Why Cis/Het White Men Are What’s Wrong with America

Kwame Ture said:

“When you face an enemy, you must demystify the enemy. The enemy is a man just like you; the enemy is a woman just like you. … Demystify the enemy.”

It’s easy to blame white men– specifically, cisgender and/or heterosexual white men– for the problems in “America” today.  Almost two-thirds (63%) of the white men who voted in the U.S. presidential election supported Donald Trump.  Beyond statistics, it’s not difficult to recognize that much of the economic inequality and systemic violence found in “America” today exists on account of one segment of the population: cis/het white men.  White men have become a frequent target for criticism or ridicule by progressives who are women, people of color, gay, transgender, and working class (or all the above).

But why are white men– cisgender/heterosexual white men– the problem with “America”?

Is there anything inherently wrong with the European/white male identity?

If we think the answer to this question is “yes,” we are actually disrespecting Africans/Black people, Indigenous peoples and all so-called people of color.  By claiming that the white male identity is problematic in itself, we are really saying that “race” is determined by inherent characteristics, and that “race” is something more than a political category.  What this answer seems to indicate is that white men are powerful because they are “bad.”  Therefore, Africans/Black people, and all people of color lack power because they are “good.”  This becomes a patronizing and unscientific point of view.  Sure, it may be good to be “good” (in a moral sense), but it’s not good to be weak; it’s never good to lack power.  And if the main explanation for the unjust, unequal, oppressive and violent amount of power that cisgender, heterosexual, white men have is simply that they are “bad,” this means they will always have more power, as long as they exist, while people of color will always have less power.  This viewpoint mystifies the enemy.

This mystification of the enemy may be one reason that the term “white supremacist” can be misleading.  The only thing supreme or superior about white people is that we have more power.  If we think this makes us inherently better, it’s probably because we’re insecure.  But take away our unequal share of wealth and power, and we’re nothing.  Because there isn’t anything magical or mystical about power.  Societies are constantly changing, evolving, with one class seizing power from another class.  The only question that is difficult to answer about power is how to seize it.

And the reason white men are the problem with “America” is that they have too much power.  But this isn’t an accurate statement either.  We have to go one step further:

What’s wrong with “America” is America.

America is the problem.  The United States of America is what’s wrong with society.

And when we say the United States of America is the problem, we mean the racist, patriarchal and capitalist settler colony of Europe that sits on top of stolen Indigenous land, sucking the resources, labor and lives out of the majority of the world’s nations.  What we mean is that America is an extension of capitalism, the system that has controlled the global economy since the 1400s.  Capitalism is the enemy.  And “America” is the monster that imperialist capitalism created– primarily for the benefit of white men.

But it’s a mistake for whites who aren’t cis/het white men to blame the white guys for all the oppression that humanity has been going through for the past six hundred years.  White women want to blame the white guys– and if they are white feminists, they try to blame all men, regardless of “race.”  White trans people want to blame the white cis guys too.  White gays want to blame the straight whites, especially straight white guys.  The cis/het white guy– especially if he has money– seems to be the favorite target of criticism by white progressives in these marginalized identities.  Everybody likes to go after the straight, cisgender white guy.

The problem with this view of white men isn’t that they are getting picked on too much.  This view– that white men are responsible for most of the systemic oppression in the world– is mistaken because it ignores the material reality of how power works.  It’s true: capitalism was created by cis/het white men and for cis/het white men.  But white guys wouldn’t be able to control the entire global economy just on their own.  Because this would require some superhuman, magical power.  There are still too few of them as an overall percentage of the world’s population.  In fact, white men are a shrinking part of the American population.

This is where white women come in (cis or trans).  The majority of white women also voted for Donald Trump.  And there is nothing magical or mystical about why white women also supported Trump: it’s power.  It has always been about power.

Socialism is a system where the producers of a society equally share power.  There is no hierarchy under socialism, other than the dictatorship of the proletariat: that is, under socialism the capital class (which produces none of the resources in a society, but only benefits from the fruits of the working class’s labor) is powerless.  Members of the capital class may feel oppressed about this new social, political and economic arrangement, but systemic oppression is not subjective.  It’s not about feelings.  In order to share in the power of the socialist system, the bourgeoisie must disappear as a class and join the proletariat.  Once the bourgeoisie has disappeared, another qualitative change in society takes place, and then we have reached the point of communism: no classes, no property, no borders.

Capitalism, on the other hand, is a system that requires an unequal share of power within its hierarchy of classes.  European men created capitalism for their own benefit, but they have always used class antagonisms within the tiered structure of capitalist society to consolidate and expand their power.  Through systemic rewards and punishments (“the carrot and the stick”) individuals within each tier of the bourgeois social structure act out of self-interest (or self-preservation), further oppressing members of marginalized groups in order to get ahead.

Capitalism is built on this individualistic opportunism.  But the individual has no power on their own: their power to oppress comes entirely from the ruling class.  And as long as the ruling class is making greater and greater profits, all individuals in all classes below it are “free” to oppress marginalized identities– “free” in the ironic sense (irony having been banished from “America” some time around 1776).  This is the “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” embedded in the ideology of bourgeois (capitalist) democracy: the freedom to take advantage of the racist, patriarchal power structure for one’s personal gain.

This means white gays are empowered in much the same way as white straights to get ahead by aligning themselves with the homophobic power structure.  There are some areas where white gays are marginalized within the capitalist hierarchy.  But this vulnerability that white gays experience in relation to the inherent homophobia of capitalism doesn’t erase their whiteness.  And the same is true for white women overall, including white trans women.

In one sense, all whites are white men.  When it comes to the question of power, and how we use any of the power that we have in order to advance on an individual level, all Europeans are cis/het white men.  Why?  Because we all want what they have.  Having what white men have means comfort and security for us too.  And all whites are incentivized by the racist, patriarchal power structure of capitalism to act white.

Whiteness, as a political identity, is based on power– and, more specifically, on the unequal share of power that white men have created for themselves.  So, when it comes to power, all white people– by acting white— are playing the part of white men: cisgender, heterosexual white men.  There’s nothing else to whiteness but a grab for more and more power, and the wealth that goes along with this power.

