The following is the text of a resolution on the social unrest that followed the Rodney King verdict, adopted by the National Executive Committee of the Socialist Labor Party, meeting in session on May 2, 1992. It was circulated as an SLP leaflet under the above title.

Anyone who believes that the outbreaks of violence in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlanta are explained solely by the verdict in the Rodney King beating case--or that it is explained simply by thrill-seeking or "criminal elements" taking advantage, is thoroughly deluded.

They do not understand that racism is a product of capitalist society. It is growing and will continue to grow so long as capitalism continues to exist. The truth of this is becoming more and more evident to all who are taking a careful and thoughtful look at society. Years of political promises and, indeed, of antiracist legislation have led to nothing.

That the vast majority of blacks and whites are workers is the key to understanding racism as a social problem. Job competition and class divisiveness, rather than classconsciousness and unity, are an old story. The real conflict today is not between blacks and whites, but between the social classes, between the capitalist class and the working class.

There is, in the conditions laid down by capitalism, a constant competition between all workers, individually and collectively, for access to the jobs they need to secure a livelihood. The demarcation of black and white is a false and deliberately nurtured breach in the ranks of the working class. It is used to distract workers from the ultimate source of their employment problems under capitalism.

White workers who heretofore have been quiet on the subject of race, but who are increasingly threatened with layoffs and other ramifications of capitalism's present economic crisis, are becoming resentful not of the economic condition, along with the economic system that generates the condition of insecurity, but of black workers who, like themselves, merely want the opportunity to live healthful and decent lives.

Blacks are not alone in trying without success to secure economic security for themselves and their families. Lack of it is not a condition peculiar to the black worker. It is a condition common to the entire working class. Millions are unemployed, and millions more will follow them as the economy of capitalism is faced with worsening crises. If workers, black and white alike, are to achieve the economic and social well-being all working people desire, they will have to come to recognize that not a race, not a color, stands between them and their realizable dreams. What stands between them and what we all want is a social class, the capitalist class, that controls the means of wealth production and utilizes labor like any other commodity.

All workers, some with more success than others at given times, must sell their abilities to the owners of industry and the social services. No race, as such, controls the tools and jobs. It is a class, the capitalist class.

Daniel De Leon made the point when he said:

"Capitalism has ever striven to keep the workers divided. Without division in their ranks capitalism could not and cannot preserve its rule of human ruination. Nothing was more effective to that end than the fomenting of racial animosities and racial conceit. These means capitalism employed [and still employs]. The successful use thereof has kept labor a dislocated giant."

If workers want to end the misery engendered by the capitalist system, it is necessary that they recognize that racial antagonisms are a tactical measure of capitalism to prevent working-class unity. A working class, conscious of its potential and the means to achieve a livable world for all, can put an end to economic insecurity and the interracial distrust it breeds by putting an end to capitalism.

Socialist Labor Party of America, P.O. Box 218, Mountain View, CA 94042-0218 • www.slp.org • socialists@slp.org

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