We Americans suffer from the illusion that we can personally compensate for the flaws in the foundation of our society and therefore don’t have to worry about a collective solution to our problems. We deem it unnecessary or impractical. We’ve all experienced the chaos, frustration and disappointment often encountered while serving on church panels and sundry civic groups trying to reach a consensus. When we feel personally threatened by the global problems we all fear, the Hollywood myth of American individualism and self-reliance takes over and we decide we must take maters into our own hands, dissenting opinions be damned. So we get our own gun, build our own wall and put up our own private security system and believe this will solve all our problems related to the environment, economy and social instability. It’s the same logic as believing the only reason the problem of a leaking roof can’t be solved is because the occupants are unwilling to buy enough buckets to collect the dripping water.
Until recently, I thought I had a firm understanding of why America has divided itself into those who favor fascism and those who favor democracy. For a long time, I’ve believed that racism is at the root of all of America’s problems. Although that’s true on the surface, it does not adequately characterize or explain the problem. A woman named Isabel Wilkerson has written a book titled, Caste: The Origins Of Our Discontent. Besides extremely well written and meticulously referenced and documented, I found it to be one of the most enlightening pieces of nonfiction literature I’ve read in a long time and provides the most plausible explanation of why we are the way we are as Americans I think I’ve ever heard.
According to Wilkerson, America has devised a caste system created to enable its creators (those who control the land and resources) to extract the resources contained in all they control to maximize their profits at the expense of everyone else in America. In essence, everyone in America exists to serve them as though they are royalty – their needs and their desires. America’s power always has been fueled by slave labor, in one form or another. The people of Africa provided the perfect subjects to fill the base of their pyramid of hierarchy of human value inherent in the caste system they created.
Race is just a characteristic of convenience. The concept of race as an entity was not invented until the early sixteen hundreds. Had the early European explorers encountered primitive white people in Africa who were substantially taller than the average European, height would be the defining characteristic determining who is identified as a slave or who gets identified with the rulers. An entire infrastructure would have been devised to reinforce the concept of shortness as the highest quality achievable in humanity. Culture would identify shortness with all the most refined qualities of humanity such as intelligence, beauty, kindness and resourcefulness. Conversely all of humanities negative qualities would be associated with tallness – laziness, ugliness, untrustworthiness and so on. The fact that the contrast in the physical appearances of skin color and hair texture of the Africans was so vivid, made them perfect fodder for the dehumanization of these other human beings, making the unspeakable brutality and cruelty required to enslave them so easily tolerated by the other members of the white higher caste.
The rules embodied in this caste system are rigidly defined almost from birth. Everybody in the system almost instinctively knows the rules, which are cast in steal, with or without slavery. The system defines what we call black and what we call white as polar opposites and the two can never be mixed. Early European immigrants came to America with the promise of being identified as white and thereby eligible for all the benefits and promise of being American and giving them absolute power over Africans just as their native kings and lords had over them, whether they owned slaves or not. They were not white men until they came to America. In return for their white privilege, they had to follow the rules, which required they disrespect and brutalize Africans whenever the opportunity presented itself.
The rules of the American caste system are where most white people have their feet nailed to the floor when it comes to understanding the significance of slavery and white supremacy/privilege in their own lives. When a white person goes to an exotic five star resort and hands another guest who happens to be of African decent his bags to take to his room, he doesn’t necessarily do it because he is racist or hates black or African people. He does it because the rules have conditioned him to associate all members of the lowest caste to perform those roles and to not be able to partake in the pleasures of such a facility. He may well consider himself to be ultra liberal in maters of race. The caste system is not racial or even personal its intent. Its purpose is wealth and power.
The power and effectiveness of the caste system lays in its subtlety. Most of us are completely unaware of its existence even as we blissfully follow its rules. Most white Americans have for over a decade, organized and voted against their own interests simply because they’ve been conditioned to identify themselves with the owners of the system. They are unaware that their role in the system is to demoralize and otherwise keep down all in the lower castes (including brown and yellow people) on behalf of their rulers. They essentially have voted to poison their air and water, to render their children lacking in education and incapable of competing in a fair job market and voted to arm to the teeth the worst elements of our society, all in support of the caste system that serves only the top one half of 1% of Americans. The mere promise of entering that top .05% (which the caste supposedly reserves for white people only, even though statistically most poor and lower middle class whites have a better chance of hitting the lottery than entering even the top 20%) is enough to entice them to sell their souls to the devil.
The Caste system is like the foundation and structural framework of a very old but well constructed house that has a well-conceived maintenance schedule. Its external antebellum beauty belays the ugliness of the structure that supports it. Make no mistake about it. Extreme violence, brutality and murder are the nails, screws and mortar that hold the foundation and framework together. The Republican Party, through its efforts to disenfranchise minority voters and to overturn elections and chose those who count the votes, are in the process legalizing the wholesale murder of people in the lesser castes. Contrary to what they would like the world to believe, there is no such thing as a happy or willing slave. Slaves remain slaves only by force, intimidation and death.
If Republicans are successful in 2022, I believe civil war is inevitable, because no democracy loving American of any color, religion or national origin will honor the results of an election commandeered by Republican state apartheids. If that sounds far fetched think again. I would suggest to every American who believes in a free and democratic society, read all they can about Germany in the 1930s in the run up to World War II. If you do, you will see how a minority of less than 38% of the German electorate took over that country. To quote Isabel Wilkerson, “The old guard
[i.e. what we would call moderate or traditional Republicans in America today]
did not see, or chose not to see, that [Hitler’s] actual mission was ‘to exploit the methods of democracy to destroy democracy’ “.
As I’ve said many times, a substantial number on Republicans must reject their party’s fascist ideology and vote Democrat for at least the next 3 ½ years to avoid the on coming disaster America is facing. At least 20 and possibly 30 million of the Republicans who voted for Trump and their state’s Republican candidate for the US Senate and House of Representative must vote Democrat to turn the country back towards democracy. We must convince those Republicans that fascism is bad idea fraught with human tragedy. We must collectively and orderly replace the caste system (which in many ways is bad for all Americans) with a system that instead of rewarding skin color rewards merit, self-sacrifice and resourcefulness. Those are the qualities that can truly make America great.