Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The white-Left Part 2: Why that is the best name for it

Continued from The white-Left Part 1: The two meanings of white

Features of the white-Left

African Americans and other people of color have been oppressed more by imperialism, and generally have less delusions about capitalism and its bourgeois institutions, than people who see themselves as white. If you haven't figured that out on your own, and the 2016 election didn't give you a clue, there are numerous studies on political, social, and international questions from which you can draw that conclusion. Given this relative support for left-leaning views from people of color, as compared to the other, one should expect their percentage participation in the organized Left would also predominant, but quite the opposite is the case. People of color aren't even represented in proposition to their percentage in the US population in the US Left. This is the first indication that we are dealing with a white-Left.

Veterans for Peace marching with Assad supporters in LA
This contradiction is well represented in Veterans for Peace. It emerged from the anti-war movement among soldiers during the Vietnam War, African American soldiers played an outsized role in anti-war sentiment among the troops and they continue to be in the front lines of progressive veterans today; still, Veterans for Peace remains an overwhelmingly white organization in spite of being headed by a black executive director, Michael T. McPhearson.

One reason it attracts so few colored veterans is that most VFP members are there for a kind of self-flagellation that is less necessary for veterans that have to fight racism every day.

An observer interested in revolution might say "We have a problem here!" Let us explore further.

The white-Left and the 2016 US Presidential election

The 2016 US Presidential election presented the white-Left with its most crucial test to date. That year a white supremacist cabal, in the name of the Trump campaign, had pretty much won control of one of the two major parties, and was attempting to install a pro-fascist/white supremacist regime in the White House. That didn't concern the white-Left. They hated Clinton. Voting for her, even to stop Trump was a bitter pill they weren't willing to swallow. Green Party activist, and Marxist, Louis Proyect spoke for many on the white-Left when he said supporting Clinton "would make me feel irreparably damaged," so they gave license to liberals to cast a "feel good" vote for Jill Stein, or just sit this one out. Their mantra was "don't vote for the lesser of two evils," by which they meant don't vote for Clinton.

A decade before the 2016 election, Roger White addressed Green Party challenges in the black community. He began by explaining why their "don't vote for the lesser of two evils" position wasn't winning black votes for the Green Party:
Black voters in the US are like all other voters here with one exception. Many of our ancestors had to die for the right to vote for the lesser of two evils. Naturally, we want our votes not only to count (no slam dunk) we want them to make a difference. Because Blacks are not an electoral majority in any state or nationally, maximizing the worth of our choices by being a part of an electoral coalition that has a real chance to win power is a priority.
He traced the largely white composition of the Green Party to its cultural history:
The environmental, peace, and third world solidarity movements from the 1970s and 80s, the grassroots of the US Green Party, has always represented a policy majority and a cultural minority—a minority that Black activists found it difficult to relate to. We agreed with and worked with white progressives on some issues (South Africa, nuclear freeze) but never developed the kind of cultural and social affinities that nurture and sustain movements from one campaign to the next. A political consequence has been that the organizations that were created out of these progressive movements—Global Exchange, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth—lack the levels of Black participation that could sustain critical mass organizing in our communities.
Almost nothing about the composition of the Green Party has changed in the decade since he wrote this. Apparently, they learned nothing from his essay. So, what he said in 2006 needed no amendment in 2016 because these are among the classic methods by which the white-Left insures its overwhelmingly white identity:
What do white activists do when there aren’t enough dark people in the room? Outreach.

Set up a table at the public university in town. Pass out flyers for the next meeting at the Saturday morning flea market. Email blasts to activist-of-color list-serves. Whatever works. Problem is—that shit don’t work. Moreover, white activists know that shit don’t work. But they get a double bonus. They can pretend to be doing something “pro-active” to bring in colored folks with the knowledge that few if any colored folks are coming in—at least not to stay (they’ve been known to slip out right before the vegan potluck). Multiracial organizing is not easy. Doing it in bad faith makes it harder.
What's behind this bad faith? Since many on the white-Left live relatively comfortable lives, the immediate overthrow of the current social order may not be what they are shooting for. They are comfortable, but they know the situation is terrible for others. If they fight to change that, they will feel better, but maybe not, if it really changes. By fighting for change that never comes, they can have the best of both worlds. This goes along ways towards explaining why it has made so little progress in the half-century since Students for a Democratic Society [SDS].

The solution Roger White proposed back then is still the correct one. It hasn't worked because it hasn't been tried:
Organizational inclusiveness can not be achieved by reaching out. It can only be achieved by getting up, going to where the struggles for human dignity and justice are being waged and fighting with the marginalized.
That's not the way Louis Proyect sees it. If the Greens have a mostly white membership, that's not their problem:
[S]ometimes Black people make mistakes.... If the Greens have a mostly white membership, it is not because of its program. For example, Jill Stein favors reparations for slavery as opposed to Hillary Clinton supporter Adolph Reed... [who doesn't.]
When I suggested that African Americans had good reasons for supporting Clinton over Trump, Proyect went off:
So Clinton is "better" for Blacks. Well, she says so. Does it matter that her husband put an end to Aid to Families with Dependent Children that according to researchers reduced the average lifespan of a mother by a half a year? Probably not since the Black church, the Black political class, Black celebrities, every white liberal and most Black radicals are in agreement that she is "better" than Trump.
In my response, I summed up my basic stand on the election in one paragraph. This was 10 August 2016:
The problem is, that while Hillary Clinton may be just another Democrat, Donald Trump is the leader of a white supremacist movement of birthers and more that has hijacked the Republican party. While it is true that Hillary Clinton, like Barack Obama, supports the fundamental policies that support the white supremacist system, Donald Trump represents a much more aggressive form of white supremacy and if he is elected, it will be almost exclusively by white voters who supported this campaign that is making white chauvinism its center piece. These are critical realities of election year 2016 in the United States that Jill Stein's campaign is seeking to obscure in its very dangerous claim that it really doesn't matter if Donald Trump becomes our next POTUS.
He called my response "demagogic race-baiting bullshit."

Proyect did like the handful of black people who made the mistake of supporting Jill Stein. Groups, like the Black Agenda Report, that show the white-Left isn't a "whites only" club. As Rev. William Barber said "you can be black and be a white supremacist." BAR even had the audacity to claim that the racist Trump was the lesser of the two evils:
Trump Way to the Left of Clinton on Foreign Policy
In Fact, He’s Damn Near Anti-Empire

“Trump has rejected the whole gamut of U.S. imperial war rationales, from FDR straight through to the present.”

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
31 March 2016
If the Bernie Sanders campaign has propelled the word “socialism” – if not its actual meaning – into common, benign American usage, Donald Trump may have done the world an even greater service,.. More...
Of course, BAR did have a dog in this fight, Jill Stein running mate Ajamu Baraka. He is a strident supporter of the big cheese of white nationalism internationally, Vladimir Putin. The Green Party platform was also careful not to offend Putin. While it had a long section on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it had nothing to say about Syria's half-million dead.

The white-Left has a US/Western [ i.e. white ] centric view of the world, and in this view all the critical plays are among a western elite. It shares a "We are the World" mentality with its own ruling class, and it positions itself as its loyal opposition. The underlying reason the white-Left has tunnel vision allowing it to see the crimes of the US imperialist exclusively, is that they are acting out displaced guilt/shame. They are in it for absolution, not liberation from oppression. The confusion this has caused led to an election year where even Code Pink could be found promoting Donald Trump as the "peace candidate."

