keeping this post near top fer reasons. see the post above.
In June last year, I began working on how I write about whiteness, white power, capitalism, and anti-capitalism mainly to develop concepts that are central to a manuscript I’m working on. Immediately, I was engaged by two groups of tumblr bloggers: libertarians and social justice bloggers. Neither appreciate my representations of free market capitalism and white social justice activists. Too bad, right.
I’ve received several requests for a post with links to what I’ve written. This is not everything, but it includes the posts where I work on concepts I think are significant.
I’m into revision, so I’ve edited and proofed and added a little here and there, but this is mostly as it was posted. You can use this long post if you like as each entry is present after “Read More”, or save the individual links. I’ll add to it as people help me find things I’ve written that they’d like included.
- dagNotes: Notes On Whiteness, White Power, Capitalism & Anti-Capitalism
- On Crass Libertarianism (a vehicle for white supremacist capitalist society)
- dagNotes: A little bit on how I see privilege and white power working, even in Korea
- White Power 101: White Privilege Denial Discourse
- Why it’s racist. In one sentence.
- (On why colorblindness is white supremacist.)
- To Ziggystardyke: On Being White
- dagNotes: The reason I wrote “White is not a skin color”
- dagAsk: Three Lessons
- Possessive Whiteness
- 11A. Possessive Whiteness and Liberals:
- dagNotes: on writing about whiteness
- My Super-Post on Crass Libertarianism, Liberty, Ideology, Ron Paul fans
1. From June 23rd, 2011:
Bear with me fleshing out some language.
This is the mistake they* make: that whiteness is a quality we can sense, that it’s in some significant way material. That we can examine it and eradicate it without transforming society. It’s talked about like it’s a simple sin, a mistake, a form of revisionism, or an act, sometimes rising to a crime. We use words like transparent and opaque. We excuse its appearance as careless at best, mistaken at worse. We outline it as if it were a structure, like an organized cell.
Whiteness and white power are now you see it now you don’t like part of a tacky magician’s act: white power is the reappearing thing itself, whiteness the object pulled out of a hat. Or, the result of birth. As in, I was born this way. What can I do about it? For whites, it’sa matter of rhetoric. Or worse, I’m not white. I’m free from guilt. I can do no wrong. Or, the not-white other who can actually claim he’s the hope himself for change simply for being not-that and nothing else.
White power isn’t material. It’s cultural. It’s in the spirit of place: Great Britain, America, Europe. It hovers above the wreck of The Enlightenment. It infuses western religion with a sense of dominion over human being. It’s power is an idea that people have faith in but cannot utter. It’s a refusal as much as it is testimony or plan. It resists its own narrative but calls on the narrative of its individual constituents for proof of their allegiance to a man-made purpose. Seek self-help. Confess your sins. Do it alone.
Whiteness is powerful in the same manner Capital is self-valorizing. It’s the result of doing being. We let it happen because it’s how we tell the story of Nature organizing human action. It’s History itself. We shouldn’t romanticize it, manipulate it, look at it as a tragic formation of ideas. It’s not the debris in the rear-view mirror. It’s always already forgotten. It’s essential to character and habit. Yet, it’s a wreck after all. A mess.
On the other hand, it’s an order of being that instills within individuals a sense of duty to individualism—that’s right, it’s interpolative—that profits community regardless of location and direction. It’s purpose without purpose. It’s a dumb notion of Freedom based in the liberty to freely exploit. Dumb because it ignores the essential goal of its labor: to destroy everything first and then myself on behalf of an abstract value. It’s dumb because it ignores all science that it relies on in favor of the imaginary representations of reality in fanciful ideological formations. One wouldn’t be too mistaken to infer that individuals’ labor in white capitalist societies is to prove the value of its ideological assumptions about individual labor in white capitalist society.
White power is the will to expend everything first at the expense of a self. (It’s always My Self in relation to others.) Forget the stupid medieval notions of the sin in the king’s hoard—the old king who takes everything for himself condemning his realm to rot and ruin and finally becoming the festering dragon protecting its useless treasure. The capitalist’s goal is nothing less than a barren landscape heaped with useless gold coin. (Ron Paul, I’m thinking of you.) The white power mad capitalist has nothing to protect. His goal is nothing less than the purposeful extinguishing of all natural resources for nobody but himself.
I often wonder how anyone would think it’s possible for me to do everything I want for myself and benefit others by so doing. The notion that such human action is possible must be based in the idea the Nature as it organizes us will infinitely provide resources to expend. It’s patently stupid thought. This is the end of Ron Paul’s construction of Liberty, of Hayek’s spontaneous social order. It’s the Republican reason for stalling government to promote corporatism. It’s the hope behind Obama’s neoliberalism. It’s not “Yes We Can” after all, it’s “Yes You Should Have Some, Too”.
