presented by Colours of the Culture.
presented by Colours of the Culture.
In Part I of his interview with BBC broadcasted in 2009, prominent rapper & social icon Jay-Z expressed his views on many contentious issues gripping the politics of America & the international community today.
The photograph above is very significant to this blog entry. It is a picture of Kanye West & Jay-Z during their Watch The Throne tour throughout the US. The title of this blog, is the title of quite a meaningful song on the album: “We Made It in America”. The song laments on the grievances & legacies of the African-American people, as well as the African culture from which they were essentially kidnapped; & which continues be exploited today.
This is Part II of the interview, continued:
The song is inspiring. The message too. Not only does it expose the crimes of the US against its own people, it expresses the genius of the African people, in the realms of art, music & culture. Watch The Throne, was a political masterpiece. A magnum opus. All the words fit. I felt like I was LISTENING to Plato’s The Republic. It’s the soundtrack, if indeed The Republic were a movie.
Essentially the political undertones of Watch The Throne are echoing the socio-economic grievances of all disenfranchised, marginalized, gentrified & exploited minorities. The twisted sense of “individualism” in the Western culture justified the historic atrocity of the trans-atlantic slave-trade, which exists today in a more elusive form, such as police brutality, gentrification, disenfranchisement, mass incarceration, income inequality & unequal opportunities for minorities.
These grievances are echoed by intellectuals of the 19th & 20th century, mostly non-American. I’ve listed a few examples below.
George Orwell, famed writer of 1984 & Animal Farm, was a “democratic-socialist” who warned against capitalism & communism, arguing the two led to statism.
Albert Camus, an anarchist, was sympathetic to communism but stressed that collective apparatuses might lead to corruption and statism.
Any Rand, hailed by Conservatives, defines the epitome of the hypocritical dogma of anarchical-capitalism. A self-proclaimed anarchist, Rand proved she was not loyal to her own creed, as she relied thoroughly on state welfare & sponsorship from the state of Israel, inconsistent with her atheism as well as her free-market fundamentalism.
All these perspectives force the following questions to float around in my head:
Is socialism another power-grabber?
It seems like the US & Europe despise socialist entities.
Are we the devil or are they?
Who’s killing who?
While most fight for freedom for some, who fights for freedom for all?
So what is the evil? It seems that hyper-individualism mirrors the tyranny of hyper-collectivism, both of which result in the exploitation of minority classes.
Prominent African-American scholar Cornel West associates the suppression of Civil Rights with statism as well as capitalism. He argues that America is not a democracy, because it serves an elite class at the expense of the will of the people. Furthermore, West suggests that capitalism results in many of the imbalances in the economy that cause misery for the lower classes.
I would argue, like 20th century German economist Fredrick List, that every successful nation-state adopts mixed economics combining state intervention with free market flow, which suggests that democracy & capitalism alone cannot guarantee the protection of individual rights. In many ways, democracy has engrained & perpetuated the tradition of exclusivity in the West which deems minorities, including blacks, latinos, arabs, gays, muslims & atheists are second class citizens, with little access to mobility in the economic ladder.
Freedom, salvation & happiness are not products of capitalism, materialism or the intellectual dogma of hyper-collectivism.
Rather, these virtues are achieved through humility, hard-work & self-reliance and the rest follows. Meanwhile, the power-hungry aim to deprive man of these freedoms, through propaganda & excessive force. How well do democracy & capitalism alone ensure these virtues? Historically, they’ve done as much as communism to improve the living conditions of the lower classes.
In his recent acceptance speech at the BET Honors ceremony, Kanye West took time to reflect on issues that form the bedrock of the Hip-Hop culture. Here is a snippet:
Fundamentalists, be they religious or atheistic in essence wholly worship man-made ideologies that eventually collapse on themselves, such as the neoconservative model of hyper-capitalism exhibited by NATO countries or the police-like communism of the USSR.
The association between the American & European traditions of suppressing & exploiting foreign countries is based in their logic of exclusivity. That is why 1% of Americans own America, while the vast majority remains living check-to-check. That is why, while the institution of slavery ended some time ago, the US remains at the top of the list for highest incarceration rates in the world, with the highest prisoner count than any other in the world. Yet, Iran is the great satan. Syria is the great satan. Venezuela. We go to war for oil & that oil never trickles down to the poor. In fact, it is usually the taxpayer funding all of this, against his will for the most part.
