referred to as oligarchs) which is overwhelmingly white. Or is there really an intent to attract certain people or repel others?

    Mr. Baraka is right again when he writes, “the concentration on the so-called confederacy … is so absurd and ahistorical.” Yes, the U.S. state has depended on anti-black racism for at least 300 years and anti-native racism since Prince Philip’s War or before. Racism is a tool of the elites, used in their divide et impera strategy of control. White supremacy is not the ideological foundation of the state as Mr. Baraka claims. The ideological foundation is actually the continued supremacy of the oligarchs. “White supremacism” or rather racism in general is simply a tool used to maintain their power. As Mr. Baraka continues his references to “white” this or that, he reveals himself to be a useful idiot duped by members and lackies of the ruling class that inhabit educational institutions (colleges and universities) he has previously identified as part of the state.

    The academic “critical theory” claiming that only those in power can be racist, sexist or genderist ignores the obvious question of what happens when groups perceived to be victims gain power? When we scapegoat a group with terms like “white supremacy,” “white privilege” or “cisgendered heterosexual white patriarchy” we place all blame on that group and absolve all others of any responsibility for their actions, including complicity with the oligarchs. Yes, implicit bias creates privilege for whites when outcomes for them are compared to outcomes for a person of color of the same class, but try telling the son or daughter of a coal miner who died of black lung disease that they are “privileged.” Furthermore, we ignore obviously racist actions by members of victim groups that have gained some power and excuse criminal acts committed within those groups. This is all very divisive and destructive of what should be our common and united struggle against the oligarchs.

  • Bill Rood

    When we fail to precisely define terms like “capitalist,” “socialist,” “private property,” “corporation” or “petit bourgeoisie” it leads to muddled thinking.

  • Nylene13

    “Unproven systems” is the way to progress.

    “more than any other system to date” is not saying much, even if it is true, which I doubt.

    Capitalism makes a few rich. I don’t see how “heavy regulation” is going to fix that. The rich are not going to allow it.

    The implication of Capitalism is the hardest workers make the most money.

    Which is not true at all. I would say the hardest EXPLOITERS make the most money under Capitalism.

    You know who I think has one of the best system around? CUBA.
    Free Medical for all, Free College, Grows their own food, No one goes hungry. What that tiny country has done amazing.

    And they could do a lot more if our Capitalist Country would stop harassing them.

  • greg Frantz

    To end police vilence now: The people need to form a ngo citizens over site councel with power to investigate, chargeand proceute any and all abusive acts reported to them. They will need to take their case to any jurisdiction in the state. They will need perminate funding of 1-5% of the state bugget. The directors are limited to citizens with no connection to any government or police agency. They will need to set up councells in ever major city and any others that request them.

  • iowapinko

    Right on, Nylene.

    The socialist system in Cuba has produced multiple achievements and social outcomes, including all of the ones that you outline in education, healthcare and popular culture.

    U$ oppressive and deterrent strategies, including a 50+ year embargo, numerous and unending assassination schemes, militaristic threat and harassment and any economic deterrents our demonic govt can mount have tragically limited, but NOT blocked or deterred these popular attainments.

    IMAGINE what the Cubans could have achieved without the active disruption and violent interference of U$ corporate criminals.

    Because this vision would illustrate what we, the working class peoples of the world CAN achieve when we throw off the chains of capitalist tyranny.

  • Jay Hansen

    I would add one caveat. Cuba is lagging in the necessary socialist attack on value production, but can be lauded for not going completely retrograde as China and Vietnam have. Cuba is presently perched on the cusp between state capitalism and socialism.

  • Nylene13

    Yes, the Rich Capitalists HATE little tiny Cuba because of the example it sets-to the American People -of what We the People can do-

    Just Imagine.

  • Nylene13

    I don’t know what you mean. What is “value production?

  • Nylene13

    Like Liberal or Leftist.

    I like Eco-Socialist.

  • Jay Hansen

    Production with profit in mind (eg. usurpation of surplus value: a hallmark of capitalism).

    That was an excellent question.

  • Nylene13

    Thank you but I am still not sure.

    Can you give an example?

  • Jay Hansen

    Production for exchange, where the owner of the facility takes a cut (usually the largest cut) on the sale price of the merchandise, simply because she/he owns the factory, and give the person who created ALL of the surplus value (the worker) a diminished portion, a wage. Production done primarily for the gain of the owner, as opposed to production primarily for the provision of the population’s needs. I hope I’m explaining this well, but I’m afraid I may not be.

  • Nylene13

    OK. I got it. Everything should be worker owned.

    But there is more to it than that.

    I bought a pair of Crocks recently. You know what those are?
    They are rubber shoes that look like Swedish clogs.

    I had another pair of Crocks, that wore out, and I loved them.

    They were so comfy. They cost $40.

    When they finally wore out, I bought a pair of look alike rubber clogs at Walmart that looked the same. They were not. They were not comfortable, they did not make my feet feel good at all. They hurt my feet.

    They cost $10.

    So I went and bought another pair of Crocks. They cost $40.

    My feet are so happy! N0 more pain.

    Quality really does matter too.

    Workers should take pride in what they make, or they should not make it.

    Maybe we should just outlaw profit.

  • Jay Hansen

    Easier said than done, I’m afraid, but it COULD be done with the proper consensus.

