LUMPENPROLETARIAT—[Sunday, 14 FEB 2021, 05:16 PST] Today is Day 26 of Mr. Biden’s presidency. As promised, at Lumpenproletariat, we have committed to writing a daily column during the first 100 days of Biden’s Presidency. Democrat voters were hopeful, they said, that Mr. Biden would deliver a transformative change of sorts, from the political chaos of the last four years. We recall Mr. Trump appointed enemies of each office position to further dismantle regulatory agencies. For example, an enemy of public education in charge of education; an enemy of the environment in charge of the environment; and so on. Of course, we can also recall Mr. Bill Clinton’s Reinventing Government financial deregulation protocols of the 1990s, which laid the foundation for the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2007/2008. The GFC has been described by economists as the greatest upward transfer of wealth in human history. And it came at the expense of the working classes, millions of people lost their jobs, millions of people lost their homes, millions of people lost their life’s savings. And the Wall Street 1% types have no compunction against betting against the economy.
The American ruling class, through its decadent culture of Wall Street speculation and anti-labor, pro-neoliberalism, pro-surveillance capitalism, creates widening inequality and deepening poverty. Sociologists and others, such as Dr. Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow), have shown connections between policies and disproportionate incarceration and punitive treatment of black and brown Americans relative to whites. Another important connection, which has been increasingly understood by the general public is the phenomenon of the school-to-prison pipeline. Back in the day, in the Bay Area, truancy officers used to prowl the streets to catch kids cutting class or being truant, roaming the streets. We used to go hang out at the pool halls and whatnot. Back then, you just had to make it past the few blocks surrounding the high school, and you were free to escape, if only temporarily, the whitewashing education of America.
Back in the 1990s and earlier, truancy officers were, basically, shool officials, who drove around the school to catch kids straying away from school, or cutting class. This was someone students knew from campus, someone with whom students had a working relationship. Over time, we saw police officers become increasingly involved in disciplinary processes at California high schools, being present in principals’ offices when dealing with a school fight, or when having to suspend a kid. Gone was the leniency of the past, where the school tried to build relationships with their students, such that healthy rapport could heal any traumas adversely affecting student behavior. Eventually, as crime rates dropped, police presence in schools increased. Soon, gang injunctions began to seemingly arbitrarily criminalize youth assembling in public in groups of half a dozen or even less. What did these injunctions mean for the First Amendment rights of black and brown people, with regard to the right to assemble in public, the right to dissent?
In the 1990s, the pretext for police violence and murder with impunity appeared to be crime. National politics promoted by Democrats and Republicans fear mongered about super predator youth to push draconian law and order policies. But, as crime rates have plummeted, the pretext for cops killing with impunity has fallen away, like a withered fig leaf. By the 2000s and 2010s, we increasingly started seeing videos gaining traction on social media of black and brown men gunned down in broad daylight by police with impunity. A particularly arresting video was published by Block Report, which featured the killing of Kenneth Harding. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing in the video. The most outrageous and seemingly unconstitutional aspect of the events was that, after police shot Kenneth Harding in the back for running away from a $2 bus fare, cops stood around him, forming a wall, to prevent medical assistance. Young Kenneth Harding died face down, raising his head up, gasping for air during what seemed like an eternity, as he bled out. One cannot witness such a thing without being deeply moved and affected. It looked like an act meant to intimidate the local community, as if to say to residents, you may be next. Of course, we don’t see such brazenly proto-fascist policing in affluent neighborhoods. So, we have to ask the questions, for example, why did the police prevent medical assistance for Kenneth Harding? Did they intend for Harding to bleed out and die? These are the types of questions we expect from a free and open press. But, sadly, too often the corporate press fails us.
As Democrat voters celebrate Mr. Biden’s victory over Mr. Trump, there may be a nationwide sense that the Black Lives Matter movement and the movements for police accountability can rest on their laurels now. But, as we’ve seen at the macro level, the Biden presidency has so far represented a continuation of brutal neoliberalism. And, as we look at issues at the micro level, then we truly see that little to nothing changes without mass mobilization of people demanding justice, as we look at state politics, and local politics county by county, and city by city.
