American Thanatocracy vs Abolition Democracy: On Cops, Capitalism, and the War on Black Life

7/5/2024; 94 minutes

In this program, Robin D. G. Kelley, Distinguished Professor and Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History at UCLA, examines how police in the neoliberal era–in tandem with other state and corporate entities—have become engines of capital accumulation, government revenue, gentrification, the municipal bond market, the tech and private security industry—in a phrase, the profits of death. Kelley argues the police don't just take lives; they make life and living less viable for the communities they occupy. The growth of police power has also fundamentally weakened democracy and strengthened "thanatocracy"—rule by death– especially with respect to Black communities.

Kelley says these same communities have produced a new abolition democracy, organizing to advance a different future, without oppression and exploitation, war, poverty, prisons, police, borders, the constraints of imposed gender, sexual, and ableist norms, and an economic system that destroys the planet while generating obscene inequality. Recorded on 03/20/2024.

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