Ever wonder why Americans haven't embraced the obviously utopian economic system of socialism? The answer, of course, is that capitalism is racist, explains race-obsessed Melissa Harris-Perry at race-and-socialism-obsessed MSNBC.
In case you missed it, Soopermexican at The Right Scoop caught an MSNBC seminar last Saturday morning in which Harris-Perry, Kai Wright of The Nation, Harvard's Jeffrey Miron, and Reason magazine editor-in-chief Matt Welch discussed the popularity of openly socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Harris-Perry brought up her own pet theory to explain why America has always resisted socialism:
MHP: So we see this comparison a lot that the U.S. is alone, and nearly alone, among Western democracies in not having universal health care or guaranteed paid parental leave or many other perks of a more socialist government. But the question is why. What makes the U.S. different? And the way I tend to frame this to my students is why is there no socialism in the U.S.? The great Eric Foner question. And there`s a one-word answer, Kai, I'm looking at you, friend --
Wright: Let me see. Could it be race?
MHP: Could it be? I mean that becomes the kind of standard story, right, is that in this country, race and racial privilege has trumped class identity as a way of organizing our politics.
Wright rambled incomprehensibly, but the gist of it is, we're racist, capitalism is racist, the whole damn system is racist:
Wright: Well, I mean so we could go way back, right, I mean the whole -- if we`re talking about capitalism in the first instance. The whole system globally was built on slavery. The modern economy was built - the cotton was built on cotton which was built on financing, financing slaves. And so from that moment forward, we`ve been in a discussion about capitalism in the United States that has, in fact, sorted people by race. And you can't -- and so when we get back to sort of the public investments that we make in people and that part of democratic socialism that has been challenged and difficult particularly in modern times because, coming out of the Great Society, coming out of the mid-20th century, we have had a politics that makes those public investments giveaways to black people.
Matt Welch argued otherwise, pointing out the failure of socialist Europe:
I want to say something. The history, and race is a huge part of the history of this country and sustained on everything. But capitalism didn`t just proceed from a bunch of people sitting around and saying how can I be the most racist?... It also proceeded from a notion of individual rights and individual liberty. And some of the people who helped topple those racist structures that came or were put upon it were animated just as much by that notion of individual [liberty].
But Harris-Perry was not to be denied her racial conspiracy theory, couched in impenetrable academic jargon:
So, the capitalism operates on our preferences, which are exogynist, which are fixed outside the system, and if racial bias is part of those preferences because of history, right, because we have this long history, then doesn`t it mean that the system must consistently have a corrective, right? So if, in fact, we just have a bias against certain kinds of bodies, don't we then have to come in and correct that bias, even in order to make a free market system operate?
Miron pointed out that some people resent “affirmative action” and assume that minorities haven’t earned their status in society. Harris-Perry resisted - again with the academic jargon:
"But professor, you have to let me weigh in, that nobody needed affirmative action to teach bias against black and brown people. Like, that bias is pre-existing and then affirmative action comes and then affirmative action gets used as discourse. But it`s not as though -- it's kind of like saying that, you know, like all of a sudden white folks decide to use the N-word because of hip-hop. No, no, no, it was - they had already known how to use that word before!”