We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Monday, August 17, 2015
Why We Cannot Speak of Economic Injustice Alone, or, Why Race Matters
It seems to me that Fletcher starts his argument with a false premise: viewing capitalism as the problem requires that we ignore racism. As such it is a "straw man" argument. Oh, I'm sure someone at sometime or other has downplayed racist issues as divisive; but to characterize all politically aware people, or even a majority of activists, as arguing that we should ignore racism is ridiculous.
Capitalism by its nature divides people into classes with conflicting interests. And ruling classes have always attempted to create divisions within the ranks of their opposition which in capitalism is among workers. Thus, race has been one of the major divisive wedges they have used. Religion is another which we see used in the Middle East. Racism has been so long used in the US that it is a major issue which divides Americans. It has functioned much like a virus which affects everyone deeply--all races and colors.
Because it has so profoundly worked to corrupt our consciousness, we must fight it. But at the same time, we must be aware of how the ruling capitalist class uses it to divide us. Racism, as an issue, is now much better than it was in past generations, but the ruling class are desperate and they are once again trying to use it to divide workers. That, I think, accounts for the recent murders of African-Americans by European-American cops. They want to stir up Black activists, then their media will do its job to create fear among White people. Our desperate ruling class is pulling out all the levers of fear (contrived terrorism, immigrants are going to take our jobs, now racism) to immobilize and divide Americans. That is why we must deal with it in our ranks. Thus, we must not see it as something within our human nature that is defective and that we should feel guilty about. We must never lose sight of those who are using it to divide us and crush us. It is an integral part of a strategy to protect the ruling class and the system that delivers to them their golden eggs of power and wealth!