Racist capitalism, Edward Colston’s statue and beyond

This 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

Boots Riley – How Capitalism Needed Racism To Operate

Official 247HH exclusive interview with Oakland based Hip Hop artist Boots Riley, where you’ll hear about how capitalism used racism in order to gain a power. Check out how he explains how this is still relevant today in this time.

Malcolm X on capitalism

From daily News Line in Britain, 11 June 2020:

THE TORY leadership reacted in fury this week after the statue of the notorious slave trader

and Tory (Conservative) Member of Parliament

Edward Colston was torn down and dumped in Bristol harbour during a Black Lives Matter march in the city on Sunday.

Johnson condemned it as ‘criminal act’ while Tory Home Secretary Priti Patel condemned those responsible as ‘thugs and criminals’.

Labour leader Keir Starmer was quick to say that it was ‘completely wrong’ to topple the statue but, in an effort to avoid the anger of millions of workers and youth who have risen up against racism and British imperialism, added that he thought it should have been ‘brought down properly, with consent.’

This fear of alienating themselves from the mass movement that is sweeping Britain, America and the world, triggered by the murder by police of George Floyd, has prompted Labour’s right-wing London Mayor Sadiq Khan to announce a review of all London statues and street names saying that any with links to slavery ‘should be taken down’.

The Local Government Association’s (LGA) Labour group has also announced that Labour councils across England and Wales are to review ‘the appropriateness’ of monuments and statues in their towns and cities.

Even the police have attempted to hitch themselves to this mass movement, with Neil Basu, London assistant police commissioner, saying he was ‘horrified’ by George Floyd’s murder and in a message to police officers throughout the country, urged them to ‘stand up to racists, inequality and injustice’.

What drives the right-wing of the Labour Party, who have supported the Tory attacks on the working class and refused to lead any real struggle against them, is the fear of losing control over the movement that has erupted against the repression by the capitalist state against every single worker.

Blatant attempts have been made to keep the movement confined to issues of statues and avoid the main issue that lies at the heart of all the racist attacks and war conducted by the state against the entire working class.

While the News Line and WRP support the right to throw statues of slave traders and other historic representatives of British imperialism into the sea, this is not the decisive issue. It may satisfy some but it doesn’t address the burning issue of today – putting an end to capitalism in its final stage of imperialism once and for all.

The British working class have a long and proud history of anti-imperialism and anti-slavery going back to the American civil war.

When war was raging between the Northern Union led by Abraham Lincoln and the slave-owning Southern states of the Confederacy, a blockade of slave-picked cotton was imposed by the north.

The massive cotton mills in Lancashire were closed as a result of the blockade and thousands of mill workers thrown out of work and into crushing poverty.

With the mill owners and shipping companies demanding that the British navy smash the blockade and come to the rescue of the Confederacy, the working class stood absolutely firm despite the hardship and starvation.

At a mass meeting in Manchester Free Trade Hall in 1862, the workers voted for solidarity against slavery and support for Lincoln’s embargo. Their resistance made it impossible for the British ruling class to intervene, as they wanted, on the side of the slave owners.

In a letter sent to the ‘working men of Manchester’, Lincoln praised them for their act of heroism ‘which has not been surpassed in any age or in any country.’

This history is reasserting itself today, as weak imperialism plunges into its greatest historic crisis, a crisis from which it cannot hope to escape except through waging war on its rivals and war against its own working class.

The mass movement that has erupted cannot stop at gestures aimed at the symbols of imperialism that are used by the right-wing of the Labour Party as a cover for their support of the Tory government.

Instead, the fight must be built up to the overthrow of British and US imperialism and the establishment of socialism.

Dutch art historian Wieteke van Zeil supports the removal of slave traders’ statues: here.


10 thoughts on “Racist capitalism, Edward Colston’s statue and beyond

  1. In a move that should surprise no one at this point, Donald Trump once again fired up Twitter.com to blindside our military with a tweet saying he will refuse to allow the renaming of any Army bases named after traitorous Confederate generals.

    Confederate traitors killed over 360,000 Americans in the Civil War to defend slavery, yet Army bases across the US bear the names of traitors who led them. It’s shameful and beyond time for action to be taken to right these wrongs.

