Is Punching Nazis a Good Thing or a Bad Thing? (The Answer Is: Good)

MaoEssay

Thesis: Punching Nazis is good because they are Nazis.

Antithesis: Punching Nazis is bad, because not only will they become even more violent, but the United States (which is basically a fascist empire) will also inflict more damage on already marginalized communities– on Black and Brown people.  Instead, pay reparations, so they can have resources to further organize for the protection of those who are the most harmed by the Nazis and by this white supremacist, capitalist system.

Synthesis: Do both.

(Long-winded) Analysis:

The problem with punching Nazis, and punching Trump supporters and other white supremacists is not that it’s violent– the problem is that it’s not violent enough.  The Black socialist revolutionary and prisoner of war George Jackson wrote, The power of the people lies in its greater potential violence.”  And Chairman Mao Tse-tung famously said, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

Whenever a white liberal in the U.S. (or even a white socialist who supports Bernie Sanders) hears about such potential violence, they usually insist that, no, we must always remain nonviolent, otherwise we may become as bad as the Nazis.  But this is because all whites belong to the oppressor class or colonizing population of the United States: the political identity of whiteness.  This is particularly true if we are whites in the middle-class.

Middle-class whites– especially on the left-wing of the colonizing class of the United States– are usually the fastest to say that we oppose violence.  We say this because the dominant ideology of the system– upon which we depend for our access to necessary resources– has taught us in all the institutions under its control (media, schools, churches, political campaigns, workplaces, courtrooms) that violence is not the answer.  Violence is never the answer, we repeat, just like the teacher in the school, or the preacher in the pulpit, or the white guy behind the desk during the local news telecast.

Meanwhile, this very same system– capitalism– stole everything it has through violence: through violence against Africans, violence against Indigenous peoples, violence against the majority of the global population.  Even so, capitalism can keep telling you– or selling you– this ideal of nonviolence, while it is committing extreme violence, because as a white person you depend on this system for your survival and overall well-being.  It doesn’t have to be true– it only needs to be backed by the political power that “grows out of the barrel of a gun.”  Now we will believe what it tells us to believe– unless this gun is pointed at us.  Then the material reality of capitalist violence becomes an unavoidable fact.

The white middle-class is a violently-created segment of the colonizing population in the United States.  It was originally created, and it has been maintained, through some of the greatest violence imaginable.  The ruling class of the capitalist system– most of whose members are white– requires a buffer between itself, because it is so few in number, and the masses of Black and Brown people here (on occupied Indigenous lands) and around the world.  In exchange for the loyalty which the white middle-class gives to the bourgeoisie, we receive a share of the exploited labor, land, resources and culture of the global proletariat, even as this share of imperialism’s riches has been shrinking over the decades.  However, in addition to these material benefits of empire, the white middle-class is also empowered to believe in the lofty ideals of “American democracy”– such as “peace,” “justice,” “equality” and “freedom.”  The United States rounds up Black and Brown people at “home,” and bombs them “abroad,” and meanwhile the good white liberal can walk on Indigenous land talking about “freedom” and “equality”– protected from the violence of the State (which is yet another benefit of this political category of whiteness).

The white middle-class which was so violently created– through genocide, slavery, and capitalist exploitation– is, in turn, one of the most violent groups in the entire history of the globe.  We say that we support ideals like “peace” and “justice,” but we say this while we are enjoying the benefits of the imperialist state power of the United States.  What Nazi Germany attempted to do in less than two decades the United States has been doing over more than two centuries.  And, if this scale of genocide isn’t wide enough, when we broaden it to include Europe (of which the United States is a settler colony), we will discover that the violence that Belgium’s King Leopold committed in Congo, and England in India and Kenya, and that Europeans have been committing all over the globe for hundreds of years, far exceeds the horrible violence committed by Nazi Germany against white Jews (and also against people of color– a fact that is often left out by white historians).  Whites in the middle-class of the United States– in terms of the size of our population– have been the largest benefactors of this genocidal violence, so we continue to support it, making us extremely violent.  While we say that we oppose violence, what we really mean is that we want “law and order”– the law and order that has meant chaos and destruction for most of the people in the world, including Black people in this country.

However, this philosophical idealism imposed on us by the colonizing bourgeois power of the United States prevents the white middle-class from understanding the world (and ourselves) in dialectical and materialist terms.  By “dialectical” we mean what Chairman Mao said, that political power comes “from the barrel of a gun.”  We mean what George Jackson said: “The power of the people lies in its greater potential violence.”  Once you have political power, then you can use it to enforce peace– except you do it in the interests of your ruling class.  Under the current system, this “peace” is just the “law and order” of the racist, patriarchal and imperialist bourgeoisie.  And this “law and order” is based on violence– extreme violence.

When oppressed peoples who are struggling to survive under the weight of this violence organize to move against it– violently if necessary– then the forces who drove them to these acts are also responsible for their violence.  If someone is stepping on your foot, and won’t get off your foot after you’ve asked nicely (for years), then you aren’t to blame for shoving that person as hard as you need to get them off your foot.  Whites are stepping on the foot– and the throat– of the world.  White supremacists whine about “white genocide.”  However, in historical terms, the oppressed peoples of the world– Indigenous peoples, Africans, Latinxs, Palestinians– would be entirely justified to wipe us off the face of their land– their part of the earth– if this meant gaining control of their own resources and lives, and gaining power.  This is why the communist revolutionary Chairman Mao also said, “We are advocates of the abolition of war, we do not want war; but war can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun.”

Whites in the middle-class– who both support and are supported by violence on the greatest scale imaginable– don’t think in these historical or dialectical terms, because we don’t have to, not yet.  The violent system of European capitalism that gave birth to the identity of whiteness, as well as the “American” identity, insulates us from the material reality of ongoing genocide against Indigenous peoples and Africans.  So, right now, white people don’t need to ask ourselves: “What is the most effective way to take up the gun, in order to get rid of the gun?”  In fact, a middle-class white person in “America” is far more likely to pick up the gun and move against already oppressed communities, further occupying Indigenous lands in Oregon like the “Bundy Brigade” in 2016.  And, on account of the power of whiteness, they’ll probably get away with it too, like that reactionary group did.

Fifty-years ago the Black Panther Party was forced by the oppressor– the racist power structure of the United States– to take up the gun and defend their community from constant attacks by the police.  But Huey P. Newton, the co-founder of the Black Panther Party, also used the political theory of dialectical materialism, as it had been demonstrated (not invented) by Karl Marx, V. I. Lenin and Chairman Mao Tse-tung.

Dialectical materialism is a theory that is proved correct only by being put into consistent practice.  So Huey P. Newton and co-founder Bobby Seale bought up as many copies of Chairman Mao’s “Little Red Book” as they could find in the Bay Area.  They went to Chinese bookstores and bought all the available copies.  And then they sold “The Little Red Book” on college campuses– mainly to middle-class and wealthy white kids– and took the money from these sales and bought guns, in order to defend the Black community who was under attack in the streets by the racist Oakland Police Department.  Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale made a profit off the sale of Chairman Mao’s “Little Red Book,” then turned around and used these profits to purchase guns.  That’s just one example of putting dialectical materialism into practice, and understanding the contradictory nature of capitalist society.

So, if we’re thinking in dialectical terms today, what we may recognize is: the problem with punching Nazis is, first of all, they are only the tip of the iceberg in comparison to the entire racist power structure of the United States, with its military, its police, its courts, and the wealth of the banks on Wall Street.  And, second, punching Nazis isn’t violent enough.  They need to be destroyed.  And that’s why the Black Liberation Army was correct in its methods of self-defense, methods which this terrorist system of power labeled “terrorism” (of course).  However, the idea that you have to win over the support of “decent, hardworking American [white] people” in order to legitimatize your movement is just a way for the violent ruling class to exercise further control over oppressed peoples, and exploit our fears about their methods.  Whatever they need to do to get free– that’s all that matters.  That’s also why Nat Turner had the right idea, and Gabriel Prosser, and Denmark Vesey.  Who cares what racist slaveholders and their supporters think?  They’re racist.  In fact, once oppressed peoples are free, the racists probably would talk about how much they respected their ability to resist and fight back– because now the oppressed have power.