Here is how former Sanders supporter Cassandra Fairbanks explained why she was boarding the Trump train:
Unlike Clinton, who has exhibited poor judgement by consistently rolling the dice with the lives of our military as well as civilians in other nations, Trump acknowledges that there could be unintended consequences of shipping our families off to fight. If you take a look at his foreign policy plans, they are far more logical than he is given credit for - despite his sometimes kooky and often offensive delivery methods.
Donald Trump is a con man, everybody knows that, but before the election these members of the white-Left suggest that we should just look at what he is saying and take him at his word. Except, course, when he is building a white supremacist base by talking about Mexican rapist, Muslim terrorists, and building a wall; we are advised to write that off as simply "kooky and then offensive delivery methods."

Likewise, Julian Assange made no mention of the racist nature of the Trump cabal when he expressed his preference for a Trump presidency:
"Hillary Clinton’s election would have been a consolidation of power in the existing ruling class of the United States. Donald Trump is not a D.C. insider, he is part of the wealthy ruling elite of the United States, and he is gathering around him a spectrum of other rich people and several idiosyncratic personalities. They do not by themselves form an existing structure, so it is a weak structure which is displacing and destabilizing the pre-existing central power network within D.C. It is a new patronage structure which will evolve rapidly, but at the moment its looseness means there are opportunities for change in the United States."
Apparently, Trump's promises to deny refugees, expel immigrants, or institute a national stop and frisk program weren't a problem, or even consideration, for him. Donald Trump, known long to be a racist by his black employees, has appointed known white supremacists, people like Jeff Sessions, to the highest positions in his administration, and Julian Assange excuses them as "idiosyncratic personalities." He calls the Trump cabal "a weak structure," while refusing to even mention the enormous reactionary strength it draws from a US history in which white supremacy has ruled. This is a kindness indeed!

Ask them why they hate the Clintons so much and the topic of neoliberalism is bound to come up. They like to replace the critique of capitalism with a critique of neoliberalism that their Alt-Right buddies who love capitalism can agree on.

What is neoliberalism?

I would argue that broadly speaking neoliberalism arose from the US ruling class' decided response to the challenge from the working class in the wake of the economic crisis known as the Great Depression, a response then doubled down on with the concessions they made to national minorities, particularly African Americans, in the post-World War Two period. This model was also exported to Europe and the rest of the world.

Given the relative strength and ascendancy of US imperialism, the ruling class, first under the leadership of FDR, and in policies continued or expanded by subsequent administrations from both parties, made concessions to the popular demands of the times - for labor protections, minimum wage, retirement income, i.e. social reforms. They also made significant concessions in the direction of justice to maintain social peace in response to the civil rights struggle . They knew the empire was on a run, and they could afford it. In addition, modern global capitalism favors homogeneity in both producers and consumers, so the capitalists, for these reasons, also wanted to put racial differences in the past.

In many cases, bourgeois elements took the lead in the fight for racial equality, and other areas of social justice (women's rights, LGBT, climate change, etc.), even as compared to some sections of the working class, particular those workers that self-identified as white. They were forced to accept this new reality. In some cases, they were forced to accept it against their will. This was okay with the neoliberal bourgeoisie, in fact, it was part of their plan, because this left in place a white resentment they could unleash at a later time.

The core of that rage is the lost status and relative advantage that white Americans had in that glorious period between the end of WWII, when their domination was at its peak, and the rollback of white privilege that was forced by the civil rights movement et al. [ Especially the 3rd world liberation struggles that shrunk imperialist super-profits.] That was when America was Great Before, before those struggles for social justice shifted things, and that's what Trump's MAGA leadership was promising them again.

At a deep psychological level their rage is safely directed downward at colored people, who they blame for their lost fantasy, but the neoliberal taboo against overt racism has become so dominant that they can could no longer (this is changing very fast!) express it openly against non-whites. They probably aren't even willing to admit this to themselves. So, through a method of transference, they direct that rage at a currently acceptable target. That target is those bourgeois elements they most blame for their lost - the neoliberals, with the Clintons as their iconic embodiment. That is why the white supremacist right loves to hate the Clintons so much. [ That is also reason they focus on illegal immigrants as their first more or less direct target; because they can claim their opposition is based on law, not race. They can even believe it themselves.] Why the white-Left hates the Clintons so much is a bit more complicated, but of the same origins.

The humanitarian concerns of the white-Left

One feature that flows from this laser-like focus on the crimes of "their own" bourgeoisie is that they show little humanitarian interest in the plight of people whose story doesn't support their narrative.

Unlike humanitarian organizations like Amnesty International or Médecins Sans Frontières, the suffering of the masses plays little role in their thinking or actions. Syria is a good example of that, few members of the white-Left have been moved to re-examine their bankrupt position, or even support humanitarian efforts, as the body count grew from a few thousand to over half a million.

The Syrian conflict also showed how situational their support could be. Palestinians slaughtered by the Israeli Army are met with cries of "bloody murder," while Palestinians slaughtered by the Syrian Army are met with raised eyebrows.

When the history of the Syrian Civil War is written, the assault on the Palestinian refugee camp in Yarmouk will be noted as one of its most shameful chapters. So why was the international pro-Palestinian community silent?
This gives reason to believe the white-Left's long tradition of support for the Palestinian cause has more to do with opposition to Israel [ us ], than support for Palestinians. The sad truth is they generally don't see colored lives as having much value. The white Left tends to only publicize massacres for which it has an axe to grind. They also avoid offending white supremacist/anti-Semitic sensibilities, not that any in the white-Left share them.

They had little sympathy for the way Africans were slaughtered by Gaddafi, and failed to report all the terrible things he did to Libya. They were willing to overlook clear signs of his racism and misogyny, and sing his praises for years. They loved him. Even now, they mourn him more than any other Libyan lost in the civil war. Now they happily report about any bad things happening in Libya because they can use them as object lessons about what can happen to the natives if they stray off the reservation.

The white-Left treats non-white people in a paternalistic way. They see the colored masses as children, easily led and manipulated, especially by people of no color. That is why they support native "socialist-aligned" strongman rule for such people as justified by the international fight against [US] imperialism, their chosen adversary. They happily support restrictions on freedoms for people ruled by these dictators that they would never accept for themselves.

But I digress...

One characteristic of the white-Left is that it can be counted upon to minimize, if not discount entirely, the influence of white supremacy. This flaw was on full display during the 2016 US presidential election when they failed to accurately predict the outcome of the election because they denied the strength of white supremacist influences in the US, and actually helped Trump win by burying that lead.

During the 2016 election year coverage on that premier white-Left outlet, Democracy Now, the racist nature of the Trump campaign was buried so deep that when Emma Thompson called Donald Trump a white nationalist, Amy Goodman responded: "And what do you mean by “white nationalist”?...When you say "white nationalist," what do you mean?"

When Glenn Greenwald was on Democracy Now, he claimed Breitbart News has views he "vehemently disagree with and sometimes find repellent," but never called them racist. It was the same for a "part of the Republican Party" that was coalescing around Trump. Whenever possible, they avoided calling out white supremacy. It made their "don't vote" argument harder.

On the whole, the white-Left exudes an air of righteousness, or even more so, self-righteousness. Even with all the changes in political line, this "white attitude" that the white-Left is the embodiment of truth remains. Just ask Truthout or Truthdig if that isn't so. Trump is the caricature of this attitude. It is based on the history slavery:

To maintain his position, the master had to maintain the illusion that he was always right, always in control. This attitude affected not only this response to other people, but also to nature. For those trying to maintain an oppressive dominance, it is important not to back down, or admit to being wrong. Who knows where that might end! Slavery made this axiomatic in white culture, and while it is on full display with Donald Trump, it has also had a big impact on the Left. It's why so few are willing to re-evaluate their line on Syria, even after a half-million souls have been lost, or suggest their 2016 election strategy could have been better after the result turned out so radically different than what they predicted.

Although Democracy Now didn't have much to say about the white supremacy that was at the core of the Trump campaign, or the danger a Trump win would present especially to minorities, they never seemed to tire of presenting black personalities with messages designed to suppress the vote for the only candidate that could defeat Trump, Hillary Clinton.

