Even maligning white people and culture is white supremacy

Correct me if I'm wrong, I don't see people here talking about a very important kind of white supremacy.

I do see people discussing discrimination, prejudice, bias, and structural forms of racism, discrimination, and privilege, and their histories, as well as overt and coded white supremacy.

But I don't see people discussing a third kind of white supremacy. I'm not sure what name to give it. Maybe you can help me. I would call it "bourgeois" white supremacy, because it's rooted in the errors of the Enlightenment.

This is the white supremacy that basically views white traditions as "objective," "emancipated," or "self-evident." Or it views white traditions as "a Leading." In reality, white traditions are not universally valid. They are expressions of a particular tradition and culture: white culture.

White people are not objectively more beautiful, white social customs are not universally valid, white traditions are not The Truth.

Duh. Right?

Except there's a catch. The catch is that it is possible to profoundly criticize white culture and people from a perspective of bourgeois white supremacy; it is possible to confess all of our prejudice and racial sins in a way that is profoundly white supremacist. It is possible to call white people and culture the lowest of the low, the scum of the earth, in a way that claims white culture is The Truth.

How?

In order to criticize something we need criteria. Where do those criteria come from? When those of us who are steeped in white culture criticize white culture, we are doing so using criteria that come from white culture.

In other words, there is circular reasoning here.

Any attempt by white culture to deny the circular reasoning, even by criticizing whiteness as if from an abstract, "objective observer," like an omniscient narrator, is an act of bourgeois white supremacy. It would be viewing white traditions and culture (and "criteria") as True, or self-evident.

If the circle is denied, the **very act** of criticizing white people claims that those (white) criteria are the Supreme, the Ultimate, the Good, the Beautiful, and the True. The act of criticism using white criteria is the act of white supremacy.

Even the words I'm writing come out of white traditions--this is not an alien language, it's white English. There is nothing to be ashamed of in that, and it is inescapable for some. Every act of culture--language, art, philosophy--comes from somewhere. My words come from white culture--a culture that is not Supreme.

From the way I'm understanding things these days, to overcome bourgeois white supremacy, we must admit our circular reasoning. There is nothing to be ashamed of in using white criteria to criticize white culture. But affirming the circular reasoning destroys the claim to Supremacy.

At the end of the day, the kinds of white supremacy as seen in white privilege, discrimination, structural racism, and the KKK--these all fail to live up to the ideals of white traditions and culture.

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Comment by Darrin S. on 7th mo. 20, 2016 at 10:50am

Guilty as charged my king ;)

First, if you think I am reimagining words, then please assume I am reimagining the word socialism beyond anything you're currently associating with the word. Socialism today is rightfully a bugaboo or laughingstock among the working class--it is a thoroughly middle class ideology at this point. So please, that is unkind of you.

The point is not to play purer than thou. I am just trying to explicitly state a fundamental assumption of mine, with which you may agree, and that would explain the difference of opinion. Of course I'm aware that people of color suffer tremendous injustice, and much of it linked to the myth of white supremacy. A solution is urgent. All I'm saying above, with the bit about classism, is that the solution to racism is not classism (and by classism I obviously do not mean discrimination by income). Classism risks making the problem much worse, in the same way that the solution to one injustice is not another injustice. I think we can agree that the solution to injustice is justice.

And what I'm saying is that when middle-class people simply assume that "the working class are simply being duped by a white supremacist ideology--with the implication that if they would just assimilate to middle class values, myths, and assumptions, the problem would be solved", that is classism. It's going to make the problem worse. And that is precisely what I'm hearing from all corners of the current left and it is ugly. I'm hearing that in what you're writing, and I know it's not because you're a bad or unintelligent person, but I want to be clear that that is of concern to me.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 7th mo. 20, 2016 at 12:00pm

"Discrimination by income" we've got already.

"Middle-class values" are appropriate for people who have a present and imagine they can have the future of their choice.

