False light-constructions (top photo)
When Donald Trump stands up in front of television cameras and repeatedly characterizes poor refugees as rapists, drug dealers and murderers, it is easy to see that we’re being told a hateful untruth about many, which is emotionally satisfying but completely non-helpful, even to those to whom this false generalization appeals.
There is always some proportion of every group which is especially unhinged, and willing to damage others – so ‘evidence’ can be cited, but far more evidence must be actively ignored, for one group of us to enjoy pure contempt toward another, without reference to compassion.
The fact is that many refugees are fleeing countries which were profoundly harmed – against domestic popular will – by US central American policy – which has brought state violence to workers and even progressive clergy, and used endless dirty tricks to keep dictators in power – prioritizing smooth corporate resource extraction and labour exploitation. Making the world “safe for investors” – at any cost to civilian lives required. Again and again – our collective irresponsibility (demand without limit) has created the trouble from which they are running.
Thing is, it isn’t just right wingers who get emotionally excited and enthusiastic about ignorant hatreds – the left loves this trick just as much.
Are a large number of insanely super-rich people men? Yes.
Are most men, even white men, rich? Really not. Vast numbers of white people are poor – and almost all have been being pushed way down, not up the class rungs – increasingly rapidly – for forty years straight!
Kids of middle class boomers are usually working class or poor, and even if they’re hard working and lucky (it takes both now), the kids of all but the most fortunate Xers are not only poor, but arrive at adulthood mired decades-deep in debt (as close as we’ve come to mass contractual servitude for awhile, domestically – and a big REAL AND ENTIRELY RATIONAL part of their famous collective anxiety).
Temple of doom
Most white men do not actually get empowerment, dignity, autonomy and excellent rewards. What most white men get is shit pie on a leash. Read that over again as many times as you have to. I’m serious.
Fighting to make equal shares of wearing a leash and eating shit-pie a compulsory standard, is one of the most stupid goals ever sought.
I’m reminded of Timothy Leary’s brilliant quote “A woman who aspires to be equal to a man lacks ambition.” Justice is not an ideal split of loot from the industrial killing of the entire world – but making a better, happier, (and not incidentally, survivable) life for EVERYONE.
I’ll go further (someone has to). Most white people now, even in the rich democracies, are absolutely natural allies for all of the downtrodden. Only the boomers have pensions – everyone born from the mid sixties on, is already on a pre-screwed track and know it – and they actually share the constant frustrating experience of exploitation, hopelessness and rejection – and also feel shut-out from the rewards advertised to all – but delivered to fewer and fewer – every single day of their lives.
To characterize white people, or white men in particular as if they can safely be presumed to be hateful racists who deliberately benefit from the unfairness of the system itself isn’t just ignorant, it’s a grotesquely bourgeois conceit, and a denial of broad human understanding.
We can say the system screws some of them less. But that is a very different thing. We also know millions have been faithful allies for years, through all sorts of social progress struggles. Scorning allies for idealogical impurity on the very eve of your greatest confrontation is indeed a venerable leftist tactic – directly from the Stalinist playbook! (Weakened him so much, he was forced to compromise with Hitler)
The single biggest area where the left and right both screw-up in common (though usually as ritual symmetrical imbalanced opposites), is when they pretend that identifying a problem and complaining is their work – but fixing it is entirely on someone else – not on all of us together.
If we seriously wish to oppose patriarchy, we can’t start by complaining to Dad-the-state to fix our lives, and giving it all our power proxies, so we can dishonestly transfer-away our own adult share of responsibility. Seriously folks – that’s a common, but also completely self-nullifying idea.
White Mythos (Old El Dorado)
At this point, most of what calls itself the right, has no serious relationship to the reasonable and prudent principles of fiscal restraint, and the also sensible concern that societal change doesn’t happen so fast that it obliterates hard won traditional goods and gains.
Likewise, most of the left has wandered far from the idea of looking out for the people below us, and the brothers and sisters at our side. We like to be branded much more narrowly now – exactly like me, please.
This does indeed give us an easier atmosphere of mutual congratulation (though why we so often seek that, is another very sad question) but the end result does not resemble a political force, so much as a great religious schism – Babel made manifest. Obvious comrades, stuck endlessly bickering. (Ask any old radical you know – the stories!)
