The glue

Racism, among other things, functions to enlist, energize, and stabilize a cross class coalition of white people. And the racist glue that holds it together is material as well as ideological and political. The biggest winners in this coalition are those who sit at or near the top of the economic and political chain. Racism allows them to expropriate enormous wealth, amass power, and fend off political challenges from below. But others down the chain secure advantages too, even if they pale in comparison to those at the top. Without this, the unity and durability of this socially diverse coalition could fray. Said another way, the downward distribution of some of the “fruits” of racism is necessary to bind this coalition together, not to mention breathe life into racist ideology.

Not friendly

As the popular mood shifts against Trump and more incriminating evidence piles up, I have to think that the courts won’t be friendly to his stonewalling of Congress.

Insufficiently developed

It strikes me that the politics of marxism are still insufficiently developed. Often they are left abstract and general, not concretely informed by the particularities of the moment or conjuncture. Reflexive slogans substitute for strategic and tactical analysis. It’s no cure all, but reading Lenin, who goes unappreciated these days, could help out in this regard. The elaboration of strategy and tactics in the context of concrete realities were hallmarks of his politics.

Detroit and a political fix

At the disruptive heart of racialized capitalism is its re-occurring process of asset stripping, land and wealth dispossession, forced migration, and confinement and segregation of people of color to designated geographical spaces — the ghetto, barrio, reservation as well as particular zip codes, cities, and towns. When I lived in Detroit, I saw the operation and effects of this pernicious process at first hand.

When I visit there now, the city seems to be rebounding, and that is understandably welcomed by many Detroiters, but the rebound appears to me lopsided, uneven, and still in the hooks of the re-occurring process mentioned above, albeit in new forms and conditions. The new centers of wealth making and economic activity, while dynamic in some ways, fail, using my very unscientific eye test, to radiate across the city and combine with a sea of deep and endemic poverty, dispossession, depopulation, long term unemployment and underemployment, desolate neighborhoods, struggling schools, and more of the like.

All of which makes me think that any resolution of Detroit’s long crisis will require, first of all, a political fix, that is, a new correlation of democratic and progressive political power at the city, state, and federal levels, supported and nudged along by a sustained surge of grassroots activity. It goes without saying that defeating Trump and his Republican acolytes next year at the ballot box is absolutely essential.

Rage against Obama

If I were going to single out a triggering event that fueled the rise Trump and Trumpism, it would be the election of President Obama’s  in 2008. For right wing extremists — leaders and followers — the reality of a Black man with reforming ambitions occupying the White House for 4, and perhaps, 8 years constituted at once a ominous break in their ascendancy, which they thought was well underway, and an existential threat to their values and way of life. It provoked a sense of panic, anger, and, above all. counterrevolutionary determination on their part to right this terrible wrong and injustice.
Their slogan,”Take America Back,” succinctly captured the racist and revanchist essence and aim of this retrograde movement. And 8 years later out of this anti-democratic, thoroughly reactionary political whirlwind came President Trump and Trumpism. I know analogies can easily be stretched beyond their limit, but some echoes of the counterrevolution that ushered in Jim Crow in the South in the aftermath of the Civil War and Reconstruction ring in my ears when I think about the present moment.
But let’s hope, and their is good reason for hope, that we will fare better in turning back this right wing, racist counter-revolution than the brave, largely African American resisters did more than a century ago. Their appeals for unity to their white allies in the North fell on deaf ears, thereby allowing a long night, if not all at once, then in time to settle not only over the South and the African American people first of all, but also the democratic development of the country as a whole.


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