The “American” identity is a nearly perfect disguise for all white people here to act white– to play the role of the cis/het white guy.  Except we call it “patriotism” (this sounds less like “white supremacy” or “white nationalism”).

In fact, the “American” identity allows– or rather, empowers– many people of color to play the role of the white guy as well.  However, we won’t criticize people of color in this analysis, and not just to “stay in our lane.”  It’s an objective reality that Africans/Black people did not create this system.  Indigenous peoples did not create this system.  Certainly queer and transgender people of color (QTPOC) did not create capitalism.  So the complicity is not the same for people of color in the systemic oppression perpetuated by “America” as it is for whites.  Even as “America” has become more “inclusive” it has done so to consolidate and expand the power of the current system, not to restore land and resources to Indigenous peoples, Africans, and all other colonized communities.  And any quantitative change in the condition of people of color that takes places under capitalism is based on a shift in systemic oppression to some other segment of their colonized community, or some other community altogether.  This is why so many people in countries terrorized by European imperialist capitalism come to the United States and want to be “American” as well: power.  Without its greater share of wealth and power, at the expense of the globe, the U.S. settler colony would be nothing.  Whiteness would be nothing.

The problem with “America” is not cis/het white men.  The problem with “America” is America.  Capitalism is the enemy of the world (people and earth), and the United States would be nothing without the system of power that holds its illegitimate borders and unjust class hierarchy in place.  Whiteness, cisnormativity, heteronormativity, and toxic masculinity sit atop this hierarchy of capitalism, assuring through genocidal violence that this profitable and rigid structure remains unchanged.  But any identity– and any individual– that throws in their lot with the racist, patriarchal power structure, is empowered to oppress.  Capitalism harms the white woman– transgender or cisgender– at the point of transphobia and sexism, but, at the same time, capitalism arms her to oppress, and to further benefit from the exploitation of colonized communities, at every other point of her identity that is not a specific category for her marginalization.

There isn’t anything magical about being transgender, or woman, or gay, or even working class, that makes a white person’s whiteness suddenly go away.  Whiteness is built into the system of capitalism, along with transphobia, sexism, homophobia and class oppression.  And these forms of oppression are inseparable from “America” itself.  To be “American” and to “act white” is to perpetuate at least one of these forms of colonial oppression.

The solution to the problem of cis/het white men is the same as the solution for everyone else (because that’s how socialism works): a total transformation of the system of power resulting in an equal share of power by all.  Cisgender, heterosexual white men may have farther to step down from their colonial status, but a rejection of the “American” identity, accompanied by material support for the socialist revolutions led by colonized peoples, is the first important step– for white men, and for all whites who (up to this point) have been playing the part of the white man, enjoying many of the same benefits of capitalist oppression that are inherent to this system (and not to the European male identity).

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Why Cis/Het White Men Are What’s Wrong with America

Trump’s White Supremacist Agenda and Bernie’s “Diversity”– Both Are Dangerous

peoplegetready

Recently Senator Bernie Sanders wrote:

“Our job is to expand diversity. We want more women, more African-Americans, more Latinos, and individuals of all ages, colors and creed to be involved in the political process. But to think of diversity purely in racial and gender terms is not sufficient.

“Yes, we need more candidates of diversity, but we also need candidates — no matter what race or gender — to be fighters for the working class and stand up to the corporate powers who have so much power over our economic lives. We need all of our candidates to have the courage to stand up to the Koch Brothers, Wall Street, drug companies, insurance companies, oil companies, and fight for working families — not just the top one percent.”

We ought to agree that President-elect Donald Trump (along with the racist administration that he is putting together in the same hateful, deceitful way that he ran his campaign) is very, very dangerous.  The Trump administration will be extremely dangerous.  This should be horrifyingly obvious to anyone who cares about justice, peace, equality and freedom– to anyone who loves humanity.  If you don’t agree with this, you need to get out of the way.

But there is another danger– more subtle, and therefore more difficult to define– that has emerged, since the election, in the rhetoric of Senator Bernie Sanders, and his supporters and in much of the white left.

Senators Sanders tells us, “Our job is to expand diversity.”

Diversity is good for white people.  According to an article in The Washington Post from 2014, “three-quarters of whites don’t have any non-white [sic] friends.”  My workplace is painfully white, and always has been, and any gathering of coworkers– for holiday parties and so forth– is embarrassing as far as its near-total whiteness.  Then again, Oregon has deliberately and violently attempted to stay white since the decades even before it became a state.  More diversity may help whites to deal with our racism and with our history of settler colonialism on stolen indigenous land.  We have a lot to learn.  So diversity is beneficial to white people, absolutely; but, in this specific context, diversity is not as beneficial to so-called people of color.

Colonized peoples– indigenous nations, Africans/Black people, Latinxs, and (in general) the majority of the world’s population– have been robbed by, “not just the top one percent,” but by the masses of Europeans who have demanded more resources, more land, and more labor to sustain the white lifestyle (in the U.S., and in Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Europe– wherever the white identity exists).

White people have created a system– capitalism– that has robbed the world for six centuries.  It’s true that the ruling class of this system– “Wall Street”— has grabbed most of the loot in this ongoing attack against Africans, indigenous peoples, Latinxs: people of color, or colonized peoples.  But the fruits of production in the capitalist system are distributed primarily among those who are identified (by this system) as “white.”  Capitalism can only expand its power on account of this white supremacist ideology.  And the white supremacist ideology of capitalism is inseparable from its colonialism and its patriarchy (transphobia, homophobia, misogyny, misogynoir), as well as its ableism and all other forms of systemic oppression.

To emphasize diversity within the context of this violent colonization of the world’s majority (people of color, who have been minoritized only through centuries of genocide), is another dangerous form of white supremacist violence.  Communities of color, who are being robbed and murdered by capitalism, are demanding access to resources– the resources that are necessary for life.  They are demanding power.  Power has been taken from Africans/Black people, and the majority of humanity, by white supremacist capitalism.  And this parasitic relationship that so-called people of color have with Europeans (whites) continues to drain the resources, labor and lives of the global majority so that capitalism can grow stronger and expand– to benefit the white minority.

