Ferguson "Riots": A Fire in the Master's House is Lit

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Ferguson "Riots": A Fire in the Master's House is Lit
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A Fire in the Master's House is Lit

Immediately outside the confines of a tightly packed apartment complex in Ferguson, Missouri lay the crumpled corpse of a young teenager. His body was left in the street for four hours. He had been shot six times by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. This dead young man had no criminal record and the police did not have a warrant for his arrest. His name was Michael Brown. He was 18 years old.

So Ferguson joins the list, along with Sanford, Money, San Francisco, New York City, London, and so many other places in the United States and the world.

The response from the African-American community who are joined together with many other working people in St. Louis County has been fairly significant. However the rhetoric coming from people and the protests has ranged from black nationalism to “left liberalism” to libertarianism. Most of the dialogue has been based around the idea that race and human rights are the main issues in Michael Brown’s death.

But what other forces are at work here?

The repression of the protests and anger from the people of Ferguson, and across the country, by police and other government forces has struck a chord with many Americans. Among the many questions being asked, why are so many black youth being killed in similar situations in America? Is the life of an African-American valued less than others? Why aren’t the rights of African-American people better respected in the “democratic” system in America?

The capitalist system exploits all working people. Workers all over America are subjected to the same kinds of repression, even if the scale and drama of each situation varies.

There is a long tradition of the United States government violently suppressing street protests and assemblies by working class people! And all over the rest of the world!

Racism is at its core based on ethno-national divisions. The ruling class employs the police and the paramilitary (paid for by our taxes) who kill our children over bogus reasons because they themselves are inherently racist. Capitalism breeds racism. The wealthy American capitalist can’t afford a prosperous black nation, in Missouri, in California, in Africa or anywhere else. Capitalism means the competition of nations, races, economies and this relies directly on the elbow grease of all working men and women.

Ferguson, Missouri right now looks more like the West Bank than the United States. This is a common sentiment of the demonstrators, who have been talking back and forth with Palestinians and Egyptians about the best way to avoid tear gas and rubber bullets. [1]

Why are the demonstrators in Gaza and Israel experiencing similar events to those of working class people in the “first world”? Why these experiences in a “developed” nation like the United States? Because working people have no borders, no countries. No matter where we live we are all subjected to the will of the state government, “democratic” or otherwise. It should come than as no surprise that the Ferguson police chief himself, along with many other St. Louis county police officers have actually trained weapons combat and guerilla tactics in Israel in recent years. [2] [3]

Isn’t it Ironic? Nope, its just capitalism.

Working people have to continue to defend themselves against the brutal repression of the ruling class through the use of the capitalist state, whether it’s economic repression, the repression of people’s dignity, or the violent repression and murder of our youth.

But we have to carefully consider our tactics and methods and their effectiveness. Unchanneled anger gets us nowhere. More reflection and discussion is always necessary. Setting trashcans on fire and throwing rocks at armored personnel carriers and urban tanks is not the path to stopping the murder of black children. Neither is looting strip malls.

The only solution is a social revolution, which can only be carried out by working people like you and me. No matter how much we appeal to our handlers, the ruling class, to improve the condition of our lives it is fundamentally in their interest not to help. This decadent system can barely stay afloat in its current condition. And to demand from the government and the people who control us respect of our “democratic rights” and basic needs is to overload this systems capacity. Unless we all want to go down sinking together, workers have to unite together across racial lines in order to save society and possibly all of human civilization from destruction.

What rights can they give us, democratic or not, that would stop our bosses from taking a cut of our work and our pay for their profit? As long as the exploitation of workers continues, and the extraction of profit from the labor of the working class continues, no amount of “civil” disobedience is going to stop poverty! We are being clubbed over the head by capitalism. It doesn’t help if the club was democratically elected.

We have to take away the stick.

