In defense of peoples’ power
Capitalism profits from guns, war & reaction
By Leslie Feinberg
January 3, 2013
Violence and defense against violence are life-and-death social questions
for those who are oppressed and exploited.
The roots of violence in society can’t be separated from the
capitalist drive for profits.
There is only one economic class in society that profits from weaponry and
war — the capitalist 1%. Bankers and industrialists — actually
numerically closer to .001 percent — have their own class interests in
relation to violence and guns.
For some 5,000 years, ruling classes — slavocracy, feudal and
capitalist — have lived an opulent and idle existence by exploiting labor
and the land.
These exploiting classes couldn’t have ruled — domestically or
internationally — over a downtrodden and disenfranchised, oppressed and
exploited world multitude without a monopoly on violence and high-tech
The economic empires and fortunes of the 1% are bloody from the violent
class warfare it has waged to profit from stolen labor and land, and the
socially built apparatus of production.
The rich don’t run capitalism; the drive for profit runs the
Capital is more than money. Capital is magnetically drawn to profits like a
compass needle points to the melting polar ice cap.
Capital is the violent economic and social relationship of exploiter to
exploited, oppressor to oppressed.
In his monumental three-volume work “Capital,” Karl Marx quoted
economist T.J. Dunning: “Capital eschews no profit, or very small profit,
just as Nature was formerly said to abhor a vacuum. With adequate profit,
capital is very bold. A certain 10 percent will ensure its employment anywhere;
20 percent certain will produce eagerness; 50 percent, positive audacity; 100
percent will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 percent, and there
is not a crime at which it will scruple, nor a risk it will not run, even to
the chance of its owner being hanged.”
Dunning concluded: “If turbulence and strife will bring a profit, it
will freely encourage both. Smuggling and the slave-trade have amply proved all
that is here stated.”
More police, more wars and weapons for profit?
The 1% media are moderating the public discussion in the U.S. about guns and
violence as if this were a capitalist presidential debate, outside of social,
economic and historic context.
Malcolm X wisely warned about big-business media: “If you’re not
careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being
oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
Six capitalist corporations control most of the media in the U.S.
“The military-industrial media complex,” states Wikipedia,
“is an offshoot of the military-industrial complex.”
Ultimately, such a numerically small class as the .001% can only rule over
the vast majority of the exploited and oppressed peoples of the world through
an overwhelming force of violence and weapons of mass destruction.
The 1% claims that all of society is safer, as long as its hired guns
maintain a monopoly on violence and weapons.
Using the double-speak of “peace,” the ruling class claims that
more police, courts, prison and military, with more advanced weapons will bring
about an end to violence in capitalist society.
If more police and military might, more guns and high-tech weaponry, could
win the peace in the class war under capitalism between exploiters and the
exploited, oppressors and the oppressed, the U.S. would be a utopian
No emperor or king in history has ever commanded such high-tech weaponry,
police force or military force as do the barons of Wall Street and the
In reality, the police, courts, prisons, immigrant detention centers and
military are an admission by the 1% that it is unable and unwilling to
peacefully end its violent social and economic rule as an exploiting and
In fact, the social and economic antagonisms under capitalism are
Rise in racist lynchings, massacres
Capitalist “democracy” is the violent class dictatorship of the
1% over the 99% — particularly the oppressed and laboring class.
Wall Street poses behind a façade of “democracy.” But
democracy for whom? Greece was a democracy for the slave-owning class. It was a
slave state for those who were shackled. Roman emperors ordered the avenue to
their capital city lined with crucified enslaved laborers as a threat against
rebellion against the slavocracy.
Today, the U.S. has become the capital of the death penalty as a weapon of
state terror against the oppressed and impoverished — those who line
This is what capitalist “democracy” looks like: racist police
profiling and “stop and frisk,” apartheid passbook laws and police
brutality, gestapo raids by immigration police, tagging workers by skin color,
separating families, indefinite detention, round-up and mass deportations of
Muslims, rendition — the outsourcing of torture, racist mass
incarceration, endless wars for profit.
More capitalist police and private security guards with more powerful
weapons do not usher in social peace. Police brutality and police-state
occupations of oppressed communities are the predominant force of
“legal” terror in the U.S.
Trayvon Martin was one of 120 Black people known to have been
extrajudicially executed in the first six months of 2012 — “one
person lynched every 36 hours” — by police “and a much
smaller number of security guards and self-appointed vigilantes.”
