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Surprisingly Accurate Assessment of the June 2020 BLM Protests

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I haven't done a political post in a while, but it is probably a good idea that I try to explain in what ways I agree with Tucker Carlson (whom I usually disagree with to such a point that I never watch more than about once a month). I will try to avoid religion in this post, although it usually creeps in. This is more of an attempt to explain what I think is going on from a completely socio-economico-political perspective.

I think the recent “Black Lives Matter” protests are an outgrowth of a few specific factors. Conceptually, at least, there are the very real issues of police brutality, racist violence, and the “disparities” people of color often face. 

Materially, however, I think that there are 2 main factors driving the protests. One has been been the very recent social isolation and economic pain caused by America’s COVID19 response. This is too obvious. The other is — and has been for about 40 years now — the increasing proletarianization of the Professional/Managerial Middle Class (PMC). This has been particularly acute since the rapid liberalization and financialization of the economy since the 1980s and especially since the Recession/Depression of 2008. 

Members of the PMC are a relatively privileged class, distinct from the already “precarious” working class. Typically they are university-educated (the ~35% of the population with Bachelor’s Degrees or higher) possessing — or having close family that possess — upper-middle or higher incomes. The PMC is engaged in (or has close family engaged in) professional work involving business, management, finance, computers, engineering, law, medicine, media, education, and other technical fields. They make up about 40% of the recently employed labor force, or about 30% of the total population (typically earning the top 30% of incomes). 

While distinct from the ruling capitalist class (the 1% or less that own and control the bulk of capitalism), and also distinct from the vast working masses, the PMC has attributes of both. As they are typically inculcated in elite institutions, they carry the ruling ideologies: liberalism, individualism, self-help, liberal capitalism (“representational” economics), quasi-religious idealism, cosmopolitanism (“diversity and inclusion”), imperialism, and identitarianism (“identity politics”). 

But, in the era of monopoly capitalism, and thereby of stagnation, war, rising prices, and large-scale crisis, they have also had to face some fraction (however small) of the grim reality the proletarian masses face on a daily basis. Low wages and part-time employment, the absence of unions or collective bargaining, concerns about childcare, and unprecedented levels of debt have all become commonplace. 

This has bred an acute sense of insecurity and entitlement for those directly or even indirectly affected. This has bred hopelessness and political polarization. It also breeds a corresponding anarchist ideology tied to its liberal counterpart: the rejection (to varying degrees) of authority, intellectuals, elections, law, leadership, centralism, control, government, and/or “politics” more generally — in favor of decentralization, reaction, emotional catharsis, fetishization of “protest,” and local “communitarianism.” 

Needless to say, these are not the only people showing up to Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests. But neoliberal antiracists and their anarchist counterparts do form the majority or at least a plurality of what might be termed the “movement.” And they certainly drive the gist of its politics, its “strategy” and tactics, and its social media presence. 

I use quotes around a lot of words here — “disparity,” “representation,” “movement,” “strategy”... This is because I believe these to be flawed categories; PMC distortions of reality often serving the neoliberal ruling class (not necessarily consciously).

It is difficult to see the “strategy” that BLM takes as a whole (though there is great potential in some organizations, which typically devolves over time). There is not really a unified or long-term plan outside of performative acts such as “Say Their Names,” the confessionals of white guilt, firing a few police officers, the rioting, and the media spectacle. Even specific, political goals (e.g., “Abolish the Police”) are often short-sighted and lack regard for future strategy or the larger political-economic context. (And there is evidence of overwhelming rejection to the ideas of defunding police departments among African-Americans in general.)

The same problems were present within BLM in 2014-2016. They should have been critiqued for very similar reasons then, too. Unfortunately, it was and is because the ideology motivating a lot of the participation and organizations is empty, anarchist, or at its core the ruling neoliberal ideology. (And these problems are not new: Bayard Rustin made similar critiques of “Black Power” in 1966.)

The typical framing of “disparity” and “representation” by neoliberal antiracists, for example, serves really to privilege essentialist notions of race and gender and sexual orientation, while often raging against the unequal distribution of social “goods and bads” for these idealized groups (or “identities”). 

That framing — plus many other aspects of the “woke” university jargon and neoliberal ideology — serves a double-function. First, it offends and alienates constituencies which might otherwise unite with the causes of ending police violence and more systemic issues like poverty, which are both sources of great consternation for many white working class people. (This is even to an extent true of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag itself, though, of course, everyone should acknowledge that black people are “over-represented” in killings by about 2.5 times*, and a whole host of other discriminations and problems too.) 

*No time for sources yet, but I'll add a few later.

Secondly, it also normalizes capitalism and the elite’s power to shape the more general context of jobs, real estate, and government, contributing to the very problems BLM purports to want to solve. Neoliberal antiracists tend to dismiss this charge outright, as they claim to “always mention” the problems of “the system!” But simplistic concession is not enough; theoretical and especially pragmatic questions are critically important to real movement-building, as they have been throughout world history.

