This article is part of a series of social science inquiries attempting to prove that socio-economic operating systems would provide more Certainty, Fairness, Inclusivity, and Sustainability if they were designed to empower people rather than control them.
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By Robert Simmons
“If you don’t look at it, you can’t change it. You’ve got to look at it.” —James Baldwin
It is the intention of this article to introduce a Democratic Version of Justice that can replace the existing model, which we will refer to as Capitalism’s Version of Justice. This necessarily moves the article’s intent away from the realm of theoretical conjecture —where everyone could comfortably dismiss it — toward one of political action —which sounds like an oxymoron these days, except that politics has never actually been designed to facilitate change, only to maintain Control. What some may see as ‘change’ is only incremental concessions made by those in Control —during times of civil unrest—that silently get walked back during periods of calm.
To postulate any new theory of Justice would take extensive interdisciplinary knowledge in the social sciences, and for this reason we urge the social science community to unite around positing its own Unified Theory of Justice, open to peer review, and assume its rightful place at the forefront of this debate. To bury expert opinion inside academic books and journals is evidence of the inconsequential nature of its main subject – people – and their relative immateriality within Capitalism’s Version of Democracy, in comparison to other ‘assets’ like financial capital, property or natural resources. Capitalism’s assembly-line version of Education is designed for each of us to do the part for which we have been trained, in order to fit some assembly-line version of economics, bankrolled by those with enough ‘capital’ to force individual cooperation toward some profit-driven agenda. If the social science community were to unite themselves in willing cooperation around a people-driven agenda, and ‘engineer’ us a more healthy socio-economic ‘environment’ in which to navigate, they would first need to believe in a moral universe, that arcs toward the profitability of ‘goods’ not sold in a Capitalist marketplace. When seeking to empower the rest of us in this manner, the social science community would, in fact, be modeling the very ‘environment’ this article wishes to introduce: the unadulterated version of Democracy.
“The fundamental concept in social science is Power, in the same sense in which Energy is the fundamental concept in physics.” — Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970, British philosopher
As a species, we the people are currently divided in two, along a line that apparently is hiding in plain sight, as we often trample back and forth over it in this tug-of-war we mistakenly assume is Democracy. On one side is reality, on the other, our perception of it. Before making any directional decisions, it is best to peel away perception, and observe, as best as our current human awareness allows, the underlying reality.
The Universe was created by a surge of Power —not Control—that emanated from a single source in space and time, and utilizing both, expanded outward, as it still continues to do, empowering life to exist, of which we are living proof. So far there appears to be no apparent measure of Control being exerted upon this phenomenon. The exertion of Control is distinct to living organisms, as they attempt to contain and harness available Power toward some individual or collective purpose —usually involving their continued survival. Thus, in the hierarchy of existence, Control enters into various symbiotic relationships with Power in order to survive.
The more parasitic this symbiotic relationship is, the more Control presents as the antithesis of Power. Power emanating from the Sun, for example, is reliably Certain, and seemingly Inclusive, Fair, Equal and Just, by virtue of empowering all that it reaches. Uncertainty, Isolation, Unfairness, Inequality, Injustice—these are all ‘Control Issues’ of the parasitic, predatory, or competitive variety. People joke that Death is the only Certainty, yet we subconsciously fear it for its perceived Uncertainty, and proceed to shroud it over with various layers of temporary Control, which our subconscious perceives as a comforting ‘feeling’ of ‘Certainty’, however tenuous it may be.
For some of us, the ‘feeling’ of Uncertainty is so overwhelming, we would readily submit to it without the false hope of this temporary Certainty, which those who crave Control are always most eager to provide. This narcissistic kind of Control also stems from Uncertainty apparently so traumatizing that perceived survival required subconscious repression of it, whereupon it outwardly manifested as the form of obsessive-compulsive (even sociopathic) Control we now recognize as Oppression. Oppression starts as Fear so strong it must contain or Control everything around it in order to achieve an unattainable form of Certainty. Humans have long ago labeled, for consumption purposes, everything else on the planet as either an IT or a THEM, but when Control becomes so hungry as to cannibalize the Power of its own kind, a line had to eventually be drawn. That line is what we now define as each person’s Liberty.
Realize, even a rat in a maze believes it has Liberty, as long as it perceives a path forward, or ‘a way out’.
It has fallen to those who create our current human-controlled environment to eliminate enough Uncertainty to ensure each of us rats always has a perceived ‘way out’. When this does not occur, people will feel oppressed, and the word ‘Injustice’ will invariably enter into the conversation.
The geology of human awareness is the application of time and pressure on the immense block of Ignorance we must clear away in order to reach full consciousness. Thankfully, as Ignorance slowly erodes, and Power builds within us, we are able to reflect more and more deeply on these issues— to not only make more sense of them, but hopefully to utilize the Power derived from this knowledge to fashion a more user-friendly environment, where Power eventually replaces Control.
“Justice is not only about the right way to distribute things. It is also about the right way to value things.” ― Michael J. Sandel
Justice is a word in desperate need of a context —its meaning varies extensively, depending on the ‘environment’ in which we apply it. Is it retributive or distributive? Is the goal to cause an injury (punitive) or to repair one (restorative)? Once context — or ‘environment’ —is established, those in search of Justice may be further daunted by the plethora of other related terms like Liberty, Truth, Freedom, Happiness, and Equality that are intrinsically tied to Justice. Each one is important when attempting to establish a Democratic environment, so we will do the Democratic thing and tie all the fates of these egalitarian concepts together, in order to construct our new model.
The first question to ask ourselves is whether there might be a better version of Justice than the one Capitalism’s model of Democracy is trying to sell us. If there is, it is important to understand that we will not find it through attempting to ‘fix’ the current model, because it is un-fixable. It is not fixable because it is, in fact, not broken; it functions exactly how it has been designed to function.
At the point in human history we refer to as our ‘Enlightenment’, terms like Liberty, Justice and Equality became buzzwords for a movement basically touting Fairness as a human right. Enlightened by this concept, some of us sailed over to America, eliminated the Native Americans living there, pushed out the Mexicans, and brought in Africans we had stolen, in order to help us build a nation ‘forged’ in Subjugation, Injustice, and Inequality. Democracy was the name given to this social experiment, but in reality, Democracy never occurred. Instead, the historically ‘human’ cycle of hierarchal oppression was perpetuated. War and Law – both tools of Control – ‘legally’ eliminated the physical subjugation four score and 9 years later, but Control simply attached itself to a new host —an institution where money would determine the hierarchal value of human life.
In Capitalism, success is measured by how much one can Control (or has ‘control of’), which unfortunately, is also how Oppression works. Most humans seek to Control the space around them in order to calm feelings of un-Certainty. Others of us have more compulsive drives to Control, however. When humans cannot suppress the urge to Control more and more of the space around them, Oppression is the inevitable result; relentless pursuit of Control will either be thwarted by a stronger force, or else achieve a monopoly.
Capitalism is designed to reward compulsive Control, and consequently force a measure of ‘un-Certainty’ on the rest of us; it then harnesses this collective anxiety to focus us —as a labor force, into achieving the maximum MORE it can extract. This represents one part of the problem.
The systemic design flaw of Capitalism naturally follows from the structural design of humans —namely, that there is a hole drilled straight through the middle of each one of us. Our very existence demands we consume more and more, knowing that we will never be able to satisfactorily fill this hole. Logically, those who are nurtured to feel safe and secure will likely not panic about getting their ‘fair share’; no unnecessary fight / flight alarms would sound. Those who never feel safe, however, would have an over-exaggerated anxiety-driven need to consume whatever would ease the suffering of Un-Certainty, Un-Fairness, Isolation, or Injustice. When feeling ‘cornered’, some see legal or illegal addictions as the only avenue of escape. In this way, Control creates a bell curve where those at one extreme ‘fight’ the feeling of Un-Certainty (and impose Control), consequently compelling more anxious types to ‘flee’ from it (through addiction).
‘Consumerism’ is the name given to legalized addiction that —coupled with our competitive drive to Control— is on an obsessive mission to thoroughly devour the planet. Consumerism involves constantly stimulating our innate drives to feed, fight, flee, and fornicate, and similar to how a fish is lured by a worm conveniently dangling on the end of a hook, we take a bite, and unwittingly relinquish all of our Power (currently measured in money and labor). We incorrectly reason that momentary possession of a handful of cash somehow affords us Liberty, when in reality, it is the source of our complete subordination. We are in a manipulative race to facilitate the speedy consumption of the planet, by converting every square inch of planetary resources into cash; imagine the inflation rate when the only thing left is the cash.
