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Combat Hegemony Holistically (The Blood is still Flowing)

Published by marco on

The following interview is excellent. I like the discussion between Taibbi and Halper at the beginning (I find them to be entertaining, insightful, and informative, but YMMV), but if you want to skip it, the interview starts at about 31 minutes or so. Or you can watch just the interview as a separate video.

Dr. Cornel West on Protests, Bernie's Campaign, His New Podcast, and Much More | Useful Idiots (YouTube)

Dr. Cornel West is absolutely on fire in this interview. Here he is offering a nuanced and absolutely correct take on voting for the lesser evil. Emphasis is mine.

Cornel West: I was not going to run around the country and talk about how wonderful Hillary was. Even though, given the fact that in those certain swing states, I could understand people voting for her. It’s like right now, with Biden, I think we, in the swing states, we gotta go Biden to get the neo-fascists outta there. But, at the same time, you don’t go running around telling everybody how great Biden is. We know just how tied he is to deep structures of domination and policies that promote social misery.

And here Katie Halper delights West for the first time, with her excellent re-purposing of the phrase “rainbow coalition” to describe the power structure. West and Taibbi follow up with a discussion of how everything is connected, how it’s not just racism—though the racism makes it unspeakably worse for Blacks—but a general suppression of the lower 90% through many, interrelated means.

Again, emphasis is mine.

Katie Halper: I always think of it as, the neoliberals want to replace a top 1% that’s straight, white, and male with a diverse top 10%. Like, a rainbow coalition that’s slightly more equitable but still totally about power imbalance.

Cornel West: Absolutely, you see, the imperial hierarchy remains the same. 800 military bases: still out there. Africom: still operable. You still got the policies in the Middle East and Asia and Latin America being promoted. It’s just more colorful now. Ooooh, we’ve got some black generals now. And they love to wave that flag just like the white ones do. In fact, they might even be better at it.

Matt Taibbi: That’s been a consistent theme of yours over the years, that you can’t argue for racial progress without arguing, for example, against Wall Street corruption and that these have to be tied together and that you have to be suspicious when you see one critique without the other, or with these other issues tied to it.

Cornel West: Exactly. Even now on the streets, this marvelous, marvelous flow and wave of brothers and sisters of all colors, disproportionately younger, you know, they’ve got to make that connection between police murder, Wall Street crimes, drones, imperial crimes, all being part and parcel of a system and politicians of whatever color, for the most part, beholden to police power, to Wall Street power, and the Pentagon power.”

West argues that, in order to excise the tumor, we have be holistic and color-blind, that we have to understand the many weapons that the upper class uses to maintains control, only one of which is racism. Though he is hopeful that, if we recognize these mechanisms, we can combat them, he is not exactly hopeful that they will change. Instead, it seems that America’s structures are so ingrained and rigid that they will not bend and that they must instead be broken

Cornel West: The challenge here and, this is where we have to get very, very serious and in some ways sad. You see, there’s a real chance that the American empire does not have the capacity to be fundamentally transformed.

“[…] it will allow for all of the soft power and culture in the world, but when stronger movements on the ground actually begin to bring power and pressure to bear—they shoot us down like dogs.

“The repressive apparatus of the United States is so thick that, if for example, Prince [the performer –ed.] [had] decided to join up with Malcolm X’s legacy and create a movement with his music, he could start off playing a little Kiss and then move on into I Adore, and then the next day, people are willing to move into DC and seize power.

“Prince is a dead man. In America. He’s gone. They will kill you. in. a. minute.

“One can argue, well, everybody does that. But, in the United States, there’s this illusion that you got all this freedom, the social movements have the right to protest and so forth and so on, but in the States, for example with racism, anytime you choose to challenge white supremacy in any serious way, you’re a dead man or woman. Or, if you’re alive, you get character assassination.”

Finally, West again:

Cornel West: People saying, aren’t you black folks happy? What more do you want? As Malcolm used to say, You don’t stab someone nine inches, pull it out six inches and then celebrate your progress. Even when you pull the knife all the way out, you don’t celebrate, because the wound is so deep, the blood is still flowing.”