The Trials of an Immigrant Disenfranchised & a Struggle Against American Fascism
In America there is this sense of entitlement and self-righteousness. This attitude is based on the idea that the ordinary American needs no one but himself in achieving the American dream or even just to establish a sense of financial independence and security.
But what Americans don’t realize is their own hypocrisy. It was not a path of self-sustenance that founded and engineered American society. It was rather an amalgam of ideas, from centralized government to free market maneuvering. But never, was there ever 1 ideology intended to dominated our government entirely thereby disenfranchising others from resources and a path to a more genuine, moderate sense of self-reliance. But slavery built America. Is the link between democracy and fascism inseparable? Does democracy lead to mobocracy? I would argue that democracy hasn’t fully flourished ANYWHERE in the world because the rights and privileges are not extended to all men, for reasons of race, religion, ideology, background etc. That being said, I believe it is this fascist attitude holding America hostage from becoming a universal democracy.
America was built by immigrants, and on the backs of slaves. Yet, only 40 years ago were African-Americans even granted the right to vote; Immigrants remain largely disenfranchised and disallowed from the normal institutional processes of the US, barred from social security, tax collections, etc; African-Americans and other minority groups make up the majority of incarcerations.
All of this is linked.
It is the racist attitude; this bigotry which has elevated a certain group to a privileged status thereby suppressing the freedoms and rights of other social groups.
It is as if the American right-wing fascist is afraid of losing something; as if he fears competition. So much for “free market” economics. That is why all that Reaganomics, right-wing free market trickle down bullshit is a bunch of nonsense because it isn’t even practiced by its preachers. Meanwhile the left is made to look like some tyrannical force that seeks to strip men of their individuality when it is the exact opposite; leftists wish to provide ordinary citizens with adequate resources in order to achieve a state of self-sustenance because they acknowledge the need for collective initiative as well as individual initiative, not ever focusing on one more than the other. The danger lies in dogmatizing collectivism or individualism. An example of collective dogma would be communism. An example of individual dogma would be libertarianism. Both lead to slavery. And in essence, both are collective in nature but due to their extreme ideological foundation they require a combination of denial, propaganda and suppression of the masses in order to perpetuate their lies.
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.
The political, religious & socio-economic conditions of the African-American communities birthed hip-hop, in the words of OG Q-Tip.
It was in response to Iggy Azalia’s rants about her role in pop-culture.
I don’t listen to her music. I listen to real hip-hop. Take that as you will. A lot of people might try to argue with me about the rights of all individuals to express themselves, and I agree. I also believe in the rights of individuals to choose what they consider to be dope, or wack.
In his album, Yeezus, I believe Kanye is doing something very specific. He is challenging the foundation of Western civilization which has been responsible for institutionalized oppression of African-Americans. More specifically, Kanye has adopted the philosophical grievances of ‘controversial’ german philosopher Frederich Nietzsche, by criticizing the religious dogma of the Judeo-Christian conception of reality, morality & behavior. The Ubermensch, or highest potential of the individual, is suppressed by pseudo-religious propaganda, which Nietzsche believed was responsible for the pollution of the concept of God. This process, he called the “death of God.”
In a recent article he published, rapper Ras Kass explains the meaning behind his song, “How To Kill God”, in which he elaborated on the association between religious dogma & oppression of African-Americans and other minorities.
There is a tendency for American media outlets to lose it when artists, philosophers or popular figures of any persuasion make critical comments about the Judeo-Christian concept of God. It is quickly associated with fanaticism. The irony?
Movies like Exodus do no justice is portraying history. The Jews were probably not white. The jews, who are subjects of persecution, probably were & still are black, eastern, oriental.
When artists like Kanye West make bold claims like “I Am a God”, I could care less whether he believes it or not, because Kanye West isn’t the one brutalizing Africans in America & slaughtering children in the Middle East. I believe Kanye West’s message is to shake up the foundations of America so as to expose the hypocrisies and double-standards of this country which work against movements for collective consciousness.
The message of hip-hop has always been a positive one. It is just that, true freedom is often misunderstood and false portrayed. Hip-Hop & its artists, the genuine ones, fight to wake up the modern man, who has been sedated by forces of collectivism, conformity & power.