At the same time, one of the basic things we can learn about guerilla warfare is that it should inflict maximum damage on the enemy while minimizing damage to the people.  The advantage always goes to the oppressed people in their war against the oppressor, because the oppressor has been at war against them ever since they stole their power (and land and productive forces).  So the oppressor is constantly on guard against any threat, any sign that it could be overthrown.  The enemy is only able to be reactionary.  It has to pay its mercenaries in the U.S. military and the lazy fools in the police department who are on “stakeout” like in all those TV shows, munching stale doughnuts and spilling coffee on their blue uniforms.  What kind of activity is that compared to the principled actions of oppressed people who thirst for freedom, and are armed with the correct political theory?

So the State– while it has the advantage of power– is also at a disadvantage on account of this power, because it must constantly defend it, and it has to control the whole enormous institutional apparatus that it has put in place.  Sometimes people fall asleep on the job, or turn into opportunists or “traitors,” or become disillusioned.  In fact, the United States is so used to scaring the white middle-class about the threat of “Commies” and “terrorists” and “Black thugs” and “illegal aliens” it has only achieved one aim: we’re terribly scared of everything.  The U.S. put a price on the head of a Black woman in her late-sixties who escaped to Cuba many decades ago after she was wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of a pig, and the FBI named Assata Shakur the “Most Wanted” person in the world– that’s why Chairman Mao called the imperialists “paper tigers.”  The capitalists are so busy trying to frighten everyone– when they aren’t numbing us with the coping mechanisms for their exploitation– that at some point the violent white middle-class becomes just a gray homogeneous mush of tepid fears and colder comforts.

But each of us has a role to play in the revolutionary struggle against capitalism and imperialism.  The anarchists, Antifa and the erroneously-named “alt-left” are playing their role.  More power to them.  The capitalists may say, “Oh they are only a small percentage of the population who just happen to be very loud.”  But all revolutions start out small.  The Combahee River Collective probably wasn’t a very large group.  The crew on the Granma included only 82 courageous revolutionaries.  The Black Panther Party started out small.

And, the fact is, today a lot of the white youth in the United States are becoming disillusioned and they are wondering what their place in this society might be (as if that is any different from previous generations, right?).  But it seems that each generation of white people– at least since World War II– has one segment that reacts to the “heroic” exploits of their parents (Dad, that is) and their grandparents (Granddad) and goes out to prove they are just as tough and brave and willing to “die for their country” (never mind kill) as Pa was.  Or at least, just as willing to win the championship game for the Alabama Crimson Tide.  Whether it’s football or it’s war, they need some way to make the point that they aren’t “sissies” and that they can keep this whole “America” thing going, by hitting the enemy, running through the enemy, shooting the enemy.  Whether it’s by throwing a football or throwing a hand grenade, that segment of the white settler population is perpetually attempting to outdo the “Greatest Generation” and prove that patriarchy, imperialism and bourgeois values are alive and well in the U.S.A. (fights back tears, salutes flag).

However, other segments of the white population are looking for guidance, and are feeling increasing disillusionment with ameriKKKa, and maybe they just don’t have the muscle mass to join the football team … or don’t want to go and get their butts shot off in some distant “enemy” country.  So, white people– forever violent, at least since 1492– look around, and see that the United States isn’t as attractive as it used to be.  I mean, look who’s President right now.  The whole act of white-centered toxic masculinity is wearing a bit thin.

And the younger whites try to escape this “oppression” for a while by using the various coping mechanisms of capitalism, but then emerge once more, and look around, and see the “alt-right” and the “alt-left.”  It doesn’t matter at this point that the “alt-left” doesn’t actually exist, and that Antifa requires discipline, and that revolutionary activity must be principled– all they know is, they are bored, or disillusioned, and they need something or someone to identify with, a winning team (that’s not the University of Alabama or the U.S. Armed Forces).  And then they see all these people dressed in black driving the white supremacists and Nazis out of Berkeley, and they think, “That looks like something I might want to join.”

Never underestimate white people’s capacity for violence, and not just poor whites in the United States who are stereotyped as gun-toting, uneducated, gap-toothed yokels.  The violently-created white middle-class is always on the verge of unleashing yet another wave of violence, like their support for the “War on Drugs” and “Reaganomics” and Clinton’s “peace and prosperity” and Bush’s “War on Terror.”  The white middle-class typically just votes or hires someone else to carry out our violence for us– including the impoverished white kids who are sent to Iraq as mercenaries of empire.

Even so, white kids today are looking around and they see these volatile conditions, as capitalism is (once again) in crisis.  And they look at the alt-right, and think that would give them one identity, and they look at the other side of this false equivalence created by the capitalist media, and they see what the anarchists and “the far left” are doing– and as long as the latter part is winning, even with small victories, this has a massive impact on the white population of the United States.  The dialectic can become: use the violence of whiteness to destroy whiteness (and capitalist violence).  Exploit these divisions within the violent white identity, and further weaken the colonizing class of whites, so the organized forces of the global proletariat can then strengthen their movements to take back what is rightfully theirs.

Instead of giving a disillusioned white kid an Alabama Crimson Tide uniform, or khaki pants and a bad haircut and literature on the KKK, give this kid “The Little Red Book” by Chairman Mao– or, better yet, sell it to him– then take these profits and pay them to Black women– pay reparations to Black trans women, and turn this money over to Black-led organizations.  We can punch all the Nazis we want but– good or bad– only African people can be their own liberators.  And if we’re progressive, we should believe that any means that Africans/Black people use to get free are legitimate.  After all, Chairman Mao said, “History shows that wars are divided into two kinds, just and unjust. All wars that are progressive are just, and all wars that impede progress are unjust.”

 

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Is Punching Nazis a Good Thing or a Bad Thing? (The Answer Is: Good)

The Global System of Capitalism: A Total Negation of Personhood

EssayGraphic

When somebody steals you from your land– or steals your land from you– they don’t just take away your ability to earn a decent wage.  They take away your entire body, or the entire land mass which sustains your body, whether you are rich or poor or middle-class.

And, of course, it requires more than one person to remove you from your land, or to occupy your land, particularly when you belong to a people: to a population who shares an identity, a culture, a history.  If one person– Jeff– showed up to steal you, maybe he would succeed, or maybe Jeff would get clobbered over the head for attempting to do such a horrible thing.  So if Jeff, or any other individual, is going to take you from your land– let’s say, Africa– or is going to take your land away from you– let’s say, North America– then he will require a whole system of power to back him up, a system that is supported by a population, or an identity (let’s say, Europe and Europeans).

And now, let’s say hundreds of years later the population on this continent decides that such a system is not working out very well.  It recognizes that the wealthy few at the top tend to control more and more of the wealth while everyone else struggles more and more just to get by.  But if you are someone in this population who hasn’t had your land taken from you– that is, if you’re not indigenous to this continent– or you are someone who hasn’t been taken from your land– that is, if you’re not Black or African– you might have a difficult time recognizing that the inequality required by this system goes beyond wages.  It’s a negation of the person that is total.

In order for this system to function, and for the few who hold power to continue enjoying the benefits of this power, each person has to be used as a means toward creating these greater benefits.  But if you are white, you might not recognize the totality of this exploitation– this complete negation of the person– because part of the benefit of its exploitative power is the ability to sustain the white identity on a stolen continent, through the stolen lives, labor, resources and culture of Africans and all so-called people of color.  Your struggle might be just to earn more wages, or have a better healthcare plan, or go to college, or enjoy a long retirement, and then play golf with your neighbor Jeff.

It’s not that white people aren’t oppressed by this system of power, and that our struggles to get by aren’t real or don’t count.  But we are less likely to support (much less join) an anti-colonialist movement to overturn this entire system (and the nation-state that uses this power) because whites don’t experience the same negation of our identity as Africans/Black people and all colonized peoples do.  And this is particularly true if you are a middle-class white cisgender person.  It’s quite likely you are also struggling– more than ever– to pay the bills and to keep your head above water.  That’s because this system of power in the United States requires that type of economic inequality.  But this capitalist exploitation of humanity goes beyond wages, and beyond investments in property and retirement plans and other “workplace benefits.”

Capitalism uses the entire body of the exploited person to create greater profits for the wealthy few in the ruling class to enjoy.  It’s not as if one person works all day and another person is transgender: the entire body is involved in this process of survival, in this struggle to gain access to resources.  But cisgender whites may be led to believe that it’s just a personal choice on the part of the transgender person– let’s say, a trans woman– to have surgeries and procedures, so that she can, well, live.  She saves up money for years and years to have these surgeries, not because “some man wanted to become a woman,” but because her body— the body that goes to work, that earns wages, that struggles to live– doesn’t match her true identity.  And, since it would cut into the profits of capitalism, and contradict its very reason for existing (to exploit the many for the benefit of the few), the capitalist system convinces you that the transgender woman has these expensive surgeries only on account of some personal choice— as part of a “courageous journey” that is applauded in the office when she returns to work.  However, under a system of power in which each person is treated as an end unto themselves– and not a means toward the goal of creating greater profits– society would recognize that these surgeries and procedures needed by transgender people should be paid for by the government, and that the ruling class ought to move in a positive direction to assure that each person can reach their fullest potential, rather than just the privileged few.

