Archive for the ‘Hierarchy’ Category
This is a reply to Tennessee-Socialist on Dissident Voice. His words are in italics.
“Brian Koontz: Americans recieve benefits if you are a conformist american. But most american workers can only eat and drive a car in America. But american workers cannot go to a university for example to study law, political science or philosophy, or cannot go to an endocrinologist doctor if they want to lose weight, because doctors are so expensive in America. So it is evident that the majority of americans are not well and *don’t* receive benefits at all.”
Education and healing should be universal rights, but there’s a massive difference between the welfare of “poor” Americans and the welfare of the global poor.
Take one huge difference – the minimum wage. Regardless of gender or race at least, most Americans can get a low-paying job. It’s not too difficult once American citizenship is attained for anyone to be a “poor” American. The federal minimum wage is currently $6.55 per hour and will be going up to $7.25 per hour next summer. The concept of a “living” wage in America* is sheer nonsense and political opportunism – it’s easy to live on the minimum wage in America.
According to even the World Bank (not exactly an unbiased organization), in 2001 1.1 billion people “lived” on less than $1 a day, and 2.7 billion “lived” on less than $2 a day. In other words, nearly half the global population makes less than a third in an entire day what a “poor” American makes in an hour. This was *before* the Bush Administration took it’s toll on the world.
The minimum wage in America is an *imperial* benefit. It resulted not (just) from “democratic movement”, as Chomsky claims, but from imperial theft and redistribution of that theft. The redistribution from Mob Boss to Mob Underling is what Chomsky calls “democracy”. Third-worlders perhaps have another name for it.
Life for a poor American is not peaches and cream. But at least a poor American knows what peaches and cream *are*.
“The only folks who are benefiting from Imperialist USA is Jennifer Lopez, Tom Cruise, the yuppie middle libertarian right wing bourgoeise elitist classes, but the majority of american employees and workers are not doing well at all. That’s why there is a need of socialism in USA so that wealth could trickle down to the masses”
The American poor are *not* the masses! The masses are the GLOBAL poor, the truly poor, those 1.1 billion “living” in sheer desperation and the 2.7 billion “living” in dire straits and the other billion+ mildly less exploited. The American poor are the Mob Underlings, exploited for sure but with a highly privileged and highly exploitive place in the global system.
A problem with Americans is that they always compare themselves to other (richer) Americans. Your examples of Tom Cruise and Jennifer Lopez are tragically typical. The American poor consume American media that shows opulence and the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and cry out “exploitation!” For the Mob Underling to compare himself to the Mob Boss and ignore the victims of the mob, the *true* victims, is to be blind and to not live in reality.
The American left is hardly less racist and monstrous than the right, but they have 1000 times the self-righteousness. They are the ones who “know about” Imperialism without actually knowing about it.
Don’t you think that one point of American media showing the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” is so that poor Americans will focus on that instead of on attaining solidarity with the global poor? Don’t you think that you yourself have fallen into a capitalist trap, Mr. Socialist?
“Socialism in the USA” is nothing more than the Mob Underling trying to get more imperial benefits from the Mob Boss.
* I support a “living wage” in America as well as all other transfers from the Mob Boss to the Mob Underling only insofar as they do not distract the American left away from solutions to the world’s problems. It seems for most of the Imperial left that being distracted by those transfers is the point of their existence.
It’s extremely illogical if nothing else that the same people who fervently defend corporations are those who deride communism. In communism a small localized elite establish policy for an economy (that of a nation). This policy is then handed down and expected to be carried out, with punishments for those who do not do so.
In a corporation a small localized elite establish policy for that corporation. This policy is then handed down and expected to be carried out, with punishments for those who do not do so.
Alright then, so what are the *differences* between corporations and communism, which lead some people to celebrations of the former and demonizations of the latter?
Argument #1: Corporations are less powerful than communist states and therefore less threatening.
This is true in the case of many corporations, but not all. Many corporations now have a higher GDP than that of most nations. And given the tremendous privileges given to corporations under the law, their size and power are very much unchecked, unlike that of nations. No rational human being can say that in today’s world communism is more threatening than corporations (and corporatism, the political system of power than corporations wield).
Argument #2: Corporations compete against each other which leads to gains in productivity, unlike communist nations.
That’s false on both sides. Communist nations do compete against other nations in terms of economic performance. The Soviet Union for example was a failure of economics. Most giant corporations do not so much compete against other corporations as compete against local governments, with respect to repressing any laws that favor workers and allowing low costs for resource extraction. Having defeated the local government, profit naturally ensues, in the same sense that if I was to go to a neighbor’s house, extort him into giving me his family’s money in exchange for a kickback, profit to me would necessarily ensue. This would then be described as a “free market transaction”. That is to say, I am free to extort and run a “successful corporation” which is “more productive” than the competition. If others go out of business as a result that’s merely “competition” which weeds out companies that are “inefficient”.
