Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein
A sophisticated foreign observer finds that, regrettably, the fruits of this uprising against the status quo may fall painfully short of expectations.
Once again recent events in the United States have been the expression of an extreme diversity of commentary in the media and online, once again the opinions range from the most apocalyptic to those who assume that everything has been a Trump tactic to get out of the catastrophe in which he has plunged his country after the disastrous handling of the Covid 19 pandemic. It is mentioned that the United States has entered a stage of "unstoppable revolution" and that the "people" have finally tired of the system and have taken to the streets to demonstrate it. In the same way, it is assumed that violence is an expression of how fed up the citizens are with a "system that oppresses them." It seems to me that these points of view expose excesses in the analysis or even the expression of the desire that the empire should at last suffer real turmoil in its guts.
But you have to be objective, the rebellions of United States blacks, or African-Americans as they call themselves, are recurrent throughout history. The independence obtained in 1776 did not change the institution of slavery present since the beginning of the colony in the early seventeenth century, although the Spanish had already brought blacks from Africa to be enslaved in their colonial territories that later became part of the United States. . Nor did the constitution of 1787 bring about modifications in the “slave corporation”. On the contrary, it legalized and legitimized oppression against blacks. The first and most important rebellions of black slaves came to take place only at the beginning of the 19th century. They were led by Gabriel Prosser in Richmond, Virginia in August 1800, Denmark Vessey in Charleston, South Carolina in June 1822, and Nat Turner in Southampton, Virginia in August 1831.
Slavery linked to feudalism became a brake on the capitalist development of a country that aspired to be a great world imperialist power. A war called "secession" was necessary because the eleven states that defended slavery wanted to create a new country. The triumph of the states of the Union and of the capitalism they advocated legitimized the racism, the exclusion, the repression and the contempt of blacks as an attribute of the economic and political model that had expired, although some civil rights were granted as a result of a war that had formally freed them from slavery. As American historian Morris Berman recalls in his work "The Roots of American Failure," even Abraham Lincoln, considered the apostle of the fight against slavery in the United States, said in his speech to the special session of Congress on July 4, 1861 , that he had "no direct or indirect intention to interfere with slavery in the United States wherever it exists." So it is false that the war was waged to free the slaves as the official history indicates, but that it responded to the clear intention of avoiding the plausible objective of avoiding secession. Berman points out that Lincoln had already made it clear that he was not in favor of black social and political equality "in any way." If that was the opinion of the president who “abolished” slavery, we might ask ourselves, what can we expect from others?
Since then, until the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, in Powderhorn, Minneapolis, more than a century and a half of continuous uprisings have been carried out by black Americans in their fight against exclusion and discrimination. But except in very specific cases, the racial struggle has not gone beyond that: spontaneous movements of desperate rejection when the abuse loses even the sanity that the formality of the white society imposes on them. Yesterday, in an interview for “iguana.tv”, the Venezuelan journalist Clodovaldo Hernández opined that: “There are those who say that this wave of riots and protests definitely sinks Donald Trump, who is headed to lose the elections. Others say that it strengthens him because he radicalizes positions and he lives on radicalism ”...and asked me what was my opinion regarding whether Trump won or lost with this unexpected turn of the campaign. Here is my answer:
“The first thing to consider is that blacks in the United States represent 13% of the population. And that segment is overwhelmingly a Democratic Party voter. So, in electoral terms, Trump is attacking an opposition sector, which was not favorable to him before these events. On the other hand, in more structural terms it must be said that racism is a permanent phenomenon in the United States, it is intrinsic to that country. I was a child then, but I remember that in the 60s there was that movement of Black Panthers, which even assumed the armed struggle and came to acquire great strength, especially in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, when the winning black American athletes raised their fists and stared at the floor as the national anthem played. This demonstrated the roots of the movement. But it was always limited to blacks.
From time to time, when this type of event occurs, like the one that just happened now, the same thing happens with more or less force. This time it has been very strong, many people compare it to what happened after the murder of Martin Luther King. But it is still a racial movement, it has no other connotation. It is limited to a minority sector of the US population. Not to be confused. There are people talking about revolution in the US and crisis in the political system. One should not be mistaken in thinking that this leads to the doors of a social rebellion that is going to produce substantial changes. On the other hand, it must be taken into account that blacks in the US vote for the Democratic Party [a systemic pillar], and that in the party's internal elections they lean towards the Democratic party right. On this occasion, they supported Joe Biden against Bernie Sanders!
So we cannot fool ourselves into thinking that they are anti-system, liberationist blacks. No. They are blacks who are fighting, and it is good that they do so, depending on the interests of their race, which is discriminated against, exploited, robbed, which manifests itself in the pandemic, when, being just 13% of the global population [from the USA], they are between 24% and 25% of those infected, that is, double the proportion.
In the US they have created a series of myths commemorating the supposed end of racism. On the third Monday in January they celebrate Martin Luther King Day, which is a national holiday; in baseball, on April 15, all players wear the number 42, for Jackie Robinson, who was the first African American to be allowed to play in the big leagues. But, finally, those same blacks are put on a boat and sent to invade Venezuela without much resistance. None of its current leaders [Black radical intellectual Glen Ford properly calls them "misleaders"), have the strength, moral stature, or the force of ideas that Muhammad Ali had, who, being the greatest boxer in history, renounced the world title, went to jail and was subjected to persecution because he refused to participate. in a war he didn't believe in, the one in Vietnam.
Let's also not forget that Obama is black and he was the one who started the persecution against Venezuela in the dimensions that we have now. Where are Obama and other blacks, like Condoleezza Rice and General Colin Powell? They are on the side of the powerful, of the system, of the oppressors. So, I think Trump's response is calculated, in the sense that he is hitting a population that does not favor him and is encouraging actions that are well received by that sector of the population, the WASP (whites, Anglo-Saxons and Protestants, the more conservative segment [of society]) who tend to support him. Blacks in the US, moreover [like the rest of the US population] do not have much class consciousness; they are hostile to Latinos and immigrants.
Thus, we are not talking about a social or political revolution, but, if anything, a racial rebellion. The only one I've heard raising this in substantive political terms, in class terms, is film director Spike Lee. He made a solid approach. All the others have done so in terms of the marginalization of blacks, but not in terms of the system and structure of capital. So, I insist, it is not going to mean great social and political changes because to do so, the marginalized, women, immigrants and the unemployed, who are millions, would have to join, but obviously many have not been in these protests. ”
In response to another question from the journalist, I added that:
“… Yesterday [Joe] Biden met with some black leaders and his proposal was that if he becomes president, he will give instructions so that the police do not shoot [the protesters] in the chest, but in the legs. And he said he will seek control of weapons in citizens' hands. That is an electoral move by a dumb candidate, which has not appeared much in the entire Covid-19 episode. I believe that all of this is calculated [by Trump] because he knows that in the United States there is a great fervor for the ownership and use of weapons and that the white majority is still so overwhelming that nobody dares to challenge it. In addition, [it's likely that many] Latinos and others will surely join that group, in the event of violent racial conflict. So in that scenario, blacks will be crushed, at the cost of hundreds or thousands of deaths. If Trump said that it was acceptable for 200,000 people to die from Covid-19, that 100,000 blacks should die is not a thing that could worry him very much. "
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