Some people think racist ideas can be overcome just by educating people out of their prejudices. This is fine as far as it goes. REVOLUTION supports the maximum of anti-racist education and argument to counter the lies of racists who try to present ‘other’ cultures as ‘strange’, ‘backward’ or inferior.
But there is more to racism than this. It is not just a prejudice, it is deeply entrenched in our society, it runs through some of the most powerful institutions of the State. Over the last few years the police, the prison service, the Home Office and the Crown Prosecution Service have all been successfully shown to be guilty of institutional racism.
Black people still get on average lower pay than whites, worse jobs than whites, fewer prospects for promotion than whites, more police harassment than whites, worse housing than whites, and the list goes on.
As discontent is rising with Blair’s pro-capitalist agenda, the government is trying to divert people away from the real problems in society. They blame bogus asylum seekers for problems, when in fact these people are society’s biggest victims.
Then white youth take out their anger on asylum seekers and Asian shops, misinformed hatred fuelled by papers like the Daily Express and the Daily Mail, who whip up hysteria and a lynch mob mentality by telling refugees to run for their lives. The result has been that racism is back on the rise, with the growth of the British National Party and violent clashes in towns like Bradford, Oldham and Leeds. Racism does not just die out because it is educated out of people.
So where did this come from?
Racism is a centuries-old theory that is used to justify a global system of discrimination against black and Asian people. It stems from Britain’s role as a global colonial power seizing control of Africa and India and looting them in its own interests.
When capitalism started to take off in Britain in the 1600 and 1700s, British ships and British companies set off to foreign lands with missionaries and musketeers in tow. They wanted one simple thing, to convert these countries into their own possessions. They plundered the land for resources and they converted the population into their workforce.
In Africa, they forced 115 million black people into slavery, transporting them to cotton, tobacco and sugar plantations. They stripped them of their possessions and broke up families. Herded like cattle, 75 million died in transit or soon after arriving.
In India, a brutal colonial administration ran the whole country. The British suppressed with brutal violence huge rebellions of the Indian people in 1857, 1919 and all through the 1920s and 30s. By 1942 India was aflame with rebellion.
The British (and other colonial powers like France, Spain, Portugal and Holland) claimed black and Asian people were inferior to whites. They developed fake scientific theories that were supposed to prove that black people, Asians and Jews were inferior. The economic, social and political domination of the white race was explained not as a result of colonial exploitation, but on the unproven claim that whites are somehow biologically superior. They even tried to use the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin to create what they called Social-Darwinism?. This distortion of Darwin was used to claim with appalling pseudo science, that whites are more highly evolved than blacks.
Since the end of the Second World War over 50 years ago, Britain has not ruled Africa or India directly. The “official” line coming out of London, Paris and Washington has shifted slightly. The capitalists have left the ravings of social-Darwinism in the hands of fanatics like the neo-Nazis and the BNP. But “official” racism is still alive and kicking.
Today the big advanced capitalist countries of the G8 do not rule colonies like India and Africa in the same way as their ancestors did in the 18th and 19th centuries. Instead, they own the Third World, though the Debt, the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation and the ‘starve-to-pay-us-back-for-our-loans’ programmes of the International Monetary Fund.
The western powers suggest that ‘backward’ countries are basically lazy, that African people can’t be trusted not to just kill each other, that the Third World needs NATO bombers to sort it out. They treat refugees as dirty, money-grabbing freeloaders, rather than as the victims of the West’s blast-and-ruin policies.
And they insist that people from other countries should integrate into official British culture, even though that culture is just another version of the same old globalising Pepsi-Nike-Big Mac nightmare that capitalism is spreading all over the world.
It will take more than educating people against racist lies to beat racism.
- Root racism out of the workplace, the community and the institutions: win the power of the trade union movement to the antiracist struggle
- Organise self-defence against racist attacks ? wherever they come from, racists or even the police themselves
- Tear down the borders and let refugees and asylum seekers in
- Smash the BNP and NF
- Cancel Third World Debt
- Unite all the peoples of the planet in the fight against global capitalism
- Build a global communist commonwealth in which all people can be equal
Can we rely on the government and police to stop the fascists?
After Asian youth fought back against racism and fascism this summer in cities across the north of England, the government and police have announced bans on demonstrations by the far right in several major towns and cities. Whilst many anti-racists, such as the Anti Nazi League, have welcomed these bans we should firstly ask ourselves why the state has stepped in now and what the implications are.
Throughout last year the far right National Front (NF) and British National Party (BNP) held several demonstrations to try to capitalise on the media and state scapegoating of refugees. These went largely unnoticed by the mainstream press although they did contribute to an increased climate of fear and tension for refugee communities. After a demonstration in South London earlier this summer one person was stabbed after being caught walking home alone by a group of fascist thugs.
The real reason that the government has decided to step in now is because local Asian communities have gone on the offensive to protect and defend the areas in which they live from being terrorised by racists. It is this spontaneous fightback which the state fears. The last thing they want is for this resistance to become a catalyst for a wider struggle against racism and deprivation because it has been built on self organisation and correctly identified the racist police and state institutions as part of the problem and not the solution.
Reliance on the state to deal with the fascists also has serious repercussions for the left. The bans that have been implemented also outlaw demonstrations and rallies by anti-racists. The planned ANL Carnival in Burnley on September 1st has been cancelled by Home Secretary David Blunkett at the request of Burnley Borough Council and Lancashire Police.
Fear of “the potential to attract others opposed to it” was the reason stated by top cop John Knowles. It appears that the police are determined to placate the fascists in the ridiculous hope that they will then crawl back under their stone and stop spreading their race hate filth.
Former Home Secretary David Blunkett has called for those who seek to combat fascism “to hold their hand carefully, to allow us to deal with public order and not to take it in any way into their own hands” What Blunkett won’t admit is that it is the racist policies of his own government against asylum seekers which allowed the racists to flourish.
The people who have stood up to racism in towns such as Oldham, Leeds and Bradford deserve our full support. We must call for the immediate dropping of charges against all those arrested for rioting. We must implement the principal of no platform for fascists through the direct action of black and white workers and youth. We must call upon the labour movement to support organised community self defence against fascist, racist and police attack.
To really defeat the racists we will have to combine our fight with the struggle against desperate poverty, crumbling public services and unemployment. We can’t win this battle without taking on the rich bosses and their representatives in government, and in this battle the state will be our enemy.