Who Killed Eric Garner?
December 19, 2014 2:53 PM   Subscribe

Eric Garner’s murder is not only about the justice system. It’s about how capitalism creates racialized categories of “surplus” people.

Despite what the criminal justice system says, the obvious answer is Daniel Pantaleo, and it must never be forgotten that this man is a murderer. What’s more, as many have argued, Pantaleo’s crime was made possible precisely because of a deeply entrenched system of institutional racism. And this has logically been met with a demand to fix what is seen as a broken justice system. Yet there is a risk that a too-narrow focus on the police, courts, and the justice system alone will obscure the deeper causes of Garner’s death.
posted by standardasparagus (5 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Probably best as a comment in this existing recent thread on Eric Garner and political viewpoints -- mathowie


Straight-forward Marxist analysis & rhetoric. If you believe in that ideology you'll like the article; if you don't you won't.
posted by twsf at 3:11 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'll give it a miss then.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 3:13 PM on December 19, 2014

I'm seriously interested in what non-Marxians have to say about this, simply because I don't see how it's possible for anyone in this bleak time to be non-Marxian.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 3:17 PM on December 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

This article sounds like it began with a preconceived conclusion ("capitalism killed Eric Garner") and interpreted the evidence to fit. Its own text admits that state action, not the actions of individuals in a free capitalist system, led to the police encounter that ended with Garner choked to death, but it ignores the implications and blames capitalism out of reflex.
New York City’s total cigarette tax, which is $5.85 per pack, creates a kind of black market in cigarettes, and consequently an opportunity for some — like Garner, whose asthma forced him to quit his job — to cobble together a living.


Today, the state actively generates the conditions of austerity that force people like Garner to survive by whatever means necessary — then watches them at every corner, ready to police, imprison, or murder them for daring to survive.
A government-imposed tax on cigarettes artificially raises their price, so anyone trying to be capitalist and sell at a fair market price has to break the law by not charging the tax. I'm not saying we should have a pure-capitalism unregulated free market, since regulations have benefits as well as costs (namely, discouraging cigarette use). But in this instance a truly capitalist free market would have let Garner sell whatever he wanted -- loose cigarettes, joints, guns, meth, non-child-safe toys. As a democratic society, we may decide that those things shouldn't be allowed, but you can't simultaneously demand limits on the capitalist system and then blame capitalism itself for the negative side-effects of those limits.
posted by Rangi at 3:20 PM on December 19, 2014

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