The Global System of Capitalism: A Total Negation of Personhood

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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.

 

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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”

Fighting Fire (Capitalism) with Water (Dialectical Materialism)

HPNEssay2

Racial oppression and economic oppression are very much connected, because it’s hard to make a living when you’ve been stolen from a continent or when your continent has been stolen from you.

Yet so-called white allies in the United States don’t often connect racial oppression to economic oppression.  If we did, we would recognize that all the wealth and power of this global economic system (capitalism), as well as the United States, is based on the racist and imperialist oppression of Africans/Black people, and Indigenous/Native peoples and the majority of the world’s population (identities who are usually called “people of color”).

When we place white supremacy in one category and capitalist exploitation in another category, we fail to recognize that whiteness itself is capital, and that, as white people, we are able to gain access to resources and enjoy whatever level of wealth and power that we have, because we are identified by capitalism as white.  In fact, blatant racists on the right-wing of the colonizing population of the United States don’t have as much difficulty as subtle racists often do making this connection between race and class, because they recognize that whiteness is an identity that must be violently guarded, and that the greatness of “America” and the future of white people are tied to this system’s violence against the world.

As long as all white people enjoy the benefits of whiteness– which is a category of race and class created by the global system of capitalism on our behalf– we will continue to be racist.  And, as long as we allow the power of the capitalist system (and the United States) to exist, we will be racist.

However, whites on the left-wing of the colonizing population– white liberals in particular– attempt to resolve this contradiction by promoting gradual reforms to the system and “more inclusion and diversity.”  In their own way, white liberals also believe “America” can be great again.  White liberals believe in the U.S. Constitution and the tradition of progressive movements toward more “inclusion and diversity” and more recognition of civil rights.  All whites benefit from the racist, capitalist oppression of colonized Africans, but whites on the left also seem to believe that “Black Lives Matter.”  And, as soon as the left-wing of the colonizing class introduces a few of these incremental changes to the capitalist system, in an attempt to lift up some of the exploitative pressure from colonized peoples (which exists for the enjoyment of all whites), the blatant racists on the right-wing of the colonizing class react violently, thereby proving the point that capitalism and the United States can only be white supremacist.  So, within the context of this colonial situation, the white left eventually faces the material reality, that, if we truly believe Black Lives Matter, and that the masses of the world do not exist merely to be exploited for our benefit, then we must destroy this system and its state power.   Yet most of us are not ready to face that fact right now, even as the contradictions of this racist, capitalist society are exposed more and more each time the system and its ruling class (and the white population loyal to this system) react to another crisis.

Point Number Five of the Black Panther Party’s Ten-Point Program stated “We Want Education For Our People That Exposes The True Nature Of This Decadent American Society.”  Huey P. Newton recognized that, once Black people understood “the true nature” of capitalist society in the United States, they would move in a revolutionary manner to resolve this contradiction– on their terms, not those of the oppressor.  This contradiction (which cannot be resolved without revolution) is: while “America” claims to represent freedom, equality, peace and justice, all its power and wealth are based on oppression, inequality, violence and injustice.  Yet the capitalist ruling class of the United States and the white population cannot even recognize the basic humanity of Black people and Indigenous peoples, because we are educated– by the schools, the media and all the institutions that the ruling class controls– to hold the mythological belief that whites are superior (and that capitalism is compatible with humane and egalitarian principles).

As long as the United States remains in power, white people will still be absorbing these racist ideologies that capitalism promotes– ideologies that are also connected to misogyny, transphobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, and all other forms of systemic oppression.  Whites on the left try to escape these ideas, wishfully thinking that we can oppose them while we are simultaneously enjoying the material benefits of a capitalist system which gives them power and violently enforces them.  But one day we will discover that, until you get rid of the racist system (capitalism), and the racist state power (the United States), every white person in this country will continue to be racist, because our very survival– as well as all our upward mobility– is dependent upon this white supremacist system and the white identity that it elevates at the expense of Africans.

