William I Robinson comments from California on the urban uprising in the States.
1 June 2020.
Racist police, as foul and criminal as they are, are but an extension of the capitalist state. They exist to defend property from the propertyless, to enforce the power of capital and the rich over the poor and dispossessed majority who in the United States come disproportionately from racially oppressed communities.
Behind the eruption of righteous rage over the murder of George Floyd is mass unemployment, escalating inequality, the marginality of tens of millions of people thrown into the ranks of surplus labour, intensified levels of exploitation, spreading hunger, immiseration, insecurity, and death, all spewed up by a global capitalism that accepts no restraint on its predation.
I have been warning since the mid-2000s about the dangers of a 21st century fascism and global police state in response to the crisis of capitalism and rebellion from below. Global capitalism is arguably now in the worst crisis in its history. Fascist forces that bring together predatory transnational capital with reactionary and repressive power in the state (including the state’s armed bodies) and a fascist mobilisation in civil society are on the rise worldwide.
Trump, himself a transnational capitalist, a racist, and a fascist, is taking advantage of the protests over the murder of George Floyd to bring this project to a new level, inciting from the White House itself the fascist mobilisation in civil society and threatening a qualitative escalation of the police state. There are agent provocateurs. The state may use them, now or at some future point, to declare martial law and intensify repression, both legal and martial.
As is now well known, the new ‘brownshirts’ – a reference to the Nazi Party’s original paramilitary wing during the years leading up to the fascist takeover – in the white nationalist militia, the Nazi and Klan groups, anti-immigrant organisations, the ‘Boogaloos’, the Patriot and anti-lockdown movements, among an expanding litany of Far-Right and Alt-Right groups, are heavily armed and mobilising for confrontation in near-perfect consort with the extreme right-wing of the Republican Party, which long since has captured that party and turned it into one of utter reaction.
The social order is coming apart at the seams, but a fascist takeover is far from inevitable. We urgently need a united front against fascism that places anti-racism and anti-capitalism at its centre and that seeks to mount a revolutionary challenge to capitalist state power. The current uprising may contribute to a critical accumulation of forces from below that could push us further in that direction.
William I Robinson is Professor of Sociology at the University of California at Santa Barbara. His books include A Theory of Global Capitalism and Global Capitalism and the Crisis of Humanity.