They brought on Princeton professor Eddie Glaude who thought both Trump and Clinton equally bad on the question of racial justice so "we should just leave the ballot blank.” Fortunately, most African-Americans remember what a struggle it was to get that ballot in the first place and weren't about to throw it away to please the Green Party. They knew there was a difference, and the stakes were huge.

Democracy Now's favorite diversion was the Green Party candidate Jill Stein. During the election season they undoubtedly gave her more air time than any non-Russian outlet, even while she admitted "We look to RT for access to the American public." Ajamu Baraka was her running mate. He said that he understood the Trump campaign "was basically an appeal to neofascism...So, we understand his game. And he won’t be successful." He then went on to pontificate:
But, as Dr. Stein just said, you know, we can—we’re not afraid of Donald Trump or anybody else, because, you know what, we believe in the ability of the American people to resist, to defend democracy.
This was in August, and already he sounded like he was preparing us for a Trump victory. Wouldn't it have been easier to defeat him then, before he got elected?

They also brought Professor Cornel West on to discourage progressives from voting to stop Trump. He saw in Hillary Clinton one "who generates a mass incarceration regime, who deregulates banks and markets, who promotes chaos of regime change in Libya."

They all so hate that the racist Gaddafi regime was overthrown in Libya, and they all blame Hillary Clinton for it because Hollywood taught us long ago that an Arab revolt has to be led by a blonde.
But they hit a wall when they brought former NAACP president Ben Jealous on. He was having none of it:
BEN JEALOUS: Well, you know, we came through a primary, and now we have 105 days to keep a madman out of the White House.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But what do you say to those Sanders supporters who feel that, in many respects, Hillary Clinton is more hawkish when it comes to issues of foreign policy and war even than Donald Trump, in some respects?
BEN JEALOUS: If you look at the utter racism that Trump has directed towards people in this country, there is no reason to think that he will not do the same thing when he actually, you know, has his finger on the button.
Yes, and now we have a racist president in a conflict over nuclear weapons with what he likely considers a "shit-hole country."

While Bhaskar Sunkara in Jacobin Magazine was accusing people like Jealous of "inflating the faint chances of a Donald Trump presidency," and Proyect was disarming activists by saying "isn't it time to recognize that the Trump campaign is toast? The numbers are devastating," in August, others argued that a Trump victory wouldn't really be that bad.

These arguments made by H. A. Goodman in the HuffPost were typical of the misdirection voters received from the white-Left. Even if it meant Trump would win, he advised you to: Vote Your Conscience And Vote Dr. Jill Stein. Congress Would Block Donald Trump’s Policies:
On war and Wall Street, Clinton and Trump have similar policies.
Ultimately, Trump’s major policies would never get passed Congress.
None of Donald Trump’s major policy objectives­, at least the ones that frighten progressives the most, will get passed the Senate, even if they possibly get through (and even this is a stretch) the House of Representatives.
This is how the Green Party tried to put people to sleep before the election. They told progressives that it was okay to cast a "feel good" vote even if they thought Trump would win because Congress would keep him toothless. In their policy comparison, they left out the one thing that mattered most, Trump's virulent white supremacy. They also failed to mention the fearsome executive and police powers not controlled by Congress. RT.com couldn't have done it better. If they weren't on Putin's payroll, they were missing a paycheck. The white-Left is corrupt; the white-Left is bankrupt; the white-Left is racist!

In explaining how Trump won, Steve Phillips, from Democracy in Color, told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, "you had a splintering of the progressive white vote." That is how he won. If the Jill Stein voters in these three key states had voted for Clinton instead of Stein, Trump wouldn't be president now.
This data is from Politico [updated 22 Nov. 2016 - PA updated 2 Dec from http://www.electionreturns.pa.gov/]:

Candidate Count % Michigan [16] Wisconsin [10] Pennsylvania [20]
Donald Trump 61,201,031 47% 2,279,805 1,409,467 2,955,671
Hillary Clinton 62,523,126 48% 2,268,193 1,382,210 2,906,128
Difference 11,612 27,257 49,543
Jill Stein 802,119 0.7% 50,700 30,980 49,678

The white-Left played an indispensable role in putting Trump into the White House. The white supremacist vote alone was not enough to put him over the top. The progressive vote had to be neutralized. The Jill Stein campaign was the main vehicle for doing that. There was only so much Russia could do to support her campaign without making her look like a foreign agent, and Trump campaign support for Jill Stein was necessarily even more timid. Only "independent" white-Left organs, like Democracy Now, could convince enough progressives to waste their ballots to do the job.

There are many reasons why Trump won, and his margin of victory was so narrow that he loses if you take any one away. One reason for his victory is the decision of the US Left to stand down in this important struggle against white supremacy. This should be the people's force, the one element they control, a force that fights for their interests, but it is so dominated by the white-Left, that it effectively "recused" itself from the struggle against this white supremacist takeover until after Trump won, except for popping back in now and again to suggest a preference for Trump of course. Without this white-Left assistance, Trump never would have gotten to the position where he can ban Muslims, wage war all over Africa, and take children away from parents of color.

Standing down at Standing Rock

Once members of the white-Left decided they would stand down in the fight against Trump, many couldn't just sit at home, and do nothing. Atonement requires action. So, what did they do? They went to Summer camp at Standing Rock!

The white-Left is not dominated by the working class, and certainly not by those with nothing to lose but their chains, it is dominated by people that are already managing to live quite comfortably in today's economy. They own homes and businesses and have quite a bit to lose. Some white-Left leaders are part of the 1%, so picking up and moving to North Dakota was something thousands were able to do.

Socially conscious people that are relatively comfortable are sometimes plagued by guilt. Guilt is a way of resolving internal contradictions that was raised to a high-art by the Church in its efforts to "light the way," as the bourgeois baby was maturing into the slave-owning colonialist. It is supported by the twin pillars of atonement and absolution, both methods of "purification" practiced by Europeans who wanted to see themselves as white. The white-Left is filled with people who not only mistakenly believe that they are white; they are seeking absolution for being white!

Amy Goodman at Standing Rock
Standing Rock was the location of protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline [DAPL], which is a 1,172-mile-long underground oil pipeline that crosses the Missouri river perilously close to tribal lands of the Standing Rock Sioux. By June of 2016 Donald Trump had become the presumptive Republican nominee, and protesters were already at Standing Rock to greet Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. when they began construction on the $3.78 billion project. Construction had been delayed by demands for an Environmental Impact Assessment from Obama's EPA, but by June that bridge had been crossed. It would continue to deny it an easement under the Missouri River through December 2016, but in January there was a new sheriff in town. Before the election Standing Rock was the newest cause célèbre for the white-Left.

Going to Standing Rock became all the rage as the election year ground on; prominent white-Leftists like Jill Stein and Amy Goodman went there. Arrest warrants were issued for both of them, and actor Shailene Woodley actually was arrested. She later told Democracy Now:
[I]t sort of became a trend. It became a trend to say, "I stand with Standing Rock." It became cool to say, "I fight against the Dakota Access pipeline," became something that was hip to talk about or to retweet.
Jill Stein at Standing Rock
It wasn't just the white supremacist White House takeover attempt that was being ignored by the activists at Standing Rock, it was also the massacre of another brown people in a part of the world that didn't concern them. While they were preoccupied with stopping this pipeline, and the rest of America was distracted by the election, Russia and Assad were carrying out a murderous assault on any Syrians that resisted them. In December 2016, The Atlantic reported:
As the offensive reached its final stages this week, the United Nations received reports of massacres of civilians; a spokesman for the UN high commissioner for human rights said women and children had been shot trying to flee.
The activists at Standing Rock were too self-centered to protest that.

