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Racism is used by ruling class to turn working people against each other, says Danny Weil

Racism is used by the ruling class in America to turn working people against each other so that they do not see the larger issue of capitalist inequality and exploitation, according to author and political commentator Danny Weil.
Black Lives Matter

“Today, racism, as it always has been, is used by the ruling class in America to justify land theft, austerity and war; to distract people from attacks on their civil rights and living conditions, and, more importantly, to turn working people against each other so that they do not see the larger issue of capitalist inequality and exploitation and thus will not organize against it,” he said in an interview with the Balkans Post.

BP: What are your thoughts on the U.S. government’s response to the widespread protests that broke out in the U.S. over the police killing of George Floyd?

Danny Weil: The general response by the U.S. government to protests over the killing of George Floyd has been to launch ‘counter-insurgency warfare’. What we are witnessing is the roll-out of a Phoenix Program in America which, non-coincidently was used in Algeria, Vietnam, Iraq, Latin America and Afghanistan as a counter-insurgency method to quell popular uprisings against imperial repression and exploitation at home.

This seems to me a very good description of the role of para-military, police departments in America today.

The police only exist as a political apparatus to “serve and protect” the ruling class, the small ownership class. Increasingly, the police, funded nationally with $100 billion every year, have been integrated into their own military, armed with the most advanced weaponry of war.

Let’s be clear: the police, the men and women themselves, are not a cross section of American life. Like the military, they are recruited from the most reactionary sections of the lower-middle class and politically backward workers and trained to hate and despise the poor and oppressed while maintaining subservience to authority and ‘capital’.

The police are a hostile occupying force in every working-class neighborhood in the country. Many police recruits have served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they became indoctrinated into and/or inured to violence and death of the “other”. They return home, psychologically battered, where many find new roles in local police departments littered with white supremacists.

So, the response to the legitimate protests has resulted in what can be logically expected: a rampage by the police and perhaps the most violent and vicious attacks on democratic rights in the history of the United States. States of emergency have been declared and curfews implemented in cities and counties across the country (most of which are controlled by corporate Democrats), and the police militarized.

The White House itself is now the political nerve center for a fascist movement to establish a military dictatorship, overthrow the Constitution, abolish democratic rights, inject the system with austerity and violently suppress the multitude of protests against police brutality and savagery that have swept across the United States.

More disturbing, Trump and his DOJ Attorney General William Barr have also responded by decreeing that federal prosecution of demonstrators be placed under the Joint Terrorist Task Force, a multi-department military-intelligence agency in charge of prosecuting combatants captured in the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.

With the new decree, FBI agents working through the JTTF now can go to people’s homes, work sites and communities and question people about their political views, in gross violation of the Constitution, while seeking to criminalize their participation in peaceful protests.

Counter-insurgency begins with intelligence gathering efforts as they pertain to the politics and culture of the society/community being targeted. It is always accompanied with intense police repression. The goal is to penetrate into the all corners of a society/community -- to get agents inside civil society, organizations, families, and social networks and then figure out who’s the “bad guy”.

The viciousness exemplified by police all-over the nation following and during the protests is chilling, but understandable, given the source of much of U.S. police training.

Few Americans are aware that according to a report produced by Researching the American-Israeli Alliance (RAIA) the Israeli military, police and those in intelligence agencies train U.S. police forces under Israel’s counter-terrorism methods, which also involves racial profiling:

During trainings in Israel, U.S. law enforcement delegations meet with Israeli military, police, and intelligence agencies to train in Israeli counterterrorism, which by definition necessitates refining methods of racial profiling”.

For decades Latin American dictators were trained at the School of the Americas in the United States in state-of-the-art torture and counter-insurgency. They received counter-insurgency training that they then used in installing military dictatorships and repressing their own people. American police are now being trained by Israel/Apartheid in methods for controlling the American people. Dictatorships do not just happen in Latin America.

As to the response of the corporate Democrats relative to the protests, the favored tempered response to Trump’s illegal actions in calling out the military and decree Anti-fa as a terrorist organization is that the president “is not being helpful”.

BP: What’s your view about the Black Lives Matter’s impact in the U.S. and its future?

