Without Power, Justice is an Illusion

Photo credit: Court TV via AP

By the Editorial Board

Celebrate the people, celebrate the uprisings, celebrate the Floyd family, honor the life of George Floyd, and honor the lives of all others gunned down and murdered by this racist policing system and its decaying ruling class. We celebrate and honor all of them because it is the masses who are the makers of history—the historic aspect of the guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin can be credited only to the masses, to their heroism, and to their righteous, blazing rebellion.

Whether Chauvin is one of the small handful of police officers to be convicted of murder while on duty in the history of the US is less important than the mass mobilizations of last year, considered the most numerous, most combative uprisings in US history, which burned across all of the country and left their mark, a mark strong enough to cow the state into making Chauvin their sacrificial lamb. We can acknowledge this, even celebrate the verdict earned with the fire and blood of the masses, yet still recognize that it is still only the slightest crack in this dying system’s foundation.

As for the imperialist state’s ‘justice’ system—it deserves no celebration or praise. It punished one cop, with sluggishness and reluctance, because it had little choice if it expected any type of slight reprieve from the people. If it hoped to avoid any reigniting of the flames (which still smolder and will inevitably blaze again), it knew that guilty verdicts were the minimum offer. It prosecuted this case with a fervor rarely seen from the state’s functionaries, and then spun into overdrive once the verdict was delivered in order to claim credit and say ‘look, the system worked this time,’ and it is the ‘start of a new era.’

There is nothing new in this system and the people have a long struggle ahead of them until a new era, which will only be ushered in with violent revolution over this outdated system. The Old State rots—its justice system could barely crank out this conviction, while thousands of other officers have gone unpunished. There are more cases on the horizon in every city where the cameras are not watching, where cases will be neglected, and the cries for justice from families and communities will go unheard by the indifferent state. This is not cynical pessimism, but a concrete analysis, and we do not state it to diminish feelings of hope, but to discard with any illusions. Without power, without the ability for the people to prosecute their enemies themselves and exact their own people’s justice, the ‘justice’ of this Old State is an illusion.

What does the state’s own prosecutors have to say about the proceedings against Chauvin? The state-appointed prosecuting attorney, Steven Schleicher, assured his ruling class patrons, “This is not a prosecution of the police. Policing is a most noble profession.” He claimed that Chauvin’s actions were “not policing” and this was only about one individual officer.

This is the ruling class’s view on the matter—that this lone ‘bad apple’ besmirched the “noble profession” of policing. Some might believe this diversion, but the police are fully known as criminals in the eyes of the working class and poor, who laugh at any claim of supposed ‘nobility.’ There is nothing noble in serving reaction.

Every police officer, whether they are Chauvin or a nameless cop on the beat, lacks any nobility as long as he wears the badge of the ruling class—his job is to dispense misery and enforce a dying system. Only the ruling class would try to tell us that its armed guard dogs are noble. We know this guilty verdict will only make these dogs more ravenous—they will become more vindictive and will burn with hatred for the people, but we know this will be returned in kind with resistance by the people, who prepare and strengthen themselves with each conquest, however minor.

With every blow of the people against the Old State, it lashes out. For every liberal politician jumping to fool the people that this is truly ‘justice’ or ‘accountability,’ there are the more brazen ruling class servants who move to strengthen the police further and roll back democratic rights. Protesters from the uprisings last year still languish in jail, or are being dragged through the draining legal system. The state continues to collect charges as it arrests more with each new protest—this past week they arrested another 100 people who rose up with rage against the heinous murder of Daunte Wright just miles from Chauvin’s trial.

In states across the country, governors are signing bills that grant civil and criminal immunity to motorists who kill or injure protesters, emboldening civilian reactionaries to treat marchers in the street like bowling pins. The reactionary state will find new and creative ways to attack workers and the poor, and it is the liberals who deceive the people to believe that they have any control over the matter. The ruling class has two main wings: those who attempt to bribe the masses with token reforms and those who are more open about their thirst for the people’s blood. Both are enemies of the people and both depend on maintaining this system as it is, especially their police forces, regardless of whether they are trying to ‘reform’ them or arm them further.

Current and former imperialist presidents, the opportunistic politicians, the professional reformists, the charlatan preachers, and the liberal monopoly media assembled in chorus following the verdict to praise it as ‘justice’ and use it as a means to dampen the revolutionary fervor of the people. Even prior to the verdict, Biden went on television to denounce “agitators and extremists” who “seek to carry out violence, destroy property, fan the flames of hate and division….”

