Observations on the article “Reclaim the Discourse on White Privilege” by Richard Moser published in Counterpunch on August 23, 2017

Reclaim the discourse on white privilege

The title is confusing and the emphasis on “white” a bit disturbing, but then, many things that are true are disturbing.  One could substitute any color, any race, any religion, any ethnicity, any sexual preference, in short, any “identity politics identifier” other than class and the result would be the same.  And it’s true that “white males” are now as discriminated against as other groups but with the added baggage of pejoratives like neo-Nazis, or de facto Ku Klux Klanners, or “white supremacists” or “white nationalists” despite harboring no ill will towards any other group, rather, as in the case of each of the polarized social segments, merely insisting on their own respect.

That is not to say that malicious and malevolent social segments fitting those descriptions do not exist.  They exist within each such group.  They exist when they cross the threshold from demanding respect to rejecting the right of others to the same.  Each such subgroup is subject to aberrant social behavior usually based on fear, insecurity and involvement with rejection based on either real life experience, family history or urban myths, and in too many cases, such negative feelings and attitudes are fully justified.  But they will not be healed by their projection onto others.

The more insecure among us tend to engage in many negative self-destructive reactions.  One is to denigrate others as a comparative means of making oneself at least “feel” superior.  It’s what poor whites have done to blacks but what blacks in turn have sought to do to Latinos.  In United States mythology, it purports to be a reflection of a perceived collective right/duty of social passage, one that claims that as ethnic and religious groups arrive as immigrants, they start at the bottom of the social ladder and have to fight and work their way up and as they climb, they are charged with belittling and abusing those on the rungs below.  A kind of dynamic caste system.  But the truth is that it never worked for those that were brought to the United States against their will and forced into static institutions, slavery being the worst and the most notable, and who being purportedly “freed” against the will of their purported social and racial betters, never attained transition.  Perhaps it never worked because they were “freed” as a punishment to their former masters rather than in recognition of how wrong the “peculiar institution” they’d been forced into was and because those who purportedly freed them had no real interest in their welfare, seeing them only as tokens, bargaining chips, a captive voting bloc, first in favor of the GOP, then in favor of the Democratic Party’s incoherently heterogonous, oxymoronic New Deal collective.  But never in favor of their own interests.  Their own interest is something only they themselves can attain and politically, they’ve yet to declare their collective independence although groups like the Black Panthers have tried.  Not that as individuals great, even amazing progress has not been made, but only under rules and conditions established by others.

Somehow, a strange feedback loop has evolved which benefits the very, very few, but benefits them very, very much.  Other groups, especially poor whites and now white males are falling into pits all too similar to those in which blacks have been trapped, and women, and Latinos; pits filled with metaphorical quicksand, and their denizens can’t work themselves out.  Or at least they can’t work themselves out so long as they refuse to unite, which suits the very, very few very, very much.  To them maintaining intergroup polarization is essential.  And the very, very few have all the means they need to assure that continues to be the case.  They control both major political parties, the government at all levels, the means of production and distribution, the mainstream media and the financial sector.  All they need to do is to make the pits seem normal, to make it seem that there’s a meritocratic way out by learning to play the game, but apparently, only if one helps keep one’s fellow pit dwellers in their place.

Which is where we find ourselves.  Entertained with television and cinema and video games and computers and the Internet, kept busy fighting ourselves, denigrating ourselves, generating polarization and fury.  And, if we have the means, responding to continuous streams of hysterical demands for political donations, the proceeds of which are carefully shepherded to fund our own imprisonment.

The article points much of this out and does so effectively but in a manner likely to polarize as much as it instructs, not due to inaccuracies but because of how we’re now conditioned to react.  We’ve been turned into carriage horses, political correctness used as blinders and pejoratives as whips.

With that in mind, reading the article, digesting it and analyzing it may prove very productive.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen).  Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at wacalvo3@autonoma.edu.co or guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

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