The Democrat voters and Democrat politicians, who ostensibly support Black Lives Matter and the movements for police accountability, are not really the same people, who are manifesting the direct actions in the streets. The activists we see on the streets, oftentimes, tend to forego participation in party politics, except for maybe voting on election day. We also saw that during the Occupy Wall Street days. The focus back then was on altering the public consciousness. And Occupy Wall Street did that by placing an anti-capitalist message at the heart of their protest movement. The next step was to build class power. But the Obama administration crushed the Occupy Wall Street movement in a coordinated nationwide crackdown, preventing any further growth of anti-capitalist class power.
We are able to build community. But, as discussed on Jacobin recently, community is not class power. (See below.) Yet, progressives and many leftists throw their lot in with the Democrat Party, hoping to see some pushback against the right-wing politics of the Republican Party, which engages in dog-whistle politics condoning and enabling police brutality, police terrorism, and proto-fascism, under the pretext of law and order, but in reality as cover for neoliberal predation, white collar crime, and class oppression. More often than not, the Democrat Party colludes with the Republican Party to push a perennially neoliberal agenda.
Our two-party system functions like a two-party dictatorship because they collude as a cartel and, thus, are able to remain unresponsive to the will of the people, when the people dissent from the status quo. After, Occupy Wall Street, many of those same liberals, who protested, camped out indefinitely, and even suffered police brutality to exercise their Constitutionally-protected First Amendment rights, still voted for Mr. Obama in 2012.
Like Malcom X said in, The Ballot or the Bullet, anybody who votes for a political party that doesn’t keep its promises to you is a chump. It’s like Stockholm Syndrome, or a trauma bond. How else can we explain this cognitive dissonance?
The false left/right paradigm leads liberals to a misplaced hope and allegiance to the Democrat Party, which clashes culturally, over identity politics, and superficial issues with the Republican Party, but is harmoniously in agreement over their support for corporations at the expense of workers. So, liberals spin their wheels with the Democrat Party, with little to no economic or political results capable of altering the status quo in favor of working class people. And when neoliberalism leads to economic devastation and social ills, rather than invest in social services our capitalist social relations signal increased funding for police, despite police officials’ own assertions that they cannot fulfill the role of social workers. Yet, police state repression is the standard state response to economic desperation and other social ills. And, then, there is the issue of white supremacist infiltration of police agencies. The saying goes, one bad apple spoils the bunch. Indeed. We contend that complicity with evil is worse than evil. But the people have placed so much of their political power in the hands of two unresponsive political parties, such that they are frequently frustrated when they find corporate political parties disregard the will of working class people.
So, at the state level we see the political machines of the two corporate political parties dominate state politics, unchallenged by the left, who has no political party in electoral politics. We have seen some upstarts, but few seem to have taken root. The Green Party, too often, has deferred to the Democrat Party. And the socialist Peace and Freedom Party has been limited in its ballot access, as have many third parties due to Top-Two Primary laws.
“Finzi: Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra, Op. 31 – 1. Allegro vigoroso – L-istesso ma tempo in modo lirico” by Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, 1997.
Justice for Colby Friday and Trevor Seever! Jail killer cops!
A non-violent direct action was held yesterday in the California Central Valley, calling for police accountability. Lumpenproletariat was on the scene to document the event and to support the families seeking police accountability and justice.
The families of Colby Friday and Trevor Seever, were supported by local activists and other concerned citizens and residents and visitors in their non-violent direct action calling for police accountability in the California Central Valley. We were privileged enough to attend this public demonstration yesterday in support of the Friday and Seever families, who were demanding justice for their loved ones slain, extrajudicially, illegally, by local police.
The gaslighting is so severe in American society that we cannot, as a people, see it’s wrong when police act as judge, jury, and executioner. We saw some apathy in the public square yesterday, perhaps, some of it was fear. But there was also a lot of moral outrage, when people saw the signs and read the giant banner unfurled on the corner of a busy intersection in Modesto yesterday.
