A truly good man is not aware of his goodness,
And is therefore good.
A foolish man tries to be be good,
And is therefore not good.
A truly good man does nothing,
Yet leaves nothing undone.
A foolish man is always doing,
Yet much remains to be done.
When a truly kind man does something, he leaves nothing undone.
When a just man does something, he leaves a great deal to be done.
When a disciplinarian does something and no one responds,
He rolls up his sleeves in an attempt to enforce order.
Therefore when Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is kindness.
When kindness is lost, there is justice.
When justice is lost, there is ritual.
Now ritual is the husk of faith and loyalty, the beginning of confusion.
Knowledge of the future is only a flowery trapping of Tao.
It is the beginning of folly.
Therefore the truly great man dwells on what is real
and not what is on the surface,
On the fruit and not the flower.
Therefore accept the one and reject the other.
Lao Tsu (6th century B. C.), #38, Tao Te Ching (translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English; Vintage, 1972)
Barack Obama has delivered a speech on race in the United States that was both anxiously anticipated and now widely proclaimed as a major event not just of the current presidential campaign season, but of American politics generally and thus presumably of American history.
The tactical purpose of the speech was to distance Obama from Pastor Jeremiah Wright, of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, which Obama has attended. Pastor Wright had made comments in the past, which were recorded, about Black history and Black sentiments about this history. These homilies were unvarnished and factually accurate, hence unflattering about the role of White society in Black history. Naturally, the political opponents of Barack Obama fanned the racist flames of White fear by publicizing these supposedly intemperate rantings of an angry Black man (note my use of triggering code words) in an effort to discredit Obama in the eyes of his potential White voters; guilt by association. As an aside on a point of logic, note how political dirty tricksters rush (race?) to insult the intelligence of their target audience as an integral part of their underhanded methodology to woo them.
Tim Wise at Counter Punch and Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report each wrote clearly about the essential reality of this incident. What follows is a gloss on these articles, written as a response to correspondence from a Black brother of mine overseas.
The only thing Bill Clinton ever got right was stolen from Marx: “It’s the economy, stupid.” And so it is with the Great White Religion, the racism is part and parcel of an exclusionary economic policy. Israel mirrors this with its supposedly Jewish-only, Jewish-first policies as masks for its naked genocide of Palestinians. My definition of genocide is the attempted permanent removal of a victimized racially-labeled population from real estate being stolen by an aggressor of different racial-label identification. We might be close to this in post-Katrina New Orleans. It is always a real estate swindle masked as ‘culturicide.’
I find many Blacks to be so resentful (with complete justification) of our joint history, that they are not always clear and rational about the nature of the existing situation. Yes, there is White-on-Black racism (along with many other forms), but its root is not primarily simple emotional hatred, rather it is both fear (of two kinds: xenophobia and the historical guilt over slavery that Thomas Jefferson admitted to) and greed. The mania for control is driven by greed, and the essential fear is the anxiety over the loss of that control. Ascribing White-on-Black racism to simple emotional hatred is the most comfortable overt explanation, as is clear from its prominence in the depictions of racism in popular culture (e.g., movies). The dominant culture finds it comforting to imagine that racism is confined to people with ungovernable hatreds and undisciplined minds. This relieves the majority who are comfortable with inequitable economic arrangements from any responsibility for the inevitable consequences of those arrangements; and even from any reproach in the eyes of recognized public opinion.
Racism is an instinctive tool to capture resources and deny them to competitor “species.” This is why Obama is backed by the Wall Street bankers. To them, he is a tool to safeguard their fortunes against the rising tide of public resentment. They are excellent psychologists, and psychic abusers of the popular Black mind. They know, through their experts in PR (advertising and the management of the public mind), how the popular Black mind pines for symbols of “hope,” for action heros on basketball courts and on the big screen — Will Smith saving the fantasy worlds Hollywood conjures with smoke and mirrors. Any hero in any arena can be produced to distract and quell the masses, so long as it is not an actual hero in any arena of actual power.