Fleshing out the character and habit of whiteness is one manner to better understand white power. We can see it, in a way. White power, on the other hand, is a part of the practice of contemporary capitalism. No matter where you find it, what’s most conspicuous about it is its whiteness-for-itself. Capitalism uses white power as a kind of warrant for the free market (like I’m a free man,) as if its promotion were the point all along, and by simply doing things in the free market is to not be a slave. Let’s be clear, white power is not for white people, it’s for everyone. It composes white subjects from all individuals who participate in capitalist culture, who live in capitalist society.
I suppose this is why to be anti-white power, to be anti-fascist, to be an environmentalist, to be anti-racist, to be feminist, is necessarily to be anti-capitalist. To say otherwise is to bargain with white power, to embrace white ideology and its absurd ideological framing of societies.
*”They” are capitalists: liberals, progressives, activists. Of course, conservatives, corporatists and fascists.
2. From September 18, 2011:
If the representation of the free market can be thought of as a basic metaphor for everyday life in capitalist society, then the liberal social order is its tenor—that thing that carries the complex drift of the metaphor—while crass libertarianism is its vehicle, its practice.
Morality is about what one ought to do, not what one has the right to do. That’s a major fucking mistake people make when talking about rights and ethics or morality. I have many rights I shouldn’t act on. Morality is the implement I use in reasoning my way through a series of actions.
In the conversation below, Christian seems to conflate liberty and freedom, freedom and choices, and morality and rights. (You can look back in the archives to see the complaint CK had, but it’s unnecessary.)
Whatever one can say about morality, we have an ethics that helps us determine our character and habit.
Lately I’ve been on about US libertarianism and its goal to promote an ethics that describes ideal human being as being free from others. We often use capitalist libertarians or libertarian capitalists or anarcho-capitalists (talk about a contradiction) or objectivism to speak about libertarianism. I understand many anarchists like to use the word and we want to distinguish the use from affiliation with American Libertarianism, which is capitalism using Austrian School economic theory. I think I’m going to start using crass libertarianism from now on.
For example: According to crass libertarianism, morality is a tool oppressed people use to impose their will on the ruling classes. Crass libertarians will often argue against “imposing your morality on me, dude.”
3. From December 22, 2011:
In my last post, I talked about the problem with white people coming to Korea and suddenly becoming conscious of race. Except, they don’t see white power and privilege, which is everywhere on display. They see racist Koreans.
Then, I received an anonymous ask shouting at me for being white and calling out white supremacists and racism. An obvious troll, but one who provides me with an opportunity to discuss why white people experiencing racism like the young woman in the former post are so misinformed.
I’m white. I argue I have a responsibility to betray my inherited privilege and unearned ambition. And not for any reward either. Simply because I, like everyone else, have an ethical obligation to fight the white power structure that constructs individuals as white subjects. White people don’t exist. It’s provocative, but for a reason. Whiteness is constructed and protected and inherited. I may be able to benefit most from this racist ideological apparatus that shapes capitalist society, but I should reject it. It’s a moral obligation, in my opinion.
And as some folks are claiming, I’m not doing this to point the finger at white privilege. I’m actually trying to examine how it works for myself and in my life, and I’m writing about it. DagSeoul isn’t a “white people are privileged” blog. So, please stop sending me stupid shit in my ask-box about that.
I don’t go around claiming I’ve experienced racism in the manner most white people do. Most talk about angry black people, hateful hispanics, crazy Koreans—jealous others whose envy for power causes them to hate their whiteness so much that they act in a racist manner. Of course, that’s utter nonsense. It’s bullshit. That’s not racism. Yelling at whiteness, hating whiteness, having a problem with white people isn’t always racist. It’s a sign of white power. It’s a response to white supremacy.
I play football almost every Saturday in Korea. I live in a Korean neighborhood, so all my teammates are Koreans. They’re all men. They’re almost all younger than me. I’m bigger than all of them. Stronger. I’m not the most skilled footballer, but I’ve played since 1978. I’ve got skill. I can score. I’m fast. I know and love the game. And, I can run all day. When a bald (I shave my head) and bearded white guy is booking down the field with the ball, it’s intimidating. A lot of Korean guys are super-fit and strong, but smaller than me. When I run into them at full speed, I feel it, but they really feel it. And I play a much more physical style of football than Koreans do. Fans of the game will understand this. Most guys love it when I show up with my Korean teammates to play. They talk to me on the field. It’s fun. But it’s not always fun.
When I first arrived, a colleague took me around to meet various clubs in the area. Word got around rather quickly that there was a foreigner who wanted to play and he was good. I got asked to play by my team. I was invited. I considered myself lucky. I really figured I’d have to find foreigners to play with, but I wanted so much to play with Koreans. It’s one of the reasons I was excited about coming here. Anyway, I felt accepted. In a few months, I had twenty-five younger brothers. It was a wonderful feeling.