The expansion of diversity, in this context, means the expansion of the system that is responsible for the oppression of marginalized identities.  This force or power of violent marginalization has everything to do with race, gender, sexuality, and class– and how these identities overlap.  All forms of systemic oppression against marginalized identities are interlocking, and all these forms come together in a single reactionary force that can be defined in dialectical terms as the white supremacist colonizer (bourgeoisie) and colonized “people of color” (the proletariat).

What Senator Sanders seems to be calling for is more and more individuals in colonized communities to align themselves with the white “working class.”  This approach, in effect, picks off the talent, the genius, the labor, the creativity, the resources and the energy of people of color– Africans, indigenous peoples, Latinxs, Asians– so that they will contribute, instead, to some hazy, dreamy ideal of the “99 percent.”  The rhetoric used by Senator Sanders erases the material dialectic that is truly responsible for the oppression of so-called people of color: the dialectic of the colonizer and the colonized, the European occupier/the parasite and the community of occupied nations/the host.

Senator Sanders’ language diminishes and even ignores that colonized communities– people of color– are the working class of the global economy: in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America and within the illegitimate borders of the United States.   His language also ignores the fact that middle-class and wealthy people of color exist– a fact originally pointed out by Imani Gandy, who has dealt with constant racist and sexist verbal abuse from supporters of Bernie Sanders (while he diminishes the importance of race and gender).

Senator Sanders doesn’t recognize that there are other forms of oppression– interlocking or intersecting forms– that colonized communities experience besides economic exploitation by the “corporate powers.”  These forms of oppression that are rooted in “race” and gender have a material impact on “working families” in colonized communities (as well as workers outside patriarchal conceptions of the family power structure).  Racism against indigenous peoples negatively impacts their control of land and water.  This racism destroys indigenous lives– indigenous women, including indigenous transgender women.  Bernie Sanders refuses to recognize this crucial point: “race,” gender and class are connected.

But this critique isn’t just about Bernie Sanders.  The far greater danger comes from the masses of the white left— white liberals, white progressives, white socialists– who are demanding that colonized communities abandon their national identities and align themselves with our struggle (“Our Revolution”) against the white-controlled power structure.

Fortunately, people of color– Africans/Black people, indigenous peoples, Latinxs– are rejecting this demand and are resisting this call to align themselves with white interests.  They already did this when they rejected Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries.  But the white left– including Bernie– didn’t seem to get the message.  And now that Donald Trump has won the election, the white left is terrified about our own security and our own access to resources.

The Democrats are losing even more power inside the bourgeois government.  While the bourgeois government, and the entire capitalist system, including the Democrats, have always represented white interests, they– the Democrats– are more desperate than ever to win the support of colonized communities: people of color.

But it’s not so easy to bring people of color into alignment with white interests as it once was.  Why?  Because the capitalist system is showing its true self: its white supremacist, misogynistic, transphobic, reactionary identity.

Decades of the “War on Drugs” (or the War on Black People), mass incarceration, transphobic violence, racial profiling, food deserts, rape culture, college debt, poisoned water, racist teachers, globalization, gentrification, and police brutality have exposed the white supremacist, patriarchal ideology of capitalism more than at any other point in the history of this settler colony.

The masses of colonized peoples are becoming more and more politically conscious, thanks to the leadership– not of Bernie Sanders or anyone else on the white left– but women in the Black Lives Matter movement, queer and trans people of color, African and indigenous and Latinx revolutionaries.  The organized masses of the true global proletariat– not just in the U.S., but in Africa, Asia, and Latin America– are moving against the white-controlled bourgeoisie.

And this has Bernie worried.  Because today the white left is losing power.  Now the white working class is forced to deal with its own contradictions, our own racism– not only on the right-wing of the white bourgeois identity but on the left-wing of this identity too.

And now that Trump has won the election, we’re terrified.  We are panicking, so we want people of color to join us— to be on our side, to be our sidekicks, so we can continue to be the star of the show, so we– white people– can continue to enjoy the greatest share of capitalism’s stolen loot.  And when people of color reject this call to align with historically white-defined interests, whites get angry, we verbally attack Black women on social media.  Bernie’s language leads to this type of aggression.  And it’s dangerous.

Bernie Sanders represents a new development– a new stage– of white nationalism on the left.  And this current stage of white reactionary behavior grew out of the racial “colorblindness” (in ableist terms) of the Obama Era.  Since the most powerful man in the world (apparently) has been a Black man, and since we voted for him (that is, the majority of the white left), our political consciousness can block out the possibility that “race” oppression is still connected to class oppression.

And since the white working class within the bourgeois white identity is struggling more and more to receive the benefits of racist, colonial oppression, we’re afraid.  But we’re afraid for ourselves– a fear that goes back to the time we were serfs struggling to escape Europe, in search of land and liberal, individualistic autonomy in the “New World.”

The majority of white people under the capitalist system have always been scared– frightened for our security, our access to resources, our ability to sustain “the American Dream.”  And, during each stage of history, European colonizers (whites) have stepped on so-called people of color– Africans and all colonized peoples– in order to climb out of our own misery, and to survive, to multiply and to prosper across an entire continent, and beyond.

As capitalism flails and sputters, and desperately turns to an orange-hued monstrosity named Donald Trump, whites are more afraid than ever.  Whites on the reactionary right are afraid that people of color are spoiling our party on this stolen continent.  They are angrily– often violently– looking for someone to blame for capitalism’s increasing exploitation and destruction of humanity and planet.  Meanwhile, whites on the reactionary left are turning to the growing population of brown people to save us.

And this is The Bernie Phenomenon: in a land (never mind that it is indigenous land) where race and gender don’t matter, all identities must unite and come together, so that the European population– the “default” white colonizing identity– can reclaim its status at the top.  In other words– “Make America Great Again.”  But great again with a whitewashed, watered down brand of socialism (one part Marxism and ninety-nine parts white liberal platitudes).  This is The Bernie Sanders Approach to the increasingly violent oppression of European imperialist capitalism– and this approach is dangerous, terribly dangerous to humanity.

