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Babylon’s Burning

Written By: - Date published: 3:17 pm, June 5th, 2020 - 24 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, class war, discrimination, Environment, uncategorized, us politics - Tags: ,

A few days ago a lefty I respect a lot wrote on facebook that America “is in the grip of a full blown revolution”.

He’s wrong.

Not just because there is no economic driver for change, which is Marxism 101, comrades.

It’s mainly because the USA has been through this cycle of racism/death/protest/riot/no change many, many times.

Nothing changes.


Every American decade has seen its cities burn.

Unprovoked violence against it’s own citizens is normal. The murder of four students at Kent State University was 50 years ago.

50 years!

Nothing changes.


Using the army to quell unrest is not Trump’s invention. Tanks on American streets is a regular occurrence.

And sometimes, the army shows more discipline, restraint and empathy than the other branches of the armed services. Take this brutal assault this morning in Buffalo, NY. It’s the military who go to the victim’s aid.



There’s trouble every day. Always has been, always will.

Nothing changes.



Nothing changes.


Because capitalism is even more entrenched in America than racism.

There was capitalism in the American colonies before slavery. Capitalism was there after slavery and during the Jim Crow century. Capitalism dominated the US after the victories of the Civil Rights movement in the sixties.

Capitalism is here now, as our world dies choking.

Racism is just a symptom.

Capitalism is the disease.

So what are you going to do about it, citizen?


24 comments on “Babylon’s Burning ”

  1. McFlock 1

    Maybe the camo guys were the designated medics (even though they're carrying grenade launchers).

    Either way, there are very few fucks evident in the thin blue line.

    But I'm not entirely down with the idea that nothing ever changes. It's just glacial pace.

    • AB 1.1

      "It's just glacial pace"

      We have to hope so. And maybe there are small forward darts to compensate for those long inert periods and distressing regressions.,

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    Uprisings, mass protests and climate strikes in recent times have not been revolutions in the marxist sense–a fundamental change in class power. The “Arab Spring” was not a revolution, and neither are the brave, angry, fightbacks in the USA at the moment.

    Revolutions require class conscious revolutionary leaders, and a good degree of working class unity. America is an intensely divided society on the cusp of whites being in the minority; and loaded to the gunwales with class collaborationists in the Democratic Party and the top Union organisations. But who knows, there is an economic component in the form of staggering mass unemployment that is affecting many millions, something has to give! Trump is trying to sit this one out, he is relying on ’the silent majority’ that returned Nixon for his salvation. Hopefully this time the US working class will sit him on his rear.

    Looking forward to some of the centrists that post on The Standard pontificating on TRPs post, given they could not even bring themselves to support the only (somewhat) anti capitalist candidate in Bernie Sanders.

    • RedLogix 2.1

      For what it's worth this centrist strongly supported Bernie in 2016.

      While some of his agenda looked a bit radical, in practice he would have been a pretty middle of the road social democrat by the standards we are accustomed to. No more scary than Helen Clark.

  3. RedLogix 3

    Economic history is a very simple story. It is a story that has only two parts:

    The first part is the very long time in which the average person was very poor and human societies achieved no economic growth to change this.
    Incomes remained almost unchanged over a period of several centuries when compared to the increase in incomes over the last 2 centuries. Life too changed remarkably little. What people used as shelter, food, clothing, energy supply, their light source stayed very similar for a very long time. Almost all that ordinary people used and consumed in the 17th century would have been very familiar to people living a thousand or even a couple of thousand years earlier. Average incomes (as measured by GDP per capita) in England between the year 1270 and 1650 were £1,051 when measured in today’s prices.

    The second part is much shorter, it encompasses only the last few generations and is radically different from the first part, it is a time in which the income of the average person grew immensely – from an average of £1051 incomes per person per year increased to over £30,000 a 29-fold increase in prosperity. This means an average person in the UK today has a higher income in two weeks than an average person in the past had in an entire year. Since the total sum of incomes is the total sum of production this also means that the production of the average person in two weeks today is equivalent to the production of the average person in an entire year in the past. There is just one truly important event in the economic history of the world, the onset of economic growth. This is the one transformation that changed everything.

    And all this achieved concurrent with capitalism as the dominant economic model. You can argue for the smashing of capitalism if you want, but you also have to explain clearly and in detail what you are going to replace it with. Otherwise your plan amounts to nothing more than mass economic collapse, famine and die-off.

    What we now know from the data is that capitalism is an economic mechanism that is part of the solution to absolute poverty. It enables rapid innovation and growth, it has gotten billions of people into a modest middle class life or better.

    What capitalism doesn't do is solve the problem of relative poverty, the gross inequality problem. It was never intended to, it has no competency in this domain. But demanding that capitalism must be smashed for this reason, is like incinerating your car because it got a flat tyre.

    • SPC 3.1

      How much of that is conflating the gains derived via technology with capitalism?

      • RedLogix 3.1.1

        That's a good question. In my mind the technology and capitalism are mutually interdependent; separate underlying drivers but each amplifies the other.

        That's the short answer; a better answer is beyond the scope of a simple comment. And I'm several beers into Friday evening already devil

        • Phil

          n my mind the technology and capitalism are mutually interdependent

          I see where you're coming from, but I'm not sure mutually interdependent is the right term here. In the 30-odd years of the cold war both the US and USSR blocs developed new technology pretty much in step, but only one side was able to effectively leverage that technology for the benefit of the majority of its populace.

  4. esoteric pineapples 4

    Christopher Columbus brought Capitalism to the North American continent when he borrowed money from the Spanish monarchy and had to pay it back plus interest. The monarchy expected a return on its investment and Columbus knew he had to deliver it.

