The Material Difference Between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump

BernieTrump

The difference between Bernie Sanders, presidential candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination, and Donald Trump, presidential candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination, is the difference between two extreme opposites: “liberal” and “conservative.”  Obviously, Bernie Sanders is on the left (and farther to the left than Hillary Clinton and most Democrats) and Donald Trump is on the right (farther to the right than some Republicans, although not necessarily Ted Cruz and other leading candidates).  So there is a huge difference between Sanders and Trump if we look at their political ideologies on this level.  It seems Bernie and Trump couldn’t be any more different.

The level on which Bernie and Trump are situated as candidates is the plane or the line that separates bourgeois politics from the ideologies, interests and lives of the proletariat of the world.  Horizontally, Bernie and Trump are opposites, just as liberalism and conservatism are opposites.  Vertically, Bernie and Trump, and their white liberal and white conservative supporters, are situated together on the same plane, which sits on top of the oppressed working class in the United States and around the world.  This vertical line is the difference between the colonizer nation (the oppressor) and the colonized nation (the oppressed).  It’s the difference between white power (European imperialist capitalism) and Black Power (self-determination for colonized Africans wherever they live, and all colonized peoples).  On this line– up and down– Bernie and Trump are the same.  They are both running bourgeois campaigns to manage the material benefits of white-controlled capitalism’s exploitation of colonized Africans, Indigenous peoples and the majority of people on the planet.

But what’s at stake for the supporters of Bernie and Trump, if either of them wins or loses?  One cannot say that if either candidate wins, Africans who are colonized in the U.S., in Africa and throughout the world, will gain control of the material resources, labor and land that have been stolen from them for over five hundred years.  Neither can one say that the outcome of this presidential election will determine whether or not Indigenous peoples of the Americas will have their stolen lands restored to them (at least in some significant way).

You might say that it’s ridiculous to argue that Indigenous peoples ought to get their lands back, but whatever their demands are, that is what white people should be listening to– if we value justice, freedom, equality, and peace.  It is the duty of the oppressor to do whatever the oppressed demands of us.  If we can’t do that, then we negotiate, or do as much as we can.  But this isn’t the issue in the campaigns of Sanders and Trump, because it’s not in the interests of white people– the European nation that colonizes Indigenous land.  Therefore, no matter who wins, colonized Indigenous peoples won’t be free, and colonized Africans won’t be free.

What’s at stake in the 2016 election is the material interests of whites, as white voters seek to resolve the contradictions of capitalism on the terms of white people.  In contrast, if the African People’s Socialist Party achieves its objectives as a movement (not a bourgeois campaign), then all African people everywhere will be totally liberated and totally unified under a system of African-led socialism.  If the African People’s Socialist Party loses in the long run (and it won’t, because the people are stronger than the machine), then Africans will remain controlled and dominated by European imperialist capitalism.

The African People’s Socialist Party has a long-term vision and a long-term goal based on a materialist analysis of history and the world (African Internationalism).  The African People’s Socialist Party recognizes that the United States is a settler colony with an illegitimate system of power.  The United States sits on stolen Indigenous land, and benefits from the colonial domination of exploited Africans and all other oppressed peoples.  The only resolution to the contradictions of colonial capitalism– from the viewpoint of the working class of the world– is a complete transformation of society through revolution.  So the Uhuru Movement, led by the African People’s Socialist Party, centers the material interests of the colonized nations of the world (including Africans trapped in the United States), rather than centering the material interests of the white ruling class and all white people who– as members of the bourgeois oppressor nation– benefit from this colonial relationship.

A vote for Bernie Sanders doesn’t necessarily mean that this voter fails to support the struggles of colonized people to gain self-determination and freedom from the system of white-controlled capitalism.  I won’t argue that here.  I only hope that white readers– who are the people I’m trying to reach here– will consider the purpose of their vote and ask (as Chairman Omali Yeshitela of the African People’s Socialist Party often says) “to what end?”  What is the goal or the end game for their support of Bernie Sanders?  Because they may have the goal of overturning a system of colonial oppression– capitalism– and see Bernie Sanders as part of this revolutionary process.  They may see Bernie as part of this process, even though Bernie is not a revolutionary– not according to a philosophical materialist analysis.  Bernie– like Trump, and like “America” itself– is a philosophical idealist.

It takes a philosophical idealist to run a campaign where the lives and interests of “Americans” are more valuable than colonized Palestinians, and are more valuable than colonized and exploited Africans in Africa who work for a little more than a dollar per day (if that) so that Europeans (white people) can have coltan for our cellphones, or can eat chocolate or can wear diamonds, or can gain many of the material advantages that we enjoy at their expense.  The problems of “America” are centered in all the presidential campaigns because capitalism requires that the voters view the world in idealist terms, and that they believe their problems can be resolved at the expense of people who are murdered, robbed and terrorized by this imperialist system.

In philosophical materialist terms, we recognize that whoever controls the finite resources of the world, or the means of production, has power.  Either the producers, who extract materials from nature for the benefit of society, control production and therefore have power, or the wealthy few, who profit from the stolen labor, resources, and lives of the many, are on top in this dialectical relationship.

The dialectic is colonizer/colonized.  Oppressor/oppressed.  The dialectic is European imperialist capitalism’s control of the oppressed nations of the world.  This is parasitic relationship that began with Europe’s attack on Africa and the Americas more than five hundred years ago.  Out of this attack on Africans and the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, parasitic capitalism was born, and it is through this ongoing genocide and colonial exploitation that white people enjoy the material necessities of life– the very basis of our existence.  Without the stolen wealth and labor of Africa and the world, Europeans could not exist.  We certainly could not exist in the United States without the ongoing murder and theft of Indigenous peoples, and genocide against colonized Africans who are locked away in prisons (concentration camps), and are gunned down by the police– just as the military drops bombs on Arabs and other colonized peoples in other parts of the world.  Whether this power is guarded by the police or by the military, it’s the same power– white power.

