What I describe here isn’t a matter of morality (good people and bad people), but instead it’s a matter of dynamics. Regardless of the politics a person claims, if they thrive in this system they shouldn’t be trusted, or expected to try to change it. Those who benefit from the oppressive, capitalistic system exist in equilibrium with it; this is so, even if they’re place in the order seems oppositional. This pseudo-opposition is part of the balance keeping everything in orbit. Being privileged in the system nullifies one’s ability to change it in a meaningful way or aid in the liberation of the oppressed. The act of liberation is only possible through revolutionary power which stems from potential energy that is derived from truly feeling and experiencing oppressive forces.
Caring, as in being aware and taking an ethical stance, about oppression isn’t the same as taking action for the cause. The cause to which I’m referring is ending oppression. Caring and doing aren’t comparable to potential and kinetic energy. Feeling is the key. Feeling, from experience and struggle, creates the potential energy needed for change, as in changing the oppressive system. Change, in this case, is the result of kinetic energy, but the type and the quality of change that occurs is dependent on how the energy is directed as well as its source.
Many white liberals, for example, “care” about issues like racism, but they benefit from it on a daily basis, and on many levels. The sense of “caring” they feel may be based in guilt, anxiety, or empathy, and the motivation will naturally be to eliminate these unpleasant feelings, NOT the elimination of racial oppression. “Caring” about this issue causes many white liberals to deny their privilege, the benefits of their privilege and their actions which stem from their privilege. This denial is a defense from unpleasant feelings. In this case, much energy is spent on denying reality and very little is allocated to changing it. The potential energy from caring about racism manifests quite differently from the built up energy that comes from being oppressed by racism. Knowing, from theory, and feeling, from experience, are not the same.
The realities of ending racism (or “racial-capitalism” as I call it) and monetary/resource based capitalism would be devastating for many privileged people including affluent leftists and anti-racists. Without the stabilizing forces of privilege, many people would fly out of their comfortable orbits. Although the empathy some privileged people have for the oppressed is appreciated, it directs energy toward feeling good as opposed to making things better. Our current sociopolitical and economic system is held together with a great deal of energy and those who thrive in this system are conduits helping to complete the flow regardless of how they feel about it. This flow of energy creates a web of oppression that is manifested by receiving and using one’s various unearned privileges. The web holds the conduits in place, and the conduits maintain the web. Only those who struggle, as oppose to thrive, in this system can ever hope to change it. Struggle disrupts the streams of energy holding the system together.
Oppression causes suffering, but there can be meaning in this suffering should one choose to find it. Those who struggle against the forces of oppression may siphon that energy, transform it, and become galvanized with revolutionary power! This energy is the right frequency to disrupt the equilibrium of oppression and create something truly new and positive. We exist in a galaxy of energetic forces; the manipulation and transformation of these energies is what makes us alive. Clearly knowledge and dedication are required to transform oppressive force into revolutionary power, but one cannot find the exact formula to accomplish this on a blog, in an article, or within the pages of a book. I don’t claim to know the correct equation myself, but I suspect it takes a personal stake to truly understand. One irrefutable truth is evident though: The act of liberation is only possible through revolutionary power which stems from potential energy that is derived from truly feeling and experiencing oppressive forces. To put it plainly, if we want freedom, then we must free ourselves!