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

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Trump's gift to MS-13 the day after bashing them in #SOTU

The development of Artificial Intelligence Technology under capitalism means that competition among workers worldwide for a dwindling supply of jobs will be fierce. Self driving cars are expected to replace 7 million professional driving jobs in the next decade in the United States alone. Uber knows what's up. They are building an infrastructure and market position on the backs of its current drivers. Within the decade, they will be handing them pink slips and sending self-driving cars to take you to the airport. And this is but one example. We can already see the jobs lost to automation at the checkout lines of our local stores. What is harder to see is the automation taking place in the huge Amazonian warehouses that are replacing the local stores and their entire workforce, and while they now employ a host of delivery people, they, quite rightly, envision a future of delivery drones and bots.

All this would be fine and good under socialism, where the work reduction would be shared among all workers. Under socialism, it could mean the standard work week could be reduced from 40 to 20 and eventually even 10 hours a week, with wages raised such that those hours support a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. But we are still under capitalism where every technological advance is twisted to make the rich richer at the expense of the poor.

Trump's tax plan already lays much of the economic groundwork for this AI transition. In the past, the capitalist tended to put their plants where the cheap labor was, and they industrialized the world in the process. In the coming era, that is less of a consideration. Daimler, the maker of Mercedes Benz, is spending over a billion dollars to build a new car factory in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and it will only create 600 new jobs.  Whenever did an auto plant employ less than a thousand workers? Ford's great River Rouge plant employed a hundred thousand workers at its peak. Today, its Kansas City plant employs 7,320, and its Louisville plant employs 4,610. Plants like this Daimler one are extremely capital intensive, the owners want to place these new ones where they will be safe. Trump's tax plan is designed to give them the capital to do that. His military expansion and increased police powers are designed to protect their investment.

The capitalists and their politician are no dummies. They know workers are not likely to take this lying down. They can expect much civil unrest, even revolution. The lessons of the Arab Spring and Occupy are not lost on them. What to do? One answer: Boil them like frogs. Bring on the changes slowly. Another: Bring back racism, big time.

White supremacy, even the very concept of a "white race" or "white people" was an invention of emerging American capitalism in the 17th century. Unwilling or unable to attract enough European workers to the new world, they took to kidnapping laborers from Africa. When the African and European bonded laborers made common cause and revolted together, as they did in Jamestown in 1676, the bourgeoise decided on a strategy of "white privilege," the "privilege" of not being reduced to lifetime bondage, as the Africans were. [They did try that first. Read the history.] Since then, it has always been one of the main tools they have used to divide and conquer the working class.

In the post-World War II civil rights era, the US bourgeoisie, or atleast the leading portion of it, saw that the domestic struggle against racism could jeopardize their power, so they allowed, even led, certain changes in the direction of social justice [while they externalized racial aggression to Korea, Vietnam and Central America.] They even forced these changes on the most backwards of white workers, and so they remained in the driver's seat of these changes. To a certain extent, they retained the ability to roll them back. If the term "neoliberalism" has any meaning, it is this. So in the face of this coming conflict with labor, it should surprise no one that they are bringing back white supremacy bigtime, and the Trump cabal is their instrument for doing this. This is what the white Left refused to see, and even aided, with its infamous "don't vote for the lesser of two evils" campaign.

While these neo-racists are initially focussing on illegal immigrants because they can call them criminals by definition, and then legal immigrants or would be immigrants, because they aren't Americans, it is easy to see that sooner or later they will be targeting all people of color, especially the 39 million African-Americans, for expulsion or extermination. To prepare the way, they are getting the public use to a government that routinely, and by its own laws, treats people of color with heartless cruelty.

On Tuesday President Donald Trump gave his first State of the Union address, and while it contained a number of racist slights against African Americans and other people of color, a real focus was to brand all illegal immigrants from Central and South America as criminals by retelling vivid tales of MS-13, the El Salvadorian criminal gang that first developed in Los  Angeles, and then was spread to El Salvador and from there to the rest of the world, because the US chose to deal with what was essentially a domestic problem, home grown criminals, by making use of a legal technicality to send those criminals to El Salvador. [Remember when they accused Fidel Castro of "dumping" Cuba's criminals on the US after they invited any Cuban that could catch a boat to come here legally? Immigration policy can change fast if it's thought a socialist economy can be hurt in the bargain. Remember the outrage that Castro would send his criminals here when they should have been locked up in Cuban jails! Remember the uncontrolled violence that brought even to an advanced country like the US? Remember Scarface?] Nevertheless, with no sense of history, and in a speech that was suppose to set the agenda for the whole country for the next year, Trump found a way to call out "the savage gang MS-13" by name no less than four times. He did this to stoke racism as a capitalist buffer in the coming crisis.

One of the things that makes racism work so well is that the racist power structure always works overtime to create in the oppressed population precisely those characteristics it claims most strongly to object to. Joel Kovel wrote about how this dynamic played out in the oppression of African Americans, which in turn became the prototype for all racial oppression, in White Racism: A Psychohistory:
Just as the dominative Southerner needed to keep "his" black body powerless, so does the aversive Northerner need a powerless object with which to play out the symbolic game. And not only must this object be powerless; it must be suitable to represent what has to be projected upon it. Thus for the black to fit 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. And so, throughout our history, whites have created the institutions by which black people are forced to live, and which force them to live in a certain way, almost invariably so as to foster just that constellation of unworthy traits. From slavery itself to modem welfare systems, this has been the enduring pattern, reinforced in popular culture and education by a panoply of stereotypes along the same lines. p. 195
Anal-negative is exactly right. Remember El Salvador is the one less than black country that Trump considers a "shithole," and here again he gives us an almost classic example of how the white supremist sets things up in the oppression community in such a way as to create the very problem he is complaining about. In this case, after tarring the whole immigrant community, as criminal, he has orders issued to strengthen the hand of criminals among the overwhelming law bidding illegal immigrant population. So it should surprise no one that the day after bashing MS-13 in his SOTU address, he had his immigration department give them this gift. From Newsweek:

by Graham Lanktree
1 February 2018
Immigration agents are being told it is official U.S. government policy to capture and detain undocumented immigrants in federal, state, and local courthouses.

The new guidelines were reportedly formalized Wednesday. The policy, however, runs counter to concerns raised by civil rights groups, California’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, and so-called sanctuary cities where local authorities do not, as a rule, turn over illegal immigrants to federal officials. More...
This is a real boon to gangs like MS-13 that operate largely among the undocumented in immigrant communities. In the past, if a witness needed intimidating, they had to do it themselves. With this change in policy, they are being helped bigtime by ICE. It assures there will be fewer witnesses willing to come forward from among that immigrate community to testify against the gang members, and fewer criminal complaints as well, knowing that a, now dangerous, visit to the courthouse will be necessary for their prosecution. So this measure can be expect to strengthen the influence of criminals in the immigrant communities, the very thing Trump was complaining about. And while it is possible that more MS-13 gang members will be deported as a result of this policy, through their networks, they are likely to find their way back much quicker than the illegal immigrants that were deported for coming to court to oppose them. [Imagine that: an American justice system in which the criminal and the witness/victim receive the same punishment - deportation!] Besides, history has already shown that deporting gang members, rather than imprisoning them, and rehabilitating them where they are, only leads to the further expansion of gang activity. For the racists, that is the desired effect. For Trump the enemy is not MS-13, the enemy is all people of color, and MS-13 is his ally.

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