  • Jay Hansen

    A peek at Das Kapital, volume 1 will explain it far better than I have. It is a difficult read, and dry as seven Sahara Deserts, but well work your effort.

  • Nylene13

    I read it years ago. Might be a good idea to read it again.

  • Jay Hansen

    I’ve read it several times, but all three volumes, only once. Volumes 2 & 3 were not as compelling to me. The very heart of what is valuable in Marxism (and I am not a Marxist and neither was Marx) is contained in Volume 1. It is about as tedious a read as you could imagine, but when you’ve digested it, it pays off handsomely.

  • Nylene13

    Maybe what we need is a updated version.

    Who could write that?
    Julian Assange maybe.

  • Jay Hansen

    I should hope not.

  • tomonthebay

    You think that the makers of Crocs don’t make a profit? ROFLMAO.

  • SCM

    I appreciate both your replies. I do wonder how to socialist blocks would have done without constant embargo’s and other malfeasance by the west and Cuba too and Venezuela right now while were at it.

  • SCM

    I am happy with walmart shoes. I wear flip flops (im retired) so it’s not rocket science just a piece of thick foam/rubber and strap. But before that I’d wear nothing but Johnson and Murphy so I know what you mean about pride.

  • RickW

    You make the assumption that people with wealth must be “smarter than the average bear” – when really what they are, are carpetbaggers and robber barons.

  • Nylene13

    Yes, Greedy does not mean Smart, especially when you are talking about Environmental issues.

  • Nylene13

    Pride? I am happy my feet don’t hurt.

    I have fat Swedish Feet. Makes sense Crocks fit.

    I guess, pride that they are Vegetarian shoes?
    And if they get dirty in the garden and you can just Hose Them Off.

  • Capitalism has done exactly nothing to improve the human condition. It has done however what it is designed as an ideology to do–improve the financial condition of a few while consigning the rest of us to unending struggle if not to starvation.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0cf1f7b3cd8efd2993ec4610211a537b2384d24966f1a6d383d7a4fef6c7e302.jpg

  • Profit should go to the people who do the work–from start to finish, from design to manufacture, from blueprint to construction, from imagined vision to motion picture. What needs to be restrained and contained is the investor/owner class of society–in politics the donor class, as it were. We need to build a culture that does not worship or waste adulation upon the richest among us, whose accumulated, unearned and mostly–if not entirely–undeserved wealth needs to be taken away and redistributed to the public on the basis of necessity and fairness with the goal of prosperity for everyone, not just the few. I don’t expect the universe to be fair–it isn’t. I expect people to be fair, and when they aren’t, we need to be able to tell them that they can go f ck themselves.

  • Nylene13

    We have the words in our founding documents.
    “All men are created equal, with the Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”.

    You don’t have to be equal in Talent to be equal as a human.

    Capitalism is based on Exploitation.

    Someone who is extremely talented-say Keith Urban, has a right to his 100’s of Guitars. He uses them for the common good-to make music for us all.

    Or a Doctor who requires extensive and expensive medial instruments.

    That is not the same as some greedy billionaire businessman who hordes wealth and feels entitled to lord it over the working class.

    We need a new Economic System.

    Some kind of Socialism that places We the People and the Environment First.

  • Steven Berge

    We need a maximum income so people can’t amass so much money they can directly affect the policies of the country. Extreme wealth concentration is the root of the problem.

  • Steven Berge

    You make a valid point but calling him a useful idiot is not conducive to the fight against our rule by wealth system either. He’s a bright light in the night of indoctrination that smothers original thought in this country. He acknowledges the problem of extreme wealth controlling politics, if not pinpointing it as the root of the problem, and that I completely agree with.

  • Steven Berge

    Actually taxes on extremely large incomes were up over 90% for a little while, but that was only on the amount over a certain generous amount. The first several hundred thousand was taxed at the normal rate, and that was back when several hundred thousand was big money for almost everyone else. That is when the U.S. was the most prosperous in its history.

  • Collectivist

    Worth repeating:

    The U.S. state that was established coming out of its bourgeois war of independence and consolidated in 1791, represented the interests of the white male slavocracy. The white power represented in its founding documents, and its constitution represents a continuity of white supremacist power right up to this very moment. That is why the concentration on the so-called confederacy, at the time when people are talking about removing symbols of white supremacy, is so absurd and ahistorical.

    “The U.S. state represents the interests of the white male super-minority capitalist ruling class.”

    “As an instrument of class rule, and in the context of a settler colonial-capitalist state ruling on a white supremacist ideological foundation, the state is not a neutral force that can be appealed to. It has no autonomous rational character. It does not arbitrate disputes or contradictory demands from the oppressed people. Rather, it will modify those demands so that they remain within the bounds of the existing state. The state will give the appearance of attempting to respond to certain demands as an ideological device only when open repression is not necessary or would create political problems.”

  • Collectivist

    The U.S. “middle class”, is shrinking like a debt-strapped violet.

  • Collectivist

    “Capitalism serves as a driver for innovation and improving human condition more than any system to date. Just needs heavy regulation and redistribution is all.”

    Not at “all”.

    The rule of capital, over global social systems and societies, must be dismantled.

    Their profit-generating private property must taken from them.

    Once seizing political power, the working class must turn all of that private property into Common Wealth (Common Ownership), beginning with the property of the largest capitalists.