Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Why racism is not an issue of "predatory" capitalism

This is a review of "Why racism is an issue of predatory capitalism" by Sam McKenzie Jnr. At no point in his article does Mr. McKenzie define capitalism, so he's not a serious thinker. Nevertheless he deserves a reply, because he wasted my time and must be punished.

 "Capitalism and racism are two systems in the soiled fabric of America’s flag that many agree will never lower or end."

Starting with a mixed metaphor isn't great but perhaps he was on a deadline.

"Until now, I don’t have many words on record about capitalism and how changing capitalism is key to ending racism."

Well you could start by showing that societies that ended capitalism became less racist, or at least didn't get more racist.  Since racism predated capitalism as most historians understand it it would be hard to argue that capitalism caused racism , but again he doesn't define capitalism.  Maybe what he calls capitalism actually predates racism.  Racist stereotypes by the way date back to at least ancient Athens.  

" In addition, the Black middle and upper classes don’t stand on solid ground because racism makes them more likely to fall into lower classes."

Actually we can't say that.  If there is significant racism that's a barrier to black people getting into the middle and upper classes, meaning that those that do achieve it are more capable.  Therefore it might be the case that black middle and upper class people are LESS likely to fall into the lower classes than white people people.  This is really his second claim and his second claim without evidence.

"But for those who fall, capitalism is an accomplice, an accomplice that demands the widest class divisions."

And here we go from unconfirmed claims to outright wrong ones.  The class divisions of capitalism are nowhere near as big as those of North Korea, medieval Europe, Dahomey under the warrior queens or almost any other society.  Capitalism is the greatest negater of class in existence.  There are no capitalist lords who can execute peasants, no capitalist bishops who can be tried only in ecclesiastical courts. When leftists talk about privilege they prove how little privilege there is.  I mean REAL privilege is being able to carry a weapon when no-one else is, or demand trial by combat.   It's not having people not assume you're stealing stuff in a shop. 

"In her book, bell hooks also writes, 'capitalism creates an environment of domination.' "

Before capitalism was there an "environment of domination"?  Hell yes, so clearly capitalism didn't create it.  Did it sustain it then?  Well it depends on what you call "capitalism" and again, because Mr. McKenzie is a professional agitprop producer he didn't.  What we do know about the actual progress of what most people call capitalism is that it eroded domination.  It ended slavery and serfdom in country after country. 

What caused most of the domination during the time when "capitalism" could be said to exist?  Well there's colonialism, which was a massive money loser and therefore not what most people call capitalist.  It was also exclusively empowered by government, not private business, although private business did of course take advantage of opportunities, abusive or otherwise.  There's also war, which again, is a loss-making government endeavor.  So again not "capitalist" as most people understand it.


"Capitalism and racism have an unending collaboration.

This alliance is visible in environmental racism, wage gaps, food sources, housing prices, lending practices, the drug trade, healthcare, the criminal justice system, student loan debt, and even stereotypes."


We will see below that he doesn't show this alliance is visible in any of these.  In fact he doesn't even show that "environmental racism" exists, let alone that capitalism increases it.


"We’ve seen businesses hide under capitalism as an excuse for dumping toxins in Black neighborhoods. It’s far too easy for business executives to say, 'we’re not racists, we’re capitalists.' But for the people on the receiving end of that toxic line, that’s a distinction without a difference."

Ok, firstly when have we seen this?  And what would be the point?  Dumping toxins in neighbourhoods gets you in trouble regardless of the race of the residents.  Even if capitalists did say this why would it not be true?  Do you imagine that someone who dumps dioxin in a black neighbourhood wouldn't do it in a white one?  Why?  


"Many health disparities swell in Black communities from the noxious combination of capitalism and racism that leaves people parched in food deserts with no stocked, affordable, and quality grocery stores."

So are you saying that there are no such stores because people don't want to sell to black people, or because black people don't make such businesses profitable?  Because if capitalism is stopping people selling "quality groceries" in black neighbourhoods where rent is cheaper then racism doesn't come into it.  Capitalists wouldn't open, or keep open, a loss-making store in a white area either.  If changing the race doesn't change the outcome, there is no racism. 


If on the other hand he's saying that "stocked, affordable and quality grocery stores" would make a profit that's worse.  He's saying that there are literally thousands of opportunities for profit and every single one of millions of potential capitalists are so racist they ignore it.  Bear in mind thousands of them are black. 


"For those who wish to grow old in their homes, it’s capitalism that prices out long-time residents."

No it's other people who want to live in those homes.  Why is the desire of one person to live somewhere more important than another person's desire to live there?  He seems to think that staying in a house you neither built nor paid for is somehow a right.  He doesn't justify this implication, or even make it clear, because he's a propagandist not an intellectual.


