Three Responses to #BlackLivesMatter, Individual Evolution, and Institutionalized Racism (A Tribute to Sandra Bland) and My Replies

(Below are three responses to my previous essay.  My responses are in italics.)

N.’s Response:

Michael,

I just read your paper with great interest.  You make a number of important points.  However, you say repeatedly that not every group needs to follow all of the 10 steps [required according to IndividualEvolution.org] to be successful.  However, you never give any support for that opinion.  You may be right about that, but I wish that you would give specific details showing which steps can be omitted and why?  You indicate that various movements have been successful in the past without using all these principles.  But I believe those so-called successes have only been partially successful.  The reason for that may be that they have not followed all of the points B. has used.

Sincerely,

 

N.

Not every group needs to, should have to, or can undergo evolution or revolution in exactly the same way; given their collective or individual needs or even readiness that differs from one group to another.  Witness different cultures, nations, or communities and their intellectual, cultural, and equality revolutions or evolutions that have occurred since the beginning of recorded history, whether ancient, early modern, or recent.  Each group proceeds and advances according to their needs and readiness (whether propelled by a vanguard of individuals within the group that propels everyone forward or a majority) versus the force that the bureaucracy, political and military, will allow or can withstand, with or without bloodshed. No group is immune to this, whether they are cultural revolutions, revolutions in political power, the Civil Rights movement of the recent past, the Arab Spring, or even the beginnings of Occupy, or the newer, more concentrated, and very aware #BlackLivesMatter civil rights movement within communities of colour. 

Not every individual matures in exactly the same way.  Consider the body suspension that I chose to undergo.  If B had included that as something necessary for individual evolution, would you have subjected yourself to it if you did not want to?  Your evolution is different than mine, is different than B’s, is different than A’s, is different than everyone’s.  Codifying a series of acts or tasks as necessary to move from one stage to another without consideration of individual circumstances, differences, or needs codifies the bureaucracy that we are all attempting to rid ourselves of, especially when one person may not at the stage that someone else is.  Does that mean that the evolution of one individual is lesser or greater than another’s? 

Are the means to Individual Evolution more important than the ends?  This is what I ask myself daily.  My view is that Individual Evolution is very much akin to the Universe, or the Divine.  There are several means, or faiths, that different groups employ, but the ends are the same. The means all lead to One Source.  There is no one correct way to reach the Universe.  All roads lead there.  How each of us arrive there is our own journey.  Sometimes, individually they overlap in the case of Jewish Pagans, and sometimes people manage to learn ways that skip most of the steps to get there, in the case of the Buddha, the Jesus Christ, Mohammed (blessed be his name to Muslims), and even Pramahansa Yogananda. 

On occasion, I will wear a dress, and I have contemplated other aspects of my personal (r)evolution that I will probably experiment with in the future.  These aspects of what I do are my evolution to counter, defy, and evolve past the bureaucracy that exists in conjunction with the patriarchy that tells me that as a male gendered man, I am not supposed to wear a dress when in fact neither of clothing has no gender.  There are no rules.  There may be personal rules that someone else might use for their evolution, but it is not for me to make those rules for them.  That would become a Bureaucracy that is probably even more detested than anyone in this group because it’s use has been the cause of clashes, disagreements, arbitrary rules and dismissals, even wars, and I no longer have patience for any bureaucracy that I don’t have to tolerate for reasons other than of survival or necessary appeasement in the case of a loved one (and even that is tentative and wears thin). 

To evolve into the fullest individual via personal or group evolution or revolution that one can be, whether wearing pants and boots or dresses and makeup or living the fullest life possible without fear as a transgendered person of colour, and even an even deeper spiritual evolution, each one is valid and important. 

 

A.’s Response

Michael,

This is a nicely written essay. You might want to say a sentence or two at the beginning regarding who Sandra is, since there will be readers who do not know who she is.

Thank you. for that clarification.  I fixed that before I posted this piece to my site and elsewhere.

I think you’re right that there is no procedural order as to how an individual can and will evolve.  In fact, we in the Academy are leaning toward starting with the heart, since that is the part most repressed and fooled by the propaganda of the elites.  However, without the awareness, or head, as you are pointing out, there’s nothing to be mad about. Afterwards, you can and should develop a sense of righteous indignation.  As to what to do with the hand, that is where you test the head and heart using the scientific method.  (This is the pendulum metaphor of the scientific method.)

Thank you for that point.  In my passion, I failed to mention that that is probably not missing in the alternate evolutionary trajectory of any one person or group.  Breaking it down into pieces, except for a few individuals, is probably difficult, and even for those select few, it may be challenging to determine where one impetus begins and one ends. I see much cross pollination everywhere, even here.   One movement and one idea pollinates another and there is ongoing revolution and evolution, in spite of the fact that it doesn’t follow one plan or another, though there are plans of groups and individuals own design, perhaps hundreds or millions.   

