by Jai Chavis
During the 2016 election cycle, I desperately searched for solutions to the problems of police brutality, mass incarceration, and systemic racism in all its forms. It was then that I was introduced to the organization now known as the Independent Socialist Group who hosted a meeting discussing BLM and how to organize the struggle against police violence. As Malcolm X so eloquently put it, “you can’t have capitalism without racism.” Though we can reduce police violence under capitalism, no amount of reforms can remove the racism, sexism, transphobia, economic exploitation, and other forms of oppression that capitalism relies on to divide and profit off of workers. The only way to concretely end these oppressions is to replace the capitalist system entirely. Through ISG, I felt I finally found an organization with the methods and ideas to build a working-class movement capable of ending police brutality.
The resurgence of the BLM movement in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd gave us a glimpse into what could be possible if a multi-racial movement of working-class people and youth exercised our political strength. Serious economic demands like defunding police and fully investing in poor working-class communities are the best way to end poverty and crime and keep our communities safe. Despite the huge leaps forward in consciousness and combative spirit that we saw in the summer of 2020, without democratic structures within the movement, BLM fell prey to Democratic Party control, as had happened in the prior wave in 2016.
While BLM has receded, the Biden administration has gone on a full offensive against the best ideas and victories of the movement, reviving “tough on crime” rhetoric to increase police budgets. We cannot wait on the Democrats to save us; that day will never come. We, the working class, must liberate ourselves, which begins with forging our own independent party that can organize against racism, worker exploitation, and all forms of oppression! To quote the civil rights activist Nina Simone, “I’ll tell you what freedom is to me. No fear!” For me, socialist ideas began as a means to struggle against the fear the working class is forced to suffer through under capitalism.