In any case, for those wishing to make progress within the confines of this system, they would have to look at the greater context in which police violence occurs. There are some states in the US — and strikingly many of them in the Southern “Black Belt,”** where police killings of poor whites are often roughly equal to police killings of black people, even adjusted to their proportions in the society. Nearly all police killings (95%) occur in areas where the per-capita annual income is less than $50,000 (median income less than $25,000). Some of these areas have more crime. 

** Expanded from Adolph Reed's 2017 data by double-checking with other sources.

These facts alone illustrate the problem with using “disparity” as an analytical lens. It also poses a positive practical question: Could this allow for a bridging of the gap between White and Black America on organizational lines? Is there something to be salvaged from the “All Lives Matter” retort so often dismissed as racist? 

Put differently, would more effective movements be built if they were of the sort that organize around broad working-class constituencies and concrete questions? Building consensus as opposed to assuming pre-existing blocs? And can they move beyond “disruption” and gain power and effect change in the way the most influential Civil Rights leaders like MLK and Bayard Rustin envisioned? (It is a little discussed fact that the most pressure against civil rights leaders on a national scale began when MLK and others expanded their outreach to create broader coalitions.)

The gut-level response of the neoliberal antiracists to this question has so often been a resounding “No!” 

In fact, very often, these ideas are dismissed as somehow “implicitly racist” in themselves; very often they are slandered falsely as “class-reductionist.” Very often analogies to movements of the past are shouted down with “We’ve been there done that!” and sometimes even “Nonviolence is not the answer!” Serious concerns about the short-term consequences of rioting or the long-term evolution of anarchistic tendencies, concerns about supposedly “good” policy outcomes or tactics, are dismissed as “lacking empathy” for the causes or for “genocide” or “existential threats!” 

Not only is none of this the case, I would argue, but these “counterarguments” and insistence on hyperbolic rhetoric are little more than masks for a race-essentialist, identitarian, neoliberal class politics. They are a “class reductionism” of their own! They constitute a politics whose practical consequence is the division and further subdivision of the working masses and the (smaller) middle class. And this politics is neatly aligned with a large section of the ruling class’s agenda and the agenda of their capitalist/imperialist lackeys in the Democratic Party. 

So co-opting (by Democrats, so-called “anti-Trump” politicians, Hong Kong separatists, cops, the rich, etc.) is not only a “risk” movements of this kind face; it is a direct result of the kind of decentralization and class politics it espouses and represents. This is just an inevitable invitation to co-optation! 

It is therefore predictable that almost the entirety of the media apparatus (both corporate news media and manipulated social media), including much of the elites that own and operate them, all show sympathy for or outright endorse these protests. Should this not be looked at with suspicion? 

A significant section of the ruling class elite has for decades wished for diminishing the role of the State in education, services, and policing — precisely in favor of privatization and profit. The ruling class near-unanimously supports both the corruption and the dismantling of labor unions generally, a key factor in the disenfranchisement of people of color and the sharpening of inequality! Like it or not, the AFL-CIO (which has been attacked both rhetorically and now evidently a targeted burning of an AFL-CIO building during riots last week) and police unions (many of whom are people of color) are part of that picture too, issues of entrenchment and racism aside.  

So initial solutions that might be effective would have to see any tactics and organizing within this broader context and have a strategically calculated, long-term vision. Anarchism (in the general sense I defined above) must be rooted out, as it is a pitfall of real organization. Dismantling a specific system like police militarization or mass incarceration is alright so long as there is unity on how to do it, what to replace it with, how to maintain that new order, and how to maintain momentum and accountability to the working class majority.

Unfortunately, I do not yet see these features. Some good may yet come out of it, such as the punishment of officers involved in needless brutality and killing, many reforms at the state or municipal level, and a profound change in the bravery and political consciousness of our nation’s people. (Good only when limitations are understood and change can be effected without violence/suffering for others.) The same was said of the rise of BLM in 2014-2016. But the fear is that this will not result in any drastic change to the status quo nor will it build any strategic momentum. Indeed, many of the BLM leaders from 2014-2016 appear themselves to have been assassinated! I haven't looked far enough into this, but even "reputable" (traditional) national news sources have made this claim about Ferguson, Missouri BLM organizers.

I believe the alternative implied by this critique is somewhat obvious, at least in broad outline. Attempts to effectively solve the most issues would need to start with wide, broader-spectrum, and centralized membership organizations accountable to the working class. They would need to start with a clear set of strategic, attainable policy goals with a vision toward building momentum. Unfortunately, there are deep-rooted oppositional forces and predictable reactions from the ruling class to be watched for, and defended against. So there should never be violence of course, although this is typical of ruling class reactions when cornered. But infiltration and sabotage and false flags are even trickier to watch for. They would need to bridge as many gaps as possible, rejecting essentialisms, rejecting the quasi-religious narratives of “Original Sin,” (not in a religious sense, but the idea of unrequited guilt over slavery, lynchings, civil rights abuses, etc.) rejecting hyperbolic or exclusionary rhetoric, and rejecting the politics of the PMC and the ruling class.