There is no material difference between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump when it comes to the maintenance of white power and the expansion of this power.  Capitalism only keeps its power through violence against colonized peoples– the power that comes from the barrel of a gun.  People do not choose to be “poor.”  People don’t choose to live in “ghettos.”  They must be kept down– oppressed.  And that’s the system that both Bernie and Trump are trying to be the boss of– the system of European imperialist capitalism, or white power.  A win by either candidate doesn’t change the material basis of this relationship between the colonizer and the colonized, and the oppressor and the oppressed.

If Bernie wins, this won’t mean that colonized Africans in the U.S. will be paid reparations (at least $14.1 trillion) for centuries of genocide.  If Bernie wins, Indigenous peoples will not gain control of their own lives and resources.

Malcolm X said, “Land is the basis of all independence.  Land is the basis of freedom, justice, and equality.”  European imperialist capitalism stole Africans from their land– stole their land– and stole the land of Indigenous peoples in the United States.  Without land, and control of the resources of the land, the people can’t be free.  And if Bernie wins, Africans and other oppressed people won’t suddenly gain control of these resources, and the fruits of their labor.  These fruits of the proletariat’s labor will still go to the capitalist ruling class.  It doesn’t matter how much the capitalists are taxed, they’re still rich and they still have the power.  As long as the capitalist system has the power to give jobs to oppressed Africans and other colonized peoples, it has the power to take these jobs away.  The demand of the African People’s Socialist Party is for Africans to have power: Black Power.  Control of their own lives, labor, and resources, and the ability to determine their own destiny.

A win by Bernie Sanders doesn’t mean that African political prisoners locked down in the concentration camps of “America” will be freed.  An unjust, illegitimate system of power will never provide true justice to African people.  Bernie and Trump believe the same thing.  Neither candidate is saying Mumia Abu-Jamal should be freed immediately, along with Leonard Peltier, Jalil Muntaqim, and all political prisoners.   A system that locks up people, not for what they did, but for what they believe, is a system that no one who wants justice would support.  But the support of this system is in the interests of the majority– white people, who are the same majority that would have allowed slavery to continue forever, and who supported “Manifest Destiny,” or the slaughter of Indigenous peoples.  Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3 was locked in solitary confinement for 43 years, only to be released this week– after 43 years!  Yet the interests of the white majority are not to free political prisoners, who in fact, stand in the way of white people because they seek to replace a system that requires the few to live off the oppression of the many.

So the contest between Sanders and Trump is a bourgeois contest over the interests of white people within the system of European imperialist capitalism.  And white liberals are hoping to influence the system of power by electing a left-leaning president, not recognizing the difference between influence and power (as Kwame Ture talked about in “The Pitfalls of Liberalism.”)

The system is not designed to do anything else but colonize and exploit the majority of humanity for the material enjoyment of the white ruling class.  Bernie Sanders’s candidacy does not represent the struggle of the working class masses for real power, but rather the hopes and fantasies of the white bourgeoisie and white petit bourgeoisie to influence a system whose very existence is based on the parasitic relationship it has as the colonizer to the colonized peoples of the world.

Bernie Sanders doesn’t represent a movement to seize control of the means of production, but only to influence the capitalist ruling class to bring more benefits to the primary beneficiaries of colonial domination: white people.  As capitalism fails to provide the same lifestyle that “Americans” want, the supporters of both Trump and Sanders look for more drastic measures to reform this system.

Bernie and Trump couldn’t be more different according to the philosophical idealist terms of liberalism and conservatism.  Yet Bernie and Trump are both on the same sinking ship: European imperialist capitalism.

White power is going down.  In materialist terms, European colonizers in the U.S. and around the globe will not always be able to benefit from the violent domination of Africans and all other colonized nations.  Half of the world’s poverty is in what bourgeois economists call “sub-Saharan Africa.”  And the more that colonized peoples are oppressed, the more they will push back.  This is Black Power.  Black Power is the revolutionary force against the reactionary force of capitalism.  And as Africans in the U.S., in Africa, in Sweden, and the Caribbean, and everywhere else in the world, rise up, and push back, becoming subjects of their own struggle against capitalist domination, the power of the colonizer will be challenged more and more.  So the candidates of bourgeois white power will sound more and more different from the run-of-the-mill candidates who could only use the same old tired lines back when the U.S. had greater control over colonized peoples.  As Black people push back, in the U.S. and abroad, the contradictions of the system will be exposed, and the reformist solutions to save the system will become more drastic.

But if the goal– or the end game, the ultimate purpose– is freedom, equality, peace and justice, then European colonizers will jump off the sinking ship of white power, and raise reparations for Black Power and the African revolution by joining the Uhuru Solidarity Movement.

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The Material Difference Between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump

The Pitfalls of White Women’s Feminism

GloriaRichardson

“And the question for us arises: how relevant are the truths, the experiences, the findings of white women to Black women?  Are women after all simply women?  I don’t know that our priorities are the same, that our concerns and methods are the same, or even similar enough so that we can afford to depend on this new field of experts (white, female).” — Toni Cade Bambara, 1970

“In Cambridge, Maryland, Gloria Richardson … and other parts of the country, local leaders began to stir up our people at the grass-roots level.”— Malcolm X, Message to the Grassroots, November 10, 1963

White women feminists are faced with a material reality that challenges the very meaning of our feminism.

This material reality is true for white transgender women (like me), white cisgender women, and white gender nonconforming persons, in addition to white men who identify as feminists.  All white people who are feminists run into this material reality, because all white people run into it.

The material reality is that, in terms of the material advantages we enjoy from the colonial exploitation of Africans (Black people) and all other oppressed peoples, white people need to step down, rather than climb up.

In philosophical materialist terms (as opposed to philosophical idealist terms) white women who are feminists (like all whites) are confronted with the fact that– whatever our struggles are against patriarchy– our status as colonizers dialectically places us in an unjust position to colonized peoples: Africans, Indigenous peoples, and the majority of humanity.  Our oppression– on account of the misogyny, transphobia and homophobia created and perpetuated by the European nation– puts white women at odds with the patriarchal, capitalist power structure; yet our position as white people– who benefit from the political category of “whiteness”– also places us in a dialectical struggle between the colonizer and the colonized for control of the material resources of the world.

White women who are feminists already can recognize that systemic oppression (by definition) is not based on the power that one individual has over another.  Individuals don’t have that kind of power.