Meanwhile, the notion that somehow Oppression isn’t as bad if we spread it out among a million smaller dictators does not comfort those who, either way, still must form the base of this financial pyramid scheme.
In Capitalism’s Justice pyramid, Injustice (like Poverty) forms the large base, and Justice (like wealth) is only available at the top, to those who can afford it. Those with the least wealth would naturally receive the least amount of Justice. Capitalism’s version of Truth has also been privatized in this manner. Now, wherever Truth is sold – politics, justice, the media – the price gets bid up so high that those without the cash understandably will have no platform for their Truth to be heard.
In an environment of Control, Liberty becomes our ‘God-given right’ to exert ‘socio-economic’ Control up to the point where enough Unfairness results to cause civil unrest. The amount of civil unrest generated by the Unfairness determines whether those in Control deem it worthy of action. ‘Action’ takes the form of either a ‘rule of law’ or a tax being imposed (allocation of funds), meant to acknowledge that ‘Injustice’ has indeed occurred.
It is important to realize that in Capitalism’s Version of Justice, the imposition of laws and taxes do little more than form a list of all acknowledged Injustices, without offering any systemic solution to stop them from happening. Laws and Taxes are merely a compensatory “out of court” settlement, while the system remains unchanged, and the ‘negative externalities’ (or side effects of some as-yet-undetermined root cause) continue to repeat. Perplexingly, laws somehow provide Certainty to citizens, who implicitly trust them without question. They might confidently step out in the street, for instance, directly in front of a moving car, apparently comforted by the Certainty that if the car hits them, the law would be on their side, and ‘Justice would prevail.’
From a ‘Democratic’ point of view, the number of laws and taxes we must impose on the Liberty of our citizens accurately identifies the number of flaws in the design —or ‘operating system’—of Capitalism’s Version of Democracy, and not in the people who use the product. In Capitalism, allegedly, ‘the customer is always right’, and if this maxim is true—as it most assuredly is from a ‘Democratic’ point of view—the job of Capitalism would be to fit its operating system ‘product’ to the customer, and not the reverse.
Democracy has a much easier way to allocate Control: limit each person to only being able to exert Control over themselves. This embodies Democracy’s Version of Liberty: to seek our innate drive for MORE and MORE from within ourselves first —aka ‘self-control’, self-actualization, or self-mastery—versus seeking covetous Control of what lies around us, which is quite appropriately diagnosed as having no ‘Self-Control’. For the sake of clarity going forward, we will refer to this inner form of Control as ‘Power’, to distinguish it from outward-facing Control. As one exhibits more and more command over themselves, their Power would grow, and will likely cause others to gravitate toward them. How much a person can ‘empower’ others would more accurately define how much Power someone actually possesses. Ideally, Power would slowly replace the desire to seek the MORE from outside ourselves, but unfortunately, our current system encourages the opposite.
As long as outward-facing Control is still allowed oxygen to breathe, people will continue their ‘love-hate’ relationship with Liberty. We will ‘love’ to Control the things around us, while we simultaneously ‘hate’ to be controlled by the things around us. If both definitions of Liberty are allowed to exist–as they do in Capitalism’s version of Democracy–Fairness is doomed to always skate somewhere between the two. In our current ‘environment’, Fairness is not even something anyone is looking for; if we do not constantly try to get more than we ‘deserve’, we will invariably end up getting less. If any one of us was to stumble or ‘let go of the rope’ in this tug-of-war we have mistaken for Liberty, they would automatically forfeit all their ‘Fairness’ to someone else.
Within Capitalism’s version of Justice, full private prisons would be the ultimate goal; to collect people who have no positive financial value as either a consumer or a laborer, and cleverly turn them into an ‘asset’, by forcing taxpayers to pay private companies for prisoner room and board. A stable rent-payer is a valuable commodity; in order to secure economic growth, the invisible hand of the market will reach into whatever pockets have the cold hard cash. Once money became free speech, the private sector was allowed even better access to the deep pockets of American Government. Public ‘vouchers’ for private education, a publicly-funded private military industrial complex, publicly subsidized private health care, agriculture, and energy; there is also talk of publicly-funded private transit and postal services, not to mention bailouts for any private ‘institutions’ too big to fail–a welfare state of, by, and for the ‘capitalist’.
To be fair, regardless of what socio-economic system we employ, people will never get as fired up about Fairness as they do about Unfairness. Fairness is a concept only our forebrain could understand, if it ever bothered to proactively deliberate upon it, while the sting of Unfairness is a reaction that automatically resonates within our hindbrain at the first sign of Injustice. The deep-seated emotions signaling Unfairness are tied to survival, as well as status within the ‘group’. When one believes they are ‘following the rules’, yet somehow receives punishment instead of reward, feelings of isolation, betrayal, or even shame can resonate, as lower hierarchal importance—or ‘status’ relative to others in the ‘group’—is implied.
Proactively heading toward Justice is not the same as reactively recoiling from Injustice; this is why human progress has been slow in all matters concerning Fairness; the fact that we have inched even a little toward Fairness over the years is, in many cases, sheer dumb luck. Most alleged attempts at ‘change’ are often just reactionary efforts to thwart it; once our ‘unfairness buttons’ have been pushed, hindbrains will unwittingly act upon whatever meaningless agenda has been put forth, which only serves to distract our forebrain from reflecting more deeply on the problem.
Our forebrain is a fairly recent attachment onto what is otherwise a much older and more rudimentary steering mechanism. At the current stage of human development, our hindbrain still retains powerful drives to feed, fight, flee, and fornicate, which are all necessary survival mechanisms for non-sentient life forms navigating in a world devoid of any perceived Fairness. In accordance with ancient hindbrain protocol, the ‘biggest’ would naturally feed first, and eat until satiated, forcing the smaller types to submit in various ways, in order to ensure continued survival. As human forebrains developed, and became capable of reflecting upon their condition, they likely equated ‘Liberty’ with whatever they witnessed the ‘biggest’ getting, which, consequently, they were NOT getting.
As Paulo Freire observed, “the oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to become oppressors.” (Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed) This opens up another misunderstood facet of human behavior: that humans are essentially wireless communication devices all networked together; we are innately designed to transmit whatever we receive, using the universal language of emotion. Until recently, our ‘range of transmission’ has been limited to the area directly around us; even now, longer-distance communication is far less effective (mostly because emotion is more palpable to us than information, and emotion is best transmitted ‘up close and personal’). This networking ability derives from our most primordial ‘roots’ (we will discuss this theory more later).
Per this innate drive to ‘network’ —transmit what we receive—the potent feelings associated with Unfairness cannot be suppressed—by necessity, it must resurface and be communicated in some way. For the whites who were able to flee religious and financial oppression and arrive in America, the Unfairness they felt got re-communicated through a version of ‘Justice’ enacted on basically everyone else. Meanwhile, those on the receiving end of this ‘American Justice’ were systemically isolated (segregated), and thus forced to either let this Unfairness fester within them, or else release (‘communicate’) it among themselves. As we will see in the next section, this has led to many poor health outcomes (internalizing the Unfairness), and life choices (externalizing the Unfairness) for those groups most affected.
“The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” — Mahatma Gandhi
In Capitalism’s Version of Democracy, it has never been ‘Liberty and Justice for all’. Whatever Justice is or is not, the fact that it is being applied within the context of a Democratic State logically presumes that all citizens would receive some equivalent measure of it. The same would apply to Liberty, and although Truth is malleable in Capitalism’s Version of Democracy, at least some Truths must be self-evident in order to satisfy the Democratic side of this arrangement. Once Truth is narrowed down to its ‘universal’ or self-evident core, only our most tangible and essential human needs would remain. If a government is incapable of securing these basic and essential human needs for all its citizens, it would, by definition, NOT qualify as a Democracy.
Similarly, in order to officially qualify as a ‘democratic society’, people must be willing to ‘share in a common life’. Once we accept this premise, it would naturally follow that any person within a given society who has a problem, this would necessarily become a societal problem, and not simply a ‘personal problem’. When societies get big, perhaps there is a tendency to ignore one person’s problem, but as our fates are all tied together—whether we accept this fact or not—society is ultimately affected by ignoring any recurring problem, no matter how small it may seem. Per this article’s proposed theory of primordial human communication, we are innately bound to transmit what we receive, whether good or bad, or else suffer internal harm attempting to suppress it.
