Mayor Lance Bottoms brought in troops to occupy her city while claiming that protesters dishonored the memory of MLK.
“The political graffiti on Atlanta's walls read ‘F--- Killer Mike,’ ‘F--- TI’ and ‘F--- KKKeisha.’"
On the evening of Friday, May 29, after a protest march in solidarity with the anti-police uprising in Minneapolis that began and ended at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park escalated into attacks upon police, property and corporate capital, Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms held a press conference. She exposed her obvious class contempt for Atlanta's Black toilers.
In an emotional lecture that drew straight from the venomous vault of Bill Cosby's notorious "pound cake" speech (in which the disgraced celebrity-rapist invoked images of poor blacks being in shot in the back of the head by police for stealing pound cake) the Mayor excoriated black protestors, claiming they were dishonoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Mayor said the Black insurgents were "running out with brown liquor in your hands; breaking windows in this city.” She admonished those who attacked property by overstating that local rappers Killer Mike and TI owned “half” of Atlanta’s “westside…. When you burn down this city, you're burning down our community."
The Mayor invoked the legacy of civil rights leadership and the post-civil rights generation of rappers, suggesting to Black youth they are political leaders. She revealed both the heritage of the past and that the cultural workers of the present are owned by corporate capitalism. This attempt to contain the broader movement of protest and popular self-organization has taken place ad nauseum in local Atlanta media since the police protests began.
The Mayor excoriated black protestors, claiming they were dishonoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
The city administration’s calculated recuperation of the legacy of the southern freedom movement is instructive: if totalitarianism is measured by the degree to which authoritarian repression occurs in the name of an aspiring progressive or radical state then the Atlanta plantation fits the bill like few other cities in the country. I know some will suggest Atlanta’s government is neither progressive nor radical while wishing to build some hierarchy in the name of social revolution. The point is they defile the real democratic heritage of past freedom movements to manufacture “social justice” as the veil for their bankrupt regime, and imagine themselves to be a social justice state.
Everyone from the aforementioned rapper-activists to Andrew Young to Dr. King's daughter Bernice, to Hosea Williams' daughter Elisabeth Omilami, to John Lewis and others were dragged from out of the sewer to shame a new generation of freedom fighters for having the nerve to radicalize their protest and turn their destructive ire on the Black “Mecca."
The famous Run the Jewels rapper-activist Killer Mike, a surrogate of Bernie Sander’s campaign, was virtually the physical embodiment of this totalitarian spirit as he appeared at the Friday evening press conference standing in solidarity with the “progressive” black-female mayor and lesbian chief of police Erika Shields, wearing a t-shirt that read, "Kill Your Masters." Totalitarianism is surreal indeed where it takes a multi-cultural form.
“Killer Mike appeared at the press conference wearing a t-shirt that read, ‘Kill Your Masters.’"
Killer Mike's socially conscious lyricism is notable for its distinct endorsement of insurgent politics including lawlessness and armed insurrection in the name of liberation struggles. In the video for Run the Jewels latest single, "Ooh la la," Killer Mike can be seen tossing a lit blunt on a pile of cash, setting it ablaze in the middle of the streets as a mass of toilers keep the conflagration going with more and more cash. Common folk burn paper currency while taking over the streets symbolizing the death of capitalism as we know it.
However, Killer Mike sang the exact opposite tune on Friday evening." We don't want to see [department stores like] Targets burning. We want to see the systemic racism burnt to the ground." What? Killer Mike then told us he is actually friends with the police. And in subversive language of a “plot,” he said we must vote to remove enemies from power. What? Killer Mike stood with the executives of the state, which has a monopoly of the means of coercion, with a “Kill Your Masters” t-shirt and expressed this mystifying and misdirecting drivel.
Target is part of the very same system that creates blacks wage slaves, not black workers control. Killer Mike pretends to define black power and the fight against "systemic racism" as he simultaneously defends the property relations of the wealthy.