If we want to side with humanity, Europeans (white people) need to get ready and get off that Bernie Train.  The train that’s coming is the global revolution of the true proletariat: Africans/Black people, Latinxs, indigenous peoples, Asians, Arabs, Pacific Islanders, the nations of brown people within this Creation who are equals before their (and our) Creator.  The white identity is “baggage” that the people don’t need.  Whiteness is weighing us down: people, just “get on board.”

“There ain’t no room for the hopeless sinner who would hurt all mankind just to save his own …”

Trump’s White Supremacist Agenda and Bernie’s “Diversity”– Both Are Dangerous

Peace Is Bread: The Science of Socialism

bread

Socialism, in the simplest terms, is the marriage of the ideals we seek—freedom, justice, equality and peace—with their material fact.

Socialism is the synthesis of these two contradictory forces that exist within the capitalist system during the present stage of history: while, in our hearts and minds, we want freedom, justice, equality and peace, at the same time—even the most ardent defenders of capitalism must confess—these principles are not the reality for our bodies, and do not tangibly exist for many people, in regard to our ability to have access to the resources that are necessary for any person to feel or think at all.  Under capitalism, democratic ideals are contradicted by material fact.

There is a gap in capitalist democracy between 1) the stated principles of the Constitution (and other key documents of this system) and 2) the lived experience of the masses who struggle under its rule.

Advocates of the capitalist system argue that any system is going to be flawed.  “That’s life, ” they say.  For them, equality and inequality are all a matter of good luck or bad luck, of blessings from above, or their absence.  Advocates of capitalism may even go so far as to say that we should free ourselves from all systems, and all labels (sorry, Adam and Eve, no names for anything!), and from all centralized forms of government.

We might call this argument “bourgeois privilege”—the privilege of the white colonizer.  Having received the material benefits of capitalism, which have been accumulated over many generations, European colonizers (whites) in the United States are at liberty to ignore the [white supremacist] structures and institutions that have elevated us to our current status.  We are literally free to turn our backs on the oppressive reality of the system that made our colonial status possible in the first place.

In a libertarian reverie, we may honestly believe that all systems are bad, and that any constraints on the individual are some form of tyranny; but, if we would just look at what’s beneath our feet, whites may notice the material reality of our situation: that we exist on stolen indigenous land.  Without this land, we have no power to grow or shoot our own food (these are just a few images from the bourgeois libertarian fantasy, supported by actual proletarian labor), to build our own houses, and to find any of the materials for our clothing, our medicine and other necessities of life.  In order to do any of these things for ourselves– with “the government off our backs”– first we need land.  And how did we grab this land?  Through a system: a collective of power based on the shared interests of European settlers and expressed through military aggression.  Without genocide against indigenous peoples, we have no land.  Without land, we have no basis for our ideals of freedom, justice, equality and peace.

Under capitalism, it is impossible to resolve this contradiction between stated values (the things we believe in our hearts and minds) and material reality (how we actually live).  Socialism is the resolution to this contradiction.  Freedom in a socialist government means we are free to gain access to resources.  And, not coincidentally, justice and equality also mean access to resources, and it is through this access there is peace.  All these ideals (or their negations) meet within the material reality because access to resources—or control of the means of production—is the basis of rule: the rule of any class under any system of government, socialist or otherwise.  This is an inescapable, scientific fact.

We may agree or disagree about many topics and hold the widest variety of opinions, but there are certain things that all people need before we can have opinions, or do anything.  We need food.  We need water (clean water).  We need clothing, housing, education, and healthcare.  And it’s almost impossible to obtain these necessities on our own.

Education is a good example.  How can a person teach themselves language, and how to read and write?  Without a system of power, we would have to reinvent the wheel every generation, as well as the word for “wheel”.  What’s more, every individual in each generation would have to teach themselves the basics of life, starting from scratch.

Let’s say you want to drive a car.  Without the accumulated knowledge and power of the masses, and the system they have created, we could imagine this scenario: first, you would have to figure out how to design the car, then get the materials for it, then build it, and then build the road.  We know this isn’t possible.

But the libertarian view wants us to pretend such an unrealistic scenario is possible.  Why?  Because the libertarian ideology originates in the bourgeoisie and petit bourgeoisie, which exists off the labor of the proletariat.  Members of the bourgeois class may wish to justify their further exploitation of the actual producers within a society while they are enjoying the benefits of this production, and while they are then turning their free time, talents, and accumulated knowledge and wealth into even more benefits.  Since the capitalist system stands to grow stronger, and gain more power, from this viewpoint, it’s understandable that the libertarian or individualistic ideology would be accepted as valid, when in fact it has no basis in reality.

The socialist ideology simply states that— in order for actual peace, liberty, justice and equality to exist—the producers of material necessities in a society must control the means of production.  The workers who produce the food, clothing and other necessities for a society are empowered under socialism to distribute their own productions among themselves.

Under capitalism, food and all other products of human labor are first commodified by the ruling class and are then sold back to the workers at a higher price than the actual wage value of these products.  If the capitalist class were to sell these commodities back to the workers at the same price that they paid the workers for them, there would be no profit.  And these profits, by definition, go back to the capitalist class—the class that doesn’t actually produce any of these goods.  What sets the capitalist class apart is that it owns the means by which the workers produce these goods—these necessities for living.

Under socialism, the workers own these means of production.  Since there’s no profit motive, inequity is dis-incentivized.   Capitalism is a system that incentivizes inequality: it must sell the products of the workers’ labor back to the masses at a higher price than the wages that it has reluctantly paid the workers to produce these commodities.

Without any system at all, there wouldn’t be any means to produce the material necessities of life.  So the libertarian view is both unrealistic and dangerous.  It’s unrealistic because the reality is that the individual is dependent upon the masses of people for everything (to paraphrase Kwame Ture).  And the libertarian view is dangerous because it encourages a greater movement toward oligarchy.  Its ideological thrust results in the few who started out with more gaining even a larger share while the many lag further and further behind.  As this distance increases, the few are preoccupied with dreamy notions of “liberty” and “justice” rather than any consciousness of the unequal portion of labor’s production that they consume.