Ask a man eating a hamburger how he feels about cows, and he will likely tell you he has never actually met one, when in fact, he probably meets up with at least part of a cow every day. Although we have not mentally developed enough yet to comprehend how some distant cow feels about his ‘condition’, we only need to think of our own feelings to be able to understand the feelings of other people. This is called empathy, and it is not that much of a stretch. In Capitalism’s Version of Democracy, unfortunately, the only purpose of cows (or any ‘others’ we arbitrarily place in positions of lower hierarchal status) is to ‘appropriate’ the parts of them that best serve our ‘consumer’ needs.
“It is factually wrong to say that all racial minorities went through the peculiar institution [slavery] and Jim Crow together. It is even worse to claim, as some pundits have, that all Americans, including whites, “overcame slavery together.” – Professor Roy Brooks
In Capitalism’s Version of Democracy, the list of victims assaulted by ‘American Injustice’ is mind-numbingly long (some could conceivably argue it includes every single one of us). Although we often misinterpret what it is telling us —or outright refuse to listen to it—Injustice communicates itself quite clearly through discernible negative externalities. To better recognize the symptoms of Injustice, and to fashion a cure, one only needs to recite the main tenet of Democracy: that all people are created equal. If one of us seems bent on behavior destructive to self or society, Democracy would inform us that some force must have bent them this way—they were not bent this way at birth.
The following section is meant to capture the symptoms of Injustice through the lens of both the oppressed and the oppressor. We will only focus on the damage done within the black community, where Injustice has been so extreme that every imaginable symptom is visibly communicated. Racial injustice (relational inequality), distributive injustice (wealth inequality), environmental injustice (spatial inequality) and ‘retributive’ (aka criminal) injustice (sentencing inequality) have each left measurable scars on the black population, not to mention clear disparities in health care, education, household income, employment opportunities, housing, healthy food choices, and clean water.
In order to more succinctly capture the range of voices weighing in on this Injustice, we will utilize a single voice, Professor Roy Brooks, whose compendium of post-civil rights theory, Racial Justice in the Age of Obama, has conveniently catalogued all relevant views, and created a continuum that more or less converges around four distinct points of view: traditionalism, reformism, limited separation, and critical racy theory. Professor Brooks, who in his time at Yale debated civil rights theory with the likes of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Lani Guinier, and Clarence Thomas, is not only a prolific writer, distinguished legal scholar and educator, but also has himself advocated for a unified theory of racial justice. To this end, he has meticulously analyzed the problem from every possible frame of reference.
The following data only serves to reinforce what we already know: there are currently two different languages of Justice being spoken, which have forced Fairness and Truth to be dragged back and forth across some tenuous middle ground. Those being dealt Racial Injustice sit in the precarious position of whether to dismantle this house of oppression with the tools that built it —thus perpetuating the oppression, as Paulo Freire has observed—or to seek complete liberation by instead advocating for a different model of Justice, as this article recommends.
Using the promise of Democracy to get a Capitalist Version of Justice will neither be liberating nor satisfying for the black community; meanwhile, they must leverage the oppression of the rest in order to achieve it, which will further strain unity. Ultimately, it would involve yet another century of pushing and prodding to get some token ‘out of court’ settlement.
This observation is not meant to discourage action but to correctly focus it. We must dig below the surface ‘environments’ of Capitalism and Democracy we have fabricated for ourselves, in order to first understand what it is we truly seek. At our core, when people seek distributive Justice, what they really want is more Certainty. When they seek racial Justice, what they really want is to be accepted, ‘as is’ —to belong unconditionally. When people seek restorative forms of Justice, all they really want is Fairness. When people seek environmental justice, all they really want is relational equality—to be considered equally in the decision-making process, which again speaks to belongingness, or Inclusivity.
No one is going to ever fully receive distributive, racial, restorative or environmental justice in Capitalism’s Version of Democracy. In fact, disparity leveled against some designated ‘others’ is the inevitable outcome in a system managed by Control. Equally predictable is that people would have to provide (pay) for their own ‘Justice’—to shovel some money over each mess, in order to cover it up, and hide the truth of it, in order that a false sense of calm Certainty is maintained. Unfortunately, those who must step around these messes every day on the street are close enough to it to know it still stinks.
Since it is the intention of this article to eliminate all current Injustice, the following summary of racial Injustice will be valuable data for any proposed Unified Theory, which must effectively purge all of it from our current socio-economic and governmental systems, in order to be worthy of consideration.
- Race is no longer an impediment to black self-actualization
- The problem and solution are mostly internal / cultural, thus requires a “Horatio Alger-type, it-takes-an-individual black self-help program.”
Dinesh D’Souza – The End of Racism
Thomas Sowell – The Quest for Cosmic Justice, Dismantling America, Charter Schools and Their Enemies, Black Rednecks and White Liberals
Stephan / Abigail Thernstrom – No Excuses
Clarence Thomas – his Radical Vision of Race
Ward Connerly – Creating Equal
John McWhorter – Losing the Race, Woke Racism
- Integration shock: Shelby Steele’s explanation for black under-achievement in white society; “a jolt of inferiority anxiety” from the possibility of failure leads to not putting forth maximum effort, and seeking “racial isolation” within integrated settings, among other self-defeating behaviors.
- Race-Holding: again, Steele’s explanation for how blacks use the excuse of racism to stave of feelings of inadequacy; in Steele’s words, they are “projecting their own self-doubt.”
- Cult of Victimology: John McWhorter’s explanation for black failure to achieve in white society; “race-wide preoccupation with victimhood, which generally entails exaggerating it, [that] gives failure, lack of effort, and criminality a tacit stamp of approval.”
Traditionalist ideology naturally extends from conservative thinking. Government needs to be small and unobtrusive, which means that liberty and justice can only be secured through ‘legal’ means. This explains why Traditionalists say the problem of race has been solved, because legally, that box has been ‘checked off’ nine different times, first with a constitutional amendment, then with a series of civil right bills spanning a hundred years, and culminating with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was apparently when we finally ‘got it right.’
Conservatives typically rail against any form of government welfare—unless they are the ones getting it. Sixteen of the top twenty ‘welfare’ states are conservative states; conservatives also voted heavily in favor of bailing out financial institutions and subsidizing big business. Meanwhile, they are quick to claim ‘reverse discrimination’ when government offers any form of opportunity to those previously denied any hope of it.
Malcolm X summed up conservative thinking in this way: “[White Americans] don’t try to eliminate an evil because it’s evil, or because it’s illegal, or because it’s immoral; they eliminate it only when it threatens their existence.” When one is on top, it is only natural they would attempt to remain there ‘by any means necessary’, and when one is on the bottom, it is only natural they would negotiate for some measure of Fairness. In Capitalism’s Version of Democracy, no one is looking for Fairness, however, they are looking for MORE. Even those who have accumulated more wealth than 160 million of their fellow citizens combined still wake up every morning trying to figure out how they could get even MORE. Since nothing is going to curb our innate drive for MORE, the question then becomes whether to continue driving it down a path toward ever-widening disparity, or begin steering it toward some more inclusive emerging future.
Traditionalists persist in admonishing the black community for things like ‘black on black crime’ (which is nearly equivalent to ‘white on white crime’—74.5% versus 72.6%, respectively), when similarities could instead be drawn. Why do Traditionalists maintain a kind of segregationist distance, instead of seeking at least some form of relational unity? An offensive sort of defensiveness signals suppressed ‘White Guilt’ with a stubborn resolve to deny it. How is this division between us being perpetuated?
The principles of restorative justice demonstrate astute awareness of the underlying harm done to both offender and victim in any dehumanizing exchange. Personal acts of aggression or violence carry twice the trauma because they also sever the deeper connection that joins the entire species together. Humans are among the Phylum of Chordates that in essence carry their roots around with them; like a grove of trees, humans also have communal ties to one another. Though our roots are invisible, we are still ‘networked’ together and in constant communication. Every form of human interaction is a form of communication, even unpleasant interactions like violence. Humans transmit whatever is passed on to them, so if we do not attempt to graft these many severed ties, communication lines will remain down, and hindbrain Un-Certainty will assume an US versus THEM protocol that gives Oppression oxygen to breathe.
In traditional American fashion, we came, we saw, we conquered, then we left. Both southern whites and ‘freed’ blacks —separate but still unequal— were forced to cauterize their own wounds, in order to survive this ‘severing’, and now, in order to graft our nation back together, we will have to peel away years of ‘scar tissue’ —but it needs to be done. We need to heal, and reconnect everyone to Democracy’s human ‘Power grid’, in order to reach our best possible collective destiny.