Right now, so-called white allies are empowered to believe that if we just say “Black Lives Matter” and try to have a clear conscience (maybe by joining or donating to an “anti-racist” organization), then somehow we can go back to enjoying the benefits of this racist system and country.  But the whole foundation of capitalism and the United States is rotten.  And you don’t even have to make this argument yourself, if you are coming from the left.  In fact, you don’t even have to agree with it.  Because the President himself– that blatant white supremacist Donald Trump– will make the point for you, and say that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson also owned enslaved Africans, so are we going to take down their statues too?  Of course, he doesn’t use those very words, because he’s not only inarticulate, he’s entirely dishonest, and can only say the truth by accident.  But this is what it means to expose the contradictions of “decadent American society” and the “true nature” of racist capitalism.  The President himself will make that contradiction clear, even as he’s trying to “make America great again.”

Instead of worrying about whether we’re racist or non-racist (or even anti-racist), it seems that European colonizers (whites) in the U.S. need to unite under a theory that will overthrow the entire power structure of this society.  Because, until we do that, we will be racist.  Huey P. Newton and the Black Panther Party already articulated this theory: it is dialectical materialism.

So-called white allies will read (and write) a thousand articles about racism and other forms of oppression, but how often do we discuss the one tool that can bring down this monstrous thing, capitalism?  Why don’t we talk about dialectical materialism?  Well, for one thing, we aren’t taught this theory in the schools controlled by the ruling class of this country, because they know how dangerous it is.  Instead, we focus on the principles of subjective idealism (or “American exceptionalism”), and on things in our head like “liberty,” “justice” and “equality.”  We don’t ask how the white identity and white supremacy are materially connected to the basic hierarchical structure of capitalist society, because the answer to this question may lead us to organize against the system, and join the global struggle to destroy capitalism and replace it with socialism.

Huey P. Newton said in 1971:

“I don’t think the students are taught dialectically, and one of the reasons they are not is that it would be detrimental to the bourgeois educational system to do so. I think it is a fair statement that the schools are agencies of the status quo: the bourgeoisie needs to train technicians and to give students a conglomeration of facts, but it would be detrimental for them to give students the tools to show that the status quo cannot stand and so to analyze them out of existence.”

If you want to fight against racism, and other forms of systemic oppression, eventually the blatant racists on the right-wing of the colonial population will force you to recognize: there’s no other way out of this racist system of power except to destroy it.  That’s the unavoidable conclusion that we move closer and closer to each time the capitalism system undergoes yet another crisis.  And the only reason whites on the left refuse to recognize this historical and material reality right now is that we enjoy too many of the benefits of the capitalist, “American” arrangement of power.

However, as the benefits of racist, imperialist capitalism slip from our grasp, the reactionaries on the right-wing show “the true nature of this decadent American society,” and move to inflict even greater damage on the global majority: Africans and so-called people of color.  And the white liberal or white leftist remains totally unprepared for this violent reaction because we haven’t learned the theory to combat it.

Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, said, “We don’t think you fight fire with fire best; we think you fight fire with water best.”  And what was this “water” he was talking about?  Dialectical materialism.  Scientific socialism.  And that’s what Point Number Five of the Black Panther Party’s Ten-Point Program was talking about– dialectical materialism.

So when people talking about fighting “hate” with “love,” they are trying to fight fire with fire– or philosophical idealism with philosophical idealism.  You fight racist mythology with dialectical materialist theory, which is based on the objective laws of nature.  But instead, white “progressives” fall into the idealist trap of the reactionaries, who have already said that the United States is a country that promotes the ideals of “liberty and justice for all,” while it is engaging in genocide, and while it murders Fred Hampton, and exploits the working class of the world.  If you want to put out the fire of capitalism and racism, then (in the words of Fred Hampton) this means you “fight it with socialism.”

So the only way we are going to defeat “hate” in this genocidal nation and system is if we engage in mass political education, and organize under the theory of dialectical materialism, just like Huey P. Newton and Fred Hampton were urging the people to do fifty years ago.

 

Fighting Fire (Capitalism) with Water (Dialectical Materialism)