October 24, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Reading “Arne Duncan Says He Can Buy the Youth of Chicago for ‘Peanuts’—The Revolution Says We Have a Whole World to Win and a New One to Build” was maddening, both for his statements and for the whole history of criminalizing and degrading youth that he has been part of.
The article quotes Duncan as saying of the youth he visits in jail “Every time I’m with them I’m telling them, ‘Here’s my grand bargain: We’re going to employ you, we’re going to give you a chance to work and make a legal wage, but you have to stop shooting, you have to walk away from that.”
This is Duncan offering these youth a "slave"—that in exchange for selling their ability to work to someone who can use their labor power to produce profit that is privately owned, returning to them barely enough to live on, and in exchange for being good workers and staying within the proper framework while they are exploited, a few of them will get some small perks, a bit nicer life, a little “respectability” in their neighborhood. All the while the whole capitalist-imperialist system keeps on grinding on, murdering Black people at a record rate (including “respectable” people), dropping bombs on people around the world, generating an environmental emergency that is bringing the world close to the point of no return, exploiting and oppressing billions of people.
It made me think of the life of Nat Turner on the slave plantation. As a boy he was brought into the master’s house, and told as long as he didn’t touch the books for white people and he worked really hard to learn the Bible, and was good and obedient, his life would be transformed. The whole slave system still existed, Black people were still being lynched and brutalized and raped—and he himself was soon back a field slave. Bringing a very few slaves into the master’s house and giving them a bit of training was part and parcel of reinforcing the slave system itself.
As an adult, Nat Turner traveled beyond the plantation he grew up on and saw the systemic brutality and degradation of the slave system. He learned that he could not just deal with the horrors of the slave system as they affected his family and himself, and he came to the conclusion that he had to take responsibility for fighting to end the whole system, even with great sacrifices.
What Arne Duncan is offering, and is fact insisting is the only way out, is a life of wage slavery in the same system that pulled the industrial production out of the inner cities as part of finding more profitable ways to invest capital, the same system that continually reinforces and intensifies the oppression of Black and other oppressed peoples. It is a system whose driving principle is profit in command, and where the constant competition between those who privately own the wealth of society—the capitalists—means in order to survive they must be better than others like them at investing the wealth profitably.
The Revolution is about building a whole new world, one that is based not on exploitation of billions of people, but is based on the principle of “from each according to his ability to each according to his need,” on ending all exploitation and oppression and revolutionizing the ideas that support them. Humanity is at a point where the basis exists to end the whole system of capitalism-imperialism, and as well, the leadership for the necessary revolutionary struggle exists in Bob Avakian.
As the article says, there is a stark choice. Be a part of the system grinding on, or be part of fighting for something that really counts.