I just did something remarkably easy that reminds me about why Amazon is winning and will continue to win. I started up three different databases and then threw them away. For anyone who has worked in the Amazon ecosystem, this may seem like just an ordinary thing. Indeed it is, but let me take you back in time.
In 1985, I took my second summer internship at Xerox in El Segundo, CA. I reported to a guy named Jack Starkey who was one of those starched-shirt engineers of the first order. I loved the guy. My assignment was to build a data dictionary for the parts and service database that Xerox used to keep track of the maintenance of their top of the line laser printers. Xerox was considering migrating from an IBM VSAM hierarchical database to something called Focus, a new fangled relational database. My job was to insure that I had all of the definitions correct. I asked Jack if I could use the new Xerox Star Workstation in order to complete my job, which was essentially all about documentation. He agreed.
My first internship was more interesting because it was more technical. I actually wrote a financial modeling program. But my boss was loathed and feared in that area and a lot of people hoped everything he did would fail. That guy, whose name I actually cannot remember Jim somebody, was a notorious pipe smoker back in those days when you could smoke in the office. He liked something called Amphora Green. My project did not fail, although there were some interesting twists. My job was specifically to make a realtime pricing model that salesmen could use to develop a quote for customers based upon the way they actually did their electronic printing. At the time, most computer printing came out of printers attached to mainframes and the most popular one was the IBM 3800. But the Xerox printer had duplex and quadplex, meaning it could print on both sides of the same sheet of paper. My program would show the long term economic benefits of using the Xerox tech which often came down to power and supply costs. So I learned 'Total Cost of Ownership' at a fairly young age. The MBA intern with whom I was working had her HP calculator. My code was being held up because she was late in delivering a 'cost matrix' to me. I sat down with her finally to discover that she had just been plugging numbers into a formula run on her HP 12C. The MBAs didn't sit with the engineers, you see, so getting this meeting took weeks. I had to explain to her that this CP/M based computer could actually do that kind of formula calculation. She was shocked that Xerox actually made a computer that could do the same things as an HP 12C. We all learned a little something. I recall later on that a cat named Burkhart, whom I seem to have never forgiven in person, got the chance to present the wonders of my completed program to Xerox folks in London, while I went back to school that September.
But that was the pace of things in the mid 80s. Three months just to build the equivalent of a DDL script to help move data from one database technology to another. Today I do that in realtime. Another dude I vaguely recall had the radical attitude I might have enjoined were I not so desperate to drive a BMW. He advised me to get all my hacking done before the implementation of ACF2. What we were dealing with was the gap between the time you could get engineers to understand a technology, the time it took them to implement it, the time it was adopted by the business, and the time that an actual payoff could be seen. Then there was the time it took for the capacity of the business to exceed the design limits of the system in place and the time it took for that problem to arise to the level of necessity and a new replacement process begun.
In the 80s, all of that was glacial. Moore's Law kept us all expectant about the future, mostly in terms of how much of all of the business processes could be captured outside of the pocket calculators of MBAs, but the process of business adaptation as well as the process of re-sizing systems have continued to be slow all the way to the current day. Amazon has emerged to understand these kinds of problems very well because of how e-commerce begat DevOps. And yet the majority of businesses still use 'Enterprise' architecture in their systems implementations. 'Enterprise', for all intents and purposes, was the term used to convince IT buyers that UNIX based servers could handle all of the business once only owned by the sort of mainframe computers that spit data out to Xerox and IBM printers. And then came e-business which introduced the 'n-tier' solutions, multiple tiers required because no single vendor, not even IBM, could provide hardware, networking and software solutions for the new class of applications being envisioned and built.
I don't have a buzzword we could reliably depend upon to be what this time of transition to cloud architecture will be. 'Post-Enterprise' is all I will hazard. However, what processes can and will be improved is a lot clearer. So I hope to speak to you, my fellows still using the systems designed with on-premise Enterprise class architectures in mind. That's my aim for this year, to help you see what I see and what my company, Full360, can do to help you realize some of the promises of computing that were made a long time ago and have been a long time coming.
So what I just did, single-handedly, today and yesterday, was build three different database servers Oracle 11g, MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server. They were each 4 core 15GB servers with at least 300GB of SSD. They took about 15 minutes to configure and secure, with automated backups in an alternate data center. I was able to connect to them directly through a secure VPN I had previously setup with my RazorSQL client using JDBC. Today, I'm shutting down the Oracle and MySQL services because my customer only has the MSSQL license. But it was actually fun playing with the alternatives. Fun!
What's going to happen next is that I will start using AWS Config to keep track of all of my compute and networking assets for my customers. I'll be able to tell, at a glance, which server is doing what in which stack in which VPC. I will be able to manage services to an even greater extent for this and my other customers.
Back in 2001, I had a dream about a company I might work for in the future. I called the company 3DB because as a fundamental competency I wanted people who understood object, relational and multidimensional database technologies. We could then build the kinds of systems I envisioned. Now I work at Full360, but the 3DB concept is reality. We use multiple database technologies in our data management framework called ElasticBI. I didn't envision them running in a cloud architecture, but that is even better. Stay tuned.
Somebody asked questions the other day about why America.. whoa here we go.. was too stupid to adapt the metric system like Europe. Well the obvious conventional wisdom is that we're stupid and have bad habits. But let's think about that for a moment.
Let's start with a yard. Not your yard, a yardstick. But your yard could be measured with a yardstick just as easily as it could be measured with a meter stick. Why? Because we know what a yard is and we know what a meter is and we know arithmetic.
Let's say your yard is rather large, like mine. It would then be 50 feet by 40 feet = 2000 square feet. Now there's something very nice about feet that we know, because feet divide into 12 inches. 12 is a special number because you can easily divide it in halves, thirds and quarters, and that is what you generally do with land. Yards are conveniently 3 feet. 36 can be divided very nicely too. But when you look at 360, then you get something that's rather strikingly brilliant.
360 can be divided by 2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10,12,15,18 and 20. That's rather clever don't you think? You can't do that with decimals so easily, and after all the point of any system is not that things can be measured. After all we could invent meters and re-invent them to be any arbitrary length and do the arithmetic. The strength of the metric system lies in its ability to scale by orders of magnitude. But scaling by orders of magnitude is not something that happens very often in the human scale. In engineering, sure. But not in home construction, food recipies, human measurement or any other of a dozen activities (hmm dozen) that we are regularly involved in. Now we could go into all of the ways we measure all of the things we do from miles per hour to paper sizes, but that long long discussion actually gets to the heart of Metric vs Imperial. In short, however, this is all about fractions.
Now a friend told me that there are two kinds of engineers in the world. The kind that have put a man on the moon, and the kind that use the metric system. The picture above is taken from his machine shop. It sounds like braggadocio until you listen for another minute. Then the man says 'SAE'. Now anybody who's turned a wrench in their lives knows something about SAE sockets vs Metric sockets. But if you look at what SAE actually was and is, things get very interesting.
Check out this dude Kettering. I don't know about you, but to me that's a career full of wowsers. 186 patents is no accident. He helped build GM into the world's largest company. But what's fascinating, as when I listen enough, is to learn how many parts in the world's market for parts are of SAE measure rather than of metric. I often think in terms of meters nowadays, but only for things that are linear. I will always think of pies when I have to divide, and I will think of fractions. But isn't it interesting, just looking at the picture, which is a better, simpler, faster way to measure?
Maybe the metric system is why we haven't put another man on the moon.
Now I'm going to show the other side here, because what we've done in America which is metric to the bone before just about every other nation is in our currency. More than just about anything, currency lies in the realm of Extremistan. Orders of magnitude are quite proper here. But at the small level of the ordinary consumer, we don't do much with pricing that accords to common 360 sense.
For example. In old money there were 12 pence to the shilling. That would be quite nice if you purchased many things by the dozen. If a dozen eggs cost a shilling, a half dozen eggs would be sixpence. A smart shopkeeper would try to price such things that way for the convenience of his customers. Then again, one might be a bit too clever (by half?) using the same system to obfuscate, as bakers may have throwing in for their extra sized dozen. We certainly don't price things logically at the farmer's market level, but clearly decimal pricing let's us see unit prices reflect economies of scale in bulk pricing. So for things that scale orders of magnitude, decimal is better.
By the way, what time is it?
The reason kids don't decide is that they know that whatever they decide, there will be a community for them. They are swayed in and out of things and places. It's where you're at, dude.
We live in a society where the meta is part of the discussion and we have decided that certain matters are unresolvable. This is the land of the non-excluded middle. Everything is true, everything is false, everything is true and false. What this means is that bullies rule, but are always subverted.
Godbey thinks I might have been the one who put some of this in mind, but it wasn't me directly, I don't think. Still I do think about the possibility of determining the truth of things. Yet I know that people will decide without going the last mile to find out the truth or falsity of things because we are demonstrably not in the land of great men who pass judgment. I ask people 'Who is your Leviathan' and they don't even bother trying to find out. Everything just sloshes around and people who put things in buckets are ignorable nerds. So nobody goes to Buddha to ask if things are true or false, and Buddha doesn't have to come up with catuskoti answers. Buddha doesn't exist in our society, Google does. And Google just tells you what the most popular answers are.
Over at Quora, a lot of people ask what's it like to be somebody who is somebody. There is the somebody who is the somebody and everybody else cheats and cheeses in the games that somebody invented, because rules are just power controls which are disposable as soon as the somebody is deposed. In the meantime, suck ass.
To the core:
Let’s start by turning back the clock. It is India in the fifth century BCE, the age of the historical Buddha, and a rather peculiar principle of reasoning appears to be in general use. This principle is called the catuskoti, meaning ‘four corners’. It insists that there are four possibilities regarding any statement: it might be true (and true only), false (and false only), both true and false, or neither true nor false.
We know that the catuskoti was in the air because of certain questions that people asked the Buddha, in exchanges that come down to us in the sutras. Questions such as: what happens to enlightened people after they die? It was commonly assumed that an unenlightened person would keep being reborn, but the whole point of enlightenment was to get out of this vicious circle. And then what? Did you exist, not, both or neither? The Buddha’s disciples clearly expected him to endorse one and only one of these possibilities. This, it appears, was just how people thought.
At around the same time, 5,000km to the west in Ancient Athens, Aristotle was laying the foundations of Western logic along very different lines. Among his innovations were two singularly important rules. One of them was the Principle of Excluded Middle (PEM), which says that every claim must be either true or false with no other options (the Latin name for this rule, tertium non datur, means literally ‘a third is not given’). The other rule was the Principle of Non-Contradiction (PNC): nothing can be both true and false at the same time.
Writing in his Metaphysics, Aristotle defended both of these principles against transgressors such as Heraklitus (nicknamed ‘the Obscure’). Unfortunately, Aristotle’s own arguments are somewhat tortured – to put it mildly – and modern scholars find it difficult even to say what they are supposed to be. Yet Aristotle succeeded in locking the PEM and the PNC into Western orthodoxy, where they have remained ever since. Only a few intrepid spirits, most notably G W F Hegel in the 19th century, ever thought to challenge them. And now many of Aristotle’s intellectual descendants find it very difficult to imagine life without them.
That is why Western thinkers – even those sympathetic to Buddhist thought – have struggled to grasp how something such as the catuskoti might be possible. Never mind a third not being given, here was a fourth – and that fourth was itself a contradiction. How to make sense of that?"
I think I remember something about Hegel's metaphysics. My essential take is that truth forms cannot become ossified, because as we say 'the journey is the destination'. In other words, nothing remains true simply by declaration, nor does anything remain false by declaration. To Hegel, you do not come upon knowledge in a pure form of truth or falsity, but through revelation through the work of discovery. Key word here is *work*. It takes energy to see what is true or false, and you only see when you are expending this energy. The answer is not '42'. '42' is an abstraction of the work of the greatest calculating mind, and the only way to know the truth of that answer is to actually do that work, which is of course impossible for everyon who is not that machine. But if you want an answer without doing the work and appealing to authority, it may as well be 42, which is as good as any other. Since Google is free, we are free to use and discard the results. So nothing at all is true or false, or mostly true or mostly false or both true and false, it is all in the process of being comprehended within Goedelian limits, and so it is all of that.
In this way the kids of today have it right. And yet in the end, somebody has to be authoritarian. Here's the scary part. The authority is energy.
So we get back to the relativism of the hated Foucault who gives us the 'regimes of truth' concept. He's right about that. What's true is determined, not according to some Platonic form, but by the state of the masses' conventional wisdom, which is in turn shaped, if not determined, by the influence of the powers that be.
But here's the thing. Human beings in their thinking machinery have no halting problem. Life cannot afford not to accept contradictions, otherwise we would be very poor at adapting to mind-blowing change. Our heads do not literally explode, we make some rationalizations and some abstractions and convenient bias confirmations and strategic forgetting in the retelling of our narratives. And we adapt. So what was true yesterday is not true today. But if you want a flat answer from the Buddha, he would have to tell you that this thing is true and false, because he must account for human possibilities of dealing with it throughout time.
I like how Aeon describes a function and a relationship in the bridge between mathematics and philosophy.
At the core of the explanation, one has to grasp a very basic mathematical distinction. I speak of the difference between a relation and a function. A relation is something that relates a certain kind of object to some number of others (zero, one, two, etc). A function, on the other hand, is a special kind of relation that links each such object to exactly one thing. Suppose we are talking about people. Mother of and father of are functions, because every person has exactly one (biological) mother and exactly one father. But son of and daughter of are relations, because parents might have any number of sons and daughters. Functions give a unique output; relations can give any number of outputs. Keep that distinction in mind; we’ll come back to it a lot.
We are chockablock with dysfunctional relationships. But they are indeed relationships, and we make lots of them, whether or not they have a function. It doesn't matter does it? We are related and we're all relatives. Call it relativism. Everything is true. Everything is false. Everything is relative until you get all functional.
But when you apply enough force and power into something it has to behave in more deterministic ways, neh? Scary.
That's all I have.
Yes of course. And some matter more than others. Your choice of which lives to call black or representative of black says a great deal about you. In fact, I'll say it says way more about you than it does about black Americans of which there are umpty millions. Your mileage may vary, but lots of people get pretty far with their racial theories. Me, I'm not into any of that, I call them as I see them with no respect for being politically correct. Why? Because my dealings with 'black America' isn't political. No agenda serves it, especially no special agenda. That doesn't stop people from trying and yet I digress.
Some time ago when the focus of Cobb was black political partisanship, I established the category 'Keeping it Right'. That had in mind the old cliche about 'Keeping it Real' and recalls the last hiphop group that mattered, De La Soul, on the best album they ever put out 'Stakes Is High' in The Bizness. I now repurpose that thread as my contribution to that unique American discussion which remains permanent and like memories of high school and formative cartoons like Johnny Quest, hits me square in the funny bone on occassion. So there it is with less emotion and yet more detail than the hashtag can evoke. Keeping it Right is my take on which black lives matter to me.
That said, I suppose I owe a top ten now that I think of it. It shouldn't be hard, but it's also not so deep. (So I say before I write it - but let's see what I come up with.) OK. The first one is not in the top ten, but it is the reason why I have revitalized this thread.
When I was living in Brooklyn, back in the early 90s, before Jurassic Park and Janet's massive album, I purchased Omar Hakim's solo album. And as the classy young man I was, I thought it was appropriate to my style. I therefore spent a lot of time being angry in a particular way that aesthetes get angry, that dudes like Onyx were making money. Nowadays that's called being a hater. I didn't hate Onyx, but I had minimal respect for them. Like Criss Cross. I happened across Omar's album in my collection today and paused for a moment of sadness in that Omar didn't become the star I thought he deserved to be, especially considering the huge sensation he made in Sting's world massive Bring on the Night concert. So who matters to me? Well, both Onyx and Omar Hakim made me think about music and culture, but Hakim matters more.
Top Ten Black folks... alright this is silly but .. nevermind. It's too silly to even contemplate. I will re-awaken the topic Keeping It Right. That is all.
Still. Onyx. Extra double dumb.
I take time, occasionally, to help atheists understand the reality of God as they often get tangled around their own rationality.
My love for God, whom I see as morally perfect, inspires me to attempt my own moral perfection. Nothing else inspires me to this degree. Therefore it is logical that if I retain my faith and love in God, then I will be a better person than I would otherwise.
The above syllogism does not require acknowledgement or even the existence of an actual physical entity. It requires a commitment to the concept of God into which any number of spiritual, natural, mystical, supernatural, fictional characters might be employed. The proof is in the works and actions of the inspired individual. That is the reality of religious faith.
It is illogical to deny that religious people make this connection, and it is illogical to deny the causal effects of actions accompanying such connections.
None of this hangs on the physical, provable existence of God in the way one's wife is physical of provable. If such a provable existence were necessary, all sorts of illogical consequences would follow. For example, If no provable god ever existed, it would be illogical to say the religion exists or that religion has consequences. Yet in fact religion does exist and instantiates the belief in god. This is repeatable in the human species, generation after generation. It is illogical to say that belief in God does not exist, whether or not God itself exists. It is illogical to say there are no consequences in the belief in God, whether or not God exists. It is illogical to say that none of the consequences in the belief in God are morally improving, inspirational or loving.
It is logical to acknowledge that morally improved, loving and inspirational individuals are that way because of their belief in God, whether or not God exists. Whether or not Secular Humanism exists, whether or not Nazism exists. It is simply the existence of humans who are improved by their faith - one must logically acknowledge that such people exist, in substantial numbers, with substantial impact. Having done so, one needn't assign any kind of exclusivity to their moral position.
-- A final analogy. Imagine that you drive a Ford automobile, and you do so because the existence of Henry Ford is physical, provable and logical. You drive your Ford from point A, of immorality, to point B, morality. I on the other hand drive a BMW, from point A to point B. You are telling me that I am illogical because there is no physical, provable Henry BMW, regardless of the fact that I arrive at the same point B. You are judging my vehicle for moral improvement on a basis which is irrelevant to the purposes of my using it. I love my BMW and you do not. So what?
1. I’ve read on the Girl Scouts website that the current pension deficit issue will cause councils to see a 40% increase in pension expenses starting the day girl scout cookies go on sale, and a 62% increase over the next three years. According to the girl scout.org site “For many Girl Scout councils, this means that the pension expense will suck up money that would normally go toward operating expenses such as staff salaries and benefits, camp maintenance, outreach programs for at-risk girls, scholarship support for low-income girls, and general programming.“
I know you’re currently trying to get congress to grant legislation to help you but I haven’t heard of any progress on that so I’m under the impression that as it stands, cookie sales that previously went to scholarships and camp maintenance will now be used to pay pensions. I’m reading of many historic camps that are being closed or sold. It’s a concern for many reasons, but particularly because the girls in our troop were always able to say that cookie sales help at-risk girls and support community camps. We haven’t been able to get any verbiage to respond to people who will ask why girl scout camps are being sold and whether the councils will be able to support scholarships as they have in the past.
I am from a small town called Crenshaw. Crenshaw is actually a series of neighborhoods in Los Angeles. About 100,000 folks live there from Manchester to Pico, from Figueroa to La Cienega. It was and is still the center of black Los Angeles. There are many stories about Crenshaw. You may have heard of them.
Like with all of America, class matters. I've said black America splits up into five. Sticks-Projects / Ghetto/ Hood / Burb / Hill. Crenshaw doesn't have the Sticks, there are no rural shotgun shacks, but it does have public housing projects and Section 8 housing. You've probably heard of 'The Jungle'. There are ghettoes too. I grew up in the 'hood. Our middle class was American lower middle class. Big families, many originally from Texas. Our upper middle class, was solid American middle class. Our upper class was American upper middle class. You've probably heard of 'Baldwin Hills'. That's when I was growing up in that small town called Crenshaw. Now things are lining up.
When my father left the Marine Corps and moved from Camp Pendleton to Los Angeles, he became a civil servant. This was 1962. Los Angeles was segregated and that's why, if you were black (Negro at the time) you landed somewhere in proximity to Crenshaw. We were middle class for blacks and ours was a good solid neighborhood, but unlike other neighborhoods we were a black neighborhood. You didn't so much move there because you wanted to, but because your choices were limited. So the result was that we had a broad economic and cultural diversity of black people in our neighborhood. To our left, was Rev. Robinson and his wife, an elderly couple. He never left the house not wearing a suit and hat. He always drove a brand new white Lincoln Continental. To our right were Mr. and Mrs. Arnold and their eight kids. He was a truck driver with a slim moustache, hard greasy hands always in coveralls. They had a yellow Chevy Biscayne station wagon. Poor Mrs. Arnold, when Maurice Arnold died, the kids went wild. We were in the West Adams community, noted for its stately churches and quiet residential streets and yes its red light district. I grew up in a three bedroom house with a detached garage on a street called Wellington Road. In 1966 when we bought the house there were still white folks living in the neighborhood. They were all gone by 68. In 1968 America was on fire.
I attended Virginia Road Elementary and Holy Name of Jesus School. I never sat in class with a white kid until I was 14 years old. I was the school brainiac, the oldest of five children and I wore glasses. I loved playing football, hated that I was too short for basketball, and couldn't understand baseball at all. I could swim, wrestle, tumble and do a double front off the one meter board. I was skinny, tough and fast. I was honest and good, but I was an adventurer. I would take any dare. I played cello, jogged every morning and read science fiction.
I wound up at Loyola, a Jesuit Prep school, instead of Palisades High School, my first choice. I wanted to run long distance, play baseball and become a jet fighter mechanic. But I ended up finding my feet sophomore year in Debate, French, Geometry and computer programming. I was a logic beast. I still loved science but not so much science fiction even though I read all of the Star Trek novels. I tested well. I did little homework. I was a Star Wars nerd and wannabe pinball wizard. I graduated on my 17th birthday, a four year varsity springboard diver, and captain of the winning intramural soccer team with 80th percentile SAT scores and a 2.91 GPA. I had no concentrations - no single thing made sense to me with a career path I could envision. I was recruited by Pitzer, Haverford, Georgia Tech, Bryn Mawr and Florida A&M. All I cared about was USC Electrical Engineering. I got to USC and dropped out second semester. No money.
I worked at Fedco, which was basically the 80s version of Costco. I sold radios, boomboxes, car stereo. I bought audiophile stereo DJ equipment and did receptions and church dances. I bought a motorcycle and rode Mulholland Highway at unsafe speeds. I grew my hair to shoulder length and dated a girl with dark skin, big legs and long braids. I listened to New Wave and electronic music and roller disco'd on the weekends. I made it into the Teamsters and hung out with Vietnam vets in the warehouse. I quit the store after the strike didn't get me a raise enough to afford my own apartment. I wrecked my bike, cut my hair, got a job as a teller at City National, worked downtown, got a new girlfriend with light skin, perfect diction and short hair. My parents divorced, I moved in with my Dad and bought a Karmann Ghia with his assistance.
I was about to get into the management trainee program at the bank at the recommendation of Ken, the Sr VP, but I decided I wanted to go back to college and get my degree in Computer Science. So I went to State in 1982 until I ran out of money in 1986. But I got three internships at Xerox, won Dean's List, served in student government and pledged Alpha Phi Alpha. I did every dimension of college life except graduation. No matter, I became a wholly different young man, inspired by the books of Thomas Sowell, the music of Arif Mardin and a haphazard philosophy somewhere between Ayn Rand, Malcolm X, Yukio Mishima and Henry Miller. Yeah, I know.
Somewhere between 1986 and 1992 I learned pretty much everything I needed to know about yuppie existence, corporate employment and Los Angeles. I got sick them all and joined a small software company and moved to NYC, became something of a neo-bohemian deep into semiotics, performance poetry and Beethoven. I moved to Boston and bought a Canon SLR, dropped in and out of aikido, capoeira, basketball, multimedia and speed dating, which hadn't been invented yet but...My wife, who at the time was my ex-girlfriend gave me an ultimatum. I took her up on it, provided she would take in my son born in Brooklyn, and we were married in 1994.
We moved to Atlanta and brought up three babies in the Northeast suburbs. I gave up my six figure entrepreneurialism for FTE benefits at another small software company which helped my move West back to California Christmas of 1997. We bought the minivan, and stored five tons of accumulated furnishings which we were not able to recover out of hock until 7 months later. Our rented house with the pool became the center of the mommyhood of the three Mrs Bowens. There was happy happy cousin pandemonium. We made grandfather into the doter.
I commuted to Silicon Valley and almost got rich. Then the double whammy of custody (of my son) and tax problems hit. It cost me the ability to buy a house in California, a non-trivial task under the best of circumstances. I have never recovered from that financial loss, and so I became, at length, a better person. After 9/11 we settled in Redondo Beach, one of my favorite places in the country. We have been here ever since. I worked as a traveling consultant and by now have visited all but seven states in the US.
Along the way I kept blogging and my writing life online, dating back to Xerox days in 1986, fulfilled a number of purposes. It got me into NPR and the Republican Party. It got me speaking dates and 1.6 million hits over the years. It has taught me a lot about myself and about people. Professionally, I have done very well and am still reaping the benefits of building systems all over the country in most every industry. I have accomplished a wide variety of modest successes. The journey is an inexhaustible narrative I am happy to share.
It only serves some marketing purposes, I imagine, to call mine a Black American story, I have little interest in all the ways I have seen to approach 'black'. I have my own way and I don't presume that it is anyone else's, and yet I know my story speaks to all curious people. I've never been particularly good at abstracting the meaning of my life - I let people react and try to correct misperceptions. You see it doesn't make any sense to me to write without a healthy does of self, so I always do. That is, when I'm writing for people. When I write for machines, there is no self, there is only my idiosyncratic style. I'm from a small town called Crenshaw, which is black in the same way only in the most mundane manners today as 40 years ago when it was home. What I know about black is one volume in a massive library written by people mostly dead. I think there are some fascinating chapters in my book. Mine is the tale of the traveler, up from freedom bouncing from liberty to liberty.
I live in the Burbs now, in very close proximity to the Hill. What was it that Orwell said about the lower edge of the upper middle class? I work at home as I presume the best writers always have, and I write for computers and people to sustain myself and my family. I'm happy with the balance but still have ambitions. This year and next will bring to a close the familiar chapter of being Dad. We'll see what comes next, but I have an idea. More later.
I can't remember where I read it, but it's rich people's houses that make the difference. Ultimately, I'm pretty sure I agree about that. Castle doctrine. I just saw the tweet " when really the upper class is also held together by a kind of secret traditionalism"
A couple observations.
A couple dozen summers ago, I used to go to Martha's Vineyard for the last big party. Labor Day weekend it was. And when I thought I was hot stuff in my Black American Prince years, I managed to hobnob with pretty much anyone I pleased. Until one day when I was writing poetry out by the West Chop lighthouse I happened across a couple of stunning lovelies whom I immediately attempted to charm. I made some bit of headway but discovered that they were coy about their lodgings. But I did managed to learn enough that they were heirs of the Vanderbilts. Somebody's grandparents were butlers and such butlers and their offspring were very well taken care of by the Vanderbilts. But it was the coyness and its accompanying rules that revealed themselves to be most interesting. You see they were quite clear that they were to have no male company after dark in their apartments, wherever they were. I attempted then to make a dinner date, but I could tell that I couldn't be so forward. I was taken aback a bit, considering the tone of entertainment that took place on the Avenue that evening. And as I grumbled to myself about how crass it all was, I couldn't help but obsess over those two and their restrictions - the sort my daughter now resides under at her sorority house in San Jose.
Just this weekend, on my way to visit some snow in the San Gabriel Mountains, I drove through one of my favorite neighborhoods on the planet, the swanky woody end of Pasadena on the east side cliffs over the Arroyo. I remember living there before 9/11 and my disgust at the one house that was my absolute favorite in every way except one. It had a giant banner in support of candidate Bush. Now I understand. Then, I absolutely could not. On this excursion, now much wiser, I felt a kind of saddened condescention for the prisoners of those august homes. I know what it is like to have everything I need at home and I know the feeling of girding my loins to make any trips anywhere away. I have clothing for every occassion and a choice of automobiles.
Why leave home? Whom do you invite into your home?
If you were resplendently wealthy and could afford the sort of home that is luxurious and large by any standard, I think that home would be some sort of anchor away from the public. Think about your dreams as a kid. Almost every fantasy mega-mansion includes a bowling alley. Who bowls alone at home? Well, if you had a comfortable library with all the books you wanted, or a stocked refrigerator with all your favorite food, or the complete collection of recordings from your favorite musical groups why would you go anywhere? More to the point, that as one rises in society, one finds the ability to 'do this at home'. I have quite surprised myself with the emergent quality of my own home cooking - to the point at which I'd put my Caesar salads and martinis against those of any fancy restaurant I've been to, which is quite a few. And if my lazy mediocrity can set a table that rivals the top 10%, imagine what I could do if I could hire the chefs and bartenders I know today. At the very least, here in Southern California, the quality of home in-ground pools far outshines that of any public plunge. Ick.
A home is a museum and a redoubt and a prison and a library and all that and more when it is of significant size and alive. This was in my final estimation of Bleak House the central organizing principle of Western society. The Big House. Propriety and Property all in one. That thing that shelters you and your children and your ideas and your comforts and prejudices. It is your retreat. And why shouldn't it be? Who can retreat in public except one who purposefully goes incognito to blend in with the crowd?
These days it seems as if the public fears for no good reason. I have made it an axiom of my Peasant Theory that the masses are a force of nature to be reckoned with. You cannot change it, nor can you predict it with much accuracy, but you can certainly understand when its dangers are imminent and soon to be upon you. Weathering any storm requires a few well understood preparations.
The upper class must surely understand these preparations. Wealth can prepare one for class simply through the social evolution inherent in retaining ones own house. I've not often congitated on the difference between old money and smart money, but surely old money must have some smarts, if only to get along with itself. Understatement in public would be a clear winner in my old money rulebook, and relaxation at home (or at some private club, if certain sanctities were observed about the home) would be a second rule. Of the sanctities, there have got to be some fairly hard and fast guidelines about whom one allows into the home. After all, butlers, security cams and guard dogs all serve similar purposes and we all kind of want those don't we?
At this point I'd like to take a tangent to observe how much of what we think about the upper class and of wealthy people in general is informed by, to be brief, Downton Abbey. It is our general understanding about English and European nobility, cast in our dramas and literature that gives us all these notions. I'm looking to get a more interesting picture of this from personal experience over the next few years as I begin to purposefully wander around the privileged classes of Americans. If I don't make my own million, I'm determined to observe other people's millions because I'd really like to know what is worth preserving, if I can sniff it out, in our current aristocracy's culture. After all, if we Americans are destined to become the likes of Lindsay Lohan when we all get rich (which we already are, mostly) then we may as well turn more things over to Sharia. Sharia has something very powerful going for it, which is that it makes the forces of the nature of the Masses, very predictable and controllable indeed. We have yet to see how good we are at corrupting our own democracy and liberties, but let us not forget Tytler's threshold has already been crossed.
In times of trouble there must be clear tipping points. And yet some things are preserved. I'm now thinking of some of the extroardinary mansions just off the east end of Detroit. Grosse Pointe. Some of it is cheap, I think, if I can afford what was once upper class. The bricks still stand straight and hold in the warmth of woodburning fireplaces evoking home and hearth of a wealthy white Christmas. In my own family there have been those that once possessed a building with servants' quarters. I slept there in comfort, though the wifi needed some work. But with the wifi and the fully stocked bar in the fabulously remodeled kitchen and the rarely used formal dining room, I couldn't be bothered to go out for pizza. We grumbled about the tourists who eyeballed the Frank Lloyd Wright across the wide tree-lined street.
If America is fine, which parts are certainly world-class and robustly healthy, then that will be preserved like the image of Santa Claus. And whether or not one believes in the exceptional myths, they can and will be enshrined evoking the best of us during the best of times.
While Malvos will snipe and Wilsons derail
The best of our betters will somehow prevail
Because life is survival at all costs so know
That some will survive and never lay low
Or go quietly into that eternal sleep.
A home is a castle and castles will keep.
What's good is what prospers so long as we choose
To be good and reward a failure to lose
To the dark side while darkness will never be gone
We linger, the stinger of death we will gone.
And yet in our castles we find in our hearts
longing company and company's seductive arts
still do charm and disarm our armory's guncarts.
JK is one of the good looking dudes from my old neighborhood. We are fraternity brothers, and like most people from the old neighborhood he's exceptional. Almost nobody from my 'hood disappeared into mediocrity, we're all somewhat extreme. I met him among many of my frat at a smoker in Mid City this evening. Afterwards, since some brothers were from out of town, we made it a point to take in some seafood at Harold & Belle's. I forget how good and how reasonable they are. I'm going back again soon.
We talked about the world, because we've seen it. More of it than we expected to see, I'm sure for all of us. Character counts, and we all had a lion's share. In the end, JK, who knows how to turn a phrase had the most compelling tale to tell. His tale, about a chaplain's assistant who refused to be separated from his charge, going two levels up the chain of command was inspiring and instructive, but it was one phrase tangentially contextual that caught my mind. It was something I know I hadn't written directly on - something we'll cover here.
But first a bit of context. I'm a bit of a prodigal when it comes to hanging out with such excellent gentlemen as my fraternity has produced. You see, I'm an Alpha Phi Alpha brother but despite that I have given up my rights to be a member in good standing with the Talented Tenth. I grew up adjacent to but in close social intercourse with the communities of Ladera Heights, Baldwin Hills and View Park. I didn't want to be a doctor, lawyer or accountant. I wanted to be a scientist, but a scientist who drove a convertable Mercedes 450 SLC. My father was an old school Episcopalian (good) but also a black nationalist (bad) and a US Marine (what!?). My mother could pass any paperbag test (good) and was a Catholic from New Orleans (good) but converted to the Foursquare Church (bad). Yet both were civil servants (not bad) and conservative in that unique way the black middle class is. And yes we were totally white collar. Still, I was the prodigy and did my requisite hobnobbing at cotillions and partied with the cool kids at Palisades, Harvard, Westlake & Loyola. I wanted and expected the tudor gothic house. I just wondered how I was going to get it with my Engineer's degree. At some point, however, I became gradually outcast - perhaps more in my own mind - from the mainstream of those of us dedicated to Uplift, the Struggle, the Movement and Community Service. I made a series of radical breaks with traditions, but I still love those very specific peoples. There's no way I can explain it all. But I'm glad they know me. I'm glad to know them, but I've been out for a long walk on the Right side of the wall.
JK spoke about the absurdity, from his unique point of view, of the way America's foreign policy puts us into conflicts, especially in the Middle East. He described his understandable difficulty, as an army chaplain, in digesting the political objectives surrounding our engagements in that part of the world. In the end, duty prevailed, but the phrase 'hearts and minds' stuck in his craw. And why shouldn't it? As he went over that matter several things occurred to me, one of them rather unique. From my own grandmother's lips used to come the phrase "You just want to stay mad." in describing the refusal of any number of peoples to be pacified by American military action.
You cannot presume to win hearts and minds simply by providing security.
We Americans tend to assume that people want what we have, simply because we do. There is a kind of tacit acknowledgement by all Americans that wealth and fame is what we all want. That subtext out of the way, we debate endlessly about the ethics of means. You cannot have a political discussion in America that doesn't boil down to a tug of war about the means, but everybody promises the same ends. Education. Health Care. Employment. Infrastructure. We know that a world of immigrants beat a path to our doors for those things, and all of us in the spoiled 5 figure middle class want incrementally more. We can get into full preacher mode verging on indignant hostility when we talk about the gap between black teenagers in urban Chicago and white collegians in suburban Virginia despite the fact that there are literally billions of humanity who would risk much to get into the South Side, even for the conditions at the end of the Great Migration generations ago.
And yet when we attempt to go about the planet doing God's work in 'nation building' it seems to strike all the wrong chords. What sort of nerve do we have providing the Infrastructure for Education, Health Care, and Employment in Iraq? What kind of American exceptionalist arrogance is that? We are easily accosted as wrong for attempting to provide for others what we all clamor for here at home. The irony weighs a ton. And yet human nature provides the perfect answer (see above text).
Dare I raise the question of police forces in America? Of course I dare. Because nobody wants to live in thugland, especially those with infrastructure, education, health care and employment. Everybody in America agrees that public safety comes first, without which even our greatest cities fail in misery and shame, not to mention are more than a little bit backwards cities and towns. We all agree on the one hand, that nobody will succeed in business or society when there is appreciable violence in the streets. We are reluctant to agree that you can't jawbone violence into submission. Killers need way more than stern lectures. There must be fierce retribution and zero tolerance, right? This country's citizenship has rent its collective clothing for the past several months over a handful of deaths. We're dying to see peace and quiet, truth and reconciliation.
But people have decided to stay mad.