I’ll never forget the day this album dropped. I was in another dimension. I was inspired.
This album performed well. Its critics are caught in a web of infinite skepticism.
I bought this album and Yeezus on the same day. I believe these are probably the two greatest artists of our time. If you pay attention, I have been influenced by them in all of my work.
The political undertones in this work, like all of Jay-Z’s works, are omnipresent. The cover itself, inspired by greco-roman mythology, the inner-booklet, as well as the content, from beginning to end, captures the stark reality of an American hustler. The whole time I felt I was watching a Spike Lee movie.
Jay-Z is hated for his business approach. I think he is an artistic genius. His genius is beyond the minds of his critics, be they musicians or not. He addresses conspiracy theorists in a line from “Heaven”:
Conspiracy theorists screaming illuminati,
They can’t believe this much skill is in a human body,
6’2, how the fuck he fit in a new bugatti,
Aw fuck it you got me,
Question religion question it all,
Question existence until them questions are solved,
Meanwhile this heretic, I be out in Marrakesh,
Morocco, smoking hashish with my fellowship,
Y’all dwell on devil shit, I’m in diablo, yellow-shit,
Color of jello shit, hello bitch,
It’s me again, fresh in my easter clothes feeling like Jesus.
For all the so-called purists & the conspiracy theorists, this is a clear message. Jay-Z isn’t here to make you comfortable. He is here to make a living, express himself & expose what he sees as American hypocrisy. With references to Malcolm, Martin Luther King Jr., Wall Street, Jewish affluence and more, this album in no way falls short of being consistent with the tradition of hip-hop as a conscious movement.
Despite ongoing trends & exploitations of the culture, for the most part, there remains a largely alive movement of conscious listeners and artists who remain true to the craft and the messages upon which it was built.
It cannot be understated the impact which 200 years of slavery has had on the African-American culture. This recent interview with Azealia Banks on Hot 97 really captures the emotions of the African-American community. Whether or not you agree with her views or self-expression, I do believe it is important for Americans especially, to hear this perspective. It is true, that Abraham Lincoln emancipated the slaves in the 19th century. But that was the end of a tactic; not of a system. The system which we would like to believe no longer exists today is strong and more alive than ever. Words alone, especially my own, cannot do justice.
Today, hip-hop is saturated with a blend of either ultra-conscious underground or ultra-materialistic mainstream. The medium is there, if you look for it. The majority, which represents the American population, remains held hostage to either the purists within the underground community or the bigots who have largely extended their grasp over the popular media-mainstream, exponentially since the deaths of major hip-hop icons Notorious B.I.G. & Tupac.
I am all for new music & innovation. But I tend not to look for it from many of the artists who the mass-media spoon-feeds us on the daily. I like sticking to my real hip-hop.
The question of whether or not the Arab Spring is a legitimate movement against corruption and tyranny requires addressing the following assumptions regarding the culture of the Middle East as well as the nature of democracy as a political philosophy; and the credibility of global power like the US, Europe, Russia & China in policing the world and/or crusading for democracy.
Obviously we cannot throw all uprisings in the Middle East into one category because each country is different culturally and circumstantially. The main scene of protest in the Middle East in what would be called the Arab Spring includes Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria & Bahrain. It wasn’t much before the Arab Spring when the Lebanese people orchestrated a one-million man protest in Beirut which would eventually force the Syrian government to withdraw completely.
Protests also erupted in neighboring countries of influence and significance, namely Iran & Turkey.
Some might argue the Arab spring inspired movements in Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba & Ukraine where extreme forces are already threatening to take grip — amidst uncertainty and the vulnerable state of a country during a transitional phase of government.
As I stated before each of these countries is different. The type of reforms necessary, the culture of the people, the grievances of the people. They are not all the same. What was common among all participants of the Arab Spring was a sense of discontent with the social, political and economic conditions of the Arab people. But what exactly is the cause of the misery of the Arab people? Is it the tyranny of their own governments, or the tyranny of global powers?