One of the teams we regularly played often got very mad at my teammates that I was playing so well. It appeared that way to me. I didn’t get it. I’ve since learned that some Korean players think its unfair that they should have to play a foreigner. I’m big and strong and can hurt them. I don’t hurt them, but we’re talking intimidation here. I had so intimidated a couple of players that they couldn’t contain their frustrations any longer. After a day of playing together, they confronted me and my team. We almost had a brawl. My teammates were standing up for me. I was pulling guys away from one another. And one player on the other team yelled, “Yankee, Go home!” Some of us laughed. Some of my teammates wanted to fight. The oldest players stepped in and yelled at everyone. My wife had showed up to watch. She was very upset.
Simple story, right? I play. I play with Koreans. I play well. A little physical, but nothing dirty. I score goals. My team wins a lot. The frustrated players on the other team blame the foreigner for fucking up the peace. One guy says something insulting. Many white people would call it racist. Dude’s a hater. It’s not even racist.
Once, I parked my scooter in front of a cafe and the owner told me to move it somewhere else. She didn’t want it in front of her shop. I told her it was legal. She yelled at me for being a spoiled foreigner. Many white people would call it racist. But. It’s not even racist.
I’ve been involved in pushy moments in the crowded subway where I’ve been yelled at in Korean, called out as a rude foreigner. Many white people would call it racist. But. It’s not even racist.
Koreans who call me out for doing things Koreans often do and explicitly scolding me as a foreigner are often referred to by white people in Korea as racist Koreans. They’re not racists.
White people love to see racism against them. And why not. White power works that way. White people are raised to feel precious and deserving of good treatment. They deserve respect. Why would anybody pick on them because of who they are?
Fact is, there are haters in Korea. The longer I live here, on the other hand, the more I recognize my white privilege is in full effect here. And the rudeness with which I’m treated at times simply requires a little patience and understanding. This might sound patronizing, but it’s not. After all, I was brought here and treated well because of who I am, treated well in a manner that the majority of Koreans will never experience.
I’m often asked, Why would you come to Korea? Koreans talk about their country being no bigger than a booger (우리나라는 코딱지 만큼…) or no bigger than a palm (우리나라는 손바닥 만큼…). Why would I come to a place most Koreans can’t leave? Well, the answer is because I’m privileged. That’s the answer. The humiliating aspect of that answer is its correlation: I can leave whenever I want to. In other words, I can go home. I have a place to go other than here. I can return. That’s what Koreans see me as sometimes, but especially when they’re annoyed at me. They are confronted with privilege. And they sometimes take it out on me. It’s not racism. Try telling that to many white people in Korea, though.
I’d have to be a real dick to deny this privilege. That guy yelling “Yankee, go home” at me is reaching for something to say at all in the face of my belligerent presence in his life. He was being a dick, but he can’t speak English and he yelled the one insult in English he knew might hurt my feelings. The power he feels that oppresses him in a daily manner is a problem with Korean culture, centuries of oppression. Shit I don’t get. But I’ve added another element. Now he has to play soccer, on his day off, with a white guy who reminds him of a specific and painful lack of privilege and I’m going to knock him down, too. I’d be a dick not to expect some sort of response.
4. From December 26, 2011:
I’m observing a couple of arguments about white people and financial aid. I thought I’d add my two-cents about white privilege denial discourse. If you agree, please share. Add to it. This is not the simplest thing to address. We know it when we see it, but can’t always figure out how to betray the way it works.
Basically, it’s about context. White context, actually. I’m going to try to illustrate how white privilege deniers construct context in everyday discourse about privilege that is entirely white while denying its whiteness.
“It’s not fair that people of color get handouts when we have to pay so much. Where’s our handouts?” This is one of the most common denials of privilege. The old, we don’t get handouts, why do you line. It’s not only a denial of history and class and consciousness. It denies context. But it’s hard to point out because white privilege deniers always begin or introduce their claim in a way that universalizes their problem and levels discourse. In other words, the argument begins with a quick nod towards (in)equality. They will speak on behalf of all whites, sometimes all people, We don’t (all) get handouts or We don’t (all) get as much financial aid. The “We” is important not because of what it means, but because it will immediately disappear and be replaced with an “I”. However, the second-person plural “you” used to address people of color will remain. White is a dynamic social category in contrast with static categories for people of color. When a white privilege denier speaks, the “you” for the other is a representation of all similar others; it’s for all non-white others.
It’s about context with white power. White privilege deniers will insist when we (every human being) talk about others (people of color), we resist individual narratives and rely on general representations. White people will insist it’s common sense to do it that way. On the other hand, generalizing about white people is always considered unfair and typical. It makes sense (to white people) to insist we consider context when speaking about whites. It’s a way to admit white power is a problem without admitting their stake in it. White privilege deniers don’t want people to think they are bigots (because they are bigots.)