It occurs to me, as one of my brothers intimated about the depth of culture and history in Israel, that we in America might decide to carry on grievances about slavery for 400 years beyond today. Maybe nobody in the large majority of African Americans wants to get over it. So let's just assume it. Let's assume that I, and the 3 or 4 million in the Talented Tenth are the only ones capable of 'just getting over it', even though only a third of those actually *want* to get over it. So let's say I'm in the minority of the minority prodigally engaged, but substantially divested of all racial baggage. Let's say that I will never be the one representing or represented the 'permanent interests' of the African American community (as that is generally interpreted to be vis a vis the Legacy of Slavery). Let's say there's only half a million of us so dedicated and so consecrated. We're happy. We are Thomas Sowell or Shelby Steele or whomever we are. We have our own reasons for our own patriotisms. We're satisfied in the mainstream. Our lives are secure.
But the rest of us, so the logic goes, are oppressed or suppressed or depressed or otherwise flattened and hard pressed in our communities. The rest of us want to stay mad, and we never worked our way out of our ghettoes. We live on 138th and Lenox and we have never been to the Central Park Great Lawn to play frisbee. We live in the 5th Ward of Houston and we've never gone on the tour of NASA. We don't know our way to your America. We are hypersegregated and we're always and forever going to need some extra efforts to rescue us out of our pressed situations. We're always going to be that Other America no matter how many sturdy hard-working immigrants arrive at our shores volunteering themselves into the melting pot. We are always going to be the descendents of slaves and that will always be the determining factor. So what if we live in America? So what if we have security? So what if this is the richest country on the planet? All the more reason for us to stay mad. Or so the logic goes.
It bears repeating. Battles for hearts and minds end up just being painful battles, because some hearts and minds are closed. They may wear advertising about 'any means necessary'. They may say 'we want a national dialog'. They may claim that an equal opportunity requires an unequal push and so on and so forth, but every bus has a front and a back and in the end, some folks are just more comfortable at the back of the bus.
No matter what you say, people have their pride, and that's what this is all about. Pride is not logical. Here's the thought experiment, which almost sounds ridiculous to bother explaining. What would you rather have, education, employment, health care and infrastructure or your community pride? Are you so proud of your ways in America, knowing that by sticking to them you lose education, employment, health care and infrastrucutre? How far back into the Legacy of Slavery or the conflict between Israelis and Arabs or the split between Sunni and Shia are you willing to dig in? How long will you refuse to conform? How long will you refuse to melt, to intermarry, to blend in, to get it where you fit in, to compromise, to let bygones be bygones, to bury the hatchet, to get over it? How many generations will you accept the burden of pride? Is it worth it? Yes? Because you just want to stay mad. You reserve the right to sit during the Pledge of Allegiance. You reserve the right to veto the settlement. You reserve the right to opt out, because you are not committed to integration. Segregation now and forever. Because Pride.
More specifically, when it comes to violence, pacification does not provide acceptable justice. That's because 'The People' don't exist and so the Justice System does not satisfy the granfathered exceptions to the social contract granted to My Special Community. That's Israeli justice, not my justice. That's Shia justice, not proper Sharia. That's the white people's System, not mine. Hearts and minds aren't equal. They want to stay in their own little ghettoes. They want their own inviolate turfs. They don't accept the mainstream. They must have their own Pride Parade down Main Street, and City Hall better not deny the permit. So don't send your army in here to try and fix things. We like it the way it is, and who do you think you are anyway?
We know this ends badly. History is violent. People bear grudges. Forever.
But the premise of progress is that lives can always be improved. So a Progressive agenda seeks to square the circle and reach out to the pressed peoples and make them over. It desires to do so with the assumption that what it has, the others do not, and their lack ought to make them submit to the program. When that fails, the opposition is blamed, but never 'blame the victim'. Really?
Well this Christmas I celebrate the success of the project I had several years ago to get the hell out of the Enterprise software business and get into Open Source, DevOps and the Cloud. It's done. I'm there. I work at home and run several suites of stacks for several customers and that's all good. The Last Kid is a senior in highschool and we're in the middle of planning how to ditch the four bedroom house for cheaper, cozier digs.
Along the way, some unexpected things happened, most significant of these were a dramatic increase in my credit rating and consequent quality of luxury furnishings. But seriously, it was the discovery of Stoicism and my martial education. These two things, which I didn't plan, came sideways out of the discovery, I suppose at long last, that I really don't like people in actuality as I do in theory. In theory I am an absolute modernist liberal. In practice, I feel most people don't deserve the benefit of the doubt. People meaning the people who practice democracy in America as a form of cultural identity and social complaint. I've concluded that things fall apart and at this rate my best efforts should be in divesting myself of the of the emotion so many have put into public debate.
I was introduced to Stoicism, although I didn't know it at the time, by the following quote by John Boyd.
“The most important thing in life is to be free to do things. There are only two ways to insure that freedom — you can be rich or you can you reduce your needs to zero.”
My mind always drifts back to a series of afternoons in Southern California back in 2008 when I was working in Orange County. I was on the precipice of accepting the job before my current gig. At the moment I was making out quite well as an independent consultant. Although I was communting 100 miles a day and gas was approaching $4, I was happy and confident. A bit too much, I thought, in my BMW 750il. I considered my neighbor and friend who had recently purchased a large deisel Ford pickup truck. It was an anti-vanity. The issue of the day was immigration and I spoke for a moment about Jameil's Law on the local radio show with Warren Olney. But my mind during lunches and commutes were focused on the larger role of long term thinking as I engaged the podcasts of the Long Now Foundation, of which I am now a member. In the long haul, I thought, I want to turn away from the politics of the sort that placate a loud public capble of rationalizing away the very meaning of 'illegal alien' and toward science. Scientific discipline has taken a back seat in our discourse and I don't want to be the guy in this society driving a luxury sedan. I'm about hard and excellent work at the top of my profession, or so I thought. And so in those days when nobody quite knew how bad the economy might get, I began a long march towards new sensibilities, anticipating no democratic solutions.
So I was preparing myself for things to get worse. In fact, I wanted to purchase a Hummer, making a kind of outsized apocalyptic gesture. In the end, I wanted something that said smart survival. I wound up with a Toyota FJ Cruiser, and it has become my favorite vehicle ever. But deeper than this outward sign of an inward commitment, I was seeking a way to leave the chatter behind. I made a name for myself as a black Republican and founder of the Conservative Brotherhood, a move that was optimistic for values against a practical backdrop that was stunningly mechanical. For anyone who bothers to look closely, the GOP struggles mightily with reconciling the needs of electoral power, dedication to virtues and the resposibilities of governance. Pick one and a half. It was a boulder I'd rather not push.
Fortunately I had dedicated my blog, the center of all my public thinking, to Socratic dialog, and people were still engaging me well enough to spark my own thoughts on every significant public matter. After some time however, once I got my final new job, working at home made me rather stir crazy. So I used Meetup groups to get from behind the keyboard and into real dialog. It turned out to be better in my own lab and library than in the agoras of Southern Cal. I met a few interesting people, but I would hesitate to call them friends. They too were single-minded or abstracted beyond much friendly use. Still, the philosophy meetup groups, the cloud computing meetup groups got me going. Raising my expectations and reducing my needs began to start coming more naturally. I decided not to be disappointed by disappointments in the field, and stick even tighter to long term thinking.
Playing a major part in my transition was the entire zombie vibe that has infected our society. So I really began to think about what if democracy really did fail in America, not just in parts but the whole thing? I knew instinctively that we would revert to hierarchies and tribalisms, as many of us are doing in our solopsist idiot ghettos behind the barbwire interdictions of political correctness. But what if it weren't just Antioch University? So I began to develop my Peasant Theory, already making a very strong statement in my own sights that Obama's electorate was no place for my sort of long term thinking.
Oddly enough, if these lessons in disappointment weren't quite enough, a couple video games helped push me the extra mile. Of course I read Seneca and Epictetus, but it was literally a boss battle in a game called Amalur that brought me to write:
As I approached the highest levels in Amalur, resolving the ultimate faction quest of the sages, I battled the Archsage's mental demons one of which was Ambition and the other Indifference. Having won, I got to choose and I chose Indifference as a power. Indifference is the power of equanimity. I know it contradicts Ayn Rand, but perhaps now is the time to consider disinterest. For years since my 40s I have been waiting for all the kids to eat first and being a river to my people with the pride of earning and giving away. But now it all starts to feel more and more like Indifference because it surely is not Ambition. Ambition is a tool to make one's river wide and deep. Indifference serves wisdom best. It makes one confident in judgment. The Judge is critical, but does not belong.
I was becoming very judgmental. And it was finally Harold Bloom and Charles Dickens that helped me understand myself. People were behaving, according to me, at very low standards, and yet the chatting classes kept expecting to outsource a new generation of experts by public acclaimation and internet aggregation. We were and still are in the midst of a crap-populist revolution in America, both political parties harvesting shit tons of power by the buttload from the manufactured consent of a nation of asshats. And I knew that Wall Street was going to feed its own and the Exxon would still be Exxon. While the masses were tweeting out selfies, there was real long term thinking done by industry. Sure much of it was infantilizing the once formidable American middle-class, but once they decided to spend money through Verizon and AT&T texting adolescent spellings rather than essaying in paragraphs, well.. certain dislocations were inevitable. My job was not to outrun the bear, my job was to be in my castle not searching for mystical communications with nature in the first place. And so Bleak House has been my guide to what civilization can be without democracy.
In the back of my mind is the Gangstarr soundtrack.
Check it stupid
While you're out there, on the main streets frontin
Your game's week, so I'm huntin you down clown
Cause you need to learn somethin
All that bluffin, won't get you nothin but killed
No mission fulfilled, because there's others who will
get jealous, hell if they can take clout from you, they'll do it
So that's what I'm about to do, I'll step to it
and strip you of your pride (your pride)
And then I'll stick and I'll rip you up from all sides
or possibly I'll let you slide, slime
Cause you'll set your own death in just a matter of time
Yeah, and I'll be somewhere on the sidelines, y'know
I won't disclaim all of that gangbanging harshness. What made us think we could be mellow in the first place? You cannot be mellow on credit. You're owned. Don't get me wrong. This is not pessimism. It's not even particularly skeptical or cynical. It's the mere acknowledgment that in the long term, to paraphrase Taleb, whatever can be, will be. In the long term, a black American president is inevitable. So is a limited nuclear exchange. The point is not to be shocked, but to be prepared. There are always backstreets. There are always sucker MCs, there are always men whose games are too tight to come apart at the seams. The trick, as Kipling would say, is to walk with kings nor lose the common touch. To observe judgmentally at the appropriate distance, and to have a home to return to at the end of what may or may not be an eventful day. The Chinese curse is not to live in interesting times, but that you would be become overly shitfaced by the whipsaw of the crap-populism of interesting times. I walked down the crapulous backstreets of Dickensian London. I get it. Buy better boots.
One of the most intriguing ideas I have entertained in the past decade was an understanding of the best reasons for war, which have nothing do do with self-defense in the immediate sense, but the defense of reason itself. The purpose of war is to destroy myths. The purpose of war is to restore human faith in cause and effect. The purpose of war is remind humankind of its limits. I didn't expect to be thinking such thoughts, but there it is all put together. It's only that thinking about my developing Stoicism that concerns me. Do I need war? Am I indifferent to that path to war? Do I accept it like the tank captain in Fury? "Ideals are peaceful, history is violent."
The other day I read this excellent review of Mein Kampf by Orwell.
[Hitler] has grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life. Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all "progressive" thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security, and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won’t do. Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flag and loyalty-parades…. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a grudging way, have said to people "I offer you a good time," Hitler has said to them "I offer you struggle, danger and death," and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet. -- George Orwell, 1940
I cannot be indifferent to that probability happening here in America, in the long term. If I were to mind the currents to a greater degree, I might be alarmed by those signs I could see. But I have decided to limit my field of vision to my own domestic tranquility, to my own probity, to my own property. I no longer am concerned about how I appear so much in the public sphere so long as I have a Western gentleman's comforts and privileges, because I aim in no uncertain terms for Western civilization to be sustained. Sinatra may be dead and Sammy may no longer dance the old soft shoe, but their pictures are still on the wall in my favorite restaurant where the bartender has read Kingsley Amis. I can survive another Blitz when Duke Ellington is triply redundant in the Amazon Cloud and I can still get packet radio. More importantly, I have friends with whom I can trust my life. I have tapped into some military tradition, and I will some more.
Here is where things get a bit nebulous, because here is where I am. I don't have all of my answers, but I know where to look and whom to ask. I know that vodka makes good mouthwash, and I know I can drink vodka straight. I am a new organic all over again, and my loyalty remains to the city states of Los Angeles and New York, just in case things mostly don't work out. I can lose weight and run. I can shoot and cook and mend wounds. My martial education is advancing and I will have covered all bases by the time I reach 60.
You see I understand and forgive the world its callow activities. I must. I have children I love, and I see the extent to which I have entrusted their education to the decrepit mediocrities of the American public. We don't know what class is any longer, because so little of what we have was forged by the harsh realities of war. We can lose the New Republic in a heartbeat because today's billion dollar fortune bears no resemblance to that of Carnegie's. Old money is dead, and hackers are trying Bitcoin. There's no gold standard, so you really have to get your own gold. We could lose the whole Republic in a heartbeat if the whole thing goes off standard. Which standards matter? (He said rhetorically as if to placate those post-modernists who actually wonder). I suppose Plato spoke about golden souls, did he not? I am ultimately in the business of aiding the survival of the Western, modern liberal ideal, in theory. But in practice, I leave my house in an urban assault vehicle. I don't survive on hope. I'm too heavy for that. I fall through hope's thin rafters so I'm all about concrete foundations, Fred Flintstone in Bedrock. Fred does not go to war. He is good natured, but very practical, and very defensive of his women.
Will that be what it takes? Will it be war that brings us out of the confusion that allows our politics to suffer in such reputable treachery? If so, then let me be a war profiteer. Let me gain strength from the suffering of mankind, like a surgeon. Let me not profit from mankind's foolishness, like a rock star politian. I don't know. Will I be indifferent? I will work to be wise in my judgment, knowing judgment must come for each of us. We are men after all, and we do good and evil and must meet with our due rewards.
For the time being, I am an engineer among people who read tea leaves. I mock them. Yet I resist the impulse to slap the teapot over into their laps and rudely interrupt their mindless meditations. I sit in silent judgment, good natured and affably indifferent. I enjoy the tea. But I also don't complain about the price because I am part of the system that delivers it to the store where the common man shops. I am invested in keeping the ships afloat and the planes in the air. There remains infrastructure to be put to good use in the modern world, despite how many asshats vote for those who would deconstruct it mercilessly in search of an idiot-proofed utopia. Still, I'm not sure how much not to care the common man's ever more common mistakes when the health of the nation seems impaired by it. How many of us are just passengers on this ship?
The German comic Henning Wehn says something very deep about clapping along and enjoying yourself. I am Stoic. I am doing my work, and calculating, observing and judging with a studied indifference for the purposes of wisdom. I am reducing my needs to zero while focusing on my long term thinking, prepared for what can go wrong in my house made of bricks. I'm not just clapping along and enjoying myself in the public sphere.
Quote of the day from my friend DJ:
The only reason we know the names Ghandi and Martin Luther King are because the people of the US and UK weren't willing to use violence to enforce what they knew to be unjust policies. The Chinese Communist Party has no such qualms, which is why non-violence has not and will not work in China. The Dalai Lama has been quite successful at making people like him, and making people aware of China's conquest of Tibet, but Tibet is still conquered, it's culture destroyed, and it's history and language dying. And all the protests in the world will not save it. Non-violence protest is a useful tool against relatively civilized governments only. You have to be pretty delusional to think that a single tool will solve all problems.
I like that. It fits with a couple aphorisms I have on the matter.
The first is specific to MLK. Martin Luther King Jr's mistake was to consider non-violence as a strategy rather than a tactic. And to expand on that, MLK was never the leader that Nelson Mandela was. Mandela knew his tactics from his strategies. After all, he spent a much longer time in jail.
The second is specific to Americans in support of Tibet. Every American who has a 'Free Tibet' bumpersticker would rip it off their cars if they knew actually freeing Tibet meant sending troops. But that's why Tibet isn't free.
There's a broad gulf between nationbuilding and peacekeeping. But we don't seem to have a good vocabulary across that space that has working political currency in American foreign affairs. Clearly Obama hasn't advanced that understanding, except to the extent it allows him to use drone strikes. But drone strikes are a tactic and not a strategy. So Boko Haram, like the Janjaweed Militia and IS is yet another force acting with impunity against the interests of civil rights in their nations.
What to do? What to do?
I get alerts from local law enforcement, and have for a year or so. So I get texts when a shooting goes down or children are abducted in my corner of LA County. Today I saw a story about a man who dropkicked a toddler with his steel-toe boots, stuffed her face down into the sofa and left her for dead. He's arrested for murder one, of course. I am, in short, accustomed to hearing about tragic events. I'm glad to be the kind of mature man who doesn't lose his cool as I know this kind of thing happens all of the time, every day in this country and every country around the world. But I am sick to death about the obsession and symbolic outrage that has captivated so many people. I'm even tired of mocking the idiocy.
It may seem to some that because of my determination to keep a stiff upper lip about such matters, as I enjoy reading military history and thinking about how to think about death and destruction, that I have lost some measure of sensitivity to the human condition. Nothing could be further from the truth. I know what people need when death comes calling. Just this weekend there was a suicide near my wife's place of business. I know I helped her deal with it. No I'm not a psychologist, but I've been around the block and you can tell me anything. Anything. I'm that guy. And I truly, honestly want to help people make it through. That's why I am an Emergency Response volunteer and why I'll be volunteering with the local PD next month. My aim is to be skilled in that regard. Hands on.
This is precisely why all the blatheration, as much as I love a good debate, is making me irascible. It's why I'm turning some of it off. There is a limit to how much one man's death can mean and there are few things more repulsive to me, when so many people experience tragedy, than celebrity victims.
I know that it is impossible for someone like me to give any comfort to someone who is emotionally distraught about their feelings for a celebrity supermodel who alleges sexual assault by a celebrity comedian who know in what state who knows how many years ago. Impossible. All such people want to hear are Amens the specific political sentiments that motivate them. I cannot provide comfort to people who have decided to be purposeful in their discomfort. It is the big brother in me that compels me to want to shut them up and have them listen to the comfort of reason. Ragers want to rage.
Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin. All are celebrity victims. Their deaths, they being human beings with one soul - equal to that of any other ever born or yet unborn all deserve their respects. It's the amount of respect one could pay in a few hours at a wake or funeral (Which I seem to be going to more and more these days). But their deaths have been celebrated as omens, and they have been made great symbols. I am weary of the minds ensnared in that dirty business. They have made a tawdry spectacle of it all with their empty gestures, hashtags and manufactured outrage.
The more dignified I want to be, the more angry I get at the indignity of this political circus. I will find a way to maintain my engagement and my peace of mind. For now, I'm changing channels.
(The picture is the grave of Marie Laveau in New Orleans to whom I'm distantly related. People leave tokens)
Some people have been trying to rewrite history and make extraordinary claims for Barack Obama vis a vis his connection to black politics. HA!
Barack Obama, the candidate, studiously avoided being the black candidate for the black people. He was the black candidate who could win in New Hampshire and Iowa. When it came to the most serious and profoundly resonant nexus between Candidate Obama and Black America, namely his relationship to the Black Church in Chicago, all the power of a half billion dollar internet savvy campaign armtwisted the entirety of the US media to stay off the matter of race.
It was precisely because Obama was ideologically indistinct for Kucinich and the heir to all that Howard Dean agitated that he moved the Democrats left and gained the lead. But he specifically did so by leaving his racial bona fides with black Americans unstated and implied.
There is no way to honestly re-racialize the candidacy and legacy of Barack Obama. It flies directly in the face of the fact that his candidacy exploited the very idea of a 'post-racial' America. Obama did NOT grow up politically in anything approaching traditional black activist politics. All of his 'blackness' was gained through his marriage through Michelle. He steamrolled traditional black politics in Chicago, and the likes of Tavis Smiley was hopping mad about it. Here in LA, Maxine Waters (whose post-LA Riot political career was completely saved by the Clintons) and Magic Johnson were all in the Clinton camp against Obama. Obama literally came out of left field, with ties to radical leftists in Chi-town and money men who knew a phenomenon when they saw one.
There is and was never any racial promise in Obama that had anything to do with black politics with one exception. Identity. Identity ain't policy. Obama shapeshifted his identity for the masses, and took over the role formerly held by Oprah, with Oprah's blessing. But he has always been Barbara Boxer in a black man suit.
And so I said:
It says that people in the press and chattering classes online have hyped up more political mythology and crackpot racial theories.
The fact is that there are about 40 million African Americans alive and well in America. To the best knowledge anybody has, an average of 96 are killed by police each year. Fewer African Americans of any age are killed by police than Americans are killed in car crashes with deer. The FBI reports 3.4 million arrests of African Americans per year. Do the math. Does it sound like anyone has done a logical risk assessment here?
Everybody who is in the streets clashing with police, wants to be in the streets clashing with police. Right now people are flying in from other states to be in the streets clashing with police in Missouri. What do we tell them?
Once upon a time, the United States of America was full of Negroes. America had a problem. It was the Negro Problem. It was characterized by a relatively complete failure for the Negro to gain an appreciable foothold in any of the nation's mainstream institutions. He couldn't be educated, he couldn't be drilled, he couldn't couldn't make profits because by and large he was segregated out of universities, armed forces and businesses. Along came WW2, and America changed profoundly in the way it saw the world and the way the world saw it. And because war is a good reason to kick a lot of nonsense to the curb, some of that nonsense of segregation was indeed pushed back. The Negro got a taste. Now the Negro was never far from a complete understanding of what America offered. He was always in close proximity to successful Americans. The Negro was America's housecat. He was fed but he was feral. He was never considered an equal, except by eccentrics. More importantly, he wasn't considered an equal by himself. He wasn't sure if he was a man or a pet. The war changed some of that. The reality of humanity interposed itself and the preciousness of life and freedom became obvious. The uncertainty and dual consciousness of man and pet was illuminated. Negroes became men.
This history is surely familiar to you and I won't belabor it long. The point was that this man and that man had the nerve to stand up and fight, undaunted by hard times. They did so to put their best foot forward, to live free and shine in the light of liberty. Well that sounds all fluffy but the fact is now millions of Americans have backed themselves right back into the heart of dual consciousness. They are now obsessed by the death of two black suspects, one in Missouri and one in New York, and have taken these deaths as ominous portents of the fate of the Negro in America. Once proud black Americans have let the little Jim Crow in their heads take over their personalities and whip them into submission. Now they are not sure if they are pets or men. They're certainly not acting like men. I've had it up to here.
Just yesterday of my best friends said the following:
Approximately two decades ago I got into an argument on Usenet (soc.culture.african.american--scaa for short), about police, black kids, and the talk. The brother I argued with suggested that the best thing to teach black kids was NOT to be deferential to the police. I thought this was foolish and that following this advice would likely get his kid killed. I don't think I had kids at the time but definitely didn't have sons.
I've got sons now. But I've done a 180--I now take that brothers position. I guess it boils down to this. If it really doesn't matter, then what values do you want to represent when you go?
I have decided to become an irascible asshole about this spate of black paranoia, because my sensitive friend Lester Spence has become infected by its cowardly poison. It is ironic that this demonic possession of fear, I say again FEAR, has gobbled up whatever common sense, perseverance and motherwit we used to associate with the Negro race. But it is clear that the lot of you have lost your minds and now tremble like autumn leaves at the prospect some white man might lose his mind. And so your fear of his presumed fear of you has made you both into idiots ready to lash out like cornered animals. I'm disgusted. Thoroughly and totally disgusted at this shameful regressive display. The very idea that the sons of tenured professors "ain't goin' out like that" and are prepping themselves for suicide by cop in a blaze of retarded glory are the wet dreams of Willie Lynch. For what? I spit on the graves of suicides. They are murderers of the self, and there is no greater example of self-hatred than that. Except this goes one step further to terrorist suicide. A plan to intimidate millions in an act of self-sacrifices that blames the other man. I've see a lot of bullshit walking in my life, but this is bullshit at the speed of light.
If it has to be that those who would call themselves black in this country would sink so low, and be seduced and then obsessed by every freak accident social media can blast, then Carter Woodson is doing back somersaults in his grave. Are you all so desperate for identity that you will line up in unity behind every tragedy spewed in your direction? Ae you literally chasing ambulances? You have become a cult of death, letting it seep into your bones and affect your daily routine. This dead man means everything, you say. The man you never saw, never knew, never cared about until his death confirmed your deepest, darkest fear. And now fear dominates your spirits. You faithless wankers!
I'm not going away. I'm not defriending. I'm going to stand tall and berate you until you come to your senses. I only hope I don't become exhausted. But every fresh morning when I hear about how this dead man seals the Negro fate, I puke all over again, and you're going to smell it and remind you that I don't buy that weak sauce. I don't know about any of you, but my grandfather was an orphan and my grandmother survived polio. They got married during the Great Depression. That's where I come from. Steel. And once upon a time in America, that kind of steel mattered, and it didn't need hashtag activism. It lived, and it loved, and it raised children. It didn't whine and complain and obsess and have its composure destroyed by the death of one man no matter how dubious he or his killer were. And it sure as hell didn't reprogram its children in reactionary paranoia. They knew how to live, and by God it rubbed off on me. So if you're going to listen to every halfwit reporter on the death obsessive news, you're going to listen to me too.
Get a grip. Turn away from death and live!
I'm giving part of the attribution to Neal Stephenson's Baroque Series, and part of the attribution Michael Pollan to and part of the attribution to the developers of Assassin's Creed. Also, now that I think of it we should spread a few props to Niall Ferguson and Nassim Taleb. It was a combination of their concepts that helped me to understand that I could have lived very well in the past. Not just the recent past, but in the 18th Century. There were very good ways to live back then, and good ways prior to that as well.
So when I think about my own martial education, a lot of it has to do with ridding myself of priorities established by contemporaries. Particularly I emphasize those priorities directed to me as a member of the consumer society - of those priorities that would have me spend effort, time and money pursuing convenience at the expense of spending effort, time and money for the sake of self-sufficiency. To be independently wealthy in our connected society requires a great deal more than it used to. But I digress. The point here lies specifically around the area of food.
I have often speculated about the amount of desperation a man would have been in when he found himself eating the first oyster. He must have been really really hungry to go underwater and pull that horrid looking thing off of whatever mucky object it was attached to, crack it open and slurp up the gummy substance. But then somebody said, "Nah, it was a teenaged boy doing it on a dare." Suddenly it made perfect sense. Not so complicated at all. But if you look at the history of recipies for oysters, the sophistication arises over time. Of course you want to eat Oysters Rockefeller. You'd spend good money on that. I would.
And yet we have fast food. Fast food is for people on the go who may have neither the time nor the skill to Big Gulpify themselves, or craft up their own McNuggets. Indeed what part of a chicken is the nugget? It's not surprising that this stuff isn't the best for you, but what about margerine? What about artificial sweeteners? What's the point of all this scientifically engineered food product? What goes into making that sausage? We don't know, we don't care. We simply eat when we're hungry because, relatively speaking, we are all very rich and we have choices. But then again so did our grandparents have choices. So did people in the 18th Century.
They judge inventions against sliced bread, you know. Damned good idea, sliced bread. So now imagine you were someone other than a teenaged boy on a dare. How do you come up with the ingredients, much less the audacity, to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? You and I both know, it's pretty much a toss up between that and Oysters Rockefeller depending upon how much cold milk is in the fridge. But OK. Peanuts grow under ground, so you have to dig those up, crack open the shell and crush the nut. Then grapes grown on vines in a completely different climate, surely not right next to wheat. Where the heck do you get yeast? I don't know. So this is a recipe that took a lot of doing. A lot of trial and error.
So yeah, if I lived in the days of Leonardo, I might have had a steel sword, but probably not a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I probably would have had a good Italian sausage, though and probably a decent pizza. The recipe for pizza, specifically the combinations of all the foods possible we think about make a good pizza have been passed down for generations. Like the first oyster, it didn't kill anybody. How many generations of good pizza do we have? It proved itself to be a domesticated food a recipe worthy of handing down for generations. Just as I learned from my parents how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
What has survived for hundreds of years is better. Everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. That's Murphy and Taleb. Pizza is the safe bet. I would say peanut butter and jelly will be a safe bet too, but probably not as safe as pizza, and certainly safer than say... well start reading this: http://www.fda.gov/Food/DietarySupplements/ I dare you. That's not a recipe from your parents, that's a recipe for disaster.
So ask yourself if this new thing you want to eat or avoid eating has been known to as many people over as much time as peanut butter and jelly.
A few years ago I found myself comparing women singing Christmas songs. I started and I couldn't stop, not even for Celine Dion. Now I find myself listening to national anthems and I have to be judgmental.
This is actually a marvelous song. I find the lyrics admirable and that music a perfect mix of martial and lyrical.
It's smooth and sounds like it should be sung in church. I like it very much. Not bad at all.
Kind of sing-songy and romantic. It sounds like it could be the theme for a Judy Garland movie. I just see a woman in a long dress singing on top of a mountain meadow.
No. Puts me to sleep. Something's just ineffably wrong with it.
Dignified for sure, in a kind of low key way. Not bad.
That's immediately sounding like a national anthem. Magnificent, florid lyrics with drama. Still, why do they have to sing the same thing three times?
This is one of my favorites. Just soaring dramatic and lyrics so well comported to the melody. A little weird at the end.
OK This one sounds like circus music. Ick. Stretching out simple words over long notes. Rep
Can you say Oompa? Yuk. It just evokes a parade of strutting teenagers. Sad. Just sad.
Romantic and prideful, understated and dignified. Lyrics about oak trees and mountains. Gotta love it.
It's difficult for me to be cool with songs about blood. War I can deal with, just the word 'blood' doesn't work for me. It's a bit of a dirge this one. Dignified for sure, but a little on the churchy side.
I'm kind of sure I got a bad version of this. Sounds like they had too many 13 year old kids singing in it. Kind of directionless music and phrasing.
This is actually one of the greatest anthems out there. Catchy and magnificent at once. Gets to you. I've heard a number of arrangements of this so it's probably not fair to those others I've heard only this time.
Speaking of blood. France has the the most disturbing lyrics of all. It's hard to get over that. But you've got to give them a hat tip for the music. It couldn't be much of anything else but a national anthem.
It works. Miraculously this has India all over it. Just a droning kind of drug of a song, puts me into a trance.
The Russian national anthem is probably the greatest of them all. It just begs to be sung by masses of men and women. Swelling bosoms from left to right. Even in its quiet moments it never loses track of the victorious strains. Poetic throughout and just flat glorious.
OK I just don't like this. It is absolutely very Japanese and has a kind of unapproachably haunting beauty, but it's a tone poem, not an anthem.
Scary confidence in that choppy lyricism. Sophisticated for certain but bloody again. Yike.
After listening to the marching Chinese, the fragrance of mango groves is a welcome respite. Still, I don't get it. Very villagey sounding.
Wonderful. A perfect mix for a small country.
Oh! When done right, this is bloody brilliant. Definitely in the top ten.
I hate the arrangement I'm listening to. I'm thinking there must be a version that doesn't make it sound like a circus march, but maybe not.
Hard for me to be objective about this one. Like Germany, England and Russia, I've known this one for a while and hummed it often. Corny. It grows on you.
The blood in this one is nicely sculpted. But like the language, it's quirky and unsubtle.
Gotta love the lyrics to this one. Hard to beat. Of all the repetitive anthems, I suppose these are the least tedious.
Why does this sound like the overture to an epic black and white movie made in 1925? Yike. Self importantly beautiful.
The most tortured lyrics ruin a song that.. well, I'd just like to hear the instrumental version. Just too monosyllabic. No flow whatsoever.
Deliciously dramatic. And oh those minor keys! Mother give us manly strength. What a charmingly magnificent song. This is what a national anthem should be.
Of all the Latin nations, these guys have done it right. Booyah. Thank you. I was beginning to think Spanish was a language just incompatible with a properly lyrical anthem.
Yeah this one works. You kind of get the idea that they might have invented the very idea of a national anthem. Not that I'm biased or anything. Heh.
Often misunderstood, but bloody brilliant when done right. Definitely in the top five.
Very simple and elegant. I have a feeling that the lyrics, which I don't have, would make it suck, but the instrumental is pretty good.
You're not likely to hear this one anytime soon, but if you get the chance, it's gorgeous. Just wow.
A proper anthem. Straightforward, crisp and clean.
Sounds just like music from a great John Ford movie. Sleepy in the middle and gets lost a bit, but recovers nicely.
A stately march, but it doesn't go anywhere musically. Like they wanted to keep it down to the fewest notes possible.
Very Soviet. Holy smokes. Am I listening to the right version? I can see the warheads on parade.
A sweet combination of modesty and pomposity. Starts off meek then punches you in the jaw. It works.
OK that's enough.
They say that good fences make good neighbors. I say that anger and frustration are just like farts in the wind. Nothing political really matters until people are ready to burn things down. It makes for good dividing lines. The Ferguson mob is a lynch mob, there's no question about that. If they could get their hands on The Man, they would stone him. That's good news. It has clarity. It shows that people actually have the courage of their convictions, they are putting their money where their mouths are. We, at long last, have a proper mob.
When this shitstorm began, I wrote the following:
If the death of one man, by accident, or on purpose causes a neighborhood, community, suburb, town, ghetto or general residential district to break down civility, well I suppose you can call that person a hero by definition. His life is valued higher than law and order. Pinker has words to say on such honor codes. Essentially, they are tribal and inferior to the rule of law. But I've been saying this for years, tribal hierarchies are what people use when democratic institutions fail. Nothing at all surprising at that. What is surprising is the extent to which activists and political plotters and strategists try to co-opt the energy of tribalism and convert it back into democratic institutional power. It's really just swapping one alien committee for another. And of course the big problem is that it doesn't help the honor code or the tribe.
A real pitchfork and torches tribe working the hierarchy is ready, and I mean defiantly, militantly ready, to stare down and shoot down the System. That's what 'by any means necessary' implies, but it always turns out in America that the means of choice is sublimation to the New Committee (which seems always ready to grant permanent seats to Jackson or Sharpton). It almost makes you miss Khalid Muhammad. But the bottom line is, misappropriation of James Baldwin's Fire Next Time notwithstanding, the tribe is going to lose.
I went on to speculate about how the protest train would rumble on in infinite circles. I was wrong. It actually got militant, and so I am pleasantly surprised for the militants. We can look forward to seeing t-shirts that say "I rioted in Ferguson and all I got was this bullet in the shoulder." Non-trivial stuff. But that badge of courage will go to a precious few in the Ferguson tribe, while the complimentary abstracted blather of the rest of the Activist Nation continues. Some props have to go to those who dug into their pockets and made this their Million Man March, went to Ferguson, picked up a torch and burned something down.
I haven't heard of any cops getting shot yet, but I did hear a story of somebody who, brandishing a pistol, got into a car wreck and shot herself in the head. Her video said of the gun 'We're ready for Ferguson'. She gets an E for effort, and a big fat fail for effectiveness. Then again, that can be said for most tribal mobs no matter how many strip malls and car dealerships they manage to burn to ashes.
What we need, right about now, is somebody with a rifle and a can of gasoline to stand up and heroically say "Yeah I did it, and I'd do it again" But we are not yet to that moment. Right now it's all just Anonymous black mobs of rioters and looters and cockeyed shooters and their attending media circus of armchair wannabe vanguardians. I say it should have been Michael Brown's mother, but apparently she would rather be a media star than a soldier. Understandable, but not heroic.
When buildings are burning is the moment for true heroes to be born. We have arrived at that moment. Will it become heroic or just more mindless destruction?
Now it also must be said that a lot of people are asking if the violence is worth it. The answer is yes. But it wasn't until buildings were burning that a sufficient amount of violence has been applied to the standard bullshit rhetoric of the Hate America First contingent. What makes the haters pathetic is their pacifism which undermines the legitimacy of their wordsmithing. What makes the Ferguson mob serious is its willingness to do damage. It doesn't matter that the owner of the bakery was a black woman. What's at stake here is not race so much as justice, and more particularly the failure of democracy to serve the very human ends of the Ferguson mob.
This is what happens when democratic institutions fail.
It happens all the time, all around the world. There is nothing special in that, but here in America it is especially necessary to pay attention when cities are set aflame. That's when the mob gets to play from a position of power. It is the human impulse, as revered and as sacred as the mastery of fire itself. It is a Second Amendment kind of fundamental right, and it is an order of magnitude more important than the talk. It establishes the serious skin in the game for all talk to come and it erases the nonsense of the talk already farted into the wind. Here is the dividing line; the acts that pledge and risk one's life to the cause.
I doubt there will be any hero to emerge from this who can stand on principle and unite the pen and sword. Many who weren't there will try to abstract this into #BlackLivesMatter or #HandsUpDontShoot. Anybody can play the Twitter game - Catching Fire like a holiday movie meme. In the end, it matters mostly to Ferguson and those who live thereabouts. Democracy has failed that little part of the world and they've literally burned a tattoo there. We have a genuine scorched earth reminde. Any headstones will testify permanently. I am reminded, as should we all, that when men are sufficiently provoked, they will demand justice with fire. What will they get? What have they asked for? Who can provide?