On 20 November 2016, after the election was over, and the struggle at Standing Rock was already winding down, the New York Times reported:
Aleppo Bombs Leave Quarter Million ‘Living in Hell’ and Without Hospital Care

By Alissa J. Rubin and Hwaida Saadnov
20 November 2016
BEIRUT, Lebanon — The remaining hospitals on the rebel-held side of Aleppo, Syria, have been badly damaged and forced to stop providing care amid an intensifying bombardment, according to the World Health Organization. More...
Aleppo Nov 2016 Abdalrhman Ismail / Reuters
That had been the story of the siege of Aleppo for months, as the Russian and Syrian air forces Blitzkrieged the civilians of Aleppo with nary a protest from the white-Left.

The next day the Russian backed RT.com, the same outfit that had so generously backed the Jill Stein campaign that put Trump over the top, also ignored the Aleppo story, but did run this sympathetic headline:
RT: 400 DAPL protesters ‘trapped on bridge’ as police fire tear gas, water cannon (VIDEO)
21 November 2016
Demonstrators protesting against Dakota Access Pipeline say they are trapped on a bridge as North Dakota police fire tear gas, water cannon and concussion grenades at them, according to live reports on social media. More...
No one should be surprised that Russian propaganda sources were very big on #NoDAPL. For them it was like winning the trifecta:
  1. It gave US progressives an alternative to fighting against the Trump victory they favored.
  2. It distracted Media and Left attention from the slaughter they were carrying out in Syria.
  3. If they did succeed in stopping the pipeline, Russian oil would be worth more on the market.
Putin may oppose pipelines in the US, but he is very big on them in Russia, and he doesn't look kindly on any protests. After Woodley was arrested at Standing Rock, 10 October 2016, she said:
"Never did it cross my mind that while trying to protect clean water, trying to ensure a future where our children have access to an element essential for human survival, would I be strip-searched. I was just shocked."
I'm sure she would be "shocked, shocked" to learn that arrested protesters are treated much worth in Putin's Russia. She would also be shocked to learn even for most ordinary Americans, getting strip searched is not the worst thing about getting arrested.

Lorena Jasis-Wallace was one of thousands of social justice activists who rallied to Standing Rock in the Fall of 2016 with what she called "a hefty dose of white savior mentality." Originally from Kentucky, she lives in Portland, Oregon. She took a week off from work in November 2016 and headed to Standing Rock with a friend, and $5,000 worth of winter tents, clothing, food, and gear. She was a little too perceptive for her own good, and the experience left her in tears. This is what she recounted:
Like any indigenous and overwhelmingly powerful place, white people had decided to take it. White people, like me, were arriving to SR in droves, some of us even dressed like it was Burning Man, forcing our way to seats right next to the sacred fire, putting our pasty faces too close to elders and demanding that they teach us their culture, clumsily mimicking centuries old dance traditions, jostling for position in the lines for free food, taking up so much space that the medicine tent had to be guarded 24/7, and young Dakota men were placing themselves in front of elders to protect them from the onslaught of questions and poking and consumption an[sic] demands for emotional labor and reliving centuries of trauma. By the time we arrived, SR elder organizers had begun holding twice a day orientations, where each of these things was addressed, and indigenous folks were demanding that white people stop colonizing their space. Yes, colonizing their space.
A lot of documentary footage was shot at Standing Rock and some of it was to show up at Sundance, and why not, James Redford, Robert Redford's son, was an executive producer of one. In another, Myron Dewey, President/Owner of Digital Smoke Signal, interviews Dean Dedman, Jr, a Standing Rock Sioux. The narrator explains how they acted when a herd of buffalo was spotted:
"The buffalo is a sacred animal for the Sioux nation and the water protectors went wild with their presence. [17:05]"
Dean tells us:
"When the buffalo nation shows itself like that, on a day like this. They feel our pain; they hear our cries. [17:22]"
If not for paternalism, this sort of religion mysticism would never be accepted without protest. Most on the white-Left will brand Libyan or Syrian revolutionaries as jihadist fanatics if they so much as shout "Allah Akbar" as they go into battle, but at Standing Rock, the most fantastic beliefs went unchallenged. Likewise, the white-Left tends to be uncritical of the errors and faults of "black heroes" such as MLK Jr, Malcolm X, Black Panthers, etc., and while they tend to be uncritical of religious or nationalist influences in the movements of colored people, they have a big Islamophobic exception for the Arab revolts.

The white-Left didn't just use Standing Rock as a distraction from other struggles, they actually used it to go after Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Since Donald Trump personally had more than $500,000 invested in ETP, the company building the pipeline, another $500,000 staked with Phillips 66, which owns a quarter of the pipeline, and stood to make another $50,000 off of interest, dividends and capital gains, you might think they would play that up, and use it to go after him. Instead, they were quiet about his ownership, while they used the Standing Rock struggle to put his opponent in a no-win situation.

They did this by publicly campaigning for Hillary Clinton to support their cause in a way that gave her no options that wouldn't cost her votes. If she pleased them by publicly opposing DAPL, it would cost her votes Trump was winning by promising to bring back jobs in coal and oil, but as long as she remained silent, they could use it as another argument to stay home, or vote Stein; that's the way they rolled, all over the white-Leftisphere.

In one stunt, 11 Native American youths flew from North Dakota to Brooklyn, and "flooded into Clinton’s campaign headquarters" and built a tipi, according to Amy Goodman. It was less than two weeks before an election that was still a tossup, and they were in her campaign headquarters demanding that she take a position on DAPL whether it cost her votes or not.

Democracy Now covered this protest occupation. Amy Goodman even interviewed one of the Native American youth, Daniel Grassrope of the Lower Brule Sioux Nation in South Dakota. Just before the interview was ended, she asked him how they organized the protest:
AMY GOODMAN: And how did you organize to come out here, to come to the national headquarters of Hillary Clinton from North Dakota, from Standing Rock? And you came to North Dakota from South Dakota.

DANIEL GRASSROPE: There’s actually organizers beyond us that had that idea and brought it to us. And we are just, you know, happy to be a part of it.
If I was a cynical fellow, I might think Daniel was being manipulated the way the white-Left says that Libyan or Syrian activists have been played by the Pentagon. In an election year with so much money, both foreign and domestic, betting against Clinton, one really has to wonder who paid for this trip? Who exactly were these "organizers beyond us?" Too bad Democracy Now didn't elect to explore that a little more.

The encampments at Standing Rock dwindled quickly after the election. Protesters precipitated a final showdown 12 days after the election by trying to clear a bridge the police had blocked.

Some of the protesters were happy that Trump had won, Shailene Woodley told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, 25 January 2017:
This fight has always been far from over. We knew that there was a huge opportunity with President Trump’s administration to come in and change what President Obama decided to do.
But Trump revived DAPL on his fourth day in office, and by the end of May 2017, they were pumping oil.

This aerial photo shows the Oceti Sakowin camp, where people had gathered to protest the Dakota Access pipeline on federal land, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, in Cannon Ball, N.D. (Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune)
And here's the final JOKE of it. It's estimated that the "Water Protectors" camps left behind 250 truckloads of garbage that had to be cleaned up before the Spring floods washed it all into the Missouri River and the water system! Some were calling it a "trashpocalypse."

Little Feather
The punchline was received by Michael “Little Feather” Giron, who got 36 months in federal prison for the charge of civil disorder for his part in the DAPL pipeline resistance. As for the charges against Amy Goodman and Jill Stein; the charges against Goodman were rejected by the judge; as for Jill Stein, she reached a plea deal that avoided any jail time, but she did have to pay a $250 fine and pick up the garbage. Actually, I just made that last bit up, although I wish it was true. She didn't have to pick up any garbage, but she did have to pay a $250 fine.

