As the dust settles after this year’s midterm election, we at Critical Resistance (CR) are reflecting on the balance of forces that are aligning at this moment and what it portends for the upcoming years.
Going into the election, it was clear that the far Right is contending for power in the electoral realm across multiple state and local elections. This brings with it the threat of right-wing consolidation across geographic and political scale, which could ultimately reshape what is possible for decades to come. While the right-wing victories that were anticipated didn’t fully come to fruition, the lines still haven’t fully landed. Also, as we should expect, this doesn’t mean that the project of right-wing consolidation and seizure of governing power is defeated.
This is a moment for abolitionists of all persuasions to soberly take stock of the political landscape and make grounded assessments about what is both possible and necessary. It is on us to do the challenging work to figure out how our campaign targets may shift, and how this may call for different strategies, where to drive wedges and where, and how and when to double down on a course of action. We must resolutely take on the resurgence of “tough on crime” rhetoric by both the media and politicians – and how such narratives shape the terrain. Centrist Democrats are continuing to make calls to expand the prison industrial complex (PIC), rooted in reactive claims including that it was due to efforts like bail reform and shrinking policing that their electoral positions were in jeopardy.
We know that expanding the PIC grows the repressive apparatus. The PIC’s growth is a core feature of neoliberal capitalism – whether right wing or moderate – from intensifying repression, to gutting life-affirming community infrastructure and increasing imprisonment, policing, criminalization, and surveillance has been a core feature in bipartisan consensus over the last 30+ years. As the governing bloc struggles under the polarizing conditions, PIC abolitionists must be crystal clear of the task of chipping away at the power of prisons, policing and surveillance while navigating centrist cooptation and explicitly right wing escalation – all while building the power necessary to realize our vision.
Over the next period CR will continue our work of fighting fascism through fighting caging and premature death. We will continue to struggle against right-wing motivated pushback in our fight to close prisons across the state of California – as we witnessed in the work to close California Correctional Center (CCC). In the work against immigration detention we will fight to end ICE contracts across the state of NY – and fight the sheriffs that build their right-wing power through the enforcement of these contracts.
Even though the elections have finished, there is still much to be done. Join us in the fight to chip away at the PIC and for a liberated society for us all.