Capitalism refers to an economic system in which the means of production is privately owned and operated for profit and the distribution, income, production and pricing of goods and services is determined through a free market environment independent of government influence. One of the areas where capitalism runs into trouble is when the single minded focus on profits comes at the detriment of the community or society in general. A single minded focus on short term profits does not take into consideration the consequences of long term implications to the collective.
The best examples of this condition are rooted in American history. One of the most profitable forms of capitalism that had some long term destructive implications for society was the America economy built around the southern plantation economy that fueled the country’s institution of slavery. The single minded focus on developing a source of cheap labor at the injury of an entire race of people has created a perpetual and unbreakable condition of white privilege and black subjugation for this country. While many people cling to the belief that if everyone were to just close our eyes and submit to the status quo things would be better for all, nothing could be further from the truth.
Racism is continuously rearing its ugly head because there are so many people on both sides of the equation who are so willing to take such a woeful and dysfunctional approach to the problem of racism. Why? If the black person were to take a single minded focus on personal profit who ever dons the financial blinders can do well when the only yardstick that matters is materialism for the here and now. But the long term implication is the perpetuation of the white privilege and black subjugation that will continue to decimate the black community.
A lot of black people who choose to collaborate with other white mindset subjugators will talk a lot about their ability to transcend the entire race relation thing. A lot of very successful black people say things to justify or rationalize their capitulation to the dominant captains of capitalism. The best way to gain a good chunk of wealth is to appeal to the senses, vanity, sensibilities or whatever you may have, of the wealthy. It is simply way too hard to make a buck off of people who don’t have a buck to give. It is far easier to make money the old fashion way. Earn favor from the people with money.
So a lot of black people will say that they no longer see issues in this struggle along the lines of race. A famous black actor is on record saying, “When I look in the mirror I don’t see a black man.” Then what do you see? A money grubbing low down nigger would be my first guess. Wrote one popular conservative black blogger, “The black man will not be truly free from racial restrictions until he can, without guilt or regret, disclaim being black or owing anything to black people.” Freedom from being affiliated with the African American community is not a goal for someone who is proud to be an African American. This sounds like the type of validation a black man who has a top priority of making money would give.
One particular pest of a visitor to my blog left the comment, “As a conscious black man it would be a sellout for me to put aside my core values just for the sake of unity”. When black people have core values that run contrary to the natural inclination to make the welfare of their community a top priority, when compassion for other blacks is deemed an adherence instead of a virtue, they are truly indeed sellouts. Unity for the sake of unity is not the aim of the black community. Black unity is for the sake of the future of our black community, our black children, our black history, and our black identity. Black people who identify with being black will know the difference. It is far from being rocket science.
In the words of Paulo Freire, “Washing ones hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.” This quote can be modified slightly to say, “Washing ones hands of the conflict between the powerful American corporate mindset dominated by white people and the powerless black community that continues to struggle for relevance in the hyper capitalistic global economy is to side with the powerful and not to be racially neutral.”
Capitalism and free markets are wonderful concepts when they are kept in proportion to concepts such as community and social responsibility. But because we currently live in a time where the only measure of worth is materialism the pursuit of profit for the sake of profit is the only thing that matters. The relationship between capitalism and community developed on the plantation at the peak of racism remains the model for our race relations with respect to money and personal gain today.