Continuing with my long-overdue posting of student writing from last summer’s class, here is part I of Mr. Shabazz’ reflections on crime, race, and class (he was kind enough to break this up into two parts in his letter to me, so I will be posting part II soon). Mr. Shabazz and I had some lively discussions about the revolutionary potential (or lack thereof) of the lumpenproletariat; I found myself wishing that he were in the current Violence class, as some of the same issues have arisen in our discussion of the Black Panther Party. Anyway, without further ado (as always, with only minor spelling or grammar errors cleaned up – any notes from me are in square brackets):
Crime, Race, and Class: Part I
Class and Race are by-products produced by Capitalism. So long as one could think back, the farthest you can travel in the annals of time there was some kind of caste system. In the anatomy of it all you have the owners of needs at the top, on the lowest end you have those who work for the owners. The trade and bartering system was quite different from what we see. Now, to borrow comes with interest and need [for] collateral, but even now the owners of production still maintain top spot. The few that own the means of production control the labor of the many.
In America, its history showed the value they (owners of production) put on life when it comes to the dollar. Before the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Americans have tried to practice its caste system and forced labor on the poor whites. The slave trade created a new market and economic means of production. The property owners that grew produce and other needs utilized “the beast with a better comprehension.” A mule was good for just pulling and hauling, but a slave was able to use its hands, feet, mouth, and let you know if there was a problem.
Over the years race has become an institutional establishment. This was a way that keeps people separated and the money is only the focus of the institution’s owners.
The separation creates classism. The hunger for more supports the objective of class structure. The greed of a few is supported by the many. Karl Marx, the father of Communism, first expressed the tier concept of class by explaining about the Elite class (super rich), Bourgeoisie (rich), Proletariat (working), and lumpenproletariat. These tiers were expressed by Marx and Engels in their Communist Manifesto.
Though Europe and America have similarities, they have their separate historical concepts of economic development. Marxism is developed to a higher level when it is scientifically adapted to a people’s unique national condition, becoming a new ideology altogether.
Race has played a significant part in the Class structure in America. The owners of machinery are those rich and super-rich that manufacture the products we use today. Those owners of machinery also influence the law because it’s laws that help protect the property of the rich and super-rich. It produces jobs for the proletariat and bourgeoisie alike. It is also a dialectical struggle developing in its underbelly that must be contained, through the eyes of the rich. So it needs overseers. Their “system” is a means of production in itself.
The Underbelly: Lumpen
The lumpen and lumpenproletariat of 2013 [I received this essay in late 2013] are those men and women who have a functionally illiterate education, and use the underworld to survive through illegal means. There are some lumpen (lumpenproletariat) who perform an underground hustle, tax free, that would work [in the formal sector] if opportunity would present itself. The jobs open to them are menial ones that barely support them, let alone a family.
These individuals have been cast out and away by society due to criminal backgrounds, arrest records, and the lack of education, so they are left amongst the “have nots” to survive by any means.
The Proletariat Class
The proletariat class is those individuals who work hard in keeping the production flowing and the business working, and one day they believe they’ll be foremen, assistant managers, and one day have their own business. They are hard workers at making someone else rich from their labor. They are the overseers of the business.
They are the buffer zone between the underclass and the upper class. The petty-Bourgeois are a part of this American Dream of Class, protecting the property and assuming that work is steady.
The Bourgeoisie is the Rich property owners and managers of the machinery of the super rich. It’s the upper management of a class structure that keeps everyone dreaming to become. They in turn influence the law makers to create laws that will benefit themselves and the 1% of the population that benefits from the lower class’s labor.
Historical idealism interferes with the progress of the lumpenproletariat that’s forced into a state of survival in spite of his education and political consciousness. He sees the future from looking behind him. Jim Crow laws and Civil Rights were dialectical [routes] to create a better structured, racially divided institution.
The new-found method was to utilize the 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution. The institutional racism is the impetus to create a solid racial lower class by affecting all races objectively, but covertly directing it to the ones who have now become a sub-culture or class by being convicted of a crime and duly tried before the court.
The African-American makes up only 11% of the population, but makes up the majority along with the Spanish/Latino (counterparts) of the prisoners in American prisons. The main reason for arrest of the lower class lumpen and lumpenproletariat is drug use or small drug sales.
From US Census Bureau and Human Rights Watch, the statistics of Black adults imprisoned for drug offenses is 256.2 per 100,000. The rate at which white adults are imprisoned for drug offenses is 25.3 per 100,000, less than [10% – original says “1%”] between the two.
Poverty stricken, racially segregated ghettos are where this class system is most vivid. The social structures have been damaged by the efforts and capital put back into these communities, causing the reliance of better jobs, education, and housing. They mostly worry about where the next meal is coming from instead of what community activist is running for office that can assist them later after election, when you need [help] right now!
The Rich recognize it, and found it to be profitable so, they invest in the prison-industrial complex for the labor and monopoly that it possesses. So, the system that is run by the elite, managed for the maintenance of the Bourgeoisie, and labored [for] by the proletariat to keep the lumpen and lumpenproletariat forever in place becomes more active.
New laws are implemented to shut out the ex-felon, three strikes and VPU (Violence Prevention Unit) is created to be hyper-sensitive, Gang Task Force, and Maryland’s media favorite, Public Enemy Number One is the reason for the start of new laws.
Blacks are predominantly affected, but poor whites and Latinos are affected as well. These economically challenged and educationally underdeveloped races of individuals make up the class that’s targeted.
The desire to emerge from the muck of ages is only the likelihood of a few, because the system and structure was designed that with success comes the help of others. Rather you stepped on toes, feet, backs, and heads, you’ll be in debt to the rich. It’s the American way.
In closing the Marxist diagram of class has morphed into a strange and somewhat peculiar form of neo-slavery that dialectics will be the only form of overcoming this racist beast that created a long lasting stain on African-American people historically.
There must be some even keel for the class, or will America have to go bankrupt before we can eliminate class? Who’s to pay, whoever owns the most light bulbs may become the super-rich. The struggle continues.