Global Independent Analytics
Margaret Kimberley
Margaret Kimberley

Location: USA

Specialization: Civil rights, Racism, US politics

The 21st Century Slavocracy: Why Black Lives Don’t Matter

Almost nothing has changed.

By now everyone knows or ought to know the grim statistics. The United States has more incarcerated people, 2.2 million, than any other nation. That is 25% of all imprisoned people in the world.  Nearly half of those persons are black Americans. Mass incarceration may have been justified with calls for law and order and wars on drugs but its true purpose is far more insidious. The prison system is not intended to keep society safe from crime, but to maintain physical control over black people and exploit them as much as possible.

The 500% increase in incarceration from 1970 to the present day is part of a long and ugly history. Chattel slavery is thought of as a cruel system in the far distant past with no connection to 21st century America. The “peculiar institution” made America wealthy and its legacy still shapes how the masses of black people are treated in this country. The imperative to literally control black people’s bodies and the earning of profits from that control is the never ending story of American history.

Every advance for black people is met by reaction. The end of slavery brought about the beginning of the convict labor system. The end of segregation, America’s apartheid, brought the modern prison industrial complex. A maze of laws keeps black people under the constant threat of incarceration for the smallest infraction.

An entire industry came into existence. Prisons in many jurisdictions are now privately run profit making entities. This is the most obvious way that incarceration turns a profit but it is not the only one.

Everything from furniture to kevlar body armor to lingerie are made by prison labor. Call center workers may not be in India. They may be in a lock-up somewhere in this country. Whole Foods  stores sold products produced by prison labor until the revelation brought bad publicity to the brand conscious corporation. Whole Foods contracted with the Colorado Corrections Industries (CCI) to purchase dairy products made by prisoners. CCI inmates earn less than 74 cents per day, an amount insufficient to pay for their health care and hygiene needs. Yes, prisoners may be required to pay for doctor visits, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, phone calls or postage.

Some jurisdictions go to great lengths to recoup the costs of housing prisoners.  Forty-three states allow prisoners to be punished multiple times, first for an offense and later on a hamster wheel of debt as they are required to pay room and board for their punishment. The state of Illinois has a policy of suing convicts in order to recoup the costs of their imprisonment. An incarcerated person who successfully sues the state corrections department, comes into an inheritance or gains any other source of income is at risk of having the state take his or her money.

An important study released by the Brennan Center for Justice is entitled “Charging Inmates Perpetuates Mass Incarceration.” While the authors certainly have worthwhile intentions and give much needed facts, it should be pointed out that the perpetuation of mass incarceration is the very goal of the penal system policy in this country. There is little desire for eradicating the beast. Instead we are told that it can be reformed by nibbling around the edges.

Both the senate and the house of representatives have introduced sentencing reform bills in the current congress. Sentencing reform is all the rage so to speak, but neither bill actually reforms enough. They do not get rid of the mandatory minimum sentencing which deprives judges of discretion in deciding disposition of cases. Instead both bills add new mandatory sentences for domestic violence and gun possession offenses. Only in America can sentencing reform result in more people going to jail.

The political weight of the slave states in the 19th century was known as the “slave power” or the “slavocracy.” There is still a slavocracy and it is known as the mass incarceration system or the prison industrial complex. Like the chattel slavery which existed for more than two hundred years it creates a class of people who are never fully free. They may be snatched up into the gulag at any moment and become victims of endless exploitation for unpaid fines and then imprisonment and then more debt.

The slavocracy didn’t give up its prerogatives until it was defeated on the battlefield but why would they have done otherwise? Chattel slavery produced profit upon profit. Declaring entire neighborhoods and cities as being ripe for plunder and occupation is a new way to achieve the same end.

A pig with lipstick is still a pig. Reforming a massive violation of human rights is nothing but a cosmetic on a swine. Until America is ready to discuss its history of color based violence and exploitation it cannot be the democracy it claims to be. We may be told that a particular country has a human rights problem but until the prison system is torn up root and branch we have no right to denounce others. Black lives don’t matter and they won’t until the state is no longer used as the slave auction block of the modern era.

POPULAR ARTICLES

Not Found

OPINION

Vladimir Golstein

Vladimir Golstein

The Danderous Acceptance of Donald Trump

James N. Green

James N. Green

Politics in Brazil: Fasten Your Seat Belts!

Barbara H. Peterson

Barbara H. Peterson

Health officials confirm spread of Zika virus through sexual contact in Texas, first in US

Danny Haiphong

Danny Haiphong

WHY IS OTTO(SUPER)MAN ERDOGAN LOSING HIS CHARISMA?