If I try to oppress you as an individual, you will never never allow that– unless you don’t value yourself.  You’ll stop me.  But if I have an entire system backing me up, and I’m able to oppress you on account of that system’s power, then you will know that if you try to stop me, the system will crush you.  It’s an unfair advantage.  We’re not settling our differences in an equal way.  It’s not that I’m better than you, or stronger than you– it’s that I have a system backing me up, one that controls the situation.  This is a system whose benefits I enjoy at your expense, and if you move against me, this system will destroy you.  It’s unjust.

Nobody who knows their true value as a human being, and as an individual, will allow themselves to be exploited and oppressed, so this oppression must be enforced through some form of violence.  Transgender white women, cisgender white women, and all oppressed white people probably can recognize this reality: we can handle dealing with one person’s negativity, but going up against an entire system of oppression is too much for us by ourselves, so we get together with people who have similar interests and move against the system.

Even as white women are oppressed within this system, all white people materially benefit from this same system at the expense of Black people (Africans) and most of the people in the world.  When I say the system materially benefits us, I mean the system of political, economic and social power that was created by white people for white people: colonial capitalism.

This system controls the material resources that are necessary to support life itself.  If a person can’t gain access to these resources, they can’t live, or life becomes a great struggle.  Their life expectancy is affected.  The infant mortality rate of their children is higher.  Or their children go hungry.  This affects their grades, in a society where a good education is frequently necessary to access material wealth, because the job market requires a college degree.  And if they live in an area with fewer resources, the schools are falling apart.  It’s not safe on the way to school, at school, or on the way home from school.  It may not be safe at home.  The kids don’t have decent clothing.  So they get sick.  They can’t go to the doctor, so they get sicker.  All these things happen on account of a lack of power.  The system of power benefits the people for whom the system was created, so the finite resources of nature go to those people– food, clothing, housing, education, healthcare.

And it’s not enough that oppressed people don’t have access to these material necessities.  They must be controlled, otherwise they won’t put up with their oppression– why should they?  So the police, and the teachers, and the media, and the politicians are there to put them down, and they have the system of power backing them up in this effort.  Individually, they aren’t so strong.  But the unjust system– that gives them a badge, that makes all the rules, that builds the prisons and the detention centers– is what allows individuals to enforce the power of the system.

What does this have to do with feminists who are white?  It means that all white people are part of the colonizing, oppressor nation whose wealth and power come at the expense of the colonized, oppressed nation.

It doesn’t matter if we’re aware of and approve of this dialectical relationship or not.  We probably don’t want to be oppressors.  But our feminism is materially based on our position as white people on top of a pedestal of colonial oppression, and so– regardless of what’s in our heads– our existence, our very ability to live, comes at the expense of colonized people.

White women– even as we are oppressed within our nation– are part of the oppressor nation.  Regardless of our ideas or how we view individuals of any national (or “racial”) identity, white people’s vantage point is based on the material wealth we enjoy through white power’s colonial domination and exploitation of Africans and all other nations invaded by Europe.

The priorities, concerns and methods of white women who are feminists cannot be the same as those of Indigenous women, whose nations have faced genocide, having been almost entirely wiped out by the system of white power that we benefit from.  African women who labor in Africa for a dollar a day, so that we can buy a cellphone or a chocolate bar, are materially positioned differently from white bourgeois women in the U.S. and Europe (or anywhere else).  African (Black) women in the U.S. face a different material reality in their daily struggle with the very institutions that benefit white women (even if we benefit less than white men): the police departments, the media, the schools, the places where they work, their white bosses and other white people they work with.

Transgender African (Black) women and other trans women of color have a life expectancy of 35 years. They are more likely to be homeless, and when they go to homeless shelters they are more likely to be raped.  Almost every statistical measure demonstrates that the material reality for transgender African (Black) women and other trans women of color places them in greater danger than white trans women like me.

This isn’t an accident.  It’s not bad luck on their part, or good luck on mine.  It’s by design.  It’s the system.  So, regardless of what I think or feel about my transgender sisters who are African or Black or Latina or Indigenous, the system still works the same way: it endangers them, in order to keep me safer.

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The relationship of white people’s feminism to the struggles of African (Black) women and other women within colonized nations is similar to liberalism’s relationship to conservatism, and how these two relate to socialist revolution:

Liberalism is the opposite of conservatism– obviously.  But it’s the opposite laterally, on the same plane.  This plane is the top of a pedestal that is placed on colonized, oppressed peoples, or the proletariat.

Liberalism and conservatism oppose each other within the bourgeois nation, which is the white nation controlled by European imperialist capitalism.  This is the nation that was born through Europe’s attack on Africa and the Americas more than five centuries ago.  And class antagonisms exist within the European nation.  Ideologically driven class wars are waged– the various interests of white people within the European nation struggle to gain the advantage and to reap the most benefits of white power.  This struggle for power includes that of feminists.

Feminism within the white nation is a bourgeois struggle for wealth and power– a struggle against patriarchy.  But the entire structure that contains these forces of struggle sits on top of colonized nations who are the working class of the world (the proletariat).

Enslaved Africans built an empire for the material enjoyment of Europeans.  This empire was built on land stolen from Indigenous peoples.  So the struggles within the European nation have been worked out through white power’s further oppression of Africans and all other colonized peoples.  Horizontally, liberals and conservatives fight for the material benefits that come at the expense of vertically oppressed African people and all other so-called people of color.

Feminists who seek to reform the system of white power– colonial capitalism– run into this material reality.  If white women (trans and cis) receive more material benefits at the expense of colonized women (and all colonized people), but are struggling to get an equal share with white men, then we are faced with the choice of either gaining an equal share with white men through further colonial domination, or– instead– remaining locked into a hierarchy of exploitation created by white power.

This is the contradiction of white power.  White power has stated that all people are equal.  Initially, it only meant white men with property.  But the people have struggled against it, and forced the system to mean something closer to what the people want.  The problem is, the system itself is not designed to benefit everyone in an equal manner.  Capitalism is designed to benefit the few in the ruling class at the expense of the many who labor to create profits for these few.  A tiered system of oppression cannot be anything else, otherwise it ceases to exist.

