“Cancel Culture,” Race and the Greed of the Billionaire Class

Yves here. As much as I am loath to say much about “cancel culture,” since by calling attention to divisive behavior, it tends to encourage it, it nevertheless bears repeating that this is just another variant of Jay Gould’s oppression strategy: “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” But the clever thing about stoking idpol divisions is that not that many people need to be paid to carry them forward.

This current push is an intensification of the world view that Adolph Reed has repeatedly called out, of depicting a highly unequal society as fair as long as historical out groups are adequately represented among the wealthy, politics, and the top levels of high profile institutions. Yet these fights over speech are occurring when the super rich are getting even richer (particularly that bastion of white men, private equity) and no more diverse. And as Tom points out, there’s similarly lots of virtue signaling from companies but not much change regarding the composition of the executive ranks.

By Thomas Neuberger. Originally published at DownWithTyranny!

Nike’s attempt to prove they care about the poor (screenshot from this ad). Nike will manufacture as many poor as it takes to manufacture shoes for less than 50 cents per hour

A fake MacDonalds ad mocking fake corporate caring

The elites will discuss race. They will not discuss class.
—Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges is latest to weigh in on the “cancel culture” wars, saying what any number of widely cancelled others have said before him (for example, Matt Taibbi in this public post; he’s even more pointedly analytical in a later, subscriber-only piece).

But Hedges summarizes the situation so well, he’s well worth quoting. From his new perch at Robert Sheer’s Sheerpost he writes:

The cancel culture — the phenomenon of removing or canceling people, brands or shows from the public domain because of offensive statements or ideologies — is not a threat to the ruling class. Hundreds of corporations, nearly all in the hands of white executives and white board members, enthusiastically pumped out messages on social media condemning racism and demanding justice after George Floyd was choked to death by police in Minneapolis. Police, which along with the prison system are one of the primary instruments of social control over the poor, have taken the knee, along with Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of the serially criminal JPMorgan Chase, where only 4 percent of the top executives are Black. Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world whose corporation, Amazon, paid no federal income taxes last year and who fires workers that attempt to unionize and tracks warehouse laborers as if they were prisoners, put a “Black Lives Matter” banner on Amazon’s home page.

The rush by the ruling elites to profess solidarity with the protestors and denounce racist rhetoric and racist symbols, supporting the toppling of Confederate statues and banning the Confederate flag, are symbolic assaults on white supremacy. Alone, these gestures will do nothing to reverse the institutional racism that is baked into the DNA of American society. The elites will discuss race. They will not discuss class.

To repeat: Hundreds of corporations, nearly all in the hands of white executives and white board members, enthusiastically pumped out messages on social media condemning racism and demanding justice after George Floyd was choked to death by police in Minneapolis.

In addition, we’re drowning in corporate self-polishing-apple ads, like those from Nike and MacDonalds touting how much they care about the market that buys their products, even as they exploit that market for all they can get take it for.

Is it not more than obvious at this point, that corporate America and the purchased “free-market” liberals they keep in office are using this racially charged moment — a moment that should be racially charged — to distract from the other crisis facing America, the one where “minimum wage workers cannot afford rent in any U.S. state,” to cite just one of the hundred brutal tortures they inflict on us daily?

Make no mistake: The very very wealthy want even more of our money, want us to have even less control of our government than we have today, and they’re more than happy — eager, in fact — to see us fully distracted with worry over which left-sympathizing writer isn’t sufficiently sympathetic to violence, based on a tweet.

“But Isn’t It Racist to Say Calling Out Racism Is Racist?”

Along with the good and sincere, there are many bad actors here. Along with the principled freedom-of-speech advocates (many, but not all, of those who signed this letter, for example), there are also a great many racists and right-wing opportunists calling out “cancel culture” — and a few “unhinged Zionists” as well — who’ve done what they now decry. The Right has jumped all over the cancel-culture controversy to try to paint the Left as focused to a fault on the rights of minorities to the exclusion of needs of the majority.

First, if the Right says something is true, does that make it false, or worse, not worth examining? The “liberal left” (as opposed to the actual left) does tend to ignore class as an issue. The cancel-culture controversy is complicated; let’s not pretend it’s not, or worse, cancel those who don’t affirm its simplicity.

Moreover, at what time in modern America has the New York Times, who recently canceled its own editor for the crime of printing Tom Cotton, represented the actual Left, as opposed to that part of the Left that shovels free-market Democrats into office as fast as it can, then works like the devil to keep them there? The Times is owned by a corporation with close to two billion dollars in yearly revenue  — advocates for the poor they’re not, unless the poor will content themselves only the smallest of marginal structural changes.

In the meantime, while we’re squabbling over the latest cancellation outrage — many are indeed that, outrageous, while many are not — America is being rebuilt as we speak into an even greater monopolythan before, with even more wealth going to the even more powerful.

As one wag put it, Jeff Bezos is having a very good crisis.

Companies large enough to survive this event are flush with cash and gobbling failed competitors hand over fist. It’s been rightly said that when Covid has done its work, we won’t recognize the country it left behind.

Watching a Knife Fight While the Town Burns Down

The “cancel culture” war is a distraction, important though it is we have that discussion. While we watch the knife fight in the corner, cheering one side or the other on, the main event, the torched and burning town we all inhabit, consumes itself behind us.

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