Little Feather was just the first of the Water Protectors to receive a long sentence from the Trump justice department. Red Fawn Fallis and Dion Ortiz have since joined him, and Michael “Rattler” Markus is still out awaiting sentencing to his 36-month term on 8 August 2018. If you have a moment you might want to send them some love. The crowds have all gone home.

Michael “Little Feather” Giron
PO Box 2499
Bismarck, ND 58502

Dion Ortiz
New Moon Lodge
PO Box 969
Ohkay Owingeh, NM 87566

Red Fawn Fallis
PO Box 2499
Bismarck, ND 58502

In Conclusion

White supremacy, and its construction in the creation of the white race, became one of the defining features of capitalist development on this planet from its earliest days. The technological advances that allowed colonization and mass propaganda made it possible, the decision to resolve a "labor shortage" in the colonies through the creation of a the once-profitable system of racial slavery gave it the economic might to build a deeply-ingrained racist culture.

As technological, and other developmental, forces pushed towards modern imperialism, certain tools and methods became inconvenient. Slavery declined in profitability as the requirements for a proletarian workforce grew, even in the South. Eventually, neoliberalism emerged as the preferred method of containing the masses, while fascist methods were largely held in reserve. This worked well, especially for those countries riding imperialism's ascendancy.

Now technology is again forcing radical change. Artificial Intelligence [AI] will replace tens of millions of jobs in the coming decade. It has replaced many already. This is just the beginning. AI will change the world, and in the hands of those that currently run things, not for the better.

Ultimately hundreds of millions of jobs will be eliminated. That means many people will have to be eliminated. In the meantime, they have to be controlled. White racism has always been the goto tool for social control under capitalism. There should be no doubt that it won't mobilize the most extreme reserves of racism to control the masses before it finally dies, and it is dying. The logic of white supremacy also goes to extermination, which can be made to serve their population reduction agenda, as well as their death wish.

At this crucial time in human history, this white-Left continues to dominate the progressive movement in the United States and it must be overthrown because by claiming the mantles of the Left it is occupying our fighting positions.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Monday, June 18, 2018

The white-Left Part 1: The two meanings of white

My recent use of the term "white-Left" has generated enquiries from readers that deserve a detailed answer, so I cashed in 40 of my ETO hours to craft this one in two parts. Here is part one:

The failure of the [White] Left on racism is not to be mocked. It is a tragedy and the main problem holding back world revolution.
This, my response to a comment left on Louis Proyect's Marxism mailing list on 3 July 2016, four months before he banned me, may be the first time I used the phrase. I had been grappling for a descriptive term that would adequately describe the dominant section of what most people in the United States think of as the Left. This segment of the Left, which some refer to as "anti-imperialists" or "tankies," is actually so dominant as to be thought of by most people as representing the entire Left. I have never found those terms quite adequate, and I also think the "problem area" is much broader and includes many on the Left that conveniently "don't know" right from wrong on some of the stickier international questions, even after a half-million deaths. I also don't think those terms, and others, that reference their international positions, speak to the betrayal of Left leadership when a white supremacist cabal was mounting a successful campaign to capture executive power in the top imperialist country. But before I explain why I think the adjective white is the best one-word description of this dominant Left grouping, by a longshot, I want to lay some groundwork by looking at the dictionary definition of the word white.

Ask Google for a definition of white you get this:
1. of the color of milk or fresh snow, due to the reflection of most wavelengths of visible light; the opposite of black.
synonyms: colorless, unpigmented, bleached, natural; snowy, milky, chalky, ivory

2. belonging to or denoting a human group having light-colored skin (chiefly used of peoples of European extraction).
synonyms: Caucasian, European
Quite naturally, the first definition of white has been around as long as the English language has, longer actually, since it was handed down from the Old English "hwit," which was described as "a highly luminous color devoid of chroma." The second usage is much newer, less than 400 years old actually, so I want to begin by examining this first meaning of white, in some detail, before looking at the etymology of the application of that adjective to a selected group of people.

Look up white on Dictionary.com you will find these additional definitions:
  • lacking color; transparent.
  • Older Use: Offensive. decent, honorable, or dependable
  • auspicious or fortunate.
  • morally pure; innocent.
  • without malice; harmless (white magic, white lie)
As we shall see, the association of white with decent, honorable, or dependable is entirely natural and appropriate, but is now considered offensive in light of the definition emerging capitalism added to the word. This is actually turning the problem on its head, a mistake I have also made, seeing racial undertones in names like angel food cake and devil's food cake, but I am getting ahead of my narrative. Look up white on Thesaurus.com; here are some of the synonyms you will find:
  • fair
  • neutral
  • transparent
  • immaculate
Second order synonyms [words for which white is considered a synonym] include dazzling, glowing, hot, virgin, virginal, untouched, spotless, fresh, clean, elegant, flawless, bright, unsoiled, and unblemished. Other word associations with white include enlighten, illuminate, brighten, flash, spotlight and highlight. Because of its association with daylight it also symbolizes dawn, new beginnings, birth, and life itself.

Malcolm X looks up black & white in the dictionary in the Spike Lee film.
We could can also add white knight, white wedding, whitewash, a white paper and white collar to the list of phrases where white is used to express positive values such as courage, innocence, cleanliness, authority, position or safety, or even to turn the negative around, as in white lie. On the other hand, black is used to convey negative values which are, often related to death or bad things; phrases like black death, black plague, black comedy, and black day. Antonyms for white from thesaurus.com start with black, obviously, but also include dirty, prejudiced, gloomy, darkened, biased, obscure and dim.

There was a time, quite a long time actually, when I saw racial undertones in these associations, but not anymore!

For example, I have worked in IT for more than a half-century, and even now, in my day job as a Linux Systems Administrator, hardly a shift goes by that I'm not asked to whitelist or blacklist a group of IP addresses. Even though I know perfectly well that they are terms-of-art, until recently, I harbored a resentment in using them because I thought them examples of how racism had smuggled itself in the very core of the English language. Indeed, it has, but not in the way I originally thought.

The importance of symbols

As intelligent beings that organizes our mental world largely through the use of symbols, it is entirely right and proper that white has come to symbolize a host of positive characteristics, while its opposite, black, has come to symbolize negative ones.

What is more important is that these associations are 1.) immutable, 2.) primordial, and 3.) supra-cultural.

In their primary definitions, white and black represent colors, or more precisely, achromatic colors, because what we call white light is actually a combination of all the visible light of different colors, representing different wavelengths of electromagnetic energy, as they shine on Earth from our Sun. In that light are all the colors of the rainbow, but there is no white light save that which is produced by the combination of all of them. There are no white LEDs on your screen, just red, green, and blue ones. The white you see is an illusion.

Because color vision, as we know it, developed on this planet, it is what you might call "white-balanced" to these Earthly conditions. If we had developed on another planet, where the ratio of primary colors that reached us from the Sun made a different combination, say the "Red Planet," we might see things differently, and pink might be the new white!

Black, on the other hand, is no light at all, meaning also no colors; the absence of color or light. Although for the painter, the roles are reverse. She starts with a white base and leaves it blank to represent white and adds pigments of different colors to represent them. If she combines all the colors, she gets black. She is making an image to reflect light. Where it reflects red, we see red; where it reflects yellow, we see yellow; where it reflects all, we see white; where it reflects none, we see black.

Certain symbolic associations with white such as "neutrality" and "transparency" follow naturally from its role in human vision, just as other symbolic associations, such as "shadowy" and "gloomy," are made with black.

