Bourgeois "justice" is not the answer for Trayvon Martin

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Bourgeois "justice" is not the answer for Trayvon Martin
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Bourgeois "justice" is not the answer for Trayvon Martin. The discussion was initiated by Fred.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

In presenting the

In presenting the decomposition of capitalist society as the vital factor underpinning the pointless murder of this young man, and doing it with a surgical precision almost frightening in itself, this article arouses all one's fears for tbe future and what's going to happen. We have to be warned I suppose, but personally I find decomposition and all it's implications extremely difficult to stomach, never mind admit! How do we adjust ourselves to the idea that the revolution may never happen, that it may already be too late, and that the decay of our civilization (such a horror that it is, even at its best) has brought us to the abyss. We will go the way of the dinosaurs; but it'll be much uglier than their departure, and it'll be our own fault whereas it wasn't theirs!

And then there's this, with reference to the cow-boy spirit, go-it-alone vigilantes and the increasing privatization of property protection - all this urged on by the Tea Party in it's crazed passion for individualism at a fetishized level, private wealth, and with private property being so much more vitally alive and valuable than people! "Of course, this doesn't mean that the state wouldn't hesitate to use such social layers in the service of the repression of working-class movements if the situation called for it. Perhaps, there is more than a surface connection between these developments in contemporary U.S. society and the Freikorps that crushed the German Revolution?"

In my misplaced innocence I've always thought the Freikorps threat would only emerge again from proletarian defeat, and that this was not inevitable. How wrong can you be? In Italy members of the Friends of Spartacus have been attacked by fascists (see left and there is always the haunting memory of Luxembourg and Liebknecht who should never have been murdered, should have been better protected, and more aware of danger themselves. We do not need our militants to be martyred, but to live to fight.

So, not only do we have the sad death of the young man shot dead while out shopping to consider, but the implications of it all drawn out for us in this incisive article, via the concept - or is it now fact?- of decomposition. Oh! and by the way. The possibility of a proletarian response to all this rottenness and futility is still not ruled out. At least I don't think so. Must check again!

What's happening to us all?

What's happening to us all? "Whether it is at the workplace or in the streets, decomposing capitalism seeks to turn everyone into an isolated monad, looking after their own best interests. If you aren't prepared to be brutal and ruthless, you are reduced to the status of a social loser, or worse, in Trayvon's case, cannon fodder in the fulfillment of a sick will to power."

This is true, but so is its reverse. Decomposing capitalism isolates us all, and we end up pursuing our own WORST interests ie increased isolation, loneliness, hatred of all including self, and violence as the only way out of all the frustration, which stems from the system itself. Trayvon's killer was really seeking suicide, but was too scared to do it.

And by being brutal and ruthless we don't STOP ourselves from becoming social losers, but reveal, in all it's lurid glory, that we already are; and not just to ourselves - if we are mentally capable of grasping it that is - but to everyone else as well. We achieve the very thing we wanted to hide. Such is the awful pathetic self-destructive logic of decomposition.

For the warmth of human solidarity, decomposition substitutes the cold isolation of crazed individualism. Is there no way out of this? It's like one of those Hollywood films so popular these days, in which the dead systematically destroy the living for no apparent pleasure or gain.

So when is the working class going to wake up? Or is it already too late? Of one thing we can be sure: if and when the class does get to it's feet, the depth of feeling for life, and love of humanity it will then radiate, will be set in sharp and welcome relief against the hatred of everything, seeping like a poisonous stench from decomposing capitalism.

What I am trying to say not

What I am trying to say not very well above is similar in some ways to what Fromm said in his "Fear of Freedom" book, where he puts forward his understanding of the causes behind the rise of Nazism. Nazism rose on the ashes of the failed revolution - I don't think he actually says that however. For him it arose out of a society in chaos; which had lost it's direction, in which there was little or no real authority, or respect for authority, and where purpose had been lost. Given the failure of the revolution none of this is surprising. (This is Fred speaking, so be prepared for some confusion here.) Is it permissible to see the thirties as manifesting early signs of decomposition? If so, then we can see that the situation was "solved" by substituting authoritarianism for the actual "legal" authority stemming from a properly functioning democracy under capitalism, ie the Nazi Party, and that a new severely disciplining leadership was imposed on the population, thereby appearing to deal for the moment with the decomposition and decay. Of course the Nazis were dealing with a defeated working class, and with a capitalism about to solve its economic problems with a war. And there, the comparison with today's decomposition, which I want to make, ends.