Take a look at Syria for example, where the government has been ruled by a close-knit group of Assad-sympathizers. 75% of the Syrian population is Sunni, which has remained largely unrepresented in the political and economic aspects of Syrian life. The Alawites, a minority religious sect of Shiite Islam, have been largely in control of the political process in Syria, operating from the stronghold of Damascus. Despite disparaties between the elite rich and the impoverished lower classes, largely Sunni, the majority of Syrians were content with their state of affairs. The irony is that it was the Alawites who were disenfranchised from Syrian society before the coup which ushered in the presidency of Hafez al-Assad in 1970. The Alawites were regarded as heretics and second class citizens. It was Assad’s rise to prominence which elevated their social status, seen by many Syrians as their way of avenging their history of oppression. The Correction Movement, initiated by the Assad government, aimed to socialize the Syrian economy and redistribute wealth more fairly so as to guarantee universal prosperity. The outcome? While major advancements were made on a national level in terms of infrastructure and self-sustenance, the economy was largely controlled by the Assad government. How was this different from the Sultan-esque elitist economic model that ruled Syria prior to Assad’s Corrective Movement? Similar efforts were attempted in the realm of Socialism in Egypt and Libya for example, by Gamal Abd Nasser & Muammar al-Gaddafi, respectively. All three of this historic figures were regarded as threats to global hegemonies and the tradition of capitalism which had been the foundation of the international political system for centuries. None of their socialist policies brought openness and prosperity to the economy except for those in power, essentially just fortifying the system of stagnation in place before.
Assumption: democracy is the universal road to justice; democracy is compatible with Arab & Muslim society; democracy is a guaranteer of social equality; that the global police actually exhibit democracy.
Has there ever been a democracy? Is the US a real democracy? The French Revolution was hijacked too. Instead of ushering in what was supposed to be individual rights we went from tyranny of the pride to tyranny of the revenge. The American Revolution ushered in the first real modern attempt at democracy to ensure the rights of individuals socially, economically and politically. But how could the US be a democracy if it for 200 years deprived all African-Americans of basic, necessary human rights? Today immigrants, gays, muslims, arabs, atheists, jews and still African-Americans, are the subject of unequal treatment.
Even in the far east, in Russia for example, the public attempt to collective reform Russian society was another revolution hijacked by yet another pseudo-science: Communism. Communism merely strengthened the hold of elitism by placing control in the hands of a political party and cult of personality versus a family or royal name as had been before.
Thanks to movements by honorable leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. the US has made great strides towards a more democratic society; however the 21st century has revealed that 200 years of human rights abuses have consequences that are still to be seen. I am referring to the corruption of the justice and prison systems as well as police brutality and disparaging inequalities in income. The 21st century also ushered in the Arab Spring. In the case of Tunisia, I would say the movement succeeded. In the case of Egypt, Libya & Syria, it is not the same. Syria has become the battleground for the war against fundamentalism as well as a proxy war against Israeli expansionism. The rise of Islamic fundamentalism as well as failure on the international community to realize the human rights of the Arab World, most importantly Palestine, contributed to the hijacking of what was supposed to be an Arab Spring towards democracy.
But who is to blame? Assad of Syria? Sisi of Egypt? Gaddafi of Libya? The US? The West? Russia & China? Religious fanaticism? Israeli expansionism? Colonialism?
I am sure all of these forces contributed. But as stated before each country is different. In Syria, the people are not as upset with their government as they are with the international community’s silence of the crimes of colonial entities such as Israel. Perhaps this is why Assad has yet to dissolve his government; perhaps his claim that the Syrian people remain united has some validity. It is true, that neither Syria, Libya nor Egypt have progressed towards democracy economically, politically or socially…but to place the blame entirely on Arab leaders is misguided. Furthermore, it is a way of stereotyping…typecasting all Arab national grievances as similar in motive. The West was keen on insisting that Assad leave early on in the conflict. The tone has changed.
Perhaps the Arab Spring did not die. Perhaps the Arab Spring is still alive; but, despite what the media might suggest; that the revolution has in fact another target — not our own Arab leaders — but the dismantling of the expansionist, colonialist apartheid regime of Israel, which has occupied Palestine and destabilized the Middle East for a half-century now, spurring the rise of terrorism and instability in the region.