Here are some basic facts about light, and how it is perceived by the human eye. Visible light is electromagnetic radiation within a certain portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is detectable by the human eye. The wavelength, which is the inverse of frequency, determines the color we see the light as. Here are some familiar colors and their specs:





~ 700–635 nm

~ 430–480 THz


~ 635–590 nm

~ 480–510 THz


~ 590–560 nm

~ 510–540 THz


~ 560–520 nm

~ 540–580 THz

The seven colors of the rainbow are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet and their wavelengths range from 780 nanometers to 390 nanometers. What we call white isn't one of the colors of the rainbow, in fact white is not a primary color at all.

Both white and black as well as the grey areas between them are called achromatic colors, literally, colors without color. What Wikipedia says about white is useful to our discussion:
An incoming light to the human eye that stimulates all its three types of color sensitive cone cells in nearly equal amounts results in white. White is one of the most common colors in nature, the color of sunlight, snow, milk, chalk, limestone and other common minerals. In many cultures white represents or signifies purity, innocence, and light, and is the symbolic opposite of black, or darkness. According to surveys in Europe and the United States, white is the color most often associated with perfection, the good, honesty, cleanliness, the beginning, the new, neutrality, and exactitude.[2]
Another feature that flows exclusively from this physics of light, and the chemistry of our planet, is that many things appear white. Wherever all the Sun's rays are scattered and diffused, we see white. The Earth is abundant with clear substances, meaning they transmit light of all wavelengths equally, like water. Whenever the water molecules are arranged in a way that diffuses sunlight, whether in snow, clouds, or seafoam, we see white. Except if the seafoam is a little too off-white, we may have second thoughts about going for a swim.

This brings us to another category of positive symbols that white intrinsically represents, those having to do with purity, innocence, cleanliness, and harmlessness. One reason for that is that when clear substances form crystals the whiteness of the result can be taken as a useful measure of its purity. We know that when something that is supposed to be white isn't we have a problem. The whiteness of the sugar, salt, milk, or snow, may not be absolute proof of its purity, but it's a pretty good clue, and a way to use our color vision to increase our chances of survival.

A third category of symbolic associations with white is probably the most important for our discussion, and includes such varied concepts as safety, innocence, virginal, fresh, clean, dazzling, fortunate, enlighten, illuminate, and brighten. All this is owing largely to our species-wide adherence to the Circadian rhythm. We are creatures most active in daylight. While many other animals rely much more on the daylight-agnostic senses of hearing and smell, we are somewhat deficient there. With color vision and range-finding ability, it is our seeing ability that makes what Karl Marx called "the natural day" the period of greatest activity.

Native American wisdom
If bats think in symbols, black may represent safety to them, and white -- danger; but we are daytime creatures. We are quite naturally up with the Sun and most active in daylight. It's only relatively recently that electrification has driven us to attempt to operate around the clock. Compared to many other animals, humans just don't see very well at night. But what we lose in night vision is more than made up for by having eyes that are sensitive to colors. Most animals can't see colors. Because of our poor night vision, humans are not nocturnal hunters or gatherers. We feel safest during the day. Night has always been the period of greatest danger, a time when we retreat to whatever security and shelter we can manage to await the rising Sun, and our next day's activities.

No doubt, these basic features of human life predate even our emergence at the top of the primate pyramid. Millions of years ago, before we were modern humans even, we cowered in fear of the night someplace, and welcomed the birth of each new dawn with gladness.

As you can see, these synonyms, or symbiotic relationships, between the polar opposites of white and black are intrinsic, primeval, immutable, and supra-cultural. That is why white has come to symbolize "good" and black has come to symbolize "bad;" it's why we "whitelist" the Internet addresses we want to let in, and "blacklist" those that we want to block. It would be ludicrous to expect the language to have developed differently. That's not the problem.

White's second meaning

We are now ready to look at the etymology of the second dictionary definition of the word white, the one that has come to be applied to a certain group of humans, not because the color of their skin matches the white of everyone's eyeballs, but, ostensibly, because they are a lighter shade of brown, as in "white people." This is what the Online Etymology Dictionary has to say about this meaning of white:
Meaning "white man, person of a race distinguished by light complexion" is from 1670s; white man in this sense is from 1690s.
As you can see, as compared to the first prehistoric meaning of white, this second one is of a relatively recent vintage. In point of fact, it was "coined" during that period of rising capitalism and colonization in the soon-to-become United States, as part of a larger effort to break the solidarity that was being created so long as English and African labored together under the common bondage of indentured servitude. It was invented in the thirteen colonies and then exported back to Europe.

There was an economic crisis in young America in the last half of the 17th century that brought to the fore the class differences between the working poor and a handful of "grantees." African and European laborers fought together, often with arms, against the colonial powers and the landowners. In Virginia there were at least 10 popular or servile revolts between the 1663 Servants’ plot for an insurrectionary march to freedom, to the tobacco riots of 1682. In Bacon’s Rebellion, 1676, an army of European and African bond-servants and freedman recently “out of their time” captured and burned the colonial capital of Jamestown, which Governor Berkeley left in a hurry. It took 1100 British troops sent from England in 11 ships to put him back, and they took a while to get there.

Nathaniel Bacon confronts Governor William Berkeley at the Statehouse in Jamestown
Initially they enslaved almost everybody under the system of indentured servitude; the English, Irish, African, even indigenous. Three-quarters of all slaves in Virginia around the time of Bacon's rebellion, 1676, were European. Governor Berkeley estimated that about 1,500 European chattel bond-laborers arrived in Virginia that year, "the majority English, with a few Scots and fewer Irish."

Karl Marx pointed out in Capital, Volume 1, that importing labor from Europe wasn't working out that well for them, a cheaper and more subservient labor force had to be created by artificial means:
The supply of wage labour, he [E.G. Wakefield] complains, is neither constant, nor regular, nor sufficient. “The supply of labour is always not only small but uncertain.” [13] “Though the produce divided between the capitalist and the labourer be large, the labourer takes so great a share that he soon becomes a capitalist.... Few, even those whose lives are unusually long, can accumulate great masses of wealth.” [14] The labourers most distinctly decline to allow the capitalist to abstain from the payment of the greater part of their labour. It avails him nothing, if he is so cunning as to import from Europe, with his own capital, his own wage-workers. They soon “cease... to be labourers for hire; they... become independent landowners, if not competitors with their former masters in the labour-market.” [15] Think of the horror! The excellent capitalist has imported bodily from Europe, with his own good money, his own competitors! The end of the world has come! No wonder Wakefield laments the absence of all dependence and of all sentiment of dependence on the part of the wage-workers in the colonies. On account of the high wages, says his disciple, Merivale, there is in the colonies “the urgent desire for cheaper and more subservient labourers — for a class to whom the capitalist might dictate terms, instead of being dictated to by them.... In ancient civilised countries the labourer, though free, is by a law of Nature dependent on capitalists; in colonies this dependence must be created by artificial means.” [16]
This labor situation posed a serious dilemma for the new colonial masters of young America, and at the very time when they needed to greatly increase the labor available to them to exploit the vast resources of the colonies. They needed a class of workers that would be denied the independence and upward mobility made possible by so much free land. They had already been busy passing laws that facilitated extending a bond-servant's time. That was their favorite punishment for any offense, especially running away. They were toying with the idea of perpetual servitude for all, but the revolts were showing that just wasn’t going to work within the existing framework.

That is when the colonial bourgeoise hit upon the strategy of greatly elaborating the racist policies they had pioneered against the Irish, and applying them to all Africans in America, while simultaneously bringing all Europeans together under the banner of whiteness. They started using an obvious difference in a really minor physical attribute, i.e. skin color, to divide the workers between those that could work off their servitude and those that couldn’t, and they started to pass laws accordingly. There was a whole wave of legislation that followed, and they created the structure of racism and racial slavery where none had existed before. With this legal structure evolved the ideology and the practice of white supremacy.