Once we place capitalist oppression in this framework– as a total negation of personhood– then we can recognize that the current system of power targets a person not so much on account of the ideas in their head, but because their body– their very existence– threatens the basis of this power.

If we disconnect the reality of racism from the physical reality of the bodies involved, then it becomes just an idea, an opinion– one that the good white liberal or white socialist doesn’t like, the same way they disagree with the ideas of transphobia, homophobia, misogyny, Islamophobia, ableism and negative attitudes toward the poor and homeless.  However, the ideologies of capitalist oppression are not primary– as powerful as they are.  First the ruling class moves against a people and their land, steals their resources, their language, and their culture, and negates their personhood, occupies their space, erases their history, their religion and their belief in an independent identity, and in their place creates the “United States”; and then the ruling class fills their minds with all these ideas about hating women (transgender or cisgender), and nonbinary persons, and hating Black and Brown people and Muslims (or Black Muslim women)– because now it has the power to enforce these ideas.

First you get the power, then you define the conditions for this power.  And one of the conditions of capitalist power is that a Black woman who is part of the African working class and has been misgendered since birth as a “man” is going to be a target of capitalist violence, not just because she has certain ideas in her mind about herself or the world around her, but because her body exists as a threat to the dominant power structure.  And why is this so?

White people– and therefore whiteness and white supremacy– occupy this continent, empowered by the State power of the United States and its political, economic and social system: capitalism.  The system’s control is total.  You don’t just go to a job (if you can even get one) and then go home at night with one body working all day, then another body living in a house or an apartment (or on the street).  You are one person, one body.  And this system gained all its power and wealth by targeting certain bodies and the land that they occupy.

It’s a law of nature: two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time.  In order to make space for European (or white) bodies, most of whom are cisgender, this system of power has been compelled to move against certain targeted bodies: Indigenous bodies, African bodies, brown transgender bodies.  But once a force hits something, what happens?  There’s a reaction.  If you push down, it pushes back.  So it becomes a threat.  And the bodies– the identities– who are considered the most disposable by a system whose main objective is creating greater profits for the few (wealthy, white, cisgender) will then regard those persons who are brown, transgender, and unassimilated into the general, grayish mush of “American” identity as a threat, because they can’t be used for its objectives, they can’t be objectified.

Black transgender women aren’t targets of capitalist oppression because they earn low wages, or because they are unable to find jobs at all; they are targets because they occupy space as identities whose very existence goes against the objective of U.S. colonial power.  And this same mass force is also moving to dislocate (or relocate) the bodies of Black and Brown people, when whites (cisgender, transgender or otherwise) gentrify brown neighborhoods, deport brown people, bomb brown people, and vote for the white supremacist Donald Trump (like so many white women did).

Whenever a white person calls the cops because a Black person “looks dangerous” or is “making too much noise” (in their neighborhood, mind you), what else is this but an effort to leverage the unequal level power that they enjoy– the power of whiteness– and use this power to request the security guards of the colonial state to target and remove Black bodies?  And they probably believe that they “like” Black people, and love going to Afropunk with their Black boyfriend.  Meanwhile, capitalism– a backward, inhumane system– doesn’t recognize people as people, but people as objects to be exploited or targeted, based largely on identifiable physical characteristics such as dark brown skin, or not “passing” as cis, or not speaking what it considers the “good middle-class white English” used in office spaces from New York to San Diego.

Now you might ask, “Why do you have to make everything about race, with ‘black’ this and ‘white’ that?  Why do you always blame capitalism and use all these -ism’s?  Why can’t we just respect the freedom of each individual, and get away from all these labels that only divide us, and just let people live however they want to live?”

The answer is simple.  The conditions are complex, infinitely so.  But the answer is: our life is always about a system of political power.  It’s no coincidence that white people have taken over an entire continent (plus Hawaii).  It’s not merely some random thing that the bombs of white countries tend to fall on Black and Brown people, that the prisons in the United States are filled with Black and Brown people, that the people who are the most impoverished in any state are usually Black and Brown.  All you have to do is turn on your TV and watch a baseball game– the Chicago Cubs, for example– and you see all these white people in the expensive seats (which might be every seat), and now you see a hotdog vendor and they are Black or Brown.  Or maybe you think this is also a coincidence.  You might say, “You’re just focusing too much on race, and making a big deal out of nothing, to further divide people.”

It takes a very backward system– a tremendously divisive and inhumane system– to target people based on physical characteristics such as skin color or the shape of their nose, or the texture of their hair, or whether they “speak with an accent” or wear a hijab (with brown skin beneath it).  But this system has to be even more backward and inhumane than that to convince people, after it has targeted communities of color over many centuries, that somehow this method of oppression is just random– that it is not systematic, and not based on the power of a system.

But let’s say you’re a beautiful woman in the United States, and you’ve enjoyed a lot of success– you’ve written two books, and hosted your own show on MSBNC Shift– and, at some point, you “passed” as cisgender (which this system considers the default for all womanhood), then cis people are just going to say you’re hot, and cis-het men will try to get you in bed or make you their girlfriend, or even their wife.  Yet Janet Mock– the person in question– proclaimed her truth a long time ago, and told the world that she is a transgender woman, and so guess what happens now?  Any cis-het guy can start using violent language against her, calling her “a man” and saying he will kill her.  And that’s because her body– particularly as a Black and Indigenous Hawaiian woman from a working class background– makes Janet Mock a target for all these interlocked forms of systemic oppression.  There’s nothing random about it.  Otherwise, Janet Mock or another beautiful Black trans woman who attended Afropunk wouldn’t have become targets for the transphobic power of this system.  This violence only seems random, and something that merely exists on an individual level, if your experience as a person who is white or cis has insulated you from this negation of personhood.

Only if you enjoy a certain level of power– as part of an identity or a class– can you avoid the negation of your person which is a requirement of capitalism in order for it to function.  The freedom and power of an individual– under any system– is always a question of the status of their class, and how much autonomy or power it has.  The power that capitalism uses to move against a person, by negating their personhood and then exploiting their objectified humanity in order to create greater profit (or by simply destroying them) is based on their class, their identity, and how much power it has to counteract its violent force.

Therefore, a system whose negation of the person is total must be counteracted by a force whose opposition is total.  It seems tremendously important that we not attempt to place parts of who we are– under this system of oppression– into separate categories, as if the only battle to be fought is the one for equal wages, or better schools, or better healthcare plans, or investments in infrastructure.

Capitalism requires the total negation or occupation of our humanity.  Capitalism requires the total negation of our bodies, and the total occupation of that which sustains our bodies: land.  If we wish to negate this negative force– and thereby transform it– it seems that we must move against the colonial power structure that occupies this land, the United States itself.  Unless we can invent some way for bodies to hover over the land and perpetually zoom around in the air like little birds or spaceships, we need to decolonize this territory, and conceptualize struggle in terms of free bodies on free land.  After all, the United States didn’t just take away wages, schools and healthcare from Indigenous peoples on this continent (and Hawaii): the colonial power (and the white population who supports it, and is supported by it) took away their land, and the entire material basis for their survival and development, as independent nations/identities.

So how can we decolonize this physical space– for physical bodies– and (re)conceptualize not just the ideologies that are based in anti-racism, anti-transphobia, and anti-misogyny, but the all-encompassing political philosophies that move to reestablish the autonomy of each class or identity within territories that are currently occupied by the capitalist United States and the West?   How can we maximize the protection and well-being of targeted bodies whom the U.S. judges to be a threat, and choose as the target of our anti-colonialist, anti-capitalist, and anti-patriarchal struggle this system of state power, minimizing its damage until we overthrow it and replace it with a truly humane system, based on principles of equality and justice?  Hopefully more and more European colonizers (whites) can start to ask these questions, and begin to discover that the system of power we are now under is based on the total negation of the person– as it moves against all humanity.

