By Will Falk / Deep Green Resistance San Diego
We need to be clear about what is going on in Ferguson, Missouri.
Let’s pretend, just for a moment, that your people were stolen from their ancestral homes and stacked like lumber in the hulls of filthy ships to be sold half a world away. Millions of your people drowned in their own piss, shit, and vomit on these ships, were murdered when they resisted those stealing them, or threw themselves to the sharks when finally seeing the light of day on the ships’ decks. Your people’s reward for surviving the nightmare of the slaving ships was the nightmare of being sold into slavery.
Let’s pretend, just for a moment, that as slaves your peoples were subjected to psychological, spiritual, and physical tortures to ensure their complicity in the slave system. When a slave refused to comply he or she was whipped, starved, placed in collars, or even killed. If a slave escaped, the nation’s first police forces were established to hunt the slave down and return the slave to the nightmare. If your people organized into true resistance, taking up arms to defend themselves from the horrors of slavery, the nation’s first police forces – comprised of white men – arrived to brutally put down the resistance executing every slave involved.
Let’s pretend, just for a moment, that the justification for your enslavement was something as arbitrary as your skin color. Europeans with white skin spend centuries telling your people, Africans with black skin, that you are less than human. After over three centuries of slavery, some white people decide that your people should no longer be enslaved. Another group of white people deny your people’s right to freedom and the nation’s bloodiest war is fought over your freedom. 620,000 soldiers die to decide your fate.
Let’s pretend, just for a moment, that white people are angry about the war fought on your people’s behalf, are angry about your newfound freedoms, are just plain angry and looking to take it out on someone. For the next hundred years, your people are routinely lynched, shot, beaten, and raped for perceived slights to these white people. A system develops, called Jim Crow, where white people decide that just because slavery is ended it does not mean white people have to share space with your people.
Let’s pretend, just for a moment, that your people produce leaders that undermine the Jim Crow system. Some preach a peaceful approach to empowering your people. Those leaders are assassinated. Some preach an approach that includes every available tactic. Those leaders are assassinated, too.
What if we didn’t have to pretend? What if this was your reality? What if, when you looked into your ancestral past, you were met with pictures of the crisscrossing puffy scars of flogged backs? What if, when you thought of the way your people arrived on this continent, you could only think of those slave logs that demonstrated the way to maximize “cargo space” by the most effective means of stacking human bodies? What if, when you noticed the lightness in your skin color, you could not help but wonder if one of your ancestors was raped by a white man?
What if we didn’t have to pretend?
We all know the truth. We do not have to pretend. A black man is killed every 28 hours by police or vigilantes in this country.  There are more black men in prison right now than there were enslaved in 1850.  The life expectancy for African-Americans is four years shorter than white Americans.
Now, what if another young black man in your community was killed by a white cop? What if you wanted to know the name of the cop who shot him? What if they wouldn’t tell you? What if you were so heart-broken, so angry, that you demanded justice and the cops responded by pointing machine guns at you? What would you do?
Make no mistake, police forces exist as the domestic arm of occupying colonial governments. Stanley Diamond, the brilliant anthropologist, wrote, “Civilization originates in conquest abroad and repression at home.” This analysis helps us to understand that police forces do not exist to protect oppressed classes. It should be obvious as we see the white men pointing machine guns at black demonstrators in Ferguson that police forces exist to ensure the oppression of oppressed classes.
In order to understand what is going on in Ferguson, we must get to the roots of the problem. The problem is civilization. I define civilization as groups of humans living in concentrations large enough to require the importation of so-called natural resources for survival. When groups of humans require the importation of resources for survival, they will do whatever it takes to acquire those resources. Eventually, as Diamond’s quote illustrates, civilized groups will develop armies of conquest to ensure access to the resources required. Civilized groups will also develop domestic armies – police forces – to ensure that domestic labor follows the will of those in power.
This was true for the earliest examples of civilization like the ancient Sumerians who developed a system of slavery for ensuring labor for necessary irrigation and the ancient Romans who simply could not maintain control over the flow of resources they required for their empire before it collapsed. This is true for the United States today with conquering armies demonstrating power through violence in oil-rich countries to ensure access to fossil fuels and police forces terrorizing domestic citizens to ensure the established social order.
It is my view that other systems of domination that developed later are essentially expressions of civilization. European colonization of the rest of the world became necessary as resources in Europe dwindled. The current model of racism, prevalent in the United States today, was developed to ensure the labor force civilization depended on to avoid collapse. Racism, of course, must be eradicated to keep a black man from being murdered by the state’s domestic army every 28 hours, but racism is best understood in material terms. It follows, then, that the roots of racism exist in the material necessities of civilization. Undo civilization, and the civilized addiction to other’s resources – and the racism supporting the addiction – will collapse.
This is not to say, however, that bigotry and hate will not persist after the collapse of civilization. As civilization collapses, we will see intensified violence visited upon communities of color. This is why it is absolutely essential that members of privileged classes assert their solidarity with communities of color right now. The sooner we come to the support of targeted communities like Ferguson, the stronger those communities will be as they face the escalation of violence.
I woke up this morning to a plea from the American Civil Liberties Union to sign their petition titled “Our Communities Are Not Warzones.” The petition asks the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and Justice to “stop funding the siege on communities of color.”
Whether we like it or not, our communities ARE war zones. How else do we account for a black man being killed by cops and vigilantes every 28 hours? How else do we account for more black men in prison than were enslaved in 1850? How else do we account for the fact that one in four American women will be raped in her lifetime? How else do we account for the fact that in America a solid percentage of rape perpetrators are cops? How else do we account for 100 – 200 species a day going extinct? How else do we account for carcinogens in every mother’s breast milk? How else do we account for the 250 trees – with lives as valuable to them as your life is valuable to you – cut down around the world a second?
Our communities ARE war zones. It is only through great privilege that we are allowed to think that they are not. I support every effort to undermine the power of the police, but we cannot downplay the severity of what is going on. This plays right back into the hands of our oppressors and entrenches the violence being delivered upon us by hiding it.
The ACLU wants to send a signed piece of paper asking those in power to stop providing weapons and equipment to police forces. There is only one way to make sure police forces stop getting these weapons and equipment, and that is to physically stop their access to these weapons.
I am not in Ferguson. I am not privy to conversations in the resistance community there. I cannot say what is best for oppressed peoples.
I support a wide-variety of tactics they may decide are necessary for justice in their communities. I refuse to participate in the current efforts to shout down the righteous anger or condemn angry actions by members of the oppressed African community in Ferguson. I am not arguing for specific tactics, but I do want to break open a space to discuss every tool in the toolbox. If peaceful civil disobedience is the way to go, great. If more militant actions are needed, I stand ready to support. This is a war, after all.
Time is Short: Reports, Reflections & Analysis on Underground Resistance is a bulletin dedicated to promoting and normalizing underground resistance, as well as dissecting and studying its forms and implementation, including essays and articles about underground resistance, surveys of current and historical resistance movements, militant theory and praxis, strategic analysis, and more. We welcome you to contact us with comments, questions, or other ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org