Today we have society in chaos. The economy's breaking up, with massive unemployment and no solution on hand that can be pointed to; leadership is feeble and contradictory and the political classes are confused and lack direction; there is no authority that can command any respect; there is no self-discipline, only the police; there is no aim in life anymore, only drudgery, austerity and endless fighting between rival gangs for futile power and wealth. It's no wonder that individuals lose their bearings and feel lost and confused, and take "control" into their own hands eg Mr Zimmerman. Anomie is let loose on the world. Things fall apart; the centre will not hold. But, unlike the thirties, the working class has not tried to pose it's solution, and is thus, in that sense, not
defeated. Nor does it appear that the bourgeoisie can come up with anything like Nazism and the 2nd. World War as a way out of the mess.

God knows where that leaves us! I began this post hoping to punch a hole in the unforgiving theory of decomposition, by suggesting that we've been here before in the thirties - which I think we have. But really I've got nowhere, because the only way out that's for LIFE, as opposed to the living DEATH of decomposition, is through the proletariat, and it's realization of what it has to do. How long must we wait?

We are not simply waiting

Communist organizations and revolutionary minorities around the world are not simply waiting. We are actively intervening in the proletarian movement to the best of our ability and capability. Even the class itself underwent a reflection in their own experience.

But we cannot force what we want to the class. What we can do is to "help" them hasten the development of their own reflections. 

There are positive signs of their reflections though maybe not what we want to be.

You are right,

You are right, internasyonalista, it isn't all gloom. True the class cannot be forced, and there are some positive signs. In fact, in the just released World Revolution, there are a lot of positive signs like this from a group in Spain. "... we cannot follow the majority unions nor their strategies. In order to nullify all revolutionary struggle, they have agreed to hold a strike with conditions, the so-called “minimum services”. When have we ever seen a war where a pact has been signed with the enemy in order to “not cause too many problems”? The aim of a strike is to cause harm, to oblige the employers to bend before our interests. To strike where it hurts them most: the economy. This will not be done with an agreed strike and only on one day: it will be achieved through indefinite wildcat strikes."

Excellent! Some CLARITY. Like: when do you ever sign a pact with the enemy just to avoid problems? Answer. You don't! And always identify the enemy clearly.

Excellent! Some MILITANCY. Like: the aim of a strike is to make employers bend to our interests and to strike where it hurts them most.

Excellent! Some SELF-ORGANISATION based on increasing class-consciousness. Like: you don't go along with pre-arranged strikes dreamed up by the Unions, but go for indefinite wildcat strikes, planned by workers themselves.

Yes internasyonalista, you are right. All is not lost. We must realize these insights around the world, bringing them out of 'reflection' and into reality.

Rosa (not verified)
I agree with

I agree with internasyonalista. The Trayvon Martin tragedy and other events gives militants an oportunity to bring up the futility of justice under capitalism. Class perspectives cannot be forced on the working class, but must be acquired in the process of discussion.

However, I also understand Fred's fear. It seems that each new development in the world is one more cause for concern: high levels of unemployment that continue to cripple the working class (particularly the young), jobless "recoveries" that now seem to be the norm, the continued pauparization of the working class, the repugnant gun culture that seems to grow stronger in the U.S., etc. This all points to a decomposing capitalist system. It's difficult to see all of this happening without some fear.

All of this also gives militants the opportunity to intervene, to present a class perspective to the working class, and hopefully influence its future action.


Thank you Rosa and Hello.

Thank you Rosa and Hello. Your name is encouraging in itself. There is no justice under capitalism of course, it is only concerned with punishing people usually for offenses against bourgeois property. The only justice for Trayvon will come when the working class starts to rise up against the deadly system, and understands what to replace it with. This is true of decomposition too. The antidote to this decay is working class solidarity. My 'fear' only gets going when I start to think the class is doing nothing, and time is running out. But as the news from Spain shows- and other places too- one shouldn't despair prematurely.


I agree with the latter part of this discussion and while supporting Fred's concern, I think that one can go a bit overboard with the wailing and gnashing of teeth in respect of decomposition.

Firstly, Luxemburg, Leibnecht and thousands of other class conscious workers were murdered at the height of class struggle. This will always be a danger particularly as the state takes its gloves off.

Secondly, I think that individually, outside of any sort of collective framework, one is open to be overwhelmed by the effects of decomposition and we can't deny this effect on the working class expressed as self-doubt and fear. I don't deny the reality and effects of capitalist decomposition but looking around I see enormous amounts of solidarity, sympathy and mutual aid on a daily basis and at the levels of class struggle, particularly throughout the "less advanced" countries and China, solidarity, self-sacrifice and revolt.