"That same capitalism allows preying banks to lend without end..."

Again, what does he mean by capitalism?  He seems to be condemning credit expansion here, but that's something government interference in the market creates, not the market itself.  Is he saying the current central bank model is capitalism and no other system is?  Because if you can get rid of the central banks the banks can't "lend without end" and therefore capitalism without central banks doesn't have this problem.  Or is he saying that there are multiple capitalisms and the one we have now allows these practices? 


" and use the most biting and bloodsucking practices."

Such as?  And where is his evidence that it's capitalism, rather than the State that allows these practices?  In a capitalistic system without massive state interference in banking might these practices end?  Might free market competition and a lack of government guarantees persuade bankers to abandon practices that alienate their customers?    Talking about what he refuses to cover takes up more space than what he does cover.


"If we want to talk about the drug trade, capitalism and racism push drug dealers to push drugs."

No drug buyers do that.  Nobody sells drugs because they don't like black people.  They sell them because that allows them to consume more goods and services.  Unless you propose a system where satisfying consumer demand doesn't benefit you that's going to be a constant.  Imagine what that system would be like, if what you produced had nothing to do with what someone wanted.  Still want to abolish capitalism.


"For a pharmaceutical industry, that’s callous with a stupidity and a cupidity for cash, we can blame capitalism for the lack of regulation and access."

There are literally billions of dollars of regulatory hurdles in the drug business.  Satisfying regulations takes YEARS.  If this is what he calls "lack of regulation" what would he be satisfied with?  And how is it capitalism's fault that drugs are hard to access after government adds years hundreds of millions of dollars to the cost of bringing them to market?  This man seems to know literally nothing about the subjects he talks about.


"but healthcare and gaping wage gaps aren’t the concerns for a frighteningly frigid and rigid system of capitalism conjoined with racism."

You have shown literally no evidence for racism in the health care industry.  As for the frigidity and rigidity of the system where is the evidence that's due to capitalism and not the massive interference in the workings of capitalism in the healthcare industry?  Healthcare if probably the second most regulated economic sector in the USA, after banking.


"With criminal justice, capitalism and the criminal justice system are an illicit pair that reproduce unequal brutalization. It’s capitalism that heavily arms police forces as their suppliers get richer. "

No police forces are not capitalist institutions and without capitalism the police would still be armed.  Or do you imagine that police are only given guns so politicians can place gun orders?  Because that's paranoid as hell and provably wrong.

"The prison system has a quenchless demand for more prisoners to fill their ready-made roles because of capitalism."

But the prison system is mostly not capitalist and wasn't capitalist at all for the first century or so of it's existence.  In fact many prisoners are there for being capitalists. 

"But also, it’s class and capitalism that make it easier to avoid jail or get out of jail for the right type and price."

Again, the court system isn't capitalist.  Even the legal system isn't very free market as there are strong government controls to restrict the trade.  Without restrictions on capitalism legal defense against criminal charges would be much cheaper, probably within the means of the poor.  But even that isn't the real problem.  Again the court system is not a capitalist system.  It doesn't have customers and therefore is not constrained to bring cases only against those who people want brought before it.  People who have not aggressed against anyone and owe nobody compensation can be brought in and subject to it's judgement, regardless of whether anyone thinks it's worth spending the money to have this happen.  


"When I think about our schools, I see how capitalism and racism lead and lace them at every level. "

Then you're delusional because the education system in the USA is almost pure socialism.  Tens of thousands of dollars of a product is given away for free, mostly to people who wouldn't buy it for half it's cost and in many cases to people who don't want it at all. 

"Then for Black college graduates, saddled in a rat race with student loan debt much heftier than white students, "

No explanation is given of why that is or if this is after controlling for course selection.  Do black students take more expensive courses?  I don't know, so I can't say if this claim is even meaningful. 

"And as industries either saturate or abandon captive communities, predatory capitalism can engineer stereotypes with its systematic and selective exploitation and exclusion."

None of this means anything.  He doesn't define what "saturating" a community would mean, nor how that community is "captive".  He doesn't say what "engineering" a stereotype would look like.  He doesn't show that "exploitation" has a meaning, let alone a negative one.

"My justice requires restitution for this mess. "

It's either justice or it's not, there's no such thing as "my justice". 

"To see progress and to end racism, we must finger capitalism too.

And with all the ways predatory capitalism attacks us by race, we need many hands striving to change capitalism.

Capitalism and racism are symbiotic, and capitalism finances the system of racism.

Malcolm X rightly told white America they 'can’t have capitalism without racism.'  ”

There is literally no evidence for these claims in the article. 

"It’s clear white America wants capitalism and racism. "

White people have been voting against both for decades.