Angela Davis on Donald Trump and the Movement to Abolish Prisons

The following is an eye-opening presentation for Martin Luther King Unity Day. In it, long time political activist Angela Davis explores the roots of the electoral college and the death penalty in slavery. Unlike more mainstream liberals, she doesn’t catastrophize about Trump’s recent electoral victory. Instead she faults both Trump and Clinton for failing to mention even once during the campaign the working class, inequality or climate change.

She goes on to emphasize that it isn’t Martin Luther King as an individual we celebrate, but the thousands of people in the civil rights movement who did the real work. She then highlights the myriad of movements Americans have formed to resist the oppression experienced by the working class Americans. She devotes special focus to the movement to abolish prisons in a country that incarcerates more people (in absolute numbers) than any other country in the world. In her view, the majority of inmates in US prisons have been deeply traumatized in childhood. All incarcerating them accomplishes is to irreparably re-traumatize them.

The goal of the prison abolition movement is to replace prisons with a system of restorative justice,* starting with youth prisons.

Davis starts speaking at 1:09.


*Restorative justice is a system of criminal justice which focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large. New Zealand, which has no youth prisons, relies on a restorative justice process to deal with juvenile offenders.

The Hidden History of the US Constitution

towards an american revolution

Toward an American Revolution: Exposing the Constitution and other Illusions

by Jerry Fresia

South End Press (1988)

Book Review

This book is a great follow-up for people wanting to know more about the secret machinations behind the US Constitution after watching the film Plutocracy.

I knew virtually nothing about the framing of the Constitution when I first read Toward an American Revolution in the mid-nineties. Fresia reveals how the first Constitutional Convention was actually a secret meeting of rich property owners and merchants whose business interests (expanded trade and personal wealth) were threatened by farmers who had seized control of legislatures in twelve out of thirteen states.

The clear intent of Washington, Hamilton, Madison and the other businessmen and plantation ownders who wrote the Constitution was to transfer power from relatively autonomous state assemblies to a centralized federal government. Most agreed from the outset that they wanted a system of government more like Britain’s, ie one in which the business elite could use government authority to enhance their economic interests.

According to Fresia, the true purpose of constitutional “checks and balances” (ie the three branches of government) was to insure that moneyed interests enjoyed a greater voice than ordinary people. The Senate, a distinctly unrepresentative body, plays a major role in minimizing popular input. The Senate, in which a tiny state like Rhode Island has the same number of votes as an a big state like California, is given sole authority to approve treaties and presidential appointees. Their longer terms (six years) mean senators are less accountable to voters than congress people (who have two years terms). Until 1913, senators were still chosen by the electoral college (as opposed by direct vote) as the president is.

In 2015, more than 200 years after the Constitution was first written, Americans are still denied the right to vote directly for President.

Toward an American Revolution also describes the dirty tricks the founding father used to get 9 legislatures to ratify the Constitution, despite overwhelming opposition from the majority of enfranchised American voters.

The second half of the book fast forwards to the twentieth century to demonstrate how the US has continued to be ruled by a secret political elite. The latter have a specific agenda of suppressing democracy when it interferes with their business interests.

The examples given include America’s “secret police” force under the FBI’s Cointelpo operation, the role played by President Herbert Hoover and US industrialists (represented by Wall Street lawyer Allen Dulles) in financing the rise of Hitler, the subsequent appointment of Dulles to head the most powerful secret police apparatus in history (the CIA), his incorporation of Nazi war criminals into US intelligence networks, the role of “secret government” in the assassination of JFK, the corruption of our democratically elected representatives by corporate lobbyists and Reagan’s illegal war in Nicaragua.

Fresia has kindly made excerpts of this book available at http://cyberjournal.org/authors/fresia/