When libertarians and conservatives aren’t ranting against all systems they are engaged in crusades against “big government.”  Reactionaries on the right (as well as some reactionaries on the left) romanticize the small business owner, the entrepreneur, the farmer, the rancher.  What they fail to recognize is the connection between government and business under a bourgeois system of power.  For instance, higher taxes on corporate profits and on the incomes of the wealthy are, in effect, the capitalist system’s payment to itself.

Liberal reactionaries fail to recognize that the current government still belongs to the capitalist ruling class, even with more regulations, higher taxes and more programs that benefit the “poor.”  Under capitalism, the rich are rich by design and the poor are poor by design—the latter are, in fact, impoverished, not just poor.  Because poverty could be eliminated overnight if all private property were simply given back to the people.  The reactionary government—whether liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican—exists to maintain the unequal, unjust, violent and oppressive relationship between the owners of property (the bourgeoisie) and the workers who produce the actual wealth of a society (the proletariat).

Reactionaries try to set up an imaginary antagonism between government and business because this blurs the actual dialectic of bourgeois society: the class antagonism between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.  For instance, Republicans move against “big government” and attempt to dismantle the programs of the welfare state.  Democrats (if they aren’t too “New” in their fiscal conservatism and quest to compromise on every issue) try to defend these programs.  Yet both sides basically agree: a revolution by the workers would be a bad thing.

Higher taxes to support the welfare state are capitalism’s attempt to put down any potential rebellion from the masses of workers, who otherwise might recognize their own power.   And yet Republicans and Democrats argue back and forth as if there is an actual or material disagreement between them about the basic power structure of society.   The only difference between Republicans and Democrats is the degree of oppression they wish to allow.  And Democrats only wish to allow less oppression against the masses of people when it benefits them (the Democrats)—that is, when they are seeking to gain votes from the workers.  Since the workers possess no actual power under capitalism, Democrats run back to the capital class as soon as the election is over (who paid for their campaigns in the first place).  The only time Democrats display any real concern for the masses is when we show signs of revolt.  Then they become quite useful to the ruling class (who otherwise regard them as the hypocrites they are), because it’s during times of imperialist crisis that the Democrats promise to the suffering masses more reforms and more programs—anything except real power.

Socialism is true government by the people and for the people, at the material level.  Unless the system is meeting the needs of each individual at the level of access to material necessities, the socialist government isn’t functioning.  But the incentive to withhold necessary resources from the people is removed under socialism.

On the other hand, capitalism cannot exist without inequality.  The “capital” of capitalism requires a gap between the wage value of what the workers produce and the capital value of what the rulers own.  Since capitalism requires this gap, it chooses to produce commodities that may be of no actual benefit to a society—and quite the contrary, these commodities may have a very negative effect on the people and on the planet.   Under capitalism, the owners of wealth seek to accumulate greater wealth either through selling a larger quantity of an inexpensive commodity produced through suppressed wages (such as fast food), or a smaller quantity of an expensive commodity that the producers, with their low wages, couldn’t possibly afford (leading to gentrification).   Capitalism incentivizes unhealthy lifestyles, crime, dishonesty, greed, selfishness, pollution, abusive personal relationships, and countless other forms of injustice, inequality and violence.

A socialist government recognizes that peace comes in the form of a loaf of bread.  Where hunger exists, there is no peace.  Under socialism, the ideal must reflect material fact, and the material fact must reflect the ideal.  Socialism requires something like a mirror image, or a marriage between the principles we hold in our minds and the bread we hold in our hands.  So the productive forces of a society aim toward meeting the material needs of the population before doing anything else– with the profit motive nowhere to be found on the socialist system’s list of priorities.

The capitalist system, on the other hand, causes a divorce to occur between the stated principles of the people and their material conditions.  The engine of science under capitalism may drive toward some social benefits, such as some benefits in the development of medicine, but capitalism must discourage any recognition of the science of governing.

The ideological thrust of socialism encourages every individual in a society to work toward one thing: the well-being of that society.  And this driving force begins with the acknowledgement that government itself can be a science.  If one wishes to heal the wound of a single patient, there is a science for this.  If one wishes to heal the wounds of an entire community, there is also a science for that: socialist government.

Capitalism wants us to disregard the scientific basis for governing.   Capitalism wants us to believe that socialists are just dreamers.  But there is, in fact, an objective reality to governing, as there is to any other aspect of nature.  Capitalists are ideologically disconnected from reality because they think everything else in nature has a scientific explanation but, when it comes to human society, we must be living on another planet, or in some other realm of this planet, where magical “invisible hands” are sufficient for meeting our needs—so they end up saying, if we are starving, and cold, we just need to work harder, or pray harder, or die.

But there is a way to make sure nobody goes hungry.  There is a way to make sure nobody goes homeless.  There’s a way to make sure everybody receives a good education and has access to good healthcare.  It’s called scientific socialism.

Peace Is Bread: The Science of Socialism

Trump Did Not Win Because of the Working Class!

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Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont recently said, “The working class of this country is being decimated– that’s why Donald Trump won.  … And what we need now are candidates who stand with those working people …”

Bernie Sanders is wrong, which is not surprising.  Not only is Senator Sanders a member of one of the most racist, patriarchal and imperialist institutions in history, but he represents one of the whitest states in this settler colony called “the United States of America.”

Vermont is second only to Maine in the whiteness of its population– 96 percent.  While Black people make up just 1.2% of Vermont’s overall population, they make up almost 11% of its prison population— and the rate of incarceration against Black people grew faster in Vermont between 1993 and 2007 than in any other state.

Of course, Bernie Sanders already lost his bid for the Presidential nomination in the Democratic Party (the party of corporate interests) quite a while ago.  But a lot of people– a lot of white people anyway– still seem to care what he has to say.  And that’s alright.  Not all white supporters of Senator Sanders are “Bernie Bros” who verbally abuse Black women like Imani Gandy.  But support for Bernie Sanders, when it comes from the progressive belief in the creation of a system based on principles of egalitarianism and justice, should be taken to the next level.

Each of us becomes politically conscious at different stages of our life and no one starts out thinking like Kwame Nkrumah or Che Guevara.  Support for Bernie Sanders is a good starting place to develop a socialist analysis.  An understanding of Pan-African/African Internationalist dialectical and historical materialism may begin with Bernie for a lot of people in this country, especially white people who have never really organized an effective revolutionary movement against capitalism (unlike Africans).

