A War Of Position

A War of Position . . .

*** This post will be changed and updated ***

This website was started in 2001 out of dysphoria and exasperation from the state of political discourse.   It began as a desire for a more developed discourse; something more than slogans and catchphrases.  Though it’s arguable that there never was any depth, there is a desire for it.  Even Gramsci, and those before him, wrote of the problems with demagogy in politics.

There is a lot of demagogy and hyperbole  about political terminology.  We see the misuse of the terms ‘fascism’ and ‘socialism’ and other such terms. We see, today, this claim that infrastructure and social spending are “socialism” from the Left.  On this website, these terms are intended to all be use for their literal meaning.  There’s no emotional appeal to the use of labels.  Merely an attempt to explain complex theories and systems into a few words for brevity.

If we hope to abandon moral relativism and emotional decision making, we must focus on a way to have these discussions based on rational discourse and not demagogy and hyperbole.  Slogans and catch phrases are great agitprop, but they are not great discourse.  Society and societal relationships are complicated things that cannot be summarized into a few characters.

The glossary page with be used to define these terms for this site.  If any term comes into question that is on the glossary page, the definition listed will the be the definition used on this site.  Arguments of pure semantics rarely resolve any issue – unless the issue is semantic itself.

What we see develop is a fundamental lack of understanding of basic systems.  These basic systems get supported or dismissed based on emotional appeal, rather than understanding.  It’s time we stop having these discussions based on preconceived notions and false understanding.

Black Absent Fathers And Single Black Monsters

Seems to me that the institutions that function in this country are clearly racist, and that they’re built upon racism.

~ Stokely Carmichael

We constantly hear from individuals from all over the American political spectrum that “the problem in the Black community” is the absence of fathers. President Obama said this repeatedly recently. We hear it like a mantra from conservatives. Everyone says this is the problem for Black people in America, but is it true?

Q066A1-MOM-KIDS-COUCHThe short answer is “No.” While it is ideal to have a two, caring parent family, it is also ideal to be born wealthy, not have any trauma, and a whole host of other advantages. Things fall apart. We rarely get the “ideal.” The fact remains that, although it is disproportionate for Black people in America, there are more White, single parent families than there are Black, single parent families.  By raw numbers, there are more White absent fathers than Black absent fathers. This means that if this were the moderating variable in the Black community, we would see the same problems within the White community.

I do not believe that everyone makes this claim out of malice. I’m sure President Obama truly believes this is a main causality of many of the problems. There definitely is an issue of absent fathers for Black families when Black men are incarcerated at a much higher rate than anyone else. But the numbers don’t flesh out the root cause of a problem. We find it intuitive, but the statistics do not support the intuition. This is basically the first thing you learn in stats – that correlation does not imply causation. We tend to believe that educational attainment increases opportunity and economic status as well.  This is also not true.  (There will be a guest writer in the future to farther explain this.)

The “problem in the Black community” is not absence of fathers. It is not lack of income or education. The problem is institutional racism. This institutional racism limits opportunity. There is an intersectionality between these things that tend to give one the impression that these may be the moderating variables. The fact is that all of these disparities are the result of institutional racism.  Continue reading Black Absent Fathers And Single Black Monsters

Farrakhan Pwns

There has been this video of Minister Farrakhan being interviewed by Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes making the rounds.  In this video, it’s often claimed that Minister Farrakhan “pwns Mike Wallace” in a response in the video. I’m going to claim that this is not true and then I’m going to discuss the implications of this, as there are a few.

In the video, the exchange is as follows:

Mike Wallace: “You go to Nigeria, which is, if not the most corrupt nation in Africa – and it is – it could be the most corrupt nation in the world, Minister Farrakhan.”

Minister Farrakhan: “Oh, now, Mr. Wallace …”

Mike Wallace: “It is the most corrupt nation I have ever covered. I’ve been there 25 years ago and I’ve been there as recently as last year.”

