I know I should be tending to the roof beam in my eye, but I can’t help but share what I’ve been thinking about lately re: our old politics. Don’t throw the letter away! Hear me out! I am a fool, but sometimes it takes a fool to see what’s going on.
There was a day when I realized that all the things my anarchist friends and I believed and wanted were the same things that the liberal journalists and bureaucrats wanted – and soon enough, the politicians too. It turns out we prefigured the next round of liberal cultural reforms. Our fringe sexual preferences, our hatred of the police, our anti-theism, our hatred of work, our speech codes, our consent workshops: all of it was taken up. This wasn’t “recuperation” but honest to goodness prefiguration. We weren’t co-opted; no, we were the obscure shock troops of the culture war all along. And this was true in the case of anti-racism more than anything else.
Anti-racism, like racism, is a state ideology. And like all state ideologies, it is a conspiracy theory. For a practical comparison of the two, look at Rhodesia (racist) and Zimbabwe (anti-racist). Theoretically, the two ideologies differ thus: racism is focused on the physical and repression; anti-racism on the metaphysical and extermination (in this, anti-racism resembles anti-Semitism).
The recent anti-racist movement opposes the police because police are racist (repressive towards physical bodies). The movement demands the policing of thoughts instead: the ‘idea of whiteness’ must be erased, prejudice and discrimination have to be removed. If that means destroying the bodies of white people, it is only because they happen to be the personification of the idea of racism. Coates comes close to expressing the metaphysical character of anti-racist politics when he writes about “people who think they are white.”
In truth, America, like most real existing states, is a sort of mixed regime of racism and anti-racism, with local and state governments (racist) in conflict with the federal government (anti-racist) – though both the local/state and federal governments are themselves split internally between factions and departments. This mixed regime of racism and anti-racism is what we call democracy. The anti-democratic turn in American political discourse concerns the end of the mixed regime. Like all political debates, the question is: whom shall we shoot or imprison? Should we exterminate racism or repress racial minorities? The beleaguered liberal is left calling for the unpopular compromise: we should do just a little of both…
It’s curious, isn’t it, how little any of this matters to the flow of capital.
Darkness and death all around, I’m afraid. And so it’s more important than ever not to take sides. But what do I know? I’m a fool. Pray for me.