Wednesday, January 08, 2014

america's foremost public intellectual on the drug war...,


rawstory | “There are things,” Chomsky said, “the white liberal establishment just doesn’t want to be part of history.”

Another aspect of American history that was “blanked out” was “the criminalizing of black life.” He noted that abolition robbed the industrial class of cheap labor, and [they] needed a way to replace it. “Slaves were capital, but if you could imprisoned labor, states could utilize them — you get a disciplined, extremely cheap labor force that you don’t have to pay for.”

“Part of the whole industrial revival was based on the reinstitution of slave labor. That went on until the start of the Second World War,” he continued, “after which black men and women were able to work their way into the labor force, the war industries.”

“Then came two decades, the ’50s and the ’60s, of substantial economic growth. Also, egalitarian growth — the lower quintile did about the same as the upper quintile, and the black population was able to work its way into the society. They could work in the auto factories, make some money, buy a house. And over the course of those same 20 years the Civil Rights Movement took off.”

After correlating the rise of the Civil Rights Movement with the establishment of a black middle class, Chomsky went on to claim that it was on the issue of class that the black liberation movements stalled.

“The black movement hit a limit as soon as it turned to class issue,” he said. “There is a close class-race correlation, but as the black and increasingly Latino issues…began to reach up against the class barriers, there was a big reaction. Part of it was reinstitution of the criminalization of the black population in the late 1970s.” 

“If you take a look at the incarceration rate in the United States, around 1980 it was approximately the same as the rest of developed society. By now, it’s out of sight — it’s five-to-ten times as high as the rest of wealthy societies.” 

“It’s not based on crime,” Chomsky continued. “The device that was used to recriminalize the black population was drugs. The drug wars are fraud — a total fraud. They have nothing to do with drugs, the price of drugs doesn’t change. What the drug war has succeeded in doing is to criminalize the poor. And the poor in the United States happen to be overwhelming black and Latino.”

Chomsky then made his most explosive statement, claiming that the war on drugs is, in fact, “a race war.”