Thursday, December 01, 2005

Blog Against Racism Day

We've put on our serious pants, and are they ever chafing and restrictive. Herein we consider racism for a moment. Herein we consider racism and its reactionary and conservative nature. Read on for what we mean by conservative.

The maintenance of a certain cultural status quo, the desire for things not to change, the clinging to particular outmoded (truly outmoded) ideas, i.e. ideas that have no established truth save superstition, this is a form of conservatism. Thus the witches burn and the heretics get staked. In addition to these ideas, existing and intertwined within an established culture will be an entrenched power structure. Progress is the embrace of more realistic views of people and a respect for humanity at its core, and this will always challenge the existing power structure. Resistance to this progress is reactionary.

Newer groups that clash culturally will certainly clash with the existing power structure. Twisty Faster would note that all cultures subjugate women, thus even when minorities challenge existing culture and establish gains, women still suffer. Going hand in hand with culture is the reinforcement of the power structures that have arisen within a particular culture. The maintenance of this power in the face of new groups clamoring for integration or recognition is the goal of reactionary movements. They cloak their ideas with paeans to culture and tradition. It is merely power asserting itself. Power is beholden to some form of societal conferral of legitimacy, thus it will be racist and sexist, as inclusion of other groups will always appear to threaten power. Can it ever be certain that outsiders will respect cultural power rules? Think of dear Bill O'Reilly scandal-mongering about values and tradition. He is a quintessential reactionary voice.

With sexism and racism though, these movements are even more diabolical. The defense of power has evolved such that groups may continue to be subjugated even if they have been culturally assimilated. In modern societies it seems that the obvious racist barriers are first legal, then cultural, and always and finally economic. Cultural, religious and scientific arguments will always be made for the status quo. We all know that this is just so much bullshit.

Reactionary thought will always exist and it will always trouble our sad planet, and it will go hand in hand with racism. There will always be a new racism, because there is always an other and there is always Power to be had and protected. Looking back over the last century we have seen both large strides in combating racism and larger-scale racism and bigotry than previously imagined. We have ended legal segregation while de facto segregation still exists in great swathes of society. We have seen both mechanized and organic slaughter of entire fractions of societies (the Holocaust and Rwanda) in the last 60 years. Finally, we are faced with reactionaries both at each other's throats and dancing hand-in-hand to the same tune in Iraq. Our Neocon overlords and the Islamic fundamentalists are two very black-hearted peas in the same pod shouting the identical mantra of clashing civilizations. Is it any wonder that when at war, or in argument, one's enemy becomes monolithically described in perjorative terms? It was not so hard to do it with Fascist Germany and Italy during World War II, but the characterizations went beyond the Fascists, they went to the heart of the German and Italian people. Of course the fine qualities of monolithic America were always espoused. These are equally the building blocks of of reactionary thought, and jingoism is quite a comfortable bedfellow with racism. It was so much easier to do it with the Japanese of course, because they were more different that the Teutonic/Roman parts of the Axis. And it has been even easier with our Islamofascist enemies. When the time comes, I'm sure it will come as easily to reactionaries in dealing with the Chinese.

What can we do? Democracy is the only answer. True representative Democracy. Something we try to have in this country. Something that we are failing at right now, and increased racism and reactionary tendencies can only follow. Democracy cannot be imposed, it must be chosen, and in some cases fought for, but we must fight side by side with those choosing Democracy, not imposing it from on high. Democracy is the ultimate prisoner's dilemma, everyone has to decide not to rat it out for their own gain, and guess what's happening in Iraq? Every aspect of anti-Democratic behavior exhibited by our current Administration goes directly and indirectly toward entrenching conservative ideals, the deep down ones, the ones that don't have anything to do with the deficit. It can only feed the racist beast.