Therefore, in order to resolve these contradictions within the white nation, it follows that the economic and social opportunities– which have been created for the perpetually restless, discontented white masses– must come at the expense of those outside the nation.  At the same time, the subjective idealism of patriotism and “American exceptionalism” must be promoted by white power so that European colonizers in the United States will believe that life’s value is different for us than for a Palestinian woman, or an enslaved child in Africa, or a young African named Michael Brown gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri, or twenty trans women of color (at least) murdered in 2015.

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Feminism for white people is a reflection of our bourgeois interests, our wish to resolve the contradictions of capitalism within the system itself (reform), rather than resolving the contradictions of colonizer/colonized, oppressor/oppressed, and Europe/the world.

Feminist theory for white people is an attempt to change the ideas in the minds of people without changing the fundamental structure of society, which is controlled by European imperialist capitalism.  It is this system of white power that controls the material resources of society, out of which feminist ideas (and their opposing sexist views) grow; and this entire system rests on the global domination of people outside Europe, originating in the imperialist invasion of Africa more than five hundred years ago.

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It is through colonial genocide that the capitalist system continues to hold power: the political power that comes from the barrel of a gun.  All white people benefit from this violence while the system of white power is still pointing its gun at the world.  But the benefits we enjoy from this violence are most certainly not equal– women are oppressed, trans people are oppressed, disabled people are oppressed.  This is the way the system is designed: it places profits over people.  But the materials that are necessary for the accumulation of these profits– the land they are extracted from and the labor that produces them– are the stolen land and stolen labor (and therefore the stolen lives) of Africans, Indigenous peoples, and the entire proletariat outside Europe.

Europe by itself does not have enough resources to sustain the lifestyle demanded by white people.  So white people took over North America, and Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, and Australia, and much of the world outside Europe, murdering, plundering, committing genocide.  Africans were stolen from their homes in Africa, brought to North America in chains, and it was their free labor which allowed the white colonies to become wealthy and powerful– so much so that they could then break away from England, and keep all this stolen loot for themselves.

European immigrants flooded the continent, the land of Indigenous people, while formerly enslaved Africans were locked out of these material benefits, generation after generation.  Indigenous women were murdered or driven to reservations.  African women were impoverished, raped, sterilized, disrespected.  Asian women experienced similar colonial abuses, so that white people– men and women– could work out the contradictions within the European nation.

This isn’t to say that white women have had it easy.  Far from it.  But, historically, white women have worked out the problems of white women on our terms– especially on the terms of American white women.  The struggles for our rights to be recognized, and our movements for liberation, have not been led by Indigenous women and African (or Black) women.

Generally speaking, white women have not demanded full recognition of human rights and complete liberation for Indigenous women, and African women, and all colonized women, so that we will rise up together, just as we are oppressed together.

Because we are not oppressed together.  Whatever feelings of sisterly bonds we may have, a system of colonial and capitalist oppression– where whiteness is the ticket to comfort and security– stands between us.  White women– while oppressed as women– always have the ticket of whiteness to get us to where we want to go, and we benefit whether we choose to or not.  Women within colonized nations do not have this ticket, and they have no choice.  This lack of choice represents a lack of power.  And this ticket is the difference between the colonizer and the colonized, the exploiter and the exploited, and Europe and Africa (as well as the rest of the world).

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The image of Gloria Richardson pushing away the bayonet of a National Guardsman (as described on the website The Root, from which the image is borrowed for this essay) represents the key material difference between white women (who are the colonizers, like all whites) and African or Black women who are the colonized (like all Africans).

White women have faced great difficulties in our struggle within a system of patriarchal, capitalist power.  In earlier eras, oppressed working class white women who labored in factories were threatened by state violence, sometimes fighting beside African women against the capitalist oppressor.  Girls working in a factory in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1828, faced the violence of the capitalists’ militia when they protested the compulsory twelve hour work day.  Women and men organized together to form unions, and women workers of the Collar Laundry Union in Troy, New York successfully fought for higher wages in 1866.  Mary “Mother” Jones is a legendary woman and leader in the fight for labor rights.

There’s no question that white women– particularly working class white women– were and are economically oppressed.  The question is how the struggles of white women have been resolved in relation to African women, Indigenous women, and all oppressed women of color.  And the question also is what this struggle has been for, in its relation to the lives of all colonized Africans, Indigenous peoples, and the world outside Europe.

These struggles by white women– which might be categorized as “feminist struggles”– have not been primarily concerned with lifting up all women, regardless of nationality.  White women have still been the main beneficiaries of these struggles.  When we’ve lost, we’ve lost as white women– and all that the “white” status implies.  We didn’t fall all the way down the ladder.  And if we’ve won, we’ve won as white women, and climbed even higher.  Our lot has not been thrown in with colonized African women or colonized Indigenous women, who– if anything– have played an auxiliary role, while the majority of their people remain unaffected by the outcome of these class and gender conflicts.

European women have benefited from the participation of African women in our struggles against patriarchal and capitalist oppression, yet this relationship has not been mutually beneficial, because the potential defeat of this struggle did not mean the same thing for us as it has for the colonized women of the world: an almost complete loss of the right to live.

Gloria Richardson was fighting for the basic human right to exist– to live freely with dignity.  This fight was against white power, whose very basis is the denial of Black people’s right to live.  This fight was against the system of European imperialist capitalism in its settler colony, the United States.  Malcolm X recognized this.  He saw that Gloria Richardson was one of the masses, the people “at the grass-roots level” who created revolution, rather than the leaders whose role was to “contain” the people.  These leaders, who had been approved by the bourgeoisie, hadn’t “incited” or “excited” the people, because their job was to maintain the existing relationship of power.  However, Gloria Richardson and other Africans at the “grass-roots level” “took to the streets.”  And so they posed a real threat to the system of power.  And we see Gloria Richardson pushing the bayonet away from her face, defying white power, glaring back at the hired guns of the white capitalist ruling class.

