The Hurricane Brought Misery and Death… THE SYSTEM MADE THINGS WORSE!
Revolutionary Communist Party Revolution #13 September 4th 2005
Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast region of the United States—and in its wake, it left untold devastation and revealed in a hundred ways what is wrong with this system of capitalism. In New Orleans tens of thousands packed into the Superdome and the Convention Center as instructed by authorities. Thinking they would find safety, food, and shelter, people tried their best to cope, after wading through waist-high water sometimes for miles. Many shared what little medicine, food, and other necessities they had with others worse off. But shortly after thousands started to converge, the conditions became intolerable and it was clear it would only get worse. After just 24 hours kids and older people started suffering effects of dehydration, and some died. People became desperately hungry, there was no electrical power, and shit began to back up toilets. They were surrounded by disease-ridden water and death. These people were doing what they thought officials wanted them to do—but the government’s “hurricane relief” actually made things worse for the people! When no help came, people in the city were forced to take initiative to help themselves. They found food and water wherever they could, including taking it from abandoned stores. For this, the people have been deemed criminals and threatened with death for taking such measures. The people have been heroic in the face of this situation, and all this brought forward their potential to organize themselves and take matters into their own hands. One 20-year-old man, for example, commandeered a school bus to bring people from the streets of New Orleans to the Houston Astrodome, where the authorities promised help for refugees. The group, mostly teenagers and young adults, pooled what money they had for gas and necessities like diapers. There were other examples like this—no doubt more will come when people’s stories come out. And there has been a broad outpouring of sympathy and support throughout society for the victims of this hurricane. Many in the middle class have been completely outraged by what they have seen in the aftermath of Katrina. Some newscasters reporting from Biloxi and New Orleans were nearly brought to tears and expressed outrage that more wasn’t being done. Many have rushed to volunteer help. Instead of actually saving the people, the government and its armed forces have treated tens of thousands of desperate, starving, and sick people like an enemy. A group of hungry people who broke into the Convention Center’s kitchen to prepare food for themselves and others were driven away by National Guard troops. One of the people said, “They pulled guns and told us we had to leave that kitchen or they would blow our damn brains out. We don’t want their help. Give us some vehicles and we’ll get ourselves out of here!” The Louisiana governor threatened that National Guard troops will “shoot and kill” those taking things from stores. And Bush declared “zero tolerance” for “looters.” Millions have seen the brutal suffering of the people all over the news. Millions have asked themselves where is the help!? Why has it taken so long! But the authorities have betrayed the basic needs of the people and on top of that answered the masses’ desperation with guns and police-state measures. What kind of a government puts people in an utterly inhumane situation like this in the first place—and then threatens to gun them down in cold blood when they try to survive the best they can? It’s a government, and a system, that puts profits and the preservation of capitalist property relations above people and whose utmost concern is with maintaining social control, at the point of the gun, over the masses. A system and its ruling class that operate like this are utterly worthless and illegitimate—they have NO right to rule. Even a voice for the ruling class like conservative commentator David Brooks, coming from his reactionary viewpoint, had to admit, “Floods wash away the surface of society, the settled way things have been done. They expose the underlying power structures, the injustices, the patters of corruption and the unacknowledged inequalities.” As they stand exposed, those in power are only promising more misery and repression for the people. Brig. General Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard’s Joint Task Force, told the Army Times, “This place is going to look like Little Somalia, we’re going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control.” This repression of the people must be opposed and resisted. Everything that is happening in connection with this hurricane has revealed how fundamentally rotten and deeply criminal this system is. But through these events and how millions have responded to them, we can also see the seeds of another future—the real possibility and potential of getting rid of this system through revolution and bringing into being a whole new society. How this immediate situation may develop in the coming weeks and months is not clear. In these truly uncommon times, what the people do can change history.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolution Online http://revcom.us Write: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654 Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497