People living in a different time frame, with a harshly-limited de-facto menu of career choices, are going to see things differently, will understand certain facts-on-the-ground a whole lot better than people who imagine that they (and everybody else) lives in a controllable, salvageable universe.

That doesn't make them any less readily duped. They can, for example, be too easily seduced into the mythtake of fighting other people who in fact are working harder for even less respect...

but everybody with a television, who actually turns it on and lets it do its thing, is dupeable.

Great big greedy stingy money-devouring corporations... pay serious money to have the media spun in their favor, on the assumption that this influence is insidious enough and powerful enough to make Goebbles green with envy.

But as somebody pointed out a long time ago, all you need for a mind-crushing propaganda system is the ability to monopolize public credibility.

If you're providing the only 'information' people trust, and you're telling them who they can believe, what ideas are 'reasonable and good' and which are 'unreasonable and evil' -- what they can do and what they can't -- you've got them as effectively befuddled as any stage magician who does 'A' while directing the audience's eyes to 'B'.

Grokest-thou George Lakoff? To 'frame' the public debate, you need to have catchy, tendacious metaphors. Trying to use and redirect someone else's terminology just re-evokes the same mindset you're trying to fight.

Comment by Darrin S. on 7th mo. 20, 2016 at 12:40pm

Of course I'm not suggesting that working class people are infallible or impossible objects of propaganda, any more than people who say "listen to black people about race, they know what they're talking about" are suggesting that an entire group of people is infallible. Some do say that--that white people should "just shut up, listen, and do what black people say we should do." And there is some truth to that.

Anyway, of course propaganda techniques work on them to a frightening degree. All I'm saying is that we should be wary of a overly patronizing attitude that says there is absolutely nothing of value in what many working class people are saying is very important: their racial myths. People of color are also usually working class and have a particular racial history that is transformed into the power of myth--if you don't believe me you have clearly never attended a black church or you have a different definition of myth (e.g. by erroneously equating myth with fiction).

Do you know many people of color who want to abolish their own racial myths, who call them simple tools of propaganda? Their racial identity is their defence against assimilation. Do you think they are dumb enough to be assimilated by the Trojan horse of a "post-racial society" (which is de facto white) after 400 years of resistance? I'm sorry but they are just not as naive about race as some white people.

Many working class white people also affirm that their racial myth is important: the myth of whiteness. Is this just top-down propaganda? Or are the elites manipulating something that has an independent and perhaps even a valid existence? Maybe, maybe not.

But one thing's for sure. You and I may disagree about where the line of a properly patronizing attitude might be from the middle class to the working class, and we certainly agree that there is dangerous and disturbing irrationality in most if not all expressions of white supremacy, but I certainly hope we can agree that nearly all the discourse on this issue from the middle class is on the wrong side of that line of patronizing. There is little wariness or humility at all about our class position. Right? I mean, this just seems obvious to me.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 7th mo. 20, 2016 at 1:12pm

Thank you for your response. When you write:

... a religion is founded on myths and symbols ... the community is bound together by them, they become a common language.

... we can agree that the "inner light" is not literal language, nor is this image of being led by Spirit a technical description of phenomena, right? Pretty sure linguistic analysis 101 would identify those as symbols ...

I agree that for many many people in general and Quakers specifically, the statements above are valid. Many, if not most, people would readily admit the relative truth of the first statement. With that said, it is also true that many Quakers at the founding and up to today (I am among those) knew and know an experience wherein they do not participate in or identify with any outward myth and symbol. That is, they experience conscious, conscience, meaning, purpose, and identity through direct inherent self-conscious Presence. Some people experience this as literally an inward or inshining light filling their conscious and conscience so that all outward or reflected political and religious myths, symbols, ideologies, theologies, institutions, traditions, practices, etc., no longer anchor or support their being or consciousness. Many of the founding Quakers specifically expressed that were lead out of identity with any outward political and religious form, ideology, or institution.