This is why a white person will say, “Why don’t I get handouts, when black people do?” Here, the first-person singular pronoun “I” is used in comparison to an entire population. In other words, the white individual is always already in context and, supposedly, oppressed by an entire population of non-white individuals. The white speaker constructs the oppression within the discourse. Or in special cases, like that white feminist the other day did, the white speaker will go so far to say, “I don’t identify as white.” In other words, “don’t call me white.” They will entirely deny all privilege and entitlement for themselves while criticizing others.
It’s good to call out white privilege denial. Do it every time. As a teacher, I do it in the classroom. It’s a necessity. Don’t let people get away with it.
5. December 31, 2011:
freebroccoli:“Every year new groups organize to demand their ‘rights.’ White people who organize and expect the same attention as other groups are quickly and viciously condemned as dangerous bigots. Hispanic, black, and Jewish caucuses can exist in the U.S. Congress, but not a white caucus, demonstrating the absurdity of this approach for achieving rights for everyone.”
Ron Paul (via theworldisconfused)
How is this racist again?
In one sentence: only white people turn discussions about civil rights for historically oppressed people into discussions of universal rights, or “rights for everyone”.
It’s explicitly white supremacist. I don’t expect you to accept what is obscene in Ron Paul’s social philosophy. But that’s why you exist—to defend the indefensible in white power.
Libertarianism is stupid. Ron Paul is a racist. Give up.
6. From January 10, 2012:
Anonymous asked: You’re white cause that’s how white people long ago chose to describe themselves. Just as they used to call Native Americans “red men” and refer to Asians as “the yellow plague” and named us black. I understand your sentiment it jives with the words and wishes of Dr. King, but “colorblindness” is something made up in order to avoid discussing issues that have to do with race and its impact on society. Even King didn’t want us to ignore reality. You seem like a nice person though :)
no no no. White is a legal construction. It’s not a habit. It’s not a name. It’s a legal construction, with a social component, whiteness, and a powerful ideological apparatus, white power. The colorblind position does nothing to reform white power society. It willfully ignores it.
7. From January 16, 2012:
8. From January 16, 2012:
Welcome to reality. We’d like to be the first to invite you to accept your privilege, to resist denying it, and to begin betraying it. I’m sure you’re going to receive a lot of hate for your hasty rant. I don’t know if it’s all deserved, but your post is troubling.
Often for white youth, the first feelings about coping with racism (white supremacy) are to reject the feeling of guilt and to say, “I have done nothing wrong.” This is a common reaction. You can do three things:
1. You can repress the guilt and move on with life pretending nothing’s different. This is a popular option. Every so often, you’ll feel your repressed white privilege bubble up, usually in conversation with others, and you’ll deny your privilege by claiming, I’m not guilty of anything. Of course, you are white. It’s not about guilt. It’s not about being incorrect. It’s about repression. To make this choice is to deny privilege exists. In other words, it’s a lie.
2. You can take the inauthentic guilt and transform that emotion, the excess energy it creates, and combine it with your need to express yourself, and direct that into something positive for everyone. You can betray your privilege and do what you can to insist that you will neither actively nor passively participate in white power. In other words, you’ll attempt to consistently reject a bargain with white power.
3. You can do what you did in your post. You can strike out at others who betray white power. You can become proud about your whiteness. Unfortunately, white is not an actual ethnic identity. It’s cultural, for sure, but it’s a cultural history of oppression and immoral power. Whiteness is a cultural constructions that insists to be white you must participate in a bargain with white power and that you permit white ideology to construct you as a white subject as it constructs all other individuals. To participate in this bargain is to willingly subjugate yourself to a racist history and to accept an unearned inheritance of privilege by virtue of nothing more than your skin color. The more you willingly participate in it, the more racist you become, no matter how much you believe in individual liberty and equality.
Both options 1 and 3 are racist positions. The second option, while it doesn’t guarantee you aren’t going to be a racist, is the only option that permits you to critically examine in community with others white power and white supremacy. It’s our only shot at equality, in my opinion.
That’s about it. It’s rather simple. There’s a ton of literature out there we can share with you to help you learn about whiteness and white power. It’s a powerful tool that destroys equality very simply: people do not want to betray it because it’s much easier to deny it exists.
Think about it. Let’s talk. Your rant doesn’t make a lot of sense when you think about the unexamined aspects of whiteness you must embrace to make your claim about homophobia and equality.
I understand that a lot of people of all different kinds of ethnic origins are angry at the way white people treated their ancestors / are still treating them.
As a white person, I will never be able to fully understand how awful it must be to be subjected to racism.
However, that does not give anyone the right to turn the racism on white people. It does not give you the right to spout complete shit, generalising white people and making us all out to be heartless cunts. Fuck you.
I am a white, English teenager. I believe with every fibre of my being that every person on earth is completely equal, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, religion, etc.
It is just as unfair for you to judge me by the colour of my skin as it would me to judge you by yours. I am not a facist. I am not a asshole. I am not to be held accountable for the horrendous things my ancestors did to yours.
