RUTH WILSON GILMORE: Transformative Justice, Not Pie-In-The-Sky

OK. Did I use the word evil? I might well have done. They’re twin aspects of the pandemic.

And that is to say that organized abandonment has to do with the way that people, households, communities, neighborhoods do not have equal levels of support and protection against the pandemic, and that the response to people trying to figure out how to shelter themselves and save themselves — let’s take an example from the city of New York, homeless people living in the subways — is to use policing and criminalization — i.e. punishment — to resolve the problems of abandonment.

Now, organized abandonment is not only abandonment by the state, it’s also abandonment by capital, whether it’s abandonment by real estate capital, that produces more and more luxury apartments but not affordable housing, as we can see in struggles throughout the city of New York and around the United States, or tourism capital, that pushes certain kinds of people out of certain areas of the city and only welcomes them in if they work as workers in the service industry, delivering, serving, taking care of and cleaning.

There are many, many ways for us to think about organized abandonment, but that thinking should bring us to consider both how capital — large and small — and state — municipal or greater — work together to raise barriers to some kinds of people and lower them for others.

Abolition seeks to undo the way of thinking and doing things that sees prison and punishment as solutions for all kinds of social, economic, political, behavioral and interpersonal problems.

Abolition, though, is not simply decarceration, put everybody out on the street. It is reorganizing how we live our lives together in the world. And this is something that people are doing in a variety of ways throughout the United States and around the planet already.

It is not a pie-in-the-sky dream.