Friday, July 15, 2016

Black and white and green

I read an interesting article in Slate yesterday about the demographic problems that Donald Trump is facing in the general election this fall. But that's not what I wanted to talk about today. I did read one stat that I think is a good jumping off point for looking at how American capitalism is unique in the world.

Trump has unprecedented pull with working-class whites, especially men. If he can match past Republican performance with college-educated whites and hold his increased share among their counterparts with high school diplomas, he’ll have a smooth path to victory.

Why is it that white working class males are such solid Republicans? Why are they supporting candidates whose policies benefit the corporate class at the expense of the working class?

It has to do with the unique nature of American capitalism. And just what is unique about American capitalism?

The legacy of slavery and institutional racism are foundations upon which the American economic system is built. For generations the corporate elite and their bag men have fomented racism as a means of dividing the working class. And they have succeeded. Today white working class males feel they have more in common with their bosses than they do with their fellow workers.

The white working class has been so permeated with racist ideology that they have become blind to what's in their own self interest. Republicans and toadies of the corporate class realized this during the Civil Rights movement. There's a reason that Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated following a speech to sanitation workers in Memphis. In tying the fight for equality with the fight for workers to earn a living wage and with the fight against the war in Vietnam, King became a dangerous figure and had to be eliminated.

Republicans, conservatives and the corporate class have been sowing seeds of discord within the ranks of the working class ever since. They have done this by portraying the struggles of racial and ethnic minorities as attacks on American values instead of a attack against economic and political oppression.

The result has been a fragmented working class that works against its own self-interest. This fragmented working class allows the corporate class to hold down wages and move jobs overseas whenever it becomes profitable for them to do so.

So long as the corporate class is able to use race as a wedge to drive between workers, the working class in this country will continue to be oppressed with low wages, no job security and private health care coverage.

For all of the talk from our political leaders about what happened in Baton Rouge, St. Paul and Dallas last week, we will never eliminate racism because it is so ingrained in our economic system. We can move beyond prejudice but institutional racism will remain because it brings about bigger profits for the corporate class.

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