Peter Tosh, "Equal Rights."
The racism displayed this weekend at the so-called "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia (including a torchlight gathering on the campus of the University of Virginia) should be strongly and unequivocally -- and publicly -- condemned by men and women of all backgrounds and beliefs.
Racism, and white supremacist rhetoric in particular, should be strongly, unequivocally, and publicly opposed wherever it is published or aired, and countered with clear arguments showing it to be morally, spiritually, and intellectually bankrupt.
This condemnation and counter-argument should be done non-violently. There is absolutely no racist argument that can stand on its own. Racism is a lie, and cannot stand up to the truth.
Because racism is not based upon truth, racism is spread primarily by tactics involving violence, rumor (the spreading of lies), and appeals to visceral emotions involving fear -- often including emotionally-charged sexual accusations. Techniques common to propaganda are not used in order to spread the truth: they are used in order to generate visceral emotional responses or reflexive behavior. Lies require propaganda -- the truth does not.
The ancient wisdom preserved in the myths, scriptures and sacred traditions of virtually every single culture on our planet, on every inhabited continent and island on earth, tells us that men and women possess both a physical nature and a spiritual nature: a mortal nature and a divine nature. For this reason, myths and sacred stories involving twins are found around the world, depicting the fact that each one of us in fact has a sort of "twinned" nature -- physical and spiritual.
Similarly, numerous myths and sacred stories from around the world describe a main character as having two mothers -- indicating that we can think of ourselves as experiencing "two births," the first one when we are born into a physical body, and the second one when we begin to realize that we are more than our physical body and that we should be learning how to elevate our spiritual nature, or inner divine nature, rather than simply thinking of ourselves and those around us as merely physical beings.
Most people instinctively understand and perceive that they are more than their physical body -- and resist the idea of being "reduced" to the status of their physical nature, or categorized, valued, or viewed on the basis of their physical characteristics alone.
Additionally, the ancient wisdom encoded in the world's myths and scriptures often deals explicitly and extensively with the concepts of "blessing" and "cursing" -- concepts which I believe have much to do with the idea of recognizing, and to whatever degree possible, elevating the divine nature in one's self and others (in the case of blessing), and the contrary action of trying to deny that divine nature in one's self or in others, and reduce them to the status of their physical attributes: to reduce them to a body (or to a corpse), in the case of cursing.
Racism (and sexism), by their very definition, attempt to falsely define other men and women based on their external and physical aspects.
But doing so is a lie. We know instinctively that our value is not defined by the physical body, that we are possessed of a nature that is not defined by the aspects of our "first birth" -- and the ancient wisdom preserved in the original instructions given to every culture on our planet confirms what we instinctively perceive.
Because it is based upon a lie -- a very big lie, in fact, and a very pernicious lie -- proponents of racism must resort to distortion, to propaganda, and (in almost every case) to violence, as well as to an appeal to impulses related to fear of physical harm and to sexual doubt or discomfort. Proponents of racism deliberately seek to get others to react with what we might call the aspects of our physical nature (reflexes which we all have). It's very difficult to remember we have a divine nature, if we are being physically punched in the nose, for example, or being told (in graphic terms) that someone is going to rape us or rape someone we love or care about.
But I will go one step further in discussing the despicable events on display in the united states this weekend, and point out that those racists trying to provoke a visceral response in others -- by means of torchlight rallies, and chanted slogans referring to "Jews" -- chose to call their rally a "Unite the Right" rally.
While I would argue that the vast majority of those who identify themselves as being on the "right" of the ideological spectrum would vehemently and sincerely reject the bigotry displayed by the relatively small group of self-described "white nationalists" who converged on Charlottesville this weekend, and while increasing numbers of people today would reject the very notion of "right" and "left" (arguing that these terms are outdated, obsolete, or misleading), I believe the question is worthy of some examination, especially in light of the argument put forward by some that actions (including violence) on the part of representatives of "the left" were partly responsible for the mayhem witnessed in Virginia.*
In examining this important question, I will first assert that the world's ancient wisdom universally declares that men and women are possessed of a spiritual nature, indeed a divine nature, which is more important than their physical nature (and that the world's ancient wisdom universally teaches that the "second birth" is even more important than the first, even though both are of course extremely important and both involve the blessing and indeed the active participation of the divine realm).
Every other human being we ever encounter is possessed of a divine nature, and that is what we should see staring back at us when we consider another man, woman or child -- regardless of the details of their physical nature.