Oppressive systems are not wrong: a human being is in some ways just a tool. Each of us can be sharpened then utilized toward some larger purpose, but how could anyone think that this larger purpose is some arbitrary oppressor’s private gain, and not the collective benefit of all? Imagine how exponentially more powerful we would be if fully connected and equally motivated? If we wish to eliminate the effects of Control on Democracy, we must first educate everyone on Power and Control and how to recognize the difference between them.
Cognitive dissonance between past actions and present interpretation likely explains why southerners (unsuccessfully) attempt to reframe the Civil War as a battle over state’s rights, in order to escape, if even in their own minds, this ‘scarlet letter’ on their heritage. If we ever were to apply Restorative Justice to heal this 400-year-old scar, the mediators would have to utilize their full toolbox of social science skills.
Meanwhile, Traditionalists continue to pursue their desire to convert government into nothing more than an enforcement device —policing, courts, prisons, and other legal manifestations – in order to compel general submission, which makes it by definition the opposite of Democracy, but would be the perfect prescription for how one group could perpetually maintain Control over another.
THE CONTINUING PROBLEM OF FORCED ASSIMILATION
In the words of professed Traditionalist Shelby Steele, “We are in the odd and self-defeating position in which taking responsibility for bettering ourselves feels like a surrender to white power.” Assimilation is akin to forced cultural in-breeding, performed by some self-appointed ‘dominant civilization’, and has never gone well in the history of indigenous peoples. Currently, we choose to ‘appropriate’ or cherry-pick the financially consumable parts off of people instead, but are still quite far from accepting the whole person. Simple integration and learned respect for diversity would begin automatic cultural information exchange, per our built-in human communication infrastructure, and is guaranteed to make us collectively stronger.
- Get rid of government policies like affirmative action and temporary assistance programs, that favor blacks over whites – this amounts to the only “race discrimination” going on in today’s America.
- “Re-stigmatize illegitimacy” and place welfare mothers and their babies in residential hostels run by private groups, such as churches, that will make sure babies get the nurturing they need, while teenage mothers get an opportunity to learn and excel in school.
- Use government funds to pay for public school children to attend private schools, through the use of ‘vouchers’ (though these funds rarely cover the full cost of private school tuition).
- Blacks must individually help themselves: stop seeing themselves as victims, or overemphasizing race, and embrace mainstream white culture [aka forced assimilation]; groupthink hinders individual accountability and only fosters hatred toward whites.
- Race still matters, and is an impediment to black self-actualization
- The problem and solution are both external and internal, and requires continued affirmative action, stronger civil rights laws, government help in the area of education, job-training, childcare, and “a family-based self-help program” as an internal solution.
Michael Eric Dyson – The Michael Eric Dyson Reader, Long Time Coming , Tears We Cannot Stop, What Truth Sounds Like
Joe R Feagin White Racism: The Basics
Leonard M. Baynes – (Racial Justice in the New Millennium)
Ira Katznelson – When Affirmative Action was White
Tavis Smiley – The Covenant with Black America
Glenn C. Loury – The Anatomy of Racial Inequality
Michael K. Brown, Martin Carnoy, Elliott Currie – Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society
- Juvenocracy: Michael Eric Dyson uses it this way: “A juvenocracy that thrives on violence, the political economy of drugs, and the culture of the gun must be viewed, in part, as a symptom of economic and racial injustice. It must be seen as a moral surrender of black youth to the seductions of excessive material gratification.”
- Black Nihilism: Cornel West’s term, “speaking to the profound sense of psychological depression, personal worthlessness, and social despair so widespread in black America.”
- Reparations: since they were never honored when originally offered, Joe R. Feagin proposes a new version “in the form of wealth transfers, government programs to improve income and education…the guarantee of representation and participation in the political arena…asset-building programs, job training, improved housing conditions, and seed capital for small businesses to restore wholeness to individuals and to communities.”
- Hyper-Segregation: a term first developed by Douglas Massey (1989) and expounded upon by reformists like Leonard Baynes and Goodwin Liu, “argues that hyper-segregated communities only intensify a sense of privation”, which is a breeding ground for black-on-black violence” and other self-defeating behaviors.
- Adopt-a-Family: Professor Brooks and others feel that a show of black solidarity could take the form of middle-class blacks coming back into poorer black communities to serve as coaches, mentors and role models, in order to help build strong families. Some suggest the middle class could even adopt an inner-city school, which among other things, is always short on textbooks and other resources.
- Benign Neglect: according to Professor Brooks and other Reformists, government is not morally correct “to maintain a “race-neutral” stance while…there is in fact no race neutrality, let alone equal opportunity or racial fairness…benign neglect favors the existing resource distribution by default…[government] does not act in a racially neutral fashion by simply taking a hands-off, color-blind approach.”
- American Ghetto-Industrial Complex: Erin Aubry Kaplan’s designation for the “vast array of entertainment-related businesses that includes record labels, movie studies, advertising companies, book publishers and video producers…too many poor blacks buy into “defective cultural narratives” that tell them the only way to be authentically black and socially significant is to live poor and in a ghetto.” Michael Eric Dyson adds that this “narrative is not a story that blacks are telling each other, but that the ghetto-industrial complex is telling the world every day.”
- Underclass: used to describe the concentrations of impoverished racialized populations living in urban areas, where poverty is cyclical, and takes place in the absence of social mobility.”
- Ghettofabulosity: the thuggery, misogyny, and instant gratification of this ‘underclass’.
Reformism, in practice, can be seen as a clever counterstrategy to Traditionalism, as it only asks for the same government assistance white folks have already received – that black folks did not – and only during the period after black folks were legally determined to be five-fifths of a person. The New Deal, the Fair Deal, Social Security, the veterans G.I. Bill, even Affirmative action—all were doled out to white folks first, but withheld from black folks during those Jim Crow years (1877-1954).
Reformists are simply using ‘any [legal] means necessary” to financially level the playing field. Whites established these ‘legal precedents’ when they took government assistance first. It also follows that reformists would enter into the re-emerging debate over legal ‘reparations’ —or restitution for past injuries received— something promised at the end of the Civil War but rescinded once Lincoln was assassinated.
In order to answer the Traditionalist’s charge that blacks have only themselves to blame, Reformists freely admit that “family disintegration, poor education, black-on-black crime, babies born out of wedlock, and other self-defeating and dysfunctional behaviors” only exacerbate an already messy situation, but are also quick to ascribe this behavior to the ‘environment’ they have been ‘externally’ forced to endure. (Brooks)
In Race Matters, leading reformist Cornel West has pushed for government-supported programs to also include “housing, food, health care, education,” as well as other basic needs. West is molded from the old school of civil rights leaders, and fears that “most present-day black political leaders appear too hungry for status to be angry, too eager for acceptance to be bold, too self-invested in advancement to be defiant.”
- Continue Affirmative Action (but attach it more to socio-economic ‘class’, in order to reach down into poorer communities more effectively).
- Continue to strengthen Civil Rights Laws.
- Offer government assistance in the form of job training, childcare, and other ‘family self-help’.
- Leaders like Cornel West and Joe Feagin want to leverage long overdue ‘reparations’ in order to assure better access to basic needs like housing, food, health care and education, per everyone’s equal right to life, liberty, and happiness.
- The internal goal is to help families succeed, but the fix is external – through programs to help bring blacks into the socio-economic mainstream.
- There is a push for middle-class blacks to “adopt” families or entire schools in order to help bring everyone economically up to speed.
3) Limited Separation
- Society has placed too much faith in racial integration. Whites must “disadvantage themselves” to cede power in order to help blacks, which goes against ‘rational self-interest’.
- The Solution lies in government helping fund better black education to “build strong, nurturing black communities” (it ‘takes a village’ of self-help to counteract the ravages of oppression).
Sheryll Cahin – The Failures of Integration –
Reverend James Cone – Black Liberation Theology
Roy L. Brooks, Integration or Separation? A Strategy for Racial Equality
Albert Samuels, Is Separate UnEqual?
Lloyd Gite, “The New Agenda of the Black Church”
Geoffrey Canada, The Harlem Children’s Zone
Mary Patillo McCoy, Black Picket Fences
Derrick A. Bell Jr. – Faces From the Bottom of the Well
- The Harlem Children’s Zone: Geoffrey Canada’s famous education reform project, that attempts to “break the cycle of intergenerational poverty” by offering education, housing, family services, job opportunities, college tuition, health care, etc., all within a mile-square area of Harlem.
- Black Liberation Theology: the attempt by the Reverend James Cone to “combine the teachings of Martin Luther King (“an oppressed people must love their enemy”) and Malcolm X (“an oppressed people must love themselves”).” BLT allows followers to be “unapologetically black and Christian at the same time.”