The primary function of the police state under capitalism is to enforce commercial property relations. The cops are the shock troops of the masters that Killer Mike only proposes to kill in music videos as a cynical brand to make his own money. The police that murdered George Floyd have an institutional role: to terrorize and subordinate labor, and Black labor in particular, on behalf of corporate capitalism. Is not Target, and blocs of capital like it, every bit the physical embodiment of all the paper currency and credit cards the “Run the Jewels” video attacks? The role of rappers like Killer Mike, their place in the cultural apparatus of the state and as junior partners of the ruling class, is on any given day (not moments of insurgency) to get the Black masses to worship themselves as beautiful and powerful people, whose anger is justified, only so they will not politically act on this insight. Rebellion is confined to the realm of culture.
“The cops are the shock troops of the masters that Killer Mike only proposes to kill in music videos.”
The totalitarianism of the social justice state (that calls itself a “Mecca”) is designed to define -- and thus contain -- how the propertyless toilers respond to social repression. The Mecca regime never attacks “protest.” It decides what forms of protest the masses of working people are permitted. As self-appointed arbiter of Black political behavior, the purported social justice state doesn't attack rebellion -- it determines what is and isn't a legitimate form of rebellion.
This manner of rule becomes totalitarian precisely because it is crafted to ensure that the masses of toilers cannot imagine their own security and emancipation emerging on their own authority independently of the state.
If the city-state of Atlanta is administered by people like Mayor Keisha, and veiled by TI, Killer Mike, Tyler Perry, Bernice King, Andrew Young -- which is to say the cultural gatekeepers of the freedom movement heritage and the post-civil rights cultural pretense to black autonomy -- then anything that questions the authority of the city-state becomes counter-revolutionary. By this disposition they reveal -- despite constant reminders that their skin is black and that they feel the pain and frustration of racism -- that the regimes administered by the Black political class are the most advanced stage of the oppression of ordinary Black people.
“Anything that questions the authority of the city-state becomes counter-revolutionary.”
Many of the street protestors recognized this fraud almost intuitively. This is why shortly after Keisha Lance Bottoms' press conference had concluded political graffiti showed up on Atlanta's walls that read "F--- Killer Mike," "F--- TI" and "F--- KKKeisha."
Key civil rights legacy leaders were enlisted as spokespersons on behalf of the maintenance of black rule under capitalism and white supremacy. Andrew Young spoke of wanting "to cry" at the mere sight of all those ungrateful black people in the streets liberating themselves from the Black Mecca. Anytime the post-civil rights freedom movement brings this corporate schemer to tears -- and we periodically accomplish this -- it is a giant step for a new generation. But black totalitarianism tells us it is dishonorable to make such people cry. Young, the capitalist schemer wielding Dr. King’s ghost, has been making Black toilers of Atlanta weep over their economic subordination and subjection to police brutality for decades. Protesters should rally with tissues and blow their nose for Young as they continue to turn his world upside down.
The Ventriloquist and the Dummy
Congressman John Lewis spoke of the need to educate the protestors on “proper” struggle, which involves learning how to surrender and get beat up in the streets by fascists and how to get punked by liberal governments at rallies. Lewis, “Mr. Non-Violence,” has a Navy aircraft carrier named for him that launches planes to drop bombs on people of color all over the world.
A crisis on the streets of Atlanta forced the corporate press to rally around the corporate-servile state. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, police chief Erika Shields and local media spoke endlessly of Atlanta as a beacon of protest and struggle – of a certain kind: respectable, orderly and deferential to the masters and their Black executives and administrators.
What they want is protest and struggle that doesn't disturb American middle-class sensibilities, that is “non-violent” (whatever that means) to those who support the police and are honored by the military. In his book, This Nonviolent Stuff Will Get You Killed, former SNCC field secretary Charles Cobb Jr. writes, "The larger point, of course, is that nonviolence [civil-disobedience] and armed resistance are part of the same cloth; both are thoroughly woven into the fabric of black life and struggle."