Miray Aslan

Miray Aslan

How relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran reached a breaking point

Navid Nasr

Navid Nasr

How relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran reached a breaking point

Writers

chief editor

Joshua Tartakovsky

Analysis should serve as a method to better understand our world, not to obscure it.

Materials: 42

Specialization: Israel and the Middle East, US politics

Materials: 7

Specialization: Balkans, NATO and EU policies, Strategic communications

Materials: 3

Specialization: Foreign politics, Immigration, Human rights.

Materials: 2

Specialization: Political Science, Social Anthropology

Materials: 3

Specialization: Eastern Europe

Materials: 14

Specialization: Industrial Safety, Corporations

Materials: 12

Specialization: Eastern Europe, Labor movement

Materials: 3

Specialization: American history, way of life, and principles

Danielle Ryan

Ireland

Materials: 10

Specialization: US foreign policy, US-Russia relations and media bias

Materials: 20

Specialization: War, Racism, Capitalist exploitation, Civil rights

Materials: 8

Specialization: Modern Japanese History, Modern Chinese History, Military History, History of Counterinsurgency, History of Disobedience, Dynamics of Atrocities in Wartime

Dovid Katz

Lithuania

Materials: 3

Specialization: Holocaust Revisionism and Geopolitics; East European Far Right & Human Rights; Yiddish Studies & Litvak Culture

Materials: 20

Specialization: History, Catalunya, Spain, Geopolitics, Nationalism in Europe, Islamization, Immigration

Materials: 5

Materials: 3

Specialization: migration, international relations

Materials: 1

Specialization: Syria, US Foreign policy and strategies, BRICS/SCO

Materials: 19

Specialization: Balkans, Yugoslavia

Materials: 10

Specialization: Jihadist Groups, Islamic Terrorism, Global Security

Materials: 4

Specialization: Geopolitics

Materials: 4

Specialization: Media and government relations

Materials: 2

Specialization: Latin America, Brazil

Jay Watts

Canada

Materials: 2

Specialization: History, Marxism-Leninism, Imperialism, Anti-imperialism.

Materials: 2

Specialization: International Relations, Sociology, Geostrategy

Materials: 1

Specialization: civil rights

Lionel Baland

Belgium

Materials: 22

Specialization: Euroscepticism, Patriotic parties of Europe

Maram Susli

Australia

Materials: 3

Specialization: Geopolitics

Materials: 2

Specialization: Civil rights, Racism, US politics

Materials: 1

Specialization: geopolitics, economics

Max J. Schindler

Palestine-Israel

Materials: 9

Specialization: Politics

Miray Aslan

Turkey

Materials: 12

Specialization: Media, Politics

Materials: 5

Specialization: Politics, International relations

Navid Nasr

Croatia

Materials: 13

Specialization: Global security, Politics

Materials: 9

Specialization: Development of European Union, Non-governmental organizations, Politics and economics in Baltic States

Materials: 9

Specialization: Greece, Crisis of the US hegemony; Israel / Occupied Palestine, Oppression of Black people in the US

Materials: 4

Specialization: geopolitics, Russia, USSR

Pedro Marin

Brazil

Materials: 17

Specialization: Latin America, Ukraine, North Korea

Materials: 13

Specialization: Sustainable development, International relations, Comparative European politics, European integration, Eastern European politics and EU-Russia relations

Materials: 8

Specialization: Politics

Materials: 16

Specialization: Counterterrorist Finance

Seyit Aldogan

Greece

Materials: 3

Specialization: ISIS, Middle East, Globalization, Migrant crisis

Materials: 1

Specialization: Head of "Srebrenica Historical Project"

Materials: 3

Specialization: Economy, Social politics

Stevan Gajic

Serbia

Materials: 1

Specialization: Full time researcher at the Institute for European Studies

Materials: 5

Specialization: Geopolitics, Geoeconomics

Materials: 2

Specialization: Civil rights

Tobias Nase

Germany

Materials: 8

Specialization: Syria, US Foreign policy, Ukraine

Valerijus Simulik

Lithuania

Materials: 2

Specialization: Politics and economics in Baltic States, education and science, non - governmental organizations, globalization and EU

Van Gelis

Greece

Materials: 17

Specialization: Middle East

Materials: 1

Specialization: Kosovo, Serbia, Belgrad bombing

Materials: 5

Specialization: international relations, Russia

toTop