Evil twins: racism and anti-capitalism

“Racism” could be replaced with any form of reaction (essentially conservatism/right-wing/pro-system phenomena).  I find racism to be the most dangerous, common, and socially-widespread type of reaction.

I think the sad truth is, racism is an equally organic response to living in capitalism as is anti-capitalism.

“Organic” just means that it’s understandable, that such an opinion can logically flow from the structure of daily experience in capitalism.  It does NOT mean that it is good, that it ultimately makes sense, or that it solves anything.  For example, it’s often an organic reaction to think that, since economics depends on business, then we need pro-business policies like cutting corporate taxes, or since the budget is in crisis, we need to cut programs.  It misses the larger point (economics is based on labor/the budget crisis is artificial), but is internally consistent.

Capitalism creates a constant daily experience of competition.  Every relationship in capitalism is defined by tension, a tension of competition over resources.  There is tension between bosses and workers over pay, the intensity of the workday, etc.  There is tension between workers for jobs, connections, advantages, etc.

So we have a vertical tension, between layers of the hierarchy, and a horizontal tension, between people within one layer of the hierarchy.  Both of them tend to expand from individual to social.  The vertical tension becomes class warfare.  The horizontal tension becomes a few different things, but one major and commonplace example is racial competition over jobs and other resources.

To embrace a perspective of class warfare, you typically don’t have to be raised to believe in it.  It usually comes from things like hating your job or being poor.  No propaganda machine is necessary, because the only propaganda you need is how bored or unsatisfied your daily experiences make you, how much your feet hurt, or the strain of trying to make your bank account somehow match your bills.

Of course there can be organic experiences that make a person racist, too.  It’s hard to ignore the reality of the ghetto.  There is drugs, higher crime, even violence, that just doesn’t exist to such a degree in other communities.  A lot of ordinary people make these simple observations and draw general conclusions.  It’s hard to blame them for trusting their gut in this way.

But of course we shouldn’t stop the analysis there – why are minority areas dangerous?  Well, because they’re poor.  But don’t stop there either, with the implication “they’re poor because it’s their own fault.”  Let’s move on to discrimination in hiring, the segmentation of different races into different types of jobs, discrimination by police on the streets and the “justice” system which ruins a lot of careers for people of color even when they’re finally out of prison.

It’s hard to morally condemn racists.  We can say moralistic things like “it’s messed up to hate people just for looking different,” but that’s not the racist contention.  The racist contention is that the difference in looks corresponds to a deeper genetic or cultural difference which affects things like behavior and intelligence.  We could moralistically say “it’s messed up to think people are racially different” but that doesn’t get us anywhere.  We really can’t guilt-trip people for believing anything, if that’s what their organic experiences lead them to believe.

So here we are at an impasse.  We have organic anti-capitalists and organic racists.  How do we get past this?  Fortunately I think I’ve figured it out.

The ultimate indictment of racists: THE RACISTS ARE ALL COMPANY MEN.

They are all tools.  The heinously deceptive label “National Socialism” notwithstanding, almost all racists come to a quick defense of the good-old free market economy, or corporatism, or the police, or “personal responsibility,” or the War on Terror.

There are anti-business racists, possibly fairly common, which I would call swarm-order hybrids, but the racist-Right correlation is too strong to ignore.

It’s okay to be exploited, as long as it’s by a white person and not a Jew?  It’s okay to have your job taken, as long as it’s by a white person and not an immigrant or affirmative action?  Is it okay to get shot or intimidated on the street, as long as it’s by a white cop and not a six-foot black male from the hood?

All of the racist’s rage is taken out on people of the same social status, or really, typically on people of lower social status.  There is a huge blind spot when it comes to the people above the racist.  Where is the racist’s rage against management, against the banks, against the slavery of work?  No, typically the racist is part of the bloc of chest-thumping good Americans who love the “individual liberty” of “the free market.”  Any actual work-a-day strain the racist experiences, they try to shrug off because “that’s just life” or “rugged individualism.”  Meanwhile they continue to live a life of eating shit so some other person can get rich off their labor.  Cue Bob Dylan.

Yes there are contradictory racists, torn between racism and anti-capitalism.  We have to learn how to talk to them and untangle their twisted threads.  But for the most part, racists are part of the historical bloc that is counter-revolutionary.  What can be more inorganic than living in a hierarchical class society, and attacking a subgroup of fellow workers, while ignoring the boots above us pressing down on us all?


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