America on trial
NO ONE will be able to avoid the saturation coverage of the OJ Simpson trial. Quite staggeringly, this will be the most expensive legal case in American history.
This is more than a trial. Mythology and legend are being spun right before our eyes and “the entire case has been moulded by the obsessive LA pysche into a grand melodrama about ethnicity, injustice and inter-racial marriage” (The Observer, January 22).
So, should communists also be rubbing their hands in glee - anticipating that the American state, and its legal system, is about to be exposed as the sham it is? No. Indeed the OJ melodrama has revealed all too starkly the appallingly primitive level of political ‘consciousness’ (if you can call it that at all) in the US, where the working class just does not exist as a politically self-conscious class, but only operates as a sort of ‘sociological adjunct’ to the bourgeoisie.
The most alarming aspect of this case is that the American working class has been split along antagonistic racial lines. The guilt or innocence of OJ, who stands accused of a horrific double murder, is now largely irrelevant, as race is agreed to be the key element in determining the final verdict.
For a large section of the disenfranchised, alienated black population - particularly the young - OJ is regarded as a heroic figure, a living symbol that blacks “could scale the pinnacles of the white world” (The Guardian January 23). They clearly feel that ‘the white world’ is punishing OJ for his ‘uppishness’. OJ’s defence team has made much of the racist nature of LA’s police department, which is a bit like a theologian complaining that the Pope is a catholic. Of course, to many whites the trial ‘confirms’ that blacks get special, kidglove treatment.
The only ‘unifying’ theme appears to be misogyny, as both the white racists and the black separatists agree that OJ’s murdered ex-wife Nicole Brown was a “bitch” who deserves what she got - the Nation of Islam has already found Simpson ‘guilty’ of marrying a white woman. As for the brutal murder - who cares?
The OJ trial illustrates the urgent need for an independent working class movement in the US which transcends race and ethnic differences.