This racism is just as damaging as any other kind, and I’m fucking sick of it. It might not be as blatant as black kids getting stabbed in London, and Muslim women having their veils ripped off in Leicester, but it still hurts. I spend every single day fighting back against the racist bullshit my white peers come up with; trying to get them to stop saying using slurs like ‘paki’ and educate them about immigration.
White people aren’t all bad. In fact, most of us are quite nice and want equality just as much as you.
Oh and also, if you’re anti-racism but not anti-homophobia then you’re a bigoted cunt. How can you be against one kind of inequality but not another?
9. January 18, 2012:
Anonymous asked you: “Whiteness is what you say it is, but it is also a skin color, no?”
Anonymous asked you: “What is ‘white’? Define it, please. Honest question.”
“White is not a skin color.” When I write this, white people scratch their heads and complain. Why would a white guy say this? They ask. I’ve deleted as many anonymous asks as I’ve attempted to answer. If you’ve been reading my blog over the last 48 hours, you’ll notice I’ve been dealing with white people who have a problem with the statement. Some anons are being genuine, like the second ask above. Some people are confused, like the first ask. What is white? Others are being dense. Others are just bigots.
I don’t know why this is so hard to understand. Many people with many different kinds of skin colors are referred to as white. I am white. That identity has almost nothing to do with the actual color of my skin. I’m trying to make a point about what white-ness is.
What is essential to being white? In the US, the Supreme Court used to argue who was and wasn’t white for purposes of citizenship because until rather recently only white immigrants could become US citizens. People born in the US are citizens. If you wanted to naturalize, you had to be a “free white”. Look at Ozawa v United States (1922) and read about the Oriental Exclusion Act of 1927. The US would permit Asian American children to be citizens because they were born in the US but refused to permit Asian immigrants to naturalize. White by Law is the book on this subject. I wrote about it yesterday.
Looking at the legal construction of “free white” in the United States is significant because we learn that white is something people claim they can see but actually has to do with things other than biological classifications. In Thind v United States (1923), the Supreme Court deemed Asian Indians ineligible for citizenship because U.S. law allowed only free whites to become naturalized citizens. But Indians were considered Caucasians. Certainly, Thind had a point. Right? The court conceded that Indians were “Caucasians” and that anthropologists considered them to be of the same race as white Americans, but argued that “the average man knows perfectly well that there are unmistakable and profound differences.” “Unmistakable” might have to do with looking, but “profound”? Fucking straight up racist shit there. This caused major problems for all Asians who were now certainly not citizens, even if their children were. The process of losing your citizenship is called (without irony, of course,) denaturalization. That’s right. One day you’re legally white, naturalized of course, the next you’re profoundly and unmistakably not white, nor have you ever been. Some of these denaturalized people owned land in places like California. But there were laws prohibiting non-citizens from owning land. Guess what happened. There are many stories like this about the white majority fretting over who is actually white.
In addition, white is an indentity that people often claim and for different reasons are accepted as white—this happens to Asians all the time—or consistently rejected—“Hispanics”, in the US, have never been permitted to identify as white. In addition, there is the complex issues surrounding passing white. A ton of literature out there about passing. And we know, on tumblr, there are many white social justice bloggers, especially feminists, who will claim they aren’t white. How do they get this power? White people are instilled with the notion that race for others is a concrete reality, but for them a simple matter of identification. “I’m not white. I’m German.” “I don’t identify as white.” Oh LUXURY! To be able to not identify as white.
White is a real problem. White is there. I am white, right. But what does it mean to be white? It most certainly doesn’t mean my skin pigmentation is closer to it than others.
All this said. I’m assuming you’ll do a little fucking homework and not be consistently dense. The point I’m making when I write “White is not a skin color” is to reinforce that white is not a biological reality. You want to bang your head against the wall about the artificial and unjust construction of whiteness over the centuries, then go ahead and have a petty existential crisis about it. It won’t change the social realities. Only white people ever complain about this kind of discussion and this kind of point. I’m not sympathetic. If I can do it, so can you.
Part of the problem with whiteness is that it’s difficult to define. The power structure that composes individuals as white subjects is transparent and intangible, yet it feels concrete. As the Supreme Court of the US used to argue, you know white when you see it. The question is what are you seeing?
10. January 27, 2012:
seltaire asked you: “There was a phrase you used called ‘betraying white privilege’ - what do you mean by that?”
I use it in a specific context. I have had to learn three things. Bear with me. I was thinking about how to answer your question and wanted to say three things. I haven’t written this down before. So, it’s likely to be a little rough.
I had to learn how to listen and observe. As a writing teacher, I can promise you that white people often do not know how to listen and observe without relying on highly constructed white-notions of reality. Constructed whiteness is an imagined reality that instructs us how to understand what we observe. It’s like a White Super Ego. I began learning how to observe when I was a young child in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the 1970s. Observing overt racism, overt Christian bigotry and sectarianism, overt white power, overt hate and listening to the responses to those things from all people involved helped me learn how to see whiteness in a critical way even at a young age. I have had a distinct distrust of my whiteness since elementary school. Nevertheless, this is an ongoing lesson. It’s not as if this lesson will ever end.
