15 August 2009
I contend that ever since the first slave ship left the shores of Africa, the ideology of racism has been central to the success of capitalism. Without it and the wealth that slavery produced, Europe and its bastard offspring, the United States, would never have accumulated the capital that made today’s world possible. And if the corrosive and utterly destructive effects of the ideology of racism were not apparent to you before the election of Barack ‘Hope & Change’ Obama, then surely by now they should be, and especially its effects on the ‘left’.
And in all likelihood, the inner sanctum, those who selected Obama in the first place were fully aware of what would happen when they put up a black man to front a white, racist United States. Obama was, and is fully intended to be the whipping boy of that there is no doubt, exploiting his own ambitions and hubris. Whether Obama has failures or successes, matters not one iota for if failures, well play the race card and if successes, well play the race card.
The elite are fully aware of the role of racism, and given not only the history of the US, a country literally founded on genocide and slavery, but also the ongoing treatment of Black Americans, surely they must have calculated that Obama would be a ‘one hit’ prez and, having served his purpose (namely preserving the status quo, at least as the power elite hoped he could), he can be safely relegated to the position of front man for the ‘man’. Of course, unlike Ralph Ellison’s ‘The Invisible Man’, Obama is far from invisible, he stands as the personification of ‘blackness’ (whatever that is) at least in the eyes of those millions of Black Americans (and youngsters) who voted for him.
Of course, as far as his Masters’ see things, this means discounting ten million or so really pissed off Black Americans who saw in Obama some kind of salvation for their condition. But what the hell, it’s just back to business as usual, at least that’s the plan.
As Tim Wise pointed out in his essay, ‘Socialism as the New Black Bogeyman – Red-Baiting and Racism’, Black-Baiting has turned into Red-Baiting (but when was it ever different?). The ‘Left’ are afraid of attacking Obama for fear of being called racists (and hey, what do I know?) and the right are calling him a Commie!
‘This noise is about race. It is about ‘othering’ a President who is seen as a symbol of white dispossession: dispossession of white hegemony, white entitlement, white expectation, and white power, unquestioned and unchallenged from the darker skinned other. This is what animates the every move of the angry masses, individual exceptions notwithstanding. Unless the left begins pushing back, and insisting that yes, the old days are gone, white hegemony is dead, and deserved its demise, and that we will all be better off for it, the chorus of white backlash will only grow louder. So too will it grow more effective at dividing and conquering the working people who would benefit–all of them–from a new direction.’ — ‘Socialism as the New Black Bogeyman – Red-Baiting and Racism’
The problem with Wise’s analysis is that it doesn’t go far enough, ‘white hegemony’ isn’t dead just because a ‘black’ man got elected to be president, that was never the intention. Would Wise say that had ‘Hellfire’ Hillary gotten elected, patriarchy was dead (the gender counterpart to racism)? And in any case, when Wise says that ‘it’s [Obama’s election] seen as a symbol of white dispossesssion’, who is he talking about? The ‘old days’ haven’t gone, they’ve just gotten a sun tan and, like all sun tans, it’s already wearing off.
Race is a state of mind, which is why, for the ‘left’ it’s so difficult to deal with from a ‘socialist’ perspective. Racism on the other hand is an ideological construct, four-five hundred years in the making (damn, the Roman Empire had Black Caesars!), and it needs to be dealt with the same way; deconstructed and demolished in the same way the banksters have been. But the white left lives in fear of its own demons and unfortunately, white privilege whether of the left or the right is so deeply embedded it distorts all analysis as the ‘confusion’ on the ‘left’ concerning Obama so clearly demonstrates.
The ‘noise’ isn’t about race, the noise is about protecting white, capitalist privilege, the race noise comes from the Rottweiler’s of capitalism, the Lou Dobbs’ et al, that is after all, their role in the scheme of things. Likewise all the noise about ‘socialism’ is again aimed at protecting corporate privilege.
Thus the ruling elite have (and surely that was also part of their game plan) exploited the deeply rooted racism of a society that still hasn’t acknowledged that it’s founded on the extermination of an entire culture, the real Americans and nourished by the blood of twenty million Africans.
For the Empire getting Obama elected was seen as a win-win solution, it salved the aching heart (for awhile anyway) and in the long run, if he got too ‘uppity’, well, brand him a Black Red, that’ll take care of things (‘uppity’ in this case means any proposal somewhat to the left of Adolf Hitler as Obama’s half-baked and utterly compromised ‘health care’ proposals reveal).
What I think Wise underplays is the fundamental and intrinsic reality of race to the nature of US capitalism, nay, not only US capitalism, though it expresses itself differently under different circumstances. For example in the UK it is smothered in a layer of hypocritical crap about ‘tolerance’ and ‘fairness’, but the end-product is essentially the same.
Comrades (can I call you that?), it’s not rocket science, the Brits have been doing this for centuries, admittedly in the far-flung corners of their former Empire, not up close and personal but it amounts to the same thing; using a Black front man, Nigeria is a good example, during the ‘independence’ process, thus making sure ‘our man’ got elected (see ‘Hidden Histories’ and, ‘Hidden histories confirmed: So much for the ‘Mother of Parliaments’).
Obama got elected precisely because of the racist nature of the capitalist system. Yes, I know it sounds like a contradiction and indeed it is, and it’s a contradiction that is now playing itself out. Effectively, from the point that Obama got elected, he was past his usefulness, all that counted was that distance (or the appearance of it) was put between the ‘new’ government and the old. We now see the real players, Hillary Clinton et al, emerge. Surely it’s obvious that Obama is a puppet on a string?
And anyway Obama is in too deep, trapped like a fly in a spider’s web. Having sold his soul to the devil (something he clearly did well before being selected as presidential candidate) he will play out his allotted role, he has no choice, until the next ‘election’ that is. And no doubt, he will go down in history replete with a (corporately funded) library, don the mantle of ‘elder statesman’ and retire gracefully, having done his bit for the Empire.