The author directs our attention to the ongoing police violence used against certain communities in NY City on an ongoing basis.
No one has to tell those involved with Occupy Wall Street (OWS) that the NYPD is "out of control" and my next article will touch on this (and related) issues. However, even with all the overt repression being heaped upon occupiers across the globe, we must never forget those communities who have endured for generations under the racist tyranny of the State.I must take exception to his portrayal of the cops being "out of control". I'm sure that there are some individual cops who in the course of their work have been so dehumanized and indoctrinated that they have become sadistic and racist in their police work. However, I think the majority are very much under the control of authorities of the One Percent. How can we understand this? Is this just old-fashioned racism?
I recommend some insights provided by British writers Camille Barbagallo and Nicholas Beuret in their essay published in Occupy Everything. Their argument essentially is that the current economy under capitalism has reached the limits of exploitable growth and simultaneously has eliminated most subsistence activities outside of the formal economy. The capitalist economy no longer needs as many people to obtain their profits under a no-growth scenario. It has created surplus people who are a problem that capitalist authorities are having to deal with. Borrowing from BBC journalist Paul Mason and his often referenced essay, "Twenty reasons why it's kicking off everywhere", they write:
Over the last 40 years the world has seen the birth of a new kind of worker--a worker bereft of work. Workers who inhabit precarity and are deemed to be superfluous to the requirement of capital.So, this begs the question: how are the political operatives of the One Percent dealing with this problem? Barbagallo and Beuret have a very interesting answer. They borrow a concept from African philosopher Achille Mmembe called "necropolitics" where death assumes an important function of elite governance. Here is an excerpt from their illuminating essay which expands on this concept and provides an answer to this question.
With a surplus population, managing death is the core concern of political activity. One of the key political tasks is allowing them to die without endangering the section of the social body that must remain productive. Surplus humanity--the bodies dwelling in slums, ghettos, refugee camps, prisons, old people's home, ..., and of course those existing in the informal economy that are beyond any utility for capital--it is these bodies that are abandoned at as little cost as possible. This is necropolitics: the politics of containment and abandonment in a world without resources beyond the market.
This practice of allowing people to "fall behind" operates through a range of practices and discourses centred on a kind of Darwinian racism: a purity of ideas perfectly matched to the rhetoric of neoliberalism and "right to be unequal" held so dear. Necropolitics operates through diffused institutions--private companies, aid and disaster relief bodies, personal militias and government agencies. It creates a series of fragmented territories that disable mobility--territories in both the physical (slums, estates and prisons) and social sense (as in the idea of hoodies or welfare cheats).
Walled off and policed, these territories are maintained separately from those spaces deemed productive. Through a permanent state of siege the borders are maintained by either postcolonial policing (racial profiling, stop and search powers, ASBOs, anti-gang activities etc.), economic exclusion (such as redlining, or lack of educational facilities) or ideological public campaigns of shame and stigmatisation (against the unemployed, the migrant, the diseased or disabled). For all the differences that exits between exclusion through ASBOs vs containment via migration regimes or precarious service industry work vs informal micro-credit debt, the underlying logic is the same: contain, fragment, isolate and abandon. Kept apart as less than fully human, as not able to contribute, as a threat and contagion, these bodies are then allowed to die. Slowly. Inch by inch. Through hunger, ill health, disaster, gang violence, poverty and disease. This is the fate outlined by capital for one third of humanity today.