But to be fair, corporations also compete against other corporations. They mainly do so through marketing and advertising, since their products are tremendously uniform (not that they are beyond hyping any minor difference in the product). This marketing and advertising establishes utterly irrational links, having nothing to do with the product. Hence the “Be Like Mike” campaign that helped Nike sell shoes. While Michael Jordan would probably have performed considerably worse if wearing sandals instead of shoes, the type of shoe he wore had more to do with who was paying him more money (and most improving his image and marketability) than anything else. Hence Michael Jordan himself would have “Been Like Mike” had he been wearing Adidas’s.
So, obviously, this competition does not result in gains in productivity, unless you consider irrational advertising to be in some way productive. It certainly doesn’t help Nike produce more shoes at a lower cost, and the price of Nike shoes reflects that.
In Reply to Max Shields:
“I think we’re fine tuning our differences but we have some general agreements.”
Our biggest disagreement seems to be that you believe groups like the KKK derive from fear and hate and I believe them to be derived from desire for material gain, with the fear and hate relating to and serving that goal.
Before I get into direct replies, I want to talk a bit about fear.
The people who are most afraid are those who are attacking other people. American soldiers in Iraq for example are terrified (which they attempt to hide under macho bluster). Fear is never understood for what it is because everyone looks at fear from the standpoint of the victim. The interesting truth of the matter is that perpetrators are far more afraid than victims. Here’s an example:
An Iraqi family is sitting at home having a meal. The next minute their home is bombed and destroyed, and they are all dead. No fear (beyond what is caused by the occupation and any specific issues they have) except sheer terror at the last moment.
On the other side of the equation, amid blaring sounds of Guns ‘N Roses and thoughts of the warm arms of a girlfriend left behind, an ignorant low-educated kid pushes a button, drops a bomb, and misses his target. But despite the ignorance, this kid knows the devastation he is taking part in and the anger that is creating.
Who is more afraid? Well for one thing – the person who is still alive. But another – perpetrators are always more afraid because they are the one committing the crime, and they are the one who take on the moral burden of such. To commit a crime and know that you or your loved ones may pay for that crime years, decades, or even centuries later – that’s pure dread. That’s fear. That’s living in terror.
Post traumatic stress disorder has fear as it’s main component.
Take a close look at the Neoconservatives. The primary element of their composition is fear. They are deeply afraid of the end of the West, the end of capitalism, the end of white rule. They aren’t just afraid of the loss of rulership and the profit that entails – they are afraid of retribution. Their fear is far deeper and more motivating for them than it is for any of their victims.
The KKK works on the same principles. They want to exploit and profit from blacks, so they attack blacks, so they fear and hate blacks. Just as for the American soldier and the Neoconservative, fear does not create their attack, it’s the logical consequence of it.
The school bully who steals lunch money doesn’t do so out of fear – he does so out of desire for profit. But *then* he fears retribution after committing the crime, and if the crime is ongoing the fear is ongoing, and grows, and grows, and grows.
“You’ll have to share your sources on the KKK. Obviously it has served various purposes, but I’m not sure how it provides support for an economics. The core mentality behind KKK is fear, propagation of myths, and self-organization. I don’t see the ruling power elite having a hand in it. But I’m open to new information.”
You’re not sure how it supports an economic program? How about this:
Capitalism requires not only workers, but compliant workers. Capitalists seek to create and maintain divisions within the workforce so as to allow them easy control. So, for example, several layers of management are set up and pitted against one another – the lower layer coveting the job of the higher – the higher having to keep the lower “in his place” to prevent his own job loss. This layering is done right on through to the workers. There are often distinctions between work-classes that appear minor from the outside but are critical for worker relations. Janitors are often on the low end of the totem pole.
So for the KKK to keep blacks “in their place”, which is to say for black workers to be below white workers, is not so much to perpetuate racism but to perpetuate capitalism. To set up a capitalist work-layer based on race institutionalizes racism and gives capitalists a major lever of power, since white workers can then be pitted against black workers – the blacks covet the extra income of white workers and white workers want to protect their (relatively) privileged status.
