What’s Really Going On with #BlackLivesMatter

People are very clearly confused about what is going on in America today with #BlackLivesMatter. Reading posts and comments on various social media, it’s obvious the public believes that the protests in the streets either represent a popular uprising against capitalism, which some seem rather excited about, or at least they aren’t objecting too loudly, or represent a noble network of progressive organizations pushing a moderate policing reform agenda. 

In California local law enforcement keep eye on protests from afar
Protestors march in Salinas, California, early June

The latter interpretation is obviously false. As calls go up for reparations, restructuring Western society consistent with globalist ambition, revising history and culture, it becomes clear that BLM has something more radical in mind. Moreover, given the paucity of evidence showing racial bias in the criminal justice system, the movement’s goals would have to be more ambitious than police reform. There is, in truth, very little to reform. At least not along racial lines. The patterns are explained by the demographics of criminal offending. (See The Myth of Systemic Racism in Lethal Police-Civilian Encounters.) 

Another interpretation, the one often supposed by the political right, is wrong, as well. The corporate money and power behind BLM tells us it is not a proletarian uprising. BLM is funded by wealthy investors and several of the largest corporations in America and around the world. It’s easy to find out who they are. They do not hide it. The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation has so much money that affiliated chapters may apply for unrestricted grant funding of up to $500,000 in multi-year grants. Those Marxists who thought it was their moment will have to wait some more for the revolution. They won’t find it here.

The protestors on the streets, foot soldiers available because of the COVID-19 disruption in the economy, education, and sports, are what the public relations industry called “Astroturf”—fake grassroots organized and coordinated by corporatist-globalist powers, Democratic Party functionaries, and the academic and media intelligentsia. I published an in-depth article on this tactic by the rightwing end of the political spectrum in 2002, Advancing Accumulation and Managing its Discontents: The U.S. Antienvironmental Countermovement (see The Anti-Environmental Countermovement for a summary and brief talk). The strategy is the same. These tactics are used on both the left and the right.

In the present circumstances, transnationalist powers—banks, corporations, foundations and think tanks—are using faux-popular appearances to sow racial division and disrupt class consciousness. This is not to say that many of those out in the streets don’t actually believe they’re involved in an uprising. There are true believers among them (I have an upcoming blog on the social psychology of all this). But those calling the shots know they aren’t involved in an uprising. Not against the establishment, at least. 

The long-term objective of the protests it seems to me is to weaken the institutions, thought, and practices of democratic republicanism. The denationalization project, evidenced in the policies and practices of neoliberalism, neoconservatism, and transnationalization, has been unfolding for decades. In the near term, the objective is to disorganize the economic nationalist wing of the capitalist class (small businesses and farms and domestic industries) and its populist allies in the working class. (See Democrats Pander While Managing America’s Decline.)

The election of Trump, the success of the Brexit movement (which globalists delayed for years only to see a seismic shift in labor sympathies towards the Conservatives), the rise of nationalist-populist movements throughout much of the West, the popular demands for rolling back offshoring and mass immigration—all this panicked the globalists. Black Lives Matter is one tactics to regain the advantage.

What we are seeing is a war being waged by corporations and their allies on democracy and freedom on several fronts. The anarchy on the street is one level. Through ground-level action, elites aim to disorganize communities, disrupt policing, and create general chaos. Mob violence is designed to put the public on edge, to bully them into passivity and compliance. Toppling and defacing statues and other public works, ignoring the complexities of historical figures and institutions, all this aims to rework historical memory and popular understanding of the past and the progress America has made over its many years of its existence. It is classic delegitimization work, it purpose to bring the validity of the nation into question, to undermine the American creed and her moral authority, making the next step—dissolution in some fashion—easier.

This delegitimization project is found, as well, at the universities. Indeed, a lot of the protestors are students (past and present) operating with an anti-American program developed and installed over several decades in the public education system, libraries, museums, and popular culture. (I have an upcoming blog on the social psychology of all this.) The Black Lives Matter platform makes it explicit. This is jargon of postmodernism. Alienated and disaffected youth, the bored and the misfit, have been handed a philosophy.

There is a popular media parallel to the academic propaganda. The character of that propaganda is so obvious not much needs to be said about it (Russia election interferences, the Ukraine affair, etc.). However, social media platforms are now making open war on the republic, censoring government officials, as well as marginalizing political figures and speech that challenge globalization project. (See The Conspiracy to Overthrow an American President; Zuckerberg is Insufficiently Totalitarian.)

The goal of the propaganda is to make the antagonisms not appear as between those who want to keep their country and those who want to integrate the American (and Western) worked with the transnational institutions of global capitalism, which is the real struggle, but instead to appear as racial conflict, the warring tribes already cast: rightwing reactionary and backwards whites bent on keeping the privilege that oppresses blacks and other minorities, those marginalized groups who enjoy the advocacy of forward-thinking progressive academics, corporations, and politicians. 

One’s choice of comrades in this case is complicated by the extent to which delusional thinking has penetrated the political left and ostensibly rational institutions. It raises the costs to one’s person in unique ways. But a choice is nonetheless necessary for the sake of the republic. Truth has its own integrity and demands someone speak for it.

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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