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Sunday, 31 January 2010

The Joke that is British Politics.

"The class war is over. But the struggle for true equality has only just begun." Tony Blair

In the most literal sense, British politics is a joke, a sad joke with an ineffectual punch-line, that gets no laughs. Gordon Brown made it clear at the Labour Party Conference what choice the British people face at the next General Election. William Hague also patronisingly "confirmed", what we already knew, in an interview with Andrew Marr a few months ago. The choice the British people face is a choice between a dour one-eyed Scot and a potato-headed Etonian Toff. Essentially, the choice we face is between the New Tories and the Old Tories. We have no other option apparently, not even the Liberal Democrats. After such a site it's easy to fall into a pit of despair, it's even easier to emulate our American cousins by taking out a rifle and climbing Big Ben... though neither would be advisable. After Rupert Murdoch made it clear that he is "throwing in" with David Cameron, by using The Sun (the most popular toilet-paper in Britain) to publicly renounce New Labour, it looks like Labour's time is almost up. This is clear with Murdoch's "impressive record" for picking winners, Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher are two of them.

There is a certain sting that came with Labour's failures to the working-class, the people it is supposed to represent, and that the Conservatives have been declared the only other option. This is what has driven so many people to vote for marginal neo-fascists like the BNP and Little Englanders like UKIP. Under Labour we have seen the lowest voting turnouts since the establishment of universal voting - something that people fought for. Though, it was obvious from the outset that a Labour Party modelling itself on a Democratic Party, a party that was using old phrases from Eisenhower's campaign for President, was doomed to fail. It has been many years since Blair proclaimed, with his smarmy glee, that the class war had ended. Yet, over the last 12 years, wages for the working-class have increased by 45% and wages for the upper-class have risen by 300%. But that is partly a symptom of over 30 years of Thatcherism. The gap between rich and poor in Britain is now at its widest since 1968. One in five young people are denied employment. Labour is now not a party for the working-class or even of the working-class, much like the Conservative Party, it is a party of liars and war pigs.

Even a cursory glance at British history could tell an alien that the Conservative Party exists to fail the masses.
The Conservative Party is currently running to the General Election on a slogan of "Change", which is most definitely plagiarised from the Obama campaign last year. Though, it's a safe bet on the part of David Cameron, as a former-PR man I'm sure he's well aware that Obama's campaign won an award for the most successful marketing campaign of 2008. But this is not new, after all it was Labour that copied the "New Democrats" in their campaign for "Change" that launched Bill Clinton into the White House. This shows just how much "Change" our politicians contemplate and how much is actually "New" about the parties. The openly cynical approach Hague took with Marr, is a clear sign of the over-confidence of our dearly beloved Conservative Party. This over-confidence should be smashed into a million pieces, like the window of a known paedophile in the appropriate fashion as favoured by The Sun. Despite what the current incumbent claims, the Conservative Party does have a policy on the economy - subsidies to companies, the stated aim of which is "job creation", coupled with deregulation and cuts in public spending (on things the poor need).

In the year 2009 more people turned out to vote for Joe McElderry on X-Factor than they had done in 2005 to vote for Tony Blair. The General Election of 2010 will no doubt set a new low in British politics, barely anyone will vote and the Conservative Party will probably declare a "glorious victory". It is a shame that the right to vote is being given up in this way. Cynicism is not the answer to the political and economic woes of our country, it is determined engagement with the political structure that can resolve our problems and their is no other way forward. Suffrage is a civil right that women and men, of a working-class background, literally fought and died for. We should not just hand it back for that very reason. The cynics who see no point in voting are not radical free-thinkers who understand the system, they are the apathetic individuals who accept the system as it is and allow to reconstitute itself again and again. Even if a vote is meaningless in that it fails to make a difference, it means more than no vote at all.

