Finish what was Started.

The goal of the Black Lives Matter movement should not be to become a political identity.

It should be to eradicate the subliminal remnants of a previous hierarchy, which assigned ethnic minorities with a sub-human identity.

Words by William Cooper.

(photo from Art News)

The re-occurring dichotomy that has opened in the past months, between those in support of ‘Black Lives Matter’ (BLM) and those retaliating with ‘All Lives Matter’ (ALM), is part of a conflict that has existed since the abolition of slavery in 1865.

They are contrasting phrases that in themselves are a direct contradiction of each other. ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘All Lives Matter’ concentrate on different aspects of the racial equality argument. ‘Black Lives Matter’ encapsulates how many people feel that a black person’s life is not as worthy as a white person’s, and the remnants of the Slavery racial hierarchy still exists today.

Contrastingly, ‘All Lives Matter’ is a term usually used by counter-demonstrators or critics of the Black Lives Matter movement, who argue that instead of the minorities adopting the exclusion tactic, distancing themselves from wider society, they should instead be coming together with others to argue that ‘All Lives Matter’. Indeed, many have argued that the exclusivity of the Black Lives Matter movement, and it’s adoption of the identity politics mantra, will hinder the group more than it will help it.

Throughout history and in current times, all life was and is, not equal. It never has been and never will be. This is due primarily to the integral nature of the societies which humans have built together over thousands of years. There are hierarchies that are imbedded in society that are a ‘necessary evil’, both susceptible to corruption but also fundamentally necessary.

Hierarchies are undoubtedly exposed to corruption; they ensure that the majority of the wealth is at the top, and the majority of the people are at the bottom. It stratifies people based on their characteristics. However, whilst hierarchies can tilt towards tyranny if left unaccountable, they are undoubtedly necessary. They are required because it is the only way that humans are able to solve complex problems that the world presents.

When a problem arises, some humans in the hierarchy are naturally more able and competent in solving these problems. Therefore immediately, a hierarchy of competence is formed, with those more competent at solving a specific task at the top, and those who are less so at the bottom. And, since society needs to reward these competent people for solving the problems that society faces, and to retain them so they solve other problems in the future, they are given the spoils of finding a solution. This comes in the form of wealth.

Therefore, the consequence of having a hierarchy of competence is also having a hierarchy of wealth. Within both hierarchies, the problem solvers are at the top, and those who are inepter are at the bottom. Naturally, this creates a clumping of resources at the top.

In the modern world, it would be impossible to abolish hierarchies such as these, because you cannot equalise across all human characteristics and their respective intersections within the greater hierarchy. To do this would be to revert to the extreme case of Totalitarianism, where the hierarchies are completely flattened by an oppressive, overarching dictator. And even then, a hierarchy of power exists (just with one person at the top, with all the wealth).

(photo from Pinterest)

Moreover, if all hierarchies are flattened, then the perceptions of the world that society has created become null and void. The world operates through a naturally occurring hierarchy of value. Something needs to be superior to something else in order to give us humans an aim. Without such an aim, in a hierarchless society, then there would be no such thing as a meaningful life. A world without hierarchies would destroy the basic notion of human aspiration.

So, it is within these hierarchies that we find ourselves. We have to live with this inherent, eternal hierarchical tension; careful not to tilt either way towards a tyranny or a flattened society.

It is true that hierarchies are based off of natural human characteristics. However, humans can control such things as personal competence; we can train ourselves to be better at things. We can become more competent, therefore climbing our way up the hierarchy. However, they are certain things that we cannot control, race and ethnicity being two of these. These characteristics should never be hierarchically stratified, because then a person’s outcome in life becomes determined by a characteristic that they cannot physically control or alter.

Such a tyrannical hierarchy of race has happened in our world many times over. The slavery of the African and Caribbean colonies were prime examples of a hierarchy where one set of humans were pre-determined to be hierarchically inferior to another based on characteristics they could not alter or control: race and ethnicity.

To assert power over someone just by the colour of their skin can never be a healthy hierarchy, because the determining factor of the hierarchy can never be altered. Therefore, there is no social mobility within the hierarchy. A person’s outcome in life is determined solely by a factor they cannot control.

13th Amendment Right of the American Consitution. (photo from ThoughtCo)

Slavery has been legally banned in the USA since 1865, under the 13th Amendment Right of the American Constitution. However, the mechanisms that upheld that tyrannical hierarchy are arguably still in place. The remnants of the underlying social fabric which the physical hierarchy used to rest upon still exist.

This is what Black Lives Matter should be protesting against. The explicit racism that slavery embodied no longer exists in the vast majority of cases, due to it being constitutionally illegal. However, the hierarchy of competence which exists today in America is undeniably influenced by the social fabric of the racial hierarchy that existed. Hierarchical systems are not mutually exclusive of one another; each is connected to another, with countless intersections.

Hierarchies themselves are not equal amongst each other. There is naturally a hierarchy of hierarchies; with tyrannical, binary types like racial hierarchies existing at the top. These hierarchies prove very difficult to alter and destroy completely, because they are based on such a binary and divisive issue, such as the colour of someone’s skin.

So when a hierarchy such as this is ‘destroyed’ or flattened, although the hierarchical framework is gone for anyone to climb up and assert dominance on those below from, the underlying social fabric which legitimised it still exists. So, when America made slavery illegal by law in 1865, they destroyed the physical framework of the racial hierarchy, but the submerged part of the hierarchical iceberg remained intact.

Since this was not recognised, the social fabric has largely remained in place since 1865. This preserved underlying structure has meant that the social consequences, rhetoric, and in this case, implicit racism of the brutal system have been largely preserved also. Subsequently, the subliminal structure has slowly become prominent among people on the extreme-right of American politics, who still believe that the hierarchy was a legitimate one, and that it either still does, or should, exist today.

When someone points out that ‘All Lives Matter’ they are stating the obvious. Yes, all lives matter. But that is not the argument here. What is being, or should be, argued is that black lives do not matter AS MUCH AS other lives, because of the mistakes made by those who abolished slavery in 1865. They failed to recognise the fact that there is so much more to eradicating a hierarchy, especially a hierarchy as divisive and tyrannical as the one that had existed, than to simply make it constitutionally illegal. By de-legitimising it in the eyes of the law, a hierarchy as powerful as the one slavery was built upon is not totally eradicated, but merely restricted.

The Black Lives Matter movement are trying to fully eradicate the underlying social fabric of this pre-existing hierarchy, an act which should have been done hundreds of years ago. This is a difficult task and one that will require a great deal of courage and expertise to overcome. However, given time and relentless effort, it can be done. What Black Lives Matter need to be wary of is the dangerous system of identity politics, which has slowly engulfed the entire political system in recent decades.

They must resist the cries of those who argue that ‘All Lives Matter’, who are trying to delegitimise the Black Lives Matter movement by arguing that the underlying social fabric doesn’t exist. They need to remain steadfast in their aim, and not play the binary identity politics game with the ‘All Lives Matter’ protestors.

The goal is not to become a political identity. The goal is to eradicate the remnants of a previous hierarchy which the Founding Fathers failed to do, where ethnic minorities were assigned a sub-human identity.

Finish what was started.




All articles written by William Cooper | Psychology, Philosophy, History, Religion, Politics.

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All articles written by William Cooper | Psychology, Philosophy, History, Religion, Politics.

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