• Daniel Ethan Finneran

The Bourgeoisification Of "Black Lives Matter"

“The hater of property and of government takes care to have her warranty deed recorded, and the book written against Fame and learning has the author’s name on the title page”.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

In terms of its applicability to the venerable and, better still, venerated co-founder of the Black Lives Matter organization, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Emerson’s quote about hypocrisy is nearly perfect. Truly, though, should we be surprised by the aptness of the insight, and the sharpness of the pith, with which the Sage of Concord leaves us? Are we still prone to be startled, after all these years spent reading his works and imbibing his sweetness, by the divine wisdom of his sempiternal spirit? Have we yet to encounter, having encountered so many, an author whose genius is so broad, and whose penetration so deep?

Restrain me, I beg of you. I risk falling over myself in raptures over the brilliance of Emerson and the sublimity of his work. I know, in the process, I risk losing your patience and, worse, the dwindling freedom of your day. To this, I offer one simple response—I can do but two things: apologize and write. Yet, knowing this, I’m forever uncertain which of the two specialties claims the superiority of my skill. I will say this, however, and nothing further, on the subject of Emerson’s work: it’s a slope of digression down which, involuntarily, my wandering legs always seem to take me. But oh! how my body relishes the speed of their descent, and how my eyes enjoy the visions along the way!

Returning more to the point, Emerson’s quote, when used as the standard against which Cullors might be measured, can only attain nearly to perfection. Its fitness, you see, isn’t absolute, nor is its suitability beyond a small need of finer tuning. Emerson, no less eloquent for having done so, opted to use the singular “deed”, while Cullors, in her profligacy and expensive taste, rightly deserves the plural. You see, it’s not a single warranty deed for which Cullors seeks the (fundamentally white supremacist, incurably oppressive, putrid, rotten, and horribly racist) American government’s protection, but deeds as they number in a growing multitude, as if one gave birth to another, and another after that. In fact, at the time of writing, those duplicating deeds amount to four—but more on that to come.

Doubtless, Cullors—an avowed and “trained” Marxist, to use her words—is, as Emerson described, a “hater of property and of government”. How could she not be? The very doctrine of the man to whom she proudly pledges her allegiance, and with whose baneful name she’s quick to identify her own, demanded that his followers be precisely that. One wonders if Cullors, during the early, giddy age of her radical instruction, missed the first day in class on which the topic of “property” was covered? One wonders if, during that virgin period of her heady tuition, she failed to absorb the succinct, frightful line by which the title page of all of her textbooks was surely branded, and the ample corridors of her freshman study halls loudly filled: “the theory of the Communists”, Marx said in his ageless Manifesto, “may be summed up in a single sentence: Abolition of private property”.

Need he say more? Was Marx, the very idol before whom, we’re told, she still piously kneels, not uncharacteristically frank and, compared with the density of his other works, mercifully explicit on this point? Did he not employ a simplicity of language and terseness of effect by which, say, an impenetrable work like Capital might’ve benefitted? No, this single line says quite enough, and it does so without an underlying wish to deceive.

As is evidenced by her current, quite lavish opinions on property, however, Cullors appears either to have forgotten her education (as happens to so many of us, sadly, now long removed from the bubbling ferment and fertility of our university days), or willfully abandoned an ideology to which, in the comfort of new circumstances and the luxury of her new homes, she only pretends. Whatever the case, owing to her avarice, her need to consume, her drive toward an enlargement of her property, or an acquisition of ever more land, one must conclude that Cullors’s “training” in this very relevant part of Marxism is either incomplete, or insincere.

My suspicion, based on the fact that she appears to be far from unlearned, and that she speaks on this topic with the fluency and poise of a tenured professor, is that it’s the latter.

In support of my hunch, it’s recently come to the public’s notice that Cullors is something of a serial real estate investor. One might go so far as to extol her as a burgeoning magnate in that lucrative but unsteady field, a climbing parvenu very much equal to the challenge of finding her footing and leaping toward wealth. Should she vanquish its crags and surmount its sharp heights, I’d applaud her for the effort, but that’s not really the point. As is obvious, it’s not exactly the profession one might expect a red-blooded, Engels-quoting Marxist to pursue, but she seems to be deciphering the most straightforward aspect of a property-averse philosophy in an acrobatic and novel way.

Last month, she finalized the purchase of a $1.4 million house in Topanga Canyon, Los Angeles. The house, nestled in the tranquil, thin air of a verdant mountain range east of Malibu, is located in an area about as undiverse as an American town can be. It appears that her sneering contempt for “whiteness”, her undiluted odium for that ivory race, tends to soften when placed under the right conditions. Indeed, her antipathy seems to lessen as her address approaches that of the detested Caucasian, the white man and woman next to whom she’s apparently willing to pay millions of dollars to live. Over the course of the past four years, she’s purchased three other homes, all similarly sheltered from the ugly variety of the hoi polloi: two more in Los Angeles, and one in the shaded, languid outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia. Combined, their prices come to a grand total of $3 million.

