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November 29, 2013 / compassioninpolitics

Answers to Wilderson and Afro-pessism–The Debate Part II

The following is part of an online debate that took place here.
It really started in #31–its probably not a structured debate until that post I don’t think. I may be wrong. This is the second part of the debate (kind of analogous to final rebuttals, although it may still continue a bit further). The first part of the debate can also be read here (note: it only contains my arguments).

You are free to quote me in policy debates, as long as you cite me. My quals are former college debate coach and amateur philosopher and historian with a masters in communication.

I’m not sure what I think of the debate. I hadn’t been able to read one of your earlier posts when I posted. Not sure why that happened. The celebration of Thanksgiving certainly skewed and otherwise ate into the time and care I was able to devote to the argument.

Plus….better teche on the history of oppression of African and Americans is entirely useless if your alternative is egregious–it makes the situation worse. The math doesn’t even add up and you haven’t met your burden of proof (below in one of the two posts–this or the next one). This is the equivalent of me almost spotting you your economy impact…..and going all in on the link turn. I made a strategic choice.

Our system is built on choices and responsibility–not blaming situations on external forces. These people in prison made choices.
Everybody has situations–and hard situations at times (for different reasons). No one forced them at the barrel of a gun to deal.
No one forced them to create another system of addiction & killing & t-ism. They are literally the fathers of another generation of
crime, violence, and injustice. They are co-creating a hell in the inner cities.

Our system provides lots of grace. We have (institutional) forgiveness embedded in the system. We provide metaphorical “get out of jail cards” for good behaviour. The reason our system has fits and spurts of -isms that course through it, is because people have those same issues–those same temptations and idols of power. Human psychology and human desire mean that casting off the structures of government means these come back with a vengance (rhetorical flourish–they never left) with the alternative. There is zero risk of this solving. You haven’t devoted any time to the alternative or justifying it. Zero.

Prefer my arguments–they have less over-generalization, hyperbole, and deal more with nuance of situations. Imperfection doesn’t mean you throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Comparative analysis & Burden of Proof:
1) We are in a life raft… this metaphor those in prison are floating on the side–partially due to institutions, partially due to choices they made themselves (repeated choices, by the way).
Those 3 who are floating off the side–in a barely alive state don’t get to slash the life raft of the other 7. Especially when the hard work of the 7 built the raft in the first place.

2) Cancer victim. If your body is suffering, you don’t just give up if your arm, leg, or whatever is taken over by cancer. You keep going. We are a community. Its probably partially unjust that they are in the situation–but you don’t rectify that injustice with another injustice. The alternative is violence, which means you use 70% of society as a means.

3) You haven’t justified that we burn down the mansions of the 1% or the 10%…..much less everything including the suburbs as a perverted and callous attempt to create a new social disorder. Not-even-close. Thats your burden–fundamentally.

Institutional reforms: ban the acts of prison that are like slavery. (Heres the double-bind–there is something to physical acts to in some ways provide a kind of restorative justice or restitution–into the universe. There are multiple forms of institutional reform which have helped African-americans. If there was a better situation in the past institutionally, surely we can get there. Its intellectual weak sauce not to go back and provide a nuanced approach to–you don’t throw up your arms (with your distorted ideological assessment of how institutions in America work). I’ve yet to hear by 1964 was such a bad deal for African Americans except for fungibility. Guess what, they were fungible before and fungible after—and a world of institutional accountability helps check that fungibility. It intervenes in case where power imbalances exist–in the midst of violence and injustice. It stops cycles of violence instead of perpetuating them. It stands in the middle keeping loose nukes, dictators like Hitler (or a dozen others), hateful lynch mobs.

The government stopped slavery, it stopped lynch mobs, it stopped abuses that were occurrings–and we’ve stopped most of the use of the n-word. Thats a HUUUUUUGE generational shift.

I’ll deal with the line by line more directly in the next segment–hopefully it will be up in 25 to 30 minutes from when I published this last edit–but no guarantees.


The fundamentals of argument is that you use problem + solution to justify a policy change in people or government. You’ve only focused on the problem, neglecting the solution at almost every turn. Thats a fundamental burden. I, alternatively have indicated how the alternative turns back your argument–makes racism, slavery, and dehumanization worse. Its makes crime and criminality the norm–creating cycles of violence and along with loose nukes in the hands of racists, not to mention lynch mobs. This fundamentally are multiple turn scenarios on the proposal to “burn it down” whether that is actual riots or just throw all the system out.

Human psychology and history indicates where there are wide sections of freedom–people take advantage. Traffic lights keep us in line–in a world without traffic lights, we would have 5x more wrecks. Thats a metaphor for how well designed law works. Moreover, without institutional accountability–people will run wild–without risk or fear of government punishment. Institutional controls and accountability create a predictable norms–versus a world of the alternative where private cops (think PMCs) are the best check against abuses. You let the wolf of capitalism into the collective/social hen house in a much bigger way than they are in even prisons or as happened with the .