Danny Weil: There is little doubt that Black Lives Matter have helped popularize some of today’s policy positions, such as the call to abolish ICE and to abolish police and prisons.

And Black Lives Matter calls for single-payer healthcare, the legalization of marijuana, in addition to an end of mass incarceration and police violence towards black people, and investments in communities.

However, none of the above can be nor will be accomplished under capitalism and the creeping fascism that now exposes the face of political expression.

As I wrote in 2016 for the Muslim Press, Black Lives Matter must become an anti-capitalist movement if it is to have any impact on black lives and the lives of all workers, the disenfranchised and the dispossessed.

This was four years ago and I have not wavered from this claim; in fact, current events indicate it is now more important than ever. Police violence is the response of an economic system in crisis. It is the response one should expect from capitalism if they have read history.

One would think that Black Lives Matter would concur with the need to challenge capitalist relations. According to BLM, the impetus for their organization and commitment was, and still is, “the rampant and deliberate violence inflicted on us by the state”.

Yet disturbing facts regarding BLM that are at odds with their commitment have received little news coverage. Many people do not realize that the political aims and nature of Black Lives Matter hardly challenge “violence inflicted by the state” but on the contrary, the organization has now partnered with “the corporate state”.

Take the following facts:

“BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors stated in 2017 that it would be partnering with the Fortune 500 New York ad agency J. Walter Thompson (JWT) to create “the biggest and most easily accessible black business database in the country”.

“In 2016 the Ford Foundation, one of the most powerful private foundations in the world, announced that it was organizing to channel $100 million to the Black Lives Movement over the next six years.

By partnering with Borealis Philanthropy, Movement Strategy Center and Benedict Consulting to found the Black-Led Movement Fund, Ford has made six-year investments in the organizations and networks that compose the Movement for Black Lives,” according to the Ford Foundation website. In a statement of support, Ford called for the group to grow and prosper.

Partnering with corporate America and their coin-operated politicians will not stem the systematic police murder of black people nor help build a solid, working class organization to stop racism.

The source of police violence is not racial antagonism; it is class oppression. The unifying characteristic among victims of police violence – be they black, white, Hispanic or Native American – is that they are poor, disenfranchised, dispossessed, exploited, and among the most vulnerable segments of capitalist society.

Operating like a non-profit organization, seeking corporate partners and grants from powerful corporate funded foundations will not build a movement to challenge corporate capitalism and imperialism – it will weaken it through misdirection.

The development of the struggle against racism must be the development of a struggle against capitalism and this requires the independent political mobilization of the working class, in opposition to the Democrats and Republicans and for the abolition of capitalism in favor of socialism.

The good news is that people are beginning to understand this. The eruption of mass demonstrations of workers and youth of all races and colors, triggered by the brutal murder of George Floyd, has given expression to a tremendous social solidarity; a solidarity which belies the mere racial narrative and seats the struggle against racism within the context of capitalist exploitation.

People can see that it is not a question of black against white, but the working class, the disenfranchised class, the dispossessed class against the rich and powerful. This understanding represents a tremendous leap forward in consciousness that must be, and can only be, sustained and extended through mass organizing opposed to capitalism, racism and imperialism.

The corporate Democratic Party is incapable of waging this fight. Underlying their cowardice are their basic class interests. Whatever their tactical differences with Trump, the Democrats represent the same ruling class interests – the banks, Wall St., big tech, big pharma, the military, imperialism and capitalist exploitation. What they fear more than anything else is that opposition to Trump may assume revolutionary dimensions that threaten the interests of the capitalist financial-corporate oligarchy as a whole, and thus their own political interests and privileges.

Over the last 50 years, the conditions of black workers have deteriorated, social inequality has reached record levels and military police violence has intensified. All this while capitalist wealth has concentrated into fewer and fewer hands.

BP: How would you analyze the connection between inequality and racism, especially in the current era in America?

Danny Weil: To answer this question we can start here:

Black Americans are dying of Covid-19 at three times the rate of their white counterparts. Why?

That black people are at the mercy of everything that is flawed and dysfunctional about America’s health-care system, which has long been shaped by racism, is only keeping in line with the disproportionate suffering in at the hands of police, in work, housing, prisons, and community life.

