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.