We also have the reference points of the social movements; a potentially united perspective for a future, an unprecedented articulation against capitalism that bodes well and an unprecedented solidarity in protest where we least expected to see it.

But my point here concerns the war in Yugoslavia, 1992. This war was a real, concrete example of imperialism and decomposition: it was a direct result of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the imploding western bloc as this ex-buffer zone was, with the direct intervention of Germany, Britain, France, Russia, Turkey and the USA, turned into a hell-hole unimaginable only a few months before. From large-scale and militant strikes in Yugoslavia the country broke up from the collapse of Russia, into the most bestial and senseless slaughter directed by the powers above and the local gangsters on the ground. In Europe we saw the descent into an unbelievable hatred and degradation engendered by imperialism in decomposition.

In the Guardian yesterday, in a report on Bosnia 20 years after the war, the weight of the article stresses  what a basket case the Balkans remains (apparantly, Angelina Jolie has made a film with similar sentiments). It's true that the whole of the Balkans remains a running sore for imperialism and all the major players, with Britain right up the front, are directing their local pawns in the maintenance of ethnic division, sectarian institutions and hatreds. However, the article also reports brave acts of solidarity between ex-Bosnian soldiers towards their Serb counter-parts "brought together by the country's poverty", where the great majority of Bosnian soldiers, in receipt of a paltry army pension,  responded to the proposal of a whip-round to assist the ex-Serbian soldiers, who had no pension. There is also a report that  a recent railworkers' strike in the Serb republic was supported by Bosnian workers despite the implied disagreement of the political parties.

Baboon is right, solidarity

Baboon is right, solidarity is the best anitidote to decomposition, and despite the numerous and often frightening expressions of decomposition we see today, there is still a powerful undercurrent of human solidarity evidenced by the various "social movements" we have seen recently. I don't know if we can really make a very "scientific" balance sheet of decompositon vs. solidarity though. Its kind of like trying to measure class consciousness-how do you do that? By counting the number of strikes? By the size of demonstrations? How do we measure decompositon? The numer of senseless shootings? We know decomposition is getting worse, but its hard to quantify it precisely.

So thank you baboon. It is

So thank you baboon. It is tempting to go overboard with the wailing and the gnashing of the teeth (though the latter at my age could easily prove disastrous!) but the trouble with the Decomposition Theses - already twenty years old, and things are much worse for capital now- is that they sort of invite a good wail. (The ICC might deny this, but I think it's true).

Yes, the Balkans are a horrible mess. So it's all the more encouraging that a group like Birov is able to emerge from the shit and publish a coherent statement of revolutionary intent. The proletariat lives! And yes jk, baboon is right to see an antidote to the horror of bourgeois decay in proletarian solidarity, but even I said that too in an earlier post, even while wailing immeasurable wails. Don't give up.


I'm the same Fred - more like a grinding of gums.. Good point about the Birov group.

I just want to expand on quoting from the article above because while the author sees the situation as hopeless - as well it is from the point of view of bourgeois politics - there is a small but significant example of what the working class will  be driven to do:


"In 2010, the prime minister decreed that all soldiers over 35 on both sides of the line should be pensioned off but failed to pay them their pensions because squabbles over which ethnic goup should control which ministry prevented the formation of the government for the next two years.

The Bosnian-Croat federation scraped together about £150 a month for their veterans, but the Serb republic refused, leaving its soldiers, who it once glamorised as holy warriors, destitute. The only people to lift a finger to help them were the men they once fought against.

'Who better than those who were in the trenches, the people who were shooting each other, to lead the way?' said Semsadin Pohata, a former Bosniak sergeant who fought in the enclave of Gorazde during the war, and who led a  fundraising drive for the Serb veterans.  'If we can do it, why not students, why not governments? And no one can accuse (us) of disloyalty. No one has more right to do this than the warriors.'

Pojata, who now lives on the banks of the Miljacka river, near the old front line in easter Sarajevo, appealed to federation veterans and says 90% responded with a donation of £4 or more. He then got in touch with a Serb veterans leader, Rade Dzeletovic, to help him find the most needy cases.

'We all share the same problems - struggling to survive', Dzeletovic said on the  phone from the town of Zvornik. 'No one can label us traitors as we are the ones that fought the war. That, however, is in the past. The war is over. We all have children to take care of' .

Dzeletovic pointed out that there had been other such acts of solidarity. When the railway workers went on strike recently in the Serb republic, their colleagues in the federation supported them. The reconciliatory attitude, however, has not spread to government or Bosnia's ethnically based parties, who rely on identity politics and sectarian tensions to corral votes.