Additionally, as I have argued at some length elsewhere, I believe that the ancient myths and scriptures can be shown to teach that the gods themselves (or the divine Infinite, if you prefer) are present in, and act through, individual men and women. We can see this demonstrated in the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, for example, which declares at one point "There is no member of mine devoid of a god." We can see it demonstrated in the scriptures of ancient India, in which divinities appear in an instant when a mantra is uttered. And we can see it in the myths of ancient Greece, for example in the Iliad and the Odyssey, in which the gods and goddesses work out their will through individuals such as Odysseus or Achilles.
Based upon these demonstrable points, I would argue that one way of framing the question of "left" and "right" has to do with the question of whether some men and women are "more entitled" to the gifts bestowed by the gods (or, if you prefer, by nature) than others, or whether all men and women are equally entitled to those gifts. This question is discussed at some length in previous posts such as "Collaborators against the gods," "Privatization vs the gods (and the people)," and "Some lessons from King Midas, who discovered he could not eat gold."
If it is not clear enough from those posts (and even from the titles alone), I would argue that the gifts bestowed by the gods (or, if you prefer, by nature) belong to all the people of the land, without distinction. They do not belong only to the "best" people (as in a so-called "aristocracy"). They do not belong only to the people of a certain "race." They do not belong only to the people of a certain "creed" (all the world's ancient myths and scriptures can be shown to be based upon the very same foundation of celestial metaphor, and thus demanding that someone accept a certain interpretation of one set of ancient scriptures is gravely mistaken from the outset -- and this of course includes discrimination against those who follow the Hebrew scriptures, as well as any other group based on creed or faith).
And I would argue that the (problematic, but nonetheless still useful) terms of "right" and "left" can be viewed from the above perspective -- with the "right" tending towards restricting or "privatizing" the gifts of nature (or the gods) to some subset of the people (often but not always including overt racial components in this restriction), and the "left" arguing that these gifts belong to the people as a whole.
The above assertions will, no doubt, be angrily rejected by some who want to argue that the "left" has a history of being just as restrictive, and even just as racist, as the "right," but if we can just entertain this theoretical framework for a moment in order to consider any light it might potentially throw on the question, I believe there is an important point that can be illuminated. If those who object to the above assertion do so with the argument that groups claiming to be on the "left" have in the past been just as restrictive as those on the "right," then those who make this particular objection must be agreeing, in principle, that such restriction of the gifts of nature to one group is a bad thing -- and that the gifts of nature should in principle belong to all the people (so if those objectors want to label the idea that the gifts of nature belong to all the people with some term other than "left" in their own minds, that's fine by me for the sake of this particular discussion).
The problem that I am trying to illuminate with this discussion is that, tragically, some of those moving towards what I would label as an "ultra-right" position (a racist and indeed a "white nationalist") position are doing so out of a stated rejection of neoliberalism, which I would argue is itself already an ideology of the right of the spectrum as defined above, in that the hallmark of neoliberalism is the privatization of virtually everything that those on the left of the same spectrum would argue should belong to the public.
In other words, they are responding to a problem that is created by an ideology that belongs to the right with an ideology that is even further to the right -- as if trying to counteract one poison with an even more destructive poison than the one to which they are supposedly objecting.
And this assertion -- which I believe can be fairly convincingly established, based on the writings and published arguments of those persons behind the "Unite the Right" rally -- brings up the possibility that this entire spectacle is actually designed by someone or some group to continue moving the united states further and further to the right. In other words, it brings up the possibility that some of those involved in planning the despicable displays this weekend are deliberate provocateurs, who know that the overt message will be roundly despised by almost everyone who hears or sees it, but who also know that it can be used to continue moving the country to the right -- a process that has been going on for decades. In fact, it can be incontrovertibly proven that violence was employed extensively in Europe during the 1970s by groups supposedly "on the left" in order to move populations of various countries towards the right prior to important elections -- and this sort of false-flag violence continues to be employed in order to move populations in the same direction.
I would also argue that the appearance of violent blocks claiming to be "anti-fascist counter-protestors" from "the left," engaging in acts of violence or vandalism or destruction, can be seen as discrediting (perhaps deliberately) those who want to denounce the self-proclaimed "right" element -- with the result that "all sides" can be denounced as somehow equally wrong, thus acting to move opinion to the right (by tainting and discrediting the left in this case by their violent and inappropriate actions).
