This year’s celebrations of civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King, a national holiday on January 19, were quite different from the staid affairs in recent decades. Tens of thousands of protesters across the country held more than 50 actions, marches and civil disobedience, reclaiming his radical legacy and condemning the police killings of unarmed African Americans.
The struggles against police murders of African Americans have spread nationally since the events in Ferguson, Missouri last August, when the police murder of an unarmed Black teenager sparked angry protests. A nascent new movement of Black people is being formed, with young Black women and men in the vanguard. A racist backlash centring on defense of the police, a reactionary counter-movement, has also developed, which has strong support in the ruling class.
The news came through on December 3, as I write this, that another grand jury has refused to indict a white cop for murdering an unarmed Black man. In this case, the murder was caught on video in New York City on July 17. The widely watched video, taken by a bystander, showed 43-year-old Black man Eric Garner being set upon by a group of cops for selling individual cigarettes on the street. One cop is seen putting Garner in a chokehold. The other cops pile on, and Gardener is choked to death. The cops then arrested the man who shot the video and his girlfriend.
President Barack Obama’s executive order on deportations of undocumented immigrants has created a firestorm of controversy between Democrats and Republicans. However, the charges and counter-charges between the two big parties are not what are essential. The presidential order, as far as can be determined from Obama’s speech — and the public has yet to see the full version in print — consists of the following: about 4-5 million workers without papers will be protected from deportation for up to three years.
The November 4 congressional mid-term elections in the US reflect the further shift to the right in capitalist politics. The obvious aspect of this is the fact that the Republicans won control of the Senate, increased their majority in the House, and won more state governorships. There has been speculation in the media about how this result came about.
The largest demonstration to date on the need to stop global warming was held in New York City on September 21. It was the largest of the global demonstrations in more than 160 cities that day ahead of a United Nations climate summit held on September 23 in New York. The historic protest brought together a wide range of groups and individuals in a march through Manhattan, two days before heads of states gathered to discuss the issue.
Many commentators have written about the growing divide in the United States between capitalists and workers (and other producers) ― although they eschew the terms “capitalists” and “workers”. They prefer to talk about levels of income and wealth abstracted from the role different classes play in the production process. Nevertheless, their figures give an insight into the real growing disparity between the two main classes under the capitalist system, which was first brought to national attention by the Occupy movement in 2011.
There has been a huge rise in refugees from Central America seeking asylum in the US, many of them unaccompanied children. So far this year, the Border Patrol says more than 50,000 unaccompanied children have crossed the border with Mexico. This is double the number for all of last year and five times that of 2009. Those grabbed by authorities have been subjected to widespread and systematic brutal treatment, a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and immigrant rights groups said. Widespread abuse
Washington has embarked on a risky course in Iraq that may lead to a new US war. In the face of the swift advance by a Sunni coalition headed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which captured a large swathe of northern and western Iraq, the Obama administration has sent 300 soldiers back into the country. This force, referred to as “observers” or “advisers”, are there to shore up the US-installed Baghdad government in a situation of developing civil war.
Since the Obama administration arranged for the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the last US prisoner of war held by the Taliban in Afghanistan, there has been a firestorm of outrage from the right wings of both the Republican and Democratic parties. Bergdahl has been pilloried as a traitor. His father has been denounced as a Muslim. Senators called for him to be court-martialed and thrown into the military stockade. What is Bergdahl’s crime? While deployed in Afghanistan, he became disillusioned with the war and said so in emails to his family.