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Thread: The RCP and the LA Riots

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ocean Seal View Post
    Why was the violence directed against Latinos and Asians though, with the police killing a black man?
    White people don't live with blacks in Los Angeles or most places in the US

    not with any frequency, anyway

    e: less prosaically there's probably an argument to be made that under capitalism, unless organized explicitly against capital or the bourgeois, workers usually brutalize other workers since capitalism and hegemony really are about violence directed against the proletariat and so that's what happens

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    Quote Originally Posted by Franz Fanonipants View Post
    LA riots were aimed at Latinos and Asians

    they were not a people's rebellion, they were an expression of xenophobia
    Seriously? And the Katrina Hurricane was all just an excuse for black people to loot New Orleans.

    Trying to describe the LA riots as some kind of pogrom is kinda insane. I mean gee, there's a major riot and some nasty pre-existing tensions other than the initial reason for the eruption come to the surface... you mean like every major riot in history?! Maybe then we shouldn't count on spontaneous and uncoordinated social phenomena to be the way workers organize themselves collectively. I mean, shit, again most riots are a whole mix of different events and reactions almost by definition.

    There was a whole hell of a lot more examples of people looting during the riots than of ethnic conflicts - so if more people stole than there were black people attacking Koreans, then obviously theft was more commonly a motivation. In that case why don't we just join the right-wing in saying the riots were all just an excuse for black people and Mexicans "streaming over the border to get in and loot LA" (as a common right-wing argument at the time argued) to just steal things?

    Personally I think there reason those riots happened when they did and how they did had more to do with years of LAPD "gang raids" and special gang units given carte blanche by the city. There were a whole series of high-profile cases of police brutality at that time and so the Rodney King case wasn't viewed as an isolated case at the time.

    The LA riots are actually a riot with a pretty clear spark compared to many riots historically which can appear to be the result of a bunch of random things coming together - LA was what pretty much everyone agreed to at the time, a response to police brutality ratified and excused by the court system and an echo of Watts. I'd add that it was a reaction to a decade of police attacks and the recognition that after a short period of limited upward mobility for some blacks, things in 1991 weren't much different than in the 60s in regards to urban inequality and racism.

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    Let's not forget about Latasha Harlins. Judge Karlin on the case:

    Quote Originally Posted by Karlin
    The district attorney argues that Latasha was justified in her assault on Mrs. Du. Our courts are filled with cases which suggest otherwise. Our courts are filled with defendants who are charged with assault resulting in great bodily injury as a result of attacks on shopkeepers, including shopkeepers who have accused them of shoplifting.
    Source: Immigrants, racial citizens, and the (multi)cultural politics of neoliberal Los Angeles.

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    But the anger dissipated into, first, misdirected attacks on Korean-Americans, and then into ethnic hostility between black people and Latins, which has been a new, ugly, definite feature of California in the years since then.
    Weren't Black Americans in California being racial profiled by Korean shop owners? How could it be misdirected when Black Americans felt marginalised by the Korean-American petty bourgeoisie/middle class?

    While the LAPD and White state apparatus' would be enemy number 1, usually in riots immediate conflicts are targeted first. In places like LA racial and class tensions are going to be more localised. But thoose conflicts are real and the violence that occurs between thoose groups is not misdirected.
    The spiritual atom bomb which the revolutionary people possess is a far more powerful and useful weapon than the physical atom bomb. - Lin Biao

    Our code of morals is our revolution. What saves our revolution, what helps our revolution, what protects our revolution is right, is very right and very honourable and very noble and very beautiful, because our revolution means justice

    - Dr. George Habash, founder of the PFLP.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmie Higgins View Post
    words
    did you read the article?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiero View Post
    Weren't Black Americans in California being racial profiled by Korean shop owners? How could it be misdirected when Black Americans felt marginalised by the Korean-American petty bourgeoisie/middle class?