The night that Los Angeles burned, I walked the streets of Brooklyn alone. The next day was what I called White Flight Friday. I was a young man on the way to all the answers I now possess holding but a third, and yet I had a clue. The reporter asked how long, and I said the fires will all be out next week. She gaped incredulously, I continued to march, peacefully. That was 22 years ago. I wasn't even married yet.
That Thursday night near midnight when the streets were quiet, my mind was raging. I expected to be greeted with radical handshakes on every corner but the world in my immediate proximity was silent and calm. Of everything it was possible to know, the facts conspired to leave my neighbors at peace. I knew in that moment that disruption was the exception, and normalcy was the norm. I realized that I alone in Prospect Heights chose to arrange the facts to incite me to a certain active mindset. It was perplexing and frustrating. I was angry in my raging solitude; because they didn't get it.
They never do.
The night that Brooklyn burned, about somebody named Yankel, or was it Howard Beach, I'm sure that I was somewhere oblivious in Los Angeles. So when I got to New York and asked where the upper middle class black neighborhood was, I got stared down. I was supposed to hate Crown Heights as a black man, but I didn't share the context. When I came to rap in the local throwdowns, they saw my tie and expected me to croon. I refused the 8 Ball jacket and quickly learned how I could not have been expected to be taken seriously.
Black orthodoxy is an echo of the blues, and I have come to believe it is stuck in a key that hasn't been transposed much in 30 years. The orchestra is maintained by a conspiracy of facts purposefully arranged to incite. I have, over the years, become adept at recognizing the signature tones of its moaning chorus. Anybody black can solo, if you hit the right notes, but there are certain soloists who are sought out over others. These days, the sounds of the imprisoned and the dead round out the top 40. We've been here before, these blues are old standards now.
I'm talking about some place in Missouri. But I wasn't there and neither were you. Nor were you in Cosby's boudoir or OJ's driveway. You weren't in Clarence's office and you weren't in Rice's elevator. You weren't in Rodney's car and you weren't on Diallo's street. You weren't in Tupac's crew or R. Kelly's video. But you wanted to be. You wouldn't want to if you had your questions answered, how to think about America from the eyes of its darker brothers. You had to have a black man question settled once and for all, sorta. You gather facts that conspire to incite, because questions demand answers and answers demand action. Such curiosity cannot kill enough cats. You have to keep asking. The cats of racial theorems are in a superposition of states. You open the Pandora's box of race and either the black cat scratches your eyes out or it's just dead. It will always be that way, so long as you keep opening the box. And you do.
Brentwood. Rosewood. Jena. Howard Beach. Ferguson. Your eyes got scratched and you're singing the blues. What did Flip Wilson say? He loved the blues because when the record wears out, it still sounds the same.
You know the names of the 27 victims. It's an arbitrary number, but you could figure them out because you're an American. You could write a history of Black America in 27 Victims. It's what you're supposed to know. You are supposed to get it whether you live in Los Angeles or Brooklyn. You are supposed to know there's not just a black cat in the box, but a raging black panther. And if we just left the race box open and let it out, it could bring a righteous fright to all the quiet neighborhoods, and everyone would know what it feels like to get their eyes scratched out. We could all be equally blinded and in pain. We could all know the facts that incite us to action.
I say leave the box alone. The cat is just as dead as it is dangerous. It is only the obsession with observation that endangers our vision. It is only our desire for perpetually asking painful questions that brings the pain. Do you doubt me? Then why Ferguson? Why Ferguson for more than a year? Why this moment, on this day? Because drama requires a ticking clock, a pregnant pause, a single symbol above all others to confirm one way or another, what you already know the facts conspire to incite. The soloist may or may not sing on key but the chorus continues.
It's sad that so many people in the land of the free choose to stick their noses in the racial box. I understand that questions must be answered; it's a part of growing up. Once upon a time, people got killed for a reason and we talked about the racism that was the cause. I could name names, but you already know them. Now people get killed for no reason and somehow folks decide the reason should be racial. You know, because some people are white and some people are black and sides have to be taken. That's the devolution of thought required to incite lights, camera, action!
It's quiet here in Los Angeles. I've been thinking about Lewis Hamilton today, because that's what matters in my world. No I wasn't in Abu Dhabi over the weekend, but I wanted to be. I recognize that a lot of folks are going to think of America today in terms of cat scratch blues. That's their choice. That's what they want to know. That's the box they want to stick their nose in. Of all the things it's possible to know today my curiosity leaves me calm. The facts I persue conspire to leave me at peace, because peace and quiet is what I desire. I'm not even interested in rhetorical conflict.
There's always somebody who argues that a black man should not desire peace, but righteous anger until.. there's a black clerk at Woolworths, a black NFL quarterback, a black cheif of police, a black Supreme Court Justice, President, two-term President, King of the Universe Until forever. A black man should always be angry, right? Never give up the Struggle. Let 'em know.
So you asked me:
"Why would a civilian living peacefully need a semi automatic gun?"
So we're going to play a game of reason. You first need to ask me a question and then I will answer. Then we will switch. Ready? OK.
M: Ask me if I've ever been ass raped by a booty busting faggot.
M: Go ahead, ask me.
Y: Have you ever been ass raped by a booty busting faggot?
M: No, my ass is just fine. Now it's my turn to ask you a question. I'm going to ask you if you have ever been shot in the ass by a maniacal gun toting vigilante. Just so. Have you ever been shot in the ass by a maniacal gun toting vigilante?
M: How's your ass?
Y: None of your business.
M: Come on, say the words.
Y: My ass is just fine, asshole.
M: Now I make a statement. I say all American citizens have the Constitutional right to do what they like with their dicks, so long as my ass is just fine.
Y: I know what you're trying to do here. There's really no parallel. Guns are designed to kill people.
M: Do you really want to get into a discussion about what the penis is designed for?
Y: I'm not going to say it.
M: Yeah well that's why I don't respect your opinions.
Y: I'm unfriending you.
M: Please, don't let me stand in the way of your contradictions.
America is an aggregated society. The American exists as an individual, but the nation has become rather indifferent to the individual and the common man. America may be too large for it to be any other way.
Earlier this week I wrote about why America works for stupid people. It may have been interpreted as Darwinist, but it is not. It identifies the inorganic, the incorporated nature of what we build in our consumer economy. We act as markets and our actions are interpreted by business enterprises which exert inordinate influence on our social lives. But our non-market actions, our political, moral and social actions, even those have been monetized and marketized. This doesn't exactly dehumanize us, it actually distributes a great deal of arts and crafts through our society. But this marketization and corporatization of our social forces does do a bit of damage.
I view this situation primarily through the lens of what I call Aggregation. Aggregation is 'farming a greater portion of the long tail'. We are putting more people and things onto a market grid of understanding for the purposes of business. As the man in '12 Angry Men' said, we throw things up the flagpole and see who salutes. We throw things out onto the front porch to see if the cat licks it up. We build clickholes and honey pots. We bait the consumer with bright lights and big cities and convert the meaningless into markets going after disposable income. We feed him food in a box. This is an inflationary process whose key symptoms are 'bullshit jobs' and 'edutainment'. We pay people to do things that are optional in order that they might buy things that are optional, and in all that thrash we exacerbate the inequality of market-makers and market participants.
At this point in our country's history, we have done so much of this that our private enterprise is no longer self-sustaining. The direction of private enterprise has gotten so far afield of providing the necessary ingredients for the common man into the realm of accoutrements and fashions that we collectively have become incompetent at the basics. These are outsourced industries. We graduate millions of high school kids who want to play video games and drive automobiles but have actually never seen computer source code or a drill press. The result is that the common sense of providing the basics has also fallen to the government which is compelled to tax private enterprise even more.
The problem is the inflation which is inherent in the desire to provide a high standard of living and leisure for everyone. We cannot afford it.
But I see the greater damage in the rendering of the individual into a receiver of commodities, the quality and nature of which are dubious. Certainly it stands to reason that the woman who spends too much money on makeup only finds the lesser man. Surely the man who buys trophies is only fooling himself. But can we really stand to watch millions adopt such false identities as human beings? This is the dilemma of the Humanities and I'm beginning to blame them for not being up to the task of creating enough compelling materials and concepts to break through this identity crisis.
We must find a way to rebel against the dehumanizing aspects of Aggregation firstly by leaving people be. We need to squelch crusading zealots for marginal causes while realizing champions are necessary. You cannot cure hunger in some developing nation by sending the profits of trendy shoe sales. You cannot cure debilitating diseases by solititing donations via viral videos. People have to do work. We must leverage the actual work of millions of the common man in order to accomplish that which benefits the common man. In other words, we must leave him to his own interests and not distract him with inflationary trinkets and make-work.
The implications are that we will not have some lofty 'attainables' in society, but that which we do have will work reliably for the common man. He will benefit by being able to understand the overwhelming majority of issues that attend his own life, rather than being befuddled on an endless treadmill of university studies, or news videos about things of peripheral concern. Americans may know how to 'change the channel', but there are literally 1000 channels of garbage.
I am invested in survival. I expect things to crumble slowly then crash unexpectedly. My hedge is a skillset based not on paranoia or a SHTF scenario, but in the social graces required of chivalry; the human grace of noblesse amid the squallor of what befalls the common man in a system designed to fleece him.
This covers a lot. It's where I am today.
Not because Colonel Blimp. But as my father used to love to say "y'all forget".
I am in receipt of a missive from somejoint called 'CodeSwitch' which is a quite 1991 term, but y'all forget. It occurred to me that we have gone 20 years beyond the point at which there was actually something new to learn from the vanguard of multiculturalism in the Identity Wars which were really best exemplified in the very first movie I bought on DVD - Strange Days. In case you forget, which I know you do, Strange Days can be summarized like this...
A washed up ex- something or other white dude stumbles across a tape of the murder-by-cop of the world's greatest political rap star on the verge of Y2K. Except the tape is no ordinary tape, but a Vulcan mind-meld tape so that you can experience exactly what other people experience. It features pre-apocalyptic Los Angeles, complete with sleazy dangerous night club owners, plucky prostitutes, poker-face middle aged powerbroker suits, douchebag Japanese millionaires, a Gibsonian tech geek selling hot warez, a double crossing psychopathic murderer / best friend, the most fatal femme torch singer on the planet and her perky tits, and a strong black mother keeping shit real in the middle of the overflow of decadence who ultimately saves the day.
As you can imagine it was one of the greatest movies of all time. That's not the point, so much as the point is that it was done in 1995, and people are still trying to make all that vanguard identity narrative work its way like so many ear-boring beetles at the hands of Khan, into the psyche of the next generation. To wit: CodeSwitch:
NPR this mornin':
"The straight white men of Straight White Men aren't what you might expect. Near the beginning of the new off-Broadway play, two adult brothers play a homemade, family board game, refashioned out of an old Monopoly set. Because the family is liberal and progressive, it's called "Privilege." It makes fun of their own straight-white-male privilege.
"Ah, 'excuses' card!" one of the brothers exclaims. The other reads it aloud. "What I just said wasn't racist/sexist/homophobic because I was joking," he deadpans. "Pay $50 to an LGBT organization."
The playwright, 40-year-old Young Jean Lee, is arguably one of the hottest playwrights in America right now. Her work revels in subverting stereotypes. With Straight White Men, Lee was interested in exploring a problem: What do you do when you've got privilege — and you don't want to abuse it? Lee, who is Korean-American, wanted to create straight white men on stage who think about these things.
"I know they're out there," she says. "I mean, I know them personally. Men are changing."
Lee writes about everybody. Straight white men. Native Americans. Asians. She even wrote a play actually called The Untitled Feminist Show. And in a play from 2008 called The Shipment, she did something that's hard for a nonblack writer to do. It's partly an absurdist sendup of African-American stereotypes seen over and over in movies and on TV. The first half of the play is an over-the-top compendium of cliches. Lee's process is to write plays using her cast to improvise scenes and ideas, and she developed this one with a group of five black actors.
There's also a twist in The Shipment that it would be unfair to reveal, and that captivatedNew Yorker theater critic Hilton Als.
"Black and white people were confused," he observes. "It was amazing. She was doing something very profound in terms of the ways in which we listen to 'ethnic speech' and 'regular speech.' "
Young Jean Lee writes by listening. When she started working on Straight White Men, she took advantage of being a playwright in residence at Brown University.
"I asked a roomful of women, queer people and minorities, 'What do you want straight men to do? And what do you want them to be like?' " she recalls.
Lee wrote down all of the answers. It boiled down to this: They wanted the straight white male character to sit down and shut up.
"When you hear that around the table, you just feel yourself sinking slowly into the chair," remembers James Stanley, who plays the character created from the list. The character, named Matt, is a sort of idealized straight white male. He works for a not-for-profit and is guided by a sense of trying not to — in his words — "make things worse." Lee and Stanley workshopped the character in front of the students. Who hated him.
"Hated him," Lee said, clearly still surprised. "And I realized that the reason why they hated him was — despite all their commitment to social justice — what they believed in most was not being a loser. [Matt] is exhibiting behavior that gets attributed to people of color: not being assertive, not standing up for himself, always being in a service position."
It's an existential dilemma, Lee says. She had one of her own while working on Straight White Men in the largely white-run world of American theater.
"I can always say, 'Oh, well I'm just pursuing my own ambition, but I'm making the world a better place,' " she says. "Because now there's this Asian female playwright who can be a role model for other artists of color, and I'm helping with diversity. And so I can do whatever I want and sort of get on the good-person list. And it occurred to me as I was doing the show, and listening to people talk about straight white men — straight white men don't really have that option."
Which is not to say that playwright Young Jean Lee thinks straight white men are categorically oppressed. But she likes using theater as a tool to reveal and dismantle our perceptions — of each other and of ourselves. For her, it's a place to check complacency at the door."
I know people keep having 'existential dilemmas', especially so-called 'white males'. It's rather sad that so many people think of themselves that way, but you know we black Americans made you into that. Didn't you know or did you forget? Here let me remind you as I did in Quora recently.
America's most powerfully dangerous minority made it race and ethnicity because we said so. But it wasn't about race and ethnicity, it was about us and what we wanted. Because the NAACP is not about 'people of color' it's about black Americans. And we won. And we dictated the terms of how people talk about race and ethnicity in America. And it's going to continue to be that way until nobody (meaning black Americans) cares any longer, about halfway through the next black President's term.
Now there happens to be a movie called 'Fury' that's around these days and you ought to watch it because ideals are peaceful but history is violent. A lot of people stuck in their identity crises remain there because they never face danger. They don't face the do or die moment which is the only real existential crisis there is. But we managed to redefine 'existential' somewhere along the way and so inflate the idiot problem explored within the semantic and semiotic swamp that is the stuff of CodeSwitch and that there ilk.
What am I saying? I'm saying that dudes with Node.js and VC money don't make the world a better place, fighting men do. They make it a worse place too, but the point is that they make it and there are no big fat unanswered questions about that which require a seat in a theater on Broadway where some person with an interesting identity has done the thinking for you as you are entertained during your night on the town in fashionable shoes.
Winston Churchill. Douglas MacArthur.
We have a couple examples of the sort of men we could aspire to, who were not merely war makers, but impressive in multiple dimensions. They were none of the characters you might meet in a Broadway play or Hollywood film, and perhaps that's why young American men these days plop so easily into the 'white male' bucket. That's all they know. Too bad.
The simple fact of the matter is that during the 1950s and 60s, angry black Americans, especially those men who served in WW2, were just about fed up with foot-dragging on the Civil Rights front. And even though things were better outside the South, a lot of us had family there and we weren't going to put up with it. The threat of violent revolt in America's cities were a clear and present danger. So when black Americans negotiated Affirmative Action with Nixon, it was the kind of politics that nobody wanted to rehash.
In other words, America's most powerfully dangerous minority made it race and ethnicity because we said so. But it wasn't about race and ethnicity, it was about us and what we wanted. Because the NAACP is not about 'people of color' it's about black Americans. And we won. And we dictated the terms of how people talk about race and ethnicity in America. And it's going to continue to be that way until nobody (meaning black Americans) cares any longer, about halfway through the next black President's term.
Somewhere around the mid 80s, 'the Black Community' began to disintegrate as a singly focused political force. Black America itself became too large and diverse to sustain the myth of unified leadership. I would say the very end came with the deaths of the Congressional Black Caucus and of Ron Brown. But that doesn't change the fact that a new generation has tried to use the same tactics with 'multiculturalism' as blacks did with Black Power. Except, really who's going to burn down Detroit for 'diversity', the cast of Glee?
So basically we are living in the mediocre shadow of the political dynamic of a once unified black America that was so powerful that it redrew Congressional districts in every state. That power is gone, but some of the half-baked ideas and rhetoric about race and ethnicity remain. Some people worry about backlash, but just like with the actual end of Black Power, a significant enough number of black Americans really rose in competence and genuine social power, picking up the mantle of the best America we all want. And so (as we say) just like other ethnics, our struggles into the mainstream has strengthened and changed America for the better. But, you know... how the sausage was made ain't all MLK speeches, peaches and cream.
Don't expect that you can reinvent the blues or the Baptist Church or race relations just because it has been explained. We did that. It's done.
It's because we make life easy and convenient. For stupid people. And we do a good job. And we have more people. So we get better at it.
Imagine a country where you don't get a chance to drive a car until you are 21 years old. And in that country there are no cars with automatic transmissions, air bags, seat belts or safety glass. There is also no collision insurance. So basically there are barriers to entry into the market for driving. Driving is a lot more risky, and failures of drivers are more catastrophic. In such a country of let's say 30 million there are only 5 million drivers. None of them are teenagers, and the fatality rate for drunk drivers is 30%
Now in America we have had automatic transmissions, airbags, seat belts and safety glass for 20 years. We license millions of teenagers. We have comprehensive auto insurance, and we crack down harder on drunk drivers. In other words, we make it easier to be a driver. You need to know less. The costs of failure are not so high. The need for skills are relatively low. It's built into the market and the culture of building cars. And the direction we are going in is to make cars even safer to the point at which they drive themselves. In doing so we drive the intelligence and skill base needed for driving even lower and lower.
In driving, in working, in everything we have improved, we have made it easier for people to be whomever they want to be. Not conforming to high standards of skills, but towards smart consumption. That's why we have more stupid people than anywhere else - because we engineer our society's consumer economy to leverage smarter products, lower barriers to entry, greater amounts of insurance and risk mitigations.
Now you get it.
Do you want America to continue in this direction or not? If you do not, then you are arguing for inequality.
Somebody passed me an article about women in STEM. I've been thinking about this, just a little bit, recently. But only from having been provoked by a lot of the squishy soundbites about 'women in politics' in the just-ending campaign season. Whenever somebody *looks backward* and says something to the effect that 'women should be 50% of X by now' and then they *look forward* and say X should be more women-friendly or whatever prescription they have - this is a problem. The problem is that if men and women are different, and women are historically not in X, maybe that difference is completely reasonable, and the woman-friendly prescription is bad advice. I say that is something completely different from gender discrimination.
I'm going to give an egregious example but I think it applies broadly. If you are an engineer and you love science, then you will be called a geek. If you cannot handle being called a geek, then you are not passing the existential bar. Dealing with everything that can go wrong in X activity is what makes those people Xers. If you don't want to get beat into the gang, then you can't get into the gang. It doesn't matter that the peripheral activity is not a material requirement. There are no material requirements, there just is what is. I'm also thinking with the film 'Fury' in mind. It doesn't matter how you feel about killing Germans. When you're an allied soldier, that's your job. Do the work.
'STEM' is a neologism - a marketing effort to attract people into something good. That marketing and all the diversity balancing is not what makes an Engineer an Engineer. It is, as DeGrasse-Tyson put it, the unwavering desire to do the work above all. *Above all*. If doing the work is not worth getting called names, if the output of the hostile workplace is not worth doing the work, then you're not a worker.
Everything in life conspires towards your death. Fire never stops burning flesh. People are never not envious and slippery. The smallest sub-atomic particle works to avoid detection and control. Every chess game is zero-sum with all the pieces in plain view. These are conditions which cannot be negotiated into submission, and some not even into temporary abeyance.
Get busy living, or get busy dying.
Somewhere in my garage, I swear to God, is a part of an original manuscript written by Sanyika Shakur, aka Monster Kody. I got this from his wife some 20 years ago. It may or may not have been part of his jailhouse writing. Anyway, he has a very intensely held belief that the very lack of men on a straight path develops in young black men a special need to prove themselves. He cites his own experience in 'breaking' young men into gang life by giving them often their first opportunity to prove themselves to older black men. His theory, which I believe firmly, is that this is a universal constant and it is how armies have always been formed, and why gang loyalties transcend social boundaries. I cannot recall what he called this idea, but it got my attention because it was not specifically racial and he made the martial parallel.
In his context, Shakur was clear that neighborhoods became artificial constructs because no particular 'set' or gang often developed leadership long enough to establish dominion over more than several blocks. Nothing that would extend, for example, as far as the jurisdiction of a high school. Gang activity, while it might range far and wide in the city, only had loyalties of short turf distances, aggravated by the fact of civilians in the mix. That made a home set even more intensely loyal. Shakur of course attempted himself to establish his own fame to span kingdoms, but that was done through murder and intimidation rather than by diplomacy and extending loyalty. In the end, he couldn't navigate it. As I recall, the isolation of the Spanish language aided Mexican gangs in this longitude and latitude whereas black gang members only had one dimension, intense stunting criminality, to establish larger influence.
The result of the crime was, of course, an antipathy to authorities and a feeling of responsibility towards other gang members, but the community itself was split by matters of loyalty and it is this loyalty that defines what black communities become when there are gangs in it.
Anyway, I've thought about this a great deal and cannot separate my sources in my head. Much of this dynamic, I have applied to my thinking about black fraternities and football as well as my own family life (I am the oldest of four brothers and was a neighborhood 'king'). I've always carried a fair bit of skepticism about calls to black unity and matters of 'the black community' through a very clear understanding of my own family's geographical dispersion and loyalties vis a vis those sacrifices my father and uncles made specifically away from their families and towards Movement activism.
It has come as a great relief to me to be rid of my own feelings of dire responsibility for the fate of 'Black America' which has come from years of thinking my way in and out and around the sorts of relationships politics, education, culture and proximity collude among dark skinned folks in this country. Blackness is a kind of Facebook, a persistent and ubiquitous yet very weak link between millions. A Facebook community is just as real, and just as fake, as a black community. And yet it is not until one suffers greatly that the loyalty to it is established.
I think of this actress who was recently in the news on a charge of public indecency and how her 'blackness' was deeply woven into her reaction to her detention / arrest. This particular moment had to be the most intensely felt part of her 'Struggle' experience but she had anticipated it all of her life through such weak links to 'the black community'. And it was clear that by her part in the critically acclaimed movie 'Django Unchained' that she felt politically and/or culturally aligned with black Americans is this mutual fog of 'The Struggle'. Yet it was obvious that in all of her life she never suffered any such 'breaking' as would be acceptable for the smallest black neighborhood gang.
As I watch from a curious distance as the vacuum of the post-Civil Rights era, it becomes more transparent to me that calls for Black Unity are more desperate than ever. And yet nobody would go to the lengths that Monster Scott Kody did for the 'shorties' on his block. That basic ritual of violent 'breaking-in' and the establishment by transgressive deeds of a death-defying loyalty is missing. People in our society don't want that, and they don't need that. And yet they desire something more intimate and powerfully bonding than Facebook. That desire will go unfulfilled as will dreams of Black Nationalism. That a particular town in Missouri is not already burned to the ground shows the scope. Nobody black in America belongs that much. And after Barack Obama and his entourage leave the White House, this will become even more stunningly obvious.
My friends EC Hopkins and Craig Nulan moderated a three day debate between myself and Michael Fisher back in 2007. Although it was probably my coverage of Candidate Obama that won me the Aaron Hawkins Award for top Black Blog in 2008, this debate is probably one of the best things I've done as a blogger.
Hopkins has since terminated his Maxambit blog where the debate originally took place, but Fisher found me today with this link, which I have made permanent by archiving it in Evernote - which will remain around as long as I do.
Self-proclaimed black conservative [fixed by me. mb] and Assault On Black Sanity's debate the existence of, scope of, and one approach to fighting white supremacy.
Cobb v. Fisher: The Debate () / Debate Resolution: A resolution, in the context of this debate, is the claim that an advocate seeks to prove or disprove; the substance of the controversy; a declarative statement that responds to the question in a controversy.
Resolved: That the primary group objective of the U.S. Black elite, who are the top 25% wealthiest or most powerful or most prestigious Black U.S. citizens, should be to focus their collective resources on coordinated efforts to disempower the institutions, organizations, or individuals that sustain the Global System of White Supremacy, which is all thoughts and behaviors that work to establish, promote, or sustain the global dominance of people who define themselves as "white" and to suppress the advancement of people whom they define as "non-white" or "black" on the basis of color, because the Global System of White Supremacy is the foremost hindrance to the cultural, political, and economic advancement of Black people in the U.S. and around the world.
Below, the resolution's premises, subsidiary conclusion, and conclusion are stated explicitly.
Premise 1: The Global System of White Supremacy exists.
Premise 2: Hindrances to the cultural, political, and economic advancement of Black people in the U.S. and around the world other than the Global System of White Supremacy, if any exist, do not hinder the cultural, political, and economic advancement of Black people in the U.S. and around the world as much as the Global System of White Supremacy.
Subsidiary Conclusion: The Global System of White Supremacy is the foremost hindrance to the cultural, political, and economic advancement of Black people in the U.S. and around the world.
Premise 3: The U.S. Black elite could focus their collective resources on coordinated efforts to disempower the institutions, organizations, or individuals that sustain the Global System of White Supremacy.
Premise 4: Focusing their collective resources on coordinated efforts to disempower the institutions, organizations, or individuals that sustain the Global System of White Supremacy is morally obligatory for the U.S. Black Elite.
Conclusion: The U.S. Black elite should focus their collective resources on coordinated efforts to disempower the institutions, organizations, or individuals that sustain the Global System of White Supremacy.
Michael Fisher wrote: "To accept the primacy of White Supremacy in the world is to submit to it." The acknowledgment of an objectively existing condition is the first step towards progress. Closing one's eyes to the existence of the fact that one is immersed in a body of water is the first step towards drowning. Acceptance of that fact is the first step towards moving one's limbs for swimming and the achievement of survival and progress. It is without historical precedence that power concedes without demand and the systematic application counter- power. It is without historical precedence that power concedes solely based on moral suasion. White supremacy admitted its existence as the sole supreme power in this country for 400 years. Historically, every and all institutions in this country were founded, designed, shaped, maintained, or tolerated by admitted white supremacists. The notion that white supremacy liquidated itself via its own institutions is ridiculous beyond compare. It is sheer lunacy. Insanity. To surmise that white supremacy disappeared just because white supremacists decided to declare that they ceased the practice of white supremacy is to live a fool's dream. Nonetheless, having concurred with the resolution, I am obligated to prove the existence of the Global System of White Supremacy as the sole and overwhelming paradigm in humanity's existence. The Global System of White Supremacy knows no borders, it knows no bounds, it rules directly and indirectly, it can not but do so, otherwise it would not be a system of Supremacy. Of course, I can cite the mountains of empirical evidence: The fact that all of the institutions of power, of decisive and overwhelming armed force and destruction, of economics, science, learning, propaganda (a/k/a "the media") , entertainment, and even the pornographic industry are dominated and controlled by people who classify themselves as "white". I can challenge my opponent to cite a single institution of dominant power that is that is not either controlled by or subject to the control of people who classify themselves as "white". Not even the, oh so mighty, Chinese claim that they have emerged from under the yoke of the system. The presentation of empirical evidence, however, will not be enough in the face of my opponent's denial of empirical evidence. Thus it is necessary to go to the very roots of the system: The logic of the conceptions underlying and maintaining the system. While the white supremacists are supposed to have left stage right and disappeared into the sunset, leaving a few trailer trash rednecks behind to mourn the past and vow to resurrect a supposedly long-gone white supremacist system, we do have a class of people in existence throughout the world who say they are "white". Indeed that they are of the "white race". Though, of course, not being white supremacists. White. What is that? Biologically speaking there is no such thing as a white person. Try to define what a white person is objectively, scientifically, and you run into an insurmountable problem. Let's look at this logically. What are racial features? Who or what decides objectively, non-arbitrarily, what the racial features are which determine a "race"? Any human being possesses a myriad of features which he/she has in common with other human beings. So what makes up a white person? What common objective characteristics have a group of people that allows them to define themselves as "white". Skin color? Where does "white " begin, where does it end? What shades of skin color qualify as "white" . Why? Hair texture? Where does hair texture begin and where does it end? Where are the beginnings and end objectively determined? Why these physical attributes? Why not define "race" by diameter, radius, or better even, the depth of people's anuses? Why not postulate a race of three-inch-radius-anus-having folks? How is such a group construct less valid than that of the "white" group construct? Clearly then, the notions of "white" and "white race" are non-biological constructs. That means that they are social constructs and social constructs are always political. That is the nature of human groupings. They are always and in essence socio-political amalgamations. Politics is always and everywhere about power. And power is always and everywhere about dominance. Where there is dominance there is its opposite: subservience, subordination. Thus if a person says "I am of the group or race called White" that person says "I am part of a group that has a certain power relationship with an individual or a group of individuals. Daily experience shows that an individual can not vote him or herself into "whiteness". Being a member of the "white" group is not a question of democracy. Moreover, the acceptance of any individual into the grouping "white" can not be forced upon the group as a whole. The only way a person can become "white" is by subterfuge or acceptance. Thus the power to define who is white lay with the members of the white group. Since it is the members of the white group who have the sole functional power to classify a person or group of persons as "white", they also, by defining who is white simultaneously define who is non-white. Experience has shown that these definitions will be made to stick. By the "whites". Since it is solely whites who define who is a member of the social construct "white" and thus who is "non-white", they clearly have the power to impose their definitions and constructs upon the rest of humanity. Such sole power spells domination. Domination is supremacy. "White" Domination is White Supremacy. Ergo, as long as the social construct "white" exists and as long as the members of this social construct have the sole functional power to determine the membership of the "white" social construct, white supremacy exists. Again: The existence of a "white grouping or race" logically postulates the existence "white supremacy". Ergo, white supremacy exists. Again: "As long as we can use the term "white race" and realistically describe certain actually existing people, we are accurately describing an existing power relationship, colloquially known as white supremacy. Since the whole thing is based on the concept of "race", we are dealing with racism. Ergo the term Racism/White Supremacy. No one group or person can be Supreme unless that group or person is in control everywhere and over everybody. Otherwise it would not be Supremacy. Supremacy means "being supreme". Not "almost supreme" or "somewhat supreme". It is not a question of degree. It just is or it is not. Thus the supremacy must be global, ergo we've got the existence of global racism/white supremacy. Supreme control, the exercise of supreme power, on a global basis can not be maintained unless it is done systematically. Therefore, the existence of a functional "white race" or "white group" as a sub-division of humanity denotes the existence of a System of Global Racism/White Supremacy. Since the existence of the social construct "white" means the existence of "white supremacy", and White Supremacy means domination by whites, which dominance by definition can only be over "non-whites", and since that domination is not obtained by consent (no one can be voted into "whiteness"), and since domination can only exist simultaneously with its opposite, subservience, the existence of "whiteness" and thus "white supremacy" will always be an insurmountable obstacle in the way of progress of "non-white" people. As African-Americans are defined as black, they are non-white, and thus subject to the dominance of white and thus subject to white supremacy. Which, by definition is global and systematic. (Otherwise it would not be supreme). Ergo the Global System of White Supremacy is the foremost hindrance to the cultural, political, and economic advancement of Black people in the U.S. and around the world. Thus, without the abolition of the System of Racism/White Supremacy there can not be any substantial progress made by the people classified as "African-Americans" or "black" and the people classified as "black" in existence throughout human existence. Now what is a "Black elite"? An elite is a "group or class of persons or a member of such a group or class, enjoying superior intellectual, social, or economic status" Thus a "Black elite" is a grouping derives its status in relation to the group it belongs to. The "blacks". Which means that the status and progress of the black elite logically is depended on the condition of the "black" group as a whole. Thus the U.S. Black elite, if it wants to progress, not only could, but must, focus their collective resources on coordinated efforts to disempower the institutions, organizations, or individuals that sustain the Global System of White Supremacy. That the black elite in addition is morally obligated to do so is a question of one's moral compass. My moral compass tells me to oppose injustice and the mistreatment of human beings. Thus my agreement that the U.S,. Black elite is morally obligated to disempower white supremacy and replace it with a system of justice where the mistreatment of people is anathema and not practiced.
Cobb wrote: In my counter-argument I will set out to show that the racist system of White Supremacy can be defeated and that African Americans have, do and can continue to progress despite its continuing existence. I will show how the operation of white Supremacy has been curtailed and how, despite the lack of a coordinated effort by any identifyable black elite, the fortunes of African Americans continue to rise. And finally I will attempt to show how a certain stream of thought, which I call the New Black Nationalism is counter-productive to the progress of African Americans, precisely because of its misunderstanding of White Supremacy and the errors which arise from that misunderstanding. It is within that context - during periods of incremental destruction of White Supremacist operation that thee successful, even thriving nature of African Americans brings opprobrium from those who claim to be their only and best hope. New Black Nationalists are crabs in the barrel. I will return within the hour.
Cobb wrote: How free is a black man if he must be black? This is probably the single most vexing question facing black political partisans in America. There is, apparently no escape from this existential question. It invokes every inquiry into the nature of humanity. The simple answer is that a black man is not free, unless it is he himself who defines what it means to be black. Otherwise he is always under the restrictive definition of someone who would use the term 'black' to reduce, constrain or otherwise control his humanity. In the wake of the tumultuous changes in America over the past 50 years we find ourselves with new challenges facing the 'black' man. In this debate we address these challenges. African Americans, those living in this country originally brought as slaves or more recently originating in Africa have struggled in various ways against the racial reductions imposed upon them for many generations. They have used the many strengths and virtues humans have always employed. We may never know of all the failures, but we know of the successes and we emulate them and evoke their struggles as lessons in the pursuit of freedom. One of those struggles for freedom was Black Nationalism. It was a set of ideas originating in America during the 1960s whose aim was to establish a positive mindset among African Americans and develop them from an oppressed and dissolute people into a nation. It was Black Nationalism that first conceived a positive connotation for 'black'. The great power of Black Nationalism was its ability to align millions of African Americans who once considered themselves Negroes to transform their very sense of self into a new more globally defined, fuller human being. Along with theorists of Pan-Africanism, the Black Nationalists of the 60s were able to raise the expectations of African Americans beyond the provincial racial reductions of second-class American citizenship. This was a great triumph against the psychological burdens of internalized White Supremacy, but Black Nationalism and Black Power did little to change the operation of the forces that most affected African Americans or Americans in general. I pause in my narrative to point out that White Supremacy operates on two levels, the psychological and the physical. Black Nationalism itself operates on the same two levels. Where White Supremacy assaults black sanity, Black Nationalism attempts to instill positive self-regard. Where White Supremacy would attempt to deprive its victims of material prosperity through direct and hegemonic means, Black Nationalism would build a powerful self-reliant nation. I continue. The Civil Rights Movement was largely about countering the legality of Jim Crow, America's social and legal system of White Supremacy. The activists of the Civil Rights Movement sought to establish and maintain a broad national political coalition, acting through all three branches of American government to accomplish their aims. In fact it was the legal reforms of the Civil Rights Movement which were most directly responsible for the changing the way that America itself operated. Its success set the stage for similar defenses of citizen rights. The Free Speech, Women's Rights and Gay Liberation movements used similar tactics and strategies to extend civil liberty in America. Today the reforms of the Civil Rights Movement require only a minimum of attending, rather like the inoculation of children against polio. The original Black Nationalists, I believe, have largely conceded that their time has passed. Consequently and unlike the Civil Rights Movement there are very few offspring of Black Nationalism either in America or abroad. The most popular one, Afrocentrism also aims at black identity, but has done little to change the fortunes of African Americans. But there are those who have a New Black Nationalism, and a new agenda for African Americans. I defy this New Black Nationalism and its agenda. The New Black Nationalism is now a regressive movement that seeks to recast the entire operation of the world as one of psychic battle against the self esteem of African Americans. It attempts to co-opt the success of Black Nationalism by extending its identity politics to the extreme. Its psychological orientation makes it a mind game, a project of dubious merit aimed at African Americans who are not sufficiently prepared to combat its program of re-education. Yet the New Black Nationalists must be taken into account, for the dragon they seek to slay is indeed an enemy of humanity. I will attempt to show the errors of the New Black Nationalist agenda and program. This is not a battle between two men so much as it is a necessary debate about the future of what we have traditionally called black politics. We are both men of privilege and means who were born in the same post-Civil Rights generation. How can we be ideologically opposed given that we both claim pride of our black heritage? This is a common dilemma. All African Americans claim to be black and yet we know ourselves to be black in many different ways, with different values, different loyalties and different priorities. The time has come for African Americans to decide which of the historical strengths of Black Nationalism have now become liabilities. The New Black Nationalists arrogate unto themselves the definition of blackness and what therefore a black man must do. African Americans must choose if this definition of black will increase or decrease their chances for success. Will it make them more or less free? I say that this new identity politics is a dangerous choice and those that embrace it will find themselves mired in a mirror world of their own creation.
cnulan wrote: In my counter-argument I will set out to show that the racist system of White Supremacy can be defeated and that African Americans have, do and can continue to progress despite its continuing existence. I will show how the operation of white Supremacy has been curtailed and how, despite the lack of a coordinated effort by any identifyable black elite, the fortunes of African Americans continue to rise.