You are absolutely on the right track when you notice that bureaucracy lies behind why most civil rights movements fail, or at least run out of steam after partial victories.  Bureaucratic processes and structures, what we in the Academy refer to as the Bureaucratic Code, are largely invisible, and therefore very difficult to break through institutionalized racism, sexism, and every other imaginable ism imaginable, all of which hinge on bureaucratization.

From everything I have read and studied, bureaucracy simplifies it a little bit too much.  Bureaucracy is endemic and it is a major impediment, but it is “working” in conjunction with capitalism and probably several other elements that are difficult to distinguish, one from another, but like racism, unless you are affected by it, it is mostly difficult to see.  Notwithstanding my readings into the overview of chaos theory which are nascent at this point, I also see attempts to control the bureaucracy, markets, and capitalism where no controls can hold what is going to happen on its own.  Given that tiny tease, I see racism eventually breaking down and the patriarchy eventually losing control evolutionarily, however slow it has been and however rapidly it will happen. 

Therefore, it is important that we see how not only racism and sexism and other specific isms are part of our personalities, but how bureaucratization in general is structured invisibly within our consciousness and unconsciousness, and that these bureaucratized consciousnesses reside in all races and genders.

I agree, but I also see them, even propaganda as all insidiously connected, feeding off of the others with a handful attempting to consciously or subconsciously controlling the rest as puppets or the like. 

 

B’s Response:

Michael, I’m really glad that you communicated how you feel about BlackLivesMatter. Your own emotional commitment to the importance of Occupy and BlackLivesMatter can be a lesson for me, and, N. and O. Without emotional commitment, which is ruled out by the Bureaucratic Code, we can’t go very far in changing ourselves or the world.

Thank you, B. You make some very valid points, that I mostly agree with.  I have not responded to everything, but I have responded to your points that seem to been misunderstood in my original essay. 

I completely agree with you intellectually and emotionally that we must learn to change the terrible racism that presently exists in this country and elsewhere. We must act (hand), based on an understanding (head) and emotional commitment (heart). This is the way the scientific method works, as illustrated by the pendulum metaphor: awareness of a problem (head), commitment to making progress on the problem (heart), with both representing a swing of the pendulum of the scientific method, and action to make such progress (hand). Academicians almost invariably have been deficient in heart and hand, and neither have they done well in understanding the causes of the problem and how to confront it effectively (head). The manuscript is by no means the last word, but I’m convinced that it does far better in pointing toward a head-heart-hand approach that can become increasingly successful. That approach, more specifically, embodies 10 elements of the Bureaucratic Code and 10 corresponding elements of the Evolutionary Code. Note that 3 elements of each code have to do with action. Also note that 3 elements of each code have to do with emotions, by contrast with the value-neutral stance of most social scientists. Also note that the four elements of each code that have to do with head go against both the narrow specialization with little integration of knowledge (especially in the social sciences and the humanities) to be found throughout the academic world, pointing instead toward an interdisciplinary approach.

I agree with you in part, but the racism that exists in this country and others in not just merely a conspiracy theory, as you suggest that I believe below, it is embedded in society as it now stands, built with capitalism and enforced by a political majority that benefits from that embedded racism controlled by a white patriarchy. Social scientists and others that have observed its insidious effects can attest to this, and it it so very obvious to so many observant and affected and effected by it that are walking this earth, but it may not be obvious to those in control. 

Unless those 10 points can and will be used to genuinely change the political majority, rather than offer concessions to shut up those most affected with temporary solutions, I don’t see how change will happen for the long term. Yes, knowledge and individual change is needed, but contemplation is not going to change a power structure that is only interested in maintaining itself for the long term.  If head, heart and hand are used in conjunction with one or many group(s) in a movement, and I am convinced that they are, but not in the way that you map, change will happen, and it will be a positive change, but if it is insisted that anyone, individuals and groups, must adhere to a specific plan of action for change, change will come to a standstill.  I am too much of an optimist and an activist at heart to believe that there is only one way to accomplish a task.  There are always many ways to accomplish a task, and in this case, there will not be just one group, but there will be many working together. 

A problem with this approach is that it requires absolutely fundamental changes in the individual, a process that takes time, given that we are all deeply socialized by the Bureaucratic Code, and I believe that this includes you and me. For example, when you include rioting in your strategy for achieving change, I believe that you are falling into the trap of element #9 of the Bureaucratic Code which points toward aggression and moves in the direction of war, terrorism, racism against whites, etc. By contrast, element #9 of the Evolutionary Code (see my Blog #2 and in particular the Levin experiment) calls for an inward-outward orientation, one which Levin found to yield less racism than an outward orientation. At present I, A. and N. are ACTING to move away from our own outward orientation so as to develop an inward-outward orientation so that we can both decrease our own prejudices and also teach others to do the same. We’re not just talking about it: we’re taking action to move in this direction. To the extent that we succeed, we will have uncovered a direction for eliminating racism that is effective yet is not discussed either throughout the media, in the Occupy movement, or in the BlackLivesMatter movement.