What our rulers have continued to show us is that no matter how peaceful we are, there are always violent reprisals to be had at the hands of the state. Many times when people talk about social and economic justice, the redistribution of the wealth, it assumed the system is in a position to grant these reforms. But the wealthy are not just going to hand over their wealth! Do you think they store their billions under their mattress, or in massive piggy banks? No, their wealth is in hedge funds, stocks and bonds, and to demand economic justice is a direct hit to their money. Money extorted from the profit of our labor.

If all the people in Ferguson, including the police and the politicians, just stopped going to work, who would be around to protect us from each other? Would we be killing and stealing from each other? Or is it the system itself that encourages the killing? If one day we all woke up and just said, “No”, what would happen to the world?

Maybe places like Ferguson, Missouri could be a better place.




[1] Al Jazeera. 14 Aug 2014.
Nope. It's just capitalism

Well said Jamal. Your post would make an excellent leaflet.  I like "take away the stick",  "the club" by which we are brutally clubbed, and which was itself  "democratically"  elected to beat us with.  And your point that Ferguson now looks like the Gaza Strip. And, we might add, Iraq, and much of Syria to name but two. But how do we get out of these hell holes? 


The only solution is a social revolution, which can only be carried out by working people like you and me. No matter how much we appeal to our handlers, the ruling class, to improve the condition of our lives it is fundamentally in their interest not to help. This decadent system can barely stay afloat in its current condition. And to demand from the government and the people who control us respect of our “democratic rights” and basic needs is to overload this systems capacity. Unless we all want to go down sinking together, workers have to unite together across racial lines in order to save society and possibly all of human civilization from destruction.

There was a striking film clip on the tv news of two young men in Ferguson stripped to the waist and sweaty from the fight, with their arms round each other. One was black and one  was white. They were united across racial lines.   Maybe they were united across religious divisions too. And maybe soon we'll all begin to unite across national borders as well.

When working people like you and me start to unite in solidarity then that'll  give our "handlers" something to think about. That'll be the day! 

class the issue

There seems to be some sort of debtate going on in the left around the question of class or race in relation to events in Ferguson. The leftists and the black nationalists pose one against the other - for the former, the SWP and the like, it is a question of racism and class and the answer is to make the state more "transparent" and accountable, so their class aspect is how to strengthen the capitalist state and make its police force more responsive (along with other such impossibilities such as, a massive house building programme, education for all, increased welfare spending). The black nationalist are the other side of the same coin; race is the main issue - and their answer is more or less the same as the leftists, ie, their racist slant is to strengthen the police force through more black police, greater involvement of blacks, more accountability, etc. It is clear that racism is another, very important, aspect of capitalism and its divisions of the working class and the issue of Ferguson is one of class. Many have descended on Ferguson to bolster the race issue, ie, "racism killed Michael Brown", all the usual suspects and the media pack with CNN, just over a week ago, organising a town hall debate in Ferguson where, believe it or not, they segregated the audience, black on one side, white on the other. Inisting on the race isssue is better for the bourgeoisie in maintaining divisions.

From bits here and there it appears that the trade unions have contributed to the imposed racial divide of Ferguson. In 1917, in East St. Louis,there was what can only be described as a pogrom against the local black population that seems to a great degree to have been organised by the trade unions. The white population was wound up to attack the black quarters which they did with the aid of the police. There are now credible reports of some 200 black people being killed. The official enquiry at the time shows 8 white people killed - with all the information about them listed - and 35 blacks, with scarcely any information at all. This sort of thing has continued in Ferguson with the official report of the cop who killed Michael Brown listing only the most sketchy information. He clearly thought that it was adequate to write something like "dead nigger" and all would be explained.


baboon wrote:

 This sort of thing has continued in Ferguson with the official report of the cop who killed Michael Brown listing only the most sketchy information. He clearly thought that it was adequate to write something like "dead nigger" and all would be explained.

More likely he was advised by his PBA lawyer to keep his mouth shut. There is this thing in the US called the 5th ammendment after all. He very well could be a scorching racist, as some cops in that area clearly are and that has been captured by CNN cameras, although so far there is nothing to substantiate that this particualr police officer is. Remember George Zimmerman was a friend of black people after all and was himself partly of African descent. 

