As a political philosophy, Marxist/socialist thought is the pervasive perspective on college campuses throughout the United States and Western Europe. It literally drives every point of view and theory taught. This collectivist theory also guides and informs the leadership of the Democratic Party of today. Gone are the moderate or conservative capitalists from positions of power in that partisan group. If you want to debate or discuss an issue with a progressive/socialist, you need to parse their thinking. Once you've done so, the flaws and cracks in their arguments become glaring defects to pick through. This is my humble attempt to dissect a topic so vital in our public discussions today; the issue of racism in American political thought for techniques we need to learn.
'The Nation' is a Marxist magazine that pushes liberal thought to its logical conclusions, which most of the time is quite extreme. For example, a piece published September 26, 2011 is a shining sample of left wing reasoning on race and America. Melissa Harris-Perry is an African-American woman who teaches political science at Tulane and contributes regularly to MSNBC. She's a well-respected illustration of Marxist/progressive thought and wrote a piece called, 'Epistemology of Race Talk.' This piece attempts to defend a previous article she wrote that basically accused white liberals of abandoning President Obama essentially because of their racist viewpoints. Most white progressive/socialists were predictably enraged that someone would suggest THEY were racists when obviously that title belongs exclusively and universally to the Tea Party movement.
She writes in her introduction, "Often, those of us who attempt to talk about historical and continuing racial bias in America encounter a few common discursive strategies that are meant to discredit our perspectives." In other words, she's just going to throw their arguments back in their faces. These guilt-ridden white Jacobins are using specific arguments against their own racism and she's gonna school them.
Her first category of the rebuttal argument 'I'm not a cracker hick racist' is "Prove It." Harris-Perry says this:
"In a nation with the racial history of the United States I am baffled by the idea that non-racism would be the presumption and that it is racial bias which must be proved beyond reasonable doubt." She them ends her blank indictment of all non-black Americans with this. "If anything, racial bias, not racial innocence is the better presumption when approaching American political decision-making."
Harris-Perry is not an outlier with this argument. This is Black/African-American Studies 101. In fact, it's women's studies, Hispanic studies and Queer studies 101. Everyone who is not a member of that group is a de facto racist, sexist, homophobe. Furthermore, we don't have a dream of ever getting beyond this. Since most of the history of government sponsored racial segregation is in the distant past, it condemns innocents who weren't even born to a life as a racist. Racial history becomes a kind of inheritance that was passed down like eye color or skin tone and you are forever guilty of racism should you be born with the wrong amount of melatonin in your skin and the wrong familial background.
Harris-Perry further argues that not only are you by birth a vicious racist, you are also perpetuator in perpetuity of a racist system embedded into our culture. "Racism is not exclusively about hooded Klansmen; it is also about the structures of bias and culture of privilege that infect the left as well." This 'culture of privilege' is Marxist code
phrase for capitalism. Even the child born of the poorest family is therefore elevated by her skin color because of
this magical 'culture of privilege' which somehow gives a poor white child some advantage over a middle class African-American child.
So, Harris-Perry's fatal flaw isn't just the absolute nature of the charges. It's her refusal to accept the idea that a person is innocent until proven guilty, a standard we all believe is truly fair. She doesn't want to judge the actions of individuals but the nature of certain groups. She believes the entire country is inherently guilty of racism unless they prove otherwise. Since proving a negative is almost impossible, it places her in the position to judge the rest of America as racist if she doesn't get her way.
Harris-Perry's next target is against the "I have black friends" argument. Generally this is an argument used almost exclusively by terrified self-loathing progressives to prove they're 'down with the struggle.' To me this argument is a joke because, as I mentioned earlier, you can't prove a negative so why even bother.
Hope springs eternal in the navel-gazing liberal though, and apparently some red-faced leftists tried that tack with her. Here Harris-Perry truly shows her arguments are specious and only intended to use political correctness to get her way. Joan Walsh of Salon must have written something particularly irritating to Harris-Perry. Like an eleven year-old spoiled brat, she lashed out.
"I was taken aback that Walsh emphasized the extent of our friendship. Walsh and I have been professionally friendly. We've eaten a few meals. I invited her to speak at Princeton and I introduced her to my literary agent. We are not friends. Friendship is a deep and lasting relationship based on shared sacrifice and joys. We are not intimates in that way. Watching Walsh deploy our professional familiarity as a shield against claims of her own bias is very troubling. In fact, it is one of the very real barriers to true interracial friendship and intimacy."
Meow. I didn't even need to read Walsh's piece because apparently she reminded Harris-Perry they were friends so why was she calling her a racist. Harris-Perry simply demeaned the relationship, smeared her as 'abusing' that relationship, and then condemned the woman to the backlot with the Tea Party and Herman Cain's Florida
voters. This shows just how hateful and divisive this kind of argument truly is. Harris-Perry is simply a bully and will not stand for anyone else's thoughts on the subject.