Cobb, 1. Is this aspect of your counter argument still pending? 2. Do you intend to offer a definitive resolution, premise, or conclusion concerning the phenomenon you have termed "New Black Nationalism" - that relates it to the question in controversy?
Cobb wrote: Fisher has awkwardly stumbled into some reasonable concepts with regard to the definition of 'white', although with no sense of temporal constraint, as if whiteness existed from the beginning of time. Perhaps, from his point of view, the creation of whiteness was the beginning of time. After all, he sees even the Chinese suffering white disease. Brother please. You're making me sneeze. White identity works on human beings. It must be taught. Black identity works on human beings. It must be taught. Having adopted these identities, humans can also deconstruct and un-learn them. But also, identities, like talents may lay dormant and unused. In America we all use various aspects of learned behavior in order to accomplish things. We can think of this as a matter of social response, that is to say we adopt certain behaviors to attain certain goals, we put on 'identity gloves' which allow us to grab on to certain things. We role-play. Role playing is natural. It is only unnatural when role play or living in a particular identity constrains the range of our humanity - there is the sin. Anyway, what we need to be able to guage is the extent to which an individual or group invests in an identity, especially a racial identity. So it is a fair area to consider risk-reward scenarios applying to the investment and deployment of racial identities. Or more plainly, when and how is 'acting white' rewarded? When and how is 'acting black' rewarded. By whom and how much? It flattens reality to say that there simply *are* x number of flatly white people and x number of flatly black people. It is more proper to say that human beings have various degrees of willingness to act out certain roles.
Cobb wrote: CN, I will continue to describe White Supremacy and successful acts against American instantiations of it. That aspect of my counter-argument is still pending. I intended to spend a little less time on describing the New Black Nationalism. But I'll now reconsider this.
cnulan wrote: Fisher has awkwardly stumbled into some reasonable concepts with regard to the definition of 'white', although with no sense of temporal constraint, as if whiteness existed from the beginning of time.Adhering to the debate's rules, Fisher has submitted his argument in support of the debate's resolution. Do you intend to adhere to the debate's rules; One debater will argue in order to prove the resolution; the other will argue in order to disprove the resolution. and take up the counter argument to disprove the resolution?
Cobb wrote: New Black Nationalists make critical errors in judgment and they can only be taken so seriously because of these errors. My interpretation of the best of African American efforts at uplift are at odds with the priorities of the New Black Nationalists. 1. New Black Nationalists claim to be the one true leaders of the black race. 2. New Black Nationalists overstate the significance and scope of White Supremacy. 3. New Black Nationalists mischaracterize other systems of thought and belief systems as inconsequential to the freedom of African Americans. 4. New Black Nationalists are invested in assuming, and assuring distrust of other Americans than African Americans, along the same traditional lines of race and ethnicity as White Supremacy.
E.C. wrote: Cobb: Comment #12 is not a descriptive definition for the term 'New Black Nationalist'. It contains one descriptive and three normative conclusions (you needn't supply arguments for these unless your opponent makes a legitimate request for them) about the New Black Nationalism institution. Using some of the elements in your conclusions or that led you to these conclusions, could you supply us with a descriptive definition for the term 'New Black Nationalist' that we could add to the debate's domain of defined terms?
Cobb wrote: Specifically, the New Black Nationalists manifest a psychological counter-attack on the psychological operation of White Supremacy. Their program, roughly taken from Welsing and Fuller, is to establish a positive black self-regard in opposition to White Supremacy. I contend that the immorality of White Supremacy can be psychologically overcome without regard to New Black Nationalist theories. Specifically, I contend that the moral imperative of Christianity, to love one's neighbor as oneself is sufficient to successfully combat the primacy of white or black racial identity. That in fact racial theorists, those who would posit a racial identity as the basis for political power have, and will of necessity battle the influence of Christianity and other religions. I challenge the resolution because it implies, as Fisher defines white people and black people, that whites are incapable of dismantling White Supremacy and that blacks must of necessity dedicate themselves to its destruction. I find this to be the very reflection of racial identity politics, and my intent in characterizing New Black Nationalism is to describe it as a foil that buys into this flat racial clash. I am suggesting that the 'Global System' of White Supremacy is the same size as the ambit of New Black Nationalism. Furthermore I am suggesting that moral systems of law and religion are in greater operation with deeper roots in human behavior than are racial systems, and that human beings act in political ways that are not driven by racial ideology - that in fact the only way to combat that which White Supremacy is, is through the utilization of these greater, deeper systems of human organization, law and religion. New Black Nationalism, however seeks to fight identity with identity, psychology with psychology. It therefore reinforces the premises of racial identity and is thus regressive. It doesn't free African Americans from the racial dilemma. It cannot be transcendent. The conclusion of the Resolution implies that absent a program of group racial identity and some apparatus to collect the resources of the US Black elite, White Supremacy will continue its 'global' hegemony. But I say that the global hegemony is a myth, and the operation of local regimes of White Supremacy, where it exists can and is held in abeyance by systems of law, religion and general goodwill that require no special effort by Black elites whatsoever.
Michael Fisher wrote: Aside from Bowen's highly inaccurate statement that "It was a set of ideas originating in America during the 1960s" As if there had been no Blyden, Gavey, Padmore, Booker T. Washington, and Elijah Muhammad, it would appear that Bowen admits to the existence of the system of Racism/White Supremacy when he claims: "In my counter-argument I will set out to show that the racist system of White Supremacy can be defeated". I have no argument with that statement. However the very admission that the racist system of White Supremacy exists is an admission of the absolute limitations of progress under the system. "White Supremacy" means just that S U P R E M A C Y. "Supremacy \Su*prem"a*cy\, n. [Cf. F. supr['e]matie. See Supreme.] The state of being supreme, or in the highest station of power; highest or supreme authority or power; " Thus, by definition there can be no "curtailment" of White Supremacy. Maybe one can obtain a few concessions here or a compromise there, but, given the nature of the thing, it will, as long as it remains in existence be able to lord it over all other human beings who are subjected to its whims. Those other human beings who, by the virtue of the system's very existence are non-white, that is "black". Human systems do not do run themselves. They are run by humans. Thus the admission of the existence of the System of Racism/White Supremacy also within it contains an admission of the existence of the white supremacists. Bowen has thereby not only not offered any argument to counter the resolution put forward, he has agreed with it. Logically then, the question should not be "how free is a black man if he must be black?", but "how free is a black man as long as the System of Racism/White Supremacy remains in existence". The answer is obvious. As long as the System exists (which Bowen admits) "black" people must operate within the confines which are imposed upon them by the System. Confinement is the opposite of freedom.
Michael Fisher wrote: "But I say that the global hegemony is a myth, and the operation of local regimes of White Supremacy, where it exists can and is held in abeyance by systems of law, religion and general goodwill that require no special effort by Black elites whatsoever." Bowen's argumentation and thinking is so convoluted and contradictory as to make one's head spin. Once again, is there a Global System of White Supremacy? First he says yes, but it can be defeated. Now he says it exists only locally? And where it exists locally it is held "in abeyance by systems of law, religion and general goodwill". Aside the fact that by its very definition "Supremacy" can not be local if it is to be supreme, assuming that it could be, if white supremacy exists in certain localities it is not held in abeyance by systems of law, religion, and general goodwill" because that would mean that rather than white supremacy the "in abeyance by systems of law, religion, and general goodwill" would be supreme. Bowen, as is his practice wants to have his cake and eat it too. Thus I ask again, and I ask the moderators to focus Bowen on the initial premise. "The Global System of White Supremacy exists." I said "Yes" and delivered my arguments in support of my affirmation. What say Bowen?
Cobb wrote: Continuing from #9. Since racial identities are socially constructed and not biologically inherent, human beings can only *be* 'white' or 'black' according to the conscious ways in which they *act* white or black. And human beings *act* white or black according to risk/reward systems. Without such systems in place which have at their principles the tenets of White Supremacy, 'white' and 'black' behavior is only teleological. Such behaviors cannot be considered aspects of a system if the system is not functional. They are then merely human behaviors, not political acts. More often than not such acts are the product of other circumstances not attributable to any White Supremacist ideology. I therefore attack the first premise of the resolution. There is no Global System of White Supremacy, this is merely a projection of racial identity onto human beings who are neither instructed in its principles, disciplined in its execution or even aware of its existence. In the United States, the predominant system of White Supremacy was Jim Crow, and it has been dismantled, and has not been replaced. There is no global order that is operating to re-establish it. In South Africa, the predominant system of White Supremacy was Apartheid, and it has been dismantled and has not been replaced. There is no global order that is operating to re-establish it either. If there ever was a global system of White Supremacy, these systems were two of its greatest accomplishments in the 20th Century and their operations have been dismantled.
Michael Fisher wrote: It should also be noted, by the way, that Bowen has not uttered a single word aimed at deconstructing my argument in #5. Instead he has invented his own notion of a "New Black Nationalist" attributed this notion with various normative values and argued against this construct wholly of his own making. I would ask the moderators, if you are going to let him get away with not dealing with the initial premise "The Global System of White Supremacy exists" and offer logical reasons for or against, that you, the moderators at the very least disallow him from constructing chimeras, attribute the same to me, and then proceed to deconstruct his own creations (as clumsily as he does even that). In other words. Do your job. Keep this guy on track.
E.C. wrote: Fish: "Thus I ask again, and I ask the moderators to focus Bowen on the initial premise."Cobb, in #17, argues from examples. He cites two known White Supremacist institutions and their demise. He also argues there is no global order that exist to re-establish these two White Supremacist institutions. Since it would be less reasonable to require Cobb to prove that no disguised or furtive White Supremacist institutions exist than it would be for you to provide evidence that disguised or furtive, yet identifiable, White Supremacist institutions do exist, you should do just that if you want to defend premise #1 further. If you make such a move, then Cobb will have the burden of showing your evidence for the existence of the White Supremacist institutitons you'll have identified was not convincing.
cnulan wrote: Cobb's comments at 14. and 17. respectively are reifications of psychological and ideological premises onto a set of cultural, political, and economic concretes set forth in the debate resolution. As yet, Cobb has offered no clear counterargument to the existence of the cultural, political, and economic concretes which the resolution asserts. Further, he has not clearly resolved the novel ideological and psychological terms he introduced into the debate - and which he has endeavored to reify - as he was prompted to do at moderator comment 13.
Michael Fisher wrote: "Since racial identities are socially constructed and not biologically inherent, human beings can only *be* 'white' or 'black' according to the conscious ways in which they *act* white or black." Here Bowen, in essence, is saying that "black" people can become "white people" at any time if they so choose, and can become "white" solely by the deliberate act of "acting white". Nonetheless he is a "Titan of the Black Blogosphere". How come he is not a "Titan of the White Blogosphere"? If Bowen has ascended to "whiteness" what is he doing here, in the bowels of the slave ship? The problem lay somewhere else. It is the concept of "whiteness" itself. I have already demonstrated in #5 that "white" and Bowen has yet to deny the existence of "white" (he ain't THAT crazy), logically possesses a functional existence independently from the wishes, acts, or dreams of any "non-white". That makes it supreme. Bowen has not denied the existence of "white" he just said that he has found a way to become white. "White", however IS "White Supremacy" otherwise there would be no need for the socio-political construct "White". Thus, Bowen is telling us that he has become a "White Supremacist". It would be interesting to know what actions (as Bowen has the unique skill of acting himself into whiteness) he took that enabled him to become a white supremacist.
Cobb wrote: I would suggest that in #18 Fisher's unwillingness to identify an organizing group or name for the political orientation of the Black Elite, is symptomatic of a general unwillingness of African Americans to do so. I take that as evidence, especially in the wake of the actual and original Black Nationalist movement that on the whole, African Americans see no immediate need to corral and organize a Black Elite or there collective efforts and resources. When some rogue element of White Supremacy pokes up its ugly head, people just send an email to Sharpton.com. No Black Elite necessary.
Michael Fisher wrote: "Cobb, in #17, argues from examples. He cites two known White Supremacist institutions and their demise. He also argues there is no global order that exist to re-establish these two White Supremacist institutions." Cobb has not shown that either apartheid or Jim Crow have come to a demise. He has only postulated their demise without proof or reason. In order to show their demise he first has to describe what Apartheid and Jim Crow were in the first place and then show how they came to a demise. In other words. Bowen can not assume that I ever heard of either Jim Crow or Apartheid. It is like me saying that the demise of "Unterschieldlichkeit" proves the demise of White Supremacy. Bowen would be justified in asking me what the hell "Unterschiedlichkeit" was and how it related to white supremacy in the first place. As I said, do your job, please.
cnulan wrote: Cobb, in #17, argues from examples. He cites two known White Supremacist institutions and their demise. He also argues there is no global order that exist to re-establish these two White Supremacist institutions. Not quite E.C:, The two nations (not merely institutions) are examples of explicitly codified white supremacist states whose anti-black laws were in effect up through the span of both debaters' lifetimes. The laws in these two nations may have been rewritten, however, the burden of proof concerning the demise or continuation of de facto cultural, political, and economic white supremacy hasn't even been broached, much less met.
cnulan wrote: I would suggest that in #18 Fisher's unwillingness to identify an organizing group or name for the political orientation of the Black Elite, is symptomatic of a general unwillingness of African Americans to do so. You're both equally at liberty to more clearly define the term "Black Elite". Seems that acceptance without reservation of the debate resolution obviates any post hoc requirement to do so in furtherance of your respective positions. After all, E.C. defined it as follows; U.S. Black elite, who are the top 25% wealthiest or most powerful or most prestigious Black U.S. citizens
Michael Fisher wrote: "I would suggest that in #18 Fisher's unwillingness to identify an organizing group or name for the political orientation of the Black Elite, is symptomatic of a general unwillingness of African Americans to do so." Bowen once again avoids the subject. The subject is "The Global System of White Supremacy exists". He has finally (as far as I can tell) said that it does not. he has yet to offer an argument in support of his position. The two examples offered in support of his position are without any intrinsic value. They are not supported by definitions. What was "Apartheid", who was "Jim Crow". What do those terms mean? I do not recall any particular person named Jim Crow who ran any institution. I have no idea who Jim Crow was or is. Who is this person Jim Crow? What is "Apartheid"? Is it a person, place or thing? I certainly have no idea what it could be?
E.C. wrote: cnulan: Re: 24; In #19, I didn't intend to imply that I felt Cobb had proved the institutions have demised in a de facto sense. That would be a tough task for anyone. I just wanted to state that Cobb had presented a counter-argument. Its force was not my concern. And, I think it would be unreasonable to ask Cobb to try to prove that no de facto remnants of those two White Supremacist institutions remain. I believe it would be best for the debaters to prove or disprove premise #1 by arguing from several identifiable examples, so the reader could form inductions/inferences based on their evidence.
Michael Fisher wrote: My daughter just asked me "What is Apartheid?" Case in point, Bowen. Would Bowen please explain it to her? And to me as well? Apparently she is following our exchange. Please do the same with "Jim Crow"
cnulan wrote: Fisher - please focus on debating instead of moderating. You made a specific claim at the outset. It is incumbent upon you to elaborate this claim in the cultural, political and economic spheres that you claim are subject to the GSWS: I am obligated to prove the existence of the Global System of White Supremacy as the sole and overwhelming paradigm in humanity's existence. The Global System of White Supremacy knows no borders, it knows no bounds, it rules directly and indirectly, it can not but do so, otherwise it would not be a system of Supremacy. Of course, I can cite the mountains of empirical evidence: The fact that all of the institutions of power, of decisive and overwhelming armed force and destruction, of economics, science, learning, propaganda (a/k/a "the media") , entertainment, and even the pornographic industry are dominated and controlled by people who classify themselves as "white". I can challenge my opponent to cite a single institution of dominant power that is that is not either controlled by or subject to the control of people who classify themselves as "white".
cnulan wrote: I believe it would be best for the debaters to prove or disprove premise #1 by arguing from several identifiable examples, so the reader could form inductions/inferences based on their evidence.Agreed. In keeping with moderator comment 11. I would simply like to see Cobb comply with the debate process defined at the outset. At this point, his presentation is entirely non-compliant with the rules accepted by both participants.
cnulan wrote: I have to step away for a few minutes. I'd very much like to see a good effort by both gentlemen to focus on the rules of the debate to which both consented.
Michael Fisher wrote: "Cobb, in #17, argues from examples. He cites two known White Supremacist institutions and their demise. He also argues there is no global order that exist to re-establish these two White Supremacist institutions." E.C. is postulating that either I or the audience know what what certain White Supremacist institutions (two of them) are. I do not. It is not the moderators role to postulate things on behalf of the debater. It is his role to keep the debater on track.
Cobb wrote: I will now clarify my understanding of what exactly White Supremacy is. White Supremacy builds upon a premise of racialism. Racialism means that human beings are ordered into mutually exclusive races and that each race has its own destiny and message to the world. The theory of racialism is vague and flexible with regard to whom it designates into a race. But I will accept the definition of 'color' as Fisher has used. So the color part of white supremacy is the racialist 'white'. Supremacy implies what to do with this racialism. K. Anthony Appiah offers the definitions extrinsic racism and intrinsic racism. What transforms a racialism (taxonomy) into racism (judgment) is the understanding of what to do with this taxonomy. The extrinsic racism says that race applies a standard by which a person *ought* to be judged. We are all familiar with double standards. Double standards are generally discriminatory but we generally don't consider them racist. Technically, they are, but it depends upon the system of enforcement. Affirmative Action is the exception I have in mind. The intrinsic racism applies a standing by which a person *must* be judged. Which is to say that a racial standard must be applied in all cases. White Supremacy is an intrinsic racist ideology which says the racially white people must always be held superior to racially inferior people. This ideology can only be as powerful as the system employed to enforce its operation. The ideology of White Supremacy may possibly be known and maybe even understood worldwide, but I still maintain that there is no global system of enforcement. Now it is perfectly rational for a person of color, someone who falls outside of the racial taxonomy of 'white' to internalize and accept the premises of White Supremacy. There are certainly people who believe themselves to be intrinsically inferior because of their race. As for myself, I reject the very premise of racialism. I see race as a social convention reductive of my humanity which is externally imposed upon me by people who are invested in racial politics. I believe that all humans should be free to select their politics. I select anti-racist politics. But I am aware of the limitations of political struggle.
Michael Fisher wrote: "It is incumbent upon you to elaborate this claim in the cultural, political and economic spheres that you claim are subject to the GSWS." Why? I have made my argument. I judge it sufficient. It is incumbent upon my opponent to challenge the argument and to base that challenge upon sound counter-arguments. In other words, please refrain from debating and stick to moderating.
E.C. wrote: Fish: "E.C. is postulating that either I or the audience know what what certain White Supremacist institutions (two of them) are. I do not." That was not my intention. I believe you correctly challenged Cobb to define the terms he used. However, just as I should not postulate that you know the terms Cobb uses, I probably should not postulate that you do not know the terms Cobb uses either. Until debater A expresses that he does not know the meaning of or is unclear about the use of a word or term debater B used, it would be more reasonable than not for the moderator to assume that debater A knows the meaning. To assume otherwise would make the moderator's job unbearably cumbersome.
Cobb wrote: I will argue that the very specific intrinsic racist premises of White Supremacy, where it exists, must be enforceable to effect real oppression. I will speak to psychological operations, and material operations. I will point to laws that have undermined the very racialist premises of Jim Crow as well as the Harare Accords as a precursor to the new South African Constitution as well as UN documents against racial discrimination as foremost examples of the destruction of specific White Supremacist regimes of control. I will argue that laws of nations and rules of religious discipline exist in opposition to the very specific intrinsic racism of White Supremacy and that these vehicles are the most effective weapons in its defeat. I think Premise #1 is on its last legs after just 3 hours.
Michael Fisher wrote: "But I will accept the definition of 'color' as Fisher has used. So the color part of white supremacy is the racialist 'white'." Once again Bowen is making up things and attributing his creations to me. I have nowhere defined "color". I have made no references to spectral phenomena or other things. I solely have shown that the division of humanity into "white" and "non-white" in and of itself logically can only be the result of a supremacy that defines itself as "white". Thus Bowen does not address the central question: "Does the white race or group exist?" Until now he has operated as if it does exist. But I have not seen a specific yea or nay.
Michael Fisher wrote: "I think Premise #1 is on its last legs after just 3 hours." Wishful thought do not reality make. Go ahead and make your arguments as outlined in 36. I am looking forward into your finally entering the world of empiricism.
Cobb wrote: Apartheid; Apartheid (meaning separate-ness in Afrikaans, cognate to English apart and -hood) was a system of racial segregation in South Africa from 1948, and was dismantled in a series of negotiations from 1990 to 1993, culminating in democratic elections in 1994. The rules of Apartheid dictated that people be legally classified into racial groups — the main ones were Black, White, Coloured and Indian — and separated from one another on the basis of legal classification and unequal rights. Blacks legally became citizens of one of ten bantustans (homelands) that were nominally sovereign nations. These black homelands were created out of the territory of Black Reserves founded during the British Empire period — Reserves akin to United States Indian Reservations, Canadian First Nations reserves, or Australian aboriginal reserves. Many Black South Africans, however, never resided in these "homelands." The homeland system disenfranchised black people in "white South Africa" (even if they resided there); their voting rights were restricted to the black homelands, which were economically the least productive areas of the country. Education, medical care, and other public services were segregated, and those available to Black people were of an inferior standard. The black education system within "White South Africa" was designed to prepare blacks for lives as a working-class. There was a deliberate policy in "White South Africa" of making services for black people inferior to those of whites, to try to "encourage" black people to move into the black homelands, hence black people ended up with services inferior to those of whites, Indians and 'coloureds'.
Cobb wrote: Jim Crow; The Jim Crow Laws were state and local laws enacted in the Southern and border states of the United States and enforced between 1876 and 1965. They mandated "separate but equal" status for black Americans. In reality, this led to treatment and accommodations that were almost always inferior to those provided to white Americans. The Jim Crow period or the Jim Crow era refers to the time during which this practice occurred. The most important laws required that public schools, public places and public transportation, like trains and buses, have separate facilities for whites and blacks. (These Jim Crow Laws were separate from the 1800-66 Black Codes, which had restricted the civil rights and civil liberties of African Americans.) State-sponsored school segregation was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education. Generally, the remaining Jim Crow laws were overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act; none were in effect at the end of the 1960s. During the Reconstruction period of 1865-76, federal law provided civil rights protection in the South for freedmen—the African-Americans who had formerly been slaves. Reconstruction ended at different dates (the latest 1877), and was followed in each Southern state by Redeemer governments that passed the Jim Crow laws to separate the races. In the Progressive Era the restrictions were formalized, and segregation was extended to the federal government by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913. After 1945, the Civil Rights movement gained momentum and used federal courts to attack Jim Crow. The Supreme Court declared legal, or de jure, public school segregation unconstitutional in 1954, and it ended in practice in the 1970s. The court ruling did not stop de facto or informal school segregation, which continued in large cities. President Lyndon B. Johnson, building a coalition of northern Democrats and Republicans, pushed Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which immediately annulled Jim Crow laws that segregated restaurants, hotels and theatres; these facilities (with rare exceptions) immediately dropped racial segregation. The Voting Rights Act ended discrimination in voting for all federal, state and local elections.
Michael Fisher wrote: "Apartheid (meaning separate-ness in Afrikaans, cognate to English apart and -hood) was a system of racial segregation in South Africa from 1948, and was dismantled in a series of negotiations from 1990 to 1993, culminating in democratic elections in 1994."i. Request for Clarification: Does Bowen maintain that the System of White Supremacy in South Africa came into existence in 1948 and found its demise in 1994? "The Jim Crow Laws were state and local laws enacted in the Southern and border states of the United States and enforced between 1876 and 1965." Request for Clarification: Does Bowen maintain that the System of White Supremacy in the United States came into existence in 1876 found its demise in 1965, and during the duration of this System (1876 - 1965) the System of White Supremacy was restricted solely to the "Southern and border states of the United States"?
cnulan wrote: Fisher begins from the sphere of "things" - and asserts that the empirical subject matters are given; Of course, I can cite the mountains of empirical evidence: The fact that all of the institutions of power, of decisive and overwhelming armed force and destruction, of economics, science, learning, propaganda (a/k/a "the media") , entertainment, and even the pornographic industry are dominated and controlled by people who classify themselves as "white". To this point, Cobb has not substantively challenged Fisher's empirical assertions. Cobb is arguing from the sphere of "beliefs" and asserts several as givens. Furthermore I am suggesting that moral systems of law and religion are in greater operation with deeper roots in human behavior than are racial systems, and that human beings act in political ways that are not driven by racial ideology - that in fact the only way to combat that which White Supremacy is, is through the utilization of these greater, deeper systems of human organization, law and religion. By introducing the concept of a "system of enforcement" - Cobb begins to flesh out a tangible assertion subject to counterargument. I will argue that the very specific intrinsic racist premises of White Supremacy, where it exists, must be enforceable to effect real oppression. I will speak to psychological operations, and material operations. It appears that each debater is intent on setting forth his respective frame of reference - prior to engaging the agreed upon argument/counter-argument format in earnest.
Cobb wrote: I maintain that these are two best documented and well-known examples of systems of White Supremacy and that the force of their physical operation was established by law and that they were similarly dismantled by law. I further maintain that they were established by different groups of people working solely within the context of national laws, and not directed by any 'global' system.
Michael Fisher wrote: Bowen has previously postulated that there were two systems that were examples of white supremacy. How is that apartheid system a system of white supremacy? If Bowen seeks to prove that the System of Racism/White Supremacy was dismantled by the dismantling of racist laws then he must show that these laws were indeed racist in the first place. South Africa's Apartheid laws, however, never made any reference to a "black race" or a "group of blacks" and thus, as codified in and of themselves, can not be identified as "racist". "The Jim Crow Laws were state and local laws enacted in the Southern and border states of the United States and enforced between 1876 and 1965. They mandated..."If these "Jim Crow" laws mandated "separate but equal" status for black Americans" they mandated separate but equal status for white Americans. On can not have one without the other. In other words the laws appear to put an equal restraint upon members of both "races". It is thus not possible to identify the existence of a system of white supremacy from looking at these laws. That can only be done if these laws would explicitly state that by law a black man has no rights that a white man is obligated to respect. Or at the very least that by law there are rights that a black man must respect but that a white man must not respect. Bowen, however, maintains that the System of Racism/White Supremacy nonetheless existed in these regions. He can not possibly come to this conclusion from the existence of laws that in the case of South Africa make no reference to black people and in the case of the region of the United States make no reference to the inequality of "black" and "white" groupings. Thus, how does he come to this conclusion in either case?
Michael Fisher wrote: "Fisher begins from the sphere of "things" - and asserts that the empirical subject matters are given;" That is incorrect. The statement cited is my statement that I, at that point, did not intend to make any empirical arguments at all. As I asserted that my opponent would either deny, twist, ignore, misstate or misinterpret empirical evidence - as he has shown to do already. My argument explicitly began with examining the concepts, the language operative in human society. Particularly in the globally accepted international language of business, politics and social life called "English". Thus I at no time asserted anything empirical. The first empirical assertion made in this thread has been made by Bowen when he asserted that Black nationalism was a phenomenon that originated in the 1960s. Which assertion was swiftly demolished.
Cobb wrote: The section on Apartheid explicitly states: "The rules of Apartheid dictated that people be legally classified into racial groups — the main ones were Black, White, Coloured and Indian — and separated from one another on the basis of legal classification and unequal rights." Is Fisher suggesting that there is no mutually exclusive social construction of race in this? The section on Apartheid explicitly states: "The homeland system disenfranchised black people in "white South Africa" (even if they resided there); their voting rights were restricted to the black homelands, which were economically the least productive areas of the country." Does Fisher suggest that this does not qualify as the operation of White Supremacy? I maintain that these are systems of White Supremacy, they are not global, and that they indeed hindered, during their time of operation constituted great threats, perhaps even the greatest threats to the cultural, political and economic advancement of their human victims, designated 'black' under a racial taxonomy. I challenge Fisher to document the existence of a superior example of a system of White Supremacy than these two for the purposes of this debate. If Fisher would maintain that Apartheid and Jim Crow are not systems of White Supremacy, I cannot imagine what he might propose would be an example from which anyone could learn.
Michael Fisher wrote: "The section on Apartheid explicitly states: 'The rules of Apartheid dictated that people be legally classified into racial groups — the main ones were Black, White, Coloured and Indian — and separated from one another on the basis of legal classification and unequal rights.'" Bowen has made reference to rules. He has not cited any rules that make reference to "black people". I assert that it is historically inaccurate that there were any such codified rules identifying a group of people as "black" in South Africa. I certainly agree that the System of Racism/White Supremacy existed in South Africa in the form of apartheid. However, as I have not made that assertion, but Bowen has, it is incumbent upon him to prove his assertion. As of yet, he has not.
E.C. wrote: Just a reminder. We are still using the following definition of 'Global System of White Supremacy': "all thoughts and behaviors that work to establish, promote, or sustain the global dominance of people who define themselves as "white" and to suppress the advancement of people whom they define as "non-white" or "black" on the basis of color" By this definition, a single thought or behavior that works (present tense) to establish, promote, or sustain the global dominance of people who define themselves as "white" and to suppress the advancement of people whom they define as "non-white" or "black" on the basis of color would be a part of the Global System of White Supremacy.
Michael Fisher wrote: "The homeland system disenfranchised black people in "white South Africa" (even if they resided there); their voting rights were restricted to the black homelands, which were economically the least productive areas of the country." Even assuming that there were codified regulations that identified a group of people as "black", Bowen has not shown that these "black homelands" were indeed not the homelands of these "blacks". Thus no poof for the existence of the system of white supremacy in "apartheid" South Africa has been given. Moreover, the question remains and is yet to be answered by Bowen, whether a system of white supremacy existed in South Africa before the institution of the apartheid laws by Dr. Verwoerd and his National Party in 1948.
Michael Fisher wrote: E.C:. "Just a reminder:." That is certainly understood by me. Bowen, however, apparently has rejected that definition in favor of a definition which is limited to the codification of white supremacy. However, he has not been able too prove that such a codification existed. Not in South Africa and not in the post-bellum South and the border states. Nonetheless he asserts that there was a System Of White Supremacy in existence. How is that possible in light of the fact that no explicit codification to that effect is evident?
E.C. wrote: Gentlemen: I urge you both to consider the fruitfulness of examining whether the institutions described in #39 and #40 need to be examined further in order to prove or disprove premise #1. The debate resolution and premise #1 use present tense language. If you believe that you'll only be able to prove or disprove premise #1 by continuing to analyze the words contained in or the social consequences of 20th Century laws and regulations, then please disregard this comment.
Michael Fisher wrote: E.C:. "I urge you both to consider the fruitfulness of examining whether the institutions described in #39 and #40 need to be examined further in order to prove or disprove premise #1." I do not subscribe to the notion that these institutions need to be examined in order to prove the premise. My commentary in #5 has done so and has done so with sufficient force. Bowen, as is his usual modus operandi has not challenged that proof whatsoever with rational and clear argumentation. Instead he has veered off to two institutions which he maintains (it is not exactly clear which) were white supremacy or a form of white supremacy. However, he has failed to even prove the existence of these institutions as either white supremacy or a form of white supremacy. Ergo, Bowen is not engaged in a debate, he is engaged in making a sting of unfounded assertions.
Cobb wrote: I think that it follows from #48 that Apartheid and Jim Crow would be part of a 'Global System' of White Supremacy, and that any dismantling of them would thus constitute dismantling of the 'Global System' of White Supremacy. I would assert that such a dismantling constitutes disempowerment of the institutions, organizations and individuals. I can accept the agument that the 'Global System' of White Supremacy is perhaps a 'grand philosophy' of White Supremacy. Analagously the 'global system' of Christianity is the overarching philosophy of the Gospel. But I dispute that there is an operational organization which constitutes a centrally managed and organized regime which directs aspects of White Supremacy across nations, languages and historical periods. Not even something as large and well-organized at the Catholic Church could claim all of that for Christianity without schism. I challenge Fisher thus to clarify the size and scope of 'institutions, organizations' hindering black progress and how this 'global system' directs their operation. Over what period of time, under what form of leadership, based upon what documents does this global system perform its duties?
Michael Fisher wrote: I was going to correct "sting of unfounded assertions" to "string of:", but on second thought "sting" is quite appropriate.
Michael Fisher wrote: "I think that it follows from #48 that Apartheid and Jim Crow would be part of a 'Global System' of White Supremacy, and that any dismantling of them would thus constitute dismantling of the 'Global System' of White Supremacy. I would assert that such a dismantling constitutes disempowerment of the institutions, organizations and individuals." Once again Bowen is twisting in the wind. First he asserts that there is no such thing as the Global System of White Supremacy and then he derives his proof that Jim Crow and Apartheid were systems of white supremacy from the existence of the Global System of White Supremacy. The man is certifiably mad.
Cobb wrote: I would also assert that without the historical context of Apartheid and Jim Crow, there are no benchmarks by which anyone can judge the effectiveness of combating the 'present tense' system(s) of White Supremacy. Which is to say if White Supremacy today does not resemble the White Supremacy of the 20th Century of any systems prior, then it would not be useful to regard with any respect the efforts of prior generations of leaders in freedom struggle. I find Fisher's unwillingness to stipulate that Apartheid and Jim Crow were indeed White Supremacist a debate trick and an ahistorical evasion of fact. I will satisfy the burden of establishing this, should the moderators deem it unsatisfied, at a future point. Following CN's point in #24, I will continue my narrative.
E.C. wrote: Fish: Re: #55; "First he asserts that there is no such thing as the Global System of White Supremacy and then he derives his proof that Jim Crow and Apartheid were systems of white supremacy from the existence of the Global System of White Supremacy." If that is indeed what you believe he has done, that doesn't entail that his doing so was a fallacious argument. You could interpret your above quoted summary to mean he asserted the Global System of White Supremacy existed (past tense) and that he asserted the Global System of White Supremacy no longer exists (present tense).
cnulan wrote: That is incorrect. The statement cited is my statement that I, at that point, did not intend to make any empirical arguments at all. As I asserted that my opponent would either deny, twist, ignore, misstate or misinterpret empirical evidence - as he has shown to do already. Without the benefit of Cobb's argument(s), your assertion in 5. was unfounded. Of course, I can cite the mountains of empirical evidence: The fact that all of the institutions of power, of decisive and overwhelming armed force and destruction, of economics, science, learning, propaganda (a/k/a "the media") , entertainment, and even the pornographic industry are dominated and controlled by people who classify themselves as "white".Perhaps you can cite mountains of evidence, but not having done so, you have effectively presented your empirical case as a prima facia "given". My argument explicitly began with examining the concepts, the language operative in human society. Particularly in the globally accepted international language of business, politics and social life called "English". Thus I at no time asserted anything empirical. In that case, Cobb's counterargument beginning at comment 6. is a direct challenge to what you have asserted and I withdraw my moderating comments 11 and 20. please carry on:.,
Michael Fisher wrote: "I challenge Fisher thus to clarify the size and scope of 'institutions, organizations' hindering black progress and how this 'global system' directs their operation." That is easily answered: As to the scope and size, this System of White Supremacy dominates all areas of human activity (and thus all institutions and organizations) directly and indirectly: Economics, Education, Entertainment, Labor, Law, Politics, Religion, Science, Sex, and War." "Over what period of time..," Now. "under what form of leadership" White Supremacy. "based upon what documents does this global system perform its duties?" The global system of Racism/White Supremacy is in no need of codified documents as Bowen has demonstrated himself when he asserted that white supremacy indeed existed during "Jim Crow" and "Apartheid". In neither case were there documents in evidence that codified such white supremacy. In fact, Bowen then derived the existence of these particular systems from the existence of the Global System of White Supremacy as defined in the resolution. I have already delivered my proof in #5. It is up to challenge.
