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by John Spritzler

August 30, 2020

[The URL of this article, for sharing it, is ]

Please see "What Replaces the Police?"



There is a big weakness in the BLM movement, one that the ruling billionaire plutocracy is everyday taking advantage of to undermine the movement's support from the general population.


The big weakness is this. BLM activists are not responding effectively to the fact that A 2020 Gallup poll shows that 61% of black (and 71% of white, 59% of Hispanic, and 63% of Asian) Americans say they want the police to spend the same amount of time (not less, and not more) in their community as they currently do. This is not hard to understand. Crime--as in "crime in the streets"--is a real problem and people look to the police for protection against it.

For the Black Lives Matter movement to succeed, it needs to address the fact that most black people say they want to keep the same amount of policing in their community, not to "abolish the police." BLM activists need to focus on the fact that the police enforce class inequality and cow working class people into submission to the laws that maintain class inequality.


The positive role of the police--protection against "crime in the streets"--is, in our current society, attached to its negative role-- cowing working class people into submission. In the absence of a movement to abolish class inequality and the police violence that is designed to cow people into submission to it, the only choice people believe they have is to express an opinion about how much policing (with its positive and negative role combined in a "take it or leave it" manner) they want.


The BLM movement thus needs to focus on the ROUTINE, day in and day out, and WELL-KNOWN oppressive role of the police--a role that is, however, never mentioned in the mass media and unfortunately too seldom by BLM activists either.


The video linked here [1] of the police enforcing an eviction illustrates the ROUTINE oppressive role of the police. [2] Ordinary people who work reasonably according to ability should have good housing to live in (in the way described here), but they don't, because of the immoral and unjust and oppressive class inequality that the police enforce. When people get a final eviction notice that unjustly orders them to move out of their home, most do so "voluntarily" because they know that if they don't the police will use whatever violence or its credible threat is required to force them to leave.

Every time a poor person "voluntarily" moves out of their home after receiving an eviction notice because class inequality deprives them of the living wage they need to pay the rent, it is because the police stand ready to use violence to force them out if necessary. And this happens EVERY DAY, with nary a newspaper article about it.

This routine police oppression hits the poorest people the hardest, and non-whites are disproportionately poor because of the systemic racial discrimination that is ALSO enforced routinely by the police. For example, poor people are disproportionately in prison because of the racist "War on Drugs," which is based on a drug law that deliberately makes the poorest people more likely to get arrested, and it is of course the police who do the arresting. [3]

Poor people are disproportionately arrested by the police for taking food and clothing, etc. illegally. Poor people do this because they are wrongly deprived of the money they need (and deserve) to buy these things and thereby obtain them the legal way. People go without food and decent clothing, etc. for their children rather than risk the always present threat of the violence or its credible threat that the police stand ready--every day!--to use to arrest them.

The most effective way that workers on the job have of successfully challenging the power of the boss and thereby winning improvements in wages or benefits or working conditions, is by going on strike. And the only way to make a strike truly effective is to set up a picket line that prevents scabs from crossing it. But every time workers set up a picket line the boss gets a court injunction that prohibits it from ACTUALLY blocking scabs from crossing it (the injunction says the picket line must only be "informational.") If the workers nonetheless block scabs from crossing the picket line, then the cops are called in to arrest the workers, using whatever violence is required.


Workers know this will happen, and to avoid this police violence they typically obey the court injunction and thereby weaken their strike enormously. When they do this, the role of police violence to enforce class inequality remains hidden in the background. Indeed, workers often decide not even to go on strike at all because they know they won't be able to wage a truly effective strike, and so, "What's the point?" Thousands of workers make this decision to tolerate unjust class inequality every single day, a decision forced on them by the threat of police violence. But this police violence is never even mentioned in the mass media, even though almost all working class people know about it, hate it, and are prevented by it from taking the steps they need to successfully resist the immoral class inequality.


By focusing almost entirely on wrongful police killings the BLM movement is unintentionally sending the message that the only problem with the police is that they wrongfully kill people sometimes. This is a set-up for the ruling class to respond by using its mass media to present the "police side of the story" to muddy the issue enough so that a substantial part of the general public will come to believe that when one looks very closely at the police killings that seem wrongful it turns out that the police had a legitimate reason for their violence, that they were acting in self-defense or to protect others from harm.

This puts the BLM movement in a very weak defensive position. If the BLM movement cannot persuasively refute the police version of events about each and every particular police killing then the racists win. The racists will be able to win a substantial part of the public to the notion that the BLM protests are what the racists say they are--unjustified rioting.

Note that even though the mass media pretend to support the BLM movement, they don't really; they report the police versions of events knowing they will turn the public against the BLM movement, and knowing that the BLM movement doesn't have the ability to reach the same very wide audience with its refutation of the police versions.

If, however, the BLM movement goes on the OFFENSE by condemning the police for what EVERYBODY KNOWS THEY DO--routinely enforcing evictions and otherwise enforcing MORALLY WRONG class inequality with the EVERYDAY use of violence or its credible threat against the poorest and working class people, then we will gain the support of the vast majority of ordinary people. Why? Because most people hate class inequality. [4]

When the BLM movement goes on the offense this way, it will put the ruling billionaire plutocracy on the defense; it will force it to have to explicitly defend class inequality, which most people hate. This is how we can build a successful egalitarian revolutionary movement that can win what we actually want--to remove the rich from power to have real, not fake, democracy with no rich and no poor. This is what it will take to end the systemic racial discrimination that the ruling class enforces with its police.

Another key weakness in the BLM movement is this. It doesn't address the issue of crime, especially not the issue of black-on-black crime. In contrast, the pro-police forces love to talk about black-on-black crime for two reasons: #1) They taunt the BLM folks by saying "How come you never talk about black-on-black crime?" Their point, of course, is to falsely imply that blacks are a criminal race and THAT, not racist policing, is the real problem. #2) They claim that people who fear criminals in their neighborhood--and this is especially the case in non-white neighborhoods--should logically want more, not less, policing there. This argument has been persuasive, because people, especially in non-white neighborhoods, really do suffer from crime in their neighborhood. 

To correct this BLM weakness two things are required. First, stop dodging the issue of black-on-black crime; instead aggressively talk about it and explain that it exists primarily because of the systemic racial discrimination against non-whites AND the class inequality of our society. I discuss this in some detail in my article, "Yes. Let's Talk about Black-on-Black Crime."


​Second, talk about abolishing the class inequality and systemic racial discrimination that are the primary causes of crime, and stress that the police forces are what the ruling class uses to enforce this class inequality and racial discrimination routinely, every day.

BLM can address crime in the short run by engaging in discussions and actions aimed at enabling ordinary people to protect themselves from dangerous criminals, as ordinary people have done historically and as I discuss somewhat in my "What Replaces the Police?"







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