Our support for colonised peoples must go beyond mere rhetoric. It must be taken into our workplaces and unions, our communities, our rent strikes and our struggles against the pigs and the prisons. The abolition of racial capitalism and imperialism is a matter of life and death.
This speech was written for a speaking event South London branch set up on the 8th May 2021. We worked in collaboration with Davidstar, a stall regular and gun-shot survivor, who had asked us to assist him in running an event around Serious Youth Violence. We agreed, and framed our part in the context of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
Who we are
Hello everyone, thanks for being here! My name is ___, and I’m here representing Red Fightback. Red Fightback is a revolutionary communist party, working to overthrow capitalism and establish a socialist system, free from oppression and exploitation.
Thanks to Davidstar
Firstly, I’d like to thank Davidstar for asking us to collaborate with him on this event. We met Davidstar at our weekly stall by Peckham Arches, and he always provides us with a great deal of interesting conversation and insight. So it’s a real pleasure to be sharing this event with him.
Context and content of the bill
Today I’m going to talk about a piece of legislation currently working its way through parliament, called the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill – which is currently the focus of the #KillTheBill protests. The bill is 307 pages long, so I’ll just summarise four key points.
The bill gives police new powers to declare any protest illegal.
The bill turns trespass into a criminal offence, punishable by up to 3 years in prison, the confiscation of property and a £2500 fine.
The bill creates a new statutory duty for teachers, social workers and doctors to collaborate with police, and snitch on people in their care if they believe they might become involved in “serious violence” – in effect turning them into cops, and replacing safeguarding with criminalisation.
Finally the bill creates more child prisons, and declares that operating such institutions is a “charitable activity” – this of course means tax cuts, greater profits, and larger incentives to lock up young people.
The impact of these policies
According to the government, the purpose of the bill is to “make the country safer by empowering the police and courts to take more effective action against crime and lead a fair justice system.” This is far from the truth.
The purpose of this bill is to take away our civil rights to protest, whilst increasing police powers, and in particular the power of the state to enact racist violence.
Laws against trespass will effectively outlaw the way of life of Irish and Roma traveller communities. These groups are racially oppressed, and already face profound exclusion in our society. They suffer some of the highest rates of exclusion, imprisonment and unemployment, and have a life expectancy ten years below the average. Further criminalisation will plunge them deeper into poverty, and make their lives even more precarious.
The serious violence duty will be used to target and further criminalise young Black men. Research has shown that the Prevent duty, a similar piece of legislation justified by “anti-terrorism” concerns, overwhelmingly targets young Muslims. We know from Stop and Search, the war on drugs, and the policing of “gangs” and “knife crime”, that when the police approach serious violence, they always target Black men. This will result in more Black boys being excluded, imprisoned, disenfranchised and otherwise harmed.
Likewise, the expansion of child prisons is an attack on the freedom of young Black and Brown people. In Britain, we have more severe racial disparities in our prison population than they do in the US. Prisons are profitable – when our friends and family members are sent to jail, someone is getting rich. So if they build more prisons, they will criminalise more people in order to fill them.
In summary, this bill attacks the freedom and civil rights of all working class people. But in particular, this bill is an attack on racially oppressed working class people – Black people, Brown people, and Travellers.
Why - racial capitalism
So now we have to ask, “why?”. We live in a system called racial capitalism. Capitalism is a system based on private ownership and profit. In capitalism, the working class, who own nothing, are forced to work for and be exploited by those who own property – the ruling class, the bosses, the capitalists. We call this system racial capitalism, because capitalism requires racism to sustain itself. Racism bribes certain sections of the working class with material privileges – higher wages, better living conditions, less state violence – in order to destroy working class solidarity. This makes it possible to super-exploit racially oppressed sections of the working class, and thus increase profits without catalysing a revolution.
The state – that is the government, the police force, the courts – exists to violently defend the system of racial capitalism. It is therefore inherently white supremacist. The first police force in the world was in Britain’s colonies, and many of the techniques used by police today were developed in the suppression of colonised people. Any expansion of the power of the police is an expansion of racial oppression, in defence of capitalism.
Why now - final crisis
So now we know “why?”, we need to ask “why now?”. Capitalism is in a crisis. What this means is that it has run out of opportunities for profitable investment. The global economy is contracting, debt is increasing and unemployment is soaring. As all profit comes from labour, capital responds to this crisis by deepening the exploitation of workers. And under racial capitalism, exploitation of labour requires racial oppression.
Times are about to get very hard, for a lot of people. As capitalism comes crashing down, the first to be hurt will be the poor, the working class, the oppressed. The government and the police know that we will not take this sitting down. We will rise up, we will fight back. That is why they are strengthening the powers of the police. They can see class war on the horizon, and they are preparing.
What we do - community solutions to harmful behaviours
So what do we do?
First, we must recognise that the best thing the pigs could do for public safety is to quit and get a real job.
There is no safety for our communities in giving the police more power. We must reject the idea that crime and violence are the result of wicked people who need locking up and punishing. Instead, we must understand that crime has social and economic origins.
Preventing violence and harmful behavior looks like better support for young people in education. It looks like better access to healthcare, including support with addiction and mental health problems. It means greater economic security, so that people can access the food, housing and other resources they need. It means fighting against gentrification, the destruction of community spaces for the purpose of profit, and the pushing out of local people so that landlords can make money. And it means increased funding for community spaces and projects: sports clubs, social clubs, artistic spaces, gardens.
What we do - socialist revolution
The most serious violence we face in society is not violence amongst young people. It is the violence of poverty, war, and environmental destruction, inflicted by the rich against the poor.
To tackle violence in our communities, we have to begin by tackling this far greater violence. And this is the violence of capitalism.
The only route to safety for our communities, is to overthrow this system of exploitation and violence – and to replace it with a system that gives all power to the working class; a system that is democratic, just, and motivated not by profit, but by the needs of the people and the planet.
That system is called socialism.
We will not reach socialism through elections, through the labour party, or through social media posts. We will reach it by organising with other working class people in our workplaces and in our communities – by forming broad networks and strong relationships, capable of fighting back against the police, the government and the capitalists they protect. We will reach it through a revolution.
That is what Red Fightback is fighting for, and we hope you’ll join us in that fight.