When a demonstration takes hold of a sidewalk, corner, or traffic intersection, then people turn their heads and read picket signs and get informed. Some eyes open wide. Some eyes are wide shut. More often than not, everyday people, like you and me, become morally outraged when they see an injustice has been committed in their own community. People strain their necks, angling their vision at a red light. So, we get closer to the edge of the sidewalk; so, they can read the signs from their cars.
One man, in an SUV with his children called me over to read a sign I was holding. IS 5 DEATHS ENOUGH TO GET FIRED MPD??? He read the sign and asked some questions. We informed him that the police officer has killed numerous times before. He searched his pockets for cash, handed it over, and said, “Fire the motherfucker,” and drove off. We handed the cash over to the families.
People do become very incensed and morally outraged when they are informed with the reality of what’s going on in our own communities. It’s just that we don’t get this type of news every day. And working class folks are often too busy and underpaid and overworked to do their own internet sleuthing to be better informed than is possible via corporate media.
Too often, if we only rely on TV news, we get a skewed perspective of reality because there’s so much, which is not reported on, or discussed in depth, but which the public has a right to know, and, indeed, as evidenced by the public response, the public has a burning desire to learn more. For the families of Trevor Seever and Colby Friday (age, 29), according to the families, only the Modesto Bee has provided some media coverage, which is minimal, at best. Liberation News, who was on the scene covering the event for the duration of the event, has offered much more honest and compelling coverage. (We have embedded hyperlinks throughout, as displaying full URLs tends to distort our low-budget formatting; all apologies.) Modesto Bee newspaper/website completely copyrights all of their content. So, please visit their website to learn more about their coverage and perspectives on the murder of Trevor Seever by Modesto police. Liberation newspaper/website, has allowed reproduction of their content, as long as the content is properly cited. (Please see below.) So far, we have found only one article at the Modesto Bee, cf. “A text, a call, then shots fired: Family of man killed by Modesto police describes that day“, by Erin Tracy and Kevin Valine, January 7, 2021.
So, the families of the slain need media justice as well as legal justice to help build public awareness around their struggle for justice, which we contend is interlaced with our broader, collective struggle for freedom from burgeoning proto-fascism. We were there as well to document, and support, the event. At Lumpenproletariat, we hope to bring you some video interviews from the day’s action as soon as possible.
We spoke with Colby Friday’s mother. We intend to publish our interview with her as soon as possible.
“Respighi: Fountains of Rome – The Fountain of Valle Giulia (La fontana di Valle Giulia all’alba) interpreted by The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, 1991.
It was beautiful to see so much support for the families of the slain. Of course, we join with the families in the public call for justice. We did see a very expensive-looking TV camera reporter interviewing a few people, before soon leaving the demonstration. We don’t think the press needs to feign some sort of neutrality or journalistic objectivity.
We contend all media is biased. The question is whether or not the biases are obfuscated or made clear at the outset. Of course, we appeal to the Modesto Bee to also report on the police murder of Colby Friday. We must not allow our needs for profit outweigh our needs for socioeconomic justice.
So, we call on all institutions to speak out. That is, if they still have sufficient capacity for human empathy. Our laws have achieved codified corporate personhood, but not corporate humanity.
Sometimes, we are afraid to speak out. So, it may look as if we don’t care, when, in fact, it is only fear, which is preventing us from expressing what is truly in our hearts.
We see cars approach the demonstration in their cars, as we stand or march and chant or sing. Some want to honk, but are too shy. Make some noise! Honk your horns! Soon, the whole intersection is honking and protesting injustice in solidarity. And, just like that, colonized and alienated minds become liberated, little by little, after having internalized the hyperindividualism of neoliberalism. Capitalist modes of production alienate us from the fruits of our labor, from each other, and even from ourselves. But through sincere socializing we can learn socialist social relations and socialist modes of production. We can find alternatives to the failed ideas of the past. We can learn to shed our fear of ghosts to truly learn from the past for a brighter future.
It feels good for the alienated soul to connect with strangers on the street around an issue that’s bigger than all of us, and to honk that horn, unconcerned with offending a neighbor or two. We make eye contact with everyone, most nod in agreement. A few are hostile. Some are aloof. But one can communicate with virtually every car passing by a busy city intersection with a picket sign in one hand a peace sign, in the other, and loving kindness in our eye contact.
