Brian Holmes on Sat, 12 Nov 2016 11:50:38 +0100 (CET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: <nettime> What is the meaning of Trump's victory?

On 11/11/2016 08:27 AM, Frederic Neyrat wrote:

Here is my thought: as I don't think that racism is just a
natural passion/affect/drive, I try to understand where it comes
from. And, as I try to understand what happened in the USA, I
thought that the neoliberal/capitalist/economic destruction of
the economic, cultural, symbolic conditions of a certain number
of white people, who however voted for Obama during the two last
elections (at least some of them), fueled, generated or regenerated
racism and a reactionary moment: to restore (or/and produce) a
patriarchal/racist/misogynistic situation.

That sure is the way I see it. The settler-colonial legacy did leave
behind a powerful racism, but that legacy continually gets reshaped
by emancipatory-egalitarian politics. Throughout US history here
have been major efforts to overcome racism, starting long before
the Civil War and continuing long after the Civil Rights movement
(just go to a Black Lives Matter demo today and see who shows up: an
incredible mix of people, all colors). There have also been huge and
continuing attempts to rekindle racism and channel it as a political
tool, the way Trump just did with such resounding success. Four and
eight years ago, crucial Midwestern and Southern states (Florida)
voted for Obama in the hope of changing the entire system: you cannot
blame that on White Supermacy. Every individual is at the center
of multiple intersecting social forces, including very old race
attractions and race hatreds among others. Each person and group
struggles within that intersectionality. The always contradictory and
moving pattern that emerges from millions of micro-struggles, and also
from very many organized attempts to guide, channel or manipulate
those micro-struggles, makes up the political character of any given
moment or period. Not always for the better.

Way back in 1944, Karl Polanyi defined both Axis fascism and
Stalinist communism as self-protective movements of society against
the damaging forces of capitalist exploitation. The forms taken by
these self-protective movements, he said, could be more damaging than
the problems they initially tried to address. This is definitely
happening again now, in a big way. By destroying the livelihood
of so many people, the elitist policies of the neoliberal period
have allowed hateful and opportunistic leaders to give shape
to a tremendous reactionary wave that is now likely to damage
almost everyone, including those who voted for it. What's at stake
here is not an essential and timeless White Supremacy. It's a
political-economic-ecological configuration where racism is being
deliberately stimulated as a political organizing tool.

The challenge of emancipatory-egalitarian politics is to create
a social and cultural world where frightened and disoriented and
angry people cannot be lured into the easily manipulated positions
of racism, sexism and nationalism that were first laid down by the
European colonial capitalist project. When people like myself now
criticize the Democratic Party for failing to address the scared and
dangerous white working classes of the ruined industrial cities and
desolate rural zones, they are not denying the existence of other,
far more progressive, mixed-race working classes, certainly not. What
we are saying is that in a period of economic breakdown and unleashed
oilgarchical greed like the one we are living through today, a true
political ecology that gives a whole range of constructive roles to
a broad majority of a country's inhabitants is the only politics
that can hold off a misguided "self-protective movement of society"
that brings to power the kinds of dark and cunning interest groups
that are now going to take at least momentary control of the US, and
maybe other countries in the near future. The open question is how to
effectively counter those forces.

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime>  is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info:
#  archive: contact:
#  @nettime_bot tweets mail w/ sender unless #ANON is in Subject: