Thursday, August 20, 2015
Black Lives Matter as Much as Syrian Lives Do: The Geopolitical Dimension of White Supremacy and the State -- Danny Haiphong
"The reality is that world capitalism's ruling class must propagate a racist, colonialist narrative of the oppressed in order to exploit them for profits. Profit always comes at the expense of labor, whether through the process of exploitation or the plunder necessary to establish it. Syria and Black America are thus facing down the same enemy. At the subjective level, the politicians, police, military forces, and corporate operatives forward a dehumanized narrative of both peoples to desensitize and legitimize the wanton destruction of Syria and the daily police murder of Black Americans. And at the objective level, the same trillion dollar military apparatus that Washington utilizes against Syria also militarizes the police to occupy the streets of Ferguson, Baltimore, and Black cities all over the US."
When Michael Brown was murdered by the state in 2014, militarized policed rolled through the streets of Ferguson and St. Louis to contain Black resistance. On the anniversary of Mike Brown's death, the same militarized police returned and arrested 150, shot and critically injured a protester, and declared martial law. Some have said the Washington-funded militarization of the police in Ferguson and cities across the US is comparable to the military forces deployed to occupy Afghanistan and Iraq. While this comparison does make a critical observation, it ultimately reinforces the idea that military occupation is not possible within the colonial borders of the US. The comparison is only relevant when it drops the narrative of American exceptionalism and analyzes the geopolitical relationship between white supremacy and the state through an internationalist perspective.
The state is the enforcement arm of white supremacy and global capitalism. It is often confused with the government, but it is much more than that. The state comprises of the police, the military, the courts, and the entire apparatus of social control that supports the exploitation of oppressed people. More concretely, the character of the state depends on the political and economic system in question. The US state is a manifestation of centuries of racist, capitalist development that began with the enslavement of Africans and extermination of indigenous peoples. Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz’s new work, The Indigenous Peoples History of the United States, summarizes this development as follows:
“Any true history of the United States must focus on what has happened to (and with) Indigenous peoples – and what still happens. It’s not just past colonialist actions but also ‘the continued colonization of American Indian nations, peoples, and lands’ that allows the United States to ‘cast its imperialist gaze globally.’”
“Washington's rulers are dependent upon a white supremacist framework to legitimize oppression and dehumanize the oppressed, from Damascus to Baltimore.”
Ortiz's conclusion that US capitalism's global expansion couldn't have occurred without the vast riches of stolen land and labor is the material basis for white supremacy. The transformation of Black American cities into war-zones and the repression of resistance through the channels of the Mass Black Incarceration State ultimately share a common cause with the Syrian people. The war on Black America is both a necessary precondition to politically repress potentially revolutionary resistance and an economic move to incarcerate and thus control a Black labor force that can no longer be accounted for in the post-industrial capitalist wasteland of the US. Washington's war with Syria is a geopolitical maneuver to reassert dominance in a region that is increasingly becoming hostile to US interests. Washington's rulers are dependent upon a white supremacist framework to legitimize oppression and dehumanize the oppressed, from Damascus to Baltimore.
From the perspective of the imperialist ruling class, Syrian lives matter as much as Black Lives do. Black Americans and Syrians are expendable from the standpoint of the ruling system's ultimate goal of keeping the rich in power and white people compliant. Syrians will continue to be painted as incapable of managing their own affairs and in need of Western imperial medicine. Black Americans will continue to be dehumanized and criminalized as the assault on their bodies, minds, and labor continues. Black Lives Matter has continuously framed the movement against police terror as an ideological and political intervention. Another addition to the intervention that will be critical in the overall movement's growth is the development of an internationalist consciousness capable of forging relationships of solidarity with the Syrian people and all people staring down the same imperialist enemy.
Posted by LJansen at 11:45 AM