During the last year, Black residents were gunned down in Tulsa, Okla., the
second such massacre in the community’s history. Sikhs were massacred
outside Milwaukee, Wis.
When unarmed youths led the first Occupy in the heart of Wall Street, they
tried to create a forum for cooperative dialogue and debate in the Capitol of
capital. In response, the billionaire mayor unleashed violent assaults by a
militarized police force.
In October, after Hurricane Sandy, it was the Occupy activists and
organizations of the oppressed that organized to feed the hungry —
including hungry Federal Emergency Management Agency officials — not the
capitalist government. The billionaire in Gracie Mansion [the official
residence of New York City’s mayor] sent armed police to shut down the
volunteer network to meet peoples’ needs.
The right to organize to build peoples’ power
The 1% claims to lead in the interests of “the nation.” But the
U.S. is not one nation — it is a prison-house for oppressed
Capitalist society is also made up of more than one economic class.
The economic and social interests of the world working class and oppressed
peoples are diametrically opposed to the imperialist ruling class. It is the
laboring classes — disproportionately the oppressed — who have done
almost all the dying in wars for profit.
Therefore, oppressed peoples and the working class need their own assemblies
to share information about social problems and to organize peoples’ power
to solve them.
The working class and oppressed peoples around the world have a right to get
together — indoors and outdoors — to discuss social crises of great
importance from their own material standpoints in society, including defense
and liberation, to organize and to take action together in their own class
The needs of oppressed and working people set the peoples’ agenda:
good-paying union wages for short work weeks, free homes and mass
transportation, free health care and education, recreation and vacations; an
end to white supremacy and jingoism, to imperialist wars and immigrant bashing,
to male supremacy and anti-LGBTQ+ oppressions.
The wealth is there; the crisis is ownership
Capitalism can’t solve the life-and-death needs that the profit system
has created. It is the oppressed and workers who must organize social
For example, as adult generations can’t find jobs in a jobless
recovery, are homeless or fear losing their home, and can’t afford health
care, the suffering of their children is soaring, too.
Newspapers in Syracuse report pre- teenage children are robbing at
More than 40 percent of children are starving and desperate, living below
the poverty level, in Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester, Utica and Schenectady,
according to data from the U.S. Census.
The poverty level is officially defined as an income of $22,300 or less for
a family of four.
The wealth is there. It’s just being concentrated into fewer and fewer
“The rich got richer and the poor got poorer in New York City last
year as the poverty rate reached its highest point in more than a
decade,” the New York Times admitted in September, “and the income
gap in Manhattan, already wider than almost anywhere else in the country,
rivaled disparities in sub-Saharan Africa.” (Sept. 20, 2012)
Children are desperately hungry because there’s too much food to be
sold at a profit. Capitalist production, hardwired for profit, leads to
capitalist overproduction — a crisis of abundance. Millions of workers
desperately need goods and services, yet can’t afford to buy them back
because they are unemployed or are working for poverty-level wages.
This economic and social rule by the 1% is an ongoing violent armed crime
against humanity — which cannot move forward within the confines of the
existing capitalist economic and social relations of production and
distribution for profit.
In an article headlined, “New movement for people’s
power,” reporter Steven Ceci wrote that thousands of people
have taken to the streets in Baltimore this year to protest racist police
brutality, and lack of jobs and recreation for youth. These actions were
organized by the Justice 4 Trayvon Martin/Maryland Local Organizing
“The movement that began when thousands of people filled
Baltimore’s streets on March 26 has taken its next steps by protesting at
the site of the proposed youth jail on April 10 and marching to City Hall to
continuing organizing for justice,” Ceci explained. (WW, April 18,
The Rev. Cortly “C.D.” Witherspoon, Baltimore president of the
Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said at the April 10 rally:
“Trayvon Martin continues to be our North Star and a martyr for the
modern-day struggle for freedom.
“What we accomplished on March 26 was much bigger than one protest.
For one evening we shut down City Hall and downtown Baltimore, including the
convention center and the circus. Through our sheer numbers and determination,
we proved what the power of the people can do.
“We do not intend to go back.”
Witherspoon stated: “The political establishments, both local and
national, have proven to be bankrupt; they have done virtually nothing to
protect or serve the people. It’s time for the people to organize
themselves and to build people’s power.”