After Black Lives Matter: Policing and Anti-Capitalist Struggle by Cedric G. Johnson
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“After Black Lives Matter should be commended both for the clarity of its message and the bravery of its convictions.” –Jay Caspian Kang, New Yorker
Why did a movement as powerful as the one inspired by the murder of George Floyd fall short of securing its most militant demands?
The murder of George Floyd prompted a historic uprising that transformed the way Americans and the world think about race and policing. Why did that movement fall short of the most militant demands to defund and dismantle police departments? After Black Lives Matter argues that the failure to make institutional changes was not a simple result of the mercurial and reactive character of the protests. Rather, the core of the movement itself failed to locate the central racial injustice that underpins the crisis of policing: socioeconomic inequality.
The anticapitalist and downwardly redistributive politics of many Black Lives Matter activists has too often been drowned out in the flood of black wealth creation, the fetishism of Jim Crow black entrepreneurship, corporate diversity initiatives, and a quixotic reparations demand. Contemporary policing reflects the turn from welfare to domestic warfare as the chief means of controlling the most dispossessed elements of the working class.
The way forward lies in building popular democratic power to advance redistributive policies and social welfare.