I had to learn how to resist feeling guilty when confronted with the social problems white power and whiteness are responsible for cultivating and encouraging. I’m white, but when we talk about whiteness, I don’t make the discussion about me. To knee-jerk an emotional response and to wallow in guilt is never appropriate. To be white is not to be guilty of something. And this is a significant lesson. To resist guilt is to be able to remain engaged with the discourse. To dwell in guilt is to personalize the problems. It encourages a ME and THEM paradigm for examining whiteness and people of color. It reinstates the traditional white power structure, I’d argue, reinforces it.
I had to learn to resist denial. The third lesson is the most important of the three and actually unites the lessons. You cannot have learned the value of one of the three without having learned the other two. They go together; they inform each other. I can say “that’s not me,” but I cannot become not-white. I inherited a privilege I cannot lose and simple rejection is useless. Many social justice whites deny their whiteness, which is a simple rejection. We see it on tumblr all the time. “I don’t identify as white.” Quite frankly, denial is a response to feeling guilty, which is why these folks will also almost always claim that people simply want them to admit some sort of guilt.
While we should not deny whiteness, we can betray it. That takes honesty and a commitment to participate in discourse where, though my voice is welcome, it’s not the essential voice. My voice is useful only in common with a chorus of other voices. And white people forget this because they cling to racist notions of what it means to be an individual.
Betraying white privilege, for me, is the one thing that keeps me honest in discourse about justice, equality, liberty, freedom, civil disobedience, rights, ethics, et al. Betraying white privilege is to resist denial and guilt. I will often write “we need to betray whiteness rather than deny it.”
11. January 2, 2012:
What is it about white people that makes them take talking about whiteness and white supremacy so personally that whenever I write a post about either, I get a note about how mean I am to white people?
This is what I call possessive whiteness. I witness it most often in social justice circles, in communities where white people believe their association with others absolves them from benefiting from and profiting from their whiteness. Not merely asbolves them, but prevents them, as if their poc friends form some sort of shield that makes them no longer white. (Reminds me of that scene in Invisible Man where we consider how a little black is added to the paint to make it white.) It’s a possessive whiteness because when whiteness becomes the issue, it’s the one thing about themselves they won’t betray. (See tumblr feminist community where it happens all the fucking time.)
I’m talking about ideology, power structures and racists. Not you, but about you.
Fact is, if you’re white and unwilling to betray your privileged whiteness, you need to wake up and think about what it means to passively accept a bargain with white power. “Not identifying as white” is being a white supremacist. If you’re white and refuse to admit and deny your privilege altogether, then you’re part of the problem. It’s that simple.
White liberals (and libertarians, for that matter,) will always insist, “We’re all oppressed,” which is a way to say, no one is oppressed. After all, white power insists on personal responsibility and individuality. Whiteness is the reliance on community while denying its existence.
12. From March 25, 2012:
Here’s something that’s very important for bloggers to remember when they attempt to write about whiteness. It’s a problem that tumblr social justice bloggers almost always ignore. I’d say, they’re are either willfully ignorant about this basic problem or woefully naive. Whatever the reason, it’s the source of so many problems with discourse about whiteness and privilege on tumblr.
1. When we write about whiteness, we write about a way individuals, who may or may not be “white”, are composed as white subjects.
2. When we write about people of color, we write about individuals who are people of color.
Do you see the problem?
Here’s the deal. If you don’t see the problem, you’re likely participating in white supremacy, which is seeing the world, thinking about it, as a white subject (whether or not you’re white).
13. December 13, 2011:
I got sick a couple of weeks ago and forgot that one of my favorite trolls is wishing me mad death and napalmings and such. So, for my new followers, I thought I’d repost some highlights of what got me in trouble with the logical positivists, the Ron Paul fans, and their hysterical apologists. (Any bisexual snark is reserved for Leon.)
I began writing about libertarianism this summer. Somewhere in my archives, you can find me struggling to discuss capitalist libertarianism, trying to come to terms with what to call it. I settled on “crass libertarianism.” About that time, I began being trolled by Ron Paul fans, logical positivists, and anarcho-capitalists. Most of them have given up reblogging my posts because I insisted that if they wanted to talk about capitalism and libertarianism, even positivism, that they’d need to begin referring to the actual theories and theorists, rather than giving me some shit paraphrased from mises.org.
For my new followers, this thinking about crass libertarianism is not all I write about. I’m into critical race theory. I write a lot about whiteness and white supremacy. Also, about pedagogy. I also post about what I’m listening to and a few other things. I love conversation, so always feel free to leave an ask…
1. US Libertarianism is in hate with itself
Libertarianism, from anarcho-capitalism to objectivism, denies social being yet depends on its formation (namely, society,) for its denial, its rhetoric, its discourse. They are the only social political movement I know of that denies itself as part of its ideological representation of reality.