White women who are feminists are materially positioned in this society in such a way that our struggles against the system do not– as a rule– put us face-to-face with the bayonets of National Guardsmen.  This shared danger only happens when white women reject our status as members of the bourgeois nation and throw in our lot with African women, and all African people everywhere, and all colonized nations.  Even then, the “truths, the experiences, the findings of white women” (Toni Cade Bambara) are not the same for us as they are for Black women, because our histories within evolving material conditions have not been the same.

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The pitfalls of white women’s feminism– in materialist terms– are as follows:

White women run into the reality of the colonizer/colonized relationship of all white people to all Africans and to all other nations invaded by Europe.  This dialectical relationship requires that Europe– white people– benefit from the colonial domination of Africa and the world.  A people will only be dominated through force.  Therefore, the bourgeois theories of white women’s feminism disregard the essential factor in this relationship of oppressor to oppressed: the gun.  The empire from which all white people benefit was gained through violence, and only can be maintained through violence, because no people who value freedom will allow themselves to be dominated.

White power’s gun is pointed away from white people, and is pointed at Black people and everyone else outside Europe.  This isn’t to argue that white people aren’t sometimes destroyed by this weapon of white power.  Capitalism’s only aim is to create more profits, and if this means white people are exploited or killed in the process, capitalism will crush whites as well.  However, the system is designed to benefit the white ruling class, and white people rush to get on the other side of the gun, and join the ruling class.  Our white skin helps us to escape the violence of the system.  Black people do not have this luxury– quite the opposite.  And it seems to me that white women’s feminism ignores this fundamental relationship between Europe/Africa, white power/Black Power, colonizer/colonized, and bourgeoisie/proletariat.

White people’s feminism seeks to resolve the contradictions within a capitalist society–which was built on the enslavement and genocide of Africans and Indigenous peoples– while remaining on top of the oppressed, rather than joining the side of the exploited and colonized peoples of the world by completely overturning the culture (and system) of violence.

 

The Pitfalls of White Women’s Feminism

Why I Oppose Whiteness, Part 2

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In the first part (of what could become a 99 part series, except it won’t) I wrote:

“… whiteness itself is based on the colonial and capitalist oppression of Africans and most of humanity outside Europe.  If I can describe correctly the theory of African Internationalism, what it seems to be saying is that ‘white’ is not simply a skin color, or race, but is a political identity whose basis (like race itself) came into existence with Europe’s invasion of Africa and the Americas.  Race– and whiteness– as a political identity and as a social category didn’t exist prior to Europe’s attack on Africa more than five centuries ago.

“… whiteness is a political category that came into existence only through Europe’s ongoing attack against Africa and the world.  And whiteness is based on the invention of race as a means of access to the colonial capitalist domination of people who cannot identify as white.  Whiteness is a social expression of the material reality that is the colonial control of resources necessary for life itself.  Under the system of capitalism, most of these resources go to whites, which means our existence is part of a parasitic relationship with Africans and other colonized peoples.  Whiteness implies an economic, political and social elevation at the expense of Blackness.  And, of course, white people created this system, not Black people.”

The counterargument to this argument might be: since race was invented by Europeans in order to perpetuate and expand the colonial domination of capitalist white power, then both political categories of “Black” and of “white” (and of all other races) would have to become unnecessary as soon as white power was defeated (and replaced with socialism).  Since Europe, following its imperialist attack on Africa, came up with the identity of “white people” and the identity of “Black people,” why would I only oppose whiteness?   Europeans created the “Black” identity at the same time as the “white” identity, placing white people above Black people and all other colonized people for the purpose of capitalist exploitation.  Therefore, if I am arguing that whiteness is a bad thing, it seems I couldn’t avoid also arguing that Blackness is a bad thing.

This argument can be resolved if we consider that white people have always defined Blackness as a bad thing.  In white terms, Blackness is bad.  The dialectic requires this: in order to elevate whiteness as a good thing, Europeans have had to create a hierarchy where Black is negative or bad.  If white is beautiful (as the white supremacist system of capitalism has argued) then black must be ugly.  This hierarchy of race became a means of colonial control, as Black people– under the domination of capitalism– were told that they are inferior.  In order for “whites” to feel superior, and to justify the colonial subjugation of Africans and all other so-called races, we had to say that “non-whites” are inferior.  The dialectical relationship of white/black was created by Europeans in the material interests of people who could identify as white.  The plunder of Africa and the Americas, and all the wealth that created the European empire (and its settler colony the United States), depended on the dialectical relationship where white was superior and Black was (therefore) inferior.

In Dorothy Roberts’ book Fatal Invention (cited in part one), we learn many of the awful ways devised by the white supremacist system of capitalism to justify genocide and colonial domination.  These justifications have been cloaked in scientific objectivity.  And the European scientists who have come up with these theories were supposed to be the smart people– on the cutting edge of knowledge– and so many white people believed their theories, which (it shouldn’t surprise us) justified the genocidal murder and theft of Africans, indigenous peoples, and all people who were not (yet) able to identify as white.  Samuel Morton used the method of craniometry (measuring sizes of human skulls) to promote a theory that white people were more intelligent.  The science of anthropology was created and used to promote the material interests of European colonizers.  Eugenics specifically became the craze in the first half of the twentieth century.  Eugenics institutions were established and funded by the system, and plans for the sterilization of colonized African mothers were devised and carried out.  All of this supposedly objective science was used by white power to justify and expand its colonial domination of Africans and other oppressed peoples in the United States and around the world.

What we have found is that white people– who have claimed to be so smart, and so intellectually superior to everyone else– have, in reality, come up with the dumbest theories.  We’ve been dead wrong.  And inhumane on top of it.  But since the material benefits of society are controlled by white power, white people could afford being dead wrong– scientifically, morally, and every other way.  It started with power.

Kwame Ture said, “The power to define is the most important power that we have.”  He also said, “They who can define are the masters.”  Europeans have had the power to define Africans, and all other colonized people, as well as ourselves.  Once you have the power– or control of material resources and the modes of production– then you can define not only who gets what (and how much), but why those who get less don’t deserve to get an equal amount.  Race and racism were created by white power so that the materials of the world– necessary for life itself– would go to white people, at the expense of Africans and everyone else outside Europe.  Racism have been used to justify genocide, and the material basis for racism was Europe’s imperialist attack on Africa, which created the white bourgeois identity.