- Black Nationalism: an old-school civil rights term that signifies racial solidarity; limited separatists have borrowed the term, minus its original cry for building a completely separate nation, as Marcus Garvey and the Nation of Islam has suggested.
- Society of One: being the only black in a white institution, and thus being held up to white standards. It is not good enough for Blacks to be themselves, they must “be like” white Americans. To be racially neutral is to be white, and it is draining having to be someone else in order to succeed.
- Integration Exhaustion: the fatigue middle-class blacks feel attempting to ‘fit in’ to white society – it is lonely, racist, and they cannot be themselves – however successful, they are rarely rewarded, meanwhile enduring incredible stress. Whites say they also suffer from ‘race fatigue’, which makes integration seem like too much work in this post-civil rights world. Limited separatists believe that these exhausted middle-class blacks are more likely to prefer racially and economically separate communities.
- The Black Tax: in limited separation, it refers tothe harm in dignity blacks must suffer in integrating, the indignity of racial profiling by white citizens.
- HBCUs: Historically Black Colleges and Universities “were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the intention of primarily serving the African-American community” when segregation was the order of the day. These schools proved more successful than anything integration has produced, which only strengthens the argument of those favoring limited separation.
Limited Separation can be thought of as the confluence of two streams of black empowerment: the church, and the various movements centering around race solidarity.
The seeds of Black Nationalism were being sown since the inception of America’s peculiar institution, but took root more firmly at the turn of the twentieth century, thanks to various clergy members, who espoused “a modern form of black nationalism that stressed the need to separate blacks from non-blacks and build separate communities that would promote racial pride and collectivize resources.” By the time the civil rights movement had taken hold in the 1960’s, the Nation of Islam – and its charismatic spokesperson Malcolm X – were espousing a doctrine of full separation from the culture of white America. Malcolm began to take a more moderate view of separatism prior to his assassination, and it is this limited form of separation that is still being preached today, particularly in Black Liberation Theology, which has roots in both racial solidarity and black spirituality. Because the church remains the only institution in America worthy of black trust, it may need to take a more ‘earthly’ role in saving underserved black communities.
Along these lines, Lloyd Gite has proposed a “new agenda” for the black church, to “enlarge its traditional role as resource developer” and position itself to “provide credit or collateral for start-up businesses” within the black community. Because the church has always been a trusted safe haven within the black community—90% of black financial giving currently funnels through it—“some black churches have already established micro-loan programs that …invest in small business entrepreneurs in the black community.” Professor Brooks emphasizes that “limited separatists want to provide incentives to reverse the exodus of resources from the black community that has marked the post–civil rights era”, and therefore need black entrepreneurs to “maintain a significant business presence” within their community. Upwardly mobile blacks deciding to choose class over race is yet another negative externality of integration, and a driver of this limited separation rationale.
Fifty-eight years after the Supreme Court decided that separate could be equal, Chief Justice Earl Warren of the Supreme Court instead admitted that “Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” and the current period of forced educational integration began. This, limited separatists claim, only opened up a pandora’s box of other unforeseen misery for the black people. Ironically, the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) of the segregated Jim Crow era can boast of educational success beyond what integration has been able to produce. This has provided further evidence that separatism – if coupled with financially equal backing – can be a success. Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone Project provides even further proof.
The Harlem Children’s Zone is the socio-educational experiment of one Geoffrey Canada, a black educator who aims to prove that positively altering the ‘environment’ where children live and learn will positively shape how they perceive their role within it. Canada “has flooded the zone with social, medical and educational services that are available for free to all the children” within this mile-square community, which currently houses 10,000 children. Teacher-to-student ratio is 1:6, the cafeteria offers only healthy foods, exercise is emphasized, social, health and financial services are offered to families, as well as parental training in how to raise children to be anything they aspire to be. It only takes a $16,000 a year investment in each child (together with family) to grow a sustainable human being (in comparison, it can easily cost government and family over $50,000 a year to house an incarcerated child in a state prison). Canada even invests further in the children, through an accumulating ‘college fund’ waiting for each high school graduate.
Besides several forward-thinking strategies designed to alter the overall environment (in order to ‘nudge’ people toward healthier outcomes) limited separatists are also forward-thinking in their understanding of human nature. Their honest assessment about human ‘self-interest’ informs them that people naturally seek to grab and maintain Control, and the roles of dominance and submission, once in place, are difficult to skirt.
Professor Brooks sees limited separation already active in “black churches, Jewish synagogues, and women’s colleges…communities like Little Havana in Miami and the Chinatowns and Little Italy’s throughout the country. None exclude outsiders from their places of worship, schools, communities, or jobs. Each creates a supportive environment for its main constituency, and each works well within the context of our larger social order.”
Limited Separatists also see “white self-interest, conformity pressures placed on integrated blacks to be “like whites,” and society’s blame-the-victim color-blind rhetoric…[as]…even more responsible for conditioning black nihilism…Cultural and economic integration within black society—that is, limited separation—is the only proven way to effectively counteract black nihilism.” (Professor Roy Brooks)
Much of Limited Separatist talk centers around how to negotiate something in everyone’s ‘rational self-interest’, which shows how people cannot help but define themselves within the environment they inhabit. This is disappointingly reflected in the black middle class, who lose their inherent sense of community when ‘upward mobility’ pulls them by the roots and transplants them into some forced ‘white existence’. It is the Power of community that is confirmed, when the same black middle class shows signs of ‘integration exhaustion’ and begins to rethink integration. Integration Exhaustion and Race Fatigue are both symptoms of living in Capitalism’s Democracy, where being oneself never seems ‘good enough.’
LIMITED SEPARATIST ‘SOLUTIONS’:
- Fixes are seen as internal, because the black community – as a group – must ultimately help themselves, by joining together in an “It takes a village” approach, which is seen as the only proven solution to counteract the complex array of issues facing black communities.
- To kickstart blacks being able to help themselves, some initial government funding would be necessary.
- “Build strong, nurturing black communities.” Suggestions include church, state, or individual funding of black-owned community businesses.
4) Critical Race Theory
- Race issues are a problem of power; society is unfairly slanted toward the “insiders” (white males)
- Unless external measures are taken, the playing field will never be made level; no internal solutions are necessary; within this “white hegemony,” we reap what we sow – blacks, like anyone, would still like to individually be accepted as they are (per a relational form of Democratic Equality)
Kimberlé Crenshaw – On Intersectionality
Paulette Caldwell – Perspective on the Intersection of Race and Gender
Patricia J. Williams – Seeing a Color-Blind Future “multiple subjectivities”
Angela P. Harris – Crossroads, Directions, and a New Critical Race Theory, Criminal Law, Cases and Materials
Derrick A. Bell, Jr. – Silent Covenants
Camara Phyllis Jones – Toward the Science and Practice of Anti-Racism
Richard Delgado, Jean Stefancic – Critical Race Theory, An Introduction
Mari Matsuda – Where is Your Body?
- White Hegemony: “a political and socio-economic system where white people enjoy structural advantages and rights that other racial and ethnic groups do not.”
- Intersectionality: “The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.”
- Asset Poverty: socio-economic inability to access wealth resources sufficient enough to sustain a household with minimum basic needs for three months.
- Racial subordination: a new way to frame societal or structural discrimination that does not need a specific perpetrator in order to seek redress.
- White Self-Interest Principle: also known as ‘Interest Convergence Principle,’ it is Derrick Bell’s assertion that “the degree of progress blacks have made away from slavery and toward equality has depended on whether allowing blacks more or less opportunity best served the interests and aims of white society.”
- The Master Narrative: the main voice, louder than all the rest, that “subordinates, or discounts, the stories of outsiders—the ‘other.’” Through Control of the media and political channels (which money affords), no other ‘counter-storytelling’ is allowed to reach a wider audience, thus its subtle “racially subordinating message” spreads unchallenged.
Critical Race Theorists occupy two camps —idealists and realists—that both assert “insiders [whites] have a constructed, unnatural, and permanent advantage in our society, and that this set of circumstances, this built-in bias, is what sustains disparate resources.” Both also point out that when government is neutral on matters of race, it is in fact not neutral, because the ‘neutral’ setting in America is “white hegemony”, that skews the playing field and “does nothing to change the existing racial dynamic and, for that reason, it takes sides.” (Brooks) To this end, Critical Race Theorists feel they must be relentless in framing race relations as an uneven arrangement that has been cemented into the foundation of society, through U.S. political and economic institutions.