Biden speaks of the people, of the revolutionaries, of those who call for the overthrow of his system. He condemns the revolutionary rage of the people, anticipating the flames that would come if Chauvin walked. He and other opportunists do all they can to deny that it was the revolutionary violence of protesters who forced the guilty verdict in the first place.

Biden made it clear prior to his election that he will target combative protests as fiercely as his Republican counterparts. He exemplifies the imperialist ruling class, regardless of what image they put forth, so-called “progressive” or “conservative”—they live to control and suppress the people in order to serve their agenda of exploiting workers for the accumulation of capital.

The state falls over itself to make sure that it can claim credit for the verdict and deny the power of the people’s flames. Opportunists thanked the imperialist chief Biden, who did even less than the opportunist leaders themselves who latch on to every grieving family only to make sure that the family’s calls for justice don’t go beyond the system’s terms. Al Sharpton even extended his spiritual gratitude to the police officers who testified against Chauvin, stating, “Bless the policemen who got on the stand.” Revolutionaries instead thank the masses, the true divinity in the world.

Social democrat Ilhan Omar, who during the uprisings condemned the people’s rebellion, has expressed her “Extreme gratitude” to the attorney general and called the verdict a step towards “healing and reconciliation.” The system is covered in open, rotting wounds, beyond healing, and Omar warms herself in this stinking corpse. She and other opportunists wish to perfume it in the hopes that we reconcile with imperialism, but this is an irreconcilable contradiction.

Some opportunists have held protests and then literally led the crowd to voting booths in order to sabotage the people’s sincere desire for change, especially the hope of the youth, into toothless reforms and to strengthen another imperialist politician’s campaign. The politicians wink and nod to these ‘good protesters’ who dutifully drive votes and donations to them. If the politicians bother to acknowledge the role of protesters in obtaining the guilty verdict, it is these agents among the people who they are referring to, not the actual militants and revolutionaries who struggle against this system’s antagonistic contradictions with the people.

The NGOs, professional activists, postmodernists, and all flavors of social media influencer ‘activists’ are willing servants of the ruling class, further taking the people’s clamor for revolution and distorting it into the calls for ‘defunding’ or ‘abolition’ of the police. These continue to be equated with revolutionary change when they are anything but—they fundamentally avoid the question of power. As servants of the ruling class, the police are essential to the imperialist system and cannot be simply ‘abolished’ or ‘defunded’ away by the very people they defend.

Abolish the police? Will the imperialist state let you take away its guards? Can the right politician take over the reins of the imperialist state and simply get rid of the police? They believe the state will relinquish its guards without a fight, when it is only a fight, a People’s War to be precise, which can bring the state to its knees, smash its backward apparatuses, and build new ones that serve the people.

As we have stated on this matter before:

“The militant’s viewpoint is neither defunding nor ‘abolishing’ the police, it is understanding the need to quite literally overthrow the entire ruling class and every single one of the apparatuses it uses to oppress and exploit the people.”

This returns us to the question of justice, and the power to enact People’s Justice, which the people must continue to raise as a key goal in the context of anti-police struggles to come. People’s Justice in our current conditions looks like the burning buildings of Minneapolis and the smashed windows of police precincts across the country, as well as the expropriation of corporations which prey on the people. It looks like Michael Reinoehl’s annihilation of the reactionary who attacked protesters in Portland, a maneuver of active defense for which the imperialist state retaliated with the blatant assassination of Reinoehl in broad daylight. People’s Justice is carried out on the people’s terms, not on those of the Old State.

But People’s Justice must be conceived of further, as something carried out by an organized workers’ state against the enemies of the people, a state built on a new foundation, a dictatorship of the proletariat where the root of the imperialist police’s reason to exist, private property, has been abolished. In every police murder, in every killing of a working class or poor Black person, the police are driven by a primary directive—to defend the current ruling class’s system of private property, which is the root of the workers’ exploitation. The racism of this ruling class is another tool to divide workers, to stratify the class, and the police enforce it in service of the ruling class.

A socialist revolution would wipe away the system that defends this private property and this must be the goal: the conquest of power. Nothing less can suffice for the people who cry out for justice against this system, who fight for a New Society. The imperialist ruling class will not convict every one of its murdering cops and will not keep them off the streets of our communities, where their entire purpose is to trample on the people, to degrade them, to abuse in the name of their masters who cling to its power through the barrel of a gun. When the barrel is pointed the other way, when the people begin to organize themselves to wage war against the state, political power will grow, and we will begin to see People’s Justice carried out with more frequency, in more developed forms, until the Old State is beaten back. Justice will no longer be an illusion, but an essential feature of the New Power.

People’s Justice for the Victims of the Police!

It is Right to Rebel!

Long live the May Uprisings!

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