You can’t have capitalism without racism
Fight racism Fight capitalism
International Socialist League
After George Floyd’s death and 400 years of a “knee on our neck”, hatred of, governments, the police and the symbols of inequality and oppression has burst out onto the streets. The diversity of the Black led protests appeared across the world in unprecedented numbers with rising militancy.
COVID-19 starkly highlighted the deathly impact of discrimination as BAME workers have died in far higher numbers than should have. It showed to everyone what it means to feel the weight of institutional racism every day.
BAME people and workers face the constant brutality of capitalism under all governments. It comes from centuries of racist ideology interwoven with all capitalist structures and designed to justify the pillage and rape for slave labour, raw materials and markets in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
Ernest Jones, a Chartist leader in the 1840s said that Britain had an empire where “the sun never set and the blood never dried”. He was right. To follow policies and practices that killed millions of people needs a complex “justification” of ideology. That outlook penetrates every part of the British state.
Racism is needed to divide workers to maintain their social control. That is why it is experienced every day by BAME people in policing, health, employment, education, sport, housing, welfare services, immigration controls and the media.
What has been done in Britain about the fact that the proportion of deaths from COVID-19 of BAME workers was higher than others? The Johnson government learns nothing about saving lives because its only solution is to fund big business, and especially donors to the Tory party, to ‘deal’ with COVID-19.
Police racism, unlawful killing and impunity
Dying for Justice by Institute of Race Relations (IRR) gives the background on 509 people (an average of twenty-two per year) from BAME people, refugee and migrant communities who have died between 1991-2014 in suspicious circumstances in which the police, prison authorities or immigration detention officers have been implicated.
Inquest juries have delivered verdicts of unlawful killing in at least twelve cases, no one has been convicted for their part in these deaths since IRR started their research over the two and a half decades.
Like the USA a large proportion of these deaths have involved undue force and many more a culpable lack of care.[i] They also add that racial profiling, stop and search including the use of specialist squads, policing of Black protest, failure to protect the community from racist attacks and the joint enterprise laws are threats against BAME communities.
IRR acknowledge death rates are much higher in the USA but they also point out what is the same for Britain, the rest Europe and USA. Impunity for the police.
The Racism at Work survey of 5,000 workers by Stephen Ashe found over 70% of ethnic minority workers said that they have experienced racial harassment at work in the last five years, and around 60% saying that they have been subjected to unfair treatment by their employer because of their race. Almost half reported that racism had negatively impacted on their ability to do their job, and almost half have been subject to ‘verbal abuse and racist jokes’.
A government report found that 4% of White people were unemployed in 2018, compared with 7% of people from all other ethnic groups combined and that Black people had the highest unemployment rate out of all the ethnic groups (9%). And that for many disabled people and women who are also BAME people it is worse still.[ii]
The hostile environment for migrants and Windrush
This quote from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants is a neat summary of the British Government’s approach towards immigrants, even those who have lived in Britain for decades:
“Since 2012, it has been an explicit aim of Government immigration policy to create a ‘hostile environment’ for anybody unable to demonstrate their immigration status on demand. From the ‘Go Home’ vans driven through ethnically diverse neighbourhoods to passport checks in hospitals and schools, the government has worked to create a climate of fear and hostility, criminalising and impoverishing those who may find themselves without status. These are the same policies that have seen long-term residents of the UK, including members of the Windrush Generation, denied healthcare and the right to work and even detained or removed illegally.”[iii]
The capitalist way of “organising” things means discrimination and death as is evident from these examples. That is why we have to fight every discrimination in all its forms. But to save lives and make permanent changes a socialist solution is needed. This is different from the ‘socialism’ that is posed by the Labour Party. Parliamentary reforms cannot destroy racism. Every Labour government has overseen racism in the police force in the UK and supported colonial and imperialist domination of millions people. That history is not, in general, fully known.
Employers attack on casual workers
We have to fight against the discrimination in health services and at work. In Britain now there is an offensive against jobs. ‘Casual’ workers – that is those employed on short term, or ‘zero-hours’ contracts are targeted first. Big employers are shedding casual staff in large numbers in the public and private sectors. No sector is untouched with workers at all levels in the in the private sector, education system and other pubic services losing their jobs.
Casual workers have large proportions of BAME people so a jobs pandemic is here and deepening. Capitalism can no longer provide jobs and safety nets for the poorest, and unemployment is rising.
Johnson was against statue of a slave trader in Bristol being pulled down. The Tories called it “violence” and want the police to bring charges.
Labour’s Starmer condemned the pulling down of the statue saying that it should have been removed “peacefully” – ignoring that all peaceful means had been tried for many years.
