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Issue #1920      June 22, 2020

Racism a tool of capitalism

Continuing our longstanding support of the struggle of First Nations people for their rights and against oppression, the CPA is participating in mass rallies across Australia calling for justice and accountability for deaths in custody.

Despite the recommendations of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, Aboriginal deaths in custody have risen steeply. There have been no convictions for any officers responsible for deaths in custody, and no one has been held to account.

Governments complicit in a culture of racist police violence

The ongoing police violence against First Nations people across Australia is condoned by governments who are intent on continuing to suppress Indigenous peoples, their ways of life, and their struggles for land and cultural rights. The collusion of the law enforcement, the state, and capitalism culminates in a system where First Nations lives do not matter and are treated as expendable.

First Nations people and their communal way of life disrupts the pursuit of private property and private profits. Capitalism fragments Indigenous societies and their claims to land, in the interests of mining, pastoral and farming oligopolies, and multinationals. Simultaneous to its objections to the Black Lives Matter protest movement in Australia, the Australian government was also excusing Rio Tinto’s destruction of a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal sacred site in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Capitalism uses racism as a tool to divide people in order to profit from this division. Racism also deflects criticism of the capitalist class in times of crisis. This is evident in the United States where the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown laws have had disproportionate impacts on the lives of people of colour. At the same time, racism and racial violence has been on the rise, which culminated in the police killing of George Floyd. The ascendancy of racial violence has similarly occurred in Australia, where people of colour have been used as a decoy for the failure of capitalism to adequately respond to the pandemic and its underlying economic weaknesses.

Racial divisions facilitate exploitation of workers and weaken the struggle of the working class against capitalism. Racism reduces the value of labour to maximise surplus value. This was most blatant with the non-payment of wages to Aboriginal pastoral workers over decades in Australia. First Nations people continue to be underpaid and made to work for social security, including for corporations.

The expropriation and privatisation of Aboriginal land for 232 years facilitates the destruction of First Nations’ people collective way of life and communal ownership of land in Australia. This paved the way for the imposition of class relations. It is made possible through systemic genocide as well as everyday racism that is tolerated and encouraged by governments.

Systemic racism and racist violence are indelibly linked to a capitalist system that thrives on racism. It acknowledges that the capitalist way of life is antithetical to First Nations communal societies. It is only with socialism that First Nations societies, lives, and relationships with land can be safeguarded and honoured.

Next article – Brazilian soccer fans gather in anti-fascism marches

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