The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Chicago Violence:
An Indictment of Capitalist Society

Jan 23, 2017

Chicago recorded 746 murders in 2016. This was more than New York City and Los Angeles combined. But while Chicago had the most murders in the country, its murder rate wasn’t even in the top ten: Detroit, Washington DC, and Baltimore all had higher murder rates.

In Los Angeles and New York, murders are concentrated in a few extremely poor neighborhoods. Chicago has more of these neighborhoods, and a higher murder rate. And much of Detroit and Baltimore resembles the poorest parts of Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, so they have even higher murder rates.

Los Angeles and New York have gentrified so much that they have pushed out of their cities huge numbers of poor people, and the violence born from the desperation of poverty. San Bernardino, California and Hartford, Connecticut, small cities an hour or two outside Los Angeles and New York, both had higher murder rates than Chicago.

What’s clear from all of this is that crime is a product of poverty.

A glance at the most impoverished Chicago neighborhoods makes it clear why the murder rate has gone up. Since the economic crisis of 2008, the situation in these neighborhoods has gotten much worse. There are few if any jobs. Companies have eliminated jobs by pushing fewer workers to produce more, and by moving work out of these parts of the city. Many of their neighborhood schools have been closed, and the ones that are left have had their funding cut again and again. Thousands of people lost their homes to foreclosure. Social services have been cut to the bone, including the closing of mental health clinics. The state and city pretend to be broke, while giving the money needed for schools and services to corporations instead. It is obvious that with deepening poverty in these neighborhoods, there will be more crime.

For the people who live in these neighborhoods, the violence is an absolute disaster. They may look to the police for help, but they can feel that the system has no answer.

Poverty is a fundamental result of a society organized so a tiny minority can profit by exploiting the majority. In this extremely wealthy country, this is obvious – the country as a whole is richer than ever, but poverty continues to get worse. Chicago is dripping in wealth – but also in blood. It couldn’t be clearer: the capitalist system kills.