The number of Americans killed by police every year is more than 1,000. Yet Black people killed by the police in just one year, 2019, were 24% of those killed despite being only 13% of the population.

Today, racism, as it always has been, is used by the ruling class in America to justify land theft, austerity and war; to distract people from attacks on their civil rights and living conditions, and, more importantly, to turn working people against each other so that they do not see the larger issue of capitalist inequality and exploitation and thus will not organize against it.

The divide and conquer strategy is an historical strategy of the ruling elite.

Abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, described the process of “divide and conquer” in 1866 this way:

“The hostility between the whites and blacks of the South is easily explained. It has its root and sap in the relation of slavery, and was incited on both sides by the cunning of the slave masters. Those masters secured their ascendency over both the poor whites and the blacks by putting enmity between them. They divided both to conquer each.”

Now, the slave masters have been replaced with the wage-slave masters; modern capitalism has replaced slave systems yet racial divisions and hatreds are still employed to keep people from seeing their common oppression: the capitalist system itself.

BP: You said that capitalism and racism go hand in hand. Could you elaborate?

Danny Weil: The elites in the United States have historically and systematically tried to repress organizations that have tried to combat racism, capitalism and political repression. The use of COINTELPRO against black organizations and leaders has a long sordid history of assassinations, surveillance and political repression. And it is just one example.

Paul Robeson’s Civil Rights Congress, labeled as Communist in the 1950’s and destroyed by the U.S. government six decades ago is yet another example.

“The CRC took up legal causes of those they considered unjustly accused. In addition to pursuing legal campaigns, often alongside the NAACP, the group sought to raise awareness outside the courtroom with demonstrations, propaganda, and high-profile events. As these campaigns gained popular awareness, the CRC received many letters from prisoners requesting legal assistance. The CRC opposed the 1940 Smith Act and 1950 McCarran Act, both of which expanded government powers to prosecute domestic dissent”.

Sound hauntingly familiar?

If we know that racist ideas are produced by a capitalist social and economic system that needs oppression and subjugation to function, then we know that we need to fight this system if we are to challenge racism. Likewise, any genuine struggle against capitalism must be anti-racist and stand in solidarity with those subject to it.

BP: How shall the death of George Floyd be avenged? What is the way forward?

Danny Weil: The most rational and basic answer to this question is: reduce the police budget, stop the phony diversity training for police, fund social programs, get the police out of schools, demilitarize them, get rid of the Vice units, foster community-based violence and interruption programs, provide jobs and affordable housing, stop the war on drugs, stop mass incarceration, prisons for profits, etc. All of these demands calls into question the entire system of capitalism.

With the coronavirus pandemic, capitalist class contradictions and antagonisms are entering a new, frightening stage. The corporate and financial oligarchy, after looting the treasury of trillions and doing nothing to protect the population, has used the pandemic to transfer trillions of dollars to itself, in a move unanimously endorsed by the Democratic and Republican politicians.

The fight against police brutality and racism must be fused with the growing movement of the working class against unsafe working conditions, mass unemployment, social inequality, austerity and mass poverty, the fight for affordable housing, transportation, an end of looting by the financial sector, and on and on.

It is especially critical for workers and youth to understand that they are engaged in a battle that is global in scope. Establishing the unity of workers in the United States requires solidarity with the struggles of workers of all nationalities and ethnicities.


Danny Weil was a writer for Project Censored and Daily Censored. He received the Project Censored ‘Most Censored’ News Stories of 2009-10 award for his article: ‘Neoliberalism, Charter Schools and the Chicago Model / Obama and Duncan’s Education Policy: Like Bush’s, Only Worse,’ published by Counterpunch, August 24, 2009. Dr. Weil has published more than seven books on education in the past 20 years. You can also read much more about capitalism and education in his writings found at Counterpunch.com, Dailycensored.com, dissidentvoice.com and Project Censored.com where he has covered the issue of the privatization of education for years. He is also a public interest attorney who has practiced for 40 years. He has taught kindergarten, first and second grade in S. Central LA and has also worked as a teacher in the now defunct California Youth Authority prison system.

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