To bring ’outsider’ voices into the mainstream conversation, Idealists are pushing for their stories to be told. Idealists believe raising public awareness would garner support for reparative solutions, and re-tilt the political playing field into a position where more level-headed policy choices might be made. Realists want to utilize the ‘Interest Convergence Principle’ [white ‘rational self-interest’] “to win insider approval” for mutually beneficial investments in black community —“to help insiders understand that it is within their material interests to embrace the interests of outsiders.” The “challenge” will be, according to Brooks, “to demonstrate how insiders will benefit materially from the [outsider’s] prescriptive measures.”
The main contributions of Critical Race Theory are 1) the correct diagnosis that Injustice is an institutional Control problem, 2) government is the only institution designed to intervene on behalf of its citizens, thus their silence, which only perpetuates the injustice, makes them culpable in continued racial subordination, 3) if the black community could convince whites, who own the means of production, that blacks are a ‘good investment’, perhaps whites would be persuaded to ‘diversify’ their funds, and 4) in case this does not occur, continue to speak loud enough to be heard over the general din of the mainstream ‘master narrative’.
CRITICAL RACE THEORY ‘SOLUTIONS’:
- White hegemony prevents any form of Democratic Equality to exist, so there must be a push toward slowly destabilizing this oppressive paradigm. Calling out racism in all its forms – in order to identify it for those who have grown too comfortable to notice it – is one strategy. Continuing to support affirmative action and wealth transfers is another.
- This theory is more designed to shed light on the ‘environment’ of oppression that hides in plain sight, knowing that all the byproducts we see are simply natural externalities within this ‘environment’. Therefore, if all of us want different externalities, we would need to alter the ‘environment’ in order to produce them.
5) Conclusions from Professor Brooks
- “Inequality is not simply measured by income and property. A group’s level of educational achievement, occupational status, family structure, incarceration rates, racial profiling, political influence, social respect, and other human and social assets also count.” Translation: It would be a mistake to believe equality is solved by making a law proclaiming it, or by measuring it only in financial terms.
- “A theory’s prescription tendered in response to its diagnosis, which is largely a normative and forward-looking undertaking, must consider external and internal factors. Such evenhanded treatment of civil rights theory is not only conceptually sound but also nonpartisan because it engages the views of both liberal and conservative theorists.” Translation: if government ‘externally’ offers the opportunity, and people ‘internally’ meet the government halfway, and seize this opportunity, both political ideologies should be satisfied. Blacks would not have to continue training to be ‘white’ (forced assimilation), and whites would not have to give a dime of ‘coerced charity’ (in the form of taxation for a welfare program that is perceived as ‘money for nothing’). In other words, only rich white people would still be allowed to continue receiving ‘money for nothing’, per the tenets of white hegemony.
- “The “best” theory can be found, at least initially, in an as-yet-to-be-determined amalgamation of all four post–civil rights theories.” Translation: the solution must consider each ‘diagnosis’ and satisfy all ‘prescriptions.’
- Diagnostic Summary: “Disparate resources…are sustained by racialized conditions (mainly racism, racial discrimination, and racial subordination) externally and by despair (a kind of spiritual impoverishment, black victimology, or black nihilism), ghettofabulosity (thuggery, misogyny, and instant gratification often glorified in rap music), and defiance (racial sensibility) internally. The latter are conditioned by the former, leading to such social pathologies as teenage pregnancy, drug use, and black-on-black crime.”
- Prescriptive Summary: “Some form of black self-help… (traditionalism’s it-takes-an-individual, reformism’s it-takes-a-family, and limited separation’s it-takes-a-village) …each program is within the reach of morally motivated individuals and institutions…African Americans, I argue, should be given a choice of programs based on what will work best for the individual, the family, or the community.”
- Professor Brooks Suggested Prescriptions:
- “Federal loan guarantees and micro-lending to redress financial capital deficiencies in the black community.”
- “Expansion of the Harlem Children’s Zone [utilizing the model].”
- “Using big salaries (comparable to what young lawyers make) to flood predominantly black schools with good teachers.”
- “Turning as many…schools as is possible into KIPP Academies to redress human capital deficiencies.”
- “Federal tax credits to induce positive racial images in the entertainment industry as a way to alleviate social capital deficiencies.”
- “As an alternative to this prescription, I suggest something like a GI Bill for African Americans (Plan B), but only if my preferred prescription (Plan A) proves insufficient.” (Brooks)
“Democracy does not require perfect equality, but it does require that citizens share in a common life.” – Michael Sandel
The reasoning is simple and straightforward: 1) People do not like Unfairness, Uncertainty, Isolation, or Intolerance (among other things), yet they still exist. Democracy was created to ensure Fairness, Certainty, Inclusivity, and Acceptance, yet has failed to produce it. When people and their system of government both want the same thing, yet are unable to achieve it for all its citizens, this leads to the conclusion that
there is a flaw somewhere. We conclude that the arbitrary environment we have fabricated, in which people and Democracy are forced to operate, is where the flaws exist.
The concept of Democracy represents the only avenue for the complete liberation of every person, per the tenets of a relational form of equality, a distributive and restorative from of justice, and a responsible form of Liberty that is—like the many other ‘reciprocal obligations’ it offers—freely given, not ‘taken’; also, it happens to be our country’s original mission statement (aka The Declaration of Independence), so it would be unwise to negotiate ourselves even further away from Democracy than we have already allowed. Meanwhile, Democracy’s Liberty would never permit us to ‘fix’ the people it was charged to represent. Therefore, if we were going to ‘fix’ anything, it would need to be how to better manage our socio-economic and political environment, which both run on the operating system we refer to as Capitalism.
Traditionalists, predictably, would argue that Capitalism—like a handgun —does not kill people, “it’s people who kill people”. A gun, in fact, is the perfect metaphor to explain Capitalism. A handgun, if it could speak in words (instead of bullets), would either say “get the hell away from my stuff” or conversely “give me all your stuff or I will kill you.” The people on either side of this gun would likely admit “if I could take all this stuff, I would do it, so I assume you would do it as well.” This paints a very grim and brutish picture of people, but it also supposes a poorly-thought-out ‘environment’ that we have created for people to navigate.
The arbitrary assignment of value we place on the shiny objects dangled before us, that manipulates our base brain desire to control them, possess them, and employ irrational ‘self-interest’ to climb over ourselves in pursuit of them, is a parasitic form of behavior that is even currently straining our host, Planet A. It has caused us to utilize each other as assets toward satiating an unquenchable Capitalistic Liberty to acquire more and more of the finite resources around us, which by its very nature, is an ‘institutional’ recipe for financial and social Injustice.
The verdict is unanimous: Capitalism does not possess the skillset necessary to provide Democracy. In Capitalism’s defense, it never really wanted that job anyway. The job that we assigned it to do was the efficient and effective allocation of finite resources to American citizens —aka our U.S. economics— which, if ever indicted in a court of ‘democratic’ law, would be found guilty of embezzlement of funds, tax evasion, price gouging, bribery, extortion, and much more. Instead of providing a service, Capitalism financially preys on our need for essential ‘goods’ like food, shelter, and belonging. It gets us sick with its toxic version of happiness, then overcharges us for the cure. It even cashes in our pursuit of a livable wage —in order to get a taste of this toxic happiness— by offering higher education at costs beyond the price range of the average citizen. Granted, Capitalism never promised to take care of anyone, its business model is simply to take its inherited financial capital, buy up all tangible assets like land, natural resources, infrastructure and means of production, hire some of us to turn it into marketable products, then charge the rest of us to use them. The reasoning for this chosen arrangement is that we cannot allow Capital to be in the hands of Government —aka We the People (aka ‘everyone’)—so therefore it needs to be in the hand of a few ‘chosen’ (but not by us) people to Control, in order to avoid Oppression. This is, of course, faulty reasoning at best, but feels comfortable for people in a traditional sense, because “that’s how it’s always been done.”
The new theory proposed is a Democratic Version of Capitalism, which simply charges Democracy to create the ‘environment’ in which Capitalism operates. When Capitalism oversees Democracy, there is, in fact, no Democracy. Capitalism has fashioned each of us a hamster wheel, and as long as we continue churning our legs, per Capitalism’s Version of Liberty, we will drive this engine of ‘economic growth’, but only for those who own the wheel.