'People on all sides are forgotten by the politicians" Dzeletovic said. Pojata agreed: 'The politicians want us to live in 1992, but I don't want to live in 1992.'"


Good to revisit this article and a timely republication given the verdict delivered and the renewed shitstorm around it. The introduction brings things up to date and is correct to state that events verify the original analysis.

hi,   i can't find the



i can't find the article - link is dead.

fwiw, i think that bourgeois justice was done. what proletarian justice is i do not in any way know - except that the trigger ought not to have been pulled.


sincerely :-)

Front page

hi lem: the republished article is currently the first one on the English front page. And fwiw, I agree with you: bourgeois justice was done indeed.

Try Here

lem_ wrote:



i can't find the article - link is dead.

fwiw, i think that bourgeois justice was done. what proletarian justice is i do not in any way know - except that the trigger ought not to have been pulled.


sincerely :-)

Try Here:

This case is a complete clusterfuck from every angle, which only demonstrates the deep scars on US society around race and how the US state plays the card of racial division to a tee. What has been striking about the entire thing though is the role the established "civil rights" organizations played in the entire affair. In a sense, they did their best to prove themselves as a kind of "state in waiting." We often have very difficult discussions in the US about the period of civil rights and whether or not the "progress" of this period refutes decadence theory, but what clearly stood out in this case was how the civil rights organizations appeared to have no real concern about deconstructing state power--they wanted to assume it. They cozied up to one of the most unethical, reactionary and draconian prosecutors' office in the state of Florida--an office that on any other day, as it was pointed out, puts away young black men for decades at a time. The entire episode was very revealing.

I did catch a glimpse of one of the protest rallies. Some leftist was holding up a sign that read "Workers' Revolution: Will Avenge Trayvon Martin." Really? That's what revolution is about? Revenge? How about eliminating the social and ideological conditions that produce an envrionment where people think that carrying a gun and playing cop is some kind of service to one's community?

I'm disgusted.


sorry for missing the article

sorry for missing the article guys, i am such a forum addict ;-)

JK - i agree. i am often a little reticient before subscribing to arguments about dividing the working class, but this more than ever seems to be a very good example of how much good it can do the bourgeois. what struck me even more, was the sensationalist reporting of the story. anyway, i don't think it just damages zimmerman... it is sad, i find it upsetting too.



in solidarity.


Here is an analysis of the Zimmerman/Martin trial by the International Marxist Humanists, a tendency loosely associated with the milieu. Notice the differences with the ICC's analysis. Whereas the ICC denounces the entire spectacle, the Marxist Humanists call Zimmerman's acquittal "unconscionable." Why in the world is the acquital unconscionable? Do they really want to send someone off to the bowels of the American prison industrial complex when there is-in any dispassioned consideration of the evidence--serious doubt and confusion as to what actually happened that night? Gee, how "humanist"!

While there is much to support in the Marxist Humanist's analysis, in particular its denunciation of the way the American criminal justice system treats blacks, there is still a tinge of bourgeois legalism here that I can't help but find deeply disturbing. While the sense of frustration that the criminal justice system is inherently corrupt and unequal is perfectly understandable--the end point of the kind of polemic offered by the Marxist Humanists is that the criminal justice system can be made to work better somehow. But how? By meting out the same cruel punishment that blacks far too often receive to everyone? I guess, while that wouldn't make it any less cruel and arbirtray, at least it would make it equal? Is that what equal justice means?

How about denouncing the entire society that produces the social decomposition and interpersonal violence that more and more characterizes our daily lives under capitalism, rather than taking sides in a case in the bourgeois justice system?

From the same article that jk

From the same article that jk provides a link to above, I read this.

“Color blind” racism also helps to explain the objectification and over criminalization of young Black, Latino and Asian men, mass incarceration of young Black, Latino and Asian men through the war on drugs (there are more Black men in prison today than were enslaved in 1850), the prison industrial complex, and the militarization of the police through the war on drugs.


Is the expression "color blind racism" a joke?  I mean, if you didn't notice and react badly for reasons of  unquestioned cultural conditioning  to the color of people's skin how you could make a "racist" and prejudiced response against their ethnicity. (The word "racism" is loathsome, and to use it at all is uncivilised in a cunning and slimy fashion that the word "nigger" for example avoids. The "N" word is just plain ugly, offensive and almost quaint, whereas "racism" reeks of political undertones and menace.) 