Perhaps Cullors is somehow deceived into thinking that Marxist doctrine has been suddenly and conveniently amended to her use, and that its new changes tend uniquely to promote her personal advantage and her financial gain. She must, upon re-opening her radical bible (whose godhead is Marx, bearded like Zeus, and whose spirit is Communism’s everlasting specter) and listening closely to the harsh music of its braying scripture, imagine hearing a hitherto undetectable cord, a faint sound by which its dogma, preaching communism, and her lavish expenditures, affirming capitalism, are, in some obscure way, all of a sudden harmonized.

Cullors, a multi-millionaire, can’t very well argue against Bourgeoisification—the process by which an ambitious, proletariat wretch, having sold out to the capitalist system (and, in so doing, embraced the epithet of “oppressor”), ascends to a higher stratum in the world. She is, as is evident by the astonishing rise of her career, the paragon of this phenomenon. She’s a delightful example for all to follow, and she seems to enjoy the dewy air of the summit atop which she’s now perched. For her, the long ascent toward Bourgeoisification is complete.

Yet does Marx not emphatically remind us that the “violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie lays the foundation of the sway of the proletariat”? Given this discomfiting fact, shall we soon expect to see Cullors perform an act of self-violence, if only for the health of the revolution to come? As a newly-minted member of the bourgeoisie, that same brutalizing class against which war must be waged, does she not notice the damage that she’s done to the very cause of which she repeatedly asserts to be the champion? Is she not become, with all her vast property and her bottomless wealth, something of a damper on the revolution of which she likes to think herself the kindling?

After all, the “immediate aim of the Communists is the overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy”. Can we not, in light of her newfound clout, celebrity, and wealth, include Cullors on the list of supremacists by dint of association with the bourgeoisie? Indeed, to quote her beloved, bearded mentor yet again, the “distinguishing feature of Communism is the abolition of bourgeois property”. One wonders if this is a “distinguishing feature” from which her own bourgeois property will be exempt? One wonders whether or not her bourgeois property (or, more accurate still, properties), on account of her proletarian virtue, will be given a pass?

In an unexpected moment of candor, a fellow-traveler by the name of Marc Lamont Hill gently pressed Cullors to explain her recent buying binge. Hoping to gain some clarification on this issue about which, rightly, much has been made, he sought to know the way in which she might justify her shockingly anti-Marxist behavior. On his well-attended podcast, Hill gave Cullors the opportunity to respond to the unfriendly charges of hypocrisy to which she’s lately been subjected. He asked her if she might not reconcile her ideological preaching with her personal actions. He wondered if she might not harmonize her pieties from the altar with her movements behind the curtain.

From the perspective of a good, rational person motivated by tradition, ethics, and the innate love for one’s kin, Cullors responded that the way she lives her life (and spends her money) is in “direct support to my black family members”, first and foremost. As an aside, I pity the white interloper who might, perchance, happen to marry into her distinguished family; she’s quite clearly biased to those members who are black. On this point, she’s painfully explicit. The first white “in-law” by whom she’d dare be bothered ought to be prepared; he’s likely to be unsupported by this racist matriarch’s largesse!

Expanding on this appeal to her family, Cullors told Hill that she has a child, a mother, and a mentally-damaged brother for whom she has to care. None of us would be so unfeeling as to withhold our sympathy from her plight, and we’re doubtless glad to know that each family member can, at the appropriate time, occupy one of the four sumptuous estates of which she’s the proud owner. Yet from the perspective of an actual Marxist, this justification doesn’t wash.

“Abolition of the family!” This was, and remains to be, one of Marx’s more startling proclamations. It wasn’t as though he whispered this in the silence of an academic vacuum, as though he were toying around with the crazy concept between strong pints of beer. He acknowledged the jarring effect it would have, continuing honestly to say that, “Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal”. The foundation of the present family, of course, was based on “capital, on private gain”, and anything built upon such pillars needed to be razed to the ground.

Apparently intoxicated by this, and every other noxious fume with which Marx’s work contaminated the air, BLM (the organization, mind you, of which Cullors is the co-founder) declared its hope to see the family, for all intents and purposes, abolished. Before its website underwent a swift expurgation, a hasty attempt to cleanse itself of many an unsightly line, it declared its intention to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure”. It’s uncommon to see Marx treat of an idea more succinctly, but in this case, he did. Ultimately, though, both he and BLM are saying the same thing; abolish the family, and remove that final bastion of individuality for which a monolithic state hasn’t time.

As an alternative, BLM wants us to support “each other as extended families and villages that collectively care for one another”, especially the children.

Has Cullors, in her preference for the wellbeing of her own nuclear family, a tight-knit group from which she’s unwilling to part, contradicted herself yet again? It appears she has. Why would she not embrace the same recommendation she thrusts upon us, and immediately dissolve her own family? Why would she not sever the most natural of all bonds and make of her family a communal possession?

In a word, she won’t do so because she’s a hypocrite. Most Marxists are, and, irrespective of her color, this one’s no exception.

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