Violent riots aren’t the answer to anything–much less this. Particularly when alternatives haven’t been tried. Without trying alternatives in the mean time, its like you’re GW before the full range of options with the UN had been tried. The laboraties of democracy in the local and state are ripe for this. For instance, Cory Bookers work in New Jersey to transform and re-juvinate it is instructive. He’s the indication that change is possible–that hope is there. And Cory booker as an example and metaphor FLAT OUT schools all the “the system is terminally screwed and racist” naysaying & chicken little “the sky is falling” (Not even Chicken little would burn it all down–he/she is too smart for that).

I realize the part about Cory Booker is new–but an extension of all the institutional alternatives. I realize the PMC’s part is new-ish. I made reference to the way that you open up capitalism earlier in the thread (don’t remember which post).


You say: “Federalism? Democracy? Honestly who cares wtf diamond or calabrese say. They’re evidence of the bullshit apocalypse scenarios that are used to whip us in to fear and jam bullshit police state policies down our throat. And, gutcheck: those impacts aren’t going to happen. Our impacts are happening. Your impacts are a bullshit debate scenario from years ago. You threaten everyone that the sky is falling. I speak the truth. Who will the judge vote for do you think?”

This is weak sauce. You can’t blow off emprically and historically grounded evidence. You can’t blow off the advocacy of your alternative. The end result of your movement is massive violence…..the crumbling of the democratic and federalist systems. The empirical result of that–is massive violent conflict. (post-pre-fiat….whatever…..advocacting them assumes a world where they take place…..). And if you don’t advocate an alternative…’re just advocating the status quo and we can all vote neg and go home….or go home and vote neg. You pick.

Oh and I almost forgot this diddy on the line by line: Democide is a comparative argument:
We outweigh your alternative. Also, the democide evidence (along with all the evidence on democracy–the assumed evidence from Diamond because I don’t want to hunt it down) contains its own embedded uniqueness. It is assumptive of a world of the US imprisoning people in an unjust way and them not being able to vote.


You say “Because it is not a discriminatory law it is racism that happens through our ontological assumptions and epistemological assumptions.”

Burning it all down doesn’t change psychology (positively) and doesn’t change the ontological and epistemological assumptions–that are built up in our worldview. The alternative has zero hope of solving. Period.

You say “This has been noticed, there are attempts to check this(affirmative action in employment/college admission, etc), but these checks are always under constant threat of rollback.”

I appreciate you being intellectually honest.

1. But this…..they could be rolled back stuff is the nature of democracy or non-static government entities. Being the anti-thesis of progress sucks when you try to have an alternative that doesn’t make progress
2. This is a concession that protections kind of work in the status quo. There is hope. Institutional reforms can work. (aka your author is a hack with respect to his understanding of humanity, the US government, and his alternative).

Two other problems:
1) Double-bind: If the system is this skewed….the whole system is overtly racist.

2) Double-bind: if there is this much bubbling racism…..burning it down won’t solve (this is kinda redundant, but I thought I would point it out again.

Its Hitler & dictators (global slavery) versus a fractional slavery in the US (and not even slavery in the same sense–ie hyperbolic slavery).

Double-bind….you apparently hate capitalism……but you open up the flood-gates to more capitalism and more corporate exploitation of African americans, minorities, etc….. unchecked by institutional accountability. You roll the clock back on workers rights–turning them into slaves to corporate interests. Not to mention, the average citizen is exploited by not having access to cops and protection–except through the private cops–with no higher authority–you have civil wars of private cops hired by Donald Trump to take over Swartzneggers property or just to seek revenge. And that happens 10,000x, because there is no accountability, and no check on greed, racism, power-grabs, etc…. (yet another turn of your philosophy/worldview/framework/alternative).

Ok….I may return to go down your line by line in a more direct way….but in the last 3 posts I think I’ve dealt with what was most important. And before I take a break…..I should reiterate the overview I first made about the different levels of this debate….how determinism and essentialism mean you loose.

And PS….if I’m making inroads on determinism and essentialism….(and the romantic racism, I’m sorry I didn’t spend much time or reasoning in that particular argument)….it doesn’t matter than you attempt to jettison your argument and alternative–its fundamental argumentive architechture is a bad one, ethically flawed–and shouldn’t be perpetuated. It should be re

I just don’t think you’re up to defending the extreme level of burden of proof you are in……and history is simply not on your side with respect to institutional or other alternatives which can be used. Cory Booker & the reforms in Newark being a great example.