    While the LAPD and White state apparatus' would be enemy number 1, usually in riots immediate conflicts are targeted first. In places like LA racial and class tensions are going to be more localised. But thoose conflicts are real and the violence that occurs between thoose groups is not misdirected.
    holy shit did you also not read the article?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Franz Fanonipants View Post
    holy shit did you also not read the article?
    Which article, there are a few in this thread.
    The spiritual atom bomb which the revolutionary people possess is a far more powerful and useful weapon than the physical atom bomb. - Lin Biao

    Our code of morals is our revolution. What saves our revolution, what helps our revolution, what protects our revolution is right, is very right and very honourable and very noble and very beautiful, because our revolution means justice

    - Dr. George Habash, founder of the PFLP.



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    Quote Originally Posted by NewLeft View Post
    Let's not forget about Latasha Harlins. Judge Karlin on the case:


    Source: Immigrants, racial citizens, and the (multi)cultural politics of neoliberal Los Angeles.
    the most "lawl" thing in this article:

    For example, Mrs. Choon Ah Song, who owned a small corner store that burned down during the unrest said, "We dreamed about America like we saw in the movies. The streets would be clean. People in America would all have big noses, their faces would be white, their hair blond. It was more like Mexico. It made more sense to call it Mexico. We hardly came in contact with white people. Even in the schools, most teachers were second-generation Japanese and Mexican."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiero View Post
    Which article, there are a few in this thread.
    any of them, even the hilarious RCP one

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    Quote Originally Posted by Franz Fanonipants View Post
    any of them, even the hilarious RCP one
    What was your problem with my post then? I am reading George Sanchez's aritcle now. I thought you and I were on the same page, that localised conflicts mediated the violence in the L.A riots.
    The spiritual atom bomb which the revolutionary people possess is a far more powerful and useful weapon than the physical atom bomb. - Lin Biao

    Our code of morals is our revolution. What saves our revolution, what helps our revolution, what protects our revolution is right, is very right and very honourable and very noble and very beautiful, because our revolution means justice

    - Dr. George Habash, founder of the PFLP.



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    Only two "Asians" (Koreans, most likely) were shot to death during the riot. Most of the shooting deaths were Black (25 deaths) and Latino (16). From what I understand, the majority of the Black/Latino casualties were shot by Korean shopkeepers.

    Source: http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~oliver/soc220/Lectures220/AfricanAmericans/LA%20Riot%201992%20Deaths.htm

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    Quote Originally Posted by Franz Fanonipants View Post
    did you read the article?
    Relevence to what wrote? The antics and tactics of the radicals described in the LA Times article, don't negate my argument.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiero View Post
    Weren't Black Americans in California being racial profiled by Korean shop owners? How could it be misdirected when Black Americans felt marginalised by the Korean-American petty bourgeoisie/middle class?

    While the LAPD and White state apparatus' would be enemy number 1, usually in riots immediate conflicts are targeted first. In places like LA racial and class tensions are going to be more localised. But thoose conflicts are real and the violence that occurs between thoose groups is not misdirected.
    I think the nature of riots are just undirected rage - it's like with the arguments you always hear after a riot "Well why did 'they' burn down their own neighborhood" well in the spontaneous explosion of a riot, people are just acting on their frustrations and so looting and arson or other anti-social actions are really an expression of social alienation and class anger. If you're stuck in a slummy apartment paying rent, who the fuck cares about property owners, if unemployment in your neighborhood is measurably and observably higher than the average, why the fuck should you care about the shops in your neighborhood that only hire their own family members or people from their own (different) ethnicity anyway?

    Because of the way anti-black racism has functioned in the US, there has often been longstanding tensions between blacks and shop-owners from other ethnicity. In Harlem in the 1920s it was eastern European immigrants and jews mostly, in LA it's stereotypically been Koreans. Politically it's a petty-bourgeois resentment and desire for ending racial inequality through increased black shops and businesses - and in the lack of any workers movements, often these politics have been attractive to black workers too who then rally around these ideas in a sort of soft-nationalism. But in this more conscious form or in the spontaneous rage form of a riot, these attitudes may have real grievances behind them (even as a white guy I've been followed around in a store and I can see it's enough to make you want to put a brick through a window) but it's still misdirected anger and unproductive for the class struggle.

