The video copied below shows goods from a closed down shop being thrown into a dumpster, while a crowd of people get pushed back from a line of cops as they try to pick up the goods in order to use them.
A lot of our well-intentioned friends and comrades think that individuals can be convinced to “do the right thing.” The idea that politicians, bosses, and cops are neutral agents that can be talked into supporting workers, unemployed people, and communities of color in our struggles to live is prevalent among many well meaning comrades.
But the reality that radicals understand – those who see the root of society as the problem – is that society is not just composed of many individuals. It’s composed of individuals who are tied together in webs of social relationships.
The two overarching forms of social organization that dominate our lives are those of the capitalist system and the state apparatus.
In basic terms, the capitalist system thrives on the commodification of everything – by assigning everything an exchange value that takes precedence over any given item’s usefulness. It doesn’t matter if the food, clothing and other useful items laying in front of you could help your family out; what matters is that they’re private property, items to be exchanged or dealt with through the market, and not available for just “anyone” to use. As the police in this video state, if people were to take what they needed from the pile of goods that were set to be thrown in the dumpster, it might “cause a riot.”
This is where the state comes in. The repressive side of the state is composed of the courts, prisons and police. Their main function in a capitalist system is to enforce capitalist laws – laws that protect private property and enforce the exchange of commodities on the market. Whether or not an individual cop is a “good person,” the police force as an institution compels all individuals in its ranks to enforce capitalist order or be driven out. Their job, as evidenced in this video, includes forcing people to keep the capitalist system running by keeping us in order – forcing us to work, day in and day out – and not allowing us access to the means of life if we don’t have money to exchange for what we need.
This video is just one example of the logic of capital and the state playing out in ways that continue degrading the lives of working class people.