Margaret Thatcher once said "There is no such thing as society, only individuals and their families." This quote exemplifies the neoliberal utopia championed by the Thatcherites in Britain. This "utopia" is completely fragmented, in which every individual is isolated and interested only in the satisfaction of desires which have been created by advertising. In pursuit of this utopia, the Thatcherites enacted legislation against trade unions, privatised national industries on mass and deregulated the markets. In economic terms, Thatcher brought this country out of Keynesian economics and into a new era of neoliberalism. In doing so, communities built around manufacturing, mining, factory work etc. were decimated in this country and the needs of the poor were ignored. Thatcherism is more a convergence of tendencies than a coherent ideology. As the Thatcherites were "liberating" the financial markets and crushing unions, they opposed Gay Rights and introduced regulations on the British video market - to stop people from watching video nasties. The Eurosceptic psychobabble and libertarian economics converges with an admiration of "Victorian values".

All of this talk about a "Broken Britain" is nothing more than the kind of "moralising rants" we often hear from the Right. But the people doing this "ranting" are impotent to deal with the problems in this society, as they are responsible for such problems in the first place. The best they can do is offer cheap reactionary "solutions" like bring back the death penalty, leave the European Union, ban the burka etc. Other "bright ideas" include: bring back caning, repatriation, stopping benefits. It is the hypocrisy of permitting bankers to do as they please to get rich, while expecting the "unruly masses" to live responsible and traditional lives, which has fragmented our society. There is a clear clash between the individualism espoused by libertarians and the traditional values of conservatives, but the Right does not see that. They think that they can mend things that they broke, so long as they go further than they did before. Perhaps, if the standard of education was improved in our country, as well as social and economic inequality, Britain would not be as "broken" as they claim. If people like Tony Blair were held to the same standards as the Nazis, the judicial system would be taken seriously as an institution. If a mainstream political party actually stood for change, electing politicians would mean more to people than voting for the stars of reality TV.

Friday, 29 January 2010

War Pigs and Chickenhawks.

"First of all, I want to say that the soldiers, and the families, we owe them a huge debt of gratitude. We've got brave, courageous, dedicated professional people risking their lives and in some cases losing their lives in Afghanistan." - Gordon Brown



A major issue is the war in Afghanistan, an invasion which was originally orchestrated to defeat al-Qaeda. But for some reason that never happened. Possibly, because Bush refused to negotiate with the Taliban when they offered to turn over some of the wanted terrorists (including Osama bin Laden) to a third-party. The invasion turned into a war against the Taliban, and an exercise in state craft, after it became apparent that al-Qaeda were not in Afghanistan. The way the war is often talked about in the Western media is often in relation to the number of British troops killed, as well as the quality and the amount of equipment they have been allocated. The real reasons for the war are almost never discussed in the media. Afghanistan is valuable to the West in strategic terms, close to the main energy providers in the Middle East and Central Asia, and could be used against disobedient states like Iran. China and India are potential superpowers in waiting, maintaining control of energy resources is a way for the US government to maintain power in future decades. The conflict over who will control energy in Central Asia has yet to "conclude".
 
Despite all of this
, there is no mention of the immoral nature of the invasion in the media, the commentary is effectively focused on the well-being of "our lads". This is down to the widely accepted assumption of the war in Afghanistan, that we are fighting against terrorism. "If we don't fight them over there, we will be fighting them over here." This is an old argument, now used by the chickenhawks of Washington and London. President Johnson once said of the Vietnamese communists: "We have to stop the communists over there [Vietnam] or we'll soon be fighting them in California." The implication of this commentary is that the war and the invasion is fine, the only thing wrong are the deaths of British soldiers. It wouldn't matter that just a few months ago 90 Afghan children were blown to bits, and it wouldn't matter if 9,000 more were blown up. So long as "our lads" are doing fine and have the best weapons money can buy, so they can keep on killing and keep on living. Would we have accepted this kind of commentary from the Soviets during their invasion of Afghanistan? The obvious answer is a resounding "No."