Of course, all of this misses the point. Baboon is right though that the media has been playing up the race card to the hilt in the aftermath of the shooting. One young NAACP official actually got on CNN cameras and said, "What this community needs is more people in power who look like them." The media continues on with the refrain that the best thing to ease tensions is more black cops, which is clearly why the erratic Governor Jay Nixon appointed black Highway Patrolman Ron Johnson to head the response to the protests--a pure figurehead. On any other day, the Highway Patrol is busy giving speeding tickets on the Interstate, not responding to street crime.

One wonders if these new black leaders are too young to remember the lyrics to KRS-ONE's "Black Cop"? "Its Black Cops, Killing Black Kids in Johannesburg--Yo what's Up Black Cop, Yo What's Up? Your Authorization, Says Shoot Your Nation!"

Of course, a world without cops altogether is simply unthinkable to the rational, moderate, civil rights leaders, so I guess the best they can hope for is cops that "look like" the community they oppress. Maybe then they won't be perceived as an "occupying army" and can get down to genuine "community policing." Still, this didn't stop Ron Johnson from standing on the police front line and apparently giving the order to launch tear gas and stun grenades at the protestors on multiple nights.

I suppose, however, this could be played off by alleging that the crowd was led astray by a small group of "outside agitators" (a phrase repeateded with shocking regularity even by supposedly liberal media outlets like MSNBC who seemed totally unaware of its ominous historical connotations)  who were not part of the "the community." Heaven forbid that people show solidarity with others in struggle across "community lines." How terrible would that be? They must be self-absorbed anarcho-tourists out to wage stunts for the cameras, not people genuinely concerned about police brutality.

Of course, the sinister face of how the politicans can turn the rhetoric of "community control" back in on dissent was highlighted when in the midst of the Ferguson protests, cops in neighboring Saint Louis city straight up murdered another young black man, who apparently suffered from some kind of mental disorder--about the only thing that actually makes it more likely you will be killed by police than being a young black male. Local black pol Anotonio French was quick to diffuse the crowd that gathered to protest this shooting, by assuring them that they were not unrepresented in the local political structures of Saint Louis--there are actually black elected officials in Saint Louis City it seems.

This theme was also parrotted back by the liberal media with shocking uniformity. The killing of Kadjime Powell was not as bad as that of Michael Brown, because the black pols in Saint Louis would make sure the case was thouroughly invesitagted before the cops are exonerated.

This is, of course, despite the fact that the entire episode was captured on video--clearly showing that the cops' original story of Powell coming at them with a knife held over his head were a total lie and that Powell probably could have been safely subdued with less than lethal force. Nevertheless, the cops went straight for their guns and didn't hesitate to pump lead into the body of someone obviously in the midst of a mental crisis. However, because there are black pols in Saint Louis everyone should go home and wait for the ystem to do its job.

But perhaps the worst thing about this entire episode, was the response of the white Saint Louis mayor, who promptly sent social workers to the scence of the shooting to organize an impromptu "jobs fair" with local residents. This was another aspect of this shooting which the liberal media trumpted as showing the vastly superior response of local officials in Saint Louis compared to Ferguson. Saint Louis officials actually care about the communities they oppress it seems. The incredibly paternalistic and patronizing tone of this was of course (intentionally?) missed by the media--the idea that if these blacks just has jobs they wouldn't waste their time protesting in the streets is something that might be commonplace to hear on FOX News, but it was nonetheless the logical conclusion of MSNBC's glowing review of Saint Louis authorities' response.

The whole damn episode stinks, just like the society that engendered it.



My good friend in the cap You

My good friend in the cap

You bring up a lot of points. Appreciated the KRS One citation. Reminds me of Afrika Bambataa saying that knowledge was the fifth element of hip-hop.

But indeed, "stinks" is an interesting term to use.

On one hand it alludes to the blatant disregard of the value of human life, ie the stench of death. On the other hand it might refer to something unexpected. If you were expecting strawberries, the smell of cucumbers can be off-putting. Sure we all hope for strawberries but instead we got sentiments of black power. Maybe that should read sentiments of equality?