They say darker-skinned men look more threatening. So, we have to go out of our way to disarm people, who feel intimidated by being extra nice and polite. It can be a drag. But dignity is important. We recall Raphael Saadiq speaking to that in an interview and citing personal advice from Sidney Poitier to always put your best self out there. We try.
For people of color, exercising our First Amendment rights isn’t as easy as it is for our white friends, family, and neighbors. U.S. history teaches us this fact. This fact forces people of color into their own subjugation, if we do the math on the prison industrial complex and the war on black and brown leadership and people of color, generally.
@LumpenProles, 20 FEB 2021, 08:52 PST
“Fear Not For Man” by Fela Kuti
“The secret to life is to have no fear.”
LIBERATION NEWS—[12 JAN 2021]
Members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation joined a Jan. 9 protest organized by Turlock Black Lives Matter demanding justice for Trevor Seever, killed in December by police in Modesto, Calif.
Around 70 people were at the rally outside of the Modesto Police Department, where Trevor’s family members called for defunding the police. Another speaker linked the murder of Trevor by the police to capitalism, which cares more about increasing profits than it does about humanity, and called for the abolition of the police. Samuel Garcia of the PSL highlighted how the system protects killer cops because ultimately police protect the interests of the capitalist class.
Protesters chanted, “No Justice, No Peace,” “Justice for Trevor,” and “Hands up! Don’t Shoot!” at the rally, and marched through the streets of Modesto demanding justice for Trevor and all those who have fallen victim to police brutality, especially for Black people that are disproportionately murdered by the police. The protesters eventually circled back to the police station and dispersed.
Seever, 29, was shot and killed by Modesto Police Officer Joseph Lamantia on Dec. 29, 2020. The incident occurred after Trevor’s family called 911 concerned about his state of mind. Body-cam footage released by the MPD shows Lamantia shouted at Trevor to put up his hands, to which he complied, and then fatally shot him. Seever was unarmed.
Trevor’s mother, Darlene Ruiz, told Liberation News that the family was instructed by the police to meet them somewhere and that they would talk to them. However, “they went to find Trevor and they drove right past us and immediately shot him.” Ruiz told The Modesto Bee that, “[w]e saw him on the gurney and they said there’s no point in going to the hospital, he’s stable, just go home.”
The police later showed up at the family’s home and asked to search the house without first informing the family that Trevor had died. “They came and interrogated me for an hour knowing my son had passed and never let me know,” Ruiz told Liberation News. Only after asking did Ruiz get an answer: her son was dead. The police also did not inform the family of the hospital where Trevor was taken.
When the family asked to see him, they were told he was at the coroner’s office and that they would not be able to see him.
This was not Lamantia’s first killing, nor his second, nor even his third — he was previously involved in four killings, as well as the shooting of another man who survived. Lamantia’s “punishment” for Seever’s death so far has been nothing but paid administrative leave, which shows just how rotten the U.S. “justice system” is.
The impunity enjoyed by police has given rise to a movement for justice and accountability. Justice for Trevor Seever and all victims of police brutality will not be handed down by the courts or the politicians. It can only be won through struggle.
Justice for Trevor Seever! Jail Killer Cops!
Learn more at LIBERATION NEWS.
“Chill Out” (Full Album) by Black Uhuru, 1982.
“Mutual Aid Can’t Transform Society- Amber A’Lee Frost” by Jacobin, 14 JAN 2021. “Community Is Not Class Power”
“Capitalism Has Failed the Rural Working Class – Jennifer Silva” by Jacobin, 14 FEB 2021.
“All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan, 1967.
“All Along the Watchtower” interpreted by Jimi Hendrix, 1968.
“Who Rules America: The Power of Wall Street | Financial Markets | Documentary from 2012″ by ENDEVR, 14 FEB 2021.
The hill, “Shady removal of politician’
“Webern: Five Movements for String Quartet, Op. 5, arr. by Webern for orch (1929)” by The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, 1974.
[15 FEB 2021]
[Last modified on 20 FEB 2021 at 11:16 PST]