Political power is like a bulldozer shoving mounds of earth in this direction or that. The heavy machinery of the dominant class moves things out of the way: things that do not benefit the ruling class, making room for the things that do. But the objects being shoved to the side, these things being piled up by political power, with some of these objects meant to be hauled off by the dump trucks of capitalism, and others meant to be ground into gravel or converted into other objects, are, in fact, human lives.
In this process of dislocating and relocating human life, the current system of power– European imperialist capitalism– places higher value on some lives (white) and lower value on others (Black and brown). Masses of humanity– actual Black and brown bodies– are shoved to one side by the capitalist machine in order to make room, quite literally, for those lives who are considered by this system to be more valuable. This project becomes a problem of weight, of waste disposal, of a highly flexible application of force (both physical and psychological), as the machine lowers its cold steel into the warm earth and pushes unwanted objects out of the way.
Bodies have a tendency to resist force, and living bodies rebel, meeting violent displacement with their own violence. So this problem also becomes– in the view of the machine– a further problem of balancing 1) the amount of blood necessary to suppress and control these objects with 2) the amount of moral justification necessary to keep the machine functional, since this machine is also, in fact, a mass of human life: the white bourgeoisie and its white dependents (including me).
Less valuable bodies are literally marginalized: pushed to the side by the machinery of white-controlled capitalism. Then these displaced bodies are additionally targeted, as the sophisticated controls of the ruling class recognize that force will be met with force. The military, the police and prisons are costly parts in the sprawling structure of the bourgeois machine. However, a careful analysis by the ruling class will not only demonstrate that building and maintaining these forces of control is still worth their high cost, but also that the military, the police and the prisons are highly profitable.
Capitalism requires labor to build and maintain its machine. It also needs these workers to buy the products of its machine. If the workers are paid too little, they won’t be able to purchase the very commodities that they have produced, and capitalism suffers. But capitalism only can function if its profits rise. So cuts in the budget are necessary, and this means, once again, the image of the bulldozer as it shoves mounds of humanity to the side like dirt. But this isn’t dirt– it’s human life, which tends to rebel when its survival is at stake. No longer able to to purchase the commodities that its work produced, and no longer deemed necessary to work at all, displaced and discarded humanity will strike back against the source of violence. And this is when the military, the police and prisons become necessary.
Since the machine, and those who benefit from its destructive control, are also masses of humanity (most often with pale skin), there is a psychological toll on this collective mass, a disturbance or agitation created by the guilt associated with so much violence against so many who have been exploited and destroyed.
Humans are essentially the same: each person is one body, with heart, mind, and soul; a finite weight with a finite lifespan. Systems of power and class hierarchies within these systems are the main difference in humanity, other than cultural experiences and worldviews that go beyond material necessities of food, water, clothing, housing, and education. The machine itself has created the materialist dialectic: Europe and the rest of humanity. White bodies are viewed by this machine as more valuable, and so are white psyches, so they must be protected at all costs, along with the trajectory of ever-increasing profits through the additional violent suppression of “non-white” bodies (the majority of humanity). Not only must white bodies be protected in order for the capitalist machine to function, but the collective white psyche must be protected– without hurting profits.
And so the displaced humanity of the world, the objectified, othered masses of brown people outside the whitewashed consciousness of the colonizer must be handled in such a way that the threat of their actual bodies (either real or perceived) is diminished, but also in such a way that the violence necessary to suppress their disposable bodies does not harm the fragile white mind. When the military strikes against brown bodies on “foreign soil,” the collective white mind is convinced that such violence is necessary against evil people (hardly even human), and we’re formed (rather than informed) by the machine that its targets are carefully chosen, and that “America” (which exists on soil that is foreign to white bodies) must always be a source of pride: “Thank the troops,” “USA! USA!,” and so on.
When the police in the United States strike against unarmed Black people, the machine’s official narrative (on the media and from politicians) must be one that justifies this violence, protecting the fragile white mind, even as this violence benefits all white bodies.
When transgender women of color are locked up in detention centers, to be brutalized by cisgender men, this violence by the machine must be hidden, and the lives and bodies of its victims erased.
Protecting white property interests and fragile white psyches is big business, just as it has been since the first slave ship left Africa. In the current age, the corporation G4S is a good example of this big business, for it is one of the top five largest corporations in the world.
Capitalism has always profited off Black pain. And capitalism has always attempted to humanize the monster creating this pain– usually through dehumanizing the people suffering it.
First there was chattel slavery. Then there was Jim Crow. And now there are prisons, the police, detention centers, state surveillance, and white vigilantes (who are taken to Burger King following a killing spree inspired by the white supremacist programming that is essential to capitalism’s maintenance and growth).
Without attempting to sound fatalistic or defeatist, the police and other white supremacist murders of Black people and (in general terms) people of color are going to get worse. That may not even sound possible, things are so bad already. But the police don’t murder Black people just because the police are evil. Prisons don’t exist simply because the United States is evil. White people don’t support these institutions, either actively or by passively looking the other way, merely because we’re evil.
