Statement by Ray O. Light, USA
September 6, 2005
Hurricane Katrina Exposes Imperialist Nature of System
The blood of the poor and largely Afro-American victims of Hurricane Katrina is on the hands of the Bush Regime and its Democratic as well as Republican representatives of US imperialism in Congress just as surely as the blood of the Iraqi people is on their hands. And the US ruling class is waging a ruthless war at home as well as in the Middle East and throughout the world in ruthless pursuit of maximum private profit.
The devastating winds and flood waters of Hurricane Katrina washed away layers of rhetoric, deception and outright lies about the nature of the present socio-economic system operating in the USA. The real face of US monopoly capitalism and imperialism appeared with the emergence of the victims – especially the poor and the working poor, largely Afro-American people of New Orleans. Far more quickly than any organized rescue efforts on behalf of these victims, the two previous US Presidents, Bush’s father a Republican and Bill Clinton a Democrat, were appointed by George W. to head the effort to cover over the naked reality.
US liberals and radicals, and self described revolutionaries along with conservative and bourgeois elements have decried the failure of the system, and demanded that the system right itself, thus attempting to provide an organized rescue effort for US imperialism. The truth is just the opposite. The system did not fail. US monopoly capitalism and imperialism worked in the interests of the US ruling class. It was business as usual.
In pursuit of maximum short-term profits for the biggest bankers and capitalists: "Engineering feats…tamed the flow of the Mississippi and turned it into one of the world’s richest shipping channels… [at] a heavy price: Relentless erosion of marshes, swamps and barrier islands along the coast that once acted as buffers to the surging waters from storms. Without them, New Orleans sat defenseless." (USA Today 9-2-05 editorial)
For at least twenty years, scientists, environmentalists and other concerned citizens have warned about the dangerous and worsening condition of the New Orleans infrastructure. In the past four years or so Louisiana state officials have joined them in demanding a twenty year plan to restore the coast. Yet every year since 2001, the Bush Regime, with Congressional blessing, "has slashed Louisiana’s request for flood control funds" (ibid). Massive tax cuts for the richest one-tenth of one percent of the population combined with massive public expenditures on US imperialist wars for oil/gas seizures and control in order to maintain US economic hegemony in the world capitalist system served this same US ruling class, while protecting the lives of the citizens of New Orleans was no priority at all.
To commandeer all available automobiles, buses, trucks, trains, planes, cruise ships, etc. to evacuate those without private automobiles or the cost of a bus ticket would have interrupted the normal flow of business for private profit. It is this clear priority of the system, private profit for the rich no matter what the expense to the masses of humanity, especially the poor and the working poor, which explains why no mass public evacuation efforts were even attempted, despite the advance warning of Hurricane Katrina’s impending wrath. By contrast, the Cuban government under the leadership of Fidel Castro, to whom the people’s wellbeing is a priority, despite the poverty of the country, has demonstrated time and again remarkable ability to move well over a million of its citizens out of areas where Hurricanes have threatened to unleash deadly destruction. To Bush and the US ruling class, thousands of lives of Afro-American people and poor whites and Latinos along the Gulf Coast are expendable, are of just as little concern, as the lives of the US military men and women, the children of the poor and working poor, who have been sent to kill and be killed by the people of Iraq fighting to liberate their country from US imperialist occupation.
New Orleans was an important port in the old Slave South; it is an important city in the oppressed Afro-American nation today. In 1927 at the time of the Great Flood on the Mississippi River, while the white settlers’ families were evacuated from the area, thousands of Afro-American sharecroppers, at considerable risk of their lives, were compelled by armed white settlers on horseback to fortify the levees and the nearly half million Afro-American men, women, and children were compelled to remain in the dangerous Delta area because the white settlers knew that if they got out many would never voluntarily return to their semi-slave status in the Delta. It is no accident that 70% of New Orleans population was still Afro-American when Katrina hit and that among the estimated 20% of the people of the city (the poorest of the poor) who were unable to leave their percentage was much higher. All of this is a reflection of the long shadow of the plantation system. The ability of US imperialism to reap super profits from the New Orleans area continued to be based on the special oppression of the Afro-American people on their own land.
Apparently large numbers of small Afro-American groups, many out of desperation to seize any food, clothing or shelter available and angered by their desertion by the US government in their hour of need, spontaneously took up arms. Some apparently took aim at any US authorities that began to appear in New Orleans. To keep the Afro-American victims of this disaster from having their justifiable anger spill over into the beginning of an Afro-American armed national liberation struggle based in the Black Belt South as well as to continue to protect private property over human life, Shoot to Kill orders were given to the US military coming in to New Orleans and Commander in Chief George W. Bush declared "Zero Tolerance" for "looting" by those whom he had deprived of all public support.
Finally, the immediate price gouging by US oil companies at gas pumps all over the country in the immediate aftermath of the Hurricane and before any relief efforts were even begun on the Gulf Coast is a striking reminder to all US citizens of whose class interests the current US government serves, of what this system’s priorities really are.
In the short run, maximum mobilization of aroused citizens throughout the USA should compel US imperialism to provide food, clothing and shelter as well as medical care, education and jobs to the displaced. ("Money for Hurricane Relief, Not for Imperialist War!") Over the long run, Katrina should become a battle cry for revolutionary organization, so the peoples fury, rather than disintegrate into every man/woman for themselves, can be directed against the devastation of US monopoly capitalism and imperialism and their two party puppet apparatus that shipped thousands of body bags to New Orleans rather than spend public dollars to evacuate thousands of people to safety.
Katrina should become a battle cry for socialist revolution throughout the USA – for the poor and working class people of the United States to organize against Bush and the US ruling class, including the oil companies, their war of occupation and plunder in Iraq and around the world and their profiteering at home and to fight for an end to the system of private profit. Katrina should become a battle cry for Afro-American national liberation, for land and state power, in the Black Belt South of the USA. The establishment of an Afro-American Peoples’ Democratic Republic, much like present day Cuba, that will defend the well being of its people, is a realistic goal. Today the Iraqi Resistance is showing the way.
Remember Hurricane Katrina:
Independence for the Oppressed Afro-American Nation!
Socialism in the USA!
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