The crisis that surrounds the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin cannot be separated from the growing sense of catastrophe that permeates U.S. politics.
On Aug. 23, Blake was shot seven times by a white cop in Kenosha, Wis., as this Black father was trying to get into his own car. His three small sons were in the back seat and were traumatized spectators to the shooting that has left their father paralyzed.
As protests over this cruel, racist atrocity started to spread across the country, the Trump government sent 1,000 members of the National Guard to Wisconsin to “keep the peace.” But the righteous reaction of progressive, anti-racist people was “No justice, no peace!”
Protests erupted everywhere
The thoroughly reactionary Trump administration only fanned the flames of bigotry. Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” is widely and correctly seen as an attack on whatever gains have been made by the movements against racism, sexism and anti-LGBTQ2S+ bigotry in recent years.
Emboldened by the reactionary in the White House, right-wingers and neofascists have been crawling out of the woodwork. Some have even begun to appear, armed, in places where progressive, anti-racist struggles are blossoming.
One of them, a 17-year-old white supremacist and Trump supporter, actually shot and killed two protesters in Kenosha, wounding a third. Armed right-wing groups, so-called “militias,” are encouraged by the police, who in contrast react violently when progressive protesters defend themselves.
All of this is playing out against a background of growing economic crisis, in which a cyclical downturn of the capitalist economy, occurring in the midst of long-term systemic decline, is being turbocharged by the spread of the coronavirus. This growing economic insecurity inflames competition for jobs.
Especially in areas where right-wing politics prevail, many whites are constantly being told that those responsible for their insecurity are people of color — rather than the bosses and bankers who do the hiring and firing, according to their appetite for profits.
For people of color, it’s a double whammy. “Last hired, first fired” has always led to higher rates of unemployment and poverty in oppressed communities. Now COVID-19 is hitting Black, Brown and Indigenous people at rates far greater than any other communities.
Capitalism and the virus
The U.S. has registered almost twice as many cases of the coronavirus as any other country in the world. The number of people known to be infected here has now surpassed 6 million, or 565 per million inhabitants.
Of the larger countries, only Brazil, Peru and Chile have comparable rates of infection. By contrast, the rate in the People’s Republic of China, where COVID-19 first broke out, is only 3 per million. Three, not 565!
What an indictment of this chaotic system of capitalism, where profits always come first and public health is totally underfunded.
What workers need to know is that only through organization, solidarity and fightback against the bosses can they win some protection from the ravages of the coronavirus — and of the profit system.
As more and more people lose their jobs because of the pandemic, the need for government assistance grows. But only a concerted struggle can force the keepers of the vaults — who are used to handing over public funds to corporate moguls — to redirect that money to meeting people’s needs.
This is a time that calls for heroic action by those who despise everything that the racist reactionaries running the show are doing. And many young hero/ines are stepping up to the plate. In the months ahead, the struggle can only grow against not only the vicious Trump administration and the racist violence it has spawned, but against the profits-above-all capitalist system itself.