Even at a glance, this scene from Ferguson, Missouri looks like a revolution. From the riotous actions of the masses, to the reactions of the highly militarized police force, Ferguson paints a picture. A picture of a modern day revolution in America. No matter what side of the issue you stand on, there is no debate that the situation in Ferguson is a high-tension, high-stakes issue. It’s the result of longstanding racial inequalities and social unrest bubbling to the surface and erupting into the forefront of society. The protests-turned-riots in Ferguson aren’t the only thing that closely tie it to revolution. The underlying reasons behind the unrest also mirror the roots of revolution, as defined by Karl Marx.
It is indisputable that the reasons behind the unrest in Ferguson lie with the issue of racism and racial injustice is modern day American society. However, as Marx points out in his Communist Manifesto– economic relationships explain everything. This statement is true of Ferguson and the overall issue of race relations in America. This is because, in this country, race and economic status are closely tied together by the bonds of historical injustices and the cycle of poverty. The truth is that most racial minorities in America are also of lower socio-economic status. Essentially, they make less money, are more likely to be unemployed, or to go to jail, live in poorer neighborhoods, and are less likely to get a good education. This looks strikingly similar to the proletariat that Marx describes.
In fact, I believe that in modern day America, those living below the poverty line are exactly what Marx understood to be the proletariat. Sure, their living conditions are better than the proletariat of Marx’s days, but society as a whole has progressed and living conditions of all classes have improved. And of the population living below the poverty line, nearly 50% consists of racial minorities, despite them being actual minorities population wise. In fact, 26.6% of all Hispanics and 28.4% of all African-Americans are declared to live in poverty. This means that by definition, nearly 50% of Marx’s proletariat in America is made up of racial minorities and the 28.4% of the African American population as well as 26.6% of the Hispanic population qualify as the proletariat.
So how does this apply to what’s happening in Ferguson? In Ferguson, the African-American community has chosen to protest oppression after a tragic incident brought the racial injustices their community has faced. Michael Brown’s murder has sparked a fire, kindled by the socio-economic struggles the African-American population in Ferguson undergoes. Simply put, Ferguson is an example of Marx’s revolution, with the proletariat (consisting of a racial minority) rising up against the injustices that they have faced.