Now, not to demean the value of linguistic analysis 101, it is also the case that many people who know, through direct intuitive experience, the replacing of outward reflective forms, myths, and symbols, as the foundation of their conscious and the guide in their conscience. This is a literal experience of inward or inshining Light or Spirit illuminating and filling their very life, being, and consciousness so that their very identity, meaning, and purpose is anchored in the illumination of the inward Light or Spirit. I suggest, perhaps, you have overstated a bit in universally questioning the literal nature of a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by the direct non-mythic and non-symbolic experience of inherent and immanent self-conscious Presence itself in itself relative to "inward Light" and "Spirit."

Many Quakers, from the very founding, have been testifying to their witness that there is another way of being on this earth wherein meaning, purpose, identity, conscious and conscience are not anchored in or informed by outward political and religious myths, symbols, ideologies, theologies, practices, and institutions.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 7th mo. 20, 2016 at 3:21pm

I believe that people experience something which they rightly identify as sacred, self-defining, something which various religious terms point to -- but not itself a religious 'idea' or 'symbol'.

To describe it to anyone else, they inevitably have to fall back on some symbolic description which other people -- who may or may not be aware of their own interface to the Big-What-It-Is -- can recognize.

Hence there's frequent misunderstanding between people using different descriptions, or relying on the descriptions sans direct acquaintance with Wha-Who they're about. (Nothing wrong with descriptions or symbols per se; they're just 'pictures on the menu' as Zen aficionados might put it., 'not the meal.')

Comment by Keith Saylor on 7th mo. 20, 2016 at 3:37pm

The point is that there is a way of being or consciousness on this earth that is not anchored in outward forms and institutions. This experience is testified to in the context of being, conscious, conscious, etc. withdrawn from outward forms ... the message is explicitly and particularly to not "fall back on symbolic forms" (even in the act of describing it to people) but to enter into silence and open to the direct experience of Presence itself in itself. 

Comment by Forrest Curo on 7th mo. 20, 2016 at 3:59pm

The words: "a way of being or consciousness on this earth that is not anchored in outward forms and institutions" constitute a symbolic form which might be thrown up as a sort of shibboleth to separate "We who've really Got it" from "Them what don't", but aside from that consciousness itself, are just another item on the spiritual menu, which might or might not lead one who reads them to take a bite.

Comment by Kirby Urner on 7th mo. 20, 2016 at 6:54pm

When helping with youth leadership  and empowerment programs at AFSC (which included making a study of existing models, especially in Boston), my approach was all about providing these young adults with the necessary tools and skills to make their own media.  

The Internet was not yet what it is today in the 1990s, however video editing equipment had come within the price-range of a nonprofit's budget and many of the program participants learned to make their own videos.   I'd throw in podcasts today, a purely audio format.  

The Latin America Asia Pacific program (LAAP) produced, among other media, a regularly scheduled community television show in Spanish (Voz Juvenile) and a literary journal / magazine (UV: United Voices).  

I was not directly engaged in any content production.  I'd earlier been the contributing editor of AFSC's Asia-Pacific Issues News (lots about the anti-nuke movement in Japan, and standing up to superpower arm-twisting on the Pacific island-atoll of Belau (Palau)).

That's been my career response to the steady barrage of propaganda (commercial, political, military recruitment, religious...):  learn to shield yourself, yes, watch critically, with a thinking eye, and also learn to roll your own, tell your own story, share your own myths, do your own recruiting for your own preferred future.  Exercise your own right to free expression.

Must I agree with the views expressed in the final product in such programs? Not at all.  I may never get to see most of what goes out.  It's about leveling the playing field, sharing in the bonanza of affordable electronics, not pumping out my own views through proxies (which views tend towards the esoteric -- like search on Esozone and Paul Laffoley in my journals (the "techo-occult" is consistent with all that GNU / EFF stuff)).  

That's my form of liberalism: to arm even my enemies with a radio tower and printing press, free space to upload works. Golden Rule and all that.