I wrote this earlier on The Weight of Emptiness:
2. Ron Paul, Ideologist
If freedom is “taking your own risks,” then freedom for Paul has nothing to do with the libertarian sacred cow, Liberty. Freedom is being free from others, and nothing more. Liberty becomes a rhetorical object embodying this being with(out) others.
Not only is Ron Paul a capitalist ideologist. He’s an aristocrat with a compulsion to cultivate the traditional white power structure.
I write “ideologist” in combination with the tag “libertarianism is stupid” for many reasons, but each reason rests with(in) the most stupid thing libertarians like Ron Paul discuss: regulation. (I believe this is why he is nothing more than a common Republican.)
If what I’ve illustrated in many posts about Paul, anarcho-capitalism, and American libertarianism is true, that Liberty for libertarians is the ability to be more or less free from others, then this social and political movement, from capitalist anarchists to fascist objectivists, is about nothing less than insuring regulations only exist to compose citizens as free individuals who must be free from others. We could make this ethical and bring in “ought to be”: the libertarian ethos is focused on regulating society to compose citizens as free individuals who should be free from others. And people are more or less free from others dependent upon their status. This is a must because libertarians believe individuals should be status-seeking.
In nature, an individual is never being free-from-others. (This is being as a noun; “free from others” modifies it.) In markets, a consumer is never consuming free from others. In society, a citizen is never living free from others. This free from others is an ideological construction. In other words, it is imaginary. As such, it is a highly regulated representation of reality that relies on ancient and aristocratic notions of the city and citizens. Libertarianism is not to be confused with a new movement that is looking forward in its progressivism, say that’s represented in the current, growing Occupy Movement. It’s the old order of wealthy and privileged elites who wish to define the best we can be via a highly idealized vision of past orders.
I do believe that libertarianism is stupid enough to refuse to understand that the core of its own complex ideological structure calls out for a very narrow construction of what is intended to be seen as a free and public discourse community regulated to reflect an ideal version of nature, market and society that has never existed. It’s not that they believe their own representations of reality as the only reality that’s problematic. That’s just common fundamentalism we cope with in free societies and marginalize as anti-intellectual. It’s that they wish to force everyone else to live according to their rules. So much for liberty and freedom.
Anyone who denies social and shared good(s) exist separate from economic good(s), as crass libertarians do, is a very dangerous kind of fundamentalist. Libertarians are tricky because they use the anti-intellectual knee-jerk response to the words “liberty” and “freedom” to offer cover for their elitism. We live in a capitalist market economy that’s ideally free. But what free means in the capitalist free market is free to exchange goods and services. Unfortunately, we also have a money economy. As we all know, the money economy rather unjustly limits freedom in all communities within society to those individuals who have more money than others. Even Adam Smith had to handle this ethical problem of unjust social standing he referred to as unearned ambition.
Libertarians have no ability to cope with the unjust money economy. It’s why they hold equality in contempt. In addition, they conflate the money economy with nature via a constructed term Hayek called the spontaneous social order, and I often call the liberal social order. This is where aristocracy enters via another construction from Greek, the catallaxy. Supposedly, you can’t make enemies into friends without exchanging money for goods and services—in other words, without trade across borders.
A libertarian can’t talk to you about these things. Go ahead and try.
3. Why I hate Ludwig Von Mises
It’s simple. To take Mises’s work on human action seriously, I’d have to first admit that capitalism is natural and that democracy depends on its unregulated function. Second, I’d have to admit that I’m much better described as a consumer than a citizen. Mises’s theory was constructed to justify a society’s use of death and the threat of death for billions who are not US citizens. It’s theory developed to make socialism appear to lead to communism as democracy leads to capitalism. It’s opposed to the concept of a general shared good. It’s constructed to reward unearned ambition and inheritance as a natural right. In other words, it’s constructed to eradicate discussions about equality in human society. In this manner, it’s highly aristocratic.
To contrast capitalism and communism the way Mises and his followers do—that the latter is natural and the former is artificial—is troubling. First and most important, it’s rhetoric. It really doesn’t mean anything to those who don’t believe it. In this manner, it’s a fiction. In my opinion, it illustrates a major flaw with much of the cold war era’s theory about liberty and capitalism. It’s a critical attitude towards humanity that illustrates human being (human action) as the natural recipient of something we created, namely capitalism. Mises struggles, as do other capitalist theorists like Hayek, to find the source of capitalism in human society and as a result of nature. That’s where catallaxy and catallactic come from: the idea that the unregulated exchanging of goods and services peacefully and justly organizes society as the result of a spontaneous social order that results from the unregulated exchange. That’s a fucking fiction. It’s white fiction about the earliest days of organized human society when we are taught we became civilized. (You know, son, that business is the cornerstone of civilization. Trade. Free trade. Without it, civilization would end. Get the fuck out of here with that nonsense.)
