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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SOMETIMES THERE IS A SOLUTION

Like many other people in America, I have been watching the events in Ferguson, MO with horror and with anger.  In this situation the televised images convey the essential truth:  Ferguson is suffering a military occupation by an enemy power armed and outfitted by the United States government and proceeding, as such occupations so often do, under the color of law.  I do not think I need to describe what has been happening or add my anger to that being expressed by the people of Ferguson.  But I do wish to make one small point.

This is one of those rare cases of injustice and oppression where an effective response is available.  To put it as simply as I can, the Black majority in Ferguson can vote the White mayor and city council out of office at the next election, and put in their place a city government that will send the military equipment back to the Feds and institute a just, fair, lawful, responsive city government, including the police department.

I may have missed it, but I have not yet heard any loud, insistent calls for political action by the people of Ferguson.  To be sure, if such action begins, the city government will, I am sure, do everything it can to suppress the vote, but I rather suspect in this case the people of Ferguson could count on state and federal authorities to back them in their effort to proceed lawfully and politically.

The racial composition of the Ferguson city government is explained by reference to the tendency of Black residents not to vote, as though that were some sort of genetic or environmental condition about which nothing could be done.  But that is nonsense.  If all the people who are protesting committed themselves to removing the city government, I think their chances of success would be very great indeed.  Then, perhaps, they might secure indictments against the policeman who shot Michael Brown six times in the head and upper body while he was walking down the middle of the street, and perhaps indictments as well against the policeman's superiors, who are responsible for the conduct of officers under their command.

11 comments:

Michael said...

Matt Yglesias published a short article the other day on this topic.

http://www.vox.com/2014/8/18/6029141/why-ferguson-government-is-so-white

Chris said...

There's a really terrifying and fascist trend happening across the US, where cities are passing legislation that allows for 'neutral' businessmen to step in during a time of bankruptcy and take control of the budget without oversight. You top this off with the trend towards militarized occupying police forces we are seeing, and the big brother NSA establishment we have, and you've got a perfect combo for complete totalitarianism.

Chris said...

It's because of the last two trends that I'd possibly muster a vote for Ron Paul. I dislike his love of capitalism, but I also dislike our NSA and militarized police...Something he could do something about.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Thank you, Michael. I had not seen this. I hope Yglesias is right. But his explanation of the background situation is very helpful, and makes perfect sense.

Chris, I really doubt that Rand Paul [not Ron Paul, his father] could or would do much at all about these things, but I understand your desperation.

Chris said...

Whoops I meant Rand.

You really don't think Rand Paul would try to limit the NSA and the militarization of the local police face through federal funding? Now that's surprising. He's been extremely vocal on both issues, writing op-eds on both subjects. Now you've really piqued my interest :)

Robert Paul Wolff said...

No No No. I just meant it is the son who is currently making a run for the presidency, not the father. They are both rather shady characters.

Chris said...

Both Ron and Rand have shown strong tendencies towards racism, and sexism. But again, despite their odious personal character, I think either of their impacts on the NSA, militarization, drone killing, etc, would be beneficial. More so than a democrat at the moment.

Turkle said...

In re: Ferguson and the possibility of political action, I am NO EXPERT but I did read an article lamenting the lack of leadership in the area that might be able to steer the crowd into a unified political force capable of concerted political action. The article complained that there were too many trying to lead, and no one listening. But again I'm not there and such commentary is to be taken for what it's worth: an outsider's musings.

Anyway, there's an old saw saying that "politics is the art of stepping in front of a riot and calling it a parade," but maybe sometimes that's what is really needed: a Weberian charismatic leader that can take the incohate rage of an oppressed community and lead them to political unity.

Anyway, that's all this outsider will say on that matter.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Turkle, you are absolutely right. Think what a Martin Luther king or Malcolm X could make of this moment! And you are right that it is impossible from this distance to judge the fluidities of the moment.

Chris said...

If you're interested, here's Cornel West's comments on the Ferguson incident:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UU6o-wWU-v2ClFMwougmK7dA&v=USc_LZeRYug#t=25

James said...

If you haven't seen this, it gives some good background info:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/18/opinion/in-ferguson-black-town-white-power.html

There is a strong network of activists and community leaders here intent on organizing just such an electoral response. It won't be easy to challenge the political status quo (as the police repression demonstrates), but there are historical analogies in St Louis city.