( – promoted by buhdydharma )
Exploitation Capitalism takes more forms than you can imagine. In writing “Clueless Class” I began to brush the surface of just how deep, just how ingrained our thinking is, so much so, that some on the “Left” went ballistic defending their well-to-do Investment Class Liberalism.
Skimming the quagmire that is all things I/P on dKos, and a few other putrid places I loathe to admit being an occasional voyeur to, I ran headlong into one of the biggest mental fortresses that both the left and right share.
In essence? It is the idea that “we” should be able to live where ever “we” want to, and look how much “better off” this place is because of us! It is about “enclaves” and “neighborhoods” and walls, both concrete and economic. It’s about cultural appropriation and cultural segregation. It’s about tourism and settlements, and the exceptionalism so ingrained in our psyches we cannot possibly objectively view the impact of our thinking. Its about gentrification by “cheap living” and ultimately about the colonialist mindset that we damn in history, but refuse to admit is still alive and thriving within our Western Mindset.
It’s mostly about melanin and birds of a feather and cages both illusory and real.
In a heart-rending piece called Welcome to the Zoo, Audrey Farber writes of her neighborhood.
My neighborhood is condescendingly? patronizingly? affectionately? referred to in Lonely Planet as “Haifa’s grizzled old Christian-Arab quarter” and all signs (literally) point to it being maintained as such to lend the city an air of authentic Middle Eastern-ness, as long as it stays within its confines and preset boundaries. This is where the tourists go to get a taste of the old-school Middle East, a little Arab flavor in a Jewish-only melting pot. It is smack dab in the middle of one of Israel’s few examples of pseudo-co-existence; one of the only places the Israeli government could stomach such a blatant display of the persistent existence of non-Jewishness. Throwing a tired old gnawed-out bone to all the civil rights defenders out there: look at our diversity!
This community is stuck inside its bars, fed scraps of economic opportunity to pacify it but never allowed to forget that it is not equal in the eyes of the state.
Israeli exceptionalism stands a bit apart from American exceptionalism, in the fact its segregation is usually marked with “Jewish Only” signs, fences, walls and enforced at gunpoint. The new “settlements” in the Palestinian side of Jerusalem do not allow Palestinians to live within their communities, let alone use the roads.
Were East Jerusalem to be included in a Palestinian State, the settlers would never submit to desegregating their neighborhoods, and Israel would never “abandon” them for reasons of “security.” It is indeed an intentional blockade to any Peace process, as well as vile because of its overt racism.
Most of us can see the injustice in that.
One poster on another, nameless blog tried to equate it to something else.
In Mexico, at this time, as alluded to today in another context, there are American settlements. Mexico welcomes them for economic reasons, but there is no question of sovereignty here. There is no wall separating American settlements from the rest of Mexico and making them topologically continuous with the USA. And America does not claim the right to protect those citizens against Mexican law.
It made me think of Audrey’s neighborhood. It made me think of San Francisco and New Orleans after Katrina. There are no walls in any of those places either, but the barriers are there nevertheless.
The affluent “whites” move into an area to buy up or rent “cheaply” and drive the prices up until the residents can no longer afford to live in the beautiful and often ancient places their ancestors built with their hands, their blood.
They then point to the surrounding ghettos and say, “Look how THEY live, why should we not make this more beautiful? Our money improves this place! We provide them jobs. Without us, they would have nothing!”
It never occurs to them that the previously sustainable society they entered which built the Cathedrals, Mosques, Restaurants and Culture they so desire to appropriate was crushed by the Western Mode of top-down exploitation capitalism. It is gentrification, and it is inherently racist. It matters not if it is disaster-capitalism, in which a city was destroyed in a flood, or slow encroachment. When the hippies, queers and artists held San Francisco, it was diverse, vibrant, self-sustaining. It wasn’t until the onslaught of moneyed whites poured in that suddenly, the residents found they had to leave this city they built. When New Orleans was creole, black and full of musicians, it was also self-sustaining for the people. Sure, the tourists came to both cities, and looked at them like a zoo, but it was their own. After the hurricane flood? The second flood, the moneyed white flood made the city herself inaccessible to the hands that built it. It is much the same with white American “settlements” in Mexico. They bring their dollars, which go so very far in the local economy, yet end up building a separate economy based on their wealth, and the indigenous people can no longer afford to live in the city their ancestors built.