Even a child can see past such a transparently warped logic.
The majority of people British and American forces are killing are not defenders of Osama bin Laden, they are the victims of the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. Back in the 80s, Afghanistan was torn apart by Soviet troops and the Mujahideen, which consisted partly of religious fanatics and some of the future leaders of al-Qaeda - Afghanistan is where Ayman al-Zawahiri met Osama bin Laden. Prince Bandar bin Sultan, also known as "Bandar Bush", recalls meeting with bin Laden in Afghanistan, bin Laden thanked Bandar for helping to bring the US to support the Afghans against the Communists. The Mujahideen were backed by American and British politicians among others. The Soviet Union was defeated in this conflict and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was founded. This led to probably the worst period of Afghan history, during which the Mujahideen killed each other over opium, committed mass rapes and slaughtered 50,000 people. When the Taliban turned up many Afghans supported them because they wanted to see the madness stop.



"You've got to ask yourself the question all the time: is this the right thing for a country like ours to do? My answer has got to be 'Yes'. Because the security of our country, and every country, depends on the ability to deal with a terrorist threat." - Gordon Brown
Now the majority of the forces that used to serve as part of the Mujahideen, who fought the Russians before tearing apart Afghanistan, are known as the Northern Alliance. Now they are an ally of the US and the UK in the war in Afghanistan. In case you've been living on the moon for the last 15 years, the Taliban are a reactionary group with an extremist interpretation of the Qu'ran, possibly the most extreme of extremist, that originates in Pakistan. The Taliban were supported all the way by the US government and the Saudi Royals once they seized power in the mid 90s. They received $6 billion from the Clintonites and the House of Saud, as the Taliban were overseeing the construction of a fossil fuel pipeline to the Caspian Sea. The rise of the Taliban was due to years of war and conflict internal of Afghanistan. It was the distribution of "jihadist manuals", most of which had been printed at the University of Nebraska, throughout Pakistan in the early 80s that provided the ideological backdrop for the Taliban to seize power.


It wasn't until the politicians in Washington decided that the Taliban regime was too unstable to maintain the oil and gas pipelines to the Caspian Sea. The 2001 invasion of Afghanistan was not backed by the United Nations Security Council and 34 out of 37 nations, surveyed by a Gallup poll, were totally opposed to the war. The invasion was carried out with the full knowledge that the consequences could be the deaths of millions of Afghans. It was estimated that there were around 5 million Afghans on the verge of starvation in 2001, it had been predicted that as aid agencies fled the number of Afghans facing starvation could rise by 2.5 million. Thankfully, that has not happened, but that does not change the conditions under which the choices were made. As Chomsky recently emphasised, some party hacks in the Soviet Union might have said it was fine to put missiles in Cuba because it didn't result in a nuclear war, but that doesn't vindicate the decision to do so.
 
According to US intelligence, most of the so-called Taliban are actually localised tribal terrorists who are reacting to the occupation. Much like the term "Viet-Cong", which became an all-encompassing derogative word for any opposition within Vietnam, "Taliban" is similarly being applied to all terrorists in Afghanistan regardless of their reasons or affiliations. Though, clearly the authorities are aware of the reasons and affiliations of many of the terrorists, as they are currently looking to pay many of them off. In the eloquent words of George Orwell "
It's not a matter of whether the war is not real or if it is. Victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous. A hierachical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle, the war effort is planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against it's own subjects. And its object is not victory over either Eurasia or East Asia but to keep the very structure of society intact."

Some interesting links:

For Britons, the Party Game is Over by John Pilger
Welcome to Orwell's World 2010 by John PilgerConservations with History - Tariq Ali Brown and Karzai Debate in 2010

Monday, 18 January 2010

Aryan History X.

The Mythical Supermen.

There was a mythology prevalent in the United States in the 18th and 19th Centuries – the myth of specifically Anglo-Saxon origins. The myth had been developed in 15th Century England and was then picked up in America soon after colonisation. Though, it is fundamentally not too dissimilar to the myths and ideals of the National Socialists. The end result of such widely propagated myths include genocide and slavery. The myth was that there was an Aryan race, originating in what is today Iran, a unique and superior species to all over human beings. The characteristics of this race included: a round cranium, tall in stature, blond-hair, blue-eyes and a paper-white complexion. They were the embodiment of physical perfection, in the eyes of the people of that time and place. This noble race stood for freedom, the Aryan race were said to have been actively dedicated to justice and law. Today, it is easy to say that such mythical supermen are only real to the KKK, but the truth is rather more unsettling.


