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Workers Vanguard No. 1058

12 December 2014
The closing date for news in this issue is 9 December.

Workers Vanguard skips an issue in December. Our next issue will be dated January 9.


Workers Vanguard

Police Reform Is a Hustle

Racist Cop Terror and the Fraud of Capitalist Democracy

Over 150 years later, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney’s 1857 ruling denying black slave Dred Scott’s petition for freedom echoes across America: black people “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” Little more than a week after the cop who executed Michael Brown was given a free pass, a Staten Island grand jury decided that the New York City cop who killed Eric Garner had committed no crime. Among Garner’s last words were “it stops today.” But it didn’t, and it won’t short of getting rid of capitalism: an economic and social system rooted in brutal exploitation and racist oppression. It is this system, not “the people,” that the cops serve and protect.

Following the standard racist script, the St. Louis County prosecutor portrayed an unarmed black youth, Michael Brown, as a violent, lawless predator and his police killer as the victim. That wasn’t so easy in the killing of Garner. Countless millions saw the video of him pleading for his life while he was being strangled to death. Even some Republican Party leaders who usually revel in racist contempt for black people are now calling for a congressional investigation. Such is a measure of the difficulties the ruling class is having in preserving the narrative that the cops are defending society against dangerous “outlaws.”

This country’s rulers, a minuscule, ruthless class, are very well aware that they are sitting on top of a tinder pile of discontent that could be ignited by the spark of social protest. They own the banks and major industries, producing nothing themselves but reaping massive profits by further grinding down those still lucky enough to have a job while axing social programs for the rest. In order to keep in check the workers they exploit and the black people and other minorities they oppress, the capitalist class unleashes its repressive state apparatus—cops, courts, prisons and military—whose powers it is augmenting. Such is as clear as the assault rifles of the National Guard troops mobilized to put down protest in Ferguson. At the same time, the ruling class seeks to disguise what is the dictatorship of capital with the trappings of democracy and the illusion that the capitalist state is some kind of neutral body that represents everyone.

A popular protest slogan has been “black lives matter.” But not for the rulers of this class-divided society, built on a bedrock of racist oppression, from chattel slavery to wage slavery. Black people, forcibly segregated as a race-color caste at the bottom of society, have always been overrepresented in America’s reserve army of the unemployed, filling less desirable jobs when needed and cast aside in times of economic downturn. With the deindustrialization of much of the country, many black youth have simply been discarded as an expendable surplus population left to scramble to survive, to get gunned down by cops or to rot in America’s dungeons. (read on)

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About the ICL

V.I. LeninLeon TrotskyThe International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) is a proletarian, revolutionary and internationalist tendency committed to the task of building Leninist parties as national sections of a democratic-centralist international. Our aim is the achievement of new October Revolutions—nothing else, nothing other, nothing less. The ICL bases itself on Marxist historical, dialectical materialism and seeks in particular to carry forward the international working-class perspectives of Marxism developed in the theory and practice of the Bolshevik leaders V. I. Lenin and L. D. Trotsky and embodied in the decisions of the first four Congresses of the Communist International as well as key documents of the Fourth International such as the Transitional Program (1938) and "War and the Fourth International" (1934). We also look to James P. Cannon, a leader of the early American Communist Party who was won to Trotskyism and went on to become a principal founder of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), working in close collaboration with Leon Trotsky. The origins of the ICL are in the Spartacist League/U.S., which began as the Revolutionary Tendency in the SWP and was bureaucratically expelled in 1963. Our ICL "Declaration of Principles and Some Elements of Program" was modeled on the Declaration of Principles adopted at the 1966 founding conference of the SL/U.S.

Adopted at the Third International Conference of the ICL in early 1998, the declaration presently exists in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, German, Russian, Polish, Italian, Turkish, Indonesian, Greek and Tagalog. In this post-Soviet period, marked by a deep regression of proletarian consciousness, we continue to be guided by Trotsky's statement that "the task of the vanguard is above all not to let itself be carried along by the backward flow; it must swim against the current." Reforge the Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution!