Recently, a group of so-called Black Lives Matter activists interrupted Bernie Sanders’s event. Most reactions have been negative, due to the rude and bullish behaviors of these activists. Amidst the swarm of furious Sanders fans, I’ve found a progressive group called “the Other 98%” endorsing an article that sings the opposite tune. It was quite a troubling piece, and I’d like to jot down some of my criticisms.
This is the article’s argument:
A) Bernie Sanders brings up economic inequality, when he addresses Black Lives Matter.
B) Therefore, he believes racism is ONLY a product of income inequality.
Obviously, there are many problems with this argument:
1) Social stratification worsens and systemically enforces racism. Resolving income inequality is one of the ways to combat social stratification.
2) Mentioning such facts of income inequality does not necessarily make one a subscriber of the belief, “racism is ONLY a product of income inequality.”
3) No evidence has been found to indicate that he doesn’t believe racism exists. On the contrary, there’s plenty of evidence, where he expounds upon the relationship between social stratification and our long history of racism .
4) This is typical of “post-modern” millennials, who believe that all matters are “power struggles” that stem from the “unconscious.” Manifestly, a) they do not know rudimentary facts of psychology: that human beings are not merely motivated by power. We’re motivated by tribalism, irrationality, and many other instincts; we’re also motivated by rational interests. This means that not every act of quasi-racist behaviors stem from one’s will to power. b) they adore postmodernism and a particular pseudo-science: psycho-analysis. This allows them to weave two unrelated facts together, since every behavior stems from the “unconscious,” or a Nietzschean will to power. This allows them to postulate wild conspiracies from little to no evidence.
The author could’ve done better by arguing that since Sanders doesn’t speak of the psychological and cultural intricacies of racism, he indirectly perpetuates the denial of their existence. It’s certainly a much better argument. However, this is still problematic: discussing the delicate tangles of racism does not eliminate the material conditions that perpetuate racism. In order to successfully fix racism, one must make material changes. Thus, it would be preferable to see Sanders address such intricacies as well as making material changes. But, like most “post-modern” millennials, their psycho-analysis and pseudoscience compel them to resort to wild accusations, character assassination, nonsensical correlations, and –as Martha Nussbaum has shown us through her eloquent take-down of Judith Butler– bid us to prefer theorizing over material change.
Link to the referred article: http://changefromwithin.org/2015/08/09/interrupting-bernie-exposing-the-white-supremacy-of-the-american-left/