    This is the difference between Columbus and the Vikings. The Vikings wouldn't have brought capitalism to North America even if they had survived. They had more in common with the indigenous inhabitants

  5. McFlock 5

    I keep thinking about the cop who gave the shove and then was bending down to the injured man when moved forward by gold-shield. Keep wondering if he lost a piece of cop that day, or a piece of humanity. Because the two were in opposition at that moment.

    • Pingao 5.1

      It looks like it's the cop on the outside that shoves him and the shorter cop on the inside is the one that starts to bend down to check on him.

      • McFlock 5.1.1

        Shorter one also gave a nudge at the same time -seemed a bit less enthusiastic than the one in short sleeves.

        Reminded me a bit of a time I was at an old job and a drunk I was dealing with suddenly became unresponsive – a real "oh shit I fucked up and killed him somehow" thing. Dude was fine (bastard was playing possum lol) but it was a real attack of feels and I hadn't shoved him or walked on almost immediately, like short cop did.

        Of course, the other thing that comes to mind is the spin the pd immediately released that the man "tripped and fell". Folks would have been defending that line if it weren't for the footage. It's always one thing from the cops until the camera footage clearly shows it was a whole other thing – and that's a global thing for police departments.

  6. WeTheBleeple 6

    I guess I'm naive. I'd like to think systemic change is required. The police are accelerating their attacks, and today it seems many are on white people (to scare and separate?), while the rioting subsides the cops step it up – that aint good. Meanwhile the protest is global, fierce.

    The criminal element operating under bad faith in of all this – isn't that the Polices actual job – to police them, and protect the right to protest.

    You say same old same old – I say it's different. A highly connected world and hundreds of incidences of police violence recorded within days. Many on peaceful protesters, clergy, medics, press, children, pensioners…

    You say too slow, of course it is. About bloody time the truth of their BS was exposed in public though. Not one article or 'an isolated incident' to enrage us then quickly forget – but the repeated systemic abuse of power in full view to the world. You could go find a live stream of someone being beaten up by a cop in US right now. And all this in a western power, you know, where things are meant to be made of tinsel, gumdrops and ponies.

    The guts of the ugliness drags its entrails down the street, cursing at black people and shooting at press. And they think this hackneyed shit we've all seen before will stand.

  7. Sacha 7

    no economic driver for change

    40 million newly unemployed all at once not enough then?

  8. Byd0nz 8

    There is a different kind of change needed, find it as a free download. 'World without money' at http//www.byd0nz.com

  9. Ad 9

    At some point the racism and complicity of the white evangelical US churches is going to have to get called out.

    Evangelicals are among the least likely of religious groups to support BLM, and the most likely to hold conservative positions on race, according to research from Barna Group.

    More than 60 years ago, Martin Luther King stated that a Christianity that has no concern for the social conditions that constrain and cripple humanity is rightly called by Marxists "'an opiate of the people," a false gospel.

    Both communism in King's day and #BLMand this recent set of protests against brutality sound a call for Christians to enact the gospel that announces the arrival of God's kingdom where the poor are blessed and the rich are warned with woes (Luke 6:20-26).

    King's challenge to the US church of his time rings true today:

    The judgment of God is upon the church. The church has a schism in its own soul that it must close. It will be one of the tragedies of Christian history if future historians record that at the height of the twentieth century the church was one of the greatest bulwarks of white supremacy.

    At this moment in America,I'm not hearing much evidence that the white evangelical church is concerned about black lives, much less willing to own its complicity in white supremacist thinking, policies and systems. It was great to see the church Trump offended stand up. It's not enough.

    I'm pleased that Trump is losing support among white evangelicals.

    But it is the complicit white-dominated evangelical mega-churches themselves that grew up in the 1970s and 1980s which need to be observed as the cold deadening hand on the spirit of liberation that they really are.

  10. Bob - [a different Bob] 10

    Racism is an essential part of Capitalism. It serves to fragment potential for dissidence amongst different parts of the populous. It assists in the manufacture of fear and subsequent lack of popular opposition to Capitalist perspectives and directives that breach human rights and social justice. The way Capitalism runs roughshod over human rights is a predictable action given the lack of concern for the populous by the ruling elite (or those who benefit most from Capitalism), and is part of minimising costs and maximising returns.

    [This user handle is already in use here. Could you please use a different one to help distinguishing between different commenters? Thanks and welcome to TS – Incognito]

    • Incognito 10.1

      See my Moderation note @ 10:29 AM.

    • georgecom 10.2

      I think there are limits to making a link between racism and capitalism. Sure, there are things in the one which exacerbate the other. Income distribution, opportunity, power and privilege. Changing the economic system however won't suddenly and magically cause racism to cease or disappear. If you study the state socialist countries racism was present. When Yugoslavia fractured ethnic/racial divides became clearly evident. It was present in the Soviet Union. Race is still an issue in Cuba. There isn't a binary setting of capitalism/racism – socialism/tolerance. As you need to 'build socialism', you need to build tolerance.

  11. Grafton Gully 11

    A white trash black alliance would threaten the US system of wealth distribution. Racism divides them and reduces the threat.

    This interview with historian and author Nancy Isenberg looks at the "The origin of 'white trash' and why class is still an issue in the U.S"


  12. Morrissey 12

    Norman Finkelstein: If you listen to one commentary on police racism, listen to Larry Hamm on this program


  13. Phil 13

    It’s mainly because the USA has been through this cycle of racism/death/protest/riot/no change many, many times.

    Nothing changes.

    So what if nothing (that you could see) changed last time?

    History and humanity isn't a science experiment where you can put the same chemicals in a test tube and get the same result every time. No revolution at any point in human history sprang forth fully formed and immaculate from what came before it – they all build on earlier protests, earlier unaddressed grievances, earlier senseless death.

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