A good example of the way in which aristocracies benefit both from racism and from anti-racism, is Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the US Presidency, which is heavily backed by America’s aristocracy, and which is fueled not only by their money but also by the widespread racism in American culture, and especially by the equally widespread repudiation by many Americans against racism.
Her opponent in the Democratic Party primaries, Bernie Sanders, was loathed by America’s aristocracy, because he was accusing them of destroying the country and was proposing policies to restore democracy to America, by means of various governmental interventions to reverse the existing undemocratic government’s wealth-transfers «from the masses to the classes». Sanders was publicly acknowledging that any government is a societal-prioritizing instrument, and that it therefore transfers wealth from some to others, via taxes and other essential policies, and so the wealth-distribution needs to be an independent focus of governmental policies – not simply ignored by government and subsumed within the «economic growth» concern.
Here is how Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination in the primaries: She won 84% of the Black vote in the crucial South Carolina primary, where 61% of the voters, in that Democratic primary, were Blacks. Sanders won 58% of Whites voting there. Clinton won, of the total SC primary vote, 73% to Sanders’s 26%, a crushing 47% margin of victory. And then in the later southern primaries, her margins of victory among the overwhelmingly high proportion of Blacks in the Democratic Parties those states, were similar, which fact (her numerous primaries crushing him, especially on Super Tuesday) cemented Sanders’s loss, and her win, of the Democratic nomination.
Whereas both of the primaries that preceded South Carolina (the caucus in Iowa, and the election in New Hampshire) were in overwhelmingly White northern states, which had been little shaped by the legacy of slavery, the racial situation was much more tense in SC, and also in the other southern states, where the culture of slavery still persists, more than a century after the Civil War that was fought over slavery.
Sanders’s message, that economic inequality is the linchpin of America’s increasing inequality of economic opportunity, was a colossal flop among southern Blacks, for whom the pervasive anti-Black racism amongst their local non-Blacks, seemed to be far more the cause of Blacks’ suppressed economic opportunities than did the existing economic inequality itself. To them, Sanders’s argument (that economic inequality is self-perpetuating, and thus needs specific governmental policies to address) seemed false (because the racism there is so intense). They couldn’t understand rich-versus-poor, because what they saw around them every day was Black-versus-White. As Hillary and Bill Clinton’s, and Barack Obama’s, friend and chief economic advisor, Lawrence Summers, taught to his students at Harvard, «I think we can accept, I think we should accept inequality of results, recognizing that those who earn more are in a better position to contribute more to support society».
It’s standard aristocratic propaganda, that economic inequality doesn’t result from economic inequality. The aristocracy want the public to believe the lie that inequality of the wealth-distribution isn’t self-perpetuating and thus doesn’t need governmental policy-changes in order to be reduced – wealth-redistribution by means of conscious targeted governmental policy in order to redistribute it. The aristocracy, and their agents, at Harvard and elsewhere, hide from the public (and from students) the fact that wealth-redistribution doesn’t occur on its own and can’t be addressed by policies that also help aristocrats (such as «more spending on infrastructure» etc. – the standard liberal growth-oriented policies, which don’t also really affect the wealth-distribution, which the aristocracy want to remain tilted in their favor). This lie – that economic inequality doesn’t itself stunt the economic opportunity for the public in the future – also caused Sanders’s support to be less among people who had PhD’s and other post-college degrees, than among mere college-graduates. Clinton won biggest among people with no education beyond high school, and with PhD’s and other post-college degrees. Upper-level education is strongly dependent upon funding from the aristocracy, so the more of it one had, the less progressive and more authoritarian one tended to be, and this showed in the vote. Clinton’s high support also among the low-educated mass of Democrats (ones with no exposure to college) resulted from the primacy there of two other stanchions of conservatism: religion and family (including ancestry, which brings in also clan and tribe). Furthermore, those voters are usually working so hard just to stay alive; they haven’t the time to be able to see politics beyond the mass-media, which of course are owned by the aristocrats and thus slanted toward Clinton, against Sanders.