I never included rioting in my “platform for change”.  What I did state, however, was that the change that needs to happen will not happen peacefully and without struggle.  The political majority is one that has held power for so very long that they are afraid that they are going to lose it, and they know that they will eventually lose it because they have held it so long and so inequitably. They know. In point of fact, when whites are still holding the power structure of control, institutional racism in fact, they, the white patriarchal majority, cannot be subject to racism by definition and by institutional control.  That’s not to say there is prejudice against whites, and in some cases, deservedly so. 

What is missing from your assessment of the Bureaucratic code, unless it is a given, is that capitalism, in all its forms, was built on the back of exploitation, whether racism and slavery, or exploitation of indigenous or poor populations of workers forced to move to city centers from small rural communities and small townships to adhere to a strict bureaucratic code for a barely livable wage.  To substitute one code for another is just as exploitative when no thought is given that there is more than one way to accomplish a goal.  History can verify this in several avenues.  While individual evolution, from person to person, is probable, it is also probable and possible to accomplish this from group to group.  In the case of individuals, witness Jesus the Christ, Mohammed (blessed be his name to Muslims), Buddha, Zarathustra, and countless other prophets, whether religiously Western or monotheistic or polytheistic, each one had a method of evolution that worked for them.  To say that they did not have a method that was effective for them is to discount the millions of different psyches that have populated the earth and have reached a method of spiritual and material evolution that bettered themselves, individually or collectively, at the very least. 

A key difficulty that we are facing in this effort is that all 10 of the elements of the Bureaucratic Code point in an outward direction. So we must proceed to move toward all ten elements of the Evolutionary Code in order to be effective. The manuscript and the blogs can help to give us a direction for making such changes within ourselves and helping others to do the same.

I agree wholeheartedly, but the method to accomplish this is not a single but a multifaceted one, and not necessarily the one you promote.  For you, A., and N., and possibly me, this may be effective, but it is not effective for everyone, and not necessarily suited to their personality, needs, or circumstances. 

Another difference in strategy has to do with your own conviction that because you are white you are in position to help lead any movement to change racism against blacks. Granting that you have not experienced that racism that blacks have experienced, those experiences do not necessarily point them in an inward-outward direction (element #9 of the Evolutionary Code) and away from aggression (element #9 of the Bureaucratic Code). On the other hand, those experiences of racism do help blacks to develop emotional commitment to end racism (element #5 of the Evolutionary Code). I believe that whites can develop such commitment, but it is more difficult if they have not experienced what blacks have experienced. Thus, it is indeed possible, although difficult, for you, me, Andy and Neil to help lead efforts to end racism against blacks, granting that it is difficult for us to learn to develop the necessary emotional commitment.

Out of everything I said, let me be perfectly clear that I never said that as a person who is, for all appearances, white, I am in a position to help or even lead a movement to change racism against people of colour.  I cannot do that.  No white person, man or woman, gay, lesbian, transsexual, or asexual, can do that.  I remember an article where a current prominent activist pastor was interviewed, a current one.  He had many profound and powerful ideas, but the one thing that has stuck with me is that he stated emphatically that he takes his direction from a queer black woman, as if he has the right or experience to dictate the intricacies of a movement that is not affecting his generation as much as it is affecting a younger generation of people of colour.  He knows.  I am no different.  I am going to be involved if I am accepted and wanted, not as any leader but as an ally. I won’t and cannot even dictate that.  There is a huge difference.  This movement, this evolution for change cannot be led by anyone except those that are most affected. Anything less will yield no effective results. 

Yet another difference is what I see as your belief in a conspiracy theory explaining much of racism against blacks, a theory that smears whites in general with a very broad brush. Bear in mind, however, that a majority of whites voted for Barack Obama, and bear in mind that a conspiracy theory based largely on race is itself an example of racism against whites, illustrating element #9 on aggression of the Bureaucratic Code. There is indeed lots and lots of racism throughout the world, yet I believe that this is a product of the relatively invisible Bureaucratic Code that affects all races, including individuals within the BlackLivesMatter movement. If this is true, then racism very largely derives form a Bureaucratic Code that pushes all of us in a racist direction, and this suggests a strategy for helping all of us move toward the Evolutionary Code with its inward-outward orientation. I, A. and N. presently are ACTING to change our own outward orientation.