    But none-the-less, the sort of inter-class or worker-vs-shopowner anger is not the REASON or motivation or defining feature of riots such as this, it's a side-effect: an explosion of built-up rage and resentment doesn't have a pre-decided programme for change by it's very nature so all the shit of this society and all the anger, not just what would be effective, pour out of the fissure of "normal" everyday resigned compliance to the order of society.

    If the riots started because a Korean shop-owner shot someone, then maybe there'd be a case for this being primarily a kind of ethnic attack, but it's clearly the result of one of the more common sources of rioting (other than college sports) in the US: police brutality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Franz Fanonipants View Post
    LA riots were aimed at Latinos and Asians

    they were not a people's rebellion, they were an expression of xenophobia
    That's not the case. In fact, you had more Latin American rioters arrested than you did black. And a whole lot of white ones too! The center of the rebellion was mostly-Latin South Central, not Watts as in 1964.

    And even the Koreans were just as mad about Rodney King as everybody else--till the rebellion was retargeted vs. them by the only "leadership" the people in the streets had, namely the Bloods and the Crips.

    -M.H.-

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    I was wondering this as well, what role did the gangs in L.A. play during the riots?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Syd Barrett View Post
    I was wondering this as well, what role did the gangs in L.A. play during the riots?
    A big role. They were the ones who redirected the all-racial popular anger against the police in particular and the entire American system in general first into attacks against Korean shopowners, and then even into attacks against Latins, even though more of the people rioting in the streets were Latin than there were black.

    A year before the riots broke out, the Bloods and the Crips signed a pact, and decided for a while to unite vs. the LAPD rather than murdering each other. The LAPD spent years trying to break up the alliance and get them killing each other again, and finally succeeded some 3-4 years after the riots ended.

    But, as the Bloods and the Crips were both black gangs after all, and they knew better than anybody just how well armed the LAPD were, it was they who decided to misdirect the rebellion into ethnic conflict vs. their ethnic rivals.

    Which was not how the rebellion started out, not at all.

    An extreme example of the old Trotskyist truism that the main thing keeping capitalism going is the crisis in revolutionary leadership.

    -M.H.-

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    An extreme example of the old Trotskyist truism that the main thing keeping capitalism going is the crisis in revolutionary leadership.
    Just need the enlightened to lead the way hey?
    The spiritual atom bomb which the revolutionary people possess is a far more powerful and useful weapon than the physical atom bomb. - Lin Biao

    Our code of morals is our revolution. What saves our revolution, what helps our revolution, what protects our revolution is right, is very right and very honourable and very noble and very beautiful, because our revolution means justice

    - Dr. George Habash, founder of the PFLP.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiero View Post
    Just need the enlightened to lead the way hey?
    In popular insurgencies, somebody always takes the leadership, that's how things work. Even if things do start spontaneously.

    The Bloods and the Crips, I am afraid, just did not turn out to be a good choice.

    -M.H.-

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    Quote Originally Posted by A Marxist Historian View Post
    In popular insurgencies, somebody always takes the leadership, that's how things work. Even if things do start spontaneously.

    The Bloods and the Crips, I am afraid, just did not turn out to be a good choice.

    -M.H.-
    Isn't that "Trotskyist truism" just laziness? It works well to legitimate inter party politics and time wasting spent on building pointless movements.It is a fantasy to imagine a radical proleteriat in slumber waiting that can be turned up leadership.

    The decrepit parties (Stalinist and Trotskyist) do not ask the hard questions, that is "who would really want us?".