It is times likes these when I begin to question the logic of ‘democracy.’ There isn’t even 1 single definition of democracy. It is a vague term that is thrown around. Most people think it means representative government. Some think it means majority wins. Others believe it means universal law. I would say one of the distinctive features are the electoral process & term limitations. Democracy, especially by the Right-Wing, is viewed as the protector & guaranteer of capitalism & free market competition. But in reality, it seems, like communism, only to concentrate wealth in the hands of an already established elite so as to convince the masses they are free, to sustain them for lack of self-sustenance & to thereby garner their support for all political/colonial initiatives. The free-market is not protected by democracy or capitalism, but rather, just as in communism, becomes held hostage to the ignorance of mass-minded forces of collectivism. The freedoms awarded to the elite are limited to the mass because of a fear of intimidation & competition. A lot of propaganda is aimed at trying to convince us (both capitalism & communism do this) that earth’s resources are scarce & need proper redistribution.
But “exclusivity is the new N word,” said the courageous Kanye West during his most latest interview with Zane Lowe, in reference to the culture of hubris & bigotry that has disenfranchised all minorities & expressionists from the conversation of social justice.
Reminds me of a debate I had about the causes of Darfur crisis. It’s not radical Islam. That is not a rational argument. The basis of every injustice is a financial gain; as we live in a world of scarcity and desirous human nature. That being said, it is important to highlight the role of colonialism, imperialism, and uniquely in this case, the culpability of Chinese expansionism in the spurring of this crisis. It is important to understand that as with most underdeveloped countries, the cause is not ‘futility’ or ‘inferiority’ but rather arbitrary military dominance by imperial forces bent on socio-economic exploitation.
There are many economic resources in Africa. Besides the West’s historic atrocity of the transatlantic trade lies the more modern manifestation of ‘slavery’ and exploitation: blood diamonds; minerals; oil.
The dogma of imperialism and its religious and ideologically fanatical constituents/mercenaries work against the general welfare. Africa, like Palestine, South America, east Europe and Southeast Asia, has suffered immensely from imperialism. Today we are only witnessing the earliest consequences.
Tonight is of great importance to the immigrants of America, however tonights speech by President Obama and the subsequent policy changes and announced reforms will have far-reaching implications that extend beyond the borders of America; even beyond the confines of the immigration issue itself.
It will affect the economy certainly. In the bigger picture, this effect will likely be positive.
More importantly, this will affect the lives of human beings who have been ostracized from society and even their families. Basic human rights which they have been denied will finally be directly addressed by the President of the United States.
If there is one thing I have come to learn to really appreciate it is my individual freedom.
It is becoming extremely taboo to tout your individualism.
It is often viewed as a sense of paranoia.
I have learned to face a fact: most people prefer to rely on others – instead of themselves – for financial/political gain.
They themselves do not possess the qualities necessary for financial success.
The irony is that these qualities are not just scarce but that most people are unaware of them entirely.
These qualities are spiritual, and this is the irony, that it requires a form of spiritualism to succeed in the realm of materialism.
This is my philosophy of Islam, a perfect blend of secularism and spirituality. This is my version of what I believe is perfect Abrahamic monotheism.
As a Syrian, I have seen the lines drawn between believer and non-believer; adherent & heretic. Usually the lines are separated between Alawite & Sunni, but my version of pure Islam embodies neither and at the same time a little bit of both.
My emphasis in this post is on how my philosophy in life has brought me to a confrontation with a worldly dilemma: collectivism – the inability of other human beings to develop a sense of self-respect and individualism due to a variety of reasons ranging from insecurity to familial underdevelopment to political suppression.
In America the general idea is that Republicans, the right-wing, Libertarians, the tea party, Ron Paul, Ann Coulter & Ayn Rand are the de-facto symbols of individual freedom – especially the individual freedom that birthed the American model of governance.
Initially, the preservation of individual rights sprung from the individual concern about the fate of his most basic rights. Eventually, once the individual discovered his innovative capacity, he wanted a new form of individual rights: the protection of intellectual property.
The general narrative against collectivism is that human beings form tribes that eventually turn into governmental forces that suppress individual innovation and ultimately bring an end to prosperity and the general welfare.
The USSR, Nazi Germany, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, Iran, the DRC – these are all national entities which have evidently subjugated their people to terrible standards of living throughout history – some still exist today.
My ultimate question is, from where does this ultimate desire to stifle the “ultimately economic” freedom of the individual?
Why must we as individuals suppress our self-expression, our ambition to be great, our desire for dignity and freedom…for the sake of preserving the insecurity of other individuals?
