The congregation of thousands of people during the George Floyd protests in Philadelphia has some epidemiologists worried that COVID-19 numbers could spike again in a couple of weeks.
The nationwide outpouring of protests during the last 10 days has provided a historic moral response to the murder of George Floyd. In one city after another, people braved tear gas, pepper spray, clubs and other weaponry — as well as mass arrests — to nonviolently challenge racist police violence. Those same people were also risking infection More
The sudden ur-revolutionary upsurge, during a pandemic, is remarkable and a mysterious turning point. But a subtle problem lurks in this hopeful development, one clearly foreseen by Martin Luther King: the fight against racism has gone on for nearly forever without a real solution and it seems doubtful if the resolution lies in tinkering with system racism: the problem is connected to a totality of social conditions and the solution to one problem is connected to all the others. It makes one think of the spandrel problem discussed by biologists. You make one change and the whole shebang can collapse. Hoping to simply eliminate racism in the american system is unrealistic, as recurrence of frustration and protest shows: all parties to these protests might stand back and start to think in terms of an overall system change, revolutionary or evolutionary. Blacks have suffered, but so have the multitudes in the working class. They will never get such a protest; the authorities really will bring out the army. The powers that be are looking for a face lift.
The energy to solve only a part of the problem will end up fruitless, if not squandered. Where are all these protests going? They show that the legacy of the racist constitution just might be the root ‘causa ultima’. It could be ‘curtains’ for yankee doodle. The term ‘socialism’ has itself suffered an equal perennial suppression and in its implicit reference to holistic social change tables the question of radical change at the threshold of revolution, the endpoint of King’s pilgrimage of activist protest. The left has often failed to deal rightly with racism. But the fight against racism has often failed to deal rightly with the larger problem.
The powers that be will tolerate these protests, which shows they think they will lead nowhere: they will not lead beyond their given focus to real social change or beyond capitalism.
I will leave off a conclusion and let this simply stand as suggestion, simply noting the path of MLK’s own transformation in the transformation of society that he brought about, albeit incompletely…
Protests for racial justice after George Floyd’s death have spread to Europe and the southern hemisphere.
Curfews were enacted in more than two dozen cities, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago and Seattle, and the National Guard was summoned in several states as protests intensified over George Floyd’s death in police custody.