Revolution #114, December 30, 2007

New Orleans:

What Democracy Looks Like

To the editors of Revolution:

Thursday night, after the New Orleans City Council voted to demolish the houses of thousands of poor, mainly Black people—at a time when people from New Orleans remain scattered and dispersed and threatened with homelessness—I watched over and over on YouTube the footage of police pepper-spraying and beating and arresting people whose only crime was wanting to observe and speak out against their so-called representatives voting on the future of this housing.

Bill Quigley—a professor from Loyola in New Orleans, who sides with the people and is now being threatened—asked the television crew “is this what democracy looks like?” Quigley’s question posed something that needs to be answered: this IS democracy, capitalist style—and when the interests of the capitalists are at stake (and you can read Carl Dix’s recent articles from New Orleans to see how this is so) and your right to protest gets in the way of what the political representatives of capital want to do, they will beat you, spray you, jail you...and then vote your ass down anyway.

The next morning, I happened to be reviewing Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity, Bob Avakian’s new talk, and came across the following:

When a monopoly of political power—and, in a concentrated way, the monopoly of “legitimate” armed force—is in the hands of one group in society, and that group excludes others from that monopoly of power and force, then that is a dictatorship of the ruling group—or class—regardless of whether or not that ruling group allows those it excludes from power, and over whom it rules in fact, to take part in elections to vote for different representatives of the ruling class, as happens in the U.S. and a number of other countries.

I have to say that this struck me with special force in the wake of those YouTube videos. The “deal had gone down.” The big powers-that-be had made sure that the City Council would vote “the right way”—the way that would clear out the projects, further disperse the Black people of New Orleans, and open the way for developing the city in a way that much more suited the economic and political interests of capital. In that situation, the council had at its disposal the armed force of the state to stop any protest that they felt even embarrassed them, and perhaps even more important to send a message as well that if you oppose this you will be dealt with...harshly.

They had a MONOPOLY of that force. Think about it. There is no way—and there never has been a way and never will be a way under this system—that people in the projects can call out the police to protect themselves from the HUD officials who ordered the bulldozing of their houses. This is a dictatorship—a dictatorship of the capitalist class over the masses. And the fact that the masses got to vote for their dictators doesn’t change a thing.

The passage I quoted above is a fact; it truly describes reality. And I could cite literally thousands and thousands of other examples that further prove that U.S. democracy is in its essence a class dictatorship, from the use of troops and militia to put down the slave revolts to the police murder of Fred Hampton, the Black Panther leader, as he lay sleeping in his bed to what happened yesterday at the gates of the New Orleans City Council meeting or on May 1 in Los Angeles to the protesting immigrants.

A challenge: Can anyone come up with a single fact that disproves this?

Send us your comments.

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