Look at our Black “symbols” in those real arenas today: Clarence Thomas, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell; they’ve done precious little for Blacks in America, and have cashed in handsomely for precisely that reason. Most blacks are “supporting” (deluding themselves over) Obama for the same reason that older spoiled whiney white women are “supporting” Hillary: identification, they want what they see in the mirror to be honored, to be loved, to get attention, to be in control.
Obama may have some decent intentions beyond his blatant careerism, but clearly the careerism is primary, and for that he must reassure his sponsors that he can quell the public. The job he is applying for is to keep public affairs calm enough so the same select businesses and the same select gamesters can continue to make the same government-backed mega-profits. In business circles, this is called “maintaining a stable business environment.” Obama says “change” but his sponsors know this to mean “stability.” “Change” is what we’ll get from the billions we are forced to pay into taxes and inflated prices that profit all too few.
Populations that have histories of being oppressed are easily duped, because they are so desperate for “relief,” for “salvation.” This is why I labeled the PR machinery behind White power, including the White power with the Obama nameplate, as “abusers.” They are preying on Black prayers, they are hooking many desperate fish with baitless flashy lures. Someone like Wright states the plain facts, and it messes up the con-job of the PR hucksters luring the wanting masses. It also messes up the pleasurable delusions of those self-same wanting masses, having psychic orgasms they don’t want stopped and which are based on the swallowing of political placebos.
Reality can be too much for many people, especially when they have gaping holes of unfulfilled wants leaking psychological vitality and robust rationality out of their psyches. For every type of victim there is a highly specialized predator, especially when the prey form in vast herds. So it is in America, which worships in the faith of mega-profits from mono-culture, at the Church of Ford, as Aldous Huxley penned for Brave New World, where the continent-wide herds of the wanting are vaster than ever were those of the buffalo, and where the profits to be gained by directing this herd are vaster than the dreams of Croesus. Who better than Barack Obama to galvanize that attention of the wanting public mind? The genius of the American psychological predation industry is that it herds its prey in as a mass rather then chasing it down individually. Our Croesusian aristocrats will probably discipline themselves sufficiently to give the public the lure it has favored because he resonates and reflects so many of its fondest fantasies. The people have spoken, and our gods will guide us accordingly.
True believers in the Obama campaign may find this analysis repellant, because those gripped by an irrational faith do not like to see the dissection of their fantasies. Obama, they might say, is better than McCain, and we should back Obama to overturn Bush-Cheney-McCainist control of the Empire. But if so, we still have the Empire, and Obama has come to prominence precisely because of a demonstrated loyalty to that Empire, not because of a revolutionary fervor to topple it. The lesser evil is still no good for far too many people and, empire being intrinsically racist, it will disproportionately injure disfavored minorities.
So Obama is “change,” Obama is “hope” when we shrink-wrap our minds with elastic and impenetrable delusions. Obama is not Thurgood Marshall, nor Martin Luther King, Jr., nor Malcolm X, which is why you see him in our televised Pantheon. This is also why Jeremiah Wright must be dispatched with contempt from public consideration, and why Barack Obama must elevate himself stratospherically from his once upon a time pastor, and once upon a time flock.
I think commentary on racism is most incisive when it keeps its focus on the economic dimension — which I believe is central — rather than the emotionalism about “hate” wallowed in to excess by infotainment for the unthinking. It is better to focus on the intent and the purposes of the racism, which are to create and maintain economic disparities. From such focal points, one can advance policy and law enforcement arguments to eliminate these imbalances. Then, you are speaking about the here and now in a clear, unvarnished and rational manner. This can be extremely hard-hitting without being pitiful and cloying. This is in the spirit of Malcolm X and Frantz Fanon, and that is momentum, that is self-respect, that is pride. If we got enough of this, it might also be revolution.
MANUEL GARCIA, Jr. retired from a nuclear weapons and physics job, and is writing an engineering textbook about solar energy. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.