Once the Aryans had emerged in the East, they migrated to the West and eventually settled in the Black Forests of Germany where they became the Teutons – who were a “perfect race”. But as they had migrated, some of these Aryans had inter-married with the people in the East and produced the “degenerate race” of the Mediterranean. The Aryans, who were dedicated to the purity of their race, exterminated everyone and later became the Angles and the Saxons. The Angles and the Saxons moved onwards to ancient Britain, where they maintained their purity by exterminating inferior tribes they came across. The Anglo-Saxons later came to America in the form of the colonists, again committing genocide along the way. The implication being that indigenous British and American people are descendent of the "perfect race". Racism runs deep in Western civilisation, to an ideological extent by now, and America is no exception. Even the Founding Fathers" believed in this myth, Thomas Jefferson thought that the race had been “poisoned” by immigration to Britain in the centuries since the Anglo-Saxons came to Britain. For Benjamin Franklin, even Germans did not fit the criteria of the Aryan ideal, for they were too “swarthy” for his liking.


It was this myth which fuelled the extreme racism of the time. Which was a factor in the enslavement of Africans, the genocide of Native Americans and Mexicans. Since then, every influx of immigrants into the United States has been persecuted and scapegoated. When the first Irish people came to America – the "Land of Opportunity" – to escape poverty, famine and the tyrants of England, they were the immediate subject of persecution. Signs such as “No dogs or Irish” were hung in shops and restaurants for all too see. Eastern Europeans and the Jews fleeing pogrom were treated in similarly dehumanising ways. But it wasn’t until many Chinese people began to immigrate to the United States, that the methods of segregation were “developed” further by the government. In fact, the first “racial exclusion act” was passed against Chinese immigrants. Black people soon became the subject of these same methods of segregation, particularly after the abolition of slavery. Each of these perceived “races” also became the scapegoat for the problems in American society. Today, the new targets of scapegoating and persecution in the US are Mexican immigrants and Arabs. Though, the way in which groups are persecuted and scapegoated has changed greatly, thanks to the progress made over the last five decades. But it remains a real influence on the way Western politicians act.


The Race War.


It was this primitive myth which became a form of sophistry, favouring racial persecution, segregation, slavery and genocide, before becoming ideological. By which I mean, it became a set of ideas, beliefs, values - some of which function independent of conscious belief by individuals - and a way of interpreting the world. A dominant ideology can function regardless of the belief of mere individuals, because such an ideology is embedded in daily life. In times of segregation in the US, you would be bombarded constantly with signs designating who uses what. Even if you consciously disagree with separate water fountains, if you drink from them you are actively obeying the dominant ideology. This is because it is the intended way, by those who put up the signs "white" and "coloured", in which water fountains are used that is ideological. The only way to escape from this is to act on one's disbelief, the Montgomery Bus Boycott is an example of how to challenge ideology. This ideological racism was actualised further through war.


It was first actualised in this way as America was "expanded" - namely, the theft of half of Mexico and the mass-murder it entailed. Unfortunately, the American politicians wanted to move onwards to the homeland of the Aryan supermen, in what may have been Iran or India. So Hawaii and the Philippines were later conquered by the US, again the conquest was characterised by mass-murder. From there, it was intended, that they would go on to conquer China and the rest of the East, so that the rightful descendents of the Aryans could return to their "homeland" once they had circled the earth. In fact, Theodore Roosevelt designated the Japanese "honorary Aryans", because they were seen as the key to defeating the Chinese and in doing so he laid the basis for the Pacific battles of WWII. Arguably, this was also the ideological aim for American involvement in the war in the Korean peninsula. Luckily, the US government never accomplished this imperialist goal, as it would have probably required genocide to "succeed".


