In a recent Rolling Stone article entitled: “The Line That May Have Won Hilary Clinton the Nomination,” Matt Taibbi makes a valid argument for the role that racism played in the financial crisis of 2008. His argument begins with Clinton’s question at a rally aimed at her opponent, Bernie Sanders: “If we broke up the big banks tomorrow would that end racism?”
While there is amble evidence that people of color were specifically targeted during the sub-prime fiasco, it appears that Taibbi is suggesting not that greed and racism are tied together but rather that the marginalized are easy targets for those who are greedy. I would suggest, however, that greed and racism are intimately tied at a deep and dark subconscious level.
To see the answer, we need to get below the materialism of greed and the black and white of racism. We need to get to our deepest fear, the fear of being cast out by society. We need to see it for what it is, a true reality that drives much of our behavior but, at the same time, is no more than a state of mind produced by an electrical potential along the axons of a certain group of neurons.
Under its influence, the differences we see in others take on a negative value. That value is near zero and the other becomes worthless, no good, a waste of life, a piece of crap. Through this subconscious logic, it is perfectly fine to either use the other for our benefit or eliminate the other if he or she is an obstacle to our goal of social security and status: shut them out, incarcerate them, destroy them, let them suffer and die.
If our human potential was no greater than that of other social animals, this would be expected. But I think most would agree that our potential as humans is greater. If that’s so, we need to take a serious look at what is limiting us ‘cause Jane Goodall’s chimpanzees are looking more civilized than us these days.
That look should take a look at how even our good intentions are going astray. When we fail to see that our differences have no inherent value at all, we easily fall under the sin of valuing some differences in a positive light. We become our culture, our success, our good health, and our looks. Yes, we all are different, but we are not those differences; we are so much more.
We can’t help seeing differences in others. Our tendency to place a value on someone else is inherently natural. But we can, and should, learn to ‘unvaluate’ those differences. And we can’t do this for someone else; I must start with me. When we don’t, any illusion of peace that comes when we band with those similar to ostracize those who are different will quickly be lost in a violent climax. No social ill will be addressed. No social problem will be solved.