So white people, and the system of white power that we allow to exist, have defined Africans on our terms, in our material interests.  But Africans have resisted this colonial domination by Europeans.  Africans have survived– against all odds– colonial genocide.  They have been objectified by European imperialist capitalism for the purpose of exploitation, but Africans from the very beginning have fought back.  And one of the ways Africans have fought back is by redefining Blackness.  White power said Black is ugly and inferior.  But Africans have said “Black Is Beautiful” and  “I’m Black and I’m Proud.”  Historically, colonized Africans have created a culture, have asserted their humanity and have refused to be objectified– they have become subjects of their own struggle against the capitalist colonizer.  (To learn more about the survival and re-creation of African diasporic culture, please read Let the Circle Be Unbroken by Dr. Marimba Ani).

Once the colonized begin to define themselves, the colonizer loses power, because the object is now the subject, no longer completely controlled by the oppressive force.  Black people have turned Blackness and their racial identity (created through Europe’s attack on Africa) into something good.  The Black identity now belongs to Black people– to Africans.  Africans have redefined Blackness on their terms, not the terms of white power.

Since the belief in the superiority of whiteness under the system of colonial capitalism dialectically requires the belief in the inferiority of Blackness, whiteness loses its meaning as this system loses its power.  And this is yet another reason why I oppose whiteness.  Whiteness, without the unjust colonial control of European capitalism over the lives, labor, resources and destiny of Africans, is nothing.  The political identity of “white” depends entirely on the political system of colonial capitalism.  Once Africans break free from this system, whiteness is nothing.  The entire existence of white life on stolen indigenous land has come at the expense of colonized peoples– in North America, Africa, and everywhere in the world outside Europe.  When Africans and indigenous peoples are no longer colonized by white power– and have self-determination– then the political status of whiteness becomes meaningless.

Therefore, if we wish to be anti-white, this wish does not require that we be anti-Black. Revolutionary Africans have redefined Blackness on their terms.  Revolution means a transformation of the dialectical relationship between white/Black, Europe/Africa, colonizer/colonized, bourgeois nation/proletariat.  The “thing” in nature– in this instance, society– qualitatively changes so that it is a new “thing.”  Africans are not what they once were prior to Europe’s attack.  And neither are Europeans.  As Africans rise up, and break free from the colonial control of white power, Europeans lose the material basis for our identity as “white people.”  Africans are subjects of their own struggle against white power.  As white power’s relationship to Black Power is transformed, and Africans are no longer objectified by whiteness, white people are no longer able to receive the material benefits that have defined whiteness for over five hundred years.

In conclusion, it seems clear to me that white people who value freedom, justice, equality and peace must seek to redefine who we are– not necessarily according to our origins in Europe and our pale skin.  We cannot escape our white skin, which we actually try to do now through tanning and other methods.  Being anti-white is not about being “anti-white skin.”  Many Africans (or Black people) are light-skinned.  African and Black are political identities, so they aren’t based on how dark a person’s skin is.  The capitalist system of white power is responsible for promoting colorism.  But “whites” can find other ways of defining ourselves– that is, redefining ourselves, and creating communities based on other aspects of our individual identities.  In collective terms (and, therefore, revolutionary terms) “whites” haven’t even begun to grasp what that identity might be.  We’re centuries behind Africans when it comes to defining our humanity.  But if we materially align ourselves with the African liberation struggle then “whites” can begin to redefine ourselves and create a revolutionary identity.  We won’t know what that identity is in advance, but we do know that it will not be based on colonial exploitation and genocide.  By joining an organization that is committed to dismantling European imperialist capitalism, white-identified individuals can demonstrate that we are anti-white, which is the same thing as saying we are anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist.

 

 

Why I Oppose Whiteness, Part 2

Why I Oppose Whiteness

SquaresEssay

When it comes to the racial or political identity of “whiteness,” it seems to me that there are two schools of thought worthy of our attention.  One view is that “white” is simply a skin color or race, and so there’s nothing useful about white people wanting to be anything other than white.  The real enemy is capitalism.  The capitalist ruling class pits whites against Africans (Black people) and against other oppressed and exploited peoples.  So there’s no point in being against whiteness.  Fight against capitalism, and when Africans and other oppressed peoples are totally free from capitalist domination, then race won’t matter.

The other school of thought– regarding “whiteness” as an identity– is that whiteness itself is based on the colonial and capitalist oppression of Africans and most of humanity outside Europe.  If I can describe correctly the theory of African Internationalism, what it seems to be saying is that “white” is not simply a skin color, or race, but is a political identity whose basis (like race itself) came into existence with Europe’s invasion of Africa and the Americas.  Race– and whiteness– as a political identity and as a social category didn’t exist prior to Europe’s attack on Africa more than five centuries ago.

In addition to African Internationalism (which is the political theory of the African People’s Socialist Party), Dorothy Roberts’ book A Fatal Invention also demonstrates that race was invented as a means of distributing the material benefits of colonial domination.  Race is a political category, not a biological category.  The Human Genome Project proved that all humans, as far as our genetic makeup is concerned, are 99.9% the same.  Humans are one race, with no significant genetic differences among us.  So race is a political category.  Race itself was created for racist objectives, because it was created by Europeans as part of a hierarchy of political identities arranged so that people who can identify as white receive the benefits of whiteness.  Those who cannot identify as white have little or no access to these benefits.  The enslavement, genocide, and oppression of “non-whites” have been justified by the inventors of this hierarchical system of “race,” which places whites at the top, and (most frequently) Africans at the bottom.

Returning to the theory of African Internationalism, we can speak in materialist terms about these benefits of whiteness and state that they are the resources extracted from nature that are necessary for the production and reproduction of life.  The benefits of whiteness are based on the capitalist system’s control of the means of production in a society.  So this control becomes a question of power.  Whoever controls the production of the material necessities of life– food, clothing, housing, healthcare, education, culture– controls that society.  Since capitalism was born out of Europe’s attack on Africa (along with the European identity, and whiteness), then whiteness itself is an expression of this colonial power: white power.