 

The Global System of Capitalism: A Total Negation of Personhood

“No, Capitalism– I Expect You to Die”: The Struggle Between the Old and the New in the Global Economy

BondEssay

We may have been led to believe that the term “politics” mainly refers to the candidate we voted for (Trump or Clinton); or that it refers to which party we support (Republican or Democrat); or that it refers to which network we watch on TV (MSBNC, “The Place for Politics,” or FOX News, or CNN–why?); or that it refers to the kind of political system we want (“capitalism” or “socialism”).  And then we can say that either we’re “into politics” or that “politics gets on our nerves.”  If we like a good political debate, we can argue about our opposing views: conservative versus liberal, Democrat versus Republican, right versus left, that sort of thing.

However, the term “politics” doesn’t refer to the argument itself so much as it means what led to this argument– as in the environment, the conditions that have supported each person involved … whatever their views may be.  What did they have for breakfast this morning?  Did they have breakfast?  Where did they sleep?  Is their health good or bad?  Because these are the things we care the most about– the things that empower us to hold any political views at all.  At the most fundamental level, the term “politics” refers to our survival, and the amount of power that we have to survive and develop and grow.  Politics is about struggle.

Huey P. Newton said, Revolution, basically, is a contradiction between the old and the new in the process of development.”  What we know about human society is that we have constantly been struggling to make progress.  We’ve constantly been moving from the old to the new.  But this revolutionary movement hasn’t been on a straight line.  Sometimes we seem to be going backwards.  For instance, right now– under President Trump– we seem to be going backwards.  But you could ask yourself: “Would I prefer to live in a society 5000 years ago, or 10,000 years ago?”  And the answer– especially if you are European– would have to be, “No.”  Therefore, it’s obvious that society is progressing– just not in even increments, and not at the same rate for all members of society.  Often progress for one segment of society comes at the expense of another.

Nevertheless, it’s easy for us to recognize that, as soon as we have discovered something new– a better way of doing things– we pass this knowledge on, this skill, or development, and then someone else makes an improvement on our own contribution.  We don’t have to go back and reinvent the wheel every generation, or come up with an entirely new language and new ways for making our lives less difficult, so that we survive longer and are happier.

We keep building and building on the contributions of the people who came before us.  At the same, the very reason that we could make this progress, and come up with a new or better way for doing things, was that we had access to the resources that are necessary for our survival.  Perhaps we had more free time.  Or we went to a good school and received the necessary education to make this discovery.  But, no matter what, we are constantly struggling to improve our lives, and the new is always growing out of the old, and is pushing society forward.

What often happens is that the old, which was once the new, pushes back against the newest force, because the old had struggled so hard to make it to the point where they were at– and where they are still at.  They enjoy all this power that they have gained through struggle and sacrifice, and naturally they don’t want to give it up.  So, while they had once pushed society forward, now they are keeping it from going on to the next stage.  They acted to create change; now they are reacting to prevent change.  They feel that it’s in their interests to maintain the status quo, or perhaps just to make slight improvements and reforms to the basic structure of society.

Yet society has always been changing and moving forward, so a political struggle emerges between the old and the new.  And this is what the term “politics” is mostly about: the people (or the identities) who don’t have power struggling to move toward the new, and the people (or the identities) who already have power pushing back.  “Politics” means mass struggle for power.

However, when it comes to politics in the United States today you will probably be told about the “right” and the “left,” and everyone in-between.  The fight on that level isn’t really a question of gaining power, but instead is about maintaining power.  The old already has this power; it’s just a question of who manages it: the “right” or the “left.”  It’s a lateral question, that goes from right to left.

But the real power struggle that is going on in the United States, and all around the globe, isn’t horizontal, it’s vertical: it’s not “right” and “left,” it’s “up” and “down.”  And, because Europeans control most of the resources in the world, and enjoy the greatest amount of wealth and power, this struggle isn’t just “up” and “down,” it’s also “white” versus “Black and Brown.”  Ultimately, it’s also a struggle between the old and the new, because the old system– the global economy that is capitalism– wants to hold on to its power, and keep things as they are (only making slight improvements, to the right or to the left), but the new system (socialism) is the power of the people who are pushing from below.  And these are the workers in Africa, Latin America and Asia, as well as Africans/Black people and so-called people of color in the United States and in other white countries of the West.

But why (you may wonder) are the workers responsible for this movement toward the new, in the struggle which is going on between the old and the new in the world today, as it has always been going on?  Don’t rich people create jobs and innovate ideas and promote technological progress, by investing in projects and paying the workers, who merely go through the motions of labor?  Well, this is what the current system (the old way) leads us to believe, because such views reflect its interests.  But the wealthy few don’t produce the food and the clothing and all the things we need so that we can study and invent and push society forward.  These things are produced by the workers of the world– as part of this world economy that we all share.  And, historically, the majority of the workers (like the global majority overall) are Black and Brown people– people of color– while the managers of the wealth which they produce are white.

And then what happens as society is pushing forward is that the new class or identity begins to recognize that it is producing the wealth that the old powers are enjoying– so the class that is being exploited for their labor, resources, land, and culture starts to gain political consciousness of their own potential power.  Then it’s just a matter of organizing this class consciousness and moving against the old powers.  After all, they outnumber the few at the top, and they also produce most of the things that sustain the life and well-being of the old wealthy class (or those who currently have power, because they control the means by which these necessities are produced).

The old wealthy class recognizes that they are in trouble and they begin to consolidate their power.  They take jobs away from Black and Brown workers in the cities of this country and exploit Black and Brown workers in some other country that is far away.  Then they increase the domestic military force (the police) to round up the unemployed here and store them away in prisons, where it’s more difficult for them to organize for power.  They mechanize productive forces and layoff workers.  And a giant multinational corporation like G4S is now used by the old wealthy class of the U.S. and Europe to sweep the globe free of “undesirable populations”– people whose labor is no longer needed and who don’t have enough money to buy the increasingly expensive products that are marketed in the West.  As the prices for basic goods– as well as luxuries– go up and up, deportations also increase, drone attacks increase, and the police become more and more aggressive.  And all the institutions controlled by the wealthy class (particularly the media and the political campaigns) gear up for an increased assault on working class Black and Brown people, both “at home” and “abroad.”

Mao Tse-tung said that “politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed.”  We know that this capitalist democracy– the United States– came about only through bloodshed.  And its interests have had to be defended by the shedding of blood– “American” and “foreign.”  So if you don’t care about politics, and you don’t like getting into political arguments, then somebody else does care, and is arguing, either with bullets or with ballots (to echo Malcolm X).

Whether we choose to be aware of this fact or not, a war is being waged right now– a struggle for power– and this struggle that is taking place all over the globe is between the old and the new.  The people who produce the wealth of the global economy are struggling to gain control of their own productions– the fruits of their own labor– but the people who benefit the most from their labor (as well as their resources, land and culture) are pushing back, and pressing down.

Since most of the workers in the world are Black and Brown, and most of the owners of these productive means are white, the struggle which is going on is divided along so-called racial lines.  And this division– or dialectic– isn’t just a matter of opinion; it’s not about whether you like or dislike Black people, it’s about power.  It’s also not just about whether Black and Brown people like you– they may love you, or they may hate you, but if they don’t have power, it does not make a lot of difference one way or the other.

So society can only move in one of two directions: forward or backward.  And, ultimately, it will move forward because, if we study history, we know that it has been constantly moving in this direction over many centuries and millennia.  Once society has been transformed, it can’t be “un-transformed.”  Since there is only one system of power that controls the world economy today, as it has for hundreds of years, the only question is whether your politics align with the old (the European wealthy class of capitalists) or with the new (the workers of Africa, Latin America and Asia, and so-called people of color in the U.S. and other Western countries).

Now, you might ask: “Aren’t there some people of color who are rich?  And aren’t there whites who are poor?  Why are people of color called ‘the new’ (the workers who struggle to gain new power) while white people are ‘the old’ (the wealthy and middle-class who struggle to hold onto power that was already gained)?”

In order to answer these questions, it’s important for us to be materialists, not idealists.  If we’re materialists, we already have recognized the inescapable fact that, before we can do anything else (include argue about politics) we need access to resources. And that’s where political struggle is based– that’s its basis, its foundation.  So, in this struggle for power, which is always going on (either through war with bloodshed, or through politics, which is war without bloodshed), there are always incentives for getting on this side of the gun or the other.

