Good afternoon, Floodly ones. According to my Verso Radical Diary, it was on this day in 1992 that Los Angeles residents began rioting after police officers accused of beating Rodney King were acquitted. I suppose it’s a depressing sign of the times that it seems incredible now - when almost every week there’s another story of police officers murdering Black and Brown civilians in broad daylight, with hardly any repercussion - that the rioting broke out in response to a beating case where the victim survived. In the 27 years since, things have got demonstrably worse. Here is a look back at the 1992 riots, here is a story about King’s life and death, here is the Guardian’s database of Australian deaths in custody, and here is a Erica Garner/Bernie Sanders/Black Lives Matter video that that always makes me cry. Today it’s worth remembering that, as King’s case was the first to demonstrate, cameras aren’t a cure for police brutality. Technocratic solutions can’t fix systemic, deeply rooted racism.
From the archives of LibCom comes this very interesting piece on ‘Communism: The real movement to abolish disability’. Obviously with a title like that I couldn’t not click on it, and it didn’t disappoint in providing a materialist analysis of an issue which is (imo) too often cloaked in purely liberal rhetoric. “Workers must be able to do certain things for certain periods of time … Workers must be able to sell their labour according to the needs of a large enough segment of the employing class that they can fulfil their role as commodities on the labour market. Workers must also be able to ‘reproduce’ (feed, rest, clean, relax, etc.) themselves for the cost of the wages they can command and in the time they are not having to sell their ability to work. Workers also need to take part in the purchasing of commodities capitalism uses to reproduce itself, from housing to entertainment to insurance. Bodies and minds which are not well adjusted to the tasks involved in carrying out these functions are disabled … [But] it is easy to see how the phrase ‘to each according to their needs’ will abolish an aspect of disability. If we produce for need rather than profit there is no reason why we should not chose to produce buildings, equipment, technologies and so on that are designed on the assumption that physical and psychological variation of all sorts is a normal part of human society and that it is right to take this fully into account when producing thing for people to use.” For a slightly different, but no less accurate, take on the question of disability and capitalism, please refer to Nicole Laffoley’s ‘The Market Does Not Provide: A Left Critique of the NDIS’. (Please note, this piece was published nearly a year ago and I am still chasing Nicole for Part II. Stay tuned.)
In the last link roundup I begged someone to write something good on the federal election so that I could link to it here, and lo, The Piping Shrike has obliged. They are, as always, particularly good on skewering the Labor Party juuust right: “While posing as a battle of left v. right, the argument around inequality is … more a battle between the traditional party establishment institutions with all its social institutional ties and financial backers and compromises, and a new purer type of politics unsullied by institutional ties coming from either those who had marginal influence in their party, like Corbyn, or not even part of it, like Sanders. But in Australia that conflict against the party’s traditional institutions has already happened with Rudd v. Gillard to no result. And the leadership non-contest between Shorten and Albanese in its immediate aftermath also showed that there is not even a left-wing critique of the Labor leadership from within the party. So inequality is a mantra that can be adopted quite easily as an assertion of Labor branding by those of the party’s right like Swan and Shorten. This is not a program that has been painstakingly forged through years of negotiation both inside and outside the party like Labor’s in 1983. No wonder even the leader has trouble remembering some of it. It is as left wing as Wayne Swan’s Twitter stream and about as meaningful. It is being rolled out at a time when credibility that either major party can do anything about the economy is low. However, it does give the Liberals something against which to galvanise their core support.”
Some audio links for you now: I posted about Acid Corbynism in a link roundup last year, and just last week diligent podcaster Dave interviewed Keir Milburn about it for Living the Dream. Also, we f i n a l l y got our collective act together and recorded a new Floodcast last week. As many of you would know we’re largely filthy electoralists around here, so for this episode we discussed the actual strategy and tactics we use in carrying out our filthy electoralist agenda. Namely: doorknocking, or going door-to-door having persuasive, vote-shifting conversations. We talk about why this is a worthwhile use of our time, how our model differs from other electoral campaigns, and how the experience of doorknocking has helped us develop our leftist politics. We don’t sound anywhere near as hungover as we felt. Also: relevant.
(I just realised that is a particularly meta topic given that doorknocking is the main reason why we haven’t been pumping/dribbling out Floodcasts on our usual semi-regular schedule. After the election we will do more for you on this front, I promise.)
If you don’t already follow Black Socialists of America on Twitter, I really recommend doing so. Here’s a thread on the highlights of an iconic 1877 speech given by the first Black Socialist of America, Peter H. Clark, titled ‘Socialism: The Remedy for the Evils of Society’. “We get rid of the king, we get rid of the aristocracy, but the capitalist comes in their place, and in the industrial organization and guidance of society his little finger is heavier than their loins.”
Until next week!
Photo of the aftermath of the 1992 LA Riots, via Wikimedia Commons