Take a look at the recent events in Jena, LA, which were imitated around the country, where white students (assumedly) hung nooses from a tree (deemed a “white tree”) after black students stood under it. What’s the point of a “white tree” in the first place? It’s to mark off territory – territory the white students like. For the black students to not stand under the tree shows their deference to white power, and for them to stand under it is in defiance of white power. So white power thus threatened, it retaliates in the form of nooses. Power is about theft and subjugation. Theft and subjugation (by any means) is another phrase for war. The KKK is not a hate group – it’s a war group. It’s part of the ongoing war against blacks to maintain them as an internal colony. It’s about maintaining power and profit.
One of the problems people have when they think of war is that they think of killing. But really, the Bush Administration would have been just as happy if no Iraqis (except Saddam) had been killed. War isn’t about killing – it’s about power (theft and subjugation). Killing is just a means to that end. The KKK isn’t about hanging blacks from trees, it isn’t about fear, and it isn’t about hate – it’s about maintaining and extending power, profit, and privilege for the ruling class and maintaining relatively privileged status for non-ruling whites. The KKK fears and hates blacks as a reaction to what their own capitalist project is doing to them.
Take a look at the similarity between what war is (theft and subjugation by any means up to and including killing) and what capitalism is (theft and subjugation by any means up to and including wage slavery). Capitalism is the economic version of perpetual war. That’s what “competition” means – perpetual war with certain restraints (usually killing is frowned upon).
Capitalists don’t want corpses – they want slaves. The only value of a corpse to a capitalist is that it makes it easier to turn humans who are still alive into slaves. That’s what Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and other sites are all about – showing anyone who would oppose the American Empire what can and will happen to them. The message is – be a slave or be tortured. The choice is up to you.
“I’m not sure how substantial the power of the KKK is these days. So, I’m not sure they are central to what we both agree on: American colonialization policies and practices in and outside the borders of the US. For instance, Northern US cities have been colonized and yet the presence of a KKK is nil.”
The KKK began in 1866, shortly after the end of chattel slavery. The end of chattel slavery was a threat to whites of all classes, and the KKK was a response to that threat. The KKK stepped in to ensure that blacks would continue to be terrorized and controlled. Jim Crow laws and massive discrimination completed the task.
Nowadays everything is so messed up (from the ruling class’s perspective) that noone in power cares anymore. I guess that’s potentially good news for blacks and other oppressed peoples, but it’s bad news for the human species. What I mean is that white colonial rule is dying. It’s easy to see this in a way – if white rule was healthy they would take care of the environment – if white rule was healthy they wouldn’t jeopardize that rule with the perpetual possibility of nuclear annihilation. Rulers never want the end of the world unless they see their own rule crumbling.
But if they see their own rule crumbling, then watch out. Think of a shrew backed into a corner, but instead of little teeth the shrew has massive armies and nuclear weapons at his disposal. The outcome is sure to be extremely unpleasant. The outcome is found in the hearts and souls of the Neoconservatives and their elite Liberal allies.
“This colonialization is irrational. From the beginning of time, wealth is created in settlements which became cities. Colonizing cities does not make good economic sense. On a local level it does, however. Not all cities are equal and many are finding ways to turn this around and free themselves…but that’s for another time/place.”
It makes extremely good economic sense. It’s utterly rational from the standpoint of a small elite maintaining it’s power, wealth, and privilege. It’s bad from everyone else’s perspective of course. But since the elite control the means of propaganda and most others are just scrabbling along trying to not die or suffer from day to day, they in many cases either can’t know or at least can’t act upon their knowledge.
The point of colonization is the same as the point of slavery – the perpetuation of weakness in the exploited group (a form of genocide). Here’s a rough breakdown of what the ruling class wants:
Obedience to their will. Only in rare cases is disobedience acceptable.
Many, many, variations in the exploited classes. Many layers of managers, many layers of workers, fine distinctions. Separate latinos into certain job classes, blacks into others, whites into others.
Create a buffer class – the “middle class”. Give them substantial privileges. Make them the caretakers (doctors, lawyers, etc.) of the exploited classes so that they can “be on their side”.
Create an educational system whose main method of passage is money. Ensure through job requirements that all good paying jobs require passage through the state educational system which required substantial money to get through in the first place.
The more exploited the class, the more dangerous they are. Don’t worry about the middle class – they will never revolt. Make sure the heavily exploited classes are impoverished and thus have neither the time, nor the strength, nor the hope, in order to revolt. Wage controls ensure that the heavily exploited classes need to work long hours just to get by, and the already controlled classes (middle classes) can have their vacations and short work weeks.
All of this is based on divide and conquer, colonization, maximizing profit for the elites, maintaining control, and all of it comes back to capitalism. Different flavors of capitalism (Neofeudal, Keynesian, Neoliberal) don’t differ all that much – they mostly differ in terms of how they treat the middle class. The middle class will sure tell you how different they are!
