By Ben Chacko
Crisis appears to be the default setting for 21st-century capitalist states — but the manifestations of this systemic crisis vary.
In Britain, it is presently expressed as a state-driven policy of impoverishment designed to so reduce the consumption of working people that almost all available cash is devoted to the enhancement of bank profits. Our popular response to this intensification of exploitation is a strike movement that by its very scale subverts the formal provisions of the laws designed to render strikes difficult.
In France, mass and repeated demonstrations against Macron’s imposed rise in the pension age followed the “yellow vests” (gilet jaunes) rebellion. The pensions movement united the generations and is now replaced by nationwide demonstrations against the police killing of a young French citizen of Algerian family origin.
On the streets, the yellow vests were replaced by black masks as the French state mobilised 45,000 police. This French Algerian identity of the victim is important because it goes to the heart of the contradiction in the citizenship practice of the French state.
Once the national liberation movement had forced the French colonial state to abandon its bid to rule Algeria notionally as a part of metropolitan France the position of former colonial subjects — now nominally equal citizens of the republic — exposed the falsity of the republican myth of equality.
That the French police, under the command of the interior ministry, and the Gendarmerie, part of the military, are riven by racism is a plain fact that officialdom refuses to either recognise or, in reality, act upon — but upon which every French citizen of colour is forced to take note. Less anyone on this side of the Channel thinks things are different think on.
Mass rioting in Britain sparked by police violence and killings are a recurring feature here, and no-one should think that official Britain is any more advanced in dealing with the exploited and oppressed position of British citizens whose families originate in the British Empire.
In August 2011, police shot and killed Mark Duggan, in Tottenham, north London. His death led to an uprising in which, it is suspected, the police put pressure on the government over pay. A generation earlier the deaths of two black women at the hands of the police in Tottenham and Brixton resulted in riots.
The plain fact is that black people are around seven times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than white people, and people from an Asian or mixed ethnic background are about two-and-a-half times more likely to be stopped and searched.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct called for guidelines to protect minorities from being stopped due to stereotypes and racial bias. Welcome though such a formal intervention is, the reality is that the context for police behaviour has been set now by Suella Braverman who has called for the police to increase stop and search.
In doing so, the Home Secretary intervenes to add fuel to the flames of a developing “security scare” which will reproduce in British politics the even more toxic atmosphere presently found in the French state where official “colour blindness” barely obscures rampant racism.
In Britain, the rhetorical screen behind which officialdom operates differs from the French — but the underlying reality is the same. Racism assumes particular national forms arising from particular experiences of colonialism and former colonial subjects appear in the metropolitan labour markets as both super-exploited and particularly oppressed.
The battles which inevitably arise in these situations will be fought time and again until the abolition of the wage system allows a new society to arise. And even then we will need to keep an eye on the cops. (IPA Service)
Courtesy: Morning Star