She then explains the entire identity politics power structure. Harris-Perry recalls times when she'd speak up as an ally for GiBLeT rights. She was shot down. "I was harshly criticized for my failure to account for trans-phobia and trans-hatred and trans-violence in my discussions of "don't ask, don't tell" and marriage equality. My critics were absolutely right. My cis-privilege had blinded me to the ways that power was operating very differently for trans-citizens." In other words, when speaking of African-American issues, she may indeed become the victim-queen, but when gay rights are involved, she better zip it. That's when gay people get a little taste of power. Don't try telling me your ideas. I'm gay and so I know. You're not, so you couldn't possibly
This is absurd theater. In fact it cleanly demonstrates that while we need different perspectives to understand an issue, the number of x chromosomes, the predisposition to adoring Judy Garland, and the fact that your 13th ancestor going backwards in time was on the Middle Passage doesn't immediately make you arbiter of all things 'women,' 'gay,' or black. You have your experiences but that shouldn't preclude other perspectives in a national discussion. Hell, it shouldn't control the discussion with your neighbor.
Harris-Perry's final point was her counter to the 'Who made you an expert?' argument. Here she really gets on her Huffy bike and rides.
"It is common for my interlocutors to question my professional, intellectual and personal credentials. It is as though my very identity as an African-American woman makes me unqualified to speak on issues of race and gender; as though I could only be arguing out of personal interest or opinion rather than from decades of research, publication and university teaching."
She is appalled the "identity politics" model the progressive/socialist wing of the Democratic Party uses would permit lily-white crackers to doubt her word. She twists this into the presumption that if you question her, you obviously are a racist. In fact you must be a racist who thinks her "very identity as an African-American woman makes me unqualified." (That oughtta shut em up.) She whines that a French scholar writing on the French Revolution and it being assumed he knows what he's talking about. Actually, since any French scholar writing about the French Revolution has no more a connection with those events than I do, he should have to prove his facts.
In fact, a person like Harris-Perry is also so far removed from the slavery argument; she too should be called to the carpet on her facts. This absurd genetic link argument as to having a deeper understanding of slavery is ludicrous. Harris-Perry was never bought and sold on an auction block. She wasn't used as an animal. Her education wasn't denied due to her status as property. Hell, her child wasn't ripped from her arms and traded for a wad of cash. She doesn't have any more of a handle on the effects of slavery than anyone else in this era.
The point of this being, Harris-Perry is the archetype Marxist/socialist thinker and what can we learn from this exercise? First, the premise that this country is inherently racist because of its past is absurd. It must be rejected outright as the psychological mumbo jumbo it really is. Presuming from the color of my skin and eyes what my inner motivations and beliefs are is racism, period. We are long past the time when we can accept such bromides to intellectual conflict regarding skin color and heritage. The lesson? We must challenge the progressive/socialist argument's very general premise if we are going to be intellectually honest in whatever debate we have. Flabby premises should be rejected outright.
Second, this hierarchy of victimhood is destructive. African-Americans have a perspective that needs to be explored. But, it is not superior to WASP's, American Indians, Slovakian immigrants, lesbians, truck drivers, or Salvation Army majors. It is a perspective that should be considered but not considered the only voice on race or heritage issues. One identity group's perspective isn't 'right' while other opposing views are 'wrong.' They are different and we will decide through discussion of ideas which ones are most worthy. Furthermore, if we get past the idea of forcing other people to accept our prerogatives and live in voluntary associations as much as possible, much of our strife would fade away. It is the imposition of moral thought on others that causes so much conflict. Should we steer away from government as enforcer of arbitrary civil distinctions that don't DIRECTLY affect people; our society will run more smoothly.
Finally, this submission to the experts' opinion as deciding public policy is anti-American and against everything democratic and republican our nation represents. I don't care what color your skin is, provide evidence and a good argument. I don't care how many letters are strung behind your name, without the evidence and argument, you're just someone from another town. Don't let political scientists arguing that something is settled go unchallenged. The discipline of science is an exercise in inquiry not subjugation of dissent. If we allow all the arguments to be made, we are much more likely to get a good result in the end.
Too many of us have just gone along to get along when we face difficult issues. We've allowed the Marxist/socialist thought to go unanswered and unchallenged. Those times are over. We've seen the wrecking ball of disaster these ideas can have on a society. We watch from afar as Western Europe burns and begin to collapse. We cannot allow that to happen here. We must bravely face our adversaries and tell them we will not let you destroy one more family with your social experiments. You will not be allowed to enervate this economy with your power-mongering. We are done handling you with kid gloves. The gloves are off. Let's dissect some Marxist thought.
Crossposted at Looktruenorth.com