We abandon desperate people at society's peril

By Jon Sanderson   

Opinion 

Brexit has given the most racist elements in Britain a voice. The similarities between the UKIP movement and Donald Trump are apparent. Wide condemnations are flying across the social media spectrum. No one wants to admit that Canada is more than capable of descending into similar vitriol. Even worse, no one wants to talk about the economics of abandonment which is fueling the fires of hatred.

Capitalism has abandoned the majority of the population. By this point, listing the statistics has become something of a dog and pony show. Poverty is up. Unemployment is up. Precarious work is up. Wages are in decline. Wealth inequality is the core.

The result has been a wave of fury throughout the Capitalist world. The corporate media’s job is to delegitimize this rage, any way they can. Pointing a camera at the most desperate and uneducated as they struggle to articulate the reasons for their abandonment is precisely the game we’re falling for. We are to fight among ourselves while the wealthy make off with the goods.

It is divide and conquer per usual. We don’t need to address the legitimate concerns of racists, after all. We don’t need to talk about what enriching a small group of investors at the expense of the vast majority has done because some of the people involved are racists. We don’t need to acknowledge that the centre of this racist expression is a deep anger, and anxiety about their own social security.

Why are we shocked that total abandonment has resulted in tribalism? What’s the surprise? History has shown over and over again that once a populace has been humiliated and left to rot, racism is sure to follow. Do we really believe that a society can break down any other way?

We should prepare ourselves now for the Canadian outburst of racism. As our society breaks and crumbles, the desperation will only increase. As more and more people realize they have been abandoned, they will grapple to find out why. Many will fall back on racism. If we reject the uneducated as they struggle, instead of approaching them with understanding, we lose.

What’s truly surprising is our willingness to be duped into supporting the corporate media’s message. We are told to detach ourselves from our brothers and sisters in their most vulnerable state. We are to insist that the abandoned should remain so because they lack the ability to articulate the cause of their suffering. Woe be to us for doing so.

All we achieve by grandstanding on a soapbox of racism is the further entrenchment of racism. We don’t defeat racists by demonizing and insulting them. We simply drive them into isolated groups. We haven’t engaged them in a larger conversation, or attempted to lead them towards a cleaner articulation. We’ve convinced them that it’s Us versus Them while the wealthy laugh to their offshore accounts.

Racism is a dark and evil thing, brought out in equally dark and evil times. When we fight for economic security through a Basic Income, we fight for the racists too. We don’t do it to legitimize their racism. We do it to legitimize their humanity. They are our brothers and sisters, whether we like it or not, and we can’t do this without them.

— Jon Sanderson is an actor and writer currently living in Toronto and an occasional columnist for Leaders and Legacies. He is the founder, and organizer of Basic Income: Toronto.