People who suggest that others of any general category at all, are automatically enemies, are always trying to override your obligation and power to think-for-yourself, and replace your dynamic and ever growing judgement with a view that better suits their power, than your clear understanding,
Such agents aren’t just self indulgent, strategically moronic immature fools, they are in fact traitors to the potential for broad compassionate social transformation – their tantrum-raising efforts guarantee that evil will win out, by making sure no grand alliance of chaotic goods can ever assemble and effectively organize. They trade away the slim but real chance of a united front and broad social victory, for a certain easy dose of factional sanctimony. Satisfying contempt. Ignorance-reinforcing.
Malcolm X was organizing for years – when did he become too dangerous?
Why did the Nixonite state feel it absolutely had to murder Fred Hampton, and quickly?
Because these brilliant black leaders had finally realized their only hope of accomplishing their program of deep and lasting revolutionary transformation, lay in grand alliances with other disaffected people around them, including the vast numbers of white poor – urban and rural both. And their insight was recognized as threateningly correct!
Your own definition of a hero
When I say I’ve been ‘political’ since I was a teenager I don’t mean I’ve been complaining others should fix problems, while I keep shamelessly adding to them (almost universal nowadays, and again self-nullifying, straight out of the box), I mean I’ve been trying my best to learn about the world, and come to my own decisions about what seems moral and what unreasonable or hurtful – and learning to sacrifice in those areas where I didn’t feel right. Running the experiment of acting on my own convictions, simply to prove them workable (to myself, at least).
Just about the teenage time that I was eligible to get a driver’s licence, Reagan abolished the brilliant far-sighted California emissions standards, which would have forced every auto maker who wanted to sell into their market to offer a zero-emissions vehicle by 1990!
He also changed the tax status of heavier commercial vehicles, which suddenly made SUVs economical (much increasing consumption and pollution, for no basic improvement of transport).
It was obvious to me that the world would need more people who simply did not drive – even if just to extend the window of habitability of our atmosphere by a minute degree. So, I never got my learners permit, never let the weird addiction take ahold of me. Lost tons of work as a result (especially as a technician) always felt okay about the sacrifice, even when I badly needed the work, because to me, it was always on behalf of other people (younger / poorer) who didn’t have even my own working-class range of options (fewer though those are, year by year).
Not saying this to be smug or big-up, either. I’m just saying that choices like this really can be made on principle, for reasons which make sustaining the sacrifice feel easy. I know many principled vegetarians who get there the same compassionate way, and many who have decided not to replicate, on similar principles.
But I really don’t expect any of those choices to be to be widely emulated, believe me. All those friends have an unusual quality of will. That’s an absolutely unfair ask, for the general public. (An honest intellectual anarchist will always admit, we need to go through several social evolutions to become more ethically developed humans first, before we can actually handle complete freedom and responsibility).
Road-shine – (cliff-bound beauty)
Believe it or not, I’m not even wagging a finger at those who are still happy petroleum junkies – growth and wealth at any cost – all I’m saying is don’t you dare wag your fingers around. We all need to learn more principled responsible restraint and sacrifice (concepts last popular in the great-depression generation), first – achieving a level of appetite that wasn’t guranteed to kill our own grandkids, might be a very sensible reference-goal. Thing is, by the time we get deep into that crucial survival and heart-work, we won’t want to finger-wag anymore – because we’ll be forced to remember a few fundamental human truths.
Every single human is struggling. We all have good and bad in us – and we can all be invited into our higher potential, or driven into our lower, by how we are treated by others. All arbitrary hostilities, racial, political, sexual, economic, national, are all always ignorance – nothing else. DON’T BUY THE SNAKE OIL! IT DOESN’T WORK! (categorical bigotry fails the test – smarts and hearts win the room – and the long game).
Anyhow, as a capitalist society, we’ve already decided to put our weight behind the exploitation team, that killer-privilege top-predator vote truly counts – thermodynamically, ecologically, economically, politically and militarily – the steam comin’ outta alla our mouths – faction irrelevant – not so much at all, by comparison! We do loot-first, morals later.
Thing is, in order to exert enough force to overcome great inertia and create real movement, the steam all has to be going in the same direction. Preferably, in a highly concentrated and intelligently directed way!
(again, tried and thoroughly tested – believe it, folks)