    Thoose parties were created in a time when there was a proleteriat in Marx and Engels day, a mass of manual workers who shared common experiences. Now days there is a stratification of workers (blue collar, pink collar, white collar / ethnic, national, gendered) whose experiences are so multiple they do not fit the the proleterait that Marx, Engels and Lenin found. They truth is, workers aren't as docile as the Marxist program imagine. There is no large class waiting around for the leadership to light the way. But that belief is part of the reproduction of decrepit parties and their decrepit members.
    The spiritual atom bomb which the revolutionary people possess is a far more powerful and useful weapon than the physical atom bomb. - Lin Biao

    Our code of morals is our revolution. What saves our revolution, what helps our revolution, what protects our revolution is right, is very right and very honourable and very noble and very beautiful, because our revolution means justice

    - Dr. George Habash, founder of the PFLP.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiero View Post
    Isn't that "Trotskyist truism" just laziness? It works well to legitimate inter party politics and time wasting spent on building pointless movements.It is a fantasy to imagine a radical proleteriat in slumber waiting that can be turned up leadership.

    The decrepit parties (Stalinist and Trotskyist) do not ask the hard questions, that is "who would really want us?".

    Thoose parties were created in a time when there was a proleteriat in Marx and Engels day, a mass of manual workers who shared common experiences. Now days there is a stratification of workers (blue collar, pink collar, white collar / ethnic, national, gendered) whose experiences are so multiple they do not fit the the proleterait that Marx, Engels and Lenin found. They truth is, workers aren't as docile as the Marxist program imagine. There is no large class waiting around for the leadership to light the way. But that belief is part of the reproduction of decrepit parties and their decrepit members.
    I don't think "slumbering masses" has anything to do with the formulation. If the proposition is that mass movements eventually cohere behind some set of agreements or tactics, then by definition of "a movement" the "masses" aren't slumbering but are already in motion. "Leadership" doesn't mean people lining up like robots and following orders, there's organic leadership and for grassroots kinds of movements organic leadership is often the only way to have "leadership" - not to mention it's the best way politically since this kind of leadership relies on democratic methods and empowers people. In the occupy movement, for example: for a short time you can have a kind of mass multi-class protest around some very broad issues but as the movement moves ahead or faces defeat, questions of class politics (if not explicitly) arise and so there is a struggle over "leadership". Should the movement do silent vigils to mark their moral opposition, should they try and organize a strike, should they try and get people elected... all these debates can reflect the political divides in the movement and maybe radicals will carry the arguments which opens the possibility for a more radical movement and more acceptance of radical arguments, or liberals win-out and the movement is co-opted and "led" in that direction.

    I don't know that much about the direct involvement of the gangs in the L.A. riots, but I think where the question of leadership in this case is mainly a question of "lack of leadership" which in this sense would just mean lack of pre-existing organically grassroots organizations with the kind of politics to both understand the riots and suggest ways forward. This is normally how riots are in in the 1960s where there were black urban rebellions repeatedly for years, it wasn't until 4 years after Watts that organizations within the black urban communities began to organize their own kind of civil rights organizations such as the Black Panthers.

    In L.A. in the early 90s there were some activists organizing around the police beating case before the riots and this was enough to start to knit together a receptive public for the arguments about systemic police brutality. They were able to have marches and other events, but when the explosion happened they were still way too small to have any influence in the outcome or direction of the riots or it's aftermath. So who ultimately provided leadership for the anger and sentiments exposed and expressed through the riots? A: Developers, the local black business elites, local politicians and soft-cultural nationalist liberals and so on who said the answer to the riots was more redevelopment, more chain stores in South-Central, more low-paid retail jobs for the black community.

    After the riots, there was at least one black anarchist group founded and I think the New Black Panther Party gained some supporters and established themselves in LA at that time. But this is organizing after the fact. If there had been a group with roots in the community like the BPP had in Oakland at one time, then if an explosion happened, they may have been in a position of some prominence, established networks, and political trust among people who were angry to help organize something more concrete and sustained than the sudden burst of the riot alone. And I don't even agree with a lot of their political outlook, but the point is that even when someone's not explicitly getting up in front of the room and announcing their leadership and then ruling through bureaucracy or an iron fist, the question of leadership is important. Around what set of class assumptions and goals will a movement rally behind?

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