Minister Farrakhan: “Fine. So what? Thirty-five years old, that’s what that nation is. Now here’s America: 226 years old. You love democracy? But there in Africa you’re trying to force these people into a system of government that you have just accepted. Thirty years ago, Black folk got the right to vote. You’re not in any position to tell anybody how corrupt they are. You should be quiet and let those of us who know our people go over there and help them get out of their condition. But America should keep her mouth shut wherever there is a corrupt regime, as much hell as America has raised on this earth. No! I will not allow America or you, Mr. Wallace, to condemn them as the most corrupt nation on earth when you have spilled the blood of human beings. Has Nigeria dropped an atomic bomb and killed people in Hiroshima or Nagasaki? Have they killed off millions of Native Americans? How dare you put yourself in that position as a moral judge! I think you should keep quiet! Because with that much blood on America’s hands, you have no right to speak. I will speak because I don’t have that blood on my hands. Yes, there’s corruption there. Yes, there’s mismanagement of resources. Yes, there is abuse. There is abuse in every nation on earth, including this one. So let’s not play holy, to moralize on them. Let’s help them.”

Mike Wallace: “I’m not moralizing. I was asking a question and I got an answer.”

Minister Farrakhan: “Why would you put it like that, ‘The most corrupt regime in the world’? That don’t make sense.”

Mike Wallace: “Can you tell me of one more corrupt?”

Minister Farrakhan: “Yeah. I’m livin’ in one. I’m livin’ in one. Yes, you’ve done a hell of a thing on this earth. So you should not be the one to talk. You should be quiet when it comes to moral condemnation.”

You can watch the video here:

This was in response to a trip that Minister Farrakhan made after the Million Man March in the 1990s. I have pointed out on social media quite frequently that I feel like, although Farrakhan makes some valid points, he really doesn’t do much to respond to the question and blew his opportunity to make a meaningful statement here.  There are several problems with claiming that somehow, Wallace got owned in this interview.   Continue reading Farrakhan Pwns

Violence Is Not The Answer

I don’t want to bury my lead.  My main point here is that we see the US media and a large amount of the population condemning the destruction of property in Baltimore – but if this were in any other country, the United States would be supporting these same people with drones, or more. We see the rage of a constant ethnic persecution of an ethnic minority – which leads to violent deaths in the most egregious cases – and we expect people to do what?  Keep doing what they have been doing, even though it hasn’t worked?


Violence is defined by the World Health Organization as “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation…”

There is no mention of private property in this definition.  Destruction of property is called “vandalism.” As I watched Baltimore erupt in anger yesterday and last night, the media and officials kept condemning the “violence” and referencing the destruction of CVS. The mayor of Baltimore stated last night:

… why should those individuals who fought to get those jobs at CVS …What are they gonna do?…

This is the problem. I also keep seeing quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. This is also the problem. We have this overly simplified view of our history and our society that makes any analysis of these situations untenable.

It is a travesty the way Freddie Gray died. It’s horrible. But this situation is greater than what happened to Freddie Gray. It is bigger than Eric Garner and Mike Brown and Walter Scott. It’s bigger than the litany of names that we see of unarmed Black people killed by police officers. It’s a system of institutional discrimination. It is a system of inequality. And I do agree that violence is not effective strategy. I also do not condone vandalism as a wholly effective strategy. But I think it is important that we look at things for what they are in reality.

Rage_face_hd_by_memedreamer-d5k4d3bThe explosion of rage that we saw in Baltimore was exactly that:  an explosion of rage. It’s anger towards a system and frustration that boiled over. There are multiple issues at play here and all of them reached a tipping point on April 27, 2015. The same tipping point that happened in Ferguson Missouri in November in 2014. And it’s just going to happen again until there are systemic changes. There is the issue of institutional racism and all that this entails. There is also the growing income inequality and lack of opportunity in the United States. And then there are the typical problems associated with capitalism.

The main issue here is the fact that Black people in America face daily terroristic threats. A majority of Black people in America live in constant fear of police, whether they have an arrest record or not. There is a fear that making eye contact with a police officer can end with the figurative or literal end of your life. This fear is exacerbated when we see people being shot in the back whilst running away from the police. This is not just a personal fear for survival, but a fear for loved ones, especially children. Black parents have to live every day in fear that their children will have a bad experience with a police officer that may end their lives.  (This is further exacerbated by the fact that children are stupid.)   Continue reading Violence Is Not The Answer

The Case Against Black Nationalism And PanAfrican Identity

fanon-05-b18c7I believe that the fact of the juxtaposition of the white and black races has created a massive psychoexistential complex. I hope by analyzing it to destroy it. . . .