They were replacing the earlier labor system with a system of racial slavery, in which the support of the laborers from England, Ireland and other parts of Europe was purchased by their elevation from bondsman to wage slaves. They created and carefully cultivated this new concept of all light-skinned European nationalities grouped together as a single "white people" or "white race" over the better part of a century because like greedy bosses everywhere, they are happy to forgo a real raise when a shiny new title would do.

Foreign correspondents, like Morgan Godwyn in 1680, "found it necessary to explain" to their European readers that "white people" was the new term for Englishmen or Christians over here. It could truly be said that the European colonists came to the "New World" and sent back "white people" as part of their produce.

The co-opting of white as a common label for the imperialists and a part of the oppressed was a historic marketing coup in an era in which the recent invention and growth of printing was making mass marketing an art the capitalists were learning to exploit. The first newspaper was published in 1609, just four years before the term "white people" was coined; the first newspaper ad was published in the US in 1704, just one year before the Virginia Slave Codes of 1705 marked the consolidation of the slave system in the South. A lot of ad revenue would be made selling slaves in the coming centuries. In the intervening period, this new technology, the first to make mass propaganda available to the ruling class, would play an indispensable role in selling the mythology of white people. BTW, press is another word that has acquired a new meaning over time, although in this case the connection is more organic. The original printing press actually was a press, designed much like a punch press or a wine press. Its usage never had to be mandated by law.

The Slave Codes made the new definition of white a legal term, although for clarity they still couldn't use it without a synonym. They used it in doling out a first white privilege:
That all masters and owners of servants...shall not, at any time, give immoderate correction; neither shall, at any time, whip a christian white servant naked, without an order from a justice of the peace: And if any, notwithstanding this act, shall presume to whip a christian white servant naked, without such order... [shall pay] ...forty shillings sterling.
While at the same time it took away their right to marry freely. You will notice it had not yet branded the African as black:
And for a further prevention of that abominable mixture and spurious issue, which hereafter may increase in this her majesty's colony and dominion, as well by English, and other white men and women intermarrying with negroes or mulattos, as by their unlawful coition with them, Be it enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That whatsoever English, or other white man or woman, being free, shall intermarry with a negro or mulatto man or woman, bond or free, shall, by judgment of the county court, be committed to prison, and there remain, during the space of six months, without bail or mainprize; and shall forfeit and pay ten pounds current money of Virginia, to the use of the parish, as aforesaid.
Tobacco plantation
Subsequent laws, and not only in Virginia, would restrict a host of rights to people identified as white. While it is generally remembered how these pre-"Jim Crow" laws were used against people of color, particularly after slavery was ended, their initial role in forcing a white identity on to the European immigrant is generally forgotten, but once only whites had the right to own property, for example, being identified as white became much more important than one's identification with one's country of origin. The racist laws forced anyone who could be identified as white to apply for membership.

It has been said that white people have no culture. What is true is that often the rich English, Italian, Irish, Scottish, Greece, French or German culture of their ancestors was lost when the they joined the great American melting pot of white people, and they have received very little in return. Sometimes it is so lost they need a DNA test to get it back! Well, the banishment of the color line forced by the civil rights movement is seen by all as granting new freedoms to people of color. It is less well recognized that it also gives the freedom to people of European ancestry to stop calling themselves white and join the people of color [which they truly are anyway] without incurring any penalty for doing so.

Jesus Christ wasn't always portrayed as white. This image of Christ with a Lamb found in the Catacomb of Callistus is from the 3rd century, and probably truer to any historical reality than the ones produced after the church went over to white supremacy.
After they invented the concept of white people, they proceeded to rewrite history so that the history of western civilization became the history of white people. In the real Greek cradle of western civilization skin color was unimportant. What mattered was were you lived. The classical historian James H. Dee said "the Greeks do not describe themselves as 'white people'—or as anything else because they had no regular word in their color vocabulary for themselves."

Since facts can't be allowed to get in the way of a good con, in spite of the fact the King Sargon, Plato, Aristotle, Caesar, Claudius, Charlemagne, the Vikings, Pope Urban II and the Christians that marched east in the Crusades never called themselves white, they were all posthumously awarded the title of "white." Accordingly, Adam and Eve were white, and since God made them in his image, God must be white too. Printing made the mass production of books to spread this new mythology possible for the first time in history. Conveniently, 1640 became the first year a book was published in British North America.

Adam & Eve
Every good con relies on a grain-of-truth that allows it to claim credibility. Sorensen says "a lie must have narrow plausibility." The grain-of-truth in the "white people" lie, perhaps the most destructive con ever played on humanity, is that Europeans have less melatonin in their skin than other humans. The claim is that shows they embody all the positive characteristics that are traditionally, and correctly, associated with the color white, and are superior to the excluded people, thereby rendered black. That this is the racist association being made is shown clearly by the slur "That's mighty white of you." If it didn't combine both meanings of white into one usage, there would be no reason to call it offensive.

They made use of the relatively lighter skin color of the Europeans to label themselves “white” with all the righteous symbolism that implies, precisely to cover the perpetration of the blackest crimes ever done to humanity and the planet. White supremacy was born of this master stroke of false symbolism. The only thing white about white people are their teeth and their eyeballs, just like everyone else. The very concept of "white people" was invented as a method of social control and racial domination.

White supremacy also involves the creation of an artificial schism between humanity and nature. The racist monkey meme, and Trump's favorite, calling us animals, is grounded in the false conception that white men aren't animals. As long as they were Englishmen, Irish, Scottish, French, German and Russian, they, like all living organisms that aren't plant-like, were animals. Once they took on the mantle of sunlight, they thought of themselves as Gods, the masters of all. This doesn't make the animal meme any less demeaning and dangerous, since it opens the door to our extermination as if we were live stock or vermin.

There are many good books that cover this history in great detail. I would recommend both The Invention of the White Race by Theodore W. Allen, and The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter.

In The Price of the Ticket, James Baldwin talked about how early on Africans and Europeans suffered similarly and how the "white race" was created in the United States:
They come through Ellis Island, where Giorgio became Joe, Pappavasiliu becomes Palmer, Evangelos becomes Evans, Goldsmith becomes Smith or Gold, and Avakian becomes King. So, with a painless change of name, and in the twinkling of an eye, one becomes a white American.

The Irish middle passage, for but one example, was as foul as my own, and as dishonorable on the part of those responsible for it. But the Irish became white when they got here and began rising in the world, whereas I became black and began sinking.
James Baldwin
The price the white American paid for his ticket was to become white--; and, in the main, nothing more than that, or, as he was to insist, nothing less. This incredibly limited not to say dimwitted ambition has choked many a human being to death here: and this, I contend, is because the white American has never accepted the real reasons for his journey. I know very well that my ancestors had no desire to come to this place: but neither did the ancestors of the people who became white...
Frantz Fanon commented on the effects of this alienation in Black Skin, White Masks:
"The white man is desperately trying to achieve the rank of man...The white man is locked in his whiteness."

The 400th birthday of white people

The four-hundredth anniversary of the birth of "white people" occurred less than five years ago, 29 October 2013, and it passed silently, with no celebration, or even recognition, as far as I know. Ed Simon told us "How ‘white people’ were invented by a playwright in 1613:"
The Jacobean playwright Thomas Middleton invented the concept of ‘white people’ on 29 October 1613, the date that his play The Triumphs of Truth was first performed. The phrase was first uttered by the character of an African king who looks out upon an English audience and declares: ‘I see amazement set upon the faces/Of these white people, wond’rings and strange gazes.’ As far as I, and others, have been able to tell, Middleton’s play is the earliest printed example of a European author referring to fellow Europeans as ‘white people.’
This may well have been the first usage of the term "white people," although it didn't come into general usage until much later, and didn't even make it into the English Oxford Dictionary until the mid-1600's, according to James H. Dee. It's interesting that while this English playwright may have invented the term, in his fiction, he has an African introduce it to the world as a bouquet to his English audience, and while I know nothing else about this play other than what is contained in the quote above, its title "The Triumphs of Truth" might make a suitable cultural vehicle for associating the first, and at that time, only, definition of white and whiteness with a people, especially if the triumphs being referred to was the concurrent European rape of Africa, and the "truth" was a lie, attempting to wrap itself in the gowns of righteousness and enlightenment by labeling themselves as white and their victims "black."

