White supremacy isn’t a meth addled, overweight white male in a biker vest. Nor it looks like a pale virgin lashing out in 4chan about cucks and immigrants. White supremacy isn’t the electoral promise of a giant wall between the United States and Mexico. White supremacy isn’t a swastika tattoo.
White supremacy is a clean room full of light and handshakes. He is a smiling man with caramel skin and a fitted suit that sells hope and dreams while overseeing immigrant deportations. She is a liberal woman in suit-pants that enslaves people of color in prisons. White supremacy is the bank’s multicultural board of directors that denies a black person that loan to get that mortgage. White supremacy is a handsome white man with an indigenous tattoo that poisons the water supply of first nation communities with oil pipelines. White supremacy is that asian cop that murders an unarmed, black man.
White supremacy appears beautiful, rational, and acceptable. White supremacy is polite.
As the left retreats into the realm of the semiotic, into dissecting the discourse of some professor or television show, into ruining someone’s life because they made an off colored remark in twitter or in an academic paper, the leaders of the modern world, who oversee the wars, prisons, and real estate markets – in short the people that direct the material forces that pauperize and destroy people of color, are becoming more anti-racist, more feminist, and more queer. They are being taught by expensive bachelor degrees on how to look a little bit black, a little bit queer, on how to be loved by leftist professors and liberal think-pieces. The KKK, the right-wing redneck and neo-nazi skinehead are vastly inferior versions of what is about to come.
Even the marxist left suffers from the problem of semioticism. Some of this goes under the modern phenomenon of “Antifa”. In the decades leading up to the triumph of fascism, anarchists, socialists and communists, faced off the fascists in the streets and the barricades. The lesson they learnt is that the fascists should be opposed militantly, so that they never become strong and confident enough to take power ever again. However, the radical left by doing so, forgets about the people in power right now. They think white supremacy only looks like a nazi, an alt-right shithead or a Trump supporter. However, radical theory is about uncovering what is not obvious at first glance. In Canada, the man that oversees the continuing dispossession of First Nations is not Richard Spencer or Milo Yiannopoulos, but someone who wants to legalize marijuana and whose dad took selfies with Fidel Castro.
The problem with leftist obsession with semiotics is that ultimately, the oppressed of the world will not live up those standards. If we eavesdrop conversations between mexican workers in a cantina, or read the facebook feed of a syrian refugee, the discourse will never be as woke as the one of an overeducated, white person. If anti-racism and anti-sexism are merely about discourse, about saying the right things and not making those off-colored remarks, in short, about being polite, then the only anti-racists that will exist are those that have paid handsomely for the education that teaches them how to talk the talk – anti-racism will be the realm of politicians, professionals, and academics. However, marxists know that discourse is merely the superstructural expression of material forces – forces that take the form of capital, the police, and the nation-state.
I want to end this blog post with a quote from Martin Glaberman, which I think captures the essence of what I am trying to say:
“If white workers realize they can’t organize steel unless they organize black workers, that doesn’t mean they’re not racist. It means that they have to deal with their own reality, and that transforms them. Who were the workers who made the Russian Revolution? Sexists, nationalists, half of them illiterate. Who were the workers in Polish Solidarity? Anti-Semitic, whatever. That kind of struggle begins to transform people.”