Of course, the way ideology functions today has changed much since those primitive bigoted days. Today, as Slavoj Zizek has pointed out, ideology can function through cynicism (though, not always). For instance, upon Barack Obama's victory it was immediately said by many that he won't bring change. To believe that political change is impossible, because politicians are compromisers and all government is corrupt, is to accept the status quo as it is. Obama has not accomplished change, but to simply state "He was never going to..." implies it doesn't matter because politicians aren't meant to deliver change. If we follow this logic to it's ultimate conclusion we find that voting is a meaningless gesture that we might as well not participate in. Effectively, this hands over the polity to people who aren't expected to bring change and aren't representative of the population. This remains so if one does not actively pursue the desired change.


It is interesting to think about American imperialism, and it's guise of jingoism, as an extension of racist ideology, especially as Iran and China are still discussed in terms of their potentially "threatening" military. Many fear a war with Iran and many cynics are resigned to the fact that the US want a war with Iran - "The government will invade Iran, like they invade Iraq, we have no say in the matter..." Though, this ideologico-political explanation of American racism and military aggression isn't the only dimension to take into account, there are also the politico-economic reasons. Nevertheless, it is revealing of the "We own the world" mindset of American politicians, let alone the self-proclaimed "masters of the universe" running the corporations who benefit most from war and exploitation. Time will tell if the "master-race" will return to their rightful homeland in Iran.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Life after Race.

"The proof that one truly believes is in action." - Bayard Rustin

Since the election of Barack H Obama in 2008, the first African-American President, there has been much talk of the possibility of a post-racial America. Even Obama himself has said that his election has taken race out of the equation. The electoral victory of Barack Obama was met with an explosion of optimism in America, and the West in general. The optimism, widespread among the people, at the possibility of a black family entering the White House for the first time in history, was met with a reaction from the corporate world. This reaction consisted of optimism - not for change, but for more of the same - and an eagerness to hold racial issues at arm's length, along with issues of class and gender. This is why the electoral triumph of Barack Obama has been portrayed as evidence of America's successful transition, from a fragmented white supremacist state to a united post-racial society.

During the campaign, Barack Obama was put on the defensive as his association with the "anti-American" Reverend Jeremiah Wright was called into question. The sentiments expressed by Wright were misrepresented by the media. Wright is often quoted as saying "not God bless America, God damn America!" But the full quotation was never released by the mainstream media, which was "It's not God bless America, God damn America, that's in the Bible, for killing innocent people! God damn America for treating citizens as less than human!" Nevertheless, Barack Obama was put on the defensive as Wright was accused of being "anti-American". Though, terms like "anti-American" only exist in totalitarian states, in the Soviet Union there was the concept of "anti-Sovietism" used to vilify critics of the state. So it is very typical for the term to be applied to Reverend Wright for condemning the US government for violating human rights and killing innocents - as the US government has done for decades. The function of the term's use is clear, to shut up Wright and to make sure that Obama is not a radical.

Unfortunately, Barack Obama has reassured the "masters of the universe" that he is no radical and this is reflected by the fact that Obama's campaign received $700 million from corporations, the most funding in history and around $300 million more than John McCain raised. In his speeches, Obama has continuously referred to the "wounds" of racism as something people need to move on from. This is part of the rhetoric on unity his campaign team dished out - the idea of a United America existing beyond socio-economic and political divisions. In disguising this assertion, that racial issues are a thing of the past, as a way of unifying the nation the Obama campaign made it clear that solving America's race problem would not be the focus of the Obama Years. It is almost as if issues of race may be becoming a taboo subject, just like issues of class. However, between the two it is clear that the elites prefer to pay lip-service to fighting racism, while keeping their foot on the neck of "Black America".

America is a patriarchal society founded on slavery and violence. The suffering of the black woman and man has been tremendous over the last four centuries, let alone the suffering of Native Americans, the white working class and women. Countless Africans died in slavery, at the hands of the slave-masters who settled in America. But the abolition of slavery was just one battle won. Over the decades after abolition, the rights that people had died to see applied to black people were applied to property, as corporate lawyers sought to endow corporations with the rights of human beings. The KKK and Jim Crow Laws that brutalised African-Americans for decades. Segregation became a distinct part of society in America throughout the early 20th Century, it was only in the 1960s and 70s that desegregation finally took place. But that was down to the Black Civil Rights Movement, the struggle of young black women and men - many of whom died for basic human rights. It took the American political class nearly 20 years to dedicate a day to Martin Luther King Jr. and the ideals he fought for.

