Rep.-elect Jamaal Bowman said he believes that capitalism is “slavery by another name,” in a new interview as he prepares to enter Congress in the new year.
Bowman (D-NY), who ousted longtime Rep. Eliot Engel in a bruising primary battle, made the remarks while speaking on Monday to The Root, an African American-focused news organization.
The incoming congressman, whose future district includes parts of Yonkers and Scarsdale, began by making his case that the Democratic party was ripe for a makeover.
“For me, we have to ask ourselves ‘Is this current system of capitalism working for the majority of American people?’” Bowman explained, adding that he did not believe the answer was yes.
“I believe our current system of capitalism is slavery by another name. We’ve moved from physical chattel enslavement and physical racial segregation to a plantation economic system,” he continued. “One that keeps the majority of Americans unemployed, or underemployed and struggling just to survive, while the power elite continues to concentrate wealth in the hands of a few, and allow large corporations to pretty much run the world as multinational corporations.”
The New York Democrat and future “Squad” member said that his argument was only reinforced by the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted people of color.
“The pandemic has revealed it. With almost 300,000 dead from the pandemic, disproportionately Black and brown, and Jeff Bezos is the first $200 billionaire. In the next six years, he might become the first trillionaire.
“That’s slavery by another name. It’s a system that’s not working, so we need a new system.”
Press representatives for the congressman-elect could not immediately be reached for further clarification on his comments.
Bowman also acknowledged his criticisms of former President Obama, who warned against sloganeering on issues like police reform by using phrases like “defund the police.”
“I don’t think Obama is the standard we should be striving towards. I think the Squad is more of a standard we should be striving towards because I think the Squad is more responsive to what’s happening today in our streets,” Bowman told the outlet.
“I think Obama represents a certain demographic of the Democratic Party, but the Democratic Party is a big and diverse tent. I think the Squad and myself represent more of what’s happening right now in the party, on the ground, in the streets—particularly with parts of the community that we haven’t always engaged very well.”