Those who have power are always threatening or rewarding those without power to choose the side of the status quo (the old), and quite often it’s the very survival of the powerless that is at stake; so of course they will choose the side that gives them access to resources.  However, the contradiction is: the forces of the new, that are moving against the status quo to overthrow it, must be put down so violently by the class with wealth and power, that even the people who align with their interests (and enjoy some of the benefits of this violence) end up getting harmed in the process.  The ruling class doesn’t pause to see if you are wealthy, middle-class, working class or unemployed– it will destroy you just as quick, because you look like the people it is constantly moving against in order to maintain its advantage of power, and the old structure of society.  And the more the masses struggle to survive this violent force– using violence when necessary– the more the reactions of the ruling class lead to the destruction of even those people who pledged allegiance to them (and their flag).  Perhaps you can put on the uniform of the State that murders and robs your people, and this has protected you for a while– but then you take it off, and you’re just another colonized subject, another potential threat to its power, and you’re shot dead by the very forces you used to serve.

So within each side of the struggle– the old and the new– are contradictions.  There will be individuals from the colonized classes who will give their loyalty to the colonizer, and fight for them, and kill people who look like them– but only one class has the power to create these incentives (both positive and negative).  Take away their power, and you take away their ability to create incentives for colonized subjects to exploit their own people (as members of the capitalist class among the colonized people– that is, as a neocolonial power), and to destroy them as members of the police and military.

And if you are a white person in the United States, and you become somewhat aware (while not entirely conscious) of this struggle between the old and the new that is constantly going on, then you can start to ask yourself some useful questions.  For example, you can imagine a familiar scenario like this:

Let’s say James Bond has been captured by SPECTRE, or Blofeld … one of those bad guys who are foreign, disabled, and love cats.  And let’s say these bad guys indoctrinate James Bond with their ideology, teaching him to hate the British and to hate the “Americans” (the good guys), and they threaten to slice him in half with a laser beam (right through the middle of his cisgender manhood), if he doesn’t join their side, and show loyalty to their aims of global domination (rather than England’s).  So now James Bond is on their side, and he’s shooting British agents– brave individuals who are defending England and the West– and you’re at home sitting on your couch, munching on popcorn and rooting for Bond to kill more of the people he used to be fighting for.  Now, would that make sense?  No.  It might be more fun to watch 007 offing white people, especially “American” and British forces, but it wouldn’t make much sense– or much money at the box office.  In fact, the screenwriter would probably be shot before filming commenced.

Well, that’s about what it’s like to expect a person who belongs to a community who has been stolen from their land (or has had their land stolen from them), and has been indoctrinated by all these ideas of their captors, to now go out and destroy their own people, in Africa, Latin America, Asia, or right here in the United States.  Of course, that’s their own choice.  You can respect that choice, and respect them.  But you do not have to support it, or support the system that taught them to hate themselves and their people.

And once we reach that point in our collective thought process, then we can start to become conscious of this struggle that’s going on between the old and the new.  Even if we are part of the colonizing class or identity (white people), we can recognize that people who have had their land, labor, resources and culture stolen from them have the right (the human right) to struggle for a new system of power that will restore control over their own lives.

Even while we enjoy the benefits of the old system (capitalism), we can still recognize the contradictions of society, and the basis for our own place in society: we don’t have to give our loyalty to this system (capitalism), or this identity (whiteness) that the capitalist system has created for its benefit.  We don’t need to support the police and the military or any of the institutions controlled by the old wealthy class as they move against the global majority, and seek to put down and destroy any struggle to establish a new system of power.  We can expose these contradictions in capitalist society, and then increase them.  We can forego the luxury of indifference, or not “caring about politics,” and recognize that– somewhere, somehow– there are forces who care very much, and are killing on our behalf, and are constantly pushing back on the forces that may threaten our insulated lives, and all our arrogant smugness.

Society will move forward, with or without our permission, but we still have a choice– as members of the colonizing class of white people (never mind on the “right” or the “left”) to give our support to the masses of the globe who are struggling to create a new system.  And, call it what you like (“socialist” or any other name), the term “politics” means they are engaged in a struggle to enjoy the benefits of their own labor, and land, and resources, rather than producing these mostly for our benefit, on account of the class power of whiteness and the “American” identity.

Even as we enjoy the benefits of their exploitation, we can still begin to support the political struggle of the colonized masses– the politics of revolution– and expect capitalism, not to be reformed or saved, but to die.

 

 

“No, Capitalism– I Expect You to Die”: The Struggle Between the Old and the New in the Global Economy

The Myth of “Free Speech” Within the Myth of “America”

HarveyEssay

“America” itself is a myth.

Because “America” claims to be built on the principles of freedom, equality, peace and justice, yet the material basis for the existence of the United States– a settler colony of Europe– is genocide, slavery, and capitalist exploitation.

The ruling class of the U.S. formed this imperialist nation-state in order to promote its own interests, which are the creation of greater and greater profits for the wealthy few, through the systemic oppression of the many.  But in order to achieve this inhumane objective, the rich few in the capitalist class were compelled to win over the loyalty of the European colonizing population, partially through some share (albeit quite smaller) in the stolen resources of imperialist conquest, but also through the ideology of white supremacy, which is very much connected to the liberal (or libertarian) principles written out in the founding documents of this modern democratic nation-state.

As in any nation, or in any community, the ruling class of the United States had to gain power before it could guarantee any rights.  Yet this particular class of European capitalists, and the class of European settlers who gave our loyalty to this class– and to the nation-state formed in its interests– gained all its power through genocide, slavery, and capitalist exploitation.  Without these material factors, there would be no power and no wealth in the United States– there would be no United States– and whites would be unable to to exist on occupied Indigenous lands.

This freedom that we enjoy (again, at unequal levels, depending on gender, sexuality, religion, income, and so forth) only became possible after the ruling class (whose legal system and military/police must enforce these rights) had gained power.  And the drafters of the U.S. Constitution– which guarantees these liberal/libertarian rights to “Americans”– only became powerful on account of the productive forces of colonized Africans and Indigenous peoples.

Without ongoing genocide against colonized Africans and Indigenous peoples– and the violent subjugation of the global majority (“people of color”)– not only would the basis for “American” wealth and power evaporate, but the disappearance of this material foundation for the rights of the colonizer would cause these rights (now unenforced) to vanish as well, and whites– and whiteness– would soon wither away along with all the state power that “guaranteed” our– and its– survival and development.

Rights that are unenforced by a system of power aren’t rights at all, and the people who are guaranteed these rights, without any organized force behind them, are as good as dead.  That’s why the myth of “America” was so important to the ruling class, or the “Founding Fathers”: whites had to be force-fed this mythological belief that “all men are created equal,” and that we have “freedom of speech” and all these wonderful things, otherwise we may have started to notice: “Wait a minute, if we’re so equal, then it’s a bit odd that I work all day, but then the owner takes most of what I produce, while I go home just to do the whole thing over again the next day, hardly ever getting ahead.”  Ah, but you get to enjoy all that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  So if your life isn’t so great, and you barely have any free time (or money), and you’re very unhappy– well, it’s your own fault, because “America” is this wonderful country where everybody has all these guaranteed rights.  If they’re white, that is.  Because, as the Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney said, Africans have “no rights that the white man is bound to respect.”  That means, white man, if the bribe of “free speech” and other “rights” isn’t enough to win over your loyalty to this genocidal, exploitative system of power, then you can at least enjoy the fact that you are white, and not Black, or any color.  You’re just a happy blank– which is all “freedom of speech” is without the power to enforce it … just a blank page.  You can’t eat it, you can’t sleep on it, and it doesn’t even teach you how to read the words “freedom” “of” “speech.”

That’s how wonderful this country is– you can have all the “freedom of speech” you want [white guy], but unless you also have wealth and power (gained entirely through capitalist violence) you can’t even read these words, because education isn’t free, and housing isn’t free, food isn’t free, nothing is free except speech.

So the myth of “America” has to be shoved down your throat day and night, because you might wake up sometime and recognize that the same system of power that supposedly guarantees these rights to you– and to me– not only gained its power through genocide and violence on the greatest scale imaginable, but you also don’t have a damn thing to show for it, unless you go out and kill for the state, exploit for the state, and join in its imperialist behavior … which is anything but free, equal, peaceful or just.  In fact, it’s the exact opposite.  That’s the reality of “America.”  So “America” is not only a myth, it’s a lie.