“So, why would a city, whose economy has been depleted, be colonized? Who does it serve? From what I can see it primarily serves land owners and speculators.”
You’re talking about physical colonization. That’s not what colonization is. Black colonization is well described in the phrase “escaping the ghetto”. The ghetto is not a place so much as a conflux of social, political, and economic conditions. Colonization may or may not have a physical component.
“American colonialization is a direct descendent of the European system. American expansionism and the use of slaves and the slaughter of the indigenous peoples on this land was an extension of the European imperial empire. As the American Empire took center stage, Europe’s imperialism receded; the birth was accomplished and has gone on full force for over a hundred years.”
Yep – but I hope people understand that it’s not based on racism. The American Empire will die soon, and I fear that people will then celebrate an “end to imperialism”, since they think that only white people are colonists. Meanwhile, whoever then emerges as a global power will meet zero resistance as they go about their own imperial project, and only many years later will people wake up and say “Oh, oh, I never knew!”
Greed and lust for power are universal human conditions (just as are fairness and egalitarian principles), but they can be minimized in effect through social, cultural, and economic policies. What we need is not so much an end to imperialism as an end to the structures that ensure imperialism – capitalism. We need to understand capitalism and break it down – end class divisions – end a heavily privatized world – end hierarchies unless they are mutually supported. This can be done – and with the right local movements linked together in a global justice movement it will be done.
“Brian said: “Racism has nothing to do with a lack of empathy and everything to do with greed, profit, and power. It’s not an ideology – it’s a tool.”
“I didn’t say racism was a lack of empathy. There is a central, system economically based (I think we agree) which is bolstered by racism. The psychology around group think/dynamics that creates the KKK or lynching of Germans pre-WWI, or Hitler’s cadre that had emerged out of WWI, are NOT the racist system, but they are a PRODUCT of it.”
We agree on that, but we don’t agree on what creates the KKK. It’s not true that groupthink created or maintained the KKK. That’s like saying that groupthink created a corporation. Shared interests create corporations, and shared interests created the KKK. The shared interest that involves the maintenance of white and elite white privilege, profit, and power by means of keeping blacks in a perpetual state of terror.
Lets see if you agree on what I think our arguments are: your argument is that racism is emotional and irrational and mine is that racism is logical and rational. Your argument is that hatred is the cause of racism, and that racism just happens to then serve rational interests (amazingly!). My argument is that greed (rational greed from the standpoint of individualism) is the cause of theft and subjugation, racism furthers the ends of theft and subjugation, and all emotions involved (fear, hatred, and otherwise) are either reactions to this rational project or complementary to it. Is that a fair assessment of our differences?
“I’m saying that the lack of empathy for Iraqi children and the death and mutilation caused by US invasion and occupation is a direct result/product of the economic system that fosters racism. In in its full bloom it is the demonization of the other.”
Right – but I disagree insofar as the other can be pretty much anything. If there were no browns the other could be blue. If there were no blacks the other could be pink polka dot. The other is whatever happens to be most convenient to put on the assembly line of profitability. Whites kill whites for profit, blacks kill blacks for profit, the color money-green is the only true form of racism in the world. When blacks are weak and exploitable they are the other. When Jews are weak and exploitable they are the other. When whites are weak and exploitable they are the other and are then called by a different name (such as workers vs. managers).
Can you ever imagine a white capitalist thinking “Wow, I have this great opportunity for profit but the person I would be exploiting is white! Oh well, I guess I’ll have to move on to the next opportunity.”
That will be the day! Corporations *maximize profits*. The only logical outcome of this is that the victims of corporations are whoever most efficiently feeds that profit maximization.
“Ideology – “isms” tend to be belief systems acted on; a prism by which one sees the world, worldview. That said I’m fine with calling it a tool.”
I don’t think when Americans call Iraqis “hajjis” only when they are killing them can it be said that there is an ideological basis for the killing. Ideology can’t be turned on and off based on a military project. If, however, calling them “hajjis” is a tool to further their killing, torturing, and terrorizing efficiency, then it can and certainly is turned on or off depending on whether the Americans are killing, torturing, and terrorizing them or not at any given time.
“One clarfication of that clarification at the end of the post: I’m not saying that people of color who have been discriminated based on color have not been racially targeted. What I am saying is that racism is not unique to some ethnic or racial group. Slavery created a particular legacy; but it is not the only legacy associated with racism.”