    Add your name to the VoteVets petition to rename Army bases named after racist and hate-fueled Confederate generals.

    sign the petition

    Here are the kinds of people Donald Trump is advocating for by insisting we uphold legacies of white supremacy and by keeping their names on our Army bases:

    Camp Beauregard is named after Confederate Gen. P.G.T Beauregard. Beauregard led Confederate troops in the First Battle of Bull Run, Battle of Shiloh, and the Second Battle of Petersburg, resulting in the deaths and casualties of over 50,000 troops.

    Fort Benning is named after Confederate Brig. Gen. Henry L. Benning. An advocate for secession after a failed run for Congress, he was appointed to the GA Supreme Court where he challenged state adherence to the Supreme Court rulings.

    Fort Bragg is named after Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg. Bragg was a slave owner and is recognized as one of the WORST generals in the Civil War. His failure at the Battle of Chattanooga at the hands of Ulysses S. Grant ultimately helped hand victory to the North while sacrificing the lives of American soldiers.

    Fort Gordon is named after Conf. Maj. Gen. John Brown Gordon. Gordon was the slave owner of a 14-year-old girl. During his time in the Confederate Army, he was known as one of Robert E. Lee’s most trusted generals. Post-war, Gordon was an opponent to Reconstruction, advocated for use of violence to preserve white-dominated society, and is believed to have been the head of the KKK in Georgia.

    Fort A.P. Hill is named for Confederate Lieut. Gen. A. P. Hill. Hill often said he’d rather die than see the fall of the Confederacy, and, after leading his “Lightest Division,” he died in battle as an ineffective corp commander known for lacking judgment.

    Fort Hood is named after Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood. Hood commanded the Texas Brigade and was known for his recklessness. His career was marred by his failure to lead larger commands and his defeats in the Atlanta and the Franklin–Nashville Campaigns.

    Fort Lee is named for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Lee’s cruelty to slaves was infamous, imprisoning many for resistance and breaking up all but one family. Lee himself would often enforce whippings and punishment. Lee led the Confederate Army throughout the Civil War, losing to the North at the cost of over 620,000 soldiers.

    Fort Pickett is named for Confederate Gen. George Pickett. Pickett is known for Pickett’s Charge, the Confederate offensive on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Post-war he fled to Canada, fearing persecution for his execution of 22 Union troops.

    Fort Polk is named for Confederate Gen. Leonidas Polk. Polk was a Bishop and the largest slave owner in Maury County, TN, with nearly 400 slaves. He saw it as his duty as bishop to fight in the war and died in battle with the reputation of a failed commander.

    Fort Rucker is named for Confederate Gen. Edmund Rucker. Grandson of Gen. James Winchester, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, Rucker besmirched his grandfather’s sacrifices to build the nation by joining the Confederacy in tearing apart the country.

    Maybe if Donald Trump didn’t have us blocked on Twitter, he would have learned something from this information we shared yesterday. But he doesn’t need us to know that the Confederacy fought a war against the United States to preserve slavery. He may not know the story behind each name, but he knows what they fought for. And he wants to honor it.

    We need to push back harder than ever. Backed by the Commander-in-Chief who has spent his entire tenure as President disrespecting our military, the Army is ignoring public outcry on this issue. Add your name today to stand with the 25,000 VoteVets members who have already signed the petition demanding the Army rename 10 Army bases named after Confederate generals.

    sign the petition




  2. Patel sounds exactly like Trump and she has no right to call people thugs. She should also know better since she’s of Indian descent and England colonized the place where her family’s originally from.


  3. There is nothing new about ‘damnatio memoriae’ and it has been going on for millennia. Even Roman Emperors lost their bronze heads. The oversized head of Claudius was only found 1,800 years after some British Celt lopped it off and threw it into the river. Chiselling names out on plinths is an old, worldwide custom. Important statues (not those toppled so far in the UK and US) are not usually destroyed, but preserved by some bright spark, who will sell it back, when (if) a regime returns to power — as with the statue of Charles I in Trafalgar Square. Many toppled statues of Lenin still exist, so there’s some hope if Churchill ‘takes a walk’. As for the proposed statue of Maggie Thatcher – we’ll not go there.


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