That’s why the libertarian in the United States often expresses (even if unconsciously) the highest (or the lowest) level of white supremacist ideology.  Those individual rights you love so much are, in reality, the most basic of all bribes in exchange for your loyalty to a state power– a highly centralized, bureaucratic fascist and imperialist state power– which has absolutely no regard for the rights of the majority of the people on the globe.  This makes the European colonizer in the U.S. who identifies as libertarian– and who has been drinking deeply from the poisoned spring of Ayn Rand’s dull, fantasy-inducing prose– extremely dangerous.  Anyone who experiences that Randian level of detachment, having their lofty ideals in one universe, and their most basic reactionary behavior in another, with their head somewhere way up in the sky and the rest of their body completely desensitized to the most obvious forms of violence going on around them, is like a missile, a weapon of empire, aimed at the world.  If you can talk about “freedom of speech” as some sort of universal right, and yet you can’t even recognize that the United States has destroyed millions of lives– who are no longer able to speak anything at all because they’re dead– then you are either the most ignorant person on the planet or the most evil: it’s your choice.

In fairness, it seems better to argue that “Americans”– which is to say, white colonizers in the U.S.– have been so thoroughly bribed by the ruling class, that they (or we) are simply (very simply) ignorant.  We’ve become pale, blank pages, little journals who can be used by empire to write out its threats against the global majority (“people of color”).

Because what is this universal right of “free speech” anyway until you know what it is being used for?  It’s just a blank.  And why do white “Americans” (especially libertarians) enjoy this state of blankness so much?  Because if you’re an empty book, you can’t be called complicit in the crimes of empire.  You simply (simplistically) enjoy the benefits of imperialist genocide, but then, when the book is opened, well, “Oh my goodness, all I ever wanted was to enjoy ‘free speech,’ and enjoy the ‘American’ way of life, and I didn’t mean harm to anybody– but now you are treading on my rights when I’m not to blame.  I love freedom.”

And that’s how “America” plays this game: brutal, inhumane violence on one level (the material level– the one that is observable and measurable), but guileless nothingness, and easily injured innocence by “kind, hardworking decent Americans” on the other level, who just repeat, over and over: Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”  Oops, that’s The Manchurian Candidate.  I meant: “‘America’s the greatest and most free and most wonderful nation in the history of the world.”

Although “America” and Raymond Shaw (portrayed by Laurence Harvey) are essentially the same thing: assassins.  And the white population of the U.S. (especially its libertarian segment) exists in the most hypnotic state of loyalty to this assassin– “America”– and is therefore the most likely to pull the trigger as it moves against its target: colonized Africans/Black people and the oppressed communities of the world.  It’s a myth, but it’s a powerful one at that, with an almost unlimited capacity to destroy, until destroyed.

The Myth of “Free Speech” Within the Myth of “America”

Kwame Nkrumah and Methods of Coercion/Cohesion Under the Socialist State

NkrumahEssay

We can only have control over our own actions, not over the way others will react to our actions.  Of course, if they react in a manner that doesn’t suit our purposes– for example, if a certain group of people remains indifferent to the reality of injustice and oppression– then we make changes to our actions, and perhaps create greater force behind them, pushing harder, blocking their path, making more noise.  But unless we want to be reactionary– in response to their reactionary behavior– we should avoid using coercive methods to persuade them, because this change of program would go against our own revolutionary principles.  Whenever a certain group is indifferent to injustice and inequality, and isn’t willing to struggle for it, then their education and their thought processes, and therefore their behavior, are obviously so backward that, even if they were forced to create a society that is just and equal, they wouldn’t know what to do.  That basically describes the white population.

And we might ask: who or what created “whiteness”?  Whiteness, and this white supremacist society, were created by the system of capitalism which has controlled the world economy since Europe began our invasion of Africa and the globe more than five hundred years ago.  Since then (or shortly after), the political category of race (and therefore racism) has been embedded into the class-structure of capitalist society.  And this new racial category created by empire required a white supremacist ideology to suit the economic aims of the bourgeois ruling class, which is greater and greater profits through increasing violence.  Over many centuries, this white supremacist ideology has become, not a part of our DNA, or our genes, as whites, but rather our conditioning, our education, and the way we react to phenomena around us (and within us).

Therefore, the European or white population is quite literally in no condition to create a society that is just and equal.  But now the question may be: how do you create a population that is capable of creating an egalitarian society … or do we simply give up?  The world cannot afford to have Europe and white people give up this struggle, yet again– we’ve been amoral cowards for too long, and can’t just walk away this time.  And so the world’s future (and ours) depends on whites engaging in a consistent, principled struggle to– well, give up our power.  That is to say, our whiteness— by no longer being empowered by capitalism and its state power: the United States.  Whiteness, white supremacy, capitalism, imperialism and the state power of the United States– all of which are connected, along with patriarchy– must be taken away from the population that is identified as “white,” by force if necessary, in order for humanity to progress.

But now we go back to the question: how can we use coercive methods to promote egalitarian principles, without compromising over these principles (which is to say, abandoning them)?  Kwame Nkrumah wrote: “Any compromise over principle is the same as an abandonment of it.”  However, in his book Consciencism, Kwame Nkrumah has given us a program which (when implemented) can move us away from a racist society whose philosophy “favors an oligarchy” and toward a society whose philosophy “favors an egalitarianism.”  By applying the dialectical materialist theories of scientific socialism to conditions in the world today, we can slowly move society toward greater equality and greater justice.  And this revolutionary theory also helps us to deal with any questions of coercive power, as Kwame Nkrumah has already taught:

“The ideology of a society is total. It embraces the whole life of a people, and manifests itself in their class-structure, history, literature, art, religion. It also acquires a philosophical statement.  If an ideology is integrative in intent, that is to say, if it seeks to introduce a certain order which will unite the actions of millions towards specific and definite goals, then its instruments can also be seen as instruments of social control. It is even possible to look upon ‘coercion’ as a fundamental idea in society. This way of looking at society readily gives rise to the idea of a social contract. According to this idea, man lived, during certain dark ages in the dim past, outside the ambit of society. During those dark ages, man was alleged to have lived a poor, nasty, brutish, short and fearful life. Life, not surprisingly, soon became intolerable. And so the poor men came together, and subtly agreed upon a contract. By means of this contract they waived certain rights of theirs in order to invest a representative with legislative and executive powers of coercion over themselves.”

What we can learn from Kwame Nkrumah (even if we are white) is that, when the people come together, and agree to establish a certain kind of society (one promoting justice, equality, freedom and peace), we enter into a “social contract,” and we then relinquish some of our individual privileges in the interests of the greater good.  And, of course, this already happens under capitalism, except that the capitalist system is based on the exploitation of the many by the few, where the wealthy class enjoys the fruits of the majority’s labor, land and resources.  Every institution and structure controlled by the ruling class of capitalist society aims to promote this ideology: “The ideology of a society is total.”  So coercion is unavoidable.  We are experiencing it right now.  It’s just a question of who enjoys the benefits of this coercive power: the exploiter or the exploited?

People who have gained everything we have on account of a brutal, backward system of power may develop a strange attitude toward authority (and toward political systems in general).  Or, if it’s not a strange attitude, it’s certainly contradictory: we are dimly conscious of the benefits that the authority of capitalist democracy has brought us in the United States, yet we distrust this authority because we have felt some hint of its violence, which is usually aimed at colonized Africans and so-called people of color.  More than this hint– this taste of our own medicine, or poison– and the negative side to this power that we enjoy, the white colonizing population fears what may happen to us if the tables were turned, and the colonized and the exploited gained power over us.  Considering our inhumane treatment of the masses of Black and Brown people, and our crimes committed over many centuries, our fear is understandable, if not rational.

Since capitalism is an irrational system of power– whose only rationale is gaining (or stealing) greater profits for the few– it follows that the white population, while enjoying some of the benefits of capitalist rule, will at some point also loathe any system of authority.  And the ruling class of the United States uses this irrational fear to turn us against socialism, essentially leading us to fear ourselves (echoing the words of Fred Hampton, whom capitalism murdered).

We gain all our benefits from the authority of capitalist power (as its violence is directed at Africans and Indigenous peoples), yet whites simultaneously become suspicious of our own power– our own authority.  And one of the reasons why is that “whiteness” itself is a bribe from the capitalist ruling class, as the United States uses this identity (and the “American” identity”) to win over our loyalty so that we will support its violence against the people of the globe– and sometimes violence against us as well (especially if we’re poor, or trans, or women, or gay).  We give up some of our authority to the fascist state, even as we keep enough of it to enjoy the bribe of “whiteness” and these “American” bragging rights about the U.S. military’s endless imperialist aggression.