So we can still learn many things from Bernie Sanders.  And one thing we can learn from him is the unavoidable limitations that exist in the political analysis of a cisgender, heterosexual white male Senator who represents one of the whitest states in “America.”

Senator Sanders’ viewpoint is that he wants people to move away from “identity politics.”  But this very argument is evidence of Senator Sanders’ class status within the dialectic between the white colonizer and colonized “people of color.”  His inability to recognize the basic connections between class and “race” in this settler colony is a reflection of Senator Sanders’ identity.  It is for this reason (among others) that a revolutionary movement of the true global proletariat should not and, in fact, cannot be led by a white person– not Bernie Sanders, not Jill Stein, certainly not Elizabeth Warren, not any white person (transgender or cisgender, queer or straight, woman or man, working class or wealthy).

The capitalist State is using its water cannons and tear gas on the Indigenous protectors of water at Standing Rock– in freezing weather.  What do we mean when we say these attacks are being waged by the capitalist State?  We mean: the United States, a settler colony of Europe that continues to steal land, labor, resources and lives from colonized communities, both inside and outside its illegitimate borders.  And the Indigenous identity has everything to do with these attacks.  The fact that Indigenous peoples face some of the worst economic conditions, including vast “food deserts” on land that rightfully belongs to them, has everything to do with their identity— whereas working class white people are not impoverished on account of whiteness.

The hundreds of attacks on individuals in marginalized communities since Trump’s victory nearly two weeks ago have been aimed primarily against “people of color”: Black people/Africans, Latinxs, Muslims, immigrants of color, at all their intersections of identity (a large percentage of Muslims in the U.S. are Black/African, as well as part of the immigrant population).  Identity has everything to do with the reason for these attacks by Trump’s supporters.

So far this year– under a Democratic President– at least 26 transgender women have been murdered in the United States, the overwhelming majority of whom are Black trans women or trans women of color.  Identity has everything to do with the murders of trans women of color, as well as the lack of access to resources that causes the average life expectancy of a trans woman of color in the U.S. to be just 35 years.

The problem with Bernie Sanders’ analysis is that he is situated– like all white people– in the colonizing class of the “American” empire.  Whiteness itself is a class within the hierarchy of colonial, capitalist oppression.  That is, white people share the same interests based on our white identity.  For instance, it’s in the interests of whites to live on the stolen land of Indigenous peoples.  As individuals, Europeans wouldn’t have any power to exist in North America.  We had to get together and form a system of power– including the military and police– that would reflect these interests.  This violent system of power allowed Europeans to escape the poverty and oppression of Europe.

And why has the “New World”– and then the United States– been able to provide economic, political and social opportunities that were not available in Europe?  Because this particular system of power is supported through the land, labor and resources of the true proletariat of the world– colonized Africans, Indigenous peoples, and the majority of humanity outside Europe.  Without the enslavement of Africans, the U.S. would not have been able to provide the “unalienable rights” of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” to whites.  This was– and still is– raw opportunism on the part of European colonizers.  It’s no wonder that Bernie Sanders opposes reparations to Black people.

If our analysis of class struggle in the United States begins with the assumption that the United States itself is a legitimate power, and not an empire built on the exploitation and genocidal oppression of Africans, Indigenous peoples, and the true global proletariat, then we have completely missed the point.

Senator Sanders, from where he is situated in the dialectic of oppressor/oppressed or colonizer/colonized, is unequipped to provide the correct analysis of class and “race” in this country.  Because the correct or materialist analysis of capitalist oppression must go beyond the illegitimate borders of “America,” and its flag, its military, its holidays (like Thanksgiving).  A correct analysis, instead, recognizes that the truly proletarian class does not consist of white “Americans,” but exploited Africans in Africa who produce the cocoa, bauxite, oil, and diamonds for our consumption.  The true proletariat are the enslaved children in Thailand who produce peeled shrimp for the enjoyment of whites in the U.S.  The proletariat is made up of the millions of Africans in “America” who are locked up in its prisons– prisons in Vermont, and all across a continent whose wealth and power were created by stolen Black labor, resources and lives.

Once we correctly view the dialectic of the oppressor and the oppressed on a global scale, we will recognize that the call for all “Americans,” particularly working class whites, to unite with Trump’s supporters, is simply an attempt to blur the inescapable divisions created by capitalist oppression.  Bourgeois politicians like Sanders and Warren (members of the reactionary institution that is the U.S. Senate) want us to erase the real distinction between the colonizer class and the colonized class.  If we overlook the material reality of this dialectical relationship, perhaps we will ignore– or continue to ignore– our complicity in the oppressive relationship that whites have with most of the people on the planet, and the planet itself.

Are working class whites struggling?  Of course– that’s how capitalism works and has always worked.  Yet the European colonizers– working class or otherwise– who support Trump actually recognize more clearly than white liberals the value of whiteness itself.  Trump’s supporters recognize that the defense of “America” is the defense of whiteness.  They understand that “America” means white supremacy– that’s why they want to “Make America Great Again.”  Trump’s supporters want to eliminate brown people. And how is this different from what “America” has been doing all along?  How does this belief go against the State’s attacks on Indigenous protectors of water that are happening right now– under a Democratic president?

Trump won because white people are defending whiteness and all the political, economic and social power that whiteness represents.  Yet Bernie Sanders is trying to blur the fundamental dialectic of the capitalist system.  Those of us who oppose Trump, and his supporters, and the system they are defending, need to do better than follow the incorrect understanding of material conditions that Senator Sanders continues to promote.

Trump’s supporters actually have a better understanding of this fundamental divide than most whites on the left seem to have.  Whites on the left want to pretend that whiteness doesn’t matter.  We don’t want to recognize our complicity in capitalism’s ongoing murder and theft of Africa and the world.  We try to separate our white identity from our economic struggles as members of the white working class.  Whites on the left don’t want to be racist, so we avoid becoming conscious of the divisions in a racist society that are necessary to bring us material benefits at the expense of everyone else.