Cobb wrote: One cannot discount the deleterious effects of the irrational premises of racism, specifically those of White Supremacy on the human psyche. Its effects are well known and have been documented in the works of pioneering scholars and researchers like Carter G. Woodson and Kenneth Clark. However the fundamental moral error of racism which underlies White Supremacy is easily identifiable without scholarly research. People basically understand that racism is wrong and have for many generations. This is why White Supremacists have gone to great lengths in order to justify their their theories. Every generation has its slew of crackpots who attempt to 'scientifically' prove the genetic superiority of the so-called white race and various aspects of the inferiority of other so-called races. Like any immoral system, White Supremacy must be taught. By removing the legal apparatus of Jim Crow society, the Civil Rights Movement and laws dealt a death blow to the continuing institutionalization and reinforcement of White Supremacy in America. This did not level the playing field, but it did take away the apparatus for digging more holes in it. As economist Glenn Loury identified, the defeat of Jim Crow was a great legal and moral victory, but like craters in the battlefield long after the war has been decided, all is not even. Many African Americans, perhaps as much as 40% living in America today below middle class status, still live in those craters. I call them ghettos. They are the same segregated areas today, and predominantly African American that they were before the end of the Jim Crow Era. These ghettos, designated in the Jim Crow era to separate African Americans from mainstream American institutions of education, health care, legal representation, government services are often more dysfunctional communities than their distance from quality institutions might suggest. There is also a human cost born in the psyches of ghetto residents. It is for lack of a better term, and yet well understood 'the ghetto mentality', and it is a the significant result of an internalization of the premises of White Supremacy. The underclass of African Americans suffer not only because of the legacy of the material deprivations designed into American Jim Crow, but because they have been psychologically damaged by White Supremacy. I quote from Loury: This sharp contrast between America's lofty ideals, on the one hand, and the seemingly permanent second-class status of the Negroes, on the other, put the onus on the nation's political elite to choose the nobility of their civic creed over the comfort of longstanding social arrangements. Ultimately they did so. Viewed in historic and cross-national perspective, the legal and political transformation of American race relations since World War II represents a remarkable achievement, powerfully confirming the virtue of our political institutions. Official segregation, which some southerners as late as 1960 were saying would live forever, is dead. The caste system of social domination enforced with open violence has been eradicated. Whereas two generations ago most Americans were indifferent or hostile to blacks' demands for equal citizenship rights, now the ideal of equal opportunity is upheld by our laws and universally embraced in our politics. A large and stable black middle class has emerged, and black participation in the economic, political, and cultural life of this country, at every level and in every venue, has expanded impressively. This is good news. In the final years of this traumatic, exhilarating century, it deserves to be celebrated. Today's Race Problem: Nevertheless, as anyone even vaguely aware of the social conditions in contemporary America knows, we still face a "problem of the color line." The dream that race might some day become an insignificant category in our civic life now seems naively utopian. In cities across the country, and in rural areas of the Old South, the situation of the black underclass and, increasingly, of the black lower working classes is bad and getting worse. No well-informed person denies this, though there is debate over what can and should be done about it. Nor do serious people deny that the crime, drug addiction, family breakdown, unemployment, poor school performance, welfare dependency, and general decay in these communities constitute a blight on our society virtually unrivaled in scale and severity by anything to be found elsewhere in the industrial West. What is sometimes denied, but what must be recognized is that this is, indeed, a race problem. The plight of the underclass is not rightly seen as another (albeit severe) instance of economic inequality, American style. These black ghetto dwellers are a people apart, susceptible to stereotyping, stigmatized for their cultural styles, isolated socially, experiencing an internalized sense of helplessness and despair, with limited access to communal networks of mutual assistance. Their purported criminality, sexual profligacy, and intellectual inadequacy are the frequent objects of public derision. In a word, they suffer a pariah status. It should not require enormous powers of perception to see how this degradation relates to the shameful history of black-white race relations in this country. You will note Loury's historically accurate use of the term 'Negro' in representing the cultural and political identity of most African Americans of the pre-Civil Rights & Black Nationalist era.
Michael Fisher wrote: cnulan: "In that case, Cobb's counterargument beginning at comment 6. is a direct challenge to what you have asserted:" #6 was not a challenge it was the announcement of a challenge and a description of how the challege would be carried out. None of which he has done. To wit: "In my counter-argument I will set out to show that the racist system of White Supremacy can be defeated and that African Americans have, do and can continue to progress despite its continuing existence." He has not done so yet. "I will show how the operation of white Supremacy has been curtailed" Again he has not done so yet. In fact, the sole systems of white supremacy he cited have yet to objectively be established as systems of white supremacy by Bow. "and how, despite the lack of a coordinated effort by any identifyable black elite, the fortunes of African Americans continue to rise." Did not do that either. "And finally I will attempt to show how a certain stream of thought, which I call the New Black Nationalism is counter-productive to the progress of African Americans, precisely because of its misunderstanding of White Supremacy and the errors which arise from that misunderstanding. It is within that context - during periods of incremental destruction of White Supremacist operation that thee successful, even thriving nature of African Americans brings opprobrium from those who claim to be their only and best hope. New Black Nationalists are crabs in the barrel." Nope not here either. Bow has neither identified these New Black Nationalists, he has misidentified the origin of the "old Black Nationalists" and not even cited who these "Old Black Nationalists" hailing from the 1960s were. "I will return within the hour." Bowen didn't even do that. He came back two hours later. Obfuscations, misdirections, contradictions, illogic.
E.C. wrote: Gentlemen: I'll be stepping away until 6:00 p.m. PST. I'll not be able to edit comments in this thread until then.
Cobb wrote: #59 is the most numbskull argument I've seen in a long time. Again, ahistorical, unspecific and completely useless in directing any actions of any US Black Elite. If one were to agree to the scope of that assertion, it would be tantamount to assuming a transcendental universal character to White Supremacy. Fisher perverts Decartes. I think, therefore White Supremacy. This underscores yet again my assertion that Fisher's thought process itself is a function of White Supremacy. He is himself a victim of the psychological battle and it has reduced his ability to see beyond his walls of rage. He is a caged bird. He essentially claims that his cage is pervasive, transcendent and universal and cannot even deign to recognize it's specific limits and its specific powers and specific examples of its defeat. He would thus consign us over to an endless battle against an implacable foe with no hope of victory. All he wants is to be permanent general for 'our' side.
Michael Fisher wrote: "By removing the legal apparatus of Jim Crow society," As I said earlier, Bowen bases his whole theory of the demise of white supremacy upon the fact that some "legal apparatus" has been dismantled. Fact is however, that a legal apparatus which asserts the equal treatment of people classified as black (or Negro) and those of people classified as white is not in and of itself indicative of a system of supremacy, either white supremacy, or, for argument's sake black supremacy. Thus if we agree that the system of white supremacy existed during "Jim Crow" (and I certainly do) then the existence of that system must have been predicated upon something else then the legal apparatus which, indeed, mandated "equal" though separate. Thus to argue that the dismantling of this legal apparatus which as codified did not establish white supremacy is, was indeed the dismantling of white supremacy, is on the face of it, fallacious. Moreover, it appears that Bowen maintains that white supremacy did not exist in the regions of the United States not subject to the Jim Crow laws of "separate" and "equal". No White Supremacy in Cali? Further, I am wont to point out that Bowen, again in his usual fashion has neglected to clarify his position vis-a-vis South Africa and the empirical questions raised in this context.
Cobb wrote: Observe this BBC video; [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3104532940730315783] Beginning at minute 6:30, see James Robin's report: "..overwhelmingly he used the power of the state to protect White Supremacy while implementing only cosmetic reforms."
Michael Fisher wrote: Bow: "#59 is the most numbskull argument I've seen in a long time. Again, ahistorical, unspecific and completely useless in directing any actions of any US Black Elite. If one were to agree to the scope of that assertion, it would be tantamount to assuming a transcendental universal character to White Supremacy. Fisher perverts Decartes. I think, therefore White Supremacy. This underscores yet again my assertion that Fisher's thought process itself is a function of White Supremacy. He is himself a victim of the psychological battle and it has reduced his ability to see beyond his walls of rage. He is a caged bird. He essentially claims that his cage is pervasive, transcendent and universal and cannot even deign to recognize it's specific limits and its specific powers and specific examples of its defeat. He would thus consign us over to an endless battle against an implacable foe with no hope of victory. All he wants is to be permanent general for 'our' side." Bowen is as is his modus operandi descending into name calling and irrationality when challenged to deliver objective proof and reasoning, both on the level of concepts and on the level of empiricism. Let's examine what he says paragraph by paragraph: "#59 is the most numbskull argument I've seen in a long time. Again, ahistorical, unspecific and completely useless in directing any actions of any US Black Elite." My argument is based on my #5. How "all" is unspecific Bowen does not explain. Once again, Supremacy is not supreme if is does not encompass "all". And it is certainly not supreme if it is not "global". "If one were to agree to the scope of that assertion, it would be tantamount to assuming a transcendental universal character to White Supremacy. Fisher perverts Decartes. I think, therefore White Supremacy." "transcendental". We are not speaking of the spirit world, but of a human condition. White Supremacy is not infinite. It just is the dominating system running humanity. I am certain that I am a victim of the psychological war that white supremacy imposed upon all people classified as "non-white", I am trying to overcome this by applying the only weapon I have. Logic. The assertion that I operate out of a sense of rage is plainly an assertion. Bowen has yet to prove this assertion. "He essentially claims that his cage is pervasive, transcendent and universal and cannot even deign to recognize it's specific limits and its specific powers and specific examples of its defeat." Since white supremacy has not yet been defeated, specific examples of its defeat can not be supplied. "He would thus consign us over to an endless battle against an implacable foe with no hope of victory." Let me help Bow out here. The SR/WS constantly reacts to the efforts of non-whites to get rid off it. Thus it is continuously refined. If non-white people had no potential power whatsoever they the system would need not be in place in the first place and and if that potential power were not realized on multitude of occasions both large and small, then there would be no need to refine the system to the point of trying to hide it in plain sight. "All he wants is to be permanent general for 'our' side." Again, am assertion without proof. I suggest that Bowen finally get with the program and begin the debate.
Cobb wrote: I do not claim that either the ideas of White Supremacy or the legacy of its operation are eradicated when the legal apparatus that supports it is dismantled. I am merely saying that this constitutes the single most important aspect of guaranteeing black advancement. In #5, Fisher asserts of White Supremacy: "No one group or person can be Supreme unless that group or person is in control everywhere and over everybody. Otherwise it would not be Supremacy. Supremacy means "being supreme". Not "almost supreme" or "somewhat supreme". It is not a question of degree. It just is or it is not." This again underscores his view of White Supremacy as pervasive, transcendent and universal. Basically without limit. If we are to take this assertion to its logical conclusion, either this debate is under the control of Fisher's 'global system of White Supremacy' or that system is not at all supreme. "it is not a question of degree". If indeed this very debate is under the control of White Supremacy, then it makes no sense to have it or heed its perscriptions. Therefore there is no black progress to be made because the 'Global System of White Supremacy' has already pre-ordained the outcome. If on the other hand, as I would argue, that White Supremacy is a flawed ideology with many systemic limits and weaknesses, then there is indeed hope for liberation from its wicked dominion. Those who would sustain that hope would be better served by my thinking on the matter. Fisher is a caged bird.
Cobb wrote: The US Census reports that in 1960 there were 18.8 million African Americans living in this country. In 1990 there were 29.9 million and today the estimate is about 38.7 million. It is generally accepted that a solid 60% of African Americans are middle class. That's 23.2 million. Today there are more African Americans in the middle class then there were total African Americans when I was born. Something defeated White Supremacy. In this same table, you will note that even during the dark days of slavery, sizable percentages of African Americans were indeed free. In 1860 more than 10% of Africans living in America were not slaves. US Census [http://www.census.gov/population/documentation/twps0056/tab01.pdf] I reassert my point in comment #8 with these statements of fact.
Michael Fisher wrote: "..overwhelmingly he used the power of the state to protect White Supremacy while implementing only cosmetic reforms." That is an assertion. It happens to be true, but it is an assertion unsupported by the citation of facts. Ok. Lemme help you out here. I'm going to quote one or two article at length written by a certain Michael Fisher who was one of the two initiators of the mass anti-apartheid student movement after the 1976 Soweto rebellion, and who organized this movement according to the advice and direction of a certain David M. Sibeko. First: "A person or community dispossessed of property after 19 June 1913 as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices is entitled, to the extent provided by an Act of Parliament, either to restitution of that property or to equitable redress." Section 25 (7) of the Constitution of post-apartheid South Africa. The problem in Zimbabwe today is very simple: There never was a Zimbabwe, not in 1980 and not today. There has only been Rhodesia. The essence of Rhodesia, just as the essence of South Africa, was always the retention of the land in the hands of the whites. The color of the flag, the color of the head of state, the color of parliament, was always secondary. What defined the white Southern African settler states above all was and is the fact that the white settlers settled African land and mean to keep it that way. That's all. This is why, according to the constitution of the "new" South Africa, only "A person or community dispossessed of property after 19 June 1913″ is entitled to maybe get their land back. 19 June 1913 being the date, of course, when the theft of 80% of the Africans' land had already been accomplished and codified in the Land Act of 19 June 1913. As the African National Congress' first Secretary-General, Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje, in his book Native Life in South Africa quoted the British press at the time: "Under the Natives' Land Act, which has brought the matter to a crisis, even the poor fragment of rights in the soil that remains seems doomed. For under the Act the Native is denied the right — except with the quite illusory `approval of the Governor-General' to purchase, hire, or acquire any rights in land from a person other than a Native. Under this provision, the Native whose tenancy expires, or who is evicted from a farm, is legally denied any career except that of a labourer. He cannot own, he cannot hire, he cannot live a free man." Frederick Douglass once said that "Power concedes noting without a Demand". The white settlers of Southern Africa did not agree to a nominally black political superstructure out of the goodness of their hearts. They did so because they could see that they would lose. Losing meant not only losing the property they had stolen, but it meant losing their very lives. The settlers' killing of all these black school kids in Soweto and elsewhere in 1976 obviously had not the effect it used to have on Southern African Black folk. Clearly, ordinary black kids were ready to die. When you're ready to die, you're even more ready to kill. Plain and simple. To put it bluntly, the Pan Africanist Congress' Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA) slogan "One Settler – One Bullet", as rag-tag an outfit as APLA was, became an ever approaching reality. It was only a matter of time – five years, ten, maybe twenty: until the settler constructs of Southern Africa would have been thoroughly destroyed. The Lancaster House Agreement in the case of Rhodesia and the Constitutional Agreements in the case of South Africa were designed solely with one thing in mind: Have a new "Black Elite" guarantee the land status quo for the white settlers, with some minor adjustments, maybe. This guarantee meant that the new Black Elite would have to defend the status quo against their black constituents on behalf of the white settlers. It is an age-old trick and I remember David Sibeko explaining the whole thing to me at length in late 1976 or early 1977. He also knew that putting the ANC in power in South Africa was the key to the whole scheme and that it would happen pretty soon. The 1976 Soweto uprisings and the subsequent reaction of the African Diaspora, much of which he had us organize, had left the white settlers no other choice. Consequently, the beatification of Nelson Mandela as a living, martyred, black saint by the international white media, by the way. Somebody black had to be put in the position to bless this sell-out deal.
So, Who Really DID Liberate South Africa? "Revolution is based on land. Land is the basis of all independence. Land is the basis of freedom, justice, and equality." Malcom X, November 10, 1963. In a recent comment an anonymous commentator asked "So was Libya's support of the ANC (during apartheid) and Qaddaffi's camraderie with imprisoned Mandela a ploy?" I promised to try to answer that question by explaining the history of the ANC a bit. One can not understand the modern African National Congress of South Africa without exploring the history of the South African Communist Party. The ANC was formed in 1912 as a black advocacy organization dominated by the black South African elite, particularly the various African royal Chiefs. The organization did not fight for integration as the NAACP would in the United States since Africans in South Africa understood that the country was owned by African people. After all the British and the Boers (Dutch/French settlers) had just six years earlier, in 1906, defeated the last organized African military resistance against the whites' land grab: the rebellion lead by Zulu Chief Bambatta. The struggle of the Africans in South Africa had always been one to regain their land. Therefore integration into white society was not the goal. In the 1943 a group of young ANC members received the permission and the funds to found an ANC youth branch. The ANC Youth League, established by young activists such as Antone Lembede, Nelson Mandela, and Robert Sobukwe, reiterated and reinforced the traditional policy of the South African liberation movement in its 1944 Manifesto: "The White race, possessing superior military strength and at present having superior organizing skill has arrogated to itself the ownership of the land and invested itself with authority and the right to regard South Africa as a White man's country. This has meant that the African, who owned the land before the advent of the Whites, has been deprived of all security which may guarantee him an independent pursuit of destiny or ensure his leading a free and unhampered life. He has been defeated in the field of battle but refuses to accept this as meaning that he must be oppressed, just to enable the White man to further dominate him." :its creed: "We believe in the divine destiny of nations. The goal of all our struggles is Africanism and our motto is 'AFRICA'S CAUSE MUST TRIUMPH'. We believe that the national liberation of Africans will be achieved by Africans themselves. We reject foreign leadership of Africa. We may borrow useful ideologies from foreign ideologies, but we reject the wholesale implementation of foreign ideologies into Africa. We believe that leadership must be the personification and symbol of popular aspirations and ideals. We believe that practical leadership must be given to capable men, whatever their status in society. We believe in the scientific approach to all African problems. We combat moral disintegration among Africans by maintaining and upholding high ethical standards ourselves. We believe in the unity of all Africans from the Mediterranean Sea in the North to the Indian and Atlantic oceans in the South - and that Africans must speak with one voice." In the meantime: In 1921 The Communist Party of South Africa (SACP) was formed by a collective of mostly privileged white intellectuals and relatively recent arrivals of British and Eastern European Jewish stock. The new organization immediately involved itself in a pivotal historic event, the Rand Revolt. In 1922 South African mining companies of the Witwatersrand region moved to increase cheap black labor in the mines. Tens of thousands of white mine workers went on strike. Rallying around the slogan "Workers of the World Unite to Keep South Africa White!" the white strikers, mostly highly skilled machine tool operators or supervisors of black labor expanded the strike into a full-fledged rebellion. The rebellion was designed to maintain the color bar in the mining industry. The SACP decided to support the white worker's revolt to the hilt. The South African communists were part of a world-wide communist organization, the Communist International, which was headquartered in Moscow. The leadership of the Communist International quickly disabused the SACP of this nonsense and the organization was forced to toe a less chauvinist political line. In 1928 the Communist International held an international congress in Moscow. The congress was run in the form of different committees, not unlike the congressional committees of the US Congress. The committee which dealt with South Africa was the committee on the National Question. Among its most influential members were black American communists such as Harry Haywood. This "National Committee" directed the South African communists to consider the pivotal land question and explained to them that South Africa was a white settler entity based on the expulsion of the "Natives" from their land. In sum, the black American communists, backed by Russian communist allies, ordered the SACP to fight for a "Native Republic", that is, an African-run state. The SACP had sent three delegates to that congress lead by British aristocrat Sidney Bunting, his Baltic Jewish wife Rebecca, and the Boer/English Edward Roux. When Rebecca Bunting heard what the Communist International required them to do she cried out "Why, but the Africans will drive us into the sea!" In 1946 Edward Roux recalled the SACP delegation's horror at the notion of a Black republic: "To Bunting and the great majority of fellow Party members the new slogan came like a bolt from the blue. And to me. when I received the news in England, it was equally startling. Was it not similar, we said, to Marcus Garvey's slogan "Africa for the Africans" which the C P. had always opposed as the exact opposite of internationalism? How could we reconcile such a cry with our steadfast aim and slogan: " Workers of the world, unite!" We, as South African communists, had claimed to represent the aspirations of all workers, black and white; and now we were being asked to go before the masses as a purely black, even, as we saw it, as an anti-white Party. Almost all the white communists were indignant and black communists like Thibedi, who had been trained in the old tradition, equally so." Sydney Bunting protested at the 1928 congress: "As the slogan will certainly be interpreted by the exploited whites,- as it has indeed been interpreted by ourselves (so much so that its defenders [in South Africa] have defended just that interpretation of it) it means that the exploited whites are to become in their turn a subject race, that the Native republic in spirit if not in letter will exclude all whites, and that the land without exception will belong to the Natives:" Well, yes, exactly. You steal my car, I'll come and get it back. Anything wrong with that? Apparently. Well, the SACP made the best of the situation when the three got back to South Africa. They figured out an innovative way to interpret the directive: They started to fight for not just one "Native Republic", but for "Native Republics" (plural) all based on the different African ethnicities and based on where the Africans currently lived. In other words, the South African Communist Party invented the concept of the Bantustans. The SACP leadership need not have worried, however, for time heals all wounds and World War II came around. Blacks were forgotten in favor of the alliance with the colonial powers of the West and the Soviets allowed the SACP to revert to its old policies. In 1950 the SACP was banned in South Africa. The white leadership reconstituted itself as the Congress of Democrats and pursued a "Congress Alliance" with the African National Congress, the Coloured People's Congress, and the South African Indian National Congress. The SACP had sent quite a few of its black members, such as Moses Kotane, into the ANC leadership where they pressed for a reorientation of the traditional Africanist ANC policy, the ultimate implementation of which the SACP stalwarts figured would lead to the realization of the Buntings' now ancient and persistent fear that all of the land without exception would revert to the Africans. The key to the prevention of such a "catastrophe", was to reprogram the ANC. In 1955 in Kliptown, South Africa, the various Congresses (ANC, CPC, IPC, CoD) where brought together by the SACP leadership as the "Congress of the Peoples" and adopted a new programmatic policy, the Kliptown Charter, later to become known as the "Freedom Charter". The charter made short shrift of the notion that South Africa was a country which in its totality consisted of land which had been robbed from the Africans and which should be returned to its original owners. Thus the Kliptown charter declared as its very first principle "South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white" Well, sounded great. There was a problem, however. Since all of the land had been stolen from the Africans, most of it within living memory of the oldest among them, how, exactly had the European settlers acquired a right to that land? Or even to a portion to it? If the whites had an equal right to the land, it would be a violation of that right to take it out of their hands and return it to the Africans. That's what you call a conundrum. Well, be that as it may, that pesky "Native Republic" - "South Africa is an African country" thing was dead: or was it?
South Africa - Land or Toilets?: The adoption of the Kliptown Charter in 1955 and its eventual incorporation into the program of the African National Congress took the question of "who owns the land" permanently off the table for the answer was clear: The land "belonged" to both, those who once had owned it and those who took it by force and formalized that robbery with the Natives Land Act No. 27 of 1913. That act had "legalized" the previous de facto allocation of 87% of the land area of South Africa to the whites and prohibited the sale of any such white-held land to Africans. The Africans were forced off their land en masse and restricted to a few "African reserves" or reservations where it was almost impossible to farm. As a result the Africans were impoverished to the most base levels and, in order to survive, were forced to be available as the cheapest labor possible at the beck and call of white farmers and industry. The reserves (later "Bantustans") functioned as gigantic concentration camps holding this readily available pool of impoverished and cheap black labor. In 1923 the Native Urban Areas Act was enacted as a supplement to the Land Act. It restricted the residence of Africans to the reservations and allowed only the temporary residence of domestic workers in the rest of South Africa. Mind you, these laws were passed before the advent of the system of apartheid which was established in 1948. Upon the adoption of the Kliptown Charter, once the land question was off the table, the ANC was transformed from a movement for the return of the Africans' land to a civil rights organization. The fight now had become one for the rights of Africans to vote within the context of the newly established property system. It had ceased to become a fight to abolish and reverse that newly minted property-system. Thus the whites, thanks to the SACP, were finally safe – should the apartheid regime fall, the white folks had a back-up. That back-up meant that in the future, while the white folks might have to share their toilets, the land would remain safely in their hands. Their property rights would not be questioned. 87% of South Africa would remain in their possession with all the mega farms, mining industries and factories placed on top of that land. The new ANC would see to it.
The sole reason for the existence of the African liberation movement was the retaking of the land stolen from the Africans. Every other demand, for voting rights, democracy, socialism, capitalism, integration, segregation, whatever, was nothing but a means to the ultimate end: The return of the land to the African. Afrikaans is a Dutch dialect spoken by the descendants of the white Dutch settlers in South Africa. In 1976 African students throughout South Africa rose to oppose the imposition of Afrikaans as a required language in African schools. These students operated under the paradigm of "Black Consciousness", that is, the total rejection of white political leadership and the demand for the return of the Africans' land, for an African education, for African culture, and for African social development. Dozens of African school children were brutally murdered by South African white authorities. The response of Africans in South Africa and in the African Diaspora, especially in the United States, was swift and substantial. The massive reaction of black folk world-wide spelled the beginning of the end of the white South African power structure. It is very important to understand that the overthrow of the South African racist regime was not an accomplishment of the Africans in South Africa alone, but the result of a series of interlocking and coordinated efforts by black folks world-wide. The foci of this campaign was in two countries, South Africa and the United States. Without the resistance of the Africans in South Africa, the African Diaspora in the United States would not have been galvanized. However, it is extremely important to understand this: Without the efforts of the African Diaspora in the United States, the apartheid regime would be in power today still. African American activists and students had, since the early 1970s organized an African Liberation Day, initially led by a broad-based coalition of black political forces under the umbrella of the African Liberation Support Committee (ALSC). The ALSC united hundreds of thousands of African-Americans behind its efforts. Their stated goal was the liberation of Africa, that is, the return of the land to the Africans. The Soweto uprisings of 1976 spurred Black student community activists into action. The first thing they did is seek advice from black South African activists. The South Africans who made themselves readily available to these young black people were the members of the Pan Africanist Congress of South Africa (PAC). The PAC folks were everywhere in the black American community. They lived in Brooklyn's Bedford Stuyvesant, in Manhattan's Harlem, in Newark, Cleveland, Washington D.C, Detroit, Watts – one could find them anywhere Black American folk lived. They partied with Black folk, dated Black American women, and were married to Black American men. In short, wherever one went in the Black American community one would stumble over a PAC member. The African National Congress, in contrast, plainly did not exist in the Black American communities. Their members could not be found anywhere - in the Black community, that is. It was thus natural that the youthful Black American student activists would consult with these PAC folk. Asked who to go to, they invariably were pointed to the PAC Foreign Affairs Director, David Sibeko. Thus it developed that everyone, from Kwame Toure, to Min. Farrakhan, to Elombe Brath, Haki Madhubuti, Kalamu Ya Salaam, Andrew Young, Amiri Baraka, to Black Student Unions throughout the country, to the Black Students at Ivy League Universities such as Yale, that is, virtually everyone, consulted with the PAC and David Sibeko before any major moves were made. In effect, the South African liberation movement as it manifested itself in the United States became a child of the PAC. As the African-Americans' activities reached a feverish peak, increasing numbers of white liberal students and youth became attracted to the movement. In 1977, under the guidance of a number of black student activists at Yale University, who, in turn were actively guided in their strategy and tactics by the PAC leadership, an organizational vehicle was created into which the energy of these white students could flow: The Northeast Coalition for the Liberation of Southern Africa (NECLSA). Sister organizations were set up in the Mid-West and the West Coast. These organizations became the umbrella for hundreds of anti-apartheid committees set up on multitudes on campuses throughout the nation. Organized by NECLSA and its sister organizations, hundreds of thousands of American students of all ethnicities were mobilized and demonstrations, sit-ins, and campaigns to divest from any corporations doing business in South Africa were launched everywhere. The young black students who found themselves at the core of and leading these multi-ethnic formations were very much aware that the form of these campaigns were akin to those of the civil rights struggle, but clearly understood that the essence of these campaigns was the return of the African's sovereign title to their land. Thus, for example, they had insisted against great opposition from numerous white activists on retaining the word "Liberation" in the name of these organizations rather than the term "Anti-Apartheid", or, in English, "Anti-Separation". As the South African liberation support activities spread, the folks who advised and thereby led the African National Congress in the United States finally woke up. In keeping with the tradition inaugurated with the adoption of the Kilptown Charter, these people were almost exclusively white and coalesced around the American Committee On Africa (ACOA) led by a white South African, Jennifer Davis, a white American, George Hauser, and a personable white Rutgers alumnus, Joshua Nessen. The ACOA worked in close cooperation with the Communist Party, USA which, in turn, closely consulted with the South African Communist Party which, in turn, ran much of the ANC exile leadership as well as, in the person of SACP head Joe Slovo, the ANC's military organization, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation). The whites of the ACOA literally prepared the policy papers, speaking engagements, public relations and media campaigns, organized the transport, money, and even breakfast and dinner for the United States based ANC officials, particularly the late ANC representative at the United Nations, Johnny Makatini. With the infusion of floods of white money, cadre, and leadership, the liberation support movement rapidly changed its political character. Despite all of the efforts of the young black students who had given the movement its organizational form, the Kliptown Charter became the programmatic statement of the movement. Thus the political content of the movement went from "African Liberation" to "Anti-Apartheid", from "Return the Land to the Africans", to "let the Africans Vote". Nonetheless, the movement, while now politically diverted, could not be stopped. By the mid-1980s the pressure on American and European corporations and financial institutions to divest from South Africa became unbearable to the powers behind the apartheid regime. As a result, the racist regime made overtures to their prisoner, Nelson Mandela. The proposal: If Mandela and the ANC were to agree to forgo the return of all of the land which had been taken from the Africans prior to the codification of the Natives Land Act No. 27 of 1913, Mandela would be released, all of the liberation organizations unbanned, and a constitution and government structure would be negotiated which would enable the ANC to, ostensibly, take over the reigns of power. Initially Mandela footsied around a bit, but eventually he agreed to work out a deal along those lines. During a two year period in the early 1990s the agreement was hammered out: The ANC officially relinquished all claims to any land taken from the Africans prior to 1913, formally guaranteed that relinquishment, and agreed that the return of any land taken from the Africans after that date would solely be conducted in accordance with the principle of "willing seller and willing buyer". In other words, if the current white "owner" was willing to sell the land, the Africans would be allowed to buy the land back. Today, in 2007, South Africa remains a white owned country. Less than 20% of the land is owned by Africans and it is among the worst arable land. While a small black elite has formed, landlessness is the outstanding feature among South Africa's blacks. Africans remain subject to appalling living conditions. Unemployment has reached record highs, crime is rampant in the cities, and the whites have withdrawn into gated and guarded suburban fortress communities. Thus as its last act, the white apartheid regime successfully secured the Africans' land for its white constituents. Who is responsible? Nelson Mandela. Without the blessings of Nelson Mandela this ridiculous deal would never have been possible. The whites ended up with the Africans' land and the Africans with the toilets, better say, the contents thereof. Quite a hero:
Cobb wrote: Now I will attack the subsidiary conclusion noting in particular that it makes little distinction in how White Supremacy operates on African Americans of different abilities as demonstrated in Loury's analysis. I maintain that African Americans, in the main the 60% which are middle class are mostly realized in their cultural, political and economic expression. That 'black progress' takes place within the context of class, as well as with regard to various forces of White Supremacy and other forces are *able* to suppress black ambition psychologically or materially. I argue that those Blacks in the middle class with higher class ambitions are those most likely to benefit from any US Black Elite coordination, not the black underclass and working poor. It is not likely to be a US Black Elite which will rescue the black underclass specifically in a battle against White Supremacy from its precarious position, but a broad coalition of Americans who will effect change through positive efforts at charitable relief, educational opportunity and general mainstreaming of them. Those that are not rescued in this manner, may not be rescuable, but their fate will remain better than their 'peers' in other nations as continued net immigration to the US proves.
Michael Fisher wrote: If we are to take this assertion to its logical conclusion, either this debate is under the control of Fisher's 'global system of White Supremacy' or that system is not at all supreme. "it is not a question of degree". The debate is tolerated by the White Supremacists. "If indeed this very debate is under the control of White Supremacy, then it makes no sense to have it or heed its perscriptions." Why? The fact that white supremacy must constantly be refined in order to maintain it, demonstrates that the white supremacists are not all powerful. They are just in control. "Therefore there is no black progress to be made because the 'Global System of White Supremacy' has already pre-ordained the outcome." Again, that is an illogical conclusion. I have maintained that white supremacy controls. I have never asserted that this control can not be broken. Moreover even if the control can not be broken it is a moral imperative that we nevertheless work to break that control and institute a system of justice where no human being is mistreated whatsoever and certainly not mistreated on the basis of color. It stands to reason, that if someone wants to remain in control of another person or a group of persons it would be most ideal if one could deceive that group as to the extent of one's control, because it would make it irrational for the controlled to do anything to break that control. Thus deception becomes the primary weapon of the controller.
Michael Fisher wrote: Bowen: "I do not claim that either the ideas of White Supremacy or the legacy of its operation are eradicated when the legal apparatus that supports it is dismantled." Bowen has STILL not shown how this legal apparatus supported the particular forms of white supremacy that he cited. Namely Jim Crow and Apartheid. I have now provided Bowen with extensive empirical evidence in regards to the system in Southern Africa both per-1948 and presently. He could at least provide us with some empirical evidence as to his assertions of Jim Crow and Apartheid. Instead, he just skips that step and moves on: "Now I will attack the subsidiary conclusion noting:" I am getting tired of this. Bowen is not debating. He is pontificating. Where are the moderators here?
cnulan wrote: The US Census reports that in 1960 there were 18.8 million African Americans living in this country. In 1990 there were 29.9 million and today the estimate is about 38.7 million. It is generally accepted that a solid 60% of African Americans are middle class. That's 23.2 million. Today there are more African Americans in the middle class then there were total African Americans when I was born.Something defeated White Supremacy. Cobb - has now noted a correlative increase in American Black consumption without establishing "defeat of white supremacy" as the causal factor. Fisher has begun to flesh out the empirical side of his argument.
cnulan wrote: With E.C. out for a while and me about to go pick up a ginormous pizza for me and my peeps - (I absolutely vouch for the fact that stoner supremacy rules in the 26 inch pizza construction game) now may be an auspicious time to break with an eye toward regrouping when E.C. returns to moderating activity at ~8:00pm PST.
Michael Fisher wrote: "The US Census reports that in 1960 there were 18.8 million African Americans living in this country. In 1990 there were 29.9 million and today the estimate is about 38.7 million. It is generally accepted that a solid 60% of African Americans are middle class. That's 23.2 million. Today there are more African Americans in the middle class then there were total African Americans when I was born." The increase in the population of of African-Americans (a term not defined by Bowen) does not evidence the defeat of anything. In fact, under the archaic system of racism/white supremacy in the ante-bellum South and border syayes of the United States, the steady increase of the same population served the interests of white supremacy and that archaic form in particular. Bowen's argument is nonsensical. Moreover he still has not demonstrated how the System of white supremacy was able to exist in the context of a legal code that stipulated that everyone is equal and equally separate. Further, by implication, he has asserted that the non-Jim Crow states of the US were not subject to the system of racism/white supremacy, as he restricted all of his comments to the South and the Border States. I have repeatedly asked for clarifications and received none.
Michael Fisher wrote: "With E.C. out for a while and me about to go pick up a ginormous pizza for me and my peeps:" Deal
Cobb wrote: I would simply conclude from #69 that Fisher advocates a sort of blood and soil racial nationalism. Africa for Africans, China for Chinese, England for English. Each race belongs to their own land, and that there is something fundamentally immoral about 'white' stewardship or ownership of 'black' land. I then ask Fisher to defend the ZanuPF's policy of forcing white landowners to forfeit their properties in Zimbabwe under Mugabe. Is this the model of Africa for Africans he supports? If the basis for the selling out of South Africa by Mandela to a continuing form of White Supremacy (certainly an attenuated from as compared with Apartheid) was that Africans were the aboriginal owners, what kind of land reform would he propose a US Black Elite advocate? His implication is that a revolution for land is the only true and final solution to defeat White Supremacy. Does he advocate a repatriation of African Americans to Africa, or some such revolution here in America? I see the operation of White Supremacist justification for the evils of appropriation. The lands of South Africans were taken by force and treachery and the excuse of White Supremacy was used as a continuing justification as a policy of the state. But the aims of White Supremacy were subservient to the simple evil of greed and exploitation of a weaker people. I don't mean to imply that non-Jim Crow states of the US did not support any forms of white supremacy, rather I suggested that we focus on those two prime examples.
E.C. wrote: Gentlemen: You have shared your arguments concerning premise #1, and to some extent premise #2 and the subsidiary conclusion. I doubt either of you could provide irrefutable arguments that would prove or disprove premise #1. But both of you have provided arguments that would enable the audience to make their own inductions or inferences. You could probably do no better than that for a social phenomenon such as the Global White Supremacist System, as we defined it in the debate's resolution. I suggest that you each consider adopting the following standpoints and moving forward to the normative segment of the resolution's argument. Debating premise #3 and #4, and the conclusion, would enable you to discuss the actions you believe the U.S. Black elite should take, if any. Cobb: The Global White Supremacist System, which is all thoughts and behaviors that work to establish, promote, or sustain the global dominance of people who define themselves as "white" and to suppress the advancement of people whom they define as "non-white" or "black" on the basis of color, might exist; however, even if it does, its influence is insubstantial, those whom it influences must allow it to influence them, and it is not the foremost hindrance to the cultural, political, and economic advancement of Black people in the U.S. and around the world. Fisher: The Global White Supremacist System, which is all thoughts and behaviors that work to establish, promote, or sustain the global dominance of people who define themselves as "white" and to suppress the advancement of people whom they define as "non-white" or "black" on the basis of color, exists and it is the foremost hindrance to the cultural, political, and economic advancement of Black people in the U.S. and around the world.