In contrast, socialist revolution is authoritarian, yes– absolutely so– yet the objective of this coercive power is to shape an egalitarian society that will benefit the largest number of participants in the social contract, rather than the fewest.  This revolutionary form of coercion has the goal of cohesion rather than merely the goal of perpetual exploitation and violence in a class-based hierarchy dominated by the reactionary ruling class.  Kwame Nkrumah wrote:

“Every society stresses its permissible ranges of conduct, and evolves instruments whereby it seeks to obtain conformity to such a range. It evolves these instruments because the unity out of diversity which a society represents is hardly automatic, calling as it does for means whereby unity might be secured, and, when secured, maintained. Though, in a formal sense, these means are means of ‘coercion’, in intent they are means of cohesion. They become means of cohesion by underlining common values, which themselves generate common interests, and hence common attitudes and common reactions. It is this community, this identity in the range of principles and values, in the range of interests, attitudes, and so of reactions, which lies at the bottom of social order.”

In order to promote these means of cohesion in a class-based society that has evolved (somewhat) from systems of slavery and feudalism to capitalism (or “the gentleman’s method of slavery”), the power of the state is necessary: the socialist state.  However, just as coercion is only a means toward a greater good, the authority of the socialist state does not exist for its own sake.  In order to achieve a communist society, we first progress through the stage of socialism, which is empowered by the socialist state, but if we are socialists we must also be communists: for the ultimate goal of the socialist state is the withering away of the state itself, along with all classes and property.  And then we will have achieved an egalitarian society, through scientific stages, rather than simply hoping to leap from the backward stage of capitalist oppression into some Utopian or mythological dreamworld where the state no longer exists.  The power of the state is used–under the absolute authority of a socialist system, or the dictatorship of the proletariat– in order to abolish the state.

If a society is very poor– that is, if it has been impoverished by European colonial powers– then a certain level of cohesion has already been achieved by these shared conditions of impoverishment and colonization.  However, in the capitalist societies of the West– which have been robbing Africa and the world for centuries– the gap between the rich and the poor (or impoverished) is far greater, so the existing class antagonisms require a greater coercive force of governance: a dictatorship by the workers and peasants, by the have-nots (i.e. the proletariat) over the middle-class and the wealthy, the haves (i.e. the petty bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie).

Power cannot be given, it can only be taken– violently when necessary.  And whites are not going to give up the level of wealth and power that we’ve gained over the centuries just out of the goodness of our hearts.  After all, we may have a change of heart.  There must be an authority, a coercive power, which not only forces the rich few to redistribute the stolen resources of empire, but to relinquish all hope of ever returning to power.

The white population must be entirely reshaped and redefined by the ideologies of socialist rule, and the racist, patriarchal, and exploitative ideologies of capitalist rule must be rooted out, gradually, over several decades, until we have rejoined humanity, and have learned to survive and develop as equals with our siblings around the world.  And the only way to achieve this goal of egalitarianism is through the coercive authority– the overwhelming power– of the socialist state, until we reach the point where its power is no longer necessary, and then we can enjoy the benefits of global communism.  This is the objective of the communist: progressive movement toward equality through gradual changes within the scientific processes of socialism.  Whereas the objective of the capitalist is: a static oligarchy, formed through the unchanging ideals of the bourgeois State, or democratic fascism (as it has been called by Dhoruba Bin Wahad).

Kwame Nkrumah wrote:

“‘Coercion’ could unfortunately be rather painful, but it is signally effective in ensuring that individual behavior does not become dangerously irresponsible. The individual is not an anarchic unit.  He [sic] lives in orderly surroundings, and the achieving of these orderly surroundings calls for methods both explicit and subtle.”

It is “dangerously irresponsible” for us not to imagine a future society that is free from the coercive methods of the State.  At the same time, individuals living in a State-free environment at this point would enjoy less freedom than they might imagine, because the ideology of capitalist society has been so total, and its oppressive methods have so thoroughly permeated our beings, we would endanger each other, even (or especially) in an unconscious reactionary manner.  Right now, such an anarchic arrangement of society would require superhuman subjects, because we are still essentially capitalist beings, agents of empire, whites in particular.  And if you aren’t, maybe your neighbor is.  Under these modified forms of slavery– where some humans exist to be exploited by other humans– all the institutions and structures of class-based societies have conditioned us to behave in this reactionary manner.

One such structure is the family.  We might be able to recognize the need of a family member who is experiencing hunger (or we might not– it’s a gamble under patriarchy), but how do we recognize the hunger of someone we don’t know, and have never seen?  And many European colonizers (whites) have never seen colonized Africans/Black people or colonized Indigenous/Native peoples, because even when we do “see” them, we see right through them.

So it’s “dangerously irresponsible” to view each individual as “an anarchic unit” under present conditions, particularly when whites have rarely even reached the level of humane behavior, much less superhuman behavior.  Without the authority of the centralized socialist state, the labor we didn’t recognize would remain uncompensated, and the hunger we were unconscious of would remain unfed, and the sick would be left for dead– which sounds very similar to the current world economic system of capitalism.

What is required, in order to root out whiteness, and to abolish the power of the state, is each community of the globe (Palestinian, Navajo, African, New Afrikan, Cuban, Muslim, or whatever the identity of the subject might be) organizing under the authority of their independent socialist state, ruled by the masses who produce the resources in each community, and all the people struggling toward the goal of freedom, peace, equality, and justice.

Kwame Nkrumah and Methods of Coercion/Cohesion Under the Socialist State

Wearing Lavender, While Loving Black Feminism and the Women and Femmes Who Create It

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What is needed today is a project that is not part of the white supremacist and patriarchal project of colonial genocide called “America” and “capitalism.”

However, in a certain sense, every action, and every ideology, is a part of capitalism, because this racist, sexist power structure controls our access to every resource that is necessary for us to exist, and to think or do anything at all.  At the same time, because the capitalist power structure is class-based, with one class or identity enjoying the wealth and resources of this social arrangement at the expense of the exploited classes below it, the power structure that we all depend on for our survival actually makes it more difficult for some people to survive than it does for others: it robs the latter– that is, the “Other”– in order to benefit the former.  And those who have the greatest difficulty surviving capitalist violence– while attempting to gain access to the resources controlled by capitalism– also have the greatest incentive to create projects and collective actions and ideas that move against the status quo of this society.  One such project is Black feminism (or womanism, or intersectional feminism).

Malcolm X already said a long time ago: “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.”  And his observation still can’t be refuted by any statistical or factual measure.  So we should be able to recognize immediately this material and historical reality.  But out of the Black Power movement that Malcolm X gave his life to bring about, Black and African women created a project– or, rather, they continued a project that they had started many centuries before in Africa– and their project of Black feminism has made them even more “disrespected,” and “unprotected” and “neglected.”  Why?  Because this white supremacist, misogynistic, transphobic system of capitalist murder in the United States will try to destroy anything that it can’t control.  And Black feminism is a project that goes against the very exploitative and genocidal nature of “American” power.

Of course, we can also recall Huey P. Newton’s observation that “contradiction is the ruling principle of the universe.”  So capitalism is constantly employing in its own service the various institutions that it controls– media, colleges, businesses, government– and uses any set of ideologies or actions (any work) that may lead to greater profits for the ruling class.  Capitalism even exploits the revolutionary legacy of Malcolm X and Huey P. Newton in order to create more profits.  Their books and T-shirts are available on Amazon.  But that’s the dialectical nature of the power structure which dominates the world.  And, because we all need to eat, and we all need a place to sleep, and we probably also want to enjoy a higher “standard of living” than just having a piece of bread and a mattress to rest our head on, we then go out and get a job: at a college, at a television network, in government, or in some other bourgeois office setting.  Does this make us bourgeois?  Does this make us reactionary?  If we’re white, yes.  Because this whole system in the United States was built for our benefit– the benefit of white colonizers.

And what this also means is that white people (including white women) who go out and get a job, or a college education, or just walk down a street (while not being harassed by the police), all enjoy the power to do these things– or anything– on account of the “American” capitalist power structure.  As a result, we don’t feel there is much necessity to resist this power.  All whites enjoy the benefits of this genocidal project of colonial capitalism called “the United States of America.”  Yet Black women and femmes experience a different reality, and you’ll have to pay attention to what they are saying (and also pay them) if you want to know their own thoughts, and their own narratives and analysis.  Even so, one thing we do know is that Black feminism is a project created by Black women under conditions of extreme violence and oppression.  We’re aware of this reality even before we get to the actual content of Black feminist theory.  In other words, if we recognize the contradictions that exist in a society controlled by a racist, sexist, capitalist system of power, then we already know the material reality that Black women (transgender and cisgender) are the most marginalized identities under these current conditions.