Clinton also benefited (though only to a lesser extent) from the fact that most of the voters in the South Carolina Democratic primary were women, to whom she was likewise targeting an anti-bigotry pitch: in that case, anti-sexist.
By «racism» in the title here, is meant also any discrimination against a racial, ethnic, gender, religious, or any other non-economically-defined segment of the population; so, it includes also gender-discrimination and other forms of discrimination. In other words: all forms of bigotry, and of opposition to bigotry, distract from the oppression of the public by the aristocrats (the billionaires and centi-millionaires and their agents), and focus the attention instead against bigotry (or in favor of a particular type of bigotry, against a particular group); and, thus, bigotry and anti-bigotry benefit the aristocracy.
Clinton’s basic message is that America’s inequality of economic opportunity isn’t a class-phenomenon, but a bigotry-phenomenon, such as discrimination against Blacks, against women, against gays, etc. This message won among the Democratic Party’s many minority-groups (Blacks, Hispanics, etc.), even though the economic inequality that her financial backers foster (and which here policies advance) has produced these people’s rotten education, inability to get out of debt, high assessed interest-rates, high rates of illness, etc. These conceptual connections as blockages against economic opportunity are abstract, whereas the incidences of bigotry against these people are concrete, blatant blockages.
Clinton’s contest against the other Party’s nominee, the Republican Party’s Donald Trump, is against an aristocratic candidate who has largely been pitching to bigots for his votes – especially to bigots against Muslims, and against Hispanics. He now is faced with two contradictory demands: he can either focus more on the economic-class divide (hoping to draw off some of the Sanders voters), and thereby antagonize America’s aristocracy even more than he already has (by his opposition against Clinton’s record as a war-monger, and against her blatant lying and corruption, things that are mainstays in any aristocracy and thus insult aristocrats including himself), or else he can continue to focus on bigots; but, if he does the latter, then the contest will largely become one between bigots (voting for him) and anti-bigots (voting for Clinton), in which case there will continue to be many aristocrats who (unlike the aristocrat Trump himself) flee from any public association with any form of bigotry (almost all aristocrats pretend to be opposed to it, just as the Clintons and Obama so prominently do) and so (in addition to Hillary’s being an ideal nominee for aristocrats) they’ll starve Trump’s campaign of cash, and he’ll then almost certainly lose – or, at least, that’s the scenario.
This is not a prediction that he will lose. The current US Presidential contest has no clear historical precedent, although the strategic realities in it are the standard ones in political contests. Trump is an extremely formidable campaigner, who has beaten all of his opponents so far and also every one of the ‘experts’ or pundits. (I’m actually expecting him to win; but that’s neither here nor there.)
The irony is that what the current contest displays with especially stark clarity is the historically well-established reality, that aristocracies benefit both from racism and from anti-racism. It has hardly been clearer than it is here, despite the other, highly unusual, aspects of the current US Presidential contest.
One thing that rather directly displays the undemocratic reality of today’s American politics is that both Trump and Clinton have (and throughout the contest did have) exceptionally high net-disapproval ratings from the American public, and that the only two candidates, of either Party, who had net-positive approval-ratings, were Bernie Sanders, and (the Republican candidate) John Kasich. If this country had been a democracy, then those were clearly the most-preferred candidates, and so the final contest would have been between those two, but neither of them even made it to the final round. This fact is yet another example showing that, at the present stage in American history, the US is a dictatorship by its aristocracy (who disliked both of the nation’s most-preferred candidates).
In theocratic Iran, the clergy determine what final choices the public will have; in aristocratic-dictatorial US, the aristocracy do. Bigotry, and its natural response – anti-bigotry – both advance the cause of the aristocracy, anywhere. It’s not just divide-and-conquer. It’s also redirect-and-distract.