Palestine was never a land without a people, for a people without a land, as Israeli propaganda would have people believe. It was its own self-sustaining and beautiful country. When their neighborhoods were flooded with the European Money and worse economy itself it was not only the guns that divided the people from their lands, they could no longer compete economically with an alien system. Once again, white enclaves stuck together and by their own inherent racism and sense of superiority, they marginalized the people of the very land to whom it belonged.
Human behavior Balkanizes itself. That behavior is nowhere more apparent than in White America now, no matter where we move on the Planet. We don’t know how to blend, we don’t ever assume for an instant that another way, another culture can be more than a quaint parade to be watched from a balcony with cocktails, be it a second-line funeral in New Orleans or a Day of the Dead procession in Mexico. We stick to our kind, our language, our neighborhoods. We create Johannesburgs and Cape Towns everywhere we live.
So. Where does this inherent white madness come from? Why do we carry such a blind spot to our own behavior, behavior that non-white people see and despise universally?
It has to emerge from centuries of having our collective conscious set to “Exploitation Capitalism.”
It starts with the biggest lie of all:
There will always be the poor.
The very concept of the poor is a lie borne of an extraction system, a CLASS system. It is not the default system of humanity to have rich and poor. Tribal cultures do not have “poor” people, for they existed in a Socialist System, a system of cooperation by necessity. A natural disaster, say a drought may have made people starve, but they starved equally, just as equally shared in the bounties of a good year.
It continues with the second idea.
Our system is the best. Look at how well we do, we create cities, the arts, industry, wealth and excess.
Most insidious this way of thinking. We have set our value system to Materialism. To Consumerism. To value things above time or cooperation. To not even consider sustainability as a virtue. To consider greed good. We have made a God, and his name is Mammon.
There is not a land left untouched by Western Imperialism, that has not infected the indigenous peoples with our greed. Our assumption of superiority seeks to erase the identity of whatever culture we come into contact with and recreate it in our own image. We bring our music, our religion, our language, our architecture, our collective narrative in the form of books, education and white-washed history. We celebrate our ancestors, retelling our stories rather than learning new ones born of others histories. In fact, their histories only begin, to us, when we make contact with them. We kill their collective narrative, only to dig it up after and put in in Museums as “quaint” with no regards to the bones of their relatives or things they held sacred.
Look what we have wrought on Iraq, the seat of mathematics and sciences. Look at the genocide of the Native Peoples of the Americas that is the roots of American existence.
We give back to the societies in which we settle!
We “civilize” them and give them “jobs.” It matters not if you open a Nike factory in Indonesia, or an upscale bistro in Puerto Vallarta; the dialogue is the same. We think it a fine thing to provide trickle-down to the indigenous people no matter how exploitative we are.
People that once grew their own food, bartered for blacksmithery, baked goods, jewelry, and construction now can no longer afford their own products unless they cave into the White System of “jobs” – working for another to make them rich is the only option left them when the Capitalist system invades.
What would Hispaniola be like without our Tourist dollars, without the White influence? I can tell you, it would have remained the paradise Columbus found. Haiti and the Dominican Republic have found all their resources depleted by our presence, so much so that there is not even a single tree left with which to build.
You may say, we live in the world we have, not the world we wish we had. That much is true. Were we to leave Haiti entirely to its own devices, now that the people there have been infected with White-Western Thinking, cut it off entirely from the Capitalist outside world, it would surely take decades if not centuries to recover. There would be great loss of life, and untold hardship. Would it emerge as a paradise again, revert back to the communal principles held by its once peaceful people?
It is now, in fact, an impossible experiment.
Still, the images I once posted after the earthquake, the image of that Cruise Ship pulled up to its private beach, walled and manned by armed guards versus the horrifying suffering of the people on the other side of the wall sears my heart.
I/We can live where ever we want. It’s not doing anything wrong to build a life in a place I/we love!
Here’s the rub. Individual choice and the personal question of what constitutes ethical behavior.
I spent most of my formative years in a predominately black rural community, once I left the nest. I moved there mostly because I liked being in the country, but the added bonus of being in a culture so vastly different than my origins made my choice final. Only when the house I rented with intent to buy fell out from under me did I move.
