Why We Say “The System Has No Answers” to Police Terror Against Black People

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Why we say “the system has no answers” to police terror against Black people:

First of all, what IS the system? It is the economic and political system that has ruled America since its founding: first, capitalism (along with slavery) and then, as capitalism spread its tentacles worldwide, capitalism-imperialism.

Capitalism, as a system, means that production is not for human need. Instead, things only get produced as a means to make profit for the few people who own and control the means to produce things, the capitalists. Capitalism forces billions of people worldwide to labor to make that profit for the capitalists, casting them aside when they can no longer profitably exploit them. Capitalism forces the capitalists themselves to ruthlessly compete against each other, and each capitalist must either expand or die.

Capitalism, as a system, integrates other forms of oppression—men over women, one nationality over another—into its functioning. In the U.S., this capitalist system has been interwoven with white supremacy from its foundation and ever since. White supremacy is the marrow in the bones of American capitalist-imperialist society.

At every phase of this system’s development, the rulers have brutally exploited Black people. These rulers developed laws and social codes to enforce this. First the capitalists/slave owners violently kidnapped generations of Africans, killing millions as they did so. They forced the slaves to work on the plantations to accumulate the basis of America’s great wealth. Then, after the Civil War, they confined Black people to sharecropping in the fields of the South, and they used lynch mob terror and segregation to hold them down. Then, as Black people went to the cities, these capitalists super-exploited them as workers, last hired and first fired, and segregated them into ghettos and again repressed them with terror and murder—this time by the police.

Further, a whole ideology of racism was developed to justify this, and this has been woven into the fabric of this country’s culture. All too many ordinary white people were corrupted and stupefied into going along with this and enforcing it. This racism has gone through changes and adaptations with each change in the economic system, but it has never been eliminated. In some ways, it is more vicious and insidious today than ever.

Today, the development of this system has led to a situation where the capitalists can no longer profitably exploit millions of Black people. There are no jobs for millions and millions of people—not because there is no work that society needs done, but because there is no profit to be made by doing that work—and this has hit Black and other oppressed peoples the hardest. So unemployed people stand in front of falling-down houses, hospitals, and schools, in part, because the capitalist-imperialists who rule have decided it is not worth it—not profitable—to fix things up, and in part to reinforce the idea that Black people do not matter.

That’s only half the story. Black people have played a powerful role in the whole history of this country. They have sparked powerful, system-shaking struggles—and when they have stood up, others have followed their example. The struggle against the oppression of Black people can hit powerfully against this system and can inspire other struggles as well—we have seen this over the past year. Those on the very bottom, with nothing to lose, can become emancipators of humanity—and the potential for this as well has stood out very powerfully in the past period.

Because of this, along with the fact that the capitalists no longer have a way to profitably exploit many millions of Black people, the rulers of this country look at these masses of unemployed, cast-off Black people as potential “social dynamite.”1

But capitalism cannot and will not change this systematic oppression. They’ve had hundreds of years to do this, but they never have. They have not because they cannot, for the reasons we’ve gone into. Instead, today, the capitalist-imperialist rulers have developed a violent, vicious program of mass incarceration and police terror to deal with these new conditions. They treat an entire people as criminals. They have labeled and treated whole generations of youth as nothing but “suspects” and have warehoused millions in prisons. This program is genocidal—and that genocide could “speed up” into a fast genocide if conditions change.

To reverse this would—and will—require a massive, major change in the economic structure. AND it would—and will—require a massive upheaval in the political and legal system and the culture itself: a real revolution. This change CAN be made—but not within a SYSTEM that is built on the rules of capitalism-imperialism and the rule of the capitalist-imperialist class.

Why do we say WE NEED A REVOLUTION? Because we do—because nothing less than a real revolution, dismantling their system of rule and bringing in a new state power, with a new economic system, and backing up the people as they make the urgently required transformations in every sphere can do what is needed. Only such a revolution can eliminate not only the oppression of Black and other oppressed nationalities (Latinos, other immigrants, Native Americans), but also the oppression of women and other oppression based on gender, the plunder of the environment, the persecution of immigrants, and the war crimes this system so routinely carries out. It CAN be done—and it is up to us to do it.


1 This is also true for Latino people and other oppressed nationalities, like the Native American Indians—each of these peoples have their own history, but in every case they have been brutally dispossessed and exploited by this system and victimized again by white supremacy—and today, they too are cast off in their masses. [back]


Volunteers Needed... for revcom.us and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.



"The film brings you up close inside Cornel West's and Bob Avakian's dialogue: the passion, the audacity, the science, the morality, the revolutionary substance. Two courageous voices modeling a morality that refuses to accept injustice – pouring heart and soul into standing together challenging all of us to fight for a world worthy of humanity."

Andy Zee,
co-director of the film


BA Speaks

"No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that."

BAsics 1:13