More striking in the above quote is the "gender blind" sexism, whereby males are routinely over-criminalized, especially  non -whites.  This, and the drug and anti-terror  wars, allows a  reinforcement  and thugging-up of a highly  unpleasant, over-testosteroned  and repressive police force, including suitable women. The bourgeoisie  fears  the working class, not just black men as the article suggests, and have got a part of their violent  response up and running already. 


Is there an increase of

Is there an increase of violence by official bourgeois forces against men?  I mean armed trained violently aggressive and sadistic police, or military, or others more secretly employed, deliberately seeking out  other probably defenseless men  who can be victimized, beaten up etc?  The violent behaviour of the police these days, on newsreels, even when not actually beating up or arresting folk, is very noticeable. Just watching scares me. 


The police have always been encouraged to throw their weight around have they not?  A few weeks ago in S.Africa, policemen chained a man to the back of their car, and drove off dragging him behind. I think he died. People were watching but did nothing. Fear? But somebody videoed it all and it got on the TV screens, otherwise... Well, don't the bourgeoisie allow, more or less, the police to do what they like as long as it doesn't get too "public"?  What about the police "officers" who stopped some cabinet minister from riding his bike into Downing Street?  That's all gone quiet again now.  Is there a surge in the growth of sadism on behalf of those poorly educated usually right-wing elements of capitalist society who find themselves employed to apply what they are free to interpret as being  the rules, regulations and frightening repressive tactics  of the decomposing bourgeoisie?  I think so.  I tremble for the future when a more militant working class will really come up against this in a big way. It'll be like Thailand in the 'seventies when students captured by the army, against whose rule they were protesting, we're hanged from the trees in the central area.   Strange fruit!  A reminder of what black folk have suffered in the past.  


I watched part of a film yesterday, called "Safe", in which Triads, the Russian mafia and New York policemen, appeared to compete with each other to see who could be most violent, most sadistic in applying death,  and most totally corrupt. A young girl objected to some of it she witnessed.   She was told something like: when you appreciate the money involved you'll understand better. What a summing up of bourgeois society! 

I don't know

Fred wrote:

From the same article that jk provides a link to above, I read this.

“Color blind” racism also helps to explain the objectification and over criminalization of young Black, Latino and Asian men, mass incarceration of young Black, Latino and Asian men through the war on drugs (there are more Black men in prison today than were enslaved in 1850), the prison industrial complex, and the militarization of the police through the war on drugs.


Is the expression "color blind racism" a joke?  I mean, if you didn't notice and react badly for reasons of  unquestioned cultural conditioning  to the color of people's skin how you could make a "racist" and prejudiced response against their ethnicity. (The word "racism" is loathsome, and to use it at all is uncivilised in a cunning and slimy fashion that the word "nigger" for example avoids. The "N" word is just plain ugly, offensive and almost quaint, whereas "racism" reeks of political undertones and menace.) 


I don't know Fred. In the age of Obama, we hear a lot about how "the denial of racism is the new racism." I suppose I understand what is meant here--that some trumpet the idea that because there is a black President and a black attorney general it must mean that racism is dead, while in reality there remain mounds of evidence that society continues to mete out much harsher treatment to minorities on numerous levels. I get what is meant here and sympathize with it.

However, at the same time it seems patently obvious that the media and the bourgeois politicians seize on events like these to further divide workers up according to race and ethnicity. One seriously has to wonder if the comments Obama made about the son he doesn't have looking just like Trayvon were meant to do just that or at the very least to placate a certain political constituency that lives off of these divisions. I mean of all the ways one can "look like someone else," why is race the defining feature? Would Obama's son have been wearing a hoodie or a prep school uniform? Of course, this is close to what the right wing says about his comments, so it is difficult to know just what to feel. And this is the power of race and racism, it keeps us all second guessing our own motives and intentions out of a sense of guilt and fear. While that may be necessary on some level, its also inevitable under captialism that these emotions are going to fuel a backlash among white workers who are tired of being told that they are racist.

And of course that is exactly where we are when it comes to race in 2013. Nobody thinks (or wants to admit) they themselves are racist, yet there is racism all around. In a sense we are in a "post-racist" society where nobody, save for the hardcore crackpots, openly defends white supremacy; yet, we are clearly not in a "post-racial" society, as most objective social scientific measures from incarceration rates to chronic disease prevelance continue to show statisically relevant differences in outcomes according to race. Of course, the focus on race--however much an unavoidable fact--almost always serves to obscure the class dimensions that lurks underneath. How can we get to the bottom of these issues and find the class terrain which alone can unite us?