Michael Fisher wrote: I got so tired of Bow's ruminations that I fell asleep. I've been inspired by Nulan and I'm gonna go and get a pizza for me and my daughter. I'll return after she and I ate the thing.
Michael Fisher wrote: "I would simply conclude from #69 that Fisher advocates a sort of blood and soil racial nationalism. Africa for Africans, China for Chinese, England for English. Each race belongs to their own land, and that there is something fundamentally immoral about 'white' stewardship or ownership of 'black' land." Why is it that when people want to assert the rights to their property and these people are "white" no "racial" "blood and guts" nationalism is asserted, but when the people are "black", their demand for the return of land that was taken from their grandparents is without legitimacy? However, that is besides the point and his bringing that up constitutes continued obfuscation and distraction from the central issue at hand: Bowen made specific assertions about the legal apparatuses that "supported white supremacy" in South Africa from 1948 until 1990 and in the South and the Border states in the United States from 1876 until 1965. In each case he cited specific periods of duration but he has of yet has not proven his assertion that these legal apparatuses (or is it better apparatae) were indeed what he asserted them to be. The necessity for this proof is obvious. Bow's assertion that the dismantlement of these legal apparatuses were the pivotal event which dismantled white supremacy underlies the core of his entire argument. I thus do not agree that the moderators should give Bowen a free pass and let him continue to argue the succeeding premises 3 + 4. He has not established the foundation for the argument of these premises. Moreover, it should be noted that Bow keeps making concessions and modifications in the face of my counter-arguments and does not stand by his pronouncements. However, these concessions and modifications serve only to dance around the issues raised. They are not of deceisive import. Now then. Bowen says as follows: "I don't mean to imply that non-Jim Crow states of the US did not support any forms of white supremacy, rather I suggested that we focus on those two prime examples." If the "non-Jim Crow states" did support any form of white supremacy (which Bowen appears to concede here), and these states were not , by definition ("non-Jim Crow states") burdened by a legal apparatus which Bowen asserts was necessary to maintain the system of white supremacy, how is it that they supported white supremacy without that legal apparatus in place? What Bowen is conceding here is that, indeed, white supremacy can very well operate without a codified legal white supremacist apparatus. Thus bringing his whole house of card to fall. In other words, he delivered the proof that the dismantling of such a legal apparatus (assuming that it indeed existed in a formal way - i.e. black folk have less rights than white folk and it is codified that way) is NOT indicative of the dismantlement of white supremacy.
Cobb wrote: The Boers were indeed blood and soil nationalists. They developed an affinity with the land and laid claim to it. They fought wars over it and subsequent generations accepted it as their birthright. Of course white supremacy can operate without a codified legal aparatus. I have maintained since the beginning that White Supremacy operates psychologically as well as materially. There has been a well-known aphorism about white racism in America that in the South you can get close but not too high, in the North you can get high but not too close. White Supremacy operates differently depending upon the laws and social conventions of the particular system. 'Close' being a psychological barrier and 'High' being a material barrier. That twofold method of operation is more specific than any way that Fisher has described his interpretation of history. What I find annoying about Fisher's method of argument is that he cannot be nailed down about any specific characteristics of his global system. By making it everything, he has not shown at all, any way to distinguish any part of it from another part of it. Given all he has said, there is no logical way one can deduce whether one institution is more or less supportive of White Supremacy than another. He makes no distinction between a car wash that gives discounts on Fridays to white people, or paper bag tests at black social institutions, racist voie dire in jury trials, of pictures of nooses on the internet. For him it is all one giant contiguous monster that changes shape no matter what anyone does. His system is impervious to legal reform because there is always 'some' residual psychological effect or some provable discrimination. Rather than stipulate that the Apartheid and Jim Crow systems were bone fide systems of White Supremacy which have been relegated mostly harmless, he would dodge and suggest that there is still a larger latent force located somewhere within the white race that still holds greater horrors in the future, or somewhere in the past. In other words, there is no objective institution, or specific point in history upon which we can seem to agree where white Supremacy is. I have attempted to narrow the scope and talk about specific instances, and he retreats into 'Now' or some historical document of 1913. I have attempted to exemplify PW Botha as an individual totally invested in White Supremacy who perverted the operation of the nation of South Africa into a reign of terror and he ignores the example. I have attempted to get him to characterize the nature of an instituiton or organization through which the instrumentality and operation of White Supremacy is expressed and he refuses to do so. The only consistent place we can find White Supremacy is in Fisher's mind. It seems to control his worldview and renders him incapable of pointing his finger at anything specific that other people can objectively observe, examine and analyze. How from this he intends to give any prescription for US Black Elites or anyone to combat White Supremacy is completely mysterious. It's like a dog whistle that only he and his political compatriots can hear.
Cobb wrote: re #73. My assertion of material black progress brings into question the certainty that Fisher asserts that any system white supremacy itself is not curtailed or defeated. What I mean to point out is that it was the defeat of the legal apparatus of Jim Crow that was largely responsible for this material black progress and that this was the result of the Civil Rights Movement, a broad national coalition, not by a vanguard of a US Black Elite. I say that black progress is self evident, but am prepared to back that up with census data. But apparently Fisher says that the power of white supremacy is not defeated without some sort of land reform as part of the deal. And so I expect that he is willing to dismiss the psychological and material gains of African Americans I would cite.
Michael Fisher wrote: Once again Bowen is obfuscating. The material progress and comfort of a particular sector of the global black population is not indicative of the defeat of the global system of white supremacy. This would even be the case if all people classified as "black" throughout the globe would make such a progress. If black folks in Atlanta make material progress and those in Detroit do not, does that prove that the system of white supremacy has been defeated? Clearly not. I have said initially that it is the existence of a group of people that classifies itself and functions as "white" and does so regardless of any actions, wishes, and ambitions of those who are classified as "non-white" is, in and off itself proof of the is existence of white supremacy. I have also stated that logically, supremacy can not be supremacy unless it is supreme, which means above all others. Bowen has not delivered a counter-argument whatsoever. Instead he ghas pontificated about a supposed system of white supremacy that he asserted, was in existence in the South and the Border states of the United States from 1876 until 1965 when, according to Bowen, the dismantling of a legal apparatus which he asserted was the central pillar of this white supremacist system, resulted in the abolition of this white supremacist system. Along he way he has merely asserted that this legal apparatus was white supremacist, he did ot even attempt a proof. The same thing with his "examination" of a supposed white supremacist South African apartheid system. No historical context or empirical facts beyond a BBC report that in itsef made solely assertions and delivered no underlying facts for this assertion. To tip it off, Bowen makes a dismissive remark about the 19 June 1913 Native Land Act #27 as "some historical document" when this particular act is codified into the current supposedly non-white supremacist constitution of "post-apartheid" South Africa. ""A person or community dispossessed of property after 19 June 1913 as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices is entitled, to the extent provided by an Act of Parliament, either to restitution of that property or to equitable redress." Section 25 (7) of the Constitution of post-apartheid South Africa."
Cobb wrote: In #5 Fisher asks rhetorically: So what makes up a white person? What common objective characteristics have a group of people that allows them to define themselves as "white". Skin color? Where does "white " begin, where does it end? What shades of skin color qualify as "white" . Why? Hair texture? Where does hair texture begin and where does it end? Where are the beginnings and end objectively determined? Why these physical attributes? Why not define "race" by diameter, radius, or better even, the depth of people's anuses? Why not postulate a race of three-inch-radius-anus-having folks? How is such a group construct less valid than that of the "white" group construct? White Supremacy is a post-facto justification for crime. As I mentioned before, so-called white people must be instructed to believe that they are the generic beneficiaries of that crime. The physical attributes of skin color are readily available for exploitation and are roughly analogous to ethnicity. It can be done on sight. However for white supremacy to discipline its taxonomy, it must use cultural, political and economic institutions for enforcement. In the US as in South Africa the vague skin color determinations were made law. Thus white supremacists who had already benefited from their crimes enlisted the active or passive support of a potential population by gating them into whiteness, or justified new crimes by gating them out. Anti-discrimination laws passed in the US removed this very powerful tool of White Supremacists. These anti-discrimination laws were passed by nominally white people. That means that the power of white identity politics, the very expectation of White Supremacists had been defeated in those same potential converts. A white US Congress defeated the legality of racial discrimination in housing. White judges in the Jim Crow South, passed laws that disempowered whites. The career of Frank Minis Johnson Jr is instructive in this regard. White Supremacists in the US, specifically Southern Segregationists held the purity of the white race as their highest ideal. The famous Loving vs Virginia court decision rendered unconstitutional their rules on miscegenation. I use these examples to show that white identity can be successfully sublimated and white majorities can be politically motivated to work against the racial identity formation and suasion of White Supremacy. So-called white people can throw off the racial reductions imposed upon them by White Supremacy and act against the interests of White Supremacy. In the context of the American democracy progress against White Supremacy requires the establishment and maintenance of majority political coalitions. These coalitions have demonstrated their ability to disable the institutions, organizations and individuals who support White Supremacy. It is a matter of moral agency that convinces individuals that it is in their own best interests to defeat White Supremacy. This applies to those that White Supremacy would call 'white' as well as those White Supremacy would call 'black'. I will call this ability for individual so-called white people to defy the tenets and operation of White Supremacy 'The John Brown Factor', after that individual I see as one of the greatest examples of an American Christian anti-racist of European descent. I will call the ability to assemble and maintain anti-racist coalitions across lines of racial identity the 'MLK Factor' after that individual I see as one of the greatest examples of an American Christian anti-racist of African descent.
Michael Fisher wrote: I am wondering whether P6 was not correct after all when he stated that any debate with Bowen is fruitless. Bowen makes assertion after assertion without proof whatsoever and appears to believe that a further assertion is a sufficient substitute for a proof that was required by a previous assertion. At this time he should be less concerned about my supposed "making it everything" (which I, incidentally did not), but be concerned about his delivering proofs for his assertions be they in the conceptual or empirical realm. As to Bowen's assertion that I have not delivered specific examples of the operation of white supremacy, I beg to differ. I have provided a lengthy and relatively detailed example based on empirical evidence in comment #69. In contrast, Bowen has provided proof or examples for nothing beyond the assertion that the increase in the "black" population in the US is indicative of the "defeat" of white supremacy. If that is the indicator for such a defeat, then the increase of the black population in the ante-bellum slave south would indicate the dfeat of white supremacy there as well. A preposturous notion.
Cobb wrote: At this point I would ask Fisher to name the political movement or individual he would consider most responsible for the term 'black' as it applies to African Americans. We have not agreed that it is useful to talk about the New Black Nationalists. In the absence of a response I will assume that person to be Carter G. Woodson, and I will characterize his groundbreaking work 'The Miseducation of the Negro' as the basis for the psychological immunization of African Americans from the the racial reductions imposed upon them by the psychological operation of White Supremacy. And so I assert that Woodson, single-handedly stands as the culmination of all prior knowledge of the psychological operation of White Supremacy. Those who have read and understood the import of his book have been able to think their way out of the box that White Supremacists would have African Americans exist in. Woodson thus has created a way to defeat the psychological operation of White Supremacy on the minds of African Americans. I call the ability to defeat the internalization of White Supremacist tenets 'The Woodson Factor'. In general I would call it 'black mental liberation' however we have this issue over the provenance of Black Nationalism, Pan-Africanism and Black Consciousness. I stipulate that Woodson will suffice.
Cobb wrote: Fisher says: "Instead he ghas pontificated about a supposed system of white supremacy that he asserted, was in existence in the South and the Border states of the United States from 1876 until 1965 when, according to Bowen, the dismantling of a legal apparatus which he asserted was the central pillar of this white supremacist system, resulted in the abolition of this white supremacist system. Along he way he has merely asserted that this legal apparatus was white supremacist, he did ot even attempt a proof." I would ask the moderators a question at this point. If I were to simply assert that Jim Crow as I described it and referenced at Wikipedia was indeed a system of White Supremacy, can I ask Fisher to simply deny that assertion, rather than spend time fishing around for something he might find acceptable?
Michael Fisher wrote: "At this point I would ask Fisher to name:" At this point Bowen is not qualified to ask me anything. At this point he still needs to deliver the proofs asked off him. All he did in reference to the Jim Crow laws is describe the striking down of those laws. he has , however, not shown that these laws forced "black" people into a subservient position in any form. To assert, for example, that the legal restriction of both "black" and "white" to marry "interracially" when the codified law punishes both equally, is not proof of the existence of a system of white supremacy and thus the abolition of that law is not proof of the destruction of that same system
Cobb wrote: Fish say: The material progress and comfort of a particular sector of the global black population is not indicative of the defeat of the global system of white supremacy. This would even be the case if all people classified as "black" throughout the globe would make such a progress. If black folks in Atlanta make material progress and those in Detroit do not, does that prove that the system of white supremacy has been defeated? Will you stipulate that the material progress and comfort of any sector of any black population does not imply any defeat of any white supremacy?
Michael Fisher wrote: Now another basic challenge is to discover how to organize our strength in to economic and political power. Now no one can deny that the Negro is in dire need of this kind of legitimate power. Indeed, one of the great problems that the Negro confronts is his lack of power. From the old plantations of the South to the newer ghettos of the North, the Negro has been confined to a life of voicelessness (That's true) and powerlessness. (So true) Stripped of the right to make decisions concerning his life and destiny he has been subject to the authoritarian and sometimes whimsical decisions of the white power structure. The plantation and the ghetto were created by those who had power, both to confine those who had no power and to perpetuate their powerlessness. Now the problem of transforming the ghetto, therefore, is a problem of power, a confrontation between the forces of power demanding change and the forces of power dedicated to the preserving of the status quo. Now, power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political, and economic change." Martin Luther King, Jr. From "Where Do We Go From Here?" Annual Report Delivered at the 11th Convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 16 August 1967. Two years after the supposed "destruction" of "white supremacy in the South and the border states of the US".
Cobb wrote: Fish say: To tip it off, Bowen makes a dismissive remark about the 19 June 1913 Native Land Act #27 as "some historical document" when this particular act is codified into the current supposedly non-white supremacist constitution of "post-apartheid" South Africa. ""A person or community dispossessed of property after 19 June 1913 as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices is entitled, to the extent provided by an Act of Parliament, either to restitution of that property or to equitable redress." Section 25 (7) of the Constitution of post-apartheid South Africa." This is essentially a statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a statute in a common law legal system that sets forth the maximum period of time, after certain events, that legal proceedings based on those events may be initiated. In civil law systems, similar provisions are usually part of the civil code or criminal code and are often known collectively as "periods of prescription" or "prescriptive periods." Statutes of limitations do not, of necessity serve the interests of White Supremacy. They are practical conventions against infinite recourse. They are recognitions that there are limits to what legal and political systems can adjudicate. The South African Black Elite negotiated that settlement. What makes you think a US Black Elite can do any better?
Michael Fisher wrote: An audience member states: "I maintained that the notion of restricting the debate to US Blacks would prove counterproductive." The discussion has not been restricted to US blacks as we have agreed to deal with the global system of white supremacy. Unfortunately, Bowen is restricting himself to US blacks and to white supremacy as it has taken on the form only in a specific region of the United States. His lack of proof is what is not moving the debate along. I am considering dropping out. Everything that had to be said was said. Unless Bowen delivers there is no basis upon which one can discuss his assertions and thus not way one can continue.
Cobb wrote: There is nothing you have indicated here which I see constitutes an agreement that any part of a so-called global system of White Supremacy has been successfully disabled resulting in black progress. You don't concede it in South Africa, you don't concede it in America. You don't think whites have done it. You don't think blacks have done it. And yet you won't stipulate it the other way either. You will not say that if blacks do make material progress that they do so without regard to any part of White Supremacy. So you're essentially arguing that there is no black progress one way or another. And yet you assert that black elites exist and that they are relatively superior to their group, meaning that somehow they actually did make progress. While you resolve what your position is going to be on that, I'll continue.
Michael Fisher wrote: "Statutes of limitations do not, of necessity serve the interests of White Supremacy." According to the African National Congress' first Secretary-General, Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje, who favorably quoted the following (see comment #69) this "statue of limitations" certainly did: "Under the Natives' Land Act, which has brought the matter to a crisis, even the poor fragment of rights in the soil that remains seems doomed. For under the Act the Native is denied the right — except with the quite illusory `approval of the Governor-General' to purchase, hire, or acquire any rights in land from a person other than a Native. Under this provision, the Native whose tenancy expires, or who is evicted from a farm, is legally denied any career except that of a labourer. He cannot own, he cannot hire, he cannot live a free man." "The South African Black Elite negotiated that settlement." Did it? I would say not. In any case first you would have to define the "South African Black elite". Who was that what made them the elite? Nelson Mandela a man without material means and without an army? Was Joe Slovo "black"? Did he qualify to be a member of the South African black elite? Once again, an assertion without proof, either empirical or conceptual. "What makes you think a US Black Elite can do any better?" Who said that I think that the US elite can do anything better worse or whatever. The question was not that elite's ability to succeed or not, the question was whether the elite should oppose the global system of white supremacy. Be that as it may, the question is once again an attempt to distract me from the central issues which yet to be resolved and delivered by Bowen: THE MOFO PROOFS!!!
Michael Fisher wrote: "And yet you assert that black elites exist and that they are relatively superior to their group, meaning that somehow they actually did make progress." Bowen. That issue is easily resolved. There existed black elites relative to the masses of blacks slaves during chattel slavery, they even existed within the mass of slaves. There were slave overseers who had power over other slaves which power was given them by their masters. There were the so-called "House Slaves" who ate better and had better accommodations than the masses of slaves. There were the sexual slaves of the masters who slept in the masters' beds at times. There were nominally "free blacks" who indeed were subject to an openly so codified white supremacist legal apparatus. The "free blacks" certainly were "elite". And some of them made substantial material progress. There even were "black" owners of black slaves. Do you want me to back up these assertions with source material? Thus even in an openly and blatant system of white supremacy "black elites" existed. Thus the existence of a black elite does not constitute proof for the demise of the system of white supremacy. Once again Bowen. let me give you a hint. The only way that you can demolish my argument is to demolish my reasoning in #5. All that stuff you are doing: been there done that.
Michael Fisher wrote: It is now 2 AM my time. I am going to retire and continue this tomorrow morning. I sincerely hope that Bowen has delivered the proofs requested by then. Good night everyone.
Michael Fisher wrote: sorry, 1 AM
Cobb wrote: 'night.
Cobb wrote: As Fisher asserts in #5; Since the existence of the social construct "white" means the existence of "white supremacy", and White Supremacy means domination by whites, which dominance by definition can only be over "non-whites", and since that domination is not obtained by consent (no one can be voted into "whiteness"), and since domination can only exist simultaneously with its opposite, subservience, the existence of "whiteness" and thus "white supremacy" will always be an insurmountable obstacle in the way of progress of "non-white" people. As African-Americans are defined as black, they are non-white, and thus subject to the dominance of white and thus subject to white supremacy. Which, by definition is global and systematic. (Otherwise it would not be supreme) Ergo the Global System of White Supremacy is the foremost hindrance to the cultural, political, and economic advancement of Black people in the U.S. and around the world. Thus, without the abolition of the System of Racism/White Supremacy there can not be any substantial progress made by the people classified as "African-Americans" or "black" and the people classified as "black" in existence throughout human existence. This is a circular definition. The people classified as 'black' only exist as blacks because SR/WS says they are. People classified as white only exist as whites because SR/WS says they are. The establishment of this circular definition allows Fisher to employ ex post facto racial implications on all human activity so long has he can claim that there are white humans and black humans. Specifically it allows him to define black progress, whose destruction is by definition the primary aim of SR/WS. Therefore it is a foregone conclusion that SR/WS is the primary roadblock to black progress. Since we all accept white supremacy to be evil, it is of course incumbent on moral human beings to combat it, including those defined as white or black - phony racial definitions. I think Fisher is correct. There is no way out of accepting the resolution if the circular logic of #5 is acceptable.
cnulan wrote: Inductive arguments argue from particulars to the whole. Unlike deductive arguments (which argue from the whole to the particular), inductive arguments do not bring conclusions which are logically necessary. Inductive arguments, at best, only bring conclusions which have a high degree of probability. In comment 5. Fisher made his deductive argument in support of the resolution and stipulated empirical particulars as given. Of course, I can cite the mountains of empirical evidence: The fact that all of the institutions of power, of decisive and overwhelming armed force and destruction, of economics, science, learning, propaganda (a/k/a "the media") , entertainment, and even the pornographic industry are dominated and controlled by people who classify themselves as "white". In the opinion of this moderator, by making his fundamental argument Fisher satisfied the basic requirement set forth by E.C. Hopkins in the procedural rules. Both debaters will begin the debate by stating their positions with respect to the debate resolution in a single comment. Neither debater will submit additional comments until the other has submitted his first comment. One debater will argue in order to prove the resolution; the other will argue in order to disprove the resolution. Cobb has not yet presented his own deductive counter argument. He has instead presented an array of inductive objections to Fisher's fundamental argument. In the opinion of this moderator, initially stated in comment 11 and restated in comment 20 - it has been and remains incumbent upon Cobb to make his own fundamental deductive counter argument. From there it would be possible for Cobb and Fisher to debate the merits of empirical particulars as these impact the internal consistency of their respective fundamental positions. No structured debate can proceed until Cobb satisfies the basic procedural rules and sets forth his own deductive counter argument with respect to the debate resolution. Let the record show that even a scrupulously objective and impartial moderator will leave you to your own logical and rhetorical devices if you argue with him instead of arguing with your debate opponent. (see comment 58.) There are no givens!
Michael Fisher wrote: "This is a circular definition: " No so. A circular definition would mean that there is no starting point to the definition or argument. You are quoting the end of a chain of arguments. However, the argument has a starting point. The argument begins with three observations. Those observation are: a. There is a group of humans who define themselves as "white". b. Only that group of people who define themselves as "white" can functionally define who is white. c. There is no biological basis to the collective group or "race" of humans who classify themselves as "white". ergo: (1) Since no one else has the power to classify any human as white other than the group of whites, these whites, in the act of classifying certain humans as white , simultaneously classify those who are not classified as white as non-white. (2) The humans who are not classified as white have no choice about their classification as non-white. (3) Thus the act of classification in and of itself already establishes a power relationship between "white" and "non-white". Now take it from here. Or, alternatively, re-read the entire argument as presented in #5. No circularity argument or definition whatsoever.
cnulan wrote: I would ask the moderators a question at this point. If I were to simply assert that Jim Crow as I described it and referenced at Wikipedia was indeed a system of White Supremacy, can I ask Fisher to simply deny that assertion, rather than spend time fishing around for something he might find acceptable? No you cannot. It is incumbent upon you to assert your own fundamental counterargument with respect to the debate resolution. From there, the two of you can proceed to particulars as these will either amplify or disprove the internal consistency of your respective fundamental positions. Fisher asserted his fundamental position at comment 5. and stands ready to defend it. You have attacked his argument on multiple fronts without ever having presented a fundamental counter argument of your own that Fisher can interrogate. Please comply with the basic procedural rules of this debate.
cnulan wrote: Fisher - you're under no obligation to defend the argument you set forth at comment 5 until such time as Cobb sets forth his own fundamental counter argument with respect to the debate resolution.
Michael Fisher wrote: @cnulan: As to #45 and #58, I do have to make a correction in that comment #45. I did begin with empirical statements, namely the initial three observations (a,) (b), and (c) as repeated in #101. Please accept my apologies.
Michael Fisher wrote: Well, what's done is done.
E.C. wrote: All: I made six deletions in the debate thread per Fisher's request. I edited comments as necessary so they would reflect the new comment numbers.
E.C. wrote: Gentlemen: The resolution has a subsidiary conclusion and a conclusion. Neither debater needs to prove or disprove every premise and the subsidiary conclusion in order to argue for or against the conclusion. For instance, Fisher could take the position that a) premise #1 is true, b) premise #2 is true, and c) the subsidiary conclusion is true. Cobb could take the agnostic position that a) premise #1 cannot be proved sufficiently to convince him it is true yet he is also not convinced that it is not true or that if it were true that the magnitude of the GSWS would be significant enough to make premise #2 sound; b) that premise #2 is untrue; c) and that the subsidiary conclusion is untrue. From this point, both debaters could still move forward to premise #3, premise #4, and the resolution's conclusion, which is, in my opinion, the core of the controversy. Please take another look at #78 and consider whether your time debating today would be best spent focusing on premise #3, premise#4, and the conclusion, after you would have declared standpoints along the lines of the ones I asked you to consider in #78.
Cobb wrote: My head hurts. But today is a new day. The Global System of White Supremacy is a myth. It does not exist as a coordinated, managed or directed system. White Supremacy itself does exist and has existed to various ways. However White Supremacy is not a system, but an ideology. It is a criminal and evil ideology that perverts ordinary human behavior and the operation of ordinary human institutions. There are no systems of white supremacy in the same way that there is no animal called influenza. White supremacy acts like a virus that infects human individuals and institutions and distorts their operation against their purpose. A human infection manifests itself psychologically. An institutional infection operates materially. We may refer to Apartheid a system of White Supremacy, but technically it is not. It is a government and system of law that has been perverted and turned against itself. It has become a host that is exhibiting white supremacist behavior. The victims of that behavior are human beings. As human beings they understand firstly the evil that the infected institution is displaying, and they understand by their very nature that they must resist that evil. It is natural for human beings to do so. Some of the human beings may also be infected with the psychological manifestations of white supremacy. These humans become second order parasites who can thrive during the period of infection. But they never cease being human beings, and they never lose their capacity to act has human beings. That capacity has mearly been attenuated due to the infection. Thus there are no 'black' people and there are no 'white' people. There are merely human beings who have been infected and incapacitated by the influenza of white supremacy.
Cobb wrote: The proposed resolution states that a US Black Elite *could* focus their collective resources in coordinated efforts to disempower the institutions, organizations, or individuals that sustain the Global System of White Supremacy. In the first place, there is no US Black Elite. This is a creation of wishful thinking. People are moral human beings or they are not. Moral people will, in their capacity, naturally do the right thing of their own accord. Human beings are only 'black' to the extent that they are infected with white supremacy or constrained by institutional infections. People *are* not black and they do not *act* black of their own accord. These are just natural reactions to external stimuli. These external stimuli are far to random and complex to typify. But the very premise is ridiculous. When you have a bunch of sick people, you don't take some fraction of the sick people to cure the rest of the sick people. Similarly you cannot take humans who are infected or constrained by white supremacy to be the vanguard against white supremacy. It is only likely to make the situation worse. Furthermore as I stated so-called black people are in a state of reaction to their constraint. The human in them wants to be well. Individuals get well because of their various strengths. These strengths vary widely within human beings. Therefore what it means to be 'black' at any moment is an ever changing quality. The composition of a 'black' elite would be similarly every changing and could not provide any consistent prescription. It is analogous to five blind men in various stages of blindness trying to find a cure for the thing that made them blind. They cannot find it. The infections of white supremacy are to variant to typify, as are the effects of those infections. There is no single way it effects its victims, they therefore cannot be organized into an elite.
Michael Fisher wrote: I have repeatedly insisted that Bowen finally begin the debate. Already in comment 61 I pointed out that he has, as of yet, failed to make the argument that he announced he would make and is required to make according to the debate rules to which both of us agreed. Consequently, I have been continuously been on the defensive as the only argument that has been challenged is the argument that I advanced in #5 in accordance with the rules. The "debate" thus has been lopsided. It now is incumbent upon Bowen to finally make his argument in support of his position which states: "I disagree with the emphasis and scope of the resolution. I find it reductive of the full ambition of African Americans, disrespectful of their capacity and fundamentally reactionary. In fact the very premises from which this racial imperative is derived are counterproductive to the progress of African Americans because at its core it is precisely what racists would have African Americans do, which is to define their life ambitions in terms of race. To accept the primacy of White Supremacy in the world is to submit to it." This means that he must show how the resolution is: (1) reductive of the full ambition of African Americans, (2) disrespectful of the capacity of African Americans (3) fundamentally reactionary (4) a racial imperative and further (5) that this a racial imperative is derived from certain premises. (6) that these certain premises are counterproductive to the progress of African Americans (7) what Bowen means by "racists" (8) That indeed the "racists" would require African Americans to define their life ambitions in terms of race (9) That "8" would be counterproductive to the progress of African Americans (10) That to accept the primacy of White Supremacy in the world is to submit to it... Please note that Bowen in all this has yet to deal with the Global as well as the systemic dimensions of the System of White Supremacy as offered by the Resolution. It would be of great benefit to the debate if Bowen would get at the task at hand as it would clarify what his position is and, above all, what the reasoning is that allowed him to arrive at that position.
Cobb wrote: The proposed resolution states that a US Black Elite *should* focus their collective resources efforts to disempower the institutions, organizations, or individuals that sustain the Global System of White Supremacy. This would be a mistake of tragic proportions because it fundamentally misunderstands the operation of white supremacy, which is, as I have explained, a perverting and disabling infection. To disempower infected institutions does two negative things. 1. A powerful institution which is made less powerful becomes less able to fulfill its primary mission which is to serve human beings. 2. A powerful institution which has been infected which is made less powerful becomes less able to combat the infection... So the effect of disempowering host institutions of the influenza of white supremacy makes all human beings they serve weaker. This is very easy to understand. Imagine a boycott of a clothing store which has been infected in its operations because it hired a security guard who was infected with white supremacy. Obviously that infected human was impaired in his ordinary function. There is nothing wrong with being a security guard. The proper solution would be to simply relieve the security guard of his position and let the store hire another. But a boycott seeks to punish and disempower the store by economic and cultural means. A successful boycott would direct people away from the store and hurt the store's bottom line. The effect would limit the store's ability to pay for a more highly qualified security guard, and limit the selection of clothing in the store. But imagine if the store itself were infected, that it had rules that perverted the ordinary use of a clothing store, that indeed it had become a clothing store for white supremacists. Certainly a boycott by ordinary humans would not alter the attraction to white supremacists, it would raise the concentration because ordinary people would not patronize the store. This illustrates why the proper course of action in dealing with institutions that are infected with white supremacy is not disempowerment but reform. There is a hugely significant difference between disempowerment and reform. To neglect that difference will exacerbate the infection of white supremacy. Disempowerment is counter-productive. Therefore a US Black Elite should NOT focus their collective resources on coordinated efforts to disempower the institutions, organizations, or individuals that sustain the Global System of White Supremacy.
Michael Fisher wrote: Noting that Bowen has posted comment 108 and 109 in an apparent effort to comply with the debate rules while I was posting 110, it should be pointed out that Bowen has not argued a single point that he presented as his position vis a vis the resolution in comment #3. Instead #108 and #109 constitute an entirely new declaration of his position as required by the debate rules. This is neither fair, nor reasonable. I submit that if this debate were subject to a win or lose judgment, Bowen would be declared defeated in light of his inability to present a reasoned argument in support of his stated position as bindingly declared in #3. Should the moderators fail to require Bowen to stick to his initial position as posited in #3, I will continue this "debate" but will do so under protest.
E.C. wrote: Fish: "Should the moderators fail to require Bowen to stick to his initial position as posited in #3, I will continue this "debate" but will do so under protest." What aspects of Cobb's position in #3 to you believe he has failed to stick to?
Cobb wrote: 110 helps. You are most kind. Thank you. The resolution is: (1) reductive of the full ambition of African Americans. The resolution suggests that the it is solely the perversions of white supremacy with which they ought to be concerned. It does so out of a presumption that their primary ambitions have indeed be thwarted by the operation of white supremacy. (2) disrespectful of the capacity of African Americans. As human beings, African Americans are self-evidently protective of their own interests and are the best judges of what is good for them. The resolution presumes that African Americans should submit to the prescriptions of a US Black Elite. (3) fundamentally reactionary. The resolution misstates the operation of white supremacy and sets up a revolutionary oppositional stance which pits African Americans against the very institutions that serve them. (4) a racial imperative. The resolution recommends that only blacks can solve the problem of blacks and does not recommend that non-blacks be part of the solution...and further (5) that this a racial imperative is derived from certain premises.
The premise is that institutions which sustain white supremacy sustain it permanently and therefore must be destroyed. (6) that these certain premises are counterproductive to the progress of African Americans.These are the same institutions, like banks, insurance companies, hospitals, etc that serve African Americans in ways they cannot serve themselves. (7) what Bowen means by "racists". Racists are those who initiate and sustain the conditions under which infections of racial and racist ideology can flourish. They are the prime instigators, the Typhoid Marys of efforts to poison and pervert humans and human institutions. They are active, knowledgeable, willful agents of racist ideology. (8) That indeed the "racists" would require African Americans to define their life ambitions in terms of race. Racists seek to dehumanize people and constrain their behavior. By referring to people by race and suggesting that people act according to the interests of a racial group, they reinforce the idea of racial identity. This serves the purpose of constraining the energies of ordinary human beings who, absent racial infections would not bother to consider the effect of race on their life ambitions. (9) That "8" would be counterproductive to the progress of African Americans. African Americans by dint of their historical tenure in the face of racism in America understand that their lives are made less efficient because of the burdens of race. (10) That to accept the primacy of White Supremacy in the world is to submit to it. The operation and existence of White Supremacy is contingent, temporary and distributed, but it is also contagious. It should be isolated, marginalized and tactically attacked. By giving it more credit than it is due, for example, by granting it global systemic status, we end up negotiating with it. Acceptance of its racial roles of 'black' and 'white' give credence to it.
Cobb wrote: I have submitted in this debate yesterday, as an observer correctly pointed out, a framework for my understanding of how I approach the subjects at hand. I recall it being one of the meta-goals of having this debate - people might be able to finally understand what I mean and where I'm coming from. It turned out to be a tiresome and overburdened exercise for my sparring partner who has, in frustration several times, turned to the ref and the crowd and said that I'm not boxing. This morning, therefore I will attempt to work lightly without bringing historical movements or figures into the debate. I have had a head-scratching time trying to figure out why my opponent would not stipulate to what I see as widely understood terms, people and events. Now I get it. I think. I will stick with syllogism and debate trickery. Again, my interpretation of the rules of the debate which allowed us to reference pre-written material by hyperlink was that we should exemplify our arguments with real-world examples.
Cobb wrote: Fish Say: Those observation are: a. There is a group of humans who define themselves as "white". b. Only that group of people who define themselves as "white" can functionally define who is white. c. There is no biological basis to the collective group or "race" of humans who classify themselves as "white". ergo: (1) Since no one else has the power to classify any human as white other than the group of whites, these whites, in the act of classifying certain humans as white , simultaneously classify those who are not classified as white as non-white. (2) The humans who are not classified as white have no choice about their classification as non-white. (3) Thus the act of classification in and of itself already establishes a power relationship between "white" and "non-white". These classifications are false and are only perversions of human identity. They must be maintained by force AND they must be acted on in order to be meaningful. Your characterization (3) may establish a framework for a power relationship but it does not mean that power relationship is acted out. You say in #5: Therefore, the existence of a functional "white race" or "white group" as a sub-division of humanity denotes the existence of a System of Global Racism/White Supremacy. The key word is *functional*. Simply because some human beings arrogate upon themselves various classifications does not make them a functional in the power relationships they define. It's like a group of nerds playing Dungeons and Dragons. They may be able to define and classify themselves into wizards and trolls, but that doesn't denote a system of any standing or power. You have not shown that the mere act of classification is manifests real power, only that it defines a power relationship.
cnulan wrote: Cobb has still not articulated a fundamental deductive counter argument with respect to the core resolution that is comparable to Fisher's arguments at comment 5. For instance, Fisher could take the position that a) premise #1 is true, b) premise #2 is true, and c) the subsidiary conclusion is true. Cobb could take the agnostic position that a) premise #1 cannot be proved sufficiently to convince him it is true yet he is also not convinced that it is not true or that if it were true that the magnitude of the GSWS would be significant enough to make premise #2 sound; b) that premise #2 is untrue; c) and that the subsidiary conclusion is untrue. In my estimation, Fisher took up such positions at comment 5. It is up to Cobb to similarly adopt clearly defined positions relative to the whole of the resolution, its premises, and conclusions - and on that basis make his counterargument(s). Instead of constructing your own systematic counter argument Cobb, all you've done thus far is make disjointed attacks on parts of Fisher's arguments and on unsubstantiated positions that you've imputed to Fisher. I will stick with syllogism and debate trickery. This would be consistent with the stance you adopted from the outset beginning with your introduction of the egregious straw man "New Black Nationalism". As of your last comment 116 this morning, you continue to refuse to state a fundamental position in respect to the resolution, its premises and conclusions.
