WHITE SUPREMACY IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT
For 100 years, the deeds and words of Abraham Lincoln provided the template for American politics and for campaigning for office. His speeches served as the measure of the man. Their greatness, and his, the product of a literary and political genius, disclosed an understanding of human nature social sciences have yet to appreciate. He recognized slavery as a symptom, not the disease, in the struggle with evil. He fought the Civil War to free everyone. He made the point in his usual succinct and comprehensive way: "It is the eternal struggle between these two principles--right and wrong--throughout the world. They are the two principles that stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity, and the other is the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, "You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it.'"1
As he predicted, the struggle continues. Only the divine right of money has replaced the divine right of kings, a far more insidious evil than slavery itself because technology creates so many subtle ways of stealing other people's labor. I include finance as part of technology. Lincoln saw that coming after the Civil War made America an industrial power: "It has been a trying hour for the Republic; but I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of the war."2
Lincoln was killed by a white supremacist for holding such views. I use "white supremacy" as a generic term for the belief that, by some natural law (an apology for greed), an elite class has the right to exploit the labor of others (and the resources), even to the extent of slavery. Those who believe in that divine right hold (in secret) that the purpose of advancing the elite sanctifies any force or deception.
"Slavery" is a relative term. The extent to which people are required to work for less than just compensation provides the measure of relative slavery. The machinations in Washington have more to do with who will be the elite than how to govern the nation for the benefit of all. That intrigue is masked by the claim that an all- encompassing "market" determines who will join the elite because, by unspoken assumption, success in making money determines whom God loves. No human morality is required to govern. The market will always do the right thing, as if it were a form of natural selection without anything like the impediments inherent in natural selection that I discuss elsewhere.3
America stands at a cross-road. Will the outcome of the Civil War and 100 years of social evolution in care for everyone, including the poorest among us, and the earth, be abandoned in favor of a free-for-all competition for the right to exploit other people and the world"s resources--all under the rubric of fiscal and personal responsibility? The grand deception that there ever was a time when people survived on their own without any help from the community and that women can revert to a strictly homemaking career fantasizes the past and ignores the future. (Treating woman as second-class citizens is one of white supremacy's strategies.)
An even bigger issue concerns Lincoln's prediction that the Republic could be destroyed by concentrating money in too few hands. Our three-part division of government at the federal level, administrative (the president), legislative (Congress), and judicial (the Supreme Court) prevents any one from exercising absolute power. That is the genius of the Constitution. If all three branches of government accept the ethic of money as the measure of all things, separation of powers will no longer exist. Money and its priests will succeed in coalescing all three functions of government, the separation of which provided a defense to white supremacy.
White supremacy has its origins in the adaptations available for acquiring the energy required to survive. Lincoln identified the cruelest choice. It has everything to do with the design of society. The choices are, looking at the poles between which the choices fall: divisions of labor based on merit where all share in the production and distribution of the product or, the alternative, stealing other people's labor by violence, deception, or social edicts. The former (pure socialism) is the most efficient and just way to organize society. It has enjoyed little practice because those aspiring to elite status are very resourceful and ruthless.
The South fought the Civil War to preserve an elite's right to exploit black labor, if not all labor. That is why the war had to be fought. All states would not protect labor but the majority would. The hope America inspired everywhere was founded on a constitutional government that would protect the right of people to the fruits of their labor. The fight continues. Thanks to the seniority system in Congress and a lock on electoral politics by white supremacists in the South that followed the North's abandonment of reconstruction, exploitation continued by terror (lynching) and segregation and the failure of Congress and the courts to support the Constitution. It took 100 years more to make civil rights a fact.
But the struggle continues. White supremacy did not give up. It went into the closet and became more subtle. Support for public education and support for people in need have declined since enforcement of the Civil Rights Acts. Jails are overflowing, mostly with minority people. Means of disqualifying poor and minority voters are emerging again. Election fraud, made easy by very close electoral races, will increase and little is being done to prevent it. Changes in demographics based on immigration threaten white supremacy to a point where desperate measures are required to protect elite's privileges.
Unemployment and deceptive antigovernment propaganda distract people from seeing the direction elite supporters pursue. If they succeed in making government appear the enemy and redistribution of wealth upward continues, money will finally achieve unlimited power and the Republic will surely be destroyed. Some see destruction of government as the way to place money in control, making necessary compromises and governance for the common good impossible. Everything is for sale. Only government, big government, can take on big money. How people who fear big government fail to fear money big enough to buy government amazes me.
The elites no-tax mantra does not balance the budget. Without taxes the debt will increase. Government has for some time filled the void created by the elimination of jobs by technology and outsourcing. Government spending and a continuous wartime economy (how we got out of the great depression) hid the failure of capitalism to provide work for all. A bankrupt government means a lot more unemployment. We will become indentured servants of big money.
For moral justification, white supremacy employs what I reference as the religion of money. Under the religion of money promulgated by the likes of Ayn Rand and early Calvinism, money provides the proof of God's love. Those who cannot keep up are lazy or worse and God's judgment should not be ignored by government programs. President Reagan invented his welfare queens to discredit the support of single mothers. The result is a kind of social Darwinism that condemns the weak and crushes the empathy necessary to support a just society.
Ironically, adaptation to the wrong thing4 created the religion of money. God is that which we think we must obey to survive. We went from hunter-gatherers to complete financial dependence in a few short centuries. The change from adapting to stewarding real resources to creating paper resources changed everything and made us believe that something with no intrinsic value creates wealth. Because we must adapt to making it, we all worship money to one degree or another as part of our strategy for survival.
Given our biological limits for adaptation, the intellect's ability to deceive itself, and society's ability to advance white supremacy, how do we combat white supremacy? Only an ethical construct can mitigate the conflict competition to survive generates. While people do not all have the same genetic gifts or educational opportunities, the peace required for the cooperation of all in the quest for a pollution free, efficient, and just world requires that all have an equal right to contribute to and to share in the earth's bounty--equality under a rule of law.