Please understand that just because a majority of whites voted for Barack Obama does not mean they are not racist.  To truly understand racism, what it is, and what it does, insidiously, it requires understanding what a person of colour is subjected to in the most major, minutest, and subtlest ways on a daily basis from the day they are born.  It is expressed in rules, in laws, in actions, in gestures, and even in the language that is used to discuss people of colour and language that is used to address persons of colour.  It is technically and realistically impossible to understand outside of that context and without being a person of colour and living in their skin and their shoes.  Remember my continuing passion for research in the area of the propaganda of racism and sexism embedded in the language?  It is very real and very visceral to those that are subjected to it and live with it daily. It is almost impossible to understand outside of that. To understand all of that, at least part of it, is to understand what institutional racism is, how it created capitalism, and how capitalism continues to feed off of it.  To truly understand it, at least from the position of an ally (because you and I cannot truly or intimately understand what racism is and what it does to a person of colour), ask a black woman, and then be completely quiet and listen, and do not question or interrupt what they have to say. 

Mike, the length of your essay suggests the depth of your emotional commitment to end racism against blacks. I admire your commitment, and I’m working to increase my own emotional commitment to end aggression of all kinds. For example, in our last meeting Andy, Neil and I decided to record our successes and failures during the day in our efforts to move toward the Evolutionary Code, which in turn will help us to reduce our own racist orientations linked to the impact on us of the Bureaucratic Code. Specifically, I’ve come up with an image of a soccer ball that I can keep in mind as a metaphor for egalitarian versus prejudicial and aggressive behavior. It’s related to the film “Invictus,” where Nelson Mandela influences the whites on the Springboks soccer team of South Africa to help him move toward an egalitarian society by winning the world championship, which they did, with the aid of the black player on the otherwise all-white team, and celebrating the South African nation with its mix of races. Thus, I’m learning to see that soccer ball as an antidote to the aggression that I experience both within my own behavior as well as externally. And as I continue to use that metaphor, I will change the structure of my behavior (element #4 of the Evolutionary Code). And as I continue to use other metaphors for the various elements of the Evolutionary Code (e.g., a stairway with steps wide enough for the entire human race, illustrating element #1 of the Evolutionary Code with its overall vision of an evolutionary way of life;  the Doomsday Clock reading 3 minutes to Midnight as a visual metaphor for element #10 of the Bureaucratic Code that points up our failure to solve world problems; and the torch of the statue of the statue of liberty as a metaphor for our democratic values of equality, freedom and the fundamental worth of every single individual as an illustration of element #6 of the Evolutionary Code with its emphasis on values).

A soccer ball can act as a metaphor for action and improvement, yes, but in the minutest ways, are you noticing how actions affect others, are you noticing how language is used, as I mentioned above, to demean, to minimize, to infantilize other human beings without even noticing the language involved.  More is required than just metaphor and thoughts.  Action is needed and actions are needed.  I have mentioned this above, but let me reiterate. When words and actions and gestures, intimate that women are the equivalent of children and referred to as girls, it minimizes their contribution and it devalues.  There are hundreds of these words that I could cite.  Are you incorporating a change of vocabulary to facilitate this system of metaphoric code with the Individual Evolution so that words and intentions are transformed?  There are even thousands of more words that people use unconsciously to refer to a person of colour.  

 Even if someone voted for Obama, doesn’t use a word that in prior eras referred to a black person (and is still used, unfortunately), when they use a term like” thug”, denigrate a fashion or clothing style as “ghetto” that is primarily worn by men and women of colour (but when worn by a white person as “original”), the racism is hidden, “in code” so an overtly racist term is not used.  The effect is the same and can be heard and seen on the daily “news”.  These things all need to be addressed and they don’t necessarily need to be addressed by one vanguard group.  One group is not going to effect change unless they control the strings of government and society, and even then it is difficult.  It will take many groups and many individuals.  They all may not use the same means, but the ends, the ends are what are important.  Joining with other groups to effect change is vital or any movement of change will die with its founders. 

Mike, overall what I’m saying is we cannot afford to make the mistake of the countercultural movement of the 1960s with their efforts to change our bureaucratic culture. The codes illustrate a very deep interdisciplinary understanding of a strategy for achieving fundamental changes away from racism along with the full range of our pressing problems, reversing the very limited understanding of how to achieve basic change by the students of the 1960s.Just as you have a sense of urgency about prejudice and discrimination against blacks, my own sense of urgency is about a wide range of escalating problems throughout the world that I link to my visual metaphor of a clock reading 3 minutes to Midnight.

The mistakes that were made were that the movement didn’t go far enough to demand rights.  In a much similar but very different way from a brief movement of Hispanic New York musicians that I was involved with who demanded equal time for their music on New York radio stations, the movement dissolved when a few key musicians were given a few concessions.  The concessions were and are a distraction to overall equality.  Until people of colour achieve equality, true equality, none of us will achieve equality and none of us will evolve, revolutionarily or evolutionarily. 

Thanks for the informed response.  I appreciate it. 

 

Michael

 

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