Don't surrender a place in the sun, or on the big and little screens, on billboards here and there. Keep a slice of the spectrum for your own free sharing, no censors.  You'll learn to do your own editing (the ability to self-censor when apropos is a diplomatic skill worth cultivating).  

Here in Portland, the atheists grab a billboard or two around town, every so often.[1]  More power to 'em.  It's not either / or.  Having a place in the sun isn't about having a license to shut the others down (I thought it really cowardly when NATO took out the radio-TV station in Belgrade that time [2]).

Speaking of billboards, here in the Pacific Northwest we also see quite a few for N8V-owned casinos, such as Spirit Mountain Casino (Grand Ronde Federation), many many others (Angel of the Winds, Stillaguamish etc. etc.).

I notice with most of corporate America's advertising, the diversity theme extends to showing handsome nuclear middle class families of like physiognomy. [  I associate "middle class" with "suburban", "mall" and "commute to work" best in a Prius, Volt or Leaf -- which is when listening to NPR & BBC happens [2]]    You'll have the White couple, the African-American couple, the Latino couple, the Asian couple...

Imagine a billboard showing this clearly upscale (nicely dressed) couple at a fancy restaurant, obviously enjoying themselves and one another's company, and yet they're clearly of different complexion, is that at all troubling to motorists? How about if they're same sex?  What's the story here, not much chance to tell one.  It's just a billboard after all.

https://flic.kr/p/a79JAm  (LovingDay celebration, 2011)

So how about we have three adults at the table, are we implying anything non-nuclear might be going on?  Does that man have two wives?  Does that wife have two husbands?  What's going on here?

The Warm Springs Museum makes it clear the invasive species known as Anglos (English speakers) disrupted all family patterns not meeting their own subculture's ideal, and used boarding schools to do so.

All talk of casinos and happy campers aside, my AFSC-type question for the group would be:  if you did have the budget for a billboard campaign, what would it be?  The question is similar to our "if you had a trillion dollars" contest (but I think my question is more focused).[4]

You may opt out, saying billboards are ugly and crass and you'd never use them.  But think of the opportunity.  Maybe you'd just wanna add to the chorus warning against cigarette smoking?  

But what would the campaign look like if you were aiming to express your own unique views, independent of any choir?  That's an open ended query I like to ask, to gauge an audience and where it's coming from.  

Sexual abstinence?  Don't drink and drive?  

Those bases have been covered. What's your message to the world?  Describe your ads?

===

[1] https://flic.kr/p/7EdLZa  (Good Without God / this one in Tuscon AZ)

[2]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO_bombing_of_the_Radio_Television_...

[3] http://mybizmo.blogspot.com/2015/07/keynote-at-npym-2015.html

[4] http://www.afsc.org/project/if-i-had-trillion-dollars

Comment by Keith Saylor on 7th mo. 20, 2016 at 7:52pm

There is an essential difference between stating that there is no need for outward forms, symbols, and institutions to support and guide consciousness and conscience and valuing outward forms, symbols, and institutions as valid supports. You and I are in disagreement over equating the former and the latter as "just another item on the spiritual menu." I suggest they are of completely different spiritual menus ... or ... that the former isn't even on a menu, it is consuming the food itself without even referencing the menu. Stating that there is "a way of being or consciousness on this earth that is not anchored in outward forms and institutions" does not constitute a symbolic form. It negates symbolic form in the very act of speaking and opens the mystery of direct intuitive experience. 

Comment by Forrest Curo on 7th mo. 20, 2016 at 8:01pm

Keith, you can state and state and state; what you're talking about is not an outward form; but stating it in those (or any) words becomes an outward form, ala "The way that can be named is not the Way."

Kirby, one printing press does not a mass distribution system make. Even having such a system is not that same as getting it accepted by a mass audience. There's a reason why authors still put considerable money & effort towards trying to get a "real" publisher.

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