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1 hour ago, JW Insider said:

I have never posted a Twitter video before. (Hope this works)

Nah, you screwed it all up. But behind the scenes, I contacted JTR and he made it right for you. “Is he doing more ‘heavy lifting,‘” he said. “Is he ever!” I replied.

I haven’t seen Tucker and I haven’t yet read your post thoroughly. I will. One thing that I noticed:

50 minutes ago, JW Insider said:

where police killings of poor whites are often roughly equal to police killings of black people, even adjusted to their proportions in the society.

I spoke to a retired military man in field service who told me how he had felt a great sense of responsibility for those under his command. For some reason, in these racially charged days, you always have to say if someone was white or black. He was black. He spoke to how in police recruiting today a military background was a large factor—sometimes the only factor—that was taken under consideration for hire. This was true even of those who had had serious discipline problems. “You don’t think that if they are discipline problems in the military, they might not be ideal for civilian policing?” he said.

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On 6/9/2020 at 6:54 PM, TrueTomHarley said:

He spoke to how in police recruiting today a military background was a large factor—sometimes the only factor—that was taken under consideration for hire.

And it's amazing how much heavy military equipment is being sold even to small towns over the last decade especially. I guess it makes the [recent military] recruits feel more comfortable? I suspect it also puts them in mind of how they needed to respond with heavy lethal force just a few months prior in some cases [in other countries]. Easy to imagine a new interview question when hiring police recruits: Can you fire a tank?

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I think a lot of people are surprised at the global spread of the protests and rioting. What might be even more surprising is the support by many media outlets, not just of the protests, but also supporting the rioting and destruction. MLK is quoted where he said that 'riots are the language of the oppressed.' (Which cherry-picks the quote out of MLK's context that did NOT support rioting.) It's also odd that all this happens in the midst of Covid19, which has disproportionately killed more African-Americans than police have for the last 100 years. Yet, there is no protest about the languishing response to that particular part of the Covid19 problem.

Another odd thing to notice about BLM is that one of their major contributors is from a CIA-backed organization. For those who might think this is just a conspiracy, the Ford Foundation has already admitted to giving more than $100,000. The CIA.org website reviews a book called "The Cultural Cold War" sometimes critiquing and sometimes accepting the author's claims:

She also does a fine job in recounting the intriguing story of how the CIA worked with existing institutions, such as the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, and established numerous "bogus" foundations to "hide" its funding of the Congress for Cultural Freedom and its other covert activities.  

In truth, the Ford Foundation has a long history with the CIA, especially post-WW2 through today. The New Yorker admits a connection, of sorts:

The Ford Foundation . . . The left thought that it was propping up the status quo, and was probably a front for the C.I.A. to boot (and, in fact, the C.I.A. was using other foundations for covert funding).

Books, websites, (in some cases even those written by persons involved with the Ford Foundation) admit to the intended effect of hiring CIA recruits and supporting CIA projects. Summaries of some of these activities are easily found, and not even denied:

Ford Foundation, a philanthropic facade for the CIA

by Paul Labarique

Between 1947 and 1966 the Ford Foundation played a key role in the network of US interference in Europe through the subvention of magazines, scientific programs and non-communist left-wing organizations. The largest philanthropic organization in the world was in fact providing a respectful facade for CIA financial and contact operations. This role was even more possible by the fact that the same persons designed and directed both organizations.

Also here:

James Petras, retired Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York, and adjunct professor at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, wrote a damning article on September 18, 2002, exposing the Ford Foundation’s sinister choice of beneficiaries of its donations. He accused the CIA of using “philanthropic foundations as the most effective conduit to channel large sums of money to Agency projects without alerting the recipients to their source”.

A quick search on Google shows that even the Washington Post has made the connection as recently as 2018:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/act-four/wp/2018/08/22/the-cia-funded-a-culture-war-against-communism-it-should-do-so-again/

The CIA funded a culture war against communism. It should do so again.

Magazines like Der Monat and English-American literary-political journal Encounter were not the only activities supported by nonprofit pass-throughs such as the Farfield Foundation and the Ford Foundation. The CIA-backed Congress for Cultural Freedom brought the Boston Symphony to Europe (at the cost of $166,359.84 . . .

It can be just as hard to guess what the CIA's thinking is about BLM. But, based on past uses and abuses of philanthropic organizations, the surreal response should be looked at with some suspicion.

Oh wait, did I promise I wouldn't say things like:  "but the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one"? Or,  "They are, in fact, expressions inspired by demons and they perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the entire inhabited earth, to gather them together to the war of the great day . . ."

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On 6/15/2020 at 10:41 PM, TrueTomHarley said:

The quote is not mine, but I wish it were:

Future historians will be asked what quarter of 2020 did they specialize in.

For me though I kind of knew it was about to go down in 2020. These groups on the far-left and right were going nuts since 2017 and as the months and years go by, tie tension increases, the civil war talks return and a list of other things.

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