Cobb wrote: This is wearisome, and no longer fun. But I will be a good sport and obey the rules as best as I can understand them. Once again I say contrary to premise #1, the global system of white supremacy does not exist. White supremacy it is not a global system, white supremacy is a temporary dysfunction in specific and limited national systems. This a disagreement in scope, as stated in comment #3. I also disagree in #109 that a US Black Elite can be organized effectively as premise #3 asserts. Nor do I see any historical evidence that suggests that the very premise of an elite or vanguard has been the basis of black progress. Human beings in the normal course of their lives seek and provide for themselves. This is not a 'black' activity. I disagree in #111 with the resolution's recommendation that a US Black Elite (if it could be assembled and maintained and be effective) should attempt to disempower institutions, organizations or individuals. This oppositional stance is counter-productive. I do not see how my disagreement with the scope and emphasis of the Resolution requires me to argue in the manner that Fisher has done in #5. Nor do I see why I should be restrained from attacking what few substantive points exist in Fisher's #5. I believe that I have, at this point responded to all of the outstanding requirements of the moderators, and of my opponent. I have withdrawn the strawman of New Black Nationalism and questioned the very premise of the global systematic nature of white supremacist ideology. I have characterized the operation of white supremacy as psychological and material, and I have exemplified how three counter-factors have operated to successfully curtail its operation. I have provided evidence that African American material prosperity has increased greatly over the course of several decades without the necessity for the intervention of a US Black Elite as the Resolution proposes. I have shown my fundamental position with respect to the first, second, and third premise as well as with the conclusion. My opponent has questioned whether Apartheid or Jim Crow represent systems of White Supremacy, and he has not stipulated that they are. I have subsequently characterized them as temporary perversions of human institutions under the influence of a white supremacist infection. I believe this furthers my claim that there is no global system of white supremacy, but that it is parasitic and opportunistic in nature without its own body. In support of this understanding of the limits of white supremacy I have identified its hosts as systems of law and religion.
cnulan wrote: I do not see how my disagreement with the scope and emphasis of the Resolution requires me to argue in the manner that Fisher has done in #5. Nor do I see why I should be restrained from attacking what few substantive points exist in Fisher's #5. "One debater will argue in order to prove the resolution; the other will argue in order to disprove the resolution." Is your argument to disprove the resolution pending, or have you now declared yourself incapable of making such an argument because it's not fun and you would rather simply attack Fisher's arguments without ever concisely setting forth an argument of your own?
Michael Fisher wrote: Forgive me. I had, once again, fallen asleep. "Thus there are no 'black' people and there are no 'white' people. There are merely human beings who have been infected and incapacitated by the influenza of white supremacy." If indeed "white supremacy" is an infection, which infection manifests itself as an illness, which has the symptom of humans classifying themselves into "racial" groups, and given that empirical observation shows us that hundreds of millions of humans classify themselves as white and billions of the rest of human are classified as non-white, and since the content of that illness is the Supremacy of those so affected by the infection that they classify themselves white over those that are classified as non-white and the the content of that illness is the subservience of those so affected by the infection that they classify themselves non-white to those that are classified as white, and given that we can show from empirical observation that all of the so infected people function in accordance with this "epidemic", Bowen has thereby proven that all people function in accordance with the values that the "virus" of White Supremacy imparts. Ergo, White Supremacy exists and is a real force in the lives of all human beings.
Michael Fisher wrote: Since the content of the notion "Supremacy" is "supreme", that is "before all others" and Bowen admits that the value system of White Supremacy indeed exists within all human beings that are classified as "white" and "non-white" and that this classification is indicative of the internalization of the virus, then Bowen admits that the White Supremacy is the value system that is "before all other" value systems operating within those human beings classified as white and non-white.
Michael Fisher wrote: In reference to 121: Ergo, White Supremacy is the foremost hindrance to the cultural, political, and economic advancement of non-white people in the U.S. and around the world. As people classified as "black" are not classified as "white" but classified as non-white, then White Supremacy is the foremost hindrance to the cultural, political, and economic advancement of black people in the U.S. and around the world.
Cobb wrote: Fisher offers no empirical evidence to support his assertion that hundreds of millions of humans classify themselves as white, nor that those self-same humans classify others as non-white. Further he does not show that others accept non-white classification. Fisher does not show that this classification of white and non-white is done specifically for the purposes of subjugation. In other words he has not shown that the symptom of racial classification is the exclusive property of white supremacy. Or that it is done for immoral purposes. Simply because people call themselves white and other as non-white does not establish them as a *functional* white race which might operate to the disadvantage of those classified as non-white.
Michael Fisher wrote: Since the value content of the "virus" White Supremacy, by accepted definition is: "all thoughts and behaviors that work to establish, promote, or sustain the global dominance of people who define themselves as "white" and to suppress the advancement of people whom they define as "non-white" or "black" on the basis of color" and since empirical observation shows that all human beings organize themselves into systems, institutional or otherwise, and since white supremacy is "supreme", that is "above all others", all systems are organized by all those infected with the "virus" in accordance with the value imparted by that virus, namely white supremacy. Thus white supremacy is systemic. Ergo, Bowen has proven that there is such a thing as a System of White Supremacy.
Michael Fisher wrote: The functionality is contained within the word "supremacy" itself in general and the second part of the definition accepted by both debaters: " to suppress the advancement of people whom they define as "non-white" or "black" on the basis of color"
E.C. wrote: Cobb does not need to disprove everything Fisher stated in #5 in order to disprove the resolution's normative conclusion. The resolution's normative conclusion, as it is embedded in the resolution, is: That the primary group objective of the U.S. Black elite, who are the top 25% wealthiest or most powerful or most prestigious Black U.S. citizens, should be to focus their collective resources on coordinated efforts to disempower the institutions, organizations, or individuals that sustain the Global System of White Supremacy: In the original post, I restated the resolution's normative conclusion as follows: Conclusion: The U.S. Black elite should focus their collective resources on coordinated efforts to disempower the institutions, organizations, or individuals that sustain the Global System of White Supremacy. Neither debater needs to prove or disprove premise #1, premise #2, and the subsidiary conclusion as they were stated in the original post. Neither debater needed to address premise #1, premise #2, or the subsidiary conclusion in order to prove or disprove the resolution. Indeed, the debate's winner, if we were going to judge the debate, would be the debater who had convinced or persuaded more than 50% of the audience to hold the belief that the resolution's normative conclusion were true or untrue, not the debater who had persuaded the audience that premise #1, premise #2, and the subsidiary conclusion were true or untrue. Fisher, because he concurred with the resolution in full (comment #2), has made it clear that he supports all the resolution's premises, its subsidiary conclusion, and its conclusion. Proving them all true would make his argument as convincing or persuasive as possible (it would maximize the persuasive force of his normative conclusion). Even so he would not need to prove them all true in order to win the debate. He would only need to convince or persuade more than 50% of the audience that premise #3, premise #4, and the conclusion were true in order to win the debate if it were being judged. Likewise, if Cobb were to disprove all the resolution's premises, the subsidiary conclusion, and its conclusion, his argument would be as convincing or persuasive as possible. However, Cobb would only need to convince or persuade more than 50% of the audience that either premise #3 or premise #4 were untrue, which would make the resolution's conclusion untrue, in order to win the debate if it were being judged. The following excerpt is the only part of Fisher's comment #5 that Cobb would need to disprove in order to convince or persuade more than 50% of the audience that the normative conclusion Fisher is arguing for is untrue: An elite is a "group or class of persons or a member of such a group or class, enjoying superior intellectual, social, or economic status". Thus a "Black elite" is a grouping derives its status in relation to the group it belongs to. The "blacks". Which means that the status and progress of the black elite logically is depended on the condition of the "black" group as a whole. Thus the U.S. Black elite, if it wants to progress, not only could, but must, focus their collective resources on coordinated efforts to disempower the institutions, organizations, or individuals that sustain the Global System of White Supremacy. That the black elite in addition is morally obligated to do so is a question of one's moral compass. My moral compass tells me to oppose injustice and the mistreatment of human beings. Thus my agreement that the U.S,. Black elite is morally obligated to disempower white supremacy and replace it with a system of justice where the mistreatment of people is anathema and not practiced.
Cobb wrote: re: 121. I do not admit that the value system of white supremacy exists within all human beings that are *classified* as white and non-white. Classification is not indicative of internalization of the value system of white supremacy, rather it is the operation in conscious acceptance of the value system that constitutes internalization. All tribal societies likewise classify themselves as 'the people' and non members of their tribe as 'the others'. Xenophobia is not racism, nor does it establish a functional subjugation. To clarify my statement: "Thus there are no 'black' people and there are no 'white' people. There are merely human beings who have been infected and incapacitated by the influenza of white supremacy." This is incapacity is key it means they are unable or unwilling to transcend their racial identity. This implies a conscious acceptance of the tenets of white supremacy which subjugates their normal human response. Only an opposing desire to transcend that racial identity enables their humanity.
Michael Fisher wrote: "I do not admit that the value system of white supremacy exists within all human beings that are *classified* as white and non-white." Note that I began my proof based on Bowen's notion of White Supremacy as a virus that acts like influenza as follows: "If indeed "white supremacy" is an infection, which infection manifests itself as an illness, which has the symptom of humans classifying themselves into "racial" groups, and given that empirical observation shows us that hundreds of millions of humans classify themselves as white". Therefore by classifying themselves as white these human beings so classified have internalized the values that the white supremacy "virus" imparts. Ergo, they function in accordance with those values, namely: " to suppress the advancement of people whom they define as "non-white" or "black" on the basis of color"
E.C. wrote: There are three positions Cobb could take on premise #1, premise #2, and the subsidiary conclusion: 1) true; 2) untrue; and 3) unknown (or agnostic). However, Cobb must show that either premise #3 or premise #4 is untrue in order to argue that the debate's conclusion is untrue. Fisher must show both premise #3 and premise #4 are true in order to argue the debate's conclusion is true.
Michael Fisher wrote: Bowen: (a) "These classifications are false and are only perversions of human identity. They must be maintained by force AND they must be acted on in order to be meaningful." (b) "I have subsequently characterized [apartheid and Jim Crow] as temporary perversions of human institutions under the influence of a white supremacist infection." Since the value infection of humans classifying themselves as "white" includes the function, the act of suppressing people that are not infected in such a manner as to classify themselves as white, and since Bowen argues that such a functionality, that is, classification must be "maintained by force", Bowen admits to the imperviousness of those who practice white supremacy to democratic processes. Ergo, Bowen has proven that the notion that white supremacy has been dismantled by democratic process is false. Ergo, the dismantling of any legal apparatuses that purportedly were the primary support of any system of white supremacy did not eradicate the systemic practice of white supremacy.
Michael Fisher wrote: Well, I already showed that these premises are true in #5
Michael Fisher wrote: In any case, to continue. Bowen: White supremacy acts like a virus that infects human individuals. As "White supremacy acts like a virus that infects human individuals" the cure to white supremacy then is to eliminate this virus from those human individuals so infected. That cure would cause them to cease classifying themselves as "white" and thus they would "drop out of the white race", that is, become "non-white". That process logically would have to continue until the last person so infected and self-classified as white (and thus engaged in the suppression of those not classified as white) has been cured.
Michael Fisher wrote: Bowen: "Since we all accept white supremacy to be evil, it is of course incumbent on moral human beings to combat it:" Here Bowen offers the moral imperative, that is the duty for all human beings to eliminate white supremacy. Since the U.S. black elite are, presumably human beings, Bowen states that it is the moral imperative for the US black elite to "focus their collective resources on coordinated efforts to disempower the institutions, organizations, or individuals that sustain the Global System of White Supremacy." and that "focusing their collective resources on coordinated efforts to disempower the institutions, organizations, or individuals that sustain the Global System of White Supremacy is morally obligatory for the U.S. Black Elite." Therefore the sole conclusion one can arrive at in accordance to Bowen's reasoning is that: "The U.S. Black elite should focus their collective resources on coordinated efforts to disempower the institutions, organizations, or individuals that sustain the Global System of White Supremacy." Ego, Bowen agrees with the resolution in toto.
Michael Fisher wrote: Case closed. I believe the debate is over.
Cobb wrote: The subsidiary conclusion: "The Global System of White Supremacy is the foremost hindrance to the cultural, political, and economic advancement of Black people in the U.S. and around the world." is false. It presumes to name 'black people around the world' as specific victims. The terms of the Resolution refers to 'black' people by color. It is in the context of skin color that I make the following argument: The proposed global system of white supremacy, were it removed today would have little or no effect on the millions of black-colored people in Africa. The greatest threats to the well-being of black-colored people in Africa are not attributable to a global system of white supremacy. They are: 1. Malaria. 90% of the world's cases of malaria are in Africa. In the last decade, the prevalence of malaria has been escalating at an alarming rate. An estimated 300-500 million cases each year cause 1.5 to 2.7 million deaths, more than 90% of the deaths are in children under 5 years of age in Africa. 2. Infant Mortality
The infant mortality rate in much of sub saharan africa ranges between 62 and 284 per thousand born. There is an average of about 0.1 physicians per 1000 people. In Malawi, there are only 0.011 physicians per 1000 people. The infant mortality rate is 178. 3. HIV/Aids
Sub-Saharan Africa remains by far the worst affected region, with an estimated 21.6 to 27.4 million people currently living with HIV. Two million [1.5–3.0 million] of them are children younger than 15 years of age. More than 64% of all people living with HIV are in sub-Saharan Africa, as are more than three quarters (76%) of all women living with HIV. In 2005, there were 12.0 million [10.6–13.6 million] AIDS orphans living in sub-Saharan Africa 2005. The greatest threat to the cultural development is the fact of these orphans which has destroyed the communities throughout the region. There are significant political and economic consequences are trickle down effects of the catastrophic health care problems of Africa.
Cobb wrote: Additionally, the greatest destructive force in Africa which affects the political and economic fortunes of black-colored people are not due to the operation of white supremacy, but to arab supremacy and the jihadi threat. The genocide in Sudan is the primary example of this destructive force. In Ethiopia, Somalia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Cote dIvoire & Togo are other radical muslim movements that seek to overturn native rule and overrun black-colored peoples.
Cobb wrote: In 124, Fisher somewhat establishes a case for a 'global system' of white supremacy, merely because of the definition 'all thoughts' which support its racist aim of supremacy. By this definition, a white child cutting in line at the ice cream truck in front of a black child is evidence of the existence of such a system. Such a system does not merit the attention or resources of a black elite of any sort, as human beings will find their way around it. I add this to the basis of which I challenge Premise #4. In addition, and in light of the successes of the Woodson, MLK and John Brown factors, I would assert that the application of a US Black Elite focus in disempowering institutions, organizations and individuals that sustain such weak and ineffective examples of white supremacy would have the reverse of their intended effect and embolden other political actors to oppose their overkill.
Cobb wrote: The primary group objective of the US Black elite, who are the top 25% wealthiest or most powerful or most prestigious Black U.S. citizens, should NOT be to focus their collective resources on coordinated efforts to disempower the institutions, organizations, or individuals that sustain the Global System of White Supremacy, which is all thoughts and behaviors that work to establish, promote, or sustain the global dominance of people who define themselves as "white" and to suppress the advancement of people whom they define as "non-white" or "black" on the basis of color, because the Global System of White Supremacy is the foremost hindrance to the cultural, political, and economic advancement of Black people in the U.S. and around the world. Reasons: A. There is no such thing as a global system of white supremacy. B. Disempowerment of the institutions, organizations or individuals that sustain white supremacy actually is counter-productive. C. If a truly powerful global system of white supremacy superior to law and religion existed in the world, the resources available to a US Black Elite as defined would be incapable of disempowering it. D. A US Black elite defies effective coordination. E. The cultural, political and economic advancement of Black people around the world is not at risk primarily owing to the of operation White Supremacy. F. African Americans do not require the actions of a black elite in order to find their own advantage and successfully and have increased their material prosperity in spite of all white supremacist action since the 1960s G. The legacies of Woodson, King and Brown are sufficient tools to assist in the defeat of the operation of white supremacy. Q.E.D. I rest my case
Michael Fisher wrote: Bowen: #138 The terms of the Resolution refers to 'black' people by color. It is in the context of skin color that I make the following argument:: #108 :there are no 'black' people: If there are no "black" people as far as skin color is concerned then no argument can be made in the context of black skin color. Consequently all argumentation which flows from this very premise which Bowen has denied in #108 is nonsensical. Bowen can not have it both ways.
Michael Fisher wrote: Bowen: "The legacies of Woodson, King and Brown are sufficient tools to assist in the defeat of the operation of white supremacy." The most contemporary of these these individuals is Martin Luther King Jr. To Wit: Now another basic challenge is to discover how to organize our strength in to economic and political power. Now no one can deny that the Negro is in dire need of this kind of legitimate power. Indeed, one of the great problems that the Negro confronts is his lack of power. From the old plantations of the South to the newer ghettos of the North, the Negro has been confined to a life of voicelessness (That's true) and powerlessness. (So true) Stripped of the right to make decisions concerning his life and destiny he has been subject to the authoritarian and sometimes whimsical decisions of the white power structure. The plantation and the ghetto were created by those who had power, both to confine those who had no power and to perpetuate their powerlessness. Now the problem of transforming the ghetto, therefore, is a problem of power, a confrontation between the forces of power demanding change and the forces of power dedicated to the preserving of the status quo. Now, power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political, and economic change." Martin Luther King, Jr. From "Where Do We Go From Here?" Annual Report Delivered at the 11th Convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 16 August 1967. "From the old plantations of the South to the newer ghettos of the North,:" Who created the old plantation of the South? White slave masters, White Supremacists operating in an environment of white supremacy. King says that those who created the plantation created the ghetto (":and the ghetto"). He thus posits that white supremacists created the "newer ghettos of the North". Ergo, the legacy of Martin Luther King stated that white supremacy was alive and well in 1967 ("newer ghettos"). The statement that King made here was made in a programatic speech ("Where do we go from here"). The statement thus constitutes a portion of MLK's legacy. Bowen cites the legacy of MLK. Therefore he agrees with MLK. Therefore he agrees that white supremacy exists. White Supremacy is, by definition, "supreme", that is, before all others. Bowen states that White Supremacy is an "evil" and "a crime". White Supremacy is "before all others" Thus white supremacy is an evil and a crime before all other evils and crimes. Bowen states that it is a moral imperative to eradicate evil. Therefore, white supremacy being an evil and a crime before all other evils and crimes, it is a moral imperative that all humans focus their primary activities on eradicating the evil and crime of white supremacy. The US black elite is constituted of human beings. Therefore "the U.S. Black elite should focus their collective resources on coordinated efforts to disempower the institutions, organizations, or individuals that sustain the Global System of White Supremacy".
Michael Fisher wrote: As I said previously, Bowen having agreed with me that the resolution is true in toto, it would appear that the debate is over.
Michael Fisher wrote: Unless there is anything else, I'll be signing off now. I'll be monitering my e-mail boc for any further comment, though. Thank you, Michael "Muhammad Ali" Fisher.
Cobb wrote: I have nothing further. I think that I have made a clear case against the conclusion and solidly damaged the premises. It's been an adventure.
E.C. wrote: Fisher: "As I said previously, Bowen having agreed with me that the resolution is true in toto, it would appear that the debate is over." Below is Cobb's sentence from #99, in context, that you quoted in #133. This is a circular definition. The people classified as 'black' only exist as blacks because SR/WS says they are. People classified as white only exist as whites because SR/WS says they are. The establishment of this circular definition allows Fisher to employ ex post facto racial implications on all human activity so long has he can claim that there are white humans and black humans. Specifically it allows him to define black progress, whose destruction is by definition the primary aim of SR/WS. Therefore it is a foregone conclusion that SR/WS is the primary roadblock to black progress. Since we all accept white supremacy to be evil, it is of course incumbent on moral human beings to combat it, including those defined as white or black - phony racial definitions. I think Fisher is correct. There is no way out of accepting the resolution if the circular logic of #5 is acceptable. In that comment, it appears as though Cobb was challenging your form of reasoning and wrote that sentence in a passage designed to demonstrate what he believed were the fallacious consequences of what he believed was a mistake in your reasoning. Moreover, even if you were to read his comment out of context, it still would not necessarily indicate that he agreed with the resolution. In the sentence, he explains it is "incumbent on moral human beings to combat it." Stating that moral human beings should combat it (if it is "incumbent" on them, then they have a moral duty to combat it according to the definition of 'incumbent'), however, does not entail Cobb agrees that the resources of the Black elite should be focused on "coordinated efforts to disempower the institutions, organizations, or individuals that sustain the Global System of White Supremacy." The debate's resolution argues the "primary group objective" for the Black elite should be to "focus their collective resources on coordinated efforts to disempower" GSWS.
E.C. wrote: Gentlemen: I'll leave the thread open until 7:00 p.m. PST. At that time I'll lock it down for good.
Michael Fisher wrote: E.C:. "In that comment, it appears as though Cobb was challenging your form of reasoning and wrote that sentence in a passage designed to demonstrate what he believed were the fallacious consequences of what he believed was a mistake in your reasoning." E.C. my final comment "as I said previously, Bowen having agreed with me that the resolution is true in toto" was not based on Bowen's comment in #99 "I think Fisher is correct. There is no way out of accepting the resolution if the circular logic of #5 is acceptable". Instead tt was based on Bowen's reasoning as presented beginning in #108 with references to other comments Bowen made throughout the debate. The conclusion that I arrived at in #141, namely Bowen's agreement that the resolution is indeed true, is based upon a my final chain of arguments beginning in #120, concluding in #133 and , upon consideration of Bowen's subsequent comments in #135 and #138, that conclusion was reinforced in my comments 139, and, in particular, #140.
Cobb wrote: I didn't see anything in Fisher's argument that supported a claim that countered my assertion about the inability of a black elite to be effectively organized (109), or that disempowerment of infected institutions was not counter-productive(111). So I left that alone. My primary tack was that the very concept of a black elite was unsupportable within the debate's scope of an established definition of 'black' as a function of the presence of white supremacist ideology. Furthermore ordinary human agency was sufficient following the three Factor examples (84). It was firstly an attack on the basis for the definition of 'black' and secondly an attack against the elite, and then the definition of the elite/basis for that elite's creation. When I later referenced threats to Africa, I had to describe 'black' in such a way as not to concede the validity of the white supremacist definition. So I used the term black-colored, the implication being that they would be potential targets of white supremacist operation and thus relevant to the scope of discussion. I think (139) is a fair counter but only to the extent that readers of the debate can devine what we mutually stipulated to be true about 'black' people. Note that the usage of color for potential victims of white supremacy (84) is not specifically challenged. In contrast to Fisher's claim in (140) think a close reading of (84) will show that what I exemplified about MLK had nothing to do with his characterization of the nature of white supremacy, but with his ability to establish and maintain broad national political coalitions against racism in general. Specifically done from a Christian framework. This goes against the concept of Black Elite leadership and underscores the ability for individual human beings to be their own change agents.
Michael Fisher wrote: Bowen: "but with his ability to establish and maintain broad national political coalitions against racism in general." What does this sentence say? First the term "racism" As we can see from the MLK paragraph quoted #140, Martin Luther King, Jr. established and maintained broad national political coalitions against white supremacy. Thus, to MLK "racism" was synonymous with White Supremacy. MLK defined racism as white supremacy. Next. MLK posited that the basic pillar of white supremacy is not democracy but organized violence: "In a violent racial situation, the power structure has the local police, the state troopers, the National Guard, and finally, the army to call on, all of which are predominantly white." From MLK: "Where do we go from here". Note MLK's emphasis that the armed forces which the "power structure" controls and would call upon to suppress black people "is predominantly white". Bowen agrees that MLK's "ability to establish and maintain broad national political coalitions against racism in general" part of MLK's legacy which is part of an assortment of "sufficient tools to assist in the defeat of the operation of white supremacy". Thus Bowen agrees with MLK. Thus Bowen agrees that racism is white supremacy. Furthermore, in agreeing with MLK, Bowen agrees that basic pillar of white supremacy is not democracy but organized violence and that that organized violence is executed by an armed force that is "predominantly white". Ergo this is another reinforcement of the conclusion that Bowen agrees with the chain of reasoning beginning in comment #120.
Cobb wrote: Bowen agrees that white supremacy is racism, but not all racism is white supremacy. The white supremacy of the Jim Crow south may have been violent but all white supremacy is violent. Bowen agrees with some things about MLK.
Michael Fisher wrote: Bowen's last statement negates nothing I have argued. Good Night all. Looking forward to everyone's comments. Thank you, Michael "Joe Louis" Fisher
E.C. wrote: Dear Gentlemen: It was a pleasure reading your exchanges this weekend. It took more than a little courage to do something novel like this; and I respect that courage. This was the best, most penetrating single blog conversation I've read about the issues you two discussed. I certainly learned a great deal more about your beliefs than I knew before the debate. And, I'm glad we captured this exchange. I'll put up a Post-Debate thread later tonight in order to collect some feedback from the audience about the debate. I believe the moderated weekend blog debate has some serious potential. Yet, I know there are several things that we could have done better with respect to the debate rules and format. I hope this will be the beginning of a series of moderated weekend blog debates in the Black Blogosphere. Thank you for doing this and thank you for allowing Craig and me to participate. This thread is locked. Your friend, E.C. Hopkins
John Wick is the most stylish action flick I've seen in a long time, and I watch just about all of them. It's not a surprise that Keanu Reaves can do action, it's a surprise that he works so well in a very dark mumbling way, and a surprise that nobody has through to cast him for such a part. He has come a very long way since Constantine.
Let's get straight to the goods, because just after watching this film, I took in two others: Interview with a Hitmant and Statham's remake of 'The Mechanic'.
First thing. John Wick has a very hot soundtrack. There are some muscle cars driving at night scenes in NYC that are just so classically slamming it makes you wonder why nobody hasn't done this formula well since Michael Mann's Collateral. It's like we almost forgot that badasses could be cool and slick. Thanks Bruce, but maybe you're not the only one who can look cool will fresh blood on your face and rocking music cranked. Reaves' John Wick has got money and an unspoken cred around all the powerful badguys in the super-cool underworld of this movie's NYC. And while Denzel's recent ass-kicker put a very interesting focus on some Eastern European baddies, his was a game of cat and mouse. Reaves is just relentless with only a touch of negotiation, which lasts about 2 minutes.
Second thing. Not since hmm, perhaps the last Bond film - but you know what to expect there - we'd have to go back beyond immediate memory, almost back to 'The Departed' has there been a slick action film that carried an amply fit supporting cast. John Wick is dappled with delicious talent all around including two of my favorites, Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy from Game of Thrones) and Lance Reddick, who is blowing up all over the place. Willem Dafoe, always brilliant, does some yoeman work as does John Leguizamo. Long time no see. Welcome back. So basically, you can't lose.
There's a new crew in town and Hollywood did it up well. This is one we can watch again. Why? Because it's very cool, and Reaves pulled off just the right balance. This is an action hero I want to see again, with his new dog.
There's something more to be said about these Eastern European gangsters. I love how I have seen them done recently, not callow or furtive like the now stereotypical Jihadi bangers. Not extravagantly corrupt or venal, but powerful and limited and vulnerable and aggravated and deadly serious. It's all encapsulated in Michael Nyqvist's Viggo. Well played.
The existence of John Wick and Reaves, if he can do this again, gives us a chance to see what we've been missing in the raging loudness of Nick Cage. Cage was best, in my view, in Lord of War, where he get to be a subtle, yet brazen deceiver, probably the best role for him taking the baton from Jack Nicholson, although Pacino was brilliant in The Devil's Advocate. Congrats all around.
Now none of this would be worth beans if John Wick didn't have a unique style of kickass, and he does. It's basically CQ with some fabulous pistol work, basically the best I 've seen in any movie, period. There was something extraordinarily greusome that was the excitement of Matt Damon's CQ work in the Bourne series, but this is something a lot more gritty. The old Mozambique, two to the chest and one to the head, and Wick's would be killers are done for. There's some excellent grappling and new twists on knife fighting that you simply don't see on film. Extra cool.
Don't miss this one.
As an adjunct to my Peasant Theory, I need to flesh out a couple things that are brought to mind by the phrases 'It's a big country' & 'It's a free country'. These items mostly arise was I get rather disspirited by clumsy comparisons between the US and various socialist Scandinavian nations. They also arise when, as is popular now in Quora, people talk about the experiences of recent immigrants dealing with the reality of America as contrasted with all of the myths they've heard all of their lives prior to coming here.
On the first note, it immediately comes to mind that the examples of Denmark or Sweden make very little sense because Sweden is Sweden and its history is not arbitrarily swappable with that of the US. You can't hope to evolve one nation on the basis of an abstraction of another country's history. Sweden will never have it's George Washington, just as America will never have its Cromwell, nor will Canada have its Idi Amin. I'm not suggesting much in favor of a Great Man Theory, but this is a quick way to illustrate that political developments are not fungible commodities. Everyone in hindsight sees that al-Maliki in Iraq provided no Jacksonian Democracy for that nation. My point is, that which is possible (absent tyranny) is only possible due to the particular and transient confluences of political power. You cannot cut and paste policy from state to state.
I've made this point differently before. In Little Old Scandinavia I said:
Scandinavian countries are not good benchmarks for America. I'm not sure that they are for Europe either, but they always lie at the up end of some hockey stick of arbitrary predictors of the good life. In their socialist way, I suppose such things are predictable like cost of living increases mandated by the state, but they are also relatively small countries. Their isn't a lot of dynamism at work in those places. I tend to think of them as partial demographics. That is to say, anything you can say about Finland, you can say about any particular American suburb or university. It's small and isolated enough to be artificial.
It's that last item, small enough to be artificial, that keeps this in mind. There is a kind of social inertia which grows in correlation to the number of people involved in a single system. The US has many systems because we're more deeply embedded with independence and individualism as values. Small states can't afford that - for them it would be far too chaotic. And I see that this has implications in immigration policy - a smaller state would have a more difficult time without assimilationist policy, but 15 million new Americans is not going to turn this country on its head. Perhaps if they all went to South Dakota, but that's not what happens.
Americans disperse and they go to their own ground. If you want to live in Watts, CA, you know what to expect. If you want to live in Billings Montana, you expect something different, and it will be different in Indianapolis and Miami. It's a free country. Find your place.
I think it is the second note that is illuminating to everyone. People have found their place in America, lots of people in lots of places. And while there can be said to be some regular pattern to the waves and generations of ethnic majorities in various Brooklyn neighborhoods over the years, the Irish will have done it differently than the Jews. The American mainstream becomes less meaningful culturally, but the core of American values becomes more important as the proliferation of laws becomes more insidious. We have a Constitution and that core is critical, even as we absorb more and more diversity. It must be a core of law, you see.
It is this core, the Constitution, serving as a benchmark of Western Civilization, that must resonate. I am confident that it does, because within the broad inertial society of the Peasants, the Slice and the Ruling Class, that which is Constitutional is very well established and very well funded. Few people expect that which most needs doing to keep America strong is in fact, unconstitutional. We are interestingly diverse and divided and even awkwardly and stupidly divisive at times. But we Americans are not fundamentally perverse. We go with the Constitutional flow.
That flow is not going Progressive or Socialist or Fascist or any more than 10 points from the center. Within that core is an iron center, a hardcore America. And whether or not we admit it or take it for granted, that's not moving. It will be there and remain attractive because it is aligned with our best understanding of ourselves - an understanding that is sufficiently profound to withstand the ambitions of the world's wealthiest and most powerful institutions which seek out and defend the shelter that the American Constitution affords.
In the coming inflation, this will be tested. And even in decline and remission, the core of America will remain.
The Equalizer is Denzel Washington's latest movie, and it is a stunning meditation on the will to do damage when damage has been done. It's the story of a man who defies the notion of standing silent when corruption is loud. His character, Robert McCall is the ultimate sheepdog, and over the course of the beautifully shot movie, he takes down an entire pack of wolves.
This film is one of several that has DW in my favorite kind of action movie, that with spies, close combat and revenge. But unlike all of the rest of his characters and unlike most action heroes, Washington's McCall has no problem living an ordinary life. He is adjusted to his domestic solitude and to his workaday world at the local Home Depot. He's not compartmentalized, he's comfortable. He is not haunted by dreams, he simply remembers. He remembers his skills, his deadly skills.
What's striking about 'The Equalizer' is how American it is. It touches home on a number of themes on what it means to succeed in America and the sacrifices so many people make to fit into slots. McCall says no. You can be what you want to be, simply by doing the right thing. He seeks in everyone a simple unity of mind, body and spirit. Not complicated, not easy, but ultimately necessary. This is what it takes to own yourself, and yet when people lose their way they become owned by those who accept that evil is what men do. In the end, there is the psychopath who thinks nothing of human life, and there is the hero who knows very well it's precious value.
What McCall knows is what many of us forget. That it takes violent action to take down violen men. It is what make his Equalizer so extraordinary, his relentless war against all those connected in a chain of perfidy. We are accustomed to moving somewhat against those who would threaten our friends and family. When things get ugly we never expect restitution all the way up. We are conditioned to small bites of justice. Not so in McCall's world. There is no such thing as insurance. You obey or you lose it all. You cannot buy your way out - you make a choice to do or die. In this Denzel is perfectly matched against an antagonist who is the best villian since Gary Oldman's Detective Stansfield in 'The Professional'. The performance by Marton Csokas as the head enforcer of a Russian Oligarch is brilliantly cold, cunning and ruthless. Denzel sees through him though. Sees him for the psychopath that he is; sees that he follows orders simply because they give license to his desire to reduce anyone to zero.
Washington's McCall is a deadly patriot, removed from the field of play who cannot forget the stakes the game, and gets his hands bloody for the sake of the common man. The film makes a bold statement about morality we ought to keep in mind.
I just got my latest book from the guy who writes XKCD. The inside dust cover is a map of the world as represented if there was a wormhole from Earth to Mars at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. As you might guess, there isn't much water left.
My biggest project, were I to become president of the US would be to initiate a water project that drains the Great Lakes, maybe a foot or two, and irrigates the desert Southwest. Starting by filling the Great Salt Lake, it would be the coolest thing since the Panama Canal. Sez me.
On the other hand, since there isn't likely to be any wormholes sucking away our oceans, it might be a better project to place some nuclear powerplants on the coastline and desalinate a river of water going back from the ocean into some parched nations that could use it. I just love the idea of a river that starts from the ocean and flows inland - an artificial estuary that begins on a sea cliff.
You see if you're going to build a nuclear power and desalination plant it's going to take a community of hard working, well educated civilians protected by some special arrangement. A sea cliff would be a very nice place to live, walking distance from your job at the plant.
Last night I had an experience with Destiny that has changed the way I look at the game. I think I understand what's going on here. It is an experience that changes it from just another shooter into something far more.
What I did was die. I died every minute. And unlike the other times when I had died in Destiny I did not automatically respawn after three seconds. Nor did I automatically respawn after thirty seconds. I died and stayed dead, with enemies pounding my dead corpse with energy weapons and swords, until my teammate could revive me. Half the time, when I was revived by my teammate, she died immediately after and so I had to double back and revive her. Your instinct is to run away. You cannot.
We were participating in the Weekly Heroic Strike at level 26. Two of us were already 26s, I had just barely become a 25. We were two hunters and a warlock, a sunsinger, a bladedancer and myself a gunslinger. We battled the Phogoth in the Summoning Pits. We beat Phogoth before, all of us had battled all of these enemies before, and as the narrator said, we sent their souls screaming back to hell. But during this particular battle, things were different. Immediately we recognized that even the level 6 flunkies at the beginning of the strike were stubbornly difficult to kill. We ignored them and kept plowing through the Hellmouth, but just after we bounded down the stair where the meathooks hang from the ceiling, things got ugly.
We started to die. This was way too early and these enemies had been familiar to us, why are they able to kill us? Our tactics were not working. The weapons we usually used to dominate seemed puny now. The combination of armor we were wearing, didn't seem to protect us as well. The super power we used to blast through foes now simply didn't. I used my golden gun on a level 26 wizard and the thing didn't go down in two shots. Usually it just takes one. Two, and it was still up! What fresh hell is this? Our go-to powers were gone.
They say that only a fool keeps doing the same thing and expecting different results. We were being fools, for a long time. We kept saying. "This sucks'", "This is hard", but we kept trying. We got through the second room finally after about 20 minutes. Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be, we didn't have to restart the whole room. You see what goes on in Destiny at this level is that while your team of three may have infinite respawns individually, if the three of you are killed, the room restarts. You have to begin that part of the adventure all over again. It doesn't matter how close you come to unlocking the next door or how long you have been trying. If you all die, Destiny exacts its toll without remorse. Start over. You're doing it wrong. After a while, 15 minutes or so into this second room and dying many different ways we started realizing a couple things. The first, is that these wizards will 'puppy dog' your dead body. If you are killed by a wizard, it's going to stay there and make it that much harder for you to be revived. The most important thing I realized was that my teammate has Radiance. When she's fully powered up, she can raise herself from the dead.