Capitalism is a highly regulated economic system. To insist it’s part of nature (the liberal social order) is interesting, but suspect. Moreover, it explicitly demonizes a significant aspect of human being, shared good and the impulse to seek it out—in other words, the impulse to address inequality, to organize our lives, our communities, our society. It’s hard to to take seriously a moral system for economic being that constructs a complex and artificial framework for human being that insists we pretend it’s natural while at the same time denigrating the one thing it accepts we naturally seek to do.
It’s hard not to see Mises as a cold warrior. In this manner, he’s a hero to some, I suppose. But to what end? His works hold no answers for growing poverty and corruption. For him, we are all consumers of products produced by entrepreneurs who listen to our wishes. That’s really it, that’s his theory of demand. We want what we buy because what we buy is produced to satisfy what we want by really smart rich guys. That’s fucking insane stuff.
We have the ideal theorist for an idealized capitalist society fueled by white power and white fiction about the wealthy white man and his just inheritance of everything he stole.
4. Crass Libertarian-isms: Liberty
Liberty, for crass libertarians, is a rhetorical tool.
Liberty reflects what the individual observing it sees as any thing, process, and/or state of being that makes one feel free of obligation, duty and responsibility—these three often being most responsible for citizens’ anxiety and dread in public.
Liberty is a rhetorical tool designed to make one think about freedom while being educated about how to behave in a capitalist market.
Liberty looks like it has roots in a historical tradition of republicanism and democracy and sounds in tune with capitalism. They appear to go hand in hand.
Liberty is, however, a shape-shifting placeholder for one’s desire to be free from others while laboring with them. It justifies one’s own slavery while excusing others’. Liberty, therefore can be seen as a Capitalist’s ideal form of Cooperation.
Liberty reminds people of an idea they think they share. But the idea was constructed to look old, treasured, lost and recoverable. Liberty has been designed by capitalist economists and libertarian theorists to appear just out of reach. If you have not the liberty you want, it’s because you haven’t worked hard enough, or because the government is keeping you down.
Liberty is part of the white power tradition in the United States.
When listening to a political leader, public official, and/or community organizer using Liberty to organize any effort, think twice before trusting him. (Him is appropriate here. Liberty is part of white masculinity. It’s almost always heterosexist.) They’re working in a tradition of white power, imperialism and capitalist economic theory—theory that justifies unearned poverty, war and slavery of others—that justifies the unearned ambition of the wealthiest members of society. Capitalist Libertarians are always anti-socialist, anti-anarchist. They are statists.
5. On Crass Libertarianism Wealth Redistribution:
When you talk to a capitalist about taxes and government spending, inevitably the capitalist will want to begin speaking about wealth. A common conversation is that we, as in our government acting on behalf of citizens, should be promoting (spending on and investing in) wealth creation not wealth redistribution. Never mind that the claim is unreasonable. Specifically, business owners, entrepreneurs and employers in general do not create wealth. Wealth is a capitalist word that is supposed to be a synonym with value. Wealthy people do not create value. We know how value works, but wealth, you know, is the root in wealthy. So, wealth and the wealthy go together. It’s just common sense. Right? Don’t get pulled into a discussion with such shitty use of common sense and language.
When you hear wealth, you should always insist the conversation returns to labor and value. That’s the most important thing. Capitalists do not want to talk about value. Capitalists want to argue that wealthy people create demand. We know that spending creates demand, but again, capitalists will not want to talk about spending. Capitalists will not want to talk about the fact that money in the hands of the poor is much more stimulative than money in the hands of the rich. Why? Well, for example, capitalist libertarians like to believe that 1$ wealthy people spend is worth more than 1$ poor people spend. It’s that simple. It’s an absurd debate to get into. Always insist the conversation turn to labor and value. Bring the conversation from spending, debt, and wealth back to the basic relationship between the employer and employee.
You’ll discover that the capitalists aren’t capable of discussing value and labor because they typically don’t know what they’re talking about. They haven’t done their homework. They’re simply repeating propaganda.
See also my post from last week. I wrote:
5%, in the US, consume 80% of the capital gains income. That income is taxed at 50% of what it would taxed at if it were normal income. 1% control 40% of that capital gains income. In other words, most US citizens don’t have any access to the wealth their labor produces and a few take advantage of all that labor for their own benefit without having earned it.
When you hear a conservative or libertarian talk about personal responsibility, you’re listening to somebody fighting for the cause of the wealthiest and whitest citizens and against the well-being of the majority of citizens who have no access to it now, nor historically ever have. Personal responsibility really means work that others should do so I can continue to benefit from it and it only applies to privileged individuals who can afford to profit from others’ labor.
If you don’t see the class warfare against the poor, you’re an asshole and an idiot.