Capitalists of any race will exploit whatever humans of whatever race they can get their hands on. Groups like the KKK make sure that certain races are easier for capitalists to grasp than others – it’s like someone on a life raft pushing a shipmate into an ocean with a shark in it. The shark consumes what’s closest to it first and the white guy on the life raft gets to drink his tea and enjoy his big screen TV. But then the shark gets hungry again, and who’s left to eat now?
Either we kill the shark, or we all die.
War is about two things: theft and subjugation (which themselves are closely related). In the Roman model which is no longer in use war was also about glory (the glory of conquest), however that was most likely the result of a successful propaganda campaign.
There is no such thing as real hate in the context of war (hate only occurs outside of war). Hate is never the reason for war. People only hate their enemies after they become enemies, never before. Hate is a useful emotional tool which allows for mass killing, and especially for effective killing as it turns humans into tools of death. Sufficient technology allows no more need for hate, when one can achieve mass killing by pushing a button, but subjugation will always involve intimacy with humans on some level so there will always be hate involved with war so long as there is war.
On something of a side note, what is called a “hate crime” in the United States is actually a war crime. Most wars do not involve large armies and are organized. Many wars are genocidal in nature and are carried out sporadically and in everyday life. The Ku Klux Klan is not a hate group but a militant group that periodically carries out acts of war.
The humans who perpetuate wars are those who gain the most from theft and subjugation and who pay the least in terms of the cost of war. In hierarchical power models such as have dominated the world for millennia it’s the humans on the top of the hierarchical structure who reap the largest benefits from theft and subjugation and pay the least cost in terms of having other humans die on their behalf. They invent fictions like honor, glory, and duty to allow others to be controlled by them as they go to their death in slavery to give the powerful more control and wealth.
The question “How do we end war?” is often asked but rarely answered. It’s not that difficult to stop or at least greatly curtail the amount and degree of wars in the world. The first thing to do is eliminate all hierarchical power structures, which put those on top both unaccountable to everyone else and most eager to commit to war. The second thing is to use military force only in defense and in circumstances that allow for no other course of effective action (such as stopping a genocide).
On a side note, no hierarchical structure is ever or can ever be democratic. No modern state is democratic, the United States perhaps the least of all. Hierarchy is the opposite of democracy. There are no such things as leaders or citizens in a hierarchical model. There are only rulers and subjects. Rulers treat subjects differently depending on their relation to the ruler, so for American rulers the American people are deemed “citizens” (those they keep a close eye on and give gifts to) and non-Americans are deemed “non-citizens” (those they don’t worry about except to exploit).
The “War on Terror” by necessity will be fought by American rulers primarily against the American people within the United States, since that is where the greatest threat to the American rulers exists (due to physical proximity, material relations (taxation) and elections). It will also provide a pretext for foreign wars, as we’ve already seen and will continue to see. While terror means one thing in a dictionary, it means something else to a ruler – it means anything that threatens his interests. Hence he uses terror to “stop terror” and he considers unruly American subjects to be “terrorists”, again receiving terror from him.
Modern elections have nothing to do with democracy. Elections are where subjects choose between Ruler A and Ruler B. The subjects themselves experience little difference between the rulers – only the elite culture treats the two rulers with much anticipation and differential.
The term “subject” is a fairly kind one by me. Subjects are always enslaved, as we witness whenever the police are called upon to stop whatever demonstration occurs if it “gets out of hand” (where it threatens the interests of the rulers).
In a “democracy” the police don’t use pure force because they want to maintain the fiction of being a democracy. The only difference between a “democracy” and a police state is that the police state no longer seeks to maintain the fiction of being a democracy.
Americans range between deluded and severely deluded on all political issues. They are ignorant about war, they are ignorant about the American political system, they are ignorant about their own role and degree of power within the system. Thus they are “shocked and outraged” about the Bush Administration, when all that administration is is a more transparent and less maintaining-of-fiction version of what has always come before, and what will always come again until the hiearchical model itself is destroyed.
Back to the original point of this writing: it’s extreme useful for a ruler to enslave someone. A ruler always wants control and slavery allows for total external control. A ruler wants nothing better than to enslave the world – that was the Roman vision that has so enthralled civilized Western society. Control means the ruler can do whatever he wants with that person – the ruler wants to avoid threats and he achieves that – he wants to reap material rewards and he achieves that.
The case of American rulers waging a war in Iraq is typical. Mass killing is undertaken in order to subjugate the populace. Torture is used to further the subjugation. Iraq has vast oil wealth which is now being transferred to American multinational corporations.
The only real solutions will occur following democratic revolution. There has to be no such thing as rulers and subjects in order to avoid the monstrosities of the past and today.