But what insecurity do I speak of? If all individuals in a given society are free to do as they wish; what fear of failure ought any of these individuals have? The fear of fulfillment? The fear of not being acknowledged? The fear of being overlooked? The fear of financial insecurity? Or, less innocently, the fear of not losing exclusivity and power?
Ultimately…my political philosophy can be described as a classical liberal monotheist, with some socialist elements that recognize the crimes of history. Conservatism, collectivism guised as individualism, and all other forms of collective thought-manufacturing, is the antithesis of freedom, salvation, enlightenment, education, happiness & prosperity.
Capitalism purports to be the preserver of competition but in reality what it does it strip the realm of ‘God’ as the superior deity in order to fill a void or insecurity of skill, thereby relying on arbitrary ownership of ideas. This is capitalism. Communism does the same.
All the isms of this world serve one giant agenda of collectivist persuasion – to turn men into sheep and to herd them into giant collectives and to pin them against one another – the age old ‘divide and conquer’.
Meanwhile all the moderates, the spiritualists, the self-reliant, the skilled, the humble, the abundant…whose currencies are neither government nor business…but rather…God and nature…these are the messengers whose messages are as warnings to a world of ignorance; a world that was never free but in which free men are constantly struggling to preserve their dignity and purpose.
It is us who recognize the fallacies of man, who have read history and understand the imperfections of our entire race, it is us who struggle.
I have no currency. I have no religion. I have no ideology. I am but a man of Nature and the one and only Supreme Being.
Those men who wish for more than nature wish for power and vanity. They wish to be worshipped and to worship that which is not our God. Beware especially of the fanatics.
These men are slaves of the systems of ownership of other men that human beings have created in this world. Capitalism owns men by convincing them they can achieve higher social status and greater acceptance if they conform to a set of a capitalist set of values that ultimately enslaves you to that methodology of thinking, thereby preserving power in the hands of that very same capitalist elite. Communism does the same by making you think that you are more powerful and socially reputable if you propagate/advertise yourself as an ascetic intellectual who does not require the basic needs of man. Ultimately both of these philosophies have a non-genuine intent: social status and power.
Anarchists are another great tool for power-mongers as they promote jealousy by pinning the only source of potential stability – government – as the enemy.
Remember, government is not necessarily the problem, but rather, the ideas that are used to enslave our governments to groups of men: cults.
Democracy and socialism have been hi-jacked by power-hungry capitalists, communists, anarchists and such.
More ideas and isms will spring forth in the future to destabilize countries, usurp resources, and maintain power.
Therefore, power is the ultimate goal and nation-states are their tools. Private and public security forces that inhibit the spread of genuine democracy and socialism are the controllers of this world. The ideologues. These are the kingpins. The money, the resources, the militias: these are their tools.
Now that I have no fear I am free again because I see the ignorance of this world and that my God is perfect. Fatalism has always been true.
Men are at fault for their intentions. There are consequences.
The true men of this world have sought truth and education; they have equally sought to spread it.
Most men are busy worrying about the power and vanities of this world, when they could merely focus on their gifts and blessings.
Do not allow your ambitions to distort the truest definition and origin of a word or concept.
There is a huge difference between classical liberalism and libertarianism, and conservatism. I align classical liberalism with my God of Islamic monotheism, and get socialist nationalism. The gods of other ideologies are either other men, preachers, clerics, power-wielders or themselves.
(The genius of capitalism is that it allows for one man or one small group to use money to hire and own employees and their skills so as to make it seem as though human beings are individually capable of perfection when in fact the capitalist must enslave workers upon workers to curate perfection).
Capitalism is not about supply and demand according to a billionaire.
That’s quite a statement. Not to say it is wrong, but it is quite a statement.
This billionaire, Nick Hanauer, also believes a nation’s economy cannot grow without a strong Middle Class.
According to him, supply and demand are not the foundation of an economy – but rather, human innovation and the ability to reduce our ‘problems’ in society.
The question that came to my mind was: what are these ‘problems’ he speaks of?
I believe we have to separate problems into three categories: individual & collective, and a combination of the two: IC.
The individual (who believes it or knows it) respects prosperity as the sum of individual innovation and poverty as individual failure.
The collectivist respects prosperity as the sum of sharing resources.
The moderate respects prosperity as the sum of sharing resources in order to correct fallacies in human choice and to maintain a state of social equilibrium that permits individuals to compete and feel fulfilled.