As pro-Western Arab allies like the King of Jordan and the new Saudi King Salman scurry to improve their reputations; other Arab nations are more keen are continuing the initiative that was begun by the earliest of Arab independence movements that unfolded in the mid-twentieth century against the colonial powers of France and the UK.
Democracy is certainly the end goal of all nations. But the irony which surrounded America’s non democratic history forces us to realize the possibility (and likely reality) that the Arabs are victims of non-democratic tyranny, largely supported and facilitated by Western governments, in the interests of none other than the apartheid regime of Israel, the supposed only ‘democracy in the Middle East’. How can an apartheid government, a theocracy, serve as a role model for democracy? How can a country which tortures men women and children, razes homes, propagates religious extremism and exclusivity, encourages conformity, suppress individuality and human rights, be considered a beacon of democracy?
The real Arab Spring is a continuation of the more genuine revolutionary initiative of the earlier Arab independence movements of the twentieth century. We cannot allow our dignity and revolutionary spirit to be easily hijacked by extremists and elitists. Let us remember who the occupying and oppressive power really is, and the techniques of mainstream media outlets in distorting reality and history.
The miserable conditions of Arab States cannot be addressed or solved until the cause is exposed and removed. Let us not compromise our dignity, loyalty, community and humility for the sake of the instant gratification of temporary and illusory solutions.
To understand America’s race problem, it’s foreign policy problem — TO MAKE SENSE OF ANY of America’s imperfections, one mustn’t overlook perhaps the crux of the entire system’s mishaps altogether: Socio-economics.
When Iggy Azalea recently sounded off on twitter fellow Hip-Hoppers Azealia Banks & Lupe Fiasco got involved. But what caught my attention was Q-Tip’s response, riddled with Marcus Garvey-esque jargon that simply could not escape my attention.
The irony is that anarcho-capitalists, in the words of political philosopher Noam Chomsky, libertarians & conservatives alike love to tout capitalism & free market values…but the irony is most of these lobbies & parties are run by individuals who inherited oil-conglomerates, natural gas-conglomerates, & other exploitative & unbalanced business assets.
What kind of self-respect, self-reliance and sense of free market is exhibited here? The capitalist is essentially an insecure business man hungry for power; instead of looking inward at his own merits, he seeks to reap the wealth of the merits of others…even the merits of God by taking ownership of raw materials….
In essence, when practiced, capitalism is exactly the same as communism; focusing all natural wealth at the top, enslaving the majority, & using propaganda to mislead, brainwash & control the masses; suppressing them from even ‘thinking’ they have a chance as socio-economic & political salvation.
Perhaps this is why the United States has never exhibited theoretical capitalism & also why it has drifted closer towards the philosophy of Mixed Economics over the past decade; realizing the inherent flaws behind ‘free-market’ fundamentalism. Perhaps it is also why China drifted further from the extreme left of communism and closer to the center; relinquishing itself from the dogma of all-state-controlled business & political apparatuses. Neither has made a full transition yet; it is difficult to shed the skin of their dogmatic histories. The same is true forRussia.
What is democratic-socialism? How does it differ from capitalism & communism?
In essence democratic-socialism is another name for mixed economics. It is not a pseudo-individualist philosophy, like libertarianism, but rather, places emphasis on individual innovation & places ownership & maintenance of natural-resource-based businesses such as oil, gas, food, water under the auspices of a DEMOCRATICALLY-ELECTED government. While I do think nationalization is an option in some cases, kind of like what Obama did when AIG tanked; I believe we need an unprecedently high tax on the 1% so as to rebalance the economy. This way, all individuals are guaranteed basic human rights & amenities while focusing their time & resources on individual innovation & economic empowerment.
So as Q-Tip explained in his fair warning to Iggy regarding the white community’s place in hip-hop, it is important to understand that this culture emerged as a socio-economic struggle; a response to American negligence & suppression. Before we can overcome issues like race, we must tackle the source of the problem, which is as much caused by hate-filled ideology as it is perpetuated by socio-economic disenfranchisement.
The greatest obstacles to these types of reforms remain largely in the hands of people like the Koch Brothers, AIPAC & every oil, gas & big bank lobbyist. The people must know who they are up against. Our democracy is threatened by a global sense of entitlement & power. Let us fight till the end!