The System Worked
“A System Cannot Fail Those Who It Was Never Designed to Protect.” — W.E.B. Dubois
BY THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE | NOVEMBER 25, 2014
The outcome of the so-called grand jury in the case of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, the killer of 18-year-old Mike Brown, should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It certainly wasn’t a surprise to those living in Ferguson, who already knew that the fix was in.
From the beginning, it was clear that none of the local or state officials, from Governor Jay Nixon to County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch to Mayor James Knowles and Chief Thomas Jackson, wanted to see Wilson face a trial in the August 9 shooting. They would have preferred to see those residents who were angry over Brown’s death quietly and forcefully swept off the streets. Indeed, that was the original plan — to drive the African American community off the streets and back into their homes through the use of their armed enforcers of “law and order.”
It was only after the mass protests and defiance in the face of the armed police and National Guard, which not only challenged their power but also raised the specter of fighting back with arms in hand, that the exploiting and oppressing classes felt the need to give their whitewash of the murder of Brown a “legal” veneer by calling the phony grand jury into session. But the reality is that this “grand jury” was a secret trial, not of Wilson, but of Mike Brown!
Throughout the last 108 days, numerous “leaks” to the local media, most notably the St. Louis Press-Dispatch (appropriately nicknamed the Police Dispatch), reinforced the belief that Wilson would be let off the hook and Brown’s family would not receive any justice. But that didn’t stop the liberals, preachers, self-appointed “community leaders” and other loyal leftist lieutenants of racist American capitalism from deceiving people and conning them into believing the ruling classes would side with the African American community against their own armed agents of the state.
This deception, that “the system” would provide justice for Mike Brown by indicting Wilson and putting him on trial, was the most harmful to the community. This is because when the decision of the “grand jury” secret trial was announced — when “the system” protected the killer cop, and told Brown’s family and their supporters to drop dead — the wave of demoralization and despair was palpable.
Experience once again showed that faith in the capitalist system is the gravedigger of any movement for justice.
Lifelong revolutionary, civil rights leader and communist W.E.B. Dubois once wrote, “A system cannot fail those who it was never designed to protect.” One of the cornerstones of the American capitalist system is racism and national chauvinism: the superexploitation and superoppression of African Americans and other people of color as a means of maximizing profits, and keeping workers divided and fighting each other for scraps from the table.
This is why we in the Workers Party understand and say that, when it comes to Darren Wilson, the system worked.
No one should be fooled into thinking otherwise. The American capitalist system, which relies on its armed state to enforce its vision of “law and order,” which uses that state to breed distrust and divisions between working people from different racial and national backgrounds in order to deprive all of them of their rights and freedoms, and which counts on those divisions and antagonisms to keep wages low and profits high, acted fully in line with the demands of its masters.
Unlike capitalism’s loyal leftist lieutenants, who plead for “reform” of the system and a place at the table (for themselves, as the almighty “representatives” of poor and working people), we communists have said from the beginning that the only way to win justice for Mike Brown and all those who are the victims of police-state terrorism is by organizing and fighting to overthrow the system of exploitation and oppression.
This organizing begins with the restoration of the nightly community assemblies. During the early days of the fight for justice, these meetings were crucial to keeping the movement together. Even after several police riots and attacks on the community, residents were able to stay informed and united. It was only when the liberals, preachers and other leftists began dividing up the movement and holding their own events, as part of their effort to control and manage the community, that the unity and militancy of the early days evaporated.
As part of this effort by the working-class residents of Ferguson to reassert their control over their own movement, there is an urgent need to organize armed self-defense to protect the movement and community. With the racists, fascists (like the KKK) and cops feeling emboldened by the phony “grand jury,” the need to take up arms to defend the protests and meetings held to continue the fight for justice for Mike Brown, and to stop any attempts at intimidation or lynching by these racist radical reactionaries, is clear for all to see.
A geographically isolated movement cannot make far-reaching change. This kind of development existing in Ferguson alone is little more than a recipe for a brutal siege. That is why a key task of the working-class African American community is to build unity with working people across the region. Joint protests would only be the beginning; standing together with co-workers and neighbors, and working with the assemblies in Ferguson, a fighting unity among workers would be able to shut down the region through sit-ins/sit-downs and other strikes, through walkouts and joint demonstrations.
But all of this cannot happen (or succeed) without a clear break from all sides of the capitalist system, especially the leftist lieutenants of the exploiting and oppressing classes. Both the liberal left and the conservative right — from the cops, racists and KKK to the liberals, preachers and phony “revolutionaries” — are part of the system, each contributing to its stability and survival. Only through self-organization and action on the basis of a communist program, with the goals raising up and preparing our brothers and sisters to act and be capable of ruling in our common class interests, the overthrow of the ruling classes, the disarming and disbanding of their state bodies, and the seizing of political (state) power in the form of a workers’ republic, can real justice for Mike Brown and all other victims of police-state terrorism be achieved.