Whiteness is a political identity based on the dialectical relationship of Europe/Africa, colonizer/colonized, and oppressor/oppressed.  And since white people– on account of our whiteness– live off the material benefits of white power’s colonial domination of Africans, this relationship is also parasitic.  The existence of the white colonizer– its very ability to live– is based on the inability of colonized Africans to live, because they do not have control of the means of production necessary for life.  White power is based on the repression of Black Power.

For this reason, if we support justice, freedom, equality and peace, it seems that we would oppose whiteness.  The objective of whiteness– and race– is to perpetuate and expand the colonial domination of people who cannot identify as white.  Whiteness, capitalism and the European identity were created through Europe’s invasion of Africa, the theft of its resources and land, and through the murder, enslavement and colonization of Africans.  Without this imperialist attack by Europe, whiteness would not exist– white people would not exist in North America, and all the wealth and power of the white capitalist system would not exist.  This means, if we wish to end systemic oppression– white supremacist colonial capitalism– then white people will want be anti-white.  (By the way, this is where many white-led socialist movements fail, for they cannot recognize that to be anti-capitalist, and anti-imperialist, is to be anti-white.  Of course, this is a good thing to socialist revolutionaries, in contrast to bourgeois reactionaries who think anti-whiteness is a negative thing.)

Capitalist reactionaries who support white power– and whiteness– might claim that a white person being opposed to whiteness is expressing self-hatred.  They also may claim that a white person who is anti-white wants to be Black.  But if being opposed to whiteness means that a white person hates themselves, then this self-hatred means that the only thing about that individual that matters is their status as a colonizer who lives off the murder and theft of Africans and other colonized peoples.  Whiteness is the political identity that determines one’s status as a colonizer who receives the material benefits of white power’s colonial domination of Africans.  So if a white person is anti-white, and you think this means they hate themselves, then it must also mean that you think the only thing about themselves they love is the wealth and power they enjoy on account of capitalism’s exploitation of Africans and the majority of humanity.  Without wealth and power, they are nothing.  And this seems to prove that the white identity is parasitic: our existence is based on the colonial domination of everyone else.

So let’s go to the second potential criticism: that a white person who is anti-white wants to be Black.  It’s impossible for a white person to want to be an actual Black person.  If a white person thinks they want to be Black, this desire is based only on the stereotype of Blackness that they have in their heads.  They only see Blackness as a “thing,” or even a long list of “things,” and so they want these things for themselves, which is acting very white because it’s asserting one’s colonial power, and the belief that things and people exist for the benefit of whites.  A Black person (or African) is simply that one person: and Black or African is one part of their identity.  A Black person is a member of their community, or their nation (Africa), but this national identity is also infinitely varied in terms of the individual identities within it.  So if a white person says they want to be Black, or to be like Black people, they are actually erasing Black people, because “Black people” is not a thing: there are only millions of Black persons within the “forcibly dispersed African nation” (to paraphrase Chairman Omali Yeshitela of the African People’s Socialist Party).

So my political reasons for being anti-white are that whiteness is a political category that came into existence only through Europe’s ongoing attack against Africa and the world.  And whiteness is based on the invention of race as a means of access to the colonial capitalist domination of people who cannot identify as white.  Whiteness is a social expression of the material reality that is the colonial control of resources necessary for life itself.  Under the system of capitalism, most of these resources go to whites, which means our existence is part of a parasitic relationship with Africans and other colonized peoples.  Whiteness implies an economic, political and social elevation at the expense of Blackness.  And, of course, white people created this system, not Black people.  These are the political reasons for being anti-white.

And these are my personal reasons for being anti-white:

I want to be a human being.  I just want to be me.  I don’t want to be a colonizer and someone who lives off the colonial plunder and genocide of Africans and the majority of humanity.  Sometimes it feels as if white people have stolen everything we have and everything we are.  In objectively materialist terms, maybe we have.  Frantz Fanon wrote in The Wretched of the Earth, “Europe is literally the creation of the Third World.”  It’s true, if we go back to the “Dark Ages,” when people in the area of “Europe” were dealing with feudalism, maybe we had our own thing then– and not just disease, poverty, religious warfare, ignorance and disgusting hygiene.  But then we invaded Africa, and gained wealth, power, the bourgeois lifestyle, and a sense of white pride.  What would we be without our attack on Africa?

Of course, we can’t go back.  History doesn’t work that way.  The world is constantly evolving.  Africa can’t go back to the pre-colonial era either.  But we can move forward: we can break and smash the European context, the white control of resources, and narratives, and history itself.  And if whites people refuse to do this as a “community,” then I want to do it on my own (if that’s even possible).

I also want to be part of a community.  It’s my belief that whites don’t have a community– we have a system (colonial capitalism).  Since we have the system, we don’t have the community.  In this system, we are consumers.  We take over and consume every inch of the planet we can reach, gentrifying every neighborhood, driving indigenous peoples onto reservations, acting like we own the place wherever we show up (whether in another country or in a Black person’s “mentions” on Twitter).  Then we take the things that we like about the “Other” for ourselves.

Whites even commodify humanity.  We commodify everything else, but we also treat people– including each other, but especially Africans and all colonized people– as if they exist solely for the benefit of whites.  Whites do the same thing with animals.  And it’s the capitalist system that requires this treatment of humans, other animals, and the planet, because the system exists solely off the accumulation of profits.  If we want a community, we need to create a political system that values humans, other animals, and the planet, not profits.  We need socialism.  And, eventually, we’ll have communism.

Another personal reason that I want to be anti-white is that “whiteness” leads to a wide variety of inhumane attitudes, beliefs, assumptions and behaviors.  If Africans (Black people) were totally liberated from this system of colonial control, these subjective ideas about them wouldn’t matter.  They would have power.  Then I could think anything I wanted to think and it wouldn’t hurt them.  Even so, “whiteness” leads to many negative ideas because there is a long history of whiteness being a negative force, and we are born into this ongoing history.  We can’t escape it just because we believe we’re not racist, or that these negative forces (like slavery) existed before we were alive.  The white identity– of all white people– is built on that legacy, and infuses our minds, our thought patterns, how we view the world and how we view ourselves in relation to everyone else in the world.