. . . a Negro who is driven to discover the meaning of black identity. White civilization and European culture have forced an existential deviation on the Negro. I shall demonstrate elsewhere that what is often called the black soul is white man’s artifact

~Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

The death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri brought Black Lives Matter to the forefront of a large amount of discourse. The most recent killing of Walter Scott, shot in the back whilst running from a police officer has compounded the outrage. Then there is the case of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, who had his spine severed whilst in police custody. There’s a litany of names of lives of Black people in America that have had their lives prematurely ended. Quite often, the person that ended their lives are not held accountable. This is the nature of the Black Lives Matter mantra. The demand is that the lives of Black people be given equal value to other lives.

But Black Lives Matter is not the topic of today. What I wish to discuss is the current rise of Black Nationalism, Pan-Africanism, and other separatist ideas that has grown in response to these sentiments. I do think it’s impossible to discuss these ideas without acknowledging the seriousness of institutional racism in the United States.

The deaths that become headline news are not the only problem. They are just the most egregious manifestation of institutional racism. And these things are not new. When the world saw a police officer shoot Walter Scott in the back, it was one of the few times we saw verifiable evidence that what Black people in America have been claiming for decades (or longer):  Constant fear.

The LA Riots in 1992 were an explosion of outrage against claimed discrimination. No one wanted to listen to what Black people claimed was occurring in their communities until the nation saw police brutally beating Rodney King on video. In 1997, we found out through the Rampart CRASH scandal that these claims were warranted.  This is known as one of the most widespread cases of documented police misconduct in United States history.

The rage towards the deaths of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and Freddie Grey is not about these men. And it is not simply towards the police killing of these individuals. That’s overly simplistic. The rage is manifested from a history of discrimination that is highly insidious. On top of the almost daily deaths of Black people in America, we see a system of increased incarceration coupled with disparate sentencing.  We also see wage deflation with a racial disparity. There is also the history of de facto segregation in opportunity (that is highly complex in nature and hard to fit into a few sentences).

b1-kuhnerOne response to this has been a resurrection of the ideology of Black Nationalism or Pan-Africanism. We saw a lot of hostility towards Trevor Noah when it was announced he would be taking over The Daily Show. There was a bit of outrage over Trevor Noah pointing out that Black people in America are not Africans. He mocked some of the attempts to replicate African culture in the Black American community. Noah’s jokes are just jokes. He’s not a social theorist. I don’t expect some pedantic analysis of cross-cultural complexities from Trevor Noah. The point here is simply that this is an African that was born in Apartheid talking about America.  Noah also pointed out the segregated culture in the United States and compared the contemporary United States to Apartheid South Africa.

What this brings me to is the issue of Black Nationalism, Pan-Afrikanism, and African identity. It’s a complicated and sensitive subject. But if we do not discuss it, it is worse than ignoring a problem.  Not discussing the subject allows any unchallenged idea to grow and manifest itself as well. I asked a colleague about this – one that was well versed in African politics, history, and culture. He responded to my inquiry by pointing out that the African culture that gets created in the United States becomes one that is almost bizarre to people living in Africa.

Just a disclaimer here, before I proceed:  I am not trying to downplay the global racial discrimination of those of African diaspora, the history of colonialism, or the global struggle for equality and human/civil rights.  (Honestly, it is the opposite.)   Continue reading The Case Against Black Nationalism And PanAfrican Identity

Entitlement and Privilege

Lately, a few of my talking points have been receiving a considerable amount of condemnation on social media.  One of these is a particularly hostile point.  That is my contention that the only rational choice for anyone in the US is to vote Republican.  At one point, I was even told by an “activist” (with a six figure salary) that my comment was one of privilege and entitlement.

I’m going to explain why that is not true and why it is the only logical choice.

Why to vote Republican?

The differences in United States parties:

The frontrunner for the GOP today is Hillary Clinton. Elizabeth Warren said she is not going to run for president. As I pointed out in the past, even Warren is not all that left-leaning. Warren stated in the past that she left the Republican party and joined the Democratic Party because she believed they “best supported the free market.” She also has made statements about how “with enough hard work, anyone can get ahead in this country.” Warren doesn’t appear to be the champion of the working class and poor that she is made out to be.

The fact is that Bernie Sanders is the most left leaning politician in the United States. Sanders is a social democrat. I understand social democrats and think their ideology has some fundamentally valid points. The problem I have is that they begin in a position of compromise. This means any actual compromise will be, more or less, giving the opposition majority of what they want.  Every single Democrat is to the Right of Senator Sanders.   Continue reading Entitlement and Privilege