Hurricane Laura Exposes Rottenness of Capitalism-Imperialism

Comrade Mary

Fifteen years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Louisiana and Mississippi coast, Hurricane Laura made landfall as a Category 4 storm on the Gulf Coast in Louisiana and Texas on August 26. The problems of a hurricane are more insidious than the initial storm and flooding. More than 1,400 oil wells were in Laura’s path. Near Lake Charles, LA, a fire was reported at a petrochemical plant, one of dozens of plants in the area. Louisiana and Texas communities hardest hit by Laura and petrochemical/oil leaks are overwhelmingly working class and Black. “Not only does this pollution cause cancer and reduced life expectancy,” Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who led relief efforts in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina, said, “It also warms the Gulf waters, making the hurricanes worse each year.” Among those worst affected are those held in prisons and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detention facilities. ICE refused to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Laura. Now there is no power or water and detainees have not been fed in days. Police brutality was a problem during Katrina and as we have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, will also likely be during the aftermath of Laura. Louisiana governor during Katrina, Kathleen Blanco, gave law enforcement permission to shoot looters on sight, resulting in at least two civilians being murdered by the New Orleans Police Department while trying to flee from the storm. There were also accounts of settler militias gunning down New Afrikan people in Algiers Point, claiming they were “looters”. “The future we feared is here.” Honoré said. The petrochemical industry, which is directly responsible for the most insidious climate change, are enemies of the people. Police and the prison industrial complex are enemies of the people. To combat these issues, we must destroy capitalism-imperialism, which is why the state of Louisiana and surrounding communities in Mississippi and Texas are owned by the petrochemical industry. In these states live some of the poorest people in the country, many of them Black. Solutions require a shift in class power, which entails the destruction of the old state and the building of a revolutionary socialist state. While capitalism-imperialism destroys the environment and the people, we must care for it under socialism. These communities are not thriving under the petrochemical industry. The entire economy and power dynamics must shift to allow the community to thrive and take the economy into their own hands, rather than the hands of out-of-state companies that only seek to exploit these communities. Engels said, “Mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing.” These are the first steps to dismantling the capitalist system decimating the American South. We must engage in mutual aid to be sure our comrades have what they need for life, but must never forget the goal is ultimately the destruction of capitalism-imperialism.

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