Cory booker proves historically and pratically the k is flawed–and that hope and step-by-step policy change is a better alternative:

Cory Booker brought new ideas about neighborhood security, economic development and prisoner reentry to the table. Booker also tried to modernize the city’s administrative infrastructure. While not headline-grabbing, his push to bring city government into the digital age may well be one of his more tangible legacies. He also made hard choices by cutting spending, and in the process, angering many residents who lost their jobs in city government.
Booker did not solve poverty in Newark, nor did he usher in a mecca for the “creative class” as some now refer to upwardly mobile professionals. Booker did create a stable climate where philanthropy and the private sector now feel comfortable investing in the city. Booker also made strides in crime reduction, but young males of color still kill each other far more than is acceptable. But one thing about Cory Booker, he is leaving Newark better than he found it, and that is the acid test of leadership.

The source is quoting “Roland V. Anglin, director of The Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies at Rutgers University in Newark.”

Source:…-newark-legacy/ (sorry you’ll have to chase down the exact URL)

Cory Booker isn’t perfect as an institutional reformer, but the before and after are dramatically different. And theses successes prove that hope can work–even if there were slip ups along the way. The K has to prove the success or even true silver linings aren’t possible (aka hope or practical, useful change)–but Cory Booker stands as a bulwark that the hyper-skeptics are a poison–at least as an alternative. We can combine their awareness with the practical solutions of Cory Booker or even the practical accomplishments of Barak Obama in terms of social justice. I’m not saying either is perfect–just that both stand as practical, tangible, and irrefutable power of the power of public policy, social reform, and ultimately hope.



Leave a Comment
  1. compassioninpolitics / Nov 30 2013 1:15 am

    Re: Treating this too much like debate

    This. This so, so much

    But, I don’t know what that means? Why is that bad in this context? How can I treat it likeI understand why having debates in relationships can be bad, dangerous–but in this context I’m missing it.

    Specifically overviews & line by line (although I’m certainly focusing on the former or at least the meta-level rather than the micro level). I also think the conventions of comparison and priority in debate are important. The data/warrant convention is too (although given the context, the standards here are slightly looser).

    And I’ve made admissions along the way (for instance the card I cut on movements–I conceded it wasn’t quite as stellar as I would have liked for it to be). And theres a techne that RickRoss is using that I’m not–so I think we’re equally treating it like a debate.

    Not to mention, I’m in a double-bind. If I treat it not enough like debate….people talk about me losing or dropping (even if they don’t use those words)

    Also, I appreciate your agreement on certain points.

    Also, kudos to Rick Ross–this is and has been interesting. You’ve got my respect in terms of your knowledge of the top level of this debate. (US Racism, etc..)

    I think its a little diengenous to explain why its not anarchy this late in the game (after me making the argument 3+ times). Sorry, am I to assume that you’re not a debater or coach? This isn’t any judgement either way–it just might help.

    And your explanation only brings up further questions.
    • What do you mean by civil society?
    • How would you take civil society down? How would it be successful?
    • Wouldn’t the only way to have an alternative be that worked–be to have conciousness raising by civil society (sure you could tear down, but you couldn’t solve)
    I apologize the debate reference–but tearing down civil society does turbo charge my earlier democracy arguments. Moreover, civil society is shared culture–killing that shared culture turns power to the powerful–the people can’t organize bottom up power effectively.

    What does this mean–particularly the “phenomeological evidence” (I know what phenomenology is although you are welcome to explain it)

    “To us Uncle Sam is Hitler without an oven”.

    Didn’t some of his comrades work at Berkeley (aka a State school). For being a slave ship…..he sure did like their paychecks.

    Not sure what this is talking about:
    So much great phenomenological evidence before he got coopted:

    “If I say no violence devil, you won’t respect mine”

    Stop forgetting that there are ongoing genocides and the new genocide is right around the corner

    Hyperbole & conspiracy theory won’t get you very far. Sure there have been genocides in the past…..sure there have been some perpetuated by US policy. Those have theoretically decreased over time. The native americans were probably the worst in history. But, I don’t think genocide is a particularly helpful word–numbers speak louder than rhetorical flourishes. And for every genocide you bring up–the risks associated with the other side–with the lack of democracy is FAR worse. (heres the chart, wikipedia’s is more extensive: http://www.hawaii.ed…ills/MURDER.HTM ) I forget who said, democracy may be bad–but there’s nothing better as an alternative.

    You;ve made a case for reform——for prison reform (maybe the criminal justice system or various laws) and reform of the schools…..and probably reform of the welfare state…..but reform. There are 1000s of policies we haven’t tried. And there have been general improvements in the lot of African americans and other minorities at times.

    The idea of anarchy creating tyranny is entirely consistent. Or at the very least micro-tyrannies as private military (private security or private police) providers consolidate power and act like pirates without a common and institutional, and visible standard or norm. Yes…that seems like the human psychology I’ve seen through history (see: lack of institutions in Rwanda or Somalia or even the Wild West in the US).