Labour sometimes opposes Johnson, but when they do it is only in speech. Their proposals are completely inadequate because they oppose direct action against racism.
Johnson and the Tories (one of their main favourites) called for the defence of all statues including Winston Churchill. Churchill oversaw the butchery of people in British colonial countries and is hated by many workers in Britain. A YouGov poll conducted in July 2014 indicated that by a ratio of 3 to 1, British people believed that the British Empire was ‘something to be proud of’. It is therefore very important for socialists, trade unionists and activists to make a careful study of and expose the history of the British Empire and all its atrocities in order to keep explaining what really happened.
Bringing down statues that falsely represent and glorify colonial and imperialist history is part of the struggle against racism.
Why does Johnson love Churchill so much? Here are some brief examples of that show what Churchill really stood for:
- As the Colonial Secretary in the 1920s, he unleashed the notorious Black and Tan thugs on Ireland’s Catholic civilians.
- In 1920, the Kurds rebelled against British rule, Churchill said, “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes…[It] would spread a lively terror.”[iv]
- Churchill called China a “barbaric nation” and advocated the “partition of China”.
- He defended the use of concentration camps built in South Africa. Around 1,900 Boers and over 100,000 Black Africans were put into them, 14,000 died.[v]
- He said to the Secretary of State for India, Leo Amery that he “hated Indians” and considered them “a beastly people with a beastly religion” – when the resistance struggle was challenging British rule in the 1930s.
- Churchill was an avid admirer and follower of physicist Frederick Lindemann who supported eugenics and scientific racism.
- The Bengal famine of 1943 was a result of Churchill’s policy of colonial control, hatred of Indian people and diverting food from India for WWII. At least three million dying in the resulting famine.
- The British Government tried to hold onto Kenya and its fertile land by supporting white settlers after WWII. As Prime Minister from 1951 to 1955 he sanctioned mass deportations of Kikuyu people (Mau Mau as the British called them) to the detention camps. “Electric shock was widely used, as well as cigarettes and fire,” … “The screening teams whipped, shot, burned, and mutilated Mau Mau suspects.” It was the largest wartime use of capital punishment by the British Empire. It was an overtly fascist method of defeating the legitimate struggle for independence.
Churchill’s aim was to preserve British capitalism and its overseas occupations. He thought that was the only way to keep Britain “great”.
No capitalism without racism
A great deal more has been written about the oppression of BAME people, in relation to India, Burma, New Zealand, Syria, Greece etc. All this history shows that racism inside the institutions of the state and large businesses has a very long history. Some 400 years.
Racism cannot be ended unless capitalism is ended, and in Africa and Asia the suffering cannot be ended without ending imperialism. The corruption and atrocities of governments across the world comes from the dictates and systems of control and the dictatorships they help to install and try to coverup.
Malcolm X said, “You can’t have capitalism without racism”. He said, “If you’re afraid of black nationalism, you’re afraid of revolution. And if you love revolution, you love black nationalism.” There will be no workers socialism without the BAME revolution.
Black and ethnic minorities have the right to decide on the form of their struggles, and the right for national self-determination. All workers must help to defeat racism where ever they are and support the struggles against discrimination.
Reformism, which wants to preserve capitalism, cannot destroy racism. Only a united struggle of workers with BAME people can destroy racism in the struggle for a socialist government of workers and the oppressed. But for that a international revolution party is needed of workers and the oppressed.
A class perspective
We call for unity with all anti-racist tendencies and all political organisations fighting racism must raise their banners, building the biggest possible marches in every location.
We are very critical of trade union leaderships because while many, perhaps all, unions have passed motions in support of Black Lives Matter they do not act. We say all should support and be represented, while exercising safety and social distancing.
Far right and fascist forces are mobilising. They are much smaller than the anti-racist demonstrations but they pose a threat to all. We need to face any fascist threat together.
We need to build self-defence of the marches, we must repel every attack.
We say to all workers, activists and trade unions: support the Black led demonstrations in order to build a united movement of action to defeat racism. To think that racism can be reformed away is refusing to look reality in the face. We have to set our eyes on mass struggle and aim to destroy all vestiges of racism. To do that we need to unite people around an anti-capitalist programme.
To destroy racism means destroying capitalism. Only socialism can build a democratic workers’ government that will remove racism, not only in the future but in the course of struggle. In order to win the oppressed have to be a leading part of the struggle for socialism.
As Peter Fryer in Staying Power proved the workers and people who suffer from discrimination have immense energy and power to fight. We call all workers and activists to join this struggle. Humanity itself depends on a common fight against all oppression.
Support Black Lives Matter struggle
Unions mobilise to support the BAME struggles
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