Why is equality not good enough? Why is being respected as a human individual not good enough? These are questions we have to research together. Us and them.

Yes we have witnessed a festering infected cyst on the body of this decaying state of reality that is life in America in 2014 burst open in quite the smelly manner but I really couldnt say if it effects this reality in any kind of deeper way or not.

One question that remains in these situations for me at least is was our intervention effective? Was it even existant? Was it needed?


This is an interesting case

This is an interesting case of something happening on working class terrain yet maybe not. Of course literally Michael Brown was killed on working class terrain. But of course the discussion and the aftermath of his death has been anything but.

False consciousness? Prison mentality? Being pissed that capitalism doesn't include you? What forces can we really blame for the lack of substance here?

And how does that compare

And how does that compare those ideas we in the US personally witnessed during the occupy illusion? Were those just about not being included by capitalism fairly as well?

Jamal asks "why is being

Jamal asks "why is being respected as a human individual not good enough?"

It might be good enough or not if it actually happened.  But it doesn't  happen except in ideological terms where freedom, equality and brotherhood are the order of the day, and under which banner rival bourgeoisie's engage in massive slaughter. Mainly of workers, the poor and unemployed.  

There aren't any human individuals under capitalism. There are rich and poor individuals (with the rich on top); racially distinguished and divided individuals (with whitey on top); hetero  and  sexually perverted individuals (with queers underneath) 1st. and 3rd. world individuals (with the 3rd. worlders  generally starving); male and female individuals (with males most definitely on top) and working and ruling class individuals (with the ruling class yielding  the masterful  whip.)  And so on. Please add your own category to the divisive list.  It stinks. 

As to the much vaunted "value of human life" mentioned by Jamal.  This is a mere bourgeois cliche like the bourgeoisie's passionate love of "peace and freedom".  Under capitalism, human life doesn't have any "value" except surplus value which workers produce for consumption by the vampire class, gluttons that they are.

And as to peace and freedom...well, just look around!  We are told that NATO, or was it the UN or John Kerry, is on the threshold yet  again of producing a lasting peace in the Middle East, or was it Ukraine, or maybe Libya...I forget? But then NATO -  having suddenly attained an unanticipated but welcome lease of life because of all the wonderful wars springing up - and the UN too, spend large quantities of time producing lasting peace all over the world.  Just look around. It's there for all to behold!  In any case "lasting peace" if it ceased to be a myth would prove fatal  for the arms and weapons industry and thus for an important source of profit. That would be absurd, wouldn't it? So perhaps its as well it'll never happen  under capitalism though that doesn't mean it shouldn't be discussed endlessly in the bourg's papers and on their tv news. 

As to being pissed because "capitalism doesn't include you"  as Jamal  puts it; I'm not pissed  about that because I hate the bloody thing. The trouble at the moment though is that capitalism does include me and everyone else too. We can't get away from it. It's like a presiding all-dominant evil spirit.  In fact it is an all-dominant and deadly system.  The trouble is that not enough workers see it that way as yet.  Pray that they will soon. And then we'll all wake up. 

Widespread rioting in

Widespread rioting in Ferguson following the non-indictment of the officer who shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown. In addition to protests, some violent, and sporadic gunfire, the burglary has also been widespread. I heard one of the most stolen items was car batteries, also diapers, food--- things people should probably have in abundance already. Arsonry has also been widespread but limited to major chains. These include Autozone, Walgreens pharma, Taco Bell, etc.

Many people have referred to Mike Brown as a "robber" and criminal for allegedly having pocketed a cigarillo from a small gas station shop. Well this shop was completely ramsacked.

One uninvolved black man pointed out work and school had been cancelled for most pepole, and questioned when it would resume. A younger guy who was taking part in the "non-violent" activities said that it was simply "sad" when asked what his reaction was for the ruling. When asked how the justice system could come up sort the young man commented "people protect they own."