The effect can be described using the metaphor of a large aquarium or "fish-tank," in which some fish are swimming around on the left side of the tank, and some swim more towards the right side of the tank -- but if we move the entire fish-tank further and further in one direction (in this case, towards the right), then after several decades, even the fish at the furthest left boundary of the tank will be farther to the right than the more "right" fish from previous decades.
We could label the fish-tank, as we face it, as having a spectrum that goes from "left" to "right," as we see in the image below. Note that there are fish seen on the left, and on the right. Note the position of the words "left" and "right" relative to the chairs around the table (interestingly enough, twelve chairs arranged in a circle) or the lamps in the ceiling (also twelve in number):
Now, over time, imagine if we could "move" the entire fish-tank towards the right, as we see in the image below:
Notice that the man reading at the table does not even seem to be aware that the entire fish-tank has been shifted to the right -- that's how subtle this process is!
Below, we have re-labeled the tank based on the new boundaries. We still have fish swimming towards the left and towards the right, but now look how much further to the right the fish supposedly on the "left" have become:
The founding documents of the united states (in which, by the way, the words "united states" are frequently not capitalized) declare that "all men are created equal" -- which was a conscious rejection of the foundations of European aristocracy. This lofty assertion was of course marred from the outset by the unconscionable crimes of the genocide of indigenous Native Americans and the importation of slaves from Africa and the enslavement of their children for generations, as well as by institutionalized forms of racism against Asian immigrants and many others in subsequent decades down to the present day. Institutionalized forms of racism have been active in the united states throughout its history, in countless forms (including systematic exclusion from ownership of property in desirable areas, historically one of the primary means of increasing one's wealth).
The question facing us today is whether we want to move more towards a society that is based equal rights and justice, in recognition of the truth that all men and women are indeed possessed of a spiritual nature which transcends the surface physical details of their physical nature, or whether we want to move further away from it.
The terms "left" and "right" at this point are so contentious and so fraught that they may not be entirely helpful, serving to generate perhaps more heat than light. However, whatever labels we choose, the process described above, of "moving the entire fish-tank" further away from equal rights for all, and further towards "more rights for some than for others," is a very real phenomenon and one of which we should all become aware, and one which I believe must be countered.
It is certainly not limited to the united states -- the privatization of the natural resources of other countries to benefit the few at the expense of the overall populace is wrapped up in this entire subject of racism, and is yet another example of a set of facts which can easily show the positions espoused by "white nationalists" to be built upon a rotten scaffolding of lies (because the racially-homogenous Europe of previous decades or centuries that white nationalists sometimes reference as a model or an example can be shown to have supported its economic standard-of-living by exploiting the natural resources and labor of people in other parts of the world, particularly in their far-flung colonies in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific).
The truth expressed in the ancient wisdom imparted to humanity in the myths, scriptures and sacred stories around the world tells us that we are more than our physical bodies -- and that trying to reduce others to their physical form is a crime against the divinity present in each and every man and woman and child.
We all know these truths instinctively, at some level. It takes lies and propaganda to make people forget them. Those lies must be opposed, vigorously and passionately. But we do not need to be afraid that those lies might somehow be found to be true, or that our arguments against them might meet with an argument that we cannot counter. And in opposing them, we do not want to sink to the level of violence ourselves -- in fact, we should seriously question the motives of those who do so.
* Additional note (08/16/2017): Just to be perfectly clear, I do not agree with the argument that "the left" is responsible for the tragic violence and loss of life. It should be quite obvious from what I have written above that there is absolutely no moral equivalence between those who are advocating "white nationalism," or any other form of racism, and those who are opposing it. I am pointing out that we might want to be suspicious of people who use violence and claim to be representing "the left" -- because there is a documented history during the 1970s of groups that used real violence and terror, and were presented as leftists, when in fact they were part of an operation to drive specific nations towards the right. I am suggesting that we might want to question whether that could still be going on in some cases today: provocative "right-wing" speakers or demonstrators create a spectacle, honest people come to protest those provocateurs, and then violent groups (claiming to be from the "left") are employed in order to try to discredit those opposed to the provocateurs -- or simply to create mayhem on both sides so that the general public asks for more restrictions (thus driving things towards "the right" over time). We should ask ourselves whether it is possible in some situations that the groups supposedly saying they are part of "the left" are in fact organized at some level by "the right" as well. And innocent bystanders can be hurt or even killed by these activities, as happened in the 1970s in Europe (see the link provided in the above post).
Wailers, "One Foundation"