Democracy’s Version of Capitalism would need to fashion an ‘environment’ that nudges economics toward what is best for people’s mental and emotional health, to eliminate as many of the ‘negative externalities’ created by Capitalism’s version of Control as possible. The Third Option plan is to tie all our fates together with invisible string, so as we financially move out in all directions—per a ‘Democratic’ form of Liberty—a more Inclusive version of economic growth would expand along with us, represented as Capitalism’s bigger and bigger ‘pie’, except a percentage of it would now be served up equally among each of us, once we reach retirement. Everyone gets opportunity on the front end, in order that we collectively sow—and therefore reap—a much larger ‘shared’ benefit on the back end.
“I argue that before we bring politics into the discussion, before compromise is placed on the table, we ought to have some vision of the ideal solution.” – Professor Brooks
In his book, Racial Justice in the Age of Obama, Professor Brooks reminds us what German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel once reasoned: by taking “the best of opposing thoughts (the “thesis” and the “antithesis”)” and merging them ( via ‘synthesis’), we in essence reach “a higher level of consciousness…to create synthesis after synthesis after synthesis” moves us toward “absolute knowledge,” which Hegel reasoned was the “highest form of consciousness”.
Democracy is about the Power of one source expanding outward, with the unrestrained ability to empower others. To fashion the platform or infrastructure which facilitates this Power, we should get as Traditionalist as possible and utilize biomimicry to make societal structure more like the structure of the universe itself. The Third Option’s ‘big bang’ of Power is a single Bank —a National Public Bank —that utilizes Money as the malleable energy source that will Power and Empower growth as it expands outward. Solar Systems can be formed by placing a local version of this National Bank in every Community. Each Community must provide a source of Empowerment for its citizens, so the National Bank’s first task would be to lay down the infrastructure of all essential human needs. Per the hierarchy of human needs, once our ‘deficit needs’ are met, and Certainty is secured for every citizen, people would have the potential to pursue ‘self-actualization’, which could then make them a source of power for others. In this way, people could be lifted from a place of co-dependency (parasitism) to independence (commensalism). How we would get to interdependence (mutualism) is through this same National Public Bank.
The Third Option ‘Environmental’ Solution
(Solves for distributive and environmental Justice, promotes Democratic Equality / Inclusivity)
Premise: Take Money —the source of Control in Capitalism’s Version of Democracy—and convert into the source of Power (aka ‘empowerment’) in Democracy’s Version of Capitalism; with all money creation and distribution going through a National Public Bank (made ‘legal’ in McCulloch v Maryland 1791), distributive justice would be ensured.
- 10% would be taken off the top of all annual income and form an ‘income investment’ in the National Bank (this would be the current equivalent of $2 Trillion per year).
- Each Community of 100,000 people would have a National Bank branch, where this national ‘income investment’ would be divided equally, so Communities could build the infrastructure ‘necessary and proper’ to ensure their Life, Liberty and Happiness.
- Affordable Housing, Regenerative and Vertical Agriculture, Clean and Safe Transportation, preventive Health care, Green Energy, Water / Sewer, Communication, and lots of Education: with essential needs Infrastructure comes jobs, in order to deliver these services within each Community. This would satisfy Democracy’s mandate to provide a ‘shared common life’ for all U.S. citizens. Cookie-cutter Communities are not necessary—each community could realize its vision of how to lay out the infrastructure aesthetically. Communication Infrastructure would link all citizens together locally, as well as all communities nationally, so Community decisions could be made more easily, and ‘best practices’ in any area could be more efficiently and effectively shared.
- Because this essential-needs Infrastructure is built using National Bank loans, it would need to be paid back through very affordable monthly bills, rent, premiums, purchases, etc.
- No profit would be added onto these payments—only 4% interest on the loans—and through economies of scale, and cheaper ‘shared’ resources, a more affordable living could be secured. This would satisfy the call for a ‘Livable Wage’, not by continuing to raise wages, but through lowering the overall ‘cost of living’.
- Everyone’s fates would be tied together, as these payments would grow the National Bank investment, which would accumulate and become our equal retirement dividends (the more sustainable replacement for social security).
- This would empower interdependence: people would keep 90% of their individual effort, give back 10%, and through a national collective effort, grow this investment by 4% each year. This would represent the new more sustainable version of Economic Growth, which would now be attached to every citizen. Citizens would be ‘nudged’ into wanting all communities to freely grow their ‘share’, as it would consequently grow everyone else’s ‘share’ along with it. If any community needed help, help would arrive, because it would be in everyone’s best interest for all of us to prosper together.
The overall premise here is that people are the product of their environment. People are not wired to change themselves, however they are wired to adapt to changes in their environment. In times of battle we fight, in times of scarcity, we share, in times of complete despair or perceived salvation, we emigrate to a better ‘environment’. Power would dictate that we change the environment to ‘nudge’ ourselves toward a version of life, liberty and happiness that is more healthy for people and planet. The toxic and co-dependent relationship established when one person profits by gaining control over another, through the peddling of various addictions, for example, facilitates the ‘creative destruction’ of people—measured through negative externalities—which ironically, becomes a further source of ‘economic growth’ for the capitalist. Poor physical, mental, and emotional health, war, incarceration, taxation—these all produce profitable outcomes, if one thinks like a capitalist, and if all of us continue to ‘co-dependently’ empower this delusional logic, we will have only ourselves to blame for our sustained suffering.
The first step is to alter the ‘environment’, but per our theory of primordial human communication infrastructure —that we transmit what we receive mentally/emotionally through nature the same as we transmit what we receive genetically through nurture—the ripples of Control will still take a long time to dissipate without proactive effort. For this reason we must stop continuing to ‘blame the victim’, and through the main tenet of Democracy —that we are all created equal—attempt to discover how some of our citizens get “bent out of shape by society’s pliers.”
In Democracy, the human species is analogous to a giant Power Grid, a network where each human represents a node or connection point; when each connection point is strong, a healthy, ‘sustainable’ network would exist. Control is a drain on Power, as the many are forced to relinquish their Power to sustain the weakness of the one. It is no different in the universe. When a star begins to lose its Power, it will collapse, taking everything in relative proximity down with it.
The moment a child enters the world, they need to be instantly connected to a Power source—aka the child’s caregiver. Here they begin to store Power. A child is born with an immeasurable storage capacity, but in our current environment, it does take a lot of Power simply to live day to day, let alone have anything left over for anyone else. Currently, many caregivers suffer from a lack of Power themselves, because none was ever given to them—therefore they have little to offer their child. This creates a Power deficit within the child, which will later be a drain on those around him in various ways. So far, there is little evidence that ‘storage capacity’ can be raised significantly later in life, so in an ‘it takes a family, community and country’ version of self-help, we must follow the example of Geoffrey Canada, and his Harlem Children’s Zone, to provide everything each child needs to be a sustainable source of Power.
Meanwhile, there are many who are at various stages of their lives, run down and completely powerless. Their storage capacity is so limited, they will likely not be able to ‘hold a charge’ for very long, thus constant empowerment must be given, in the form of health care, education, counseling, but no more punitive measures —the traditions of oppression can no longer be celebrated—they must be completely dismantled. Once we remove this Elephant of Oppressive Control from the room, all of us would be able to easily spot it later, if it ever tried to push its way back through either the front or the back door of our Democracy.
Third Option ‘Restorative’ Solution
(Solves for negative externalities of ‘retributive justice’)
- The prescription for healthy sustainable people of all ages is a combination of Health care and Education. For each citizen, it would start at birth and continue until death. Out of the 2.3 million U.S. citizens currently incarcerated, only 562,000 have shown any violent tendencies. The other 1.74 million would be immediately sent to ‘rehabilitation’, which would entail a two-year program of health care (to treat addiction, and all mental and emotional health issues) while earning an associate degree in one of the National Public Bank’s essential needs fields. This would be followed by integration back into a community, ready with continued counseling, housing, and further education if desired.
- This same program would be offered to immigrants at our borders, so they may be better acclimated to our new democratic ‘environment’. ‘Global Schools’—complete with health care, housing, and education facilities—would sit on the U.S. border, where immigrants who finish their schooling would be asked to do another two-year ‘mission’ to help those in bottom billion countries, before finally being admitted as U.S. citizens. In this way, our Global School concept could help improve environments everywhere, and hopefully alleviate people’s need to flee hopeless situations.
- Homelessness is also a health care issue. In order to make this difficult endeavor more cost effective, the homeless would be placed next to the above-mentioned ‘rehabilitation centers’, in order to utilize their health care, housing, and education facilities. If some could be rehabilitated and make it back into a ‘shared’ community life, they would certainly be given this opportunity; either way, they would not be allowed to live out on the streets anymore. Communities may choose to embrace them in some reciprocal arrangement, and per Democracy, care would necessarily be given to satisfy, as much as is reasonable, their version of the ‘good life.’