They say that the noose focuses the mind. In Destiny's Heroic Strikes, you get a lot of focusing. But most of the time, you want to focus on blaming the game for just upping the level of you enemies, and making it so damned difficult. It's not a simple matter of 'if you do this, then that will happen'. There's chance - there are slim chances. The strike will challenge you beyond your ability to remember. It's only after having failed continuously for an hour, at midnight, when you want to quit, quit, quit, but you don't. THEN you start trying something different. Well, what if I use this gun instead? What if I go gunslinger instead of bladedancer. Well that means I'll be able to triple jump onto those platforms. Maybe if we take out the yellow-bar enemies then the ordinary red bar enemies won't come out. What if we concentrate fire on those guys first? What if we try to all hit the Phogoth at once. What if we switch off, two of us against the rats, and one against the boss? What if we all hide? Will that stop enemies from respawning? What did we do to get the Phogoth off the chain so soon? How do we handle all three of those wizards up on that platform? What is the safest part of this area? Should we stay together or split up? What if we get rid of all the rat enemies and then concentrate on the boss?
It took us about two hours. We had to retry the room at about a dozen times. We lost count. But we kept charging in. We kept saying, damn this is hard. We're never going to forget this. Each of us wanted to quit. But then one of us would run through the door and then start the whole thing over, and the rest of us would follow. We persisted. We changed strategies and tactics. We tried everything. Finally we figured it out.
Destiny is a no-excuses game of hardball. Nothing you do in it makes sense until you and your team are tested at the level of a heroic strike. Yeah you can get cool gear, you can farm loot, but no matter what you do, you haven't played Destiny at its deeper level until you have faced your own anger and frustration at not being able to kill all the baddies that you used to kill. As they kill you and your team, you have to figure out their behaviors because when everything they do doesn't kill you, you don't pay attention. When suddenly it takes three of you to figure them out, then you must pay attention. Or you quit.
You may not like what I'm going to say next. There's a lot of quitters out there. There's a lot of quitter in all of us, as gamers and as people. I have to say that Destiny actually tests you character. If you want to win at this game, you have to make sense of deadly chaos and face it. What is Destiny's tagline? Be Brave. Yeah. You have to, because the game will kill you. The only way to win at this game is to forget what you think you know, and make something work. And there are millions of choices in Destiny and you are going to die for the consequences of your choices, over and over again, until you rethink and retry. The right combination is persistence, flexibility, humility and courage. And trust your teammate with your life. That a video game brings this out is no accident. The battle mechanics of Destiny are damn near perfect. There are no excuses for you to say you pushed a button and nothing happened. The game executes your will, and the game can be won, but it's hard. That's what makes it great.
So Destiny is a test of your will. I think you can only discover that one way, which is to succeed against the odds. Then and only then will you understand what this game is all about. Until you have pushed yourself to you limit and then beyond, you're just playing around and being cute in your little Guardian suit. There's plenty of that kind of fun in Destiny, and I'll be doing it merrily. But then I'll have to steel myself for some PvP in the Crucible and then warm up for a Strike like this one. One day soon, I'll be ready for the Raid. lt's a frightening prospect. There's something deep going on here, and I know I'm not the only one that feels it.
One day two weeks ago I threw out my back. Nothing serious but I'm so stupid that I put heat on it instead of ice and ended up having to go back the the chiropractor twice more than it usually takes. You see, once a year I do this, but this is the first time I've done it during summer beach volleyball season. At 53, I'm the oldest dude on our regular court (but still have the highest vertical), and this might be my final season. I've got a lot of work done in my home office this year and I think all the sitting is catching up to me.
My chiro and I had some good conversations. He's about the same age and he reminds me of the Chinese kid from Oceans Eleven. The 'Grease Man'. He's one of those lightweight small guys that are all sinew and muscle and flexibility. Yeah he does ultra-triatholons. I used to have a very strong 'core' before pilates and big rubber balls came into fashion. That's because my primary sport in highschool was springboard diving. I retain my good posture and I never destroyed anything in particular except my gut.
He recommended I do 'movement', meaning exercise, and it worked. Simple stuff like squats and bends that made me hurt and pant for a week. Now I can do it without much problem, especially since my back pain is done. He also recommended The Paleo Diet. I whipped out my iPhone and took a picuture of the ISBN number on his copy, told the Spousal Unit and she said just figure it out, you don't need to buy the book. Besides, I already know what I eat that I could do better at.
For the past six months or so, I've been making a concerted effort to eat better lunches. And so I have moved through the deli section and bought a set of cutting boards. I've developed a taste for soprassetta and pepper jack cheese which are two new additions to my lifelong love of deli. I've also been consuming a lot of gourmet potato chips. I cannot resist Kettle Maple Bacon. Who could? But I turned a corner this summer when I realized that I could make a better ceasar salad.
Just this past weekend, I found myself at a joint called DTLA Cheese in the Grand Central Market. There, with Paleo fundamentals on my mind, I thought it would be cool to eat as I imagined most working class men in the 1920s ate, with some meat, fruit and cheese wrapped up in a handkerchief. So I got myself a chunk of hard sheep cheese called Fiore Sardo and a fat square of fennel salami called Finocchiona. The guy at the counter wrapped it up in special paper and put it in a brown bag for me. 10 bucks, and it lasted longer than lunch.
Now I'm not a cook. Not at all. My mother's kitchen was strictly a place for me to wash dishes and fix peanut butter and jelly and Nestle's Quik. I never touched the stove except for giant Saturday morning breakfast. So I know my eggs and sausages, but that's about it. Now I am having emerging behaviors about kitchen propriety that may very well stress my marriage. This combination of disciplines around food and movement I am integrating into my life, I thought you might like to come along.
So the first thing you need to know are the broad outlines of what I am calling the Peasant Epicurean Diet. It is designed for an upper middle class snot such as myself with rather paleo attitudes about grooming and housework and all that. I'm a man's man who works at a damnable keyboard all day long. Let my role model be a cross between Rudyard Kipling and a player to be named later. In short, I am going to use expensive ingredients because I dig flavor - that's the epicurean part. But I'm also going to use very simple raw ingredients that need a minimum of preparation, that's the peasant part.
Let me put one more image into your head. Back when I was 19, I worked at a retail store. Teamster Union shop. There was this pale skinny kid from Czechoslovakia who worked there. My friend Clave Marks could speak fractional Russian and Czech, but not much enough to have a conversation. The kid, every day, came up to the lunch room and ate out of a grocery bag. Groceries! Like an onion, an apple, a head of lettuce. Dude could fill up for a dollar.
The first staple of this diet is deli meat. The second staple is cheese. The third is romaine lettuce. The fourth is water.
Instrumentally, I have a big kitchen knife (Henkels I think - I've had it for 22 years) and a stack of pie tins. That's right. You see the signature meal I've been eating is a Man Lunch. That means I can throw this thing together in about 5 minutes. I don't know about you but when I had no cooking skills and I jump off the keyboard to eat, I want to eat now. I'm thinking the wait at the drive through is a good deal compared to figuring out something in my wife's kitchen. The most frightful apspect of this involves digging through a refrigerator that is (dis)organized according to principles that make no sense whatsoever to me. So I needed my own section of the refrigerator. Meats. Cheeses. Bottled water.
Now since I'm going to continue in this thread for a while as I develop the food and movement discipline, I realize I ought to just use today as a benchmark and sample day. How about that?
Today, my after morning poop weight is 210.6. Today's man lunch was, I think, pure Peasant Epicurean - let's call it PE - as follows.
1 dozen slices of Gallo sliced salami.
2 slices of pepper jack
1 half dozen strawberries
2 dozen or so green seedless grapes.
12 oz bottle of Pelligrino
All except the water goes into a pie tin. I use a hand towel, not napkins.
This morning I had no breakfast, but it's going to go something like this as time goes on.
Tea. Always tea. Simple, pure. Use Dasani bottled water and English Breafast grind Earl Gray loose tea. I get mine from the local Japanese supermarket.
2 Boiled eggs. 2 Microwave sausage.
That's it. Boom.
Back in the 80s when the world was new, I was a programmer. I would engage my professors and they would exhibit something I call programmer's dyslexia. This happens when you ask a good question that has many implications.
A good programmer will always think of the 0 case, the 1 case and the infinite case. Any calculation will fit into that and so we are always quantifying how much it takes to grind out an answer. But that also means we have to categorize our assumptions in order to come up with a reasonably proper answer. It was easier to ask such questions when the world was new, but now a lot of them have been asked and answered (I leave it to you as an exercise to qualify the query space of the Web itself).
You should ascertain by this that the quietude of good programmers is born of respect. You are either asking a question with a trivially easy answer and so we are redirecting insults to our internal dev/null, or you are asking a question that needs greater specificity or you are asking a well-qualified question that requires significant thought. The second type of question can yield great amounts of humor. For example, my wife has the habit of asking me questions like. "Honey would you like me to fix you a snack now or can you wait 45 minutes to dinner?" Now to me this is a simple yes or no question. But it requires a yes and a no. So I will say "No, yes", and then she will become confused. She wants me to say something inefficiently verbose, like "I'm kind of hungry right now but if you're fixing something really nice for dinner then I'll just grab myself a beer and wait." To a programmer, "No, yes" is the proper answer, to my wife and the rest of humanity, we are just being cryptic assholes. So sometimes we have to refrain from using our own unique sense of humor and send those responses down another path to the same mental bitbucket. That path often triggers a bit of emotional resentment.
Those of us who adapt well understand that and so we have developed fluffy verbose social skins over our lean, mean logical question parsers. But we often have to worldswap and figure out our contexts to check which skin to implement. Depending upon our environment, this takes a noticeable amount of time. Some of us even attempt to build human interpreters on the spot because the questions we get are so stochastic and meaningless that we simply don't have a map to the proper context. Sometimes it's easier to put on the 'asshole' skin (c. f. ehrlich@aviato).
Programmers are not quiet people. Our brains are always busy doing things, and we are always shouting at ourselves. What you are encountering is a very sophisticated set of filtering mechanisms that generate something approaching a simulation of civility, because most of the time your questions are not as interesting as the questions we ask ourselves, and you're interrupting us, dammit.
Be glad you don't know programmers without filters and social skins as we are wont to replace you with a very small bash script.
I just finished browsing a piece by Adam Serwer, a race man of some repute. His title, "80 Years of Fergusons" sounds about the right kind of intriguing. I happen to think that Ferguson represents a good deal of retro - a kind of stunted growth for an American city. Throwback.
To the extent that I used to spend a lot of my time being a race man, I find it hard to argue with the sort of well-written and thoughtful things someone like Serwer might write, although I seem to recall that he gets on my nerves. And yet I know my former amis de guerre find my dismissiveness a bit annoying. I don't like to be the guy who nods his head and then walks home bored and does nothing anyway, but that's my profile. Nobody would be far from wrong to say that I don't care enough. In fact when it came to Jena, LA and whatever towns in Florida and Texas got the nation upset about T. Martin and S. Cotton, I made something of a stink to tell people they couldn't *make* me care.
There are two reasons I don't care enough, and perhaps neither should you, but they are related.
I don't care enough,
1) because my understanding of race is way too sophisticated to be communicated in the way Americans communicate about race. IE, if you might guess that the average American has read one or two books on race, I've read 50. Whereas most people tweet or thumbs up a Facebook post, I've been engaged for years writing essays about race. So basically nobody is saying anything I haven't heard before in one form or another.
2) I fundamentally don't believe that our relationships should be negotiated through any common understanding of race. In other words, even if I took all of the 50 books and boiled them down to a coherent, non-contradictory way of describing everything I know about race, I wouldn't want that to be the way you relate to me.
So I think most people, even those who are not self-serving in describing their racial pain or cockamamie theories, who honestly say they want an extended national conversation on race, are barking up the wrong tree.
And it is exactly in this juxtaposition where I lose most people, because it sounds like I want people to be colorblind in an ignorant way. I do want people to ignore race rather exactly the way people ignore blood type. I want no social weight to it and I want people to say "It really doesn't matter what blood type you are A, B, O, X Y or Z". But you and I know if somebody says "It really doesn't matter what race you are, black, white, red green or purple" that is considered disrespectful, ignorant and rude. When it comes to blood transfusions, I want a board certified doctor who has read the 50 books and has 20 years of experience handling my blood. I want him to be as accurate as it is possible to be. But I don't want him saying 'some of my best friends are O negative', or "we should pay attention to what happens in Liberia with blood transfusions and Ebola because it could happen to anybody." Because it doesn't happen to anybody and we should stop pretending that it does.
when people actually want to talk about race, it is because they expect to be the beneficiary through some sophisticated or simple means. When people don't want to talk about race, its because they expect to take a hit through some sophisiticated or simple means. In otherwords, all race talk is some kind of zero-sum game. It has to be, because that's how racial theory works. I can't say to any race man "Hey I'm only 37% black so Ferguson only applies fractionally to me". You know they don't want to hear that. The Intellectual One Drop Rule applies, you are either arguing for racism or against racism. There is no neutrality.
But there is if you really don't care, and that's the last thing many people want to hear, especially if you 'happen to be black'. But see I'm speaking as me, as I always do. I gave up my black privilege, to go out there and start my speeches "As a black man..."
Ferguson means more than it should because people want it to inform their racial consciousness, and people are struggling mightily to make it apply personally. People want the right racial t-shirt to wear that links them to Ferguson and to the right side of things now and backwards through history. Some people think their skin is that t-shirt and if you knew how to read it properly, you'd know they were on the right side all along.
That is the entire problem.
I'm attracted to spy stuff. So are you. We like James Bond 007 because he has a license to kill. He is intelligent, sophisticated, sexy, resourceful and dangerous. He lives outside of the law, and therefore is not protected by it. Everybody knows that when spies get caught, they get no trial. Spies are summarily executed, period. Still, it's cool right?
Like most Americans, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my privacy and security in the post 9/11 "connect the dots' era. And like most, I've been following stories about Edward Snowden with a bit of ambivalence. Is his an act of civil disobedience or treason? It's both, isn't it? I take the position, now, that without Snowden we would have been singularly unable to discover how much our government has been spying on us. Once upon a time, Congress warned us about the anti-democratic consequences of classified laws classifying what's classified. We yawned. The NSA did not, nor did Homeland Security, FEMA and the TSA. Now only conspiracy theorists talk about this stuff and only Snowden has proof. Maybe, just maybe we can elect a new Senator with the ball of Frank Church - after all, what can Snowden do that Congress can't? Hmm. A lot more than anybody should be comfortable with. So maybe Snowden's revelations were the only thing that captures our imagination: spycraft, double-agent stuff, secret loyalty, but most importantly, he got the goods.
Getting the goods on somebody, catching them red-handed, producing the smoking gun, cracking the code all of these are things we excpect a good spy to accomplish. It's the leading edge of Justice. You just shiver with anticipation that the bad guys are going to get their just desserts when they get busted. Americans really dig this, I know I do. And there is a sadness and righteous indignation when the bad guys were somebody we were supposed to be able to trust. In those cases, the anxiety is amped up because the consequences are so dire. Wait, you say, our spies are spying on us? The gloves come off, shit gets real, and it's on.
Of course these are human emotions more at work than human intelligence, and we are likely to make errors of judgment under such circumstances. We have laws and procedures and the presense of justice when calmer heads prevail, and after all, the 4th Amendment isn't a joke. But maybe it is, or maybe at this point in time when our faith in democratic institutional competence and integrity is at a low point, we are bound to make a joke of it. That's a profound error and it can have disasterous consequences.
I think of this because of the awesome power of the internet. It aggregates eyeballs. What one person sees, 10 million people can see the next day, practically the next instant. And what is it that we want to see?
We want to see justice, but justice cannot be crowdsourced.
These days, there is rioting going on in a town called Ferguson, MO. And the hackers at Anonymous have managed to get their hands on police audio dispatches, which have now been disclosed to the public. Our eyes and hungers have been satisfied for the moment. And while I have my beefs with Anonymous, their actions are the actions of spies. Well, that's part of the problem. The public cannot be anonymous because when you speak on behalf of the people, you need to be responsible, and you need to be inside the law.
That essentially means that if you expect the government to always respect the 4th Amendment, you should probably set a good example yourself.
What we know, for example, is that police are responsible for somewhere north of 400 killings every year. If you took an internet plebscite today, Americans would unquestionably require police to have cameras worn on their persons and in their squad cars and film every encounter with the public. Imagine a system in which every shooting were monitored. We could tell the good ones from the bad ones and bring the bad guys to justice. You realize this is exactly the reason behind the NSAs dragnets. I've got news for you, there are something like 3.4 million arrests every year. Oh sure, crowdsource it you say. We have the technology, we can make America safer, stronger, faster. Ahem, but who is going to edit the video and create the mashup, and how exactly is that going to be different than Cops? (And when is the last time you watched Cops?)
Think about it for a while. Is more surveillance really what you want? Because we already have reality TV and what a blessing that has been. More reality? The humanities are dying in America. We are becoming a people who actually believe we can negotiate our relationships and produce justice through electronic surveillance and spy tactics.
-- from the archives October 2012 --
This morning somebody wrote me about something I posted a decade ago on another website. It was a slanderous critique of Dinesh D'Souza describing his 'phoney half-breed superiority'. That's not an actual quote but is basically encapsulates all this character had to say about D'Souza. It got me thinking about what's up with him (some sex scandal I think has got him in the news) and what if anything people think about his 'End of Racism' now.
So it naturally made me think that there must have been somebody who thought that because a black man 'cannot get a cab' in NYC that we'd never have a black president. Considering that we've actually had a mediocrity as a black president, I wonder where all of the blackness and racism arguments have gone. So this little bit of stuff is what I pulled from the Archives.
February 1, 2004
'The End of Blackness': American Skin
By GERALD EARLY
THE END OF BLACKNESS
Returning the Souls of Black Folk to Their Rightful Owners.
By Debra J. Dickerson.
306 pp. New York: Pantheon Books. $24.
With the publication of ''The End of Blackness,'' a book not only about white racism but about black people's response to it, Debra J. Dickerson joins a growing and varied class of black public intellectuals that includes people like John McWhorter, Bell Hooks, Michael Eric Dyson, Patricia Williams, Henry Louis Gates, Shelby Steele, Thulani Davis, Stanley Crouch, Greg Tate, Ellis Cose and Brent Staples. Their views are sufficiently different that they might be said to represent distinct factions among African-Americans and, no less relevant, speak to distinct factions of educated whites.
But ''The End of Blackness'' has another layer of significance. It is, in the end, despite its notes, index and historical consideration of its subject, largely an advice book. ''This book will both prove and promote the idea that the concept of 'blackness,' as it has come to be understood, is rapidly losing its ability to describe, let alone predict or manipulate, the political and social behavior of African Americans,'' Dickerson begins. '' 'Blackness' must be updated so that blacks can free themselves from the past and lead America into the future.'' The American reading public, black and white, loves advice books, whether from C.E.O.'s or retired athletic coaches offering bromides and thought-cliches about success, love gurus telling how to find a mate or psychologists and teachers offering tips on how to make your children smarter or better adjusted. One of the biggest business ventures in the United States, the diet industry, is nothing more than a huge advice mill. Americans, black and white, are suckers for advice because they are so inspired by the efficacy of self-improvement. Most black polemical writers of Dickerson's sort, from David Walker in his 1829 ''Appeal'' to W. E. B. Du Bois in his 1897 ''Conservation of the Races'' to Carter G. Woodson, E. Franklin Frazier, Amiri Baraka and Shelby Steele, whatever their politics, offer racial advice to blacks, because they have felt and continue to feel that black people, or some significant segment of them, need improvement for their own good, that black people need instruction in how to be black people of the kind the author thinks they should be. Although most black polemicists bristle at the suggestion that blacks are pathological, these books are driven by the view that the behavior and thinking that need correcting are so self-defeating as to require public censure. I find the prescriptive nature of this book and the others like it, including my own when they have been guilty of it, presumptuous and off-putting.
''The End of Blackness'' opens by criticizing blacks for saying that they don't feel American, for marginalizing themselves, for the imprisoning conformity of group racial consciousness. ''Only by daring to live as autonomous individuals with voluntary group identification, only by charting a course unconcerned with the existence of white people, only by taking responsibility for their comportment and decisions -- only then will blacks be able to achieve collective goals, assess collective penalties, award collective benefits and jockey for sociopolitical positions like fully entitled citizens.'' And the real enemy are middle-class blacks, bourgie blase blacks, as Dickerson calls them, because these are the blacks who feel ''least at home.'' These are the blacks who try to court the white attention they crave through cries of racism, who are the most afflicted by self-hatred and most deeply feel the inadequacy of being black when compared to whites, who are the norm.
The prologue gives a brief account of the origins of racism and the long history of white oppression that was finally broken by the civil rights movement. ''Thanks to the civil rights movement,'' Dickerson writes, ''black Americans are free and thriving.'' But, she continues, many blacks do not know how to live in this brave new world ''where you have no one to blame for your failures but you.'' The body of the book then proceeds as a series of head fakes. One chapter excoriates whites, their narcissism, their refusal to relinquish their privilege, their inability to see blacks as fully human: ''There is scarcely an area of American life in which blacks are not the worst off of all groups. More to the point, they are worse off for reasons that have nothing to do with either accident or simple black failure.'' Racism and structural inequity are the cause, although many blacks seem to revel in their low status because it gives them something with which to whip whites. This is followed by a chapter about blacks' inability to see themselves except as they are reflected in whites, the way they ''simply do not know who and how to be absent oppression.'' Blacks, by book's end, crave ''leadership that believes in the unlimited capacity of black talent, not the unlimited capacity of white evil. Blacks need leaders looking to the limitless future, not to the hunched-over past; leaders who are excited and hopeful, not bitter and defeated.'' The problems with this book are several and severe. It lacks nuance and balance. Politically, Dickerson wants to have her cake and eat it too, so she nods to conservatives in saying blacks need to ''do for self'' and quit worrying about what whites think of them, and nods to liberals in saying how horrible whites are and how persistent and unrelenting racism is. Her conclusion that ''blacks must look inside themselves'' is hardly novel, something that most black people hear all the time from a variety of sources within the race; it is an almost time-honored form of conservatism for blacks. The black middle class is harshly criticized as a neurotic, philistine bunch (a typical complaint of the educated, both black and white, about the middle class). But the middle class includes such a great range of people, from schoolteachers to accountants, from doctors to librarians to professional politicians. Since Dickerson shares Albert Murray's disdain for sociology and the sociological interpretation of black experience, why does she try to sound like a sociologist with sweeping, superficial generalizations about large numbers of people? About whites. About blacks. About the middle class.
How is it that whites can be so racist that whenever blacks appear on the covers of magazines the sales go down 40 to 60 percent, yet financially support and rabidly attend professional and college football and basketball, which are completely dominated by blacks? How can it be that ''many more Africanisms than blacks are aware of reside within them still, from language to comportment to musical forms,'' yet blacks ''lost their family structure, their histories, their knowledge, their religions, their customs, their cultures, their countries, their continent''? How can you be stripped, yet not stripped?
Superficialities abound. Though there is a rich history of black American travel writing about encounters with Africa, from Martin R. Delany in the 19th century to Richard Wright to Marita Golden to Eddy L. Harris in the 20th, Dickerson's section on blacks' discomfort with modern-day Africa is based on one book, Keith B. Richburg's ''Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa,'' easy enough to condemn because the author's negative views of Africa are so unreflective and overwrought. Nor is the complexity of how blacks have seen and depicted Africa imaginatively in their literature weighed -- take Lorraine Hansberry's ''Raisin in the Sun'' or Langston Hughes's ''Big Sea'' -- or in their music, from Art Blakey to Sun Ra to John Coltrane.
No blacks are depicted in Steven Spielberg's ''Saving Private Ryan,'' she notes, adding that no blacks were part of the D-Day invasion as infantry soldiers, then asking ''why no symbolism''? But blacks did participate, in the quartermaster corps or as the truck drivers who made up the Red Ball Express. (Spielberg hardly needed to be symbolic. Blacks were there.) Nearly 50 years before ''Saving Private Ryan'' Sidney Poitier starred in ''Red Ball Express.'' And the last dozen years have given us Spielberg's own ''Amistad'' and Edward Zwick's film about black soldiers in the Civil War, ''Glory.'' Why would Hollywood make a film about black soldiers and D-Day a half-century ago and not now is the question. Dickerson's discussion of Hollywood's depiction of the African-American soldier or blacks generally lacks context.
The problem is that the author does not know enough, has not researched enough, to write an incisive book on African-American life or American racism. If one listens to a lot of black talk radio or has some bull sessions with other blacks, nearly every gripe and observation in ''The End of Blackness'' will be familiar. One does not write a book like this. One gets over it. That is why good writers keep journals.
Gerald Early is the director of the Center for the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis and the author, most recently, of ''This Is Where I Came In: Black America in the 1960's.''
I'm a good writer and Cobb is my journal.
It occurred to me this morning that when I was a kid in elementary school that we used to be graded on a lot more than what we knew, but how we behaved. 'Makes good use of time' was the one where I always needed to improve. That's because I was a smart-ass, finished my work early, got bored and started daydreaming. Well, that and I'm lazy. But I know this, because I was graded on it. And with all the ruckus going on over the complete breakdown in trust and authority over in Missouri this month it's rather interesting what solutions are being proposed.
Now naturally since we're Americans and we like to congratulate ourselves in our ability to make something (rather than just nothing) out of race, there's a game afoot telling white people how they ought to think and behave and telling black people how they ought to think and behave. The ignorant assumption of course is that you add up all the diversity numbers and it will work out remainder zero. Except we're supposed to be indivisible with liberty and justice for all, but everybody keeps saying that diversity is the solution.
You can't have diversity without division. The opposite of diversity is conformity.
So that means you have to teach everybody the same thing and hold everybody to the same standard of behavior. Hey wait a minute - that's what public school is supposed to be about, right? That's why we had the Brown Decision to get us all in the same schools. But what if they didn't teach anybody how to behave? Hmm.
I specifically remember that as time went by in elementary school, the Citizenship & Work Habits side of the report card got smaller and smaller. The public middle schools basically reduced them to one line for each class you attended. What did you get in math? B, S, S? What exactly does an 'S' in Citizenship mean? Basically nothing. Hell, I wonder if they even use the word 'citizenship' here in Los Angeles for fear of insulting our Mexican national neighborhood residents. So I googled around to see if I could find any old school report cards. Not from LA Unified School District, but I did find some remarkable images.
I find it almost impossible to believe that any public school in America would consider such a detailed and rigorous evaluation of the character of children. It seems almost unthinkable. I mean look at this. 'Treats members of the visiting team with hospitality". "Shares good times with others whenever possible". "Subordinates his own will to the larger purposes and ideals of life." These are things we all know to be essential to good character These are all virtues we acknowledge. So why on earth do we not teach them to children? What was the breaking point? When did GPA and test scores become more important than anything else?
Now I attended Catholic middle school and high school and measures of character, as well as discipline for lapses in character were all part and parcel of the spirit of belonging to the school. One sought to bring honor and respect to one's school by exemplifying virtue in all these ways. And I know all of my small 'a' atheist pals out there can't seem to find a way to understand how you can teach virtuous citizenship without summary intimidation and invocation of fire and brimstone from an 'imaginary' supreme being, but I guess they forget that nuns and priests are people too. And people have different ways of inspiring and teaching to standards.
The point of course is to have standards and these are the kinds of standards I think too many Americans simply don't feel beholden to. They think perhaps that these are just optional - that you can function perfectly well in society and the worse thing that's going to happen to you is that somebody down the line is going to call you an 'asshole' or a 'douchebag'. Other than that, it's all whatever dude.
I am inclined to believe that whenever we get into 'this conversation' things get so far carried away into the identity troughs of 'race, creed, color, ethnicity, physical ability, sexual preference, gender' that people simply don't have space in their brains for character. It must completely blow their minds to imagine that character might be measured in other terms than these fetishized diversity buckets.
It's really hard to find in front of a paywall any sort of accounting for this set of measures. But I found a scanned copy from the Internet Archive. They are called the Upton-Chassell Scale and I have a copy for you.
Now on first glance this is clearly a mix in importance. The author is quick to point out.
It is interesting to note in Chart I, for example, that it is the consensus of opinion that a habit such as "Puts on or removes wraps quickly," listed on p. 22, is of trivial importance, since it is rated as i, and should, therefore, receive comparatively little attention from the teacher; while a habit like "Tells the truth without flinching or compromise, trying to give a correct im- pression," given on p. 24, which is rated 10, is of primary impor- tance and should be carefully considered when the teacher is making out the report card.
I often hear from people who begrudge conservatism its wisdom and other such folks whose motivations are opaque to me, that the benefit of all such things from the 'olden days' are negated owing to some inherent racist content or explicit racist implementation. So it would not surprise me in the least if at some point it were determined through some cockamamie finger-pointing posing as research, that white teachers were singularly unable to be consistent in their evaluations of non-white students when it came to these measures of character and citizenship. OK, let's stipulate that to be the case for 1919 but that somehow through the magic of the Civil Rights Movement, that white people have been sufficiently re-educated to give this idea a second-chance. Why not? What have we got to lose? Wouldn't you like to know this about public school students? Is there any situation in which these questions are inappropriate? I don't think so. I think these are things that anyone would notice in children and indeed ought to notice.
I don't have the complete set of these report card images but there is an extensive list of citizenship metrics in the document. So have at it.
Now while I'm at this let's get an idea of whom exactly this Horace Mann character was, since there appears to be something to the fact that much of this reporting by Upton and Chassell was done at Horace Mann Elementary School. The great and powerful Wikipedia says this of Mann's Congressional career:
In the spring of 1848 he was elected to the United States Congress as a Whig, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of John Quincy Adams. His first speech in that body was in advocacy of its right and duty to exclude slavery from the territories, and in a letter in December of that year he said: “I think the country is to experience serious times. Interference with slavery will excite civil commotion in the South. But it is best to interfere. Now is the time to see whether the Union is a rope of sand or a band of steel.” Again he said: “I consider no evil as great as slavery, and I would pass the Wilmot Proviso whether the South rebel or not.” During the first session, he volunteered as counsel for Drayton and Sayres, who were indicted for stealing 76 slaves in the District of Columbia, and at the trial was engaged for 21 successive days in their defense. In 1850, he was engaged in a controversy with Daniel Webster in regard to the extension of slavery and the Fugitive Slave Law. Mann was defeated by a single vote at the ensuing nominating convention by Webster's supporters; but, on appealing to the people as an independent anti-slavery candidate, he was re-elected, serving from April 1848 until March 1853.
Well that ain't hay. But wait, look at that last measure of character. "Recognizes moral purpose in the universe, and reverences a Higher Power". Geez, I dunno. Could we even have such a question posed of our children here in America? Leaving that nit to be picked by such people as find it appealing let us review then, the top categories from the Upton-Chassell document.
Character counts. So why do we not count character?
It goes without saying, although people would try to blame me for not saying, so I'm saying it up front, that police brutality is a crime, and a wrongful death in police custody seriously retards faith in democratic institutions. But then I think it should be equally obvious that some of these small backwater towns are institutionally bankrupt and the people know it. That doesn't get 20 million tweets or any competent attorneys from our top law schools interested in improving the quality of municipalities in Missouri. Nor does the hopelessness of the locals impel them to load up the truck and move. You'll hear all over the interwebs what a crappy place Ferguson, Missouri is in perfect clarity as if this killing were the perfect storm everyone saw coming over the horizon. Yeah but you didn't evacuate.
No man is an island and every man's death diminishes me. But rather like gravity it diminishes with the square of the distance. Socially, politically and physically that place is a long way away and no amount of echoes in the media is going to bring it closer to me. Aside from that, I'm supposed to be an independent thinker; well, I am. What strikes me this week, is how we really don't know what's boiling on the inside of people's heads. We don't know about cops, we don't know about robbers, we don't know about comedians or actresses. We just remark a lot when somebody dies.
It has been some time since I have thought about the Coalition of the Damned, and I misread something yesterday that gave me pause. Somebody said that folks 'showed up for a peaceful protest dressed like they were ready for combat'. At first I thought it was the crowd and I thought, what a wonderful idea. But it turned out, predictably, to be the police.
If the death of one man, by accident, or on purpose causes a neighborhood, community, suburb, town, ghetto or general residential district to break down civility, well I suppose you can call that person a hero by definition. His life is valued higher than law and order. Pinker has words to say on such honor codes. Essentially, they are tribal and inferior to the rule of law. But I've been saying this for years, tribal hierarchies are what people use when democratic institutions fail. Nothing at all surprising at that. What is surprising is the extent to which activists and political plotters and strategists try to co-opt the energy of tribalism and convert it back into democratic institutional power. It's really just swapping one alien committee for another. And of course the big problem is that it doesn't help the honor code or the tribe.
A real pitchfork and torches tribe working the hierarchy is ready, and I mean defiantly, militantly ready, to stare down and shoot down the System. That's what 'by any means necessary' implies, but it always turns out in America that the means of choice is sublimation to the New Committee (which seems always ready to grant permanent seats to Jackson or Sharpton). It almost makes you miss Khalid Muhammad. But the bottom line is, misappropriation of James Baldwin's Fire Next Time notwithstanding, the tribe is going to lose.
Nobody in the tribe is willing to take a bullet for Michael Brown. Nobody in the tribe is willing to fire a bullet for Michael Brown. But the loudmouthing will follow for years. It's all just talk.
The professionals will crank the gears in the Justice System, because the tribe unwilling as it is to be permanently anything but disgruntled will call for Justice. This reflects well upon them as Americans under the rule of law, but poorly upon them as a tribe. A tribe will call for Revenge. A tribe that gets stepped on grows remorseless terrorists. Americans, as rude as they want to be, are still constitutionally too nice for remorselessness. At least the ones in Missouri appear to fit the standard. The will get their gruntle on in due time. But they will never forget. According to precedent, the Protest Train will land in a new town within a year or two. If I remember correctly, the prior major stop was some town in Florida and the dead man was Trayvon Martin. Nobody has forgotten that yet. His name is written in iron on the locomotive.
You can also count on hearing a lot of the conspiracy theorists shout out to get the crowd to say Ho! And I've already heard one against the NRA, as in Not Representing African Americans. It's not ironic that some folks are dead frightened of guns in the 'hood. It stands to reason that people who could consider 50 Cent an idol or stand in awe of the lifestyle of Biggie Smalls are not the sort to generally be trusted with firearms. That doesn't change the fact of the Second Amendment right. All the bureaucratic means testing of Orwellian nightmares is already in place. The NRA stands against that of course, and encourages its big fat lawyers to strike down every fetter to un-infringed civil rights. But you'll never hear them called a Civil Rights (tm - Jesse Jackson Enterprises) organization from predictable quarters.
At some point, and it wouldn't surprise me under the Obama Administration (also not getting blamed for the DHS militarization of ordinary police departments) that some members of the Coalition actually decide to mix together some Molotovs and burn baby burn. Who knows, maybe even an active shooter might join the tribe and do things that only happen in gangsta movies and raps, truly fuck da police. But Michael Brown is probably not worth it, and Ferguson Missouri probably ain't the one. Maybe, in the long term we'll just say this one is worth a million dollars of looting and a couple hundred arrests. Nothing to call out the National Guard for.
While I'm at it, just to stir up a little dirt, is there anybody who is thinking about a serious swapping of democratic deck chairs through the peaceful process of protest, even a little curious about what would happen if the Ferguson looters were shooters? Isn't there something deep down inside you that thinks maybe the Founders had something actually rational in mind when they reserved the right to keep and bear arms against government tyranny? I've been arguing with people like this and I wonder if they don't quietly think that maybe... just maybe.
You may be reading this at several years distant from the event, but you should know that some sentimental segment of America are wondering in shock at the suicide of the universally loved Robin Williams, who apparently hung him self with a belt. A lot has been said about how certain things are diseases that tragically take lives. Williams had depression, but then again so do many many other people who cannot afford the best care on the planet like him. They survive. The lesson of course is that people choose suicide. They do so to kill the world and send a that world a message. I am not shocked by or sympathetic to suicides. We get 30,000 per year in this country. So likewise I am not shocked or sympathetic to those who have chosen and will choose to jump out of the civil box and commit social suicide at the hands of the local authorities in Missouri. But I would be respectful of a tribe committed to war in the streets. Not sympathetic mind you, and speaking for my class prerogatives, I would have the cops pacify such rebellion with all appropriate tactical response. But it seems to me that if Michael Brown was a real hero, he would deserve a hero's revenge. Who wants to avenge the hero? Who is prepared to get medieval?
But I think Michael Brown is just a martyr of convenience to political masterminds whose intent is to fuel the legitimacy of their committees, narratives and agendas as they scan the country for poor people who fall to their deaths on the wrong side of the law or other unusual circumstances. Nobody else gives more than a few tweets, including me. Same as it ever was. As they prove nothing, the Protest Train will roll on belching smoke, steam and noise, in circles. All Aboard!