The year 2015 promises to be a very different year than years past. If the last four months are any indication, we are in for rough times. There are those who think either things can’t get worse or that things get better with time. Neither are true, and when applied to the U.S. landscape they are even more false.
President Obama has tried to tell us that the lives of Black folks are much better than they were 50 years ago, but the statistics in the misery index dispute that idea. Black people are catching hell; poor people are catching hell. Homelessness, joblessness and hopelessness are on the way up, not down. The graduation statistics for inner-city kids now parallel those of the early ’60s.
Those who believe that this is the best humanity can do, and because of human nature we just will never be able to do better than to live in a society where humans who don’t possess riches don’t matter much, may find some comfort that they are right. This society, which is based on all of the worst human instincts, is going to get worse.
The signs are everywhere. Someone pointed out one on Facebook recently where a White woman took the time to write a long letter of disapproval to a young Black organizer affiliated with the local BlackLivesMatter group. The letter writer who can’t be called a dyed-in-the-wool racist wrote what was in essence a justification for being racist. The letter writer talked about Black failure in education, out-of-wedlock births, childrearing — you name it, she had all of the justifications down pat.
As one responder said, I don’t recall people being that willing to say negative things with their names attached to it. Lots of folks have talked about negative conversations with people they thought were friends. So people who support this system of exploitation, oppression and racism are feeling more comfortable in expressing their support for things as they are.
And more and more people who call themselves liberals are lining up with the injustices of the system, hiding behind the law in most cases but in some hiding behind their own unconscious racism. One can’t help but notice the silence in the liberal community when it was revealed clearly that the U.S. was guilty of torture.
Another indicator that we better strap our hats on tight are the way police federations and associations have been going on the offensive against those who have voiced disagreement with the grand jury decisions in St. Louis and New York. Patrick Lynch, who heads the New York cops, came out and said ”There’s blood on many hands tonight. Those that incited violence on the street in the guise of protest, that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did every day. We tried to warn it must not go on, it shouldn’t be tolerated.”
That’s right, worse than accusing the protesters of causing the deranged young killer to take two officers’ lives is Lynch’s suggestion that protest “shouldn’t be tolerated.” There is not a lot to be optimistic about in the coming year.
The U.S. war machine promises to continue its aggressive attacks against anybody and anything that opposes it. We have more drone warfare, more bombings, more killing by the empire.
Politically if the new movements that have risen up around the police violence seek to solidify their movement around system change rather than system tweeks, there will be hope. But based on what we have seen at the end of 2014, it may be met with repression.
The $15 Now campaign around the country has gained some momentum, but it won’t really put a dent in the stranglehold that the capitalists have over labor. Economic gains alone don’t point to the real problem behind low and unfair wages, the system of capitalism.
Ultimately if we are going to have a real new year under U.S. imperialism, people will have to get serious about what they are up against and search for alternative means to organize society because it’s absolutely clear that the empire plans to remain in power by any means necessary.
Mel Reeves welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.