It’s very likely that President Donald Trump and the capitalist system will exploit the inability– or blatant unwillingness– on the part of liberals inside the white nation to recognize the connections between class and race, and the complicity of whites (liberal, conservative or otherwise) in colonial oppression.  Just as European colonizers have done from the very beginning, we will seek to improve our own economic, political and social standing at the expense of Africans and all colonized peoples (the majority of the world).  Unless we are very clear about the primary dialectic of bourgeois society, whites will end up siding– once again– with the white supremacist, reactionary force against the true global proletariat.  And what is this white supremacist, reactionary force?  “America.”

The call for “Americans” to come together, to unite, to focus on economic issues that affect all of us (especially working class “Americans” within the white identity) is, in reality, a call for European colonizers to expand the oppressive power of the white supremacist, capitalist system that is the “United States of America.”

Trump is #NotMyPresident.  Capitalism is #NotOurSystem.  And AmeriKKKa is #NotOurIdentity.  Not unless we continue to follow Bernie’s lead.

Trump Did Not Win Because of the Working Class!

Note: The Rise of Trump As Evidence That White Supremacy Is Failing

the election of Donald Trump by whites– as well as the unveiling of his blatantly racist administration– is evidence that white supremacy is failing.

 

capitalism, patriarchy, imperialism, “America,” and white supremacy (all the same thing) are failing.

 

for many decades, if not centuries, capitalism has been able to clothe its white supremacy in the idealistic language of liberalism, draping its genocidal violence against the world in the outward appearance of universally humane principles of “justice,” “freedom,” “equality,” and “peace.”

 

when capitalism was succeeding, it was easy for people– at least for European colonizers (or whites)– to believe that “America” stood for these things, while the white supremacist ruling class seized land and destroyed lives across an entire continent (then Hawaii and Puerto Rico), and, eventually, the entire globe.

 

somehow “Americans” were able to convince themselves that the enjoyment of imperialist loot by the ruling class was a good thing for humanity. that was capitalism’s greatest victory: getting people to believe it stood for anything other than increasing profits for the white ruling class through its increasing violence and oppression of Africans, indigenous peoples, and the majority of the world’s population.

 

but capitalism has been flailing since the 1970s. the white middle-class and white working class of the bourgeois white identity have become more and more restless.  we wonder: what happened to our share of the spoils of “peace and prosperity?”  why can’t we enjoy the “American Dream” that has been– in the words of Malcolm X– an “American Nightmare” for everyone else?

 

the less that capitalism has been able to deliver the promised benefits of whiteness, the more white people have clamored for alternatives– no matter how blatantly racist, no matter how unqualified, absurd, or just plain bizarre.

 

so now we have our man: Donald Trump.

 

a man for whom forming words to expel from contorted lips seems to be a painful effort. a man who is the physical embodiment of monstrous capitalism in its last bloated stage– orange alert! — before it bursts.

 

is Trump dangerous?

 

absolutely!!!

 

but has capitalism ever not been dangerous? has the “United States of America” ever not been a white supremacist settler colony of Europe?

 

Trump is dangerous because white supremacy–capitalism– America– is confused and frightened that it is losing its grip on people and planet.

 

the machine is sputtering, lurching, grinding its gears. but if the PEOPLE resist, we can bring this machine and its white supremacist power down. we can destroy it before it destroys us.

 

now, under a Trump presidency, we may have no other choice but to RESIST.

 

Note: The Rise of Trump As Evidence That White Supremacy Is Failing

A Note on History

our conceptions of history or the past can have a limiting effect on our power to imagine the future.

history is just beginning.  but a view of history that divides time– like so many bars on a cage– first into prehistory, then the ancient world, and then the “Dark Ages” (dark for whom? i prefer the dark, so soothing compared to the harsh white light of depression).  then the Renaissance and the Enlightenment (again, for whom?).  and, finally, “America”– eternally “good” (in fact, perfect– only to be made “more perfect” in Lincoln’s impossible phrasing) … “America” until the end of time, apparently.

but suppose we were just beginning to figure things out right now?  what if we were to think of the future as much longer than the past, and still undecided?  then we would know to resist, resist, resist.  only through this struggle against “what is” will things change into “what we want them to be.” whatever people want, if they struggle for it, they may get it. not on an individual level– but as an organized force of history.

the static, claustrophobic ideal of “America” is holding back the development of society. “America” is tired. “America” is clogging the cycle of history.  it has us stuck in the past.  we could have a society that is so much better if we only would get together and move as a unified force to make it happen. “America” is counting on European colonizers (white people) to keep our minds in the cage that is the capitalist view of history. capitalism wants us to dismiss a mass movement for a qualitative change of systems as too extreme.  but what’s more extreme than colonizing a continent through genocide and slavery and global domination?  why should we let that atrocity continue?

each season ends, the sun goes down, the tide retreats– why should the “United States of America” be allowed to continue on and on as some inevitable and unnatural thing, like a Tupperware container or a Styrofoam cup (two of capitalism’s great contributions to civilization, along with the Viagra commercial)?

A Note on History

“Not Much to Look At, Nothing to See”

sinatrafunnythatway
[content warning: long post, gender dysphoria, sui**de ideation]
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i once read something about how selfies can be self-care for trans people.

selfies on social media help us to feel good about ourselves and the progress we’ve made so far. they show we’re not ashamed of who we are.  and any positive feedback that we get for these selfies also feels good.

but i stopped taking selfies because they weren’t working for me.

there are probably only two or three photos of myself in my entire life that i like.

i spent most of my life feeling suicidal any time i saw a picture of myself or any time i looked in the mirror.

i’m not sure cis people entirely know what this means– i’m not talking about feeling unattractive or even ugly. i did feel ugly but it’s because i thought i looked like a man. and not even a little bit like a man– i mean, so much so that everyone treated me like a man. so it’s not the same for transgender people. in fact, on one level i knew i wasn’t ugly– just kind of bland-looking. sometimes my eyes got compliments. but, overall, it was like i had been under attack, or had been poisoned, for decades, mainly by too much testosterone. i wanted to destroy myself.

after a few years of hormone replacement therapy, there are days when i actually enjoy my appearance.