I moved to the land of my dreams, by the lakes and water I so love. It was immediately JARRING to me, how very white this community is. I hate that. Now, must I equate myself with the people who moved here because it is so very white, the outright racists? I do not.
But I do find it worthy of discussion, introspection. I must consider WHY it is a predominately white area. The value of the real estate was determined by its geographical features: The lakes are a coveted resource. This area is white because it got priced-out from people of color as much as that white people would not welcome blacks very easily into their social fabric.
Why is it, that people of color cannot or did not have the means to settle this area, or at least be represented in numbers more akin to the make up of the country?
Simple. Extraction Capitalism is set up in a layer of casts, it is a caste system that uses racism as a tool to ensure that there is a vast group of people that can be payed lower wages, to whom the spoils do not go. From freed slaves to any wave of recent immigrants, we use the exclusionary clause to explain to ourselves why we have more, and they have less. It is reinforced by every neighborhood, every church, every club… there are no signs saying “Whites Only”; there needn’t be. The price tags do it for us, and we never even notice.
So, should I pass on the opportunity to make my American dollar go farther in Mexico or Costa Rica, or should I have to suffer struggling as a retiree in the American economy with less and less? So, if I truly love New Orleans, and find a fantastic deal on a fixer-upper house, must I take a pass as a white? Should a Jew not build in Jerusalem? What if I am providing jobs, surely some work and money is better than no work or money? What if the government for and by those people tell us they truly want/need us there? Should I leave my favorite lake/mountain/climate simply because I am not from there originally, or because that area has mostly white people?
“I didn’t create the system, and I personally am not doing anything wrong. I’m just trying to live my life in a way that makes me the happiest!”
“I have a black/hispanic/arabic friend. I’m no racist.”
These questions are harder than that.
If you are a Jew building in Palestine, are you willing to renounce your Israeli citizenship. learn Arabic and live with Arabs as neighbors and friends? Will you assimilate into their culture, or stay divided, socializing and patronizing only places full of your kindreds speaking your native Hebrew tongue?
If you are an ex-pat living abroad or you’re going to be and having a look at something similar to these apartments for sale in Egypt or other countries, are you or will you be learning the language, befriending the native peoples, or sticking predominately to your white-english American enclaves?
If you manage a business in New Orleans, do you hire creole and black people into positions of power and pay them the same as your white employees?
If you live and work in Mexico, is the ethnic pool into which you have moved represented in your place of business, or do you keep it white to fit the white niche market? Can the locals afford your product?
If you do not even ask these questions of your-white-self, then your third eye blindness is utterly beyond repair.
If your answer includes any variation of “there’s always been the poor, what can I do” your brainwashing as an Exclusionary Exploitation Capitalist is complete.
If you actively seek to live among your own kind, and exclude others? You are a Racist.
I live like a white woman, but I am trying desperately to learn to not think like one.
I understand fully, the resentment the people who are not-white have for our Greed-given privilege, and how they privately hate the whites among them, living better than they do, and throwing out scraps. They may smile while they drive your cab, but many do so fantasizing about ripping the necklace off your wifes neck, and feeding their family for a month. They may take your tip, but privately feel soiled by serving the very people keeping them from having an equal share.
What I cannot understand is how white people seem to have this gaping hole in their perception of themselves. I cannot understand how they can bemoan the demise of the middle class, when there should never be classes in the first place. (for a middle denotes being nestled between the upper and lower)
What I cannot understand is how we try and “get ours” in a system so slanted to prevent most from getting theirs.
Our narrative tells us that Birds of a Feather Flock Together, and perhaps that is true.
But my flock shouldn’t be exclusionary by finance or melanin.
Our narrative tells us the only True Flock is Capitalism… a system designed to divide us into every smaller flocks.
So will I sell this under-water house at a loss and move to Detroit? Doubt it. But my next move will certainly be to a more diverse place, when the bank takes the house anyway.
All I can do is try and fill in the gaping hole in my own psyche, and perhaps yours as well.
You see, once the feathers are off, we are all just birds, and no bird should be more equal than another bird.
You see, once you eliminate the Exclusionary Clause, and replace Capitalism with Socialism, could become All-Inclusive, without Class, Caste or Flock. There would be no walls, cages, gates, price tags or cages to keep us apart.
I have no idea how to get there from here. The only thing I know is that it must include a really hard turn to the Left.
Including inside our own minds.