Friday, September 18, 2015

Why Would Ta-Nehisi Coates Ignore the Elephant in the Room?

Understanding a chap like Ta-Nehisi Coates is troublesome for a conservative. Why would he insist in his book Between the World and Me that anti-black racism is still America's big problem. Why would he pen his 17,000 word "The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration" in The Atlantic and never mention the problem of fatherless boys. Kay Hymowitz:
You might think that an article on the Moynihan report and the black family would mention somewhere that today 72 percent of black children, up from 24 percent when the report was written, are born to unmarried mothers. 
Instead, what Coates wants to talk about is that "Mass incarceration is the latest iteration of the American oppression of black people."

Well, maybe, but there is the unfortunate fact that young black males commit murders at 8 times the rate of young white males. Of course we could let them back on the streets so they could kill more black people.

So what is going on here?

It is really quite simple and it is staring us right in the face. It is the problem with capitalism. The problem with capitalism is that it says that, if you sort out a few things like property rights, you don't need much in the way of government to supervise the economy.

And that is a problem -- for the ruling class.

If you are the son of a bourgeois father with a yen for politics and a hall pass into the ruling class, untrammeled capitalism must not stand. Because if you are into politics, you are into government, and government is all about finding things that need force, and even a war.

Marx was the guy that first got a handle on this. Capitalism was a monstrous system of oppression and exploitation, he argued. Only revolution and complete subjection of the capitalist class to the political class would release the burden of exploitation and oppression on the working class.

Well, Marx had an excuse. Nobody knew in 1850 that the average person was just starting to experience an increase in material living standards of 3000 percent in 200 years.

After World War I it was clear that, first, the working class was in fact getting a lot more prosperous. Second, it was also clear that the working class identified first with their nation and only secondly with their class.

So the geniuses at the newly coalesced Frankfurt School took President Eisenhower's big idea -- before he had even thought of it. If you don't know how to solve a problem, make it bigger. They decided that not just the working class, but women and the subjects of the European colonies, and oppressed minorities and gays were grievously exploited and oppressed. Therefore an evolved and enlightened elite was morally and ethically bound to do something about it, using government force.

And so was born the whole poisonous culture we call political correctness, from Gramsci's march through the institutions to Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals to the Cloward-Piven strategy.

In his book The Devil's Pleasure Palace Michael Walsh accuses the left of cynicism in formulating and executing on this cruel and monstrous philosophy. But I give the left credit for actually believing in its faith. For it is a faith, a millennial faith in "fundamental transformation" and totalitarian politics. I use "totalitarian" in the strict sense of economic, political, and moral/cultural life being collapsed into the political.

I look at the totalitarian current in our modern ruling class as merely the normal surrender to temptation that you would expect in any ruling class. Any member of a ruling class will believe in the uses of political power. Of course the real message behind any belief in political power is that "I like power" but we humans are smarter than that. We do not usually own up to such a crude philosophy. We say we only want power because of the existential need to fight foreigners or enemies or end oppression. Otherwise we would be like the improbable Iago who revels in his evil.

So I just say that our modern ruling class, descended from the German Romantics of the late 18th century, has just assembled an apology for power just like any other ruling class. If it hadn't come up with economic Marxism, that the working class was cruelly exploited, or with cultural Marxism, that women, blacks and homosexuals were grievously oppressed, because sexism, racism, and homophobia, they would have figured out something similar.

And so a chap like Ta-Nehisi Coates can expatiate in books and articles about oppression and racism and American oppression of black people and make a great name for himself. Nice work if you can get it.

Our problem is to develop a counterculture against this naked apology for power. Our challenge is to formulate and spread a culture that says this oppression stuff is all baloney. It is baloney that is exposed as baloney by the facts. All anyone has to do in America is make themselves useful by acquiring a marketable skill and they will do OK. All anyone has to do on the sexual front is get married before having children. It's the old formula: don't drop out of high school, don't have kids in your teens, don't have kids before marriage.

It's all so obvious that the next question is: how could we be living in an America where the tenets of cultural Marxism are ruling the culture and ruling the country? How could it have happened? How could we have allowed it?

I don't know, but there is no use whining about it. Our task is to restore the great bourgeois culture of responsible individualism, spread it out among the people, and then storm the commanding heights of politics, recognizing that politics is downstream from culture, and take America back.

I suspect that, beneath the extraordinary excitement caused by the Donald Trump presidential candidacy and the extraordinary viewing figures for the first two presidential debates, is an inchoate madness of crowds that is yearning for a different America.

You might say that that different America is as different from Ta-Nehisi Coates' and Barack Obama's America as black is from white. You might think that.

I couldn't possibly comment.

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