The book attempts to explode long held fallacies and myths around black struggle in the Jim Crow South. Myths that were created and perpetuated by those who seek black rule for the purpose of containing insurgent activity among black toilers by legitimating black struggle under extremely narrow terms.
And yet what took place recently on the streets of Atlanta didn't even raise itself to the level of armed insurrection. Rather, a racially-mixed crowd of unarmed people, enraged over the number of black men and women recently murdered by the state, decided to retaliate with force of their own, legitimated by and for themselves. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms stands the logic of liberation on its head. In her worldview, only the property-less masses can be violent, and that violence can never be just. The state, with its weaponry and extreme power imbalance, can never be violent because the elite are always justified in defending their greed and search for profits.
“Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms stands the logic of liberation on its head.”
The murder and mutilation of Black lives is not a mistake. No recording of racial disparities and lobbying the state can transform institutional racism into something else. The police state kills Black toilers to keep the multitudes subordinate.
Mayor Keisha advises her own son not to leave the house because she cannot guarantee a young black man’s safety -- self-confessed proof of the bankruptcy of Black official society. She appointed the police chief, but cannot keep her son safe. And yet she wants to share tears with the Black masses. We understand Mayor Keisha’s role is to maintain the Atlanta police state that coerces, subordinates, mutilates, and murders. This is what makes her, according to Forbes magazine, “the mother of America.” All of this tells us that Black totalitarianism is the highest stage of American Exceptionalism.
The day following the Friday uprising the black female mayor -- whose national profile as a staunch Trump antagonist has everyone from the Democratic National Committee to the business press starry-eyed -- coordinated an executive order with the Trump-wannabe governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp. Kemp, we will recall, stole the election from Stacey Abrams, a black woman so dedicated to Black freedom she has received more money from Michael Bloomberg than any other Black corporate apologist for the police state.
Mayor Keisha co-signed Kemp placing 1,000 Georgia National Guardsmen in Atlanta, mostly concentrated in the wealthy business arteries where protestors liberated goods and damaged capital. An additional 500 Guardsmen remained on standby. A curfew for 9 pm was enacted as well. (This is notable considering Governor Kemp, with little pushback from the Mayor, made Georgia the first place in the US to re-open its economy, thus endangering millions of toilers by forcing them to re-enter the labor force amid a still growing pandemic.)
An additional 100 armored Humvees were deployed as well. The social justice state of Mayor Keisha, in open alliance with the military state of Governor Kemp, effectively insured that martial law would be instituted until order is restored. The totalitarian component of the social justice state ensures that domestic warfare against a majority black working-class city will be executed under the banner of “Black Lives Matter.”
“She appointed the police chief, but cannot keep her son safe.”
In her book, The Origins of Totalitarianism, the perceptive philosopher Hannah Arendt, who nevertheless has been properly criticized for her silences on anti-black racism, argued that a key hallmark of all totalitarian government is that they are rooted in the mythology of the classless hierarchy.
"The totalitarian movements aim at, and succeeds in organizing masses--not classes, like the old interest parties of Continental nation-states; not citizens with opinions about, and interests in, the handling of public affairs...." In other words, the social justice state defines political mobilization as a process where everyday people do not govern. Institutions are not arranged for Black toilers to directly govern. Yet the instincts of the insurgent rebellion reveal this tremendous capacity. Ordinary people, of different ethnic and gendered backgrounds have made a swift verdict. They have enacted justice.
Through her racial kinship rhetoric, her oft-mentioned single-parent upbringing, her being a victim of racist threats for emphasizing the covid-19 virus's disproportionate impact on black people, and her accent on being a black mother, Mayor Lance Bottoms’ has managed to fashion herself as the maternalistic conscience of a mythological, classless black Atlanta. An Atlanta in which those murdered at the hands of state power, and those who wield it, form one large black extended family.
Fortunately enough for those of us that aspire to a far more authentic form of popular self-government and social autonomy, the perfect storm of pent-up energy has engulfed a social order already in crisis, including those that pretend to be guardians of social justice and Black rule in the Atlanta, the “Mecca” of Black political scoundrels.
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