Thursday, June 6, 2013

Relax, White Dudes

White, Christian, heterosexual, middle and upper class men often get upset when you mention their privilege to them. They want to believe that they have worked for everything they own, and that anyone possessed of enough gumption could have the same things they have.

When the tide turns in the other direction and favors another group over their group, the white indignation is pathetic. They are being oppressed! The country is going in the wrong direction!

The white man is feeling it these days; what could he have done wrong? Hasn't he been a just patriarch? Why is everyone always picking on him?

Relax, white dudes. It's not your fault. In actuality, the privilege you still have presents you with an amazing opportunity. You see, there's nothing inherently wrong about your whiteness, or your sexuality, or your economic and sociopolitical inheritance. I would argue that there is something wrong with your religion, but let's save that for another conversation. The problem lies in our capitalist system. By its very nature, capitalism must always have an exploited class and an exploiting class. Currently, you are part of the exploiting class. Eventually there will be another exploiting class, and you will be its victim if you don't institute serious changes, and quick. It's by no fault of your own that you're in the position you are in; you were born into it. It is your fault, however, if you don't do anything to remedy it.

Not only is abandoning capitalism the right thing to do morally, it is also the smart thing to do if you want to continue to receive any of the benefits associated with being part of the exploiting class: since--by its very nature--capitalism will always favor one tribe over the other tribes, and since the status of various tribes must always vary (you are on top for now, but you won't always be), instituting socialist reforms is the best way for you to avoid or lessen the wrath of ascendent minority groups.

I know it will be hard, but it's the best thing in the long run for you and for everyone else. As lovers of competition and merit, wouldn't it be great if everyone competed and earned on an even playing field? Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone had access to healthcare, higher education, leisure time, food, and housing? Pipe dreams, you say. How could we afford such things? For starters, why don't we nationalize the oil companies, just like they did in Venezuala. By nationalizing oil, Venezuala eliminated extreme poverty. Why don't we radically cut our bloated military budget and work on fixing things at home rather than killing people and breaking things in other countries? Why don't we stop screwing around and just nationalize healthcare? And how about we make it easier--rather than harder--for people in impoverished communities to vote and organize?

These are some simple suggestions. Whether you heed this warning or not is up to you, but the times are always a-changing.


 Over at Daily Kos, a commenter called Dr. Erich Bloodaxe RN voiced the following objection to my piece:
"You were generally doing fine until you started in about who is in and out of the 'exploiting class'.  And the reality is that 95% of white dudes are in the exploited class too.  The exploiter class is largely, albeit not exclusively, inherited wealth, and by definition
White privilege exists, male privilege exists, along with other sorts of privilege, but is not really tied to exploited/exploiter classes writ large.  It's farther down the food chain, going on largely within the exploited class, between members thereof.  They're the the 'petty exploitation' of institutionalized social and economic differentials within the ranks of the exploited, that help keep the exploited fighting each other."
to which I responded:
"That's a good point that I didn't address in the piece. One of the things that keeps white men from participating in any kind of populist overhaul is that they associate themselves with the white men in power--thinking that 'at least a member of my team is running things'--while in reality they have much more in common with working class people of other ethnicities and genders."
  It's very easy to get hung up on specific kinds of privilege and lose track of the fact that inherited wealth is the absolute biggest, most divisive, and most destructive kind of privilege there is.

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