A little research seems to confirm my suspicions. The Map of London Critical Introduction states:
Unity in The Triumphs of Truth is also achieved by using simple imagery -- light to represent good and dark to represent evil. Truth’s Angel is wearing white silk which is powdered with stars of gold and Truth is adorned in white satin, and wears a diadem of stars, while Error wears ash-colour silke.

Taking the conflict of the light/dark imagery a step further are the Moors. The King of the Moors makes reference to his dark face, but states that Truth in [his] soul sets up the light of grace. It seems that this King of Moors and his queen had been converted to Christianity by English merchants traveling in their land, and they rejoice in their new found religion. As well as setting up a hierarchy with Good over Evil, in this scene of The Triumphs of Truth a hierarchy is created with Christian over Pagan.
This is a revelation. Since the Moors, as Muslims, were considered Pagan, it would seem that an unhealthy dose of Islamophobia, as well as anti-African racism, was involved in the creation of the concept of white people.

Less than a year ago, the New York Times ran an informative piece that outlined what modern science tells us about skin color:
Humans develop color much as other mammals do. Special cells in the skin contain pouches, called melanosomes, packed with pigment molecules. The more pigment, the darker the skin.

Skin color also varies with the kind of pigments: Melanosomes may contain mixtures of a brown-black called eumelanin and a yellow-red called pheomelanin.

To find the genes that help produce pigments, scientists began by studying people of European ancestry and found that mutations to a gene called SLC24A5 caused cells to make less pigment, leading to paler skin.
This is what it said about why skin color varies so widely:
Living humans come packaged in a wide range of hues — from pale and freckly in Ireland to dark brown in southern India, Australia and New Guinea. Researchers have argued that these varying colors evolved partly in response to sunlight.

The idea is that people who live with intense ultraviolet light benefited from dark color, pigments that shielded important molecules in their skin. In places with less sunlight, people needed lighter skin, because they were able to absorb more sunlight to make vitamin D.
As you can see, nothing in the science of skin colors indicates that the positive attributes we associate with white fall more on people with lighter skin or makes them more Godlike.

One might call it a "brilliant" move to make use of a lower level of melatonin in the skin of people adapted to the available sunlight in the northern hemisphere to grab the label white, with all its embedded positive symbolism, for a group of capitalists at a time when they are rallying forces for the imperialist subjugation of the planet, but the title is an illegitimate one. It was born of slavery, and white supremacy can never be defeated as long some people continue to insist that as compared to the rest of humanity, that they are “white.”

White supremacy is a danger to the Earth

While the skin color differences between the European colonizers, and the people of the southern hemisphere may have provided the original impetus for the white and black categorization, the adoption of the symbolism of white by Europeans at the beginning of the imperialist period has been used not only as a sign of their righteousness in dominating and raping the thereby newly created "non-white" people, it has been used as a sign of their righteousness in dominating and raping the entire planet. Therefore, we can conclude that the problems inherent in a group of people being called white is not merely a race problem. It would be a problem even if there were no other people. This attitude of whiteness has been invoked not just against the "black people of the Earth" but against the Earth itself.

The array of political forces around the climate change debate is but one example of how white supremacy isn't just an attack on the better part of humanity, but on nature itself. At first glance, the global warming question has nothing to do with race, and one would think that even the most extreme racist, that envision an earthly future free of people of color, would still be fighting to see that the Earth did have a future, if only for white people, and yet there they all are, firmly on the denial side of climate change.

White chauvinism therefore is the practice of white supremacy, not just towards the excluded peoples, but towards the entire excluded natural world. It underlines and legitimizes the operations of capitalism not just in exploiting "people of color," but in ruthlessly exploiting the resources of the Earth as well.
  • White racism is inseparable from the notion that a certain people are white.
  • Racism is the application of white chauvinism to people.
  • White nationalism is the derivative belief that white people constitute a nation.
The late Joel Kovel addressed some of the deeper cultural and psychological aspects of this question in his classic work "White Racism A Psychohistory." Here is some of what he had to say:
Racism abstracts the color of the living body into non-colors of extreme value, black and white. Within this organization black represents the shade of evil, the devil's aspect, night, separation, loneliness, sin, dirt, excrement, the inside of the body; and white represents the mark of good, the token of innocence, purity, cleanliness, spirituality, virtue, hope.p.232
The problem of racism is part of the problem of Western culture. And thus, its central aspect is not that blackness whose many meanings we touched upon in the previous chapter, but its cognate, whiteness. For the world is neither black nor white, but hued. A lightly-hued people, aided perhaps by fantasies derived from their skin color--came to dominate the entire world, and in the process defined themselves as white. The process that generated this white power also generated the fear and dread of black.

People of all cultures have always been afraid of darkness, Children certainly are, and doubtless they have been since Paleolithic times. What has distinguished the West from other cultures is that these elementary issues. without losing their infantile core, have taken on a fantastic elaboration: They have been employed systematically and organically in the generation of power. p 95
That is what "white power" really is. It is the fraudulent application of the happy symbolism of white to a lightly-hued people for the purpose of turning an illusion of supremacy into a reality of world domination.

Kovel also wrote about how the primary symbolic references to white and black are skillfully mobilized at the deepest psychological level to perpetrate racist mythology:
Thus, for the black to fit into the into the aversive equations, he must be made into the affirmation of the excremental body. He must become the double negative of anality. the fantasy of a fantasy — not cold, pure, clean, efficient, industrious, frugal, rational (that is, not the pantheon of anal- negative ego traits which are the summum bonum of the bourgeois order) but rather warm, dirty, sloppy, feckless, lazy, improvident and irrational, all those traits that are associated with blackness, odor, and sensuality to make their bearer worthy of aversion.
In this passage, James Baldwin is explaining how African Americans learn to perceive the world. You can see the power that these two labels play in seeming to give racial oppression an intrinsic and God-given power. That should surprise no one. One label was appropriated by the slave owners, who forced the other label on the slaves, for precisely that reason:
This world is white and they are black. White people hold the power, which means that they are superior to blacks (intrinsically, that is: God decreed it so), and the world has innumerable ways of making this difference known and felt and feared.
The whitening of Venice

I hold in my hand an example of how the symbolism of the first meaning of white is used in my own community to empower the white supremacy embodied in its second meaning. It is a business card given to me by one of the private cops the newly created Venice Beach Business Improvement District [BID] has hired. BID is the business/government partnership that is heading up the gentrification of Venice. These private cops will soon learn a few African Americans in this neighborhood still have homes. They claim to be hired to help the police by watching out for stuff, but their real job is to drive out the homeless, which are disportionately people of color. The card these agents of white supremacy hand out have only two words below the BID logo on one side, and those two words are "CLEAN & SAFE."

The late Jalal Mansur Nuriddin of the Last Poets summed the problem up this way "The white man's got a God complex." That God Complex begins with the false claim that they are the color of sunlight.

From this we can see that the very terms "white race" and "white people" have inherently racist content. Therefore, racism can never be completely defeated before the use of these terms is abandoned.

The white-Left

Now that we have explored a little of complex and multifaceted role of the adjective white, I am prepared to explain why I think it the best adjective to apply to a section of the Left that currently dominates it.

Continued in The white-Left Part 2: Why that is the best name for it

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