For instance, Ronald Reagan opposed the proposal of a Martin Luther King Day when it was first proposed in the 1970s and opposed it until Congress caved to a petition of 6 million signatures in the early 80s.
He had also voted against the Civil Rights act in the 1960s, as did many other politicians. In 1988, the Reagan administration added Nelson Mandela to a list of "terrorists" kept by the government - a list which does not include the KKK, who have murdered thousands of blacks, Jews and any whites who got in the way. Mandela was removed from the list in 2008 by the Bush administration. Crimes such as the Jackson state shootings, in which 2 black students were left dead along with 12 injured by state police, and the Orangeburg massacre, in which 4 black students were killed and 31 injured by police officers, are still relatively ignored in political discourse. Not only is it naive to assert that America is now a post-racial society, on the basis that there is a black family in the White House, it is insulting to assert such a monumental falsehood. It is true that the election of Obama is a sign of progress, from the horrors of lynchings and segregation, but it is only one battle won in the ongoing fight for equality and liberty.

"When an individual is protesting society's refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him." - Bayard Rustin

It was nearly 50 years ago, that Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his most well known speech, at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, calling for equal rights to transcend the so-called boundaries of "race". The poignant line "I have a dream..." was used recurrently throughout the speech by King, and in doing so he emphasised the idealism of the demonstration. The dream he spoke of, was a vision of equality in America, the dream came embossed with heavy religious overtones and patriotic rhetoric. The words spoken by Martin Luther King Jr. that day have echoed through the decades since and are still remembered today. King's words are remembered as the definitive moment and expression of the ideals which the Black Civil Rights Movement fought for in those days.

Many have forgotten, or not even heard, of Bayard Rustin who helped organise the march with A Phillip Randolph. Partly because many other figures involved in the Civil Rights Movement, namely Roy Wilkins, did not want Rustin to receive any praise for his role in the march - because of his open homosexuality and his socialist beliefs. During the 1950s, the decade of anti-communist crusades, Martin Luther King Jr. and other African-American figures were attacked for their association with the perceived "anti-American" left-wing elements such as unionists, Marxists, socialists and anarchists. One function of the patriotic and religious language utilised by King in his speeches, was to distance himself from socialists like Bayard Rustin. This is even true of King's speech at the Washington March for Jobs and Freedom.

There are people who would rather remember the Civil Rights Movement as exemplified entirely by King's tearful eyes, grace and eloquence in the face of brutality by white supremacists and reactionaries. But not as a struggle fought by young men and women against a power structure. A power structure based on violence and tyranny, sanctioned and sponsored by the government and "Corporate America". This power structure could be described simply as rich, white and male - though, one could add heterosexual and Christian to that description. For the most part, this structure has remained entact and continues to function, despite the best efforts of radical activists representing ethnic minorities, women, homosexuals and the poor alike.

We are taught to remember King's brave fight against segregation, racism and oppression - which should not be ignored. But we are not taught to remember King for his pacifist opposition to the Vietnam War or his socialist leanings. Many aren't even aware of King's friendship with Bayard Rustin, who served as his adviser and introduced him to Gandhi's ideas of nonviolent resistance. At the time of his death, Martin Luther King Jr. was involved in a campaign, which was much broader than the African-American Civil Rights Movement and had goals of equal importance, and was aiming to construct a movement for poor people. At the time class issues were taboo in political discourse, and still is in many ways, as was race. But it seems as though there has been a return to the days when both were topics to avoid in order to succeed.

Many American journalists and pundits attempted to portray Jeremiah Wright as a racist and attempted to portray his sermons as separatist in nature, as a threat to the unity of the nation. This is reflective of the preference for Martin Luther King Jr. over Malcolm X that is common in predominantly white societies. King is remembered for his unconditional love and compassion, as informed by his religious conviction. Malcolm X is remembered more as an aggressive figure, even as a racist figure. Martin Luther King Jr. is commonly associated with peace, whereas Malcolm X is commonly associated with violence. King is associated with integration, Malcolm X is associated with the Nation of Islam and by extension separatism. Wright's aggressive tone and style of delivery is what has led to him being likened more to Malcolm X than to Martin Luther King.