If whiteness is still accepted as a political identity, then whites will continue to see a likeness based on skin color and other physical attributes that identify someone as “white.”  We won’t be able to escape this imposed view of the world.  We will see white people as whites and Black people as Black people.  We won’t see that one person for who they are, free from this identity that is based on colonial capitalism.  I’m not arguing for “racial colorblindness.”  I mean, white people should have no reason for wanting to associate and “stick together” with other whites, simply because they are white.  So even an organization of white people working to raise reparations for Africans (Black people) would be a thing of the past, because whiteness no longer would be a reason for people to associate.  The African national identity would exist, and so would the identities of all nations outside Europe, but Europeans would require a new identity, a new context for how we identify each other that isn’t based on whiteness.

We can’t know what that identity might look like because European society has not evolved to that point.  Spiritually, Europeans are still stuck in the Dark Ages.  Economically and politically, we have evolved– at the expense of the world– but the humanity of communities within Europe (in England, for example, my homeland) is stuck some time before 1492, or the construction of Elmina Castle in Ghana in 1482.  All that we know as white people since that time is the enjoyment of material advantages that have come only on account white power’s capitalist exploitation of Africans and most of humanity.  Is it any wonder that whites would appear to be soulless, empty, devoid of empathy or any original culture?  We’re on a land mass where Europeans have committed genocide against 98% of the indigenous population, and where we refuse to pay reparations to exploited Africans who built this empire that we enjoy.  How could whiteness mean anything else but a negation of the human spirit?  And it would appear– from the statistics on increasing drug addiction and suicide– that whites may want something more than capitalist world domination as our bragging rights.

And yet impoverished, economically oppressed whites in the U.S. still brag about what a great superpower “America” is, and wave a flag they could barely afford to buy. But I’m almost persuaded by the first school of thought, that if impoverished whites got together with Africans, we could go after the real enemy– capitalism.  If we could recognize that “America” stands for genocide, exploitation, and every other form of oppression (the same as capitalism does) then all exploited people could organize with the goal of justice and freedom for everyone in the world.  We wouldn’t have to divide our fight along racial lines, alienating white people whose interests are also to defeat capitalism.

But here is the problem I see with “poor” whites and Africans (Black people) fighting together against capitalist oppression: whites tend to conflate “poor” with “Black,” and assume that, because someone is Black, they must be from the “ghetto.”  So if working class whites are organizing with Africans to fight capitalism, and then the whites learn that an African is actually wealthy, and drives a nicer car, and lives in a bigger house, a lot of these whites are going to be upset.  They’ll wonder why they are organizing with Black people who are richer than they are, when they have it worse and, after all, … they’re white!  It always goes back to being white.  White people, on account of our whiteness, expect to receive the benefits of capitalism.  We’ll be “inclusive” of Africans (Black people), but whites expect the system to work for us– first.  Our expectation that we will enjoy the material benefits of capitalism is based on the knowledge that whiteness and capitalism are part of the same system of colonial exploitation.  If whites are economically oppressed, we may fight to end the economic oppression of “poor” Black people, but we will lump together wealthier Black people with rich whites– and say the wealthy Black people are oppressing us too!

Yet African Internationalism, the political theory developed by Chairman Omali Yeshitela of the African People’s Socialist Party, demonstrates that all white people are part of the oppressive colonizer nation (Europe), and all Black people are part of the oppressed, colonized nation (Africa).  The European nation contains all classes within it– bourgeoisie, petty bourgeoisie and proletariat– but the entire European nation is the bourgeois oppressor in the dialectic, and Africans (wherever they live in the world) are the oppressed proletariat.

All white people are European colonizers.  But this isn’t the same as saying we’re all mean and think horrible things about Black people.  Yes– the system is the problem.  Capitalism is the problem.  But capitalism and the white identity are linked together.  When one goes, the other has to go.  And this isn’t personal.  Capitalism will try to make everything about the individual.  So whenever white people are criticized, we say, “Not me!”  “Not all white people!”  And this only proves that whites stick together: if we hear a criticism of white people, we take it personally, because our identity is invested in whiteness.  After all the inhumane things white people have done in history to Africans and other nations of the world, it seems we wouldn’t want to defend ourselves based on our whiteness.  But colonial capitalism has given whites a sense of pride, and we’re sensitive to criticism because we’re proud.  If we hadn’t done the things that oppressed people are saying we did, we’d be confused, that’s all, because it wouldn’t be true.  Instead, it hurts.

I won’t say whiteness is a disease or that we’re “blue-eyed, blond-haired devils.”  But whiteness is a political invention which is destructive to humanity.  It robs and murders people who don’t identify as white, and it also robs Europeans of our humanity– it kills our humanity.  We’d prefer to have the dead soul along with the wealth and power, because a full stomach and warm bed win every time.  But we go to sleep on the stolen land of indigenous peoples, while genocide continues (in our behalf) against indigenous peoples, Africans and all colonized nations.

I’m not arguing that white people should feel guilty.  Guilt isn’t helpful.  Even if whites were to plead guilty to our crimes against humanity, we will never sentence ourselves to death– which is the usual sentence that history gives to empires and oppressors like the U.S. and Europe.

There is the African phrase: “A person is a person through other people.”  My personal development as a human being has been blocked by my status as a white colonizer.  I can’t progress as a person within a system that colonizes people.  Capitalism seeks to isolate us, so that we go after those material advantages, and sources of meaning and enjoyment, that benefit the individual, regardless of the overall impact on others, and the exploitation and oppression that they experience for our benefit.  Yet we have the choice to view ourselves in terms of shared humanity, where all individuals are part of the one community, and material benefits are distributed to everyone according to their need.  Whiteness is an obstacle to this system– socialism– because its material basis is colonial oppression.  The white identity was shaped and consolidated only through Europe’s invasion of Africa.  So if we wish to create a world free from this colonial oppression, Africa must be free, all colonized nations must be free, and Europe needs to create a new identity that is not based on imperialist power.  This new identity only will come about through the process of struggle against colonial capitalism, under the leadership of the African revolution.  Who we are– who I am– and “I Am We”– will grow out of the struggle, or revolutionary process.  I oppose whiteness because I want to be a revolutionary being, in every sense.

 

 

 

 

Why I Oppose Whiteness