  2. compassioninpolitics / Nov 30 2013 9:08 pm

    How did Nathan start talking about Hitler? Is it ceding the political, or is it determinism, or something else, and what are the internal links?

    Thats the US foreign policy good/bad or US policy good/bad.

    The link to modernity could be the west is good and technology….but also the scientific method. Its also a denial of Wilderson’s trajectory of history versus my claim of the arc of history leans toward justice. Winning that is a TKO to most of the impacts I think. However, Wilderson’s impacts are going to be race specific…..and you probably have to stretch one of those modernity cards to do that work (i.e. this is speaking about minorities and these are fundamental changes in the lives of racialized minorites.)

    You could double up on reading the following two cards:
    1) modernity good
    2) multiple reasons racism improving or the conditions of African americans

    That would make the argument a bit more solid. Although the drug & prisons argument is seemingly self-contained–and the stats seem to favor Wildersons argument. To me, though, it is hyperbolic to call that slavery.

    I think when you narrow it down to one case it makes a big difference–the counterplan or advocacy or whatever to release all non-violent offenders and banning the use of prisons for work, seem to solve back the slavery offense. I’m sure there are other counterplans for reforming these institutions–but I think you could make that a 15 second argument–and not have to read evidence for it.

    As a side note:
    It probably rejects the hegemony of the scientific method (i.e. science as the only way of knowing the world) and particular scientific “innovations” (i.e. scientific racism) but not science generally.

    1) I don’t know how to make that distinction exactly. Plus, the West = western universities, which is the infrastructure for the discovery.
    2) I think you’re still ahead by millions or even billions of lives. Kitchen table science isn’t going to solve major diseases.
    3) I think you could make romantic racism arguments.

    I think his best argument back:
    1) western medicine bad
    2) Shiva (perhaps)
    3) Western stuff = control versus organic

    Not to mention, criminal justice, slave labor, and imprisoning minorities is not unique to America. Its actually far worse elsewhere–and there is no Constitution to serve as predictability, accountability, justice, or a check.

    I wonder if there is any evidence which makes a distinction between rehabilitation/restitution and slavery. The intent is different (theoretically), the means is different, and the ends is different.
    Working to pay back $40k (or whatever it costs to imprison someone) seems to even out those wage claims. They are actually above the poverty line in a weird way–and most have guaranteed services. (I don’t want to romanticize it, but I think its important to challenge the hyperbole that Wilderson and others use in this context, because its dangerous).

  3. compassioninpolitics / Dec 2 2013 2:28 am


    You are not necessarily even sitting near them. When ice Cube says “if I say no violence devil you won’t respect mine/fuck the dumb shit and get my tech nine” to me he is giving a reason why Wilderson’s ideas are important, because those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.

    I don’t see this as an argument. There is no inevitability to a violent revolution. Is Ice Cube going to start it? We haven’t seen anything on that scale since the LA Riots and nothing has even come close. I would say the risk scenario is .00001. or at least less than 1%. Is there anything that Cube has written that he intended the evidence to be taken as evidence for a coming violent revolution which encompasses the US?

    I would suggest those most likely to start a revolution are probably locked up (ie they are most likely to see this as an option)

    Also, I just noticed a distinction–currently there is un-intentional racism which results in violence. The alternative is intentional violence–it intentionally uses people as a means to an ends–both minorities and non-minorities. Moreover, it encourages others to engage in those acts by getting rid of the pillars of our justice system which keeps our relative rule of law.


    You keep saying “there is no hope” but there has been an alternative this entire time. The alt reclaims the black body as a site of politics, that is to say of ontological life. Its just not very likely the alt wins, but the point of ontological death is there is nothing to lose.

    I was referencing your “no hope with institutions” and “no hope with the status quo arguments” and “the white man will never help the black man” type arguments–are bold, hyperbolic, hyper-generalizations with less than no basis.


    If the worst that can happen has been happening why do I care about any of your offense against the alt? And if I’m spotting you the fact that its going to be damn near impossible to solve the alt, but its try or die. Your defense on the alt is probably of little concern as well.

    This is a mischaracterization of the debate. First, I have empirical and historical examples of hope and change. Those stand as an alternative–so no you don’t get to magically change my offense into defense–you have to win the top level of the debate for that to happen. So you win “lots of racism, but I also win there are ways to pragmatically deal with those” Plus, I think I’m winning you increase racism comparatively with the alternative. Thats net worse that the status quo. And you’ve conceded the determinism & essentialism arguments throughout–those make inroads into the ethics & pragmatic application of Wildersons theories. ( I’ve already explained those impacts in the rest of the debate….so I won’t re-address them here)

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