These violent institutions exist because they are profitable, or are designed to protect profits– and as resources grow more scarce, increasing profits must be protected, and, therefore, systemic violence will increase. As neighborhoods are further gentrified and white people scramble to buy these finite resources that we can barely afford (if at all), the police and military perform the function of the bulldozer, the machine within the machine whose task is to push mounds of humanity out of the way, making room for whites.
The capitalist system must protect its profits. Goods and services– and gadgets– are becoming more and more expensive. Who can afford them?
White people have grown accustomed, during these six past centuries, to being upwardly mobile and having access to things we need and want (the distinction between these two blurred by a million television commercials). We’re scared. What if we can’t live the “American Dream” like our grandparents did? So we scramble to grab what we feel we’re entitled to as whites, and as Americans (the American identity being, essentially, a white and therefore a white supremacist identity). And we support a system that makes this scramble to grab finite resources easier– easier for white folks.
However, in this process of colonial domination, a certain trace of guilt may enter the collective conscience of white people. And so we need a fix for that too. And the capitalist machine has this fix. It packs brown people away in prisons– out of sight, out of mind (for whites). Just as the capitalist machine shoves indigenous peoples onto reservations, and colonized Africans/Black people into so-called “ghettos.” Out of sight. Out of mind. The overwhelming suffering of people around the globe is filtered out by ABC World News Tonight– whose world? The world of the white mind.
White people sit on the stolen land of indigenous peoples, the blood and bones of genocide beneath concrete, asphalt, and expensive parks in the forest we hike in as an escape from the sterile, lifeless world that we’ve imposed on people, animals, plants– everything on the planet.
One would think our collective psyche might be in danger of breaking down at any moment, with so much death and suffering around us and beneath us. Yet European colonizers (whites) go to the mall instead, or argue about sports, or bourgeois politics.
Even so, one’s faith in universal humanity may be strong enough to believe that, not too far beneath the surface, even white people feel the horror of the system that we created.
But, rather than facing this horror, whites hire G4S to shove it even further from our collective mind. And the horrors of European imperialist capitalism will increase. Because the profits are increasing, and capitalism must always squeeze more profits from earth and people. And this leaves white people scrambling to maintain our material advantage, shoving our humanity to even more remote corners of our collective mind.
This effort to push out our guilt, created by the global terror of European imperialist capitalism, agitates our soul, and this agitation must be masked by more … stuff. White people need to keep buying, keep killing, buying, killing: buy, buy, buy, kill, kill, kill and kill, still killing. And then we change the channel, or scroll down the Facebook page. The white psyche must be protected at all costs. As for our humanity– capitalism couldn’t care less about that.
How does one remain human within this inhumane machine? How do we respond to the latest murder of a Black woman by the police? How do we feel— deeply, truly, humanely– when we learn of the latest murder of a Black trans woman by any cisgender man who is performing the same sociopolitical function as the police– to enforce white supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist ideology and interests? How do we FEEL? In this system, how do we maintain our humanity, while the bulldozers of imperialist capitalism prepare to shove heaps of broken lives into the corners of our collective mind, in every corner of the globe?
Capitalism treats humanity like garbage, even dehumanizing the minority on the globe (whites) who benefit from this colonial genocide. When a beautiful life is stolen from us, a young Black woman whose eyes still look back at us from a Facebook post or a tweet, then everything should stop until there is justice. Regular programming should be canceled. Baseball games should be canceled. Flights should be canceled. Businesses should close. Because somebody’s life has been taken. We aren’t we acting? Can we even feel anything? But the machine, right on schedule, goes right on churning out products for consumers– that is, for those who can afford these products, and right on churning out death and disposal for everyone else.
We can’t have a community when systemic violence is considered business-as-usual. The beneficiaries of European imperialist capitalism’s violence against the globe cannot have a community. Because we have lost our humanity. How can we go about our lives as if nothing has happened when yet another beautiful Black trans woman has been murdered? Capitalism attempts to normalize this. It attempts to justify it too– as white supremacist, patriarchal, colonial capitalism has always attempted to justify its genocide. And so the fragile white psyche is protected, as well as the increasing profits of this machine.
I have no answers, only prayers. I pray God will have mercy on humanity. I pray that the oppressed peoples of the globe will be freed from the system of European imperialist capitalism. I pray we will learn to turn off our televisions, turn off our phones, stop buying, stop selling, stop driving around in our cars like nothing has happened when another person of color– specifically, a Black person– has been murdered. I pray we will learn to take care of one another. I pray we will protect trans women, especially trans women of color. Protect Black trans women. I pray we will have the patience and honesty to pause and reflect on what this machine– capitalism– is doing to the world.
I pray for socialist revolution.