Filed under: Analysis, Capitalism, Civilization, Critique, Editorials, Featured
Last Friday, thousands of people flooded into the streets of London to protest government cause and response to the recent fire which engulfed the Grenfell Tower, home to hundreds of working-class residents in an upscale part of the city. Angry crowds marched on Kensington Hall, where council officials barricaded themselves inside the building and attempted to keep residents locked out. Even Prime Minister Theresa May was forced to remain inside a church and then was chased away while the angry crowd chanted, “Shame on you!” Between 100 to 150 residents are estimated to have perished in the fire, all in one of the richest neighborhoods in one of the most wealthy cities in the world.
— IG: @UKRap (@UKRap) June 17, 2017
What has happened in London is disgusting, and it is caused by a system of neoliberalism which has sought to cut costs at every corner for the sake of transferring wealth away from workers and the poor and into the hands of the super-rich. Moreover, the over 100 people that died most horrifically in the fire could have been saved if basic precautions would have been implemented and complaints from residents for repairs would have been listened too. Instead, the Conservative Council and the property management firm that ran Grenfell, refused to listen to requests from people who referred to the tower as a literal “death trap.”
The same horrorshow repeats itself across the Atlantic Ocean, where in the United States poverty and the wealth gap grows, living standards are attacked, and despite presenting itself as a force against ‘globalism,’ the Trump administration attacks workers, the poor, and the environment in order to make America great again for the billionaire class which it serves. Just today, the Republicans released their newly updated version of a health care plan that calls for the slashing of medicaid and basic safety nets and programs.
In Flint, Michigan, which has been gutted, abandoned, and left behind by large corporations, thousands of residents face potential home foreclosure and still have to rely on bottled water, as elected officials which created the current water crisis are only now starting to face legal reprimand.
Youth out in the streets for #PhilandoCastile saying that the system isn't broken, it was built this way for a reason. "Fuck 12 forever."
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) June 17, 2017
Meanwhile, in St. Paul, Minnesota, a police officer is let free without any charges after murdering Philando Castile, a young African-American man who was pulled over in a traffic stop because the officer thought his nose resembled that of a possible robbery suspect. During the stop, Castile told the officer he was legally licensed to carry a concealed weapon and as he was reaching into his pockets, police officer Yanez shot him 7 times as Castile’s girlfriend recorded the entire incident. Before his death, Castile worked as a nutrition supervisor at a local school, and was reportedly pulled over by police 52 times.
In all of these instances, we see a system not only out of control, but also unable to reform itself in any meaningful way. When we factor in the threat of climate change on a global level, we can see that this system is not preparing to fix the mass contradictions within itself, but instead planning for impending breakdown.
In a recent video produced by the CIA, the government agency warns that increased stratification of both wealth and hardships brought on by climate change will lead to tremendous problems for the government; namely its ability to police possible rebellion. This view is shared by many expects and scientists, who warn that both growing inequality and threats of widespread ecological collapse will push forward not only the breakdown of civilization, but predictably more and more government repression.
Both the security state and scientific organizations agree, the State doesn’t want to fix anything; the growing contradictions and breakdowns in capitalist civilization will be answered only by throwing more people in prison, displacing them, or policing them with ever more militarized methods.
In megacities like Hong Kong, workers exist out of cage like ‘apartments.’
There is also no evidence to show that the rich and powerful are going to give up not only their positions, but also stop destroying the planet we all depend on to survive. And let’s keep in mind, these are the people that are driving global warming. According to a report from Oxford Academic:
Meaning quite simply, there is no reforming this system. But in the face of this, the elites are afraid and becoming more anxious of potential revolt. As the Wall Street Journal quoted one billionaire saying:
Last year, I was at a billionaire’s home in California and I asked him to describe his biggest worry. He pointed to a 19th century painting on the wall, which depicted a female beggar receiving alms from a wealthy gentleman and giving her patron a flower in return .
“That’s what I worry about,” he said. “But instead of flowers, she’s got guns. Violence in the streets, aimed at the wealthy. That’s what I worry about.”
the numbers are backed up by other trends seen throughout the world of wealth today: the rich keeping a lower profile, hiring $230,000 guard dogs, and arming their yachts, planes and cars with military-style security features.
With growing inequality and the civil unrest from Ferguson and the Occupy protests fresh in people’s mind, the world’s super rich are already preparing for the consequences. At a packed session in Davos, former hedge fund director Robert Johnson revealed that worried hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes. “I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway,” he said.
This is why far-Right populists like Trump are useful to global capitalism, because they instead direct rage from workers and the poor not against the elites of a global system who control policing, economics, and surveillance, but instead at those below; at immigrants, social movements, and refugees.
As repression grows, as more laws are passed crushing protests and policing daily life, the Alt-Right remains a useful auxiliary force to attack potential rebellion against global capitalism. Just recently in Portland, Oregon, we saw the Department of Homeland Security working with members of the III%er militia, while in Berkeley, local police worked closely with Alt-Right organizers to thwart anarchists and antifascists.
In the face of this, people exploited and excluded from the system must lose their illusions. There is no one coming to save us; only to manage us and police us. We, ourselves, must be our own saviours. This is why in past and current movements where people come together to create new forms of life, at camps stopping pipelines, organizing in our workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods, taking over entire blocks against the police – this is where a new world is being built. It is in our associations, our power, our ability to fight back, and by meeting our needs directly, that we should put our hope in for the future.
Let’s stop waiting for the rich and powerful to fix anything – they clearly aren’t planning on it. They are simply trying to manage the disaster.