Therefore, any individual or organization who says they are against Black feminism and Black feminists is untrustworthy.  Even if they aren’t misogynistic themselves, they will probably attract individuals who are.  And while the reasons that they may give for opposing Black feminism are several (most of them federal), the overall impact will be largely the same: Black women and femmes have created a project of their own which a racist, misogynistic, exploitative society can’t get their hands on, and can’t control, and so we try to destroy it.  And that’s the nature of the reactionary ideologies that permeate the entire capitalist society: anything (or anyone) it can’t control and exploit, it attempts to destroy.  So even if there are principled reasons for opposing Black feminism, the very act of focusing so excessively on the negative contradictions of this anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-capitalist project created by Black women, indicates that a person or an organization who does so will very likely make racists, sexists and transphobic capitalists just a little too comfortable in their presence– and then the damage to women and femmes that they are allowed to carry out behind the scenes is more than we want to imagine here.

All of us can have our own projects that we work on in opposition to the genocidal project of “American” capitalist power.  This imperialist “American” project is inherently monopolistic.  But that means we don’t have to be.  We can do our own thing over here, and you can do your own thing over there.  Black women and femmes have been working on their own project for decades (if not centuries), and the fact that it belongs to them (just them) is in itself an expression of their power: the power of their resistance in the face of extreme violence by a system that moves to leave them entirely powerless and “unprotected” (as Malcolm X said).

Black feminism is for Black women and femmes.  Intersectional feminism is the tool by which Black women and queer and trans people of color (QTPoC) aim to dismantle the master’s house.  It’s the tool of their choice, which they use to defend themselves from a system of power that seeks to destroy them.  And that’s power.  So why would any individual or organization who claims to be progressive want to take away that tool, and that weapon– that ability to choose, which is power?  Perhaps because capitalism empowers every political category of this backward, bourgeois society to move against Black women, especially when they are transgender or are gender nonconforming Black femmes.

My hijab is lavender.  I don’t feel beautiful, but this color does look good on me, as a European Muslimah.  And my feminism is probably also some shade of lavender.  But if the color of your feminism is purple, and if you are an African/Black woman or femme who creates this feminism– more power to you!  Everyone else– well, what project are you working on today, besides the one of genocidal, white supremacist patriarchy that is part of colonial capitalism in the United States?

 

Wearing Lavender, While Loving Black Feminism and the Women and Femmes Who Create It

Re: “Is President Trump’s Travel Ban Unconstitutional?”

 

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Let’s say a person– or a party, or a nation– is being violent, and you don’t want to be like that, so you decide to be nonviolent.  Let’s say they are shouting “White Power” and so you decide you are going to be against any racial category that talks about getting power, and now you oppose Black Power as well.  Let’s say that they are totally disregarding the U.S. Constitution, and especially the Bill of Rights, and so you decide you will ask, “Is President Trump’s Travel Ban Unconstitutional?”  Well, actually they asked it first, but now you decide to debate them because you feel that you have to take the right side– or the left side– of the issue.  And a very spirited, but peaceful, discussion soon followed, then both sides went home.

If that’s your reaction to Trump, and to the Republicans, the alt-right, the white nationalists, and the United States itself, then such behavior could be described as reactionary.  Reactionary behavior usually emphasizes the binary quality of a situation, where the two opposites exist in two separate realities in our minds.  In contrast, revolutionary behavior often begins with our ability to recognize the monistic quality of a situation: the oneness of it.  We’re in this together, the situation is unified, even as we oppose each other and have entirely different views of this shared situation.

So revolutionary behavior may be the actions that we take in a situation where, if a person– or a party, or a nation– is violent, then we move to stop their violence, even when violence is necessary.  If the white supremacists are shouting “White Power,” we support Black Power, because we don’t automatically attach judgments to power (or to violence).  Instead, we recognize that one must have power in order to do anything at all (“good” or “evil”).

As far as the U.S. Constitution is concerned, we say that it is only legitimate to the class that created it– and the same can be said of the United States itself, which was created for the purpose of imposing the will of the ruling class on all the other classes below it, including colonized Africans and Indigenous peoples.  And then we refuse to argue with the enemy (because that’s what they are, unless we have befriended white nationalists) and to engage in a friendly chat when it comes to the historical right of any community to be free, and to have access to their resources– that is, to gain power.

And this revolutionary behavior clarifies the situation– even if a lovely debate didn’t follow– because the two sides now recognize that they are locked together in a situation that cannot be resolved on the terms of the other side.  So, in order to resolve this antagonistic situation, and then progress to the next stage of history, we must engage in some form of struggle that will qualitatively change the entire objective reality that encompasses all the subjects involved.

White liberals (and even most white socialists) seek to avoid struggle, but that’s because we already enjoy power– including the power to hold ideas that we consider to be the opposite of those held by conservatives and blatantly racist whites.  What we know is: we don’t want to be like them– the racist, sexist, Islamophobic, transphobic right-wingers– so white leftists run to the opposite side of the question, and set up a binary in our minds: if they are for something, then we are against it.  Since Trump and his supporters want to destroy Africans/Black people and Muslims and immigrants (and Black Muslim immigrants), then we say we’re against that.  However, we don’t move to change the situation that empowers Trump and his supporters, because we also enjoy some of that very same power.  Instead, we set up a binary situation in our heads, and create a whole new world in our isolated minds, where our subjective ideals can reign supreme.

Kwame Nkrumah wrote, “Idealism suffers from what I call the God-complex.”  If you’re white (like Trump and his supporters) and you are therefore empowered by the same access to resources that Trump and his supporters have– differing only in quantity, not quality– then you have the power to construct a whole universe in your brain containing all your own values, beliefs, opinions, hopes, fears and ambitions.  And where does this power come from?  The United States, and the dominant system of power in the United States (and the world), which is colonial capitalism.  No, you may not be rich, and you may be disabled, transgender, a woman, queer, but you still qualify for the one thing you share in common with Trump and his supporters: the power of whiteness.  And the power of whiteness is based entirely on the powerlessness of colonized peoples: on the stolen power of Africans and so-called people of color, who are the majority of the global population.  It’s dialectical: our power, our ability to gain access to the stolen resources of imperialist capitalism, means their lack of power, and their lack of access to their resources, because we all share the same material reality, regardless of the various ideas in our minds.  The power of whiteness— which is a political category created by capitalism– results in a situation where we end up having a “God-complex,” and this elevated class unconsciousness leads to reactionary behavior on our part.

If we wish to move in a revolutionary manner, then we need to understand the material basis of this shared situation, and recognize the dialectical relationship that exists between the oppressor and the oppressed.  Once we apply the analysis of dialectical materialism, then we can move against the enemy– not by changing their minds, through law school-style debates, but by changing the basis for their power (and our power).  Then their ideas will be forced to evolve, or they will die.

You can’t change the material basis for power if you’re just asking “Is this Constitutional?” or if your main focus is on the U.S. Constitution.  The framework of the U.S. Constitution was designed and constructed to fit the interests of white people– European colonizers– particularly white cisgender men who owned property, and who treated humans as property.  It’s not that some elements of the U.S. Constitution can’t be used in the construction of a new system– and an entirely new set of countries, with self-determination for Indigenous and African peoples– but in order to move toward these truly egalitarian principles of socialism, we have to get rid of the whole frame that the “framers” built.  Yes, that means Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abe Lincoln– they all have to go, and not just their statues.  More importantly, their State needs to be torn down– the power of the United States.

However, whites won’t move in this revolutionary direction until we have been forced to do so, and we will only be forced by conditions that have become so unstable, so volatile, that we then become conscious of the necessity to change our philosophy, or die.  As long as we enjoy the same power of this white nationalist settler colony of Europe– the United States– that the loathsome supporters of Trump also enjoy, white people on the “left” will not organize to destroy this system of power … in order to avoid our own destruction.

In fact, we will probably condemn the actual revolutionaries, and use this “God-complex” of philosophical idealism to make sure that the shrinking oligarchy includes us– includes me.  And if things look good to me, they must be good … right?  If we can debate the constitutionality of this or that, and then go home at night, and sit in our safe and comfortable neighborhood– instead of sitting in a prison for decades like Imam Jamil Al-Amin, or Jalil Muntaqim, or Sundiata Acoli, or Leonard Peltier– then “America” must be worth saving … right?

That’s our natural reaction, as white people– for now.  Until we recognize that it goes against the objective laws of nature for one identity to base its own safety and comfort on colonial violence against the majority of people in the world, regardless of the “constitutionality” of this violence.

 

Re: “Is President Trump’s Travel Ban Unconstitutional?”