Some days ago, we posted on Jena and the general experience of being Black in a United States where the criminal justice system has become a major means of population control in the absence of a clearly demarcated system of racial Apartheid.
Since I am studying Matthew Lassiter’s excellent history of the suburban politics of the American South, The Silent Majority, I’ll add to the criminal justice system the policy-facilitated and heavily subsidized development of suburban white enclaves that have now been camouflaged by a highly limited and controlled form of racial integration.
On the former subject of the “carceral state,” here is Loic Wacquant on “Rethinking the ‘race question’ in the US”:
Not one but several ‘peculiar institutions’ have successively operated to define, confine, and control African-Americans in the history of the United States. The first is chattel slavery as the pivot of the plantation economy and inceptive matrix of racial division from the colonial era to the Civil War. The second is the Jim Crow system of legally enforced discrimination and segregation from cradle to grave that anchored the predominantly agrarian society of the South from the close of Reconstruction to the Civil Rights revolution which toppled it a full century after abolition. America’s third special device for containing the descendants of slaves in the Northern industrial metropolis is the ghetto, corresponding to the conjoint urbanization and proletarianization of African-Americans from the Great Migration of 1914–30 to the 1960s, when it was rendered partially obsolete by the concurrent transformation of economy and state and by the mounting protest of blacks against continued caste exclusion, climaxing with the explosive urban riots chronicled in the Kerner Commission Report. 
The fourth, I contend here, is the novel institutional complex formed by the remnants of the dark ghetto and the carceral apparatus with which it has become joined by a linked relationship of structural symbiosis and functional surrogacy. This suggests that slavery and mass imprisonment are genealogically linked and that one cannot understand the latter—its timing, composition, and smooth onset as well as the quiet ignorance or acceptance of its deleterious effects on those it affects—without returning to the former as historic starting point and functional analogue.
Viewed against the backdrop of the full historical trajectory of racial domination in the United…
On the second topic, a quote from The Silent Majority:
The built environment of the new suburbs gave birth to a social creed of individual meritocracy, and middle-class consciousness that flourished independently of the caste system and simultaneously created geographic buffers that appeared to guarantee that racial desegregation could be managed by whites, limited in degree, and confined to consumer spaces.
This quote from a review of Lassiter’s book is also helpful in concpetualizing how this “spatial aparthied” was developed and is maintained:
most American cities reacted to the civil rights challenge as Atlanta did. They are now marked by “a metropolitan landscape of spatial apartheid,” with hyper-segregated and resource-starved urban schools and overwhelmingly white suburbs that jealously guard their borders. Anxious to curry favor with these suburban voters—who since 1992 have constituted the majority of the electorate—Democrats as well as Republicans turn a blind eye to what they now characterize not as unfair racial discrimination, but as acceptable class exclusivity.
Commitment to middle-class entitlement has an all-American following among whites today, these books make clear. Yet in their emphasis on its local, organic origins, both authors neglect the steady agitation of national conservative leaders, including
There is plenty to talk about here, but the links between this spatial apartheid and the carceral state are particularly interesting, because both are intended consequences of policies that do not serve by design as indirect causes of structural oppression. Neither the carceral state nor spatial segregation explicitly target any population, though clearly their impacts — and at many levels, the motivations behind their development — were shaped with African America in mind.
As a final piece, I want to link a recent article on movement building and the “Black leadership class” as a kind of colonial surrogate leadership, from Black Agenda Report:
Nearly three weeks after the mobilization of more than 50,000 African Americans from around the nation at Jena, Louisiana the question hangs: was it the beginning of this generation’s Black mass movement, the successor to the Freedom Movement of half a century ago? What was accomplished, what was won? What did Jena teach us about Black America and the larger American polity?
The answers to all these questions matter because despite what self-congratulating pastors, pundits, politicians and the rest of Black America’s “leadership class” would have us believe, progressive changes come not through them, but through progressive mass movements. To get at the beginnings of a useful answer, we can
Now I want to talk about libertarians again… because regardless of what many of us have heard and seen of capital-L libertarians, their hero right now is Ron Paul, a Republican Presidential candidate.
At a recent debate, Congressman Paul was the only candidate who knew the facts on drug laws as a lever for the carceral state, and the myriad ways in which they are selectively enforced against Black folk.
He also stands for a small but determined minority that would not only abandon draconian drug laws (which has a huge effect on Black and Latin@ populaitons), but end the war in Iraq and Afghanistan immediately, effectively close down nuclear power plants by ending their subsidized business insurance program, and cut public subsidies to agribusiness, Big Pharma, and the construction of more roads.
Would this kind of libertarian regime also have negative consequences. Probably. But asking which policies have the greater long-term impacts between this and a (neo)liberal agenda is a valid political calculation to make.
How would the end of drug enforcement relieve African America compared to limited liberal policy fixes administered by Black colonial surrogates? In these pages, we have already suggested — with good evidence, I think — that all questions of self-determination have to factor in issues of land, dependence, and sustainability. The liberal-left is not offering useful answers to any of these.
What would the net effects be of abandoning Eminent Domain?
How far could really Big Business get without policy back-up, ownership of elected officials, and subsidies? I don’t know, but I’d love to see the figures prepared without prior bias.
What would the effect be of shutting down public support of the really big industries, especially the “food” industry?
What is the effect on US imperialism generally by departing from Iraq and Afghanistan, and withdrawing our military to within US borders?