The truth is that Malcolm X is a lot scarier to whites than Martin Luther King Jr. This is because of the aggressive style in which Malcolm X conveyed ideas of self-determination, independence and autonomy for African-Americans. On the other hand, King spoke with the style of a Baptist preacher and spoke with love about peace and unity. Malcolm X would not accept the surname "Little", which was probably passed onto his ancestors by a slave-master with the surname "Little", and instead chooses "X" as symbolic of the African name he will never know. The name Malcolm X is in itself is a distinct reminder of the nameless condition experienced by black people since the days of slavery. Unlike Martin X, Martin Luther King Jr. kept the name he had been given at birth - the name of Protestant theologian Martin Luther.

Despite what "White America" may want, think or feel, the words of both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X had to be said and need to be heard. The uncompromising and "harsh" rhetoric of Malcolm X, and the Nation of Islam, had to be said because a firm condemnation of white supremacy had to be made. The horrific and immoral nature of the crimes committed by white men had to be addressed. The "Love thy Enemy" approach taken by King would not suffice in condemnation of such crimes.
Only Malcolm X had the bravery to indict "White America" for its criminal conduct in the "harshest" of terms, almost as a way of reciprocating the anger and mistreatment white men often "dished out" so eagerly.

"To be afraid is to behave as if the truth were not true." - Bayard Rustin


During the campaign months, Obama was able to capitalise on black solidarity as he made an effort to reassure the business class of his credibility and neutralise the anxieties prevalent among white voters. To "Corporate America" he proved his credibility by accepting hundreds of millions of dollars in backing, which will no doubt shape policy during his tenure. In accepting such corporate support, Obama confirmed his dedication to the same long-term plans and goals as the Republicans - to maintain the status quo. To "White America" he distanced himself from the rhetoric of Jeremiah Wright, and by extension the black liberation theology which was developed during the Civil Rights Movement. It could be argued that this was a necessary move to win the election. Nevertheless, it is a shame that the struggle for racial equality is now considered too radical for mainstream American politics. Though, if we're honest with ourselves, it always was.

History appears to have repeated itself, as Marx once said "first as tragedy, then as farce." The way in which the faces of the Black Civil Rights Movement distanced themselves from the gay leftist Bayard Rustin in 1963 was tragic, because it mimicked the kind of discrimination exercised by whites against blacks. But the way in which Obama, and the Democrats, distanced themselves from the black radical Jeremiah Wright seems farcical by comparison. In fact, some of the defenders of Jeremiah Wright have claimed that his words did not differ so greatly from the words spoken by Martin Luther King Jr. But as Dr Cornel West pointed out, the big difference between Wright and King is that the latter delivered his message with love and compassion for the victims of oppression - but also for the oppressor who will inevitably reap what they sow. Rustin embodied that which was considered "un-American" in the backward days before desegregation. But today it is Wright, a preacher of liberation theology, who is considered "anti-American" in this supposedly post-racial age.

The facts are that race still matters in America, and in the West in general, despite the many years of struggle and the progress made. This was demonstrated perfectly by Hurricane Katrina and it's aftermath - thousands have yet to return to their homes. But it should not be surprising in this day and age that rich white men do not care, or even think about, the needs of poor black people. Just as the rich do not care about the needs of any minority, woman or working-class individual.
In the words of Howard Zinn: "I wish President Obama would listen carefully to Martin Luther King. I'm sure he pays verbal homage, as everyone does, to Martin Luther King. But he ought to think before he sends missiles over Pakistan, before he agrees to this bloated military budget, before he sends troops to Afghanistan, before he opposes the single-payer system. He ought to ask what would Martin Luther King do? and what Martin Luther King would say?"

From Protest to Politics - by Bayard Rustin (1965)