- Currently, a 10% investment in the National Bank would bring in around $2 Trillion a year; divided equally into the retirement accounts of every resident, this would equal around $6,000 a year for each resident. If a citizen required any form of ‘rehabilitation’ care, this $6,000 ‘share’ would be confiscated from their individual account in order to cover the expense. In this way, no actual ‘welfare’ taxes would need to be collected. There is no situation where a citizen could receive their $6,000 a year directly; it could only be utilized through services rendered in special situations—such as covering rehabilitation or end-of-life care—until, of course, one’s ‘retirement benefits’ begin.
- The Education ‘piece’ of this restorative plan:
- Each child would be ‘loaned’ $400,000 at the time of their birth, equivalent to $20,000 a year through their 18th year, in order to cover their education. This would afford them parental help and training, childcare, daycare, two years of Pre-K, two years of kindergarten, etc., which would culminate in them earning an associate degree by the time they finished high school. They would have to apply for a second ‘loan’ through the National Public Bank if they wished to further their education. If educational advancement served specific essential needs fields (e.g., doctors, educators, counselors, scientific research and the like) there would be opportunities to pay back these ‘second’ loans through initially working in assigned communities for the government; this would be similar to ‘residency’ for doctors, except that currently, doctors doing their ‘residency’ get crappy pay and no loan assistance, so this would be a much ‘better deal’ than they currently receive.
- College would be re-fashioned so that the first two years of any high school associate degree automatically covers the first two years of any current four-year college degree; in other words, children would not have to ‘repeat high school’ during their undergraduate college years by doing any ‘general education’ classes.
- School would be year-round and divided into three 6-year segments; the early years might be seen as acquiring emotional intelligence, the middle years would be for ‘language acquisition (math, music, chemistry, computer programs, etc. are all languages), with the understanding that language is absorbed much sooner than once thought. The final six years would involve applying these languages toward helping bring various essential needs wherever it is required. This is part of the ‘payback’ model of Education being proposed, where each child has a $400,000 loan to pay off, and thus would be tasked to ‘pay it back’ through various community, regional, national, and international ‘projects’, that would eventually lead them to choosing a ‘specialty’, then finish an associate degree in this specialty.
- Besides ‘payback tracks’, a child’s time at school would be used to discover and develop personal passions. The most essential ingredient in self-actualization—or any form of mastery—is ‘Effort’, yet we never hone that particular skill; we somehow assume it is there naturally. When each of us finds our passion, effort tends to become more ‘effortless.’ Once each child practices applying Effort to both a physical and mental ‘passion’, they would be better equipped to perform ‘less desirable’ (but always necessary) tasks. Self-disciplined people tend to make Effort a kind of lifestyle, so once this muscle of Effort is strengthened, Effort can become something rewarding in itself, and satisfy the Democratic version of seeking the MORE from within ourselves.
- Satisfies Traditionalist’s general call to reduce all government costs for individual assistance. With most government services provided through the National Bank, government would only cost an estimated $400 Billion a year, versus the current $4.79 Trillion.
- Satisfies Reformists call for more complete ‘Affirmative Action’, while also satisfying Traditionalist’s call that this opportunity be afforded to everyone.
- Satisfies Reformist’s call for assistance in job training, childcare, and other ‘family self-help, as well as Professor Brook’s call for an expansion of the Harlem’s Children Zone, which provides education from birth (parent-training, childcare, daycare, Pre-K, etc.), health care from birth, a community center providing healthy food and exercise, and more.
- Satisfies Reformist and Limited Separatist calls for investment in black communities, with micro loans and small business loans, through the local branch of the National Public Bank.
- Satisfies both limited separatist and integrationist strategies by financially supporting every community of 100,000 population, which will be tasked to work together to build, maintain, and work within the community they construct, for the eventual benefit of all.
- Satisfies Professor Brooks call for heavily funded schools —the Third Option is allocating $20,000 per child per year; teachers would be paid better, and there would now be two ‘instructors’ per class, one of them trained in social work / counseling, to address any mental or emotional needs children may require.
- Satisfies all theories because it would now take an individual, a family, a community, and in the Third Option plan, an entire country, in order to enact this Democratic Version of Justice.
“The way things are does not determine the way they ought to be” — Michael Sandel
The ultimate test for all of this is whether we can finally manage this uniquely human disease of chronic Oppression, that has become so embedded in our lives, we hardly seem to notice its prominent role in the cancerous effects currently afflicting our society.
The Third Option is positing a hypothesis of Certainty / Uncertainty: Once the root (umbilical cord) is cut, human contact is the only way to communicate the emotional connection that sustains physical and mental health. Cutting off human contact is like cutting off our air supply: there is a feeling of anxiety similar to drowning or asphyxiation, which can be identified as our fear of Uncertainty. Uncertainty leads to an innate drive to Control the space around us, in order to secure more Certainty. For those whose anxiety is always on high alert, likely through some form of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), more virulent forms of Control may surface.
If one has been attacked by dogs before, there is a tendency to feel fear when in close proximity to any strange dog that approaches. Oddly, the dog senses this fear as well, perceiving it as a potential threat to them. Dogs are smart. It is fear itself that is the greatest thing we should fear. It has more than once caused a ‘master race’ to compel the ‘assimilation’ of other groups, in some illogical attempt to equate forced ‘sameness’ with Certainty. This can only suppose an early childhood trauma so egregious, it has imprisoned people’s minds in the ‘infancy’ stage of emotional intelligence, where the notion that other people of equal relevance can exist simultaneously is incomprehensible. This is the weak and needy drain that Control produces on everyone else’s Power. If we do nothing else, we must advocate for every child, from birth, to acquire enough ‘Power’ that when others betray their trust later in life, it will not be enough to stop them from trusting the next person they meet, or the next…
When a dog feels neglected, it may chew up your shoes. When people act out in a cry for attention, we lock them up. There they meet other similarly shunned, shamed, and ostracized people, and form groups, whose main mission statement is that the rest of us ‘suck.’ Who can blame them, really; we do suck.
Groups should form around passions, like sports or music or the like, where everyone with similar passion is welcomed. Passion is like gravity, it draws us together, and gives all of us immediate membership status, or belongingness. Hate, like Control, pushes people together. It is a forced alliance. Our need to belong, which has not been satisfied elsewhere, must be secured at any personal cost, even by giving up our Liberty and allowing ourselves to be Controlled by others. At that point, it seems a small price to pay to pretend to hate someone we have never met, in order to receive the highest form of human currency: to belong.
Oppression, as impossible as it may seem, is in fact the vulnerable side of our nature, and though it looks confident, like narcissism, or powerful, like Control, it is in fact desperate to fill a hole that has been ripped open wider than any person, group or planet could ever fill. This necessarily puts the responsibility on the oppressed to make the leap to ‘love their enemies‘ first. Impossible as that may also sound, those given enough nurturing Power to listen and empathize with others are the only ones emotionally capable of drawing the Oppressor in close enough, in order to stimulate their inherent sense of belonging, if their caregiver didn’t completely beat it out of them. The takeaway here would be to immediately ensure the proper nurturing of underserved children, so that they may acquire the Power to ‘turn the other cheek’ and rescue white people from themselves.
Because both sides speak a different language (Power vs. Control), it will be crucial to utilize the only universal language all humans speak: the language of emotion. There was some point in human history where groups were small and closely knit, and belongingness was forged prior to this split in our personalities, and prior to spoken language. The combination of listening for the specific emotion, then identifying the general reason for having that particular emotion, in order to ‘relate to it’ at some base level — per our shared emotional history — would be the suggested negotiation strategy; seek first to understand before attempting to be understood. According to Brené Brown, “it is hard to hate close up.”
The upcoming war between Democracy and Oppression will be fought in seven billion battles within the separate but equal minds of each person on the planet; it is a fight between our hindbrain —who was here first —and our forebrain, that through Capitalism, is mostly wasting its talents building super cool toys for our hindbrain to play with. We currently live in a Hindbrain world, where “the road goes on forever and the party never ends.” This ‘re-evolution’ will need to begin before our ‘host’ decides “the party’s over.”
The Third Option believes that the social science community needs to fire the first shot in this War. The only weapon Ignorance has is Fear. Knowledge is the ultimate weapon in Democracy’s arsenal: it can completely destroy Fear without harming any people in the process. If citizens wish to ‘Democratically’ arm themselves, visit The Third Option, or check out some of the other articles on our Forebrain Underground website.