Here is an excerpt from the article highlighting the author’s emphasis on the importance of a thriving middle class:
So middle out economics is essentially a 21st century way of understanding how an economy works – not as this linear mechanistic system — but as an ecosystem, with the same kinds of feedback loops. The fundamental law of capitalism is if workers don’t have any money, businesses don’t have any customers; that prosperity in a capitalist economy is a consequence of a circle of feedback loops between customers and businesses, which means that a thriving middle class isn’t a consequence of prosperity. A thriving middle class is the source of prosperity in capitalist economies, which is why a policy focused on the middle class is and has always been the thing that drives prosperity and growth — not pouring money into rich people, which simply makes rich people richer.
The first question that pops into my mind is – don’t people want to get ‘out’ of the Middle Class?
Perhaps not everybody – the argument here is that some people are content living average-income lives as long as their minimum requirements are met.
For me, personally, I thrive on my ambition to be financially fulfilled as much as spiritually fulfilled…in the mind of a conservative; whose primary focus is money (and not perhaps fulfilling his spirit; expressing himself), this Middle-Out Economics theory would seem nothing short of communism – an attempt to keep individuals where they are at in an economy.
In the eyes of the heroic libertarian, there is always a conspiracy against the individual, his enterprise, his intellectual property, and his ambitions in life to achieve success and fortune.
Perhaps the source of this paranoia is the potential for human beings to desire ‘vanity’ – that is, to desire to be regarded as exceptional beyond standard human capacity to such an extent that freedom and happiness are only awarded to those exclusive human beings.
At the end of the day, in a functional democracy – human necessities are met; but unfortunately, capitalism does not serve these means. Just as communism concentrates wealth at the top preventing individuals from obtaining a level of freedom; so to does fundamentalist capitalism.
So it goes to show that Mr. Hanauer is not far off in his critique of the dogmatic model of capitalist economics. A mixed economy, or a Middle-Out Economy, as he calls it, respects individual ambition, competition, as well as the dignity of human beings by assuring them of healthcare, housing, and a decent wage.
Wages are largely determined by supply and demand with minor interference from public factors; and the assumption in capitalism is the man who strives can create his own wealth. But this assumption is grounded in a human fear: there aren’t enough resources for all of humanity to live ideal lives; some human beings prefer to be slaves to power and economy-control; originality will be compromised.
Why must we rely on money to survive? This system has convinced us that it is the only rational one – that capitalism and supply and demand and the exchange of currency is the natural mode of human affairs; scarcity, that is, is the reason why capitalism is necessary. The USSR told us that the lies and shortcomings of capitalism vindicate the necessity for communism as its replacement.
But why is it always one or the other? Why must we worship concepts? DEMOCRACY. COMMUNISM. CAPITALISM. These are not my gods. These are the gods of the extremists; the fundamentalists; the hypocrites; the power-grabbers; the usurpers of freedom; the IMPERIALISTS.
In the East, they don’t believe in God. In the West; they believe they are God.
Somewhere in the Middle (the Middle East), are those who trust in the Infinite. The Infinite the God which we worship; permitting us to take from concepts like capitalism and communism without becoming hostage to any one of them entirely – allowing for a mixed economy so to speak.
So what does that say about the course of history as taught in the East and West? What does that mean about the twentieth century narratives? How have the East and West successfully torn apart the Middle East? How have they used these extremities to divide individuals all across the world? How have they been able to secure their empire at the expense of a moderate individualist-collectivist hybrid sovereignty?
The enemy is imperialism and its symbols and gods are evident. Its enemy is the golden rule – the straight path – the anomaly – the infinite. Instead of a mixed economy, and a national boundary – these guys want ISMS and expansion.
They succeeded in the Middle East by creating a new version of Islam which can be more appropriately labeled as wahhabism, salafism, etc. and by introducing self-idolatry and paranoia into our societies. The establishment of a zionist state in 1948 only furthered this objective by further implanting a power-house of fundamentalism, religious exclusivity and imperialism in the center of the Middle East, crashing any hopes for sovereignty, independence and prosperity for the Middle Eastern people.
Who are the victims? All the moderate secularists, liberals, and moderate monotheists who are struggling to secure their peace.
How does this translate into our tangible reality? The House of Saud and Israel as well as every other monarchy in the Middle East have allied themselves together with every brand of islamism and zionism and have secured a support system with the West (US, UK & EU) as well as the East (Russia, India & China).
There are two forces at war: imperialism (hubris) and sovereignty (equality). Choose your side.