but i struggle to understand the concept of “staying humble” or having “no ego”– because, once the wig and the makeup come off, it’s like … there’s that ugliness again!  i’m constantly humbled, not only by my looks, but my ignorance, my weak memory, and the utter uselessness of Europeans (whites) who do little else than take up space in the global society.

people may not recognize (and why should they?) that i don’t just get out of bed in the morning and look the way i do.

in spite of thousands of dollars put on credit cards for laser and electrolysis, i still have facial hair– a lot of annoying little coarse white hairs all over my face and neck, because i literally got old while i was trying to eliminate the very dark beard that i started growing early on (at age eleven or twelve).  in fact, i still have a lot of dark hair on my face.

i inherited male pattern baldness from my dad, and there’s nothing that yells “MANLY” (in a deep voice yet) like a hairline that resembles Bruce Willis in “Die Hard.” i cannot tell you how suicidal this has made me.

i’ve known that i’m transgender for most of my adult life– although i didn’t know the word “transgender” or know i was already a woman until fairly recently. and i’ve tried so many things to deal with gender dysphoria, resulting in mounds of debt on maxed out credit cards.

i bought wigs in different styles. i found that the dark brown wigs– the actual color of what’s left of my hair– tended to accentuate the dark circles under my tired eyes. more gender dysphoria.

still, i never thought about being a blonde. but in 2013 i bought a blond wig and i was amazed at the difference it made. that was when i began to present as my true self, after i bought that blond wig.  it didn’t take courage for me to start living my true identity on April 22, 2013– it took a cute blond wig!

but i’ve been trying different things with my looks for years, not just since 2013. i sometimes wore mascara to work. i wore cute shoes.  in fact, i haven’t owned any men’s clothing since 2002 or 2003 (when i was in my twenties). but most of my women’s clothing wasn’t what this cisnormative society would identify as “feminine.” around 2009 or so, i kind of gave up trying to look cute and just wore black and gray sweaters, blue jeans and some practical shoes (no more espadrilles– a favorite of mine).

in 2013, after i bought the blond wig, i started wearing the clothes i wanted to wear– although the styles in my closet seemed too conservative and still too practical. mostly, i just bought what was on sale at JCPenney and Macy’s– or my mom gave me clothes for gifts on my birthday and Christmas (no more Christmas for me now that i’m a Muslim).

i actually became more interested in clothes earlier this year when i became a Muslim. i finally found a style that goes with who i am. because the Victoria’s Secret look was not only expensive, it just didn’t fit my identity– i didn’t feel good in most of their clothes.

the hardest part about wearing the hijab is the gender dysphoria. it covers up my blond wig.

and i’m so dysphoric, i need to wear a wig under the hijab. also, i struggle terribly to put the hijab on. we’re talking about a girl who can barely tie her shoes.  this keeps me from wearing a lot of the cuter hijab styles (like Haute Hijab)– that and a lack of money.

sometimes i wear a scarf that shows a little bit more of my wig, especially around my apartment building when i’m doing laundry or getting my mail.

and when i’m alone (which is 99% of the time that i’m not at work) i often wear just a wig and no hijab (except during salah, or prayer).

after three years of hormone replacement therapy, my face is more full and “feminine” (cisnormative language). and with a wig on, and the MAC makeup, and plenty of eyeliner, eye shadow and mascara to make my tired eyes “pop” a little– i actually feel cute.

so one night i was bouncing around the apartment, smiling, happy, because i finally like my looks, and i wondered, “am i getting a big ego?” because i really loved my face in the mirror. i wasn’t just smiling, i was laughing.  it felt so good.  i thought, “am i getting a big head?”

but then– an hour later– i took off the wig, took off the makeup, and … oh, right. there’s that face again. so staying humble is not a worry of mine. i’m humbled every time i get ready for bed. or those times i’m struggling with a migraine and can’t wear a wig (they’re so tight!) so i take it off, put on a baseball cap and … oh, there’s that ugly face again. that manly appearance.

and another thing can ruin my mood in half a second– taking a picture of myself. all the sudden, every manly feature is highlighted. it’s torture.

so i ask myself: “why do this?” if i’m happy with my looks, why take a selfie and ruin it? why keep trying to do something that simply doesn’t work for me?

what makes me sad is how trapped i feel by the need to wear a wig and the kind of expensive makeup that will cover dark whiskers (my mom is helping me buy makeup right now). because i found out recently that MAC is pro-Israel. and that’s the only makeup that has ever given me the right coverage. and as for the wig– it has to come off whenever i take a bath. and i love taking baths. so i put some kind of cap on, but that has to come off when i’m drying. then the gender dysphoria sets in. what’s supposed to be a calming experience– taking a bath at the end of an exhausting day– becomes traumatic.

i’d love to have the freedom of feeling the wind in my hair, and not needing to wear makeup, and just knowing that this body– beautiful, homely, or whatever– is mine. and then i wouldn’t be so afraid of being arrested and ending up in jail without getting to wear makeup– and, instead, looking manly in my hijab, or with no hijab, no wig: bald. that scares me more than anything. i know there are other dangers, much bigger dangers– other violence i might face– but experiencing more gender dysphoria is my biggest fear.

i also wonder if i’ll ever be touched again, ever be loved by a partner. and if that did happen, what would i do at night after the wig came off? what would they do?  would they still love me?

so hopefully people can recognize– if anyone reads this (and thanks)– that the picture or image they see of me on the internet is not the entire story of my self-image as a transgender woman. since i started wearing the hijab, and covering my blond wig, it has been a bigger struggle to have a positive self-image. but sometimes i do feel cute anyway– Alhamdulillah. it’s after the wig comes off, and the makeup, and i see what’s underneath– that hurts. and this happens every day.

taking a selfie just adds to that hurt. i tried to take selfies to feel better about myself as a transgender woman– to feel empowered. it didn’t work for me. however, i do feel much happier with my appearance once i put everything together: makeup, wig, hijab. this is the real me. and i love myself.

so– to finish that song (with a slight change in the lyric) …

“i’m not much to look at

nothing to see

just glad i’m living

and blessed to be”

“Not Much to Look At, Nothing to See”