A black UCLA history professor and member of the Communist Party by his own admission, Robin D. G. Kelley, can't get over the "epic catastrophe" of President-Elect Donald Trump's victory.
In a November 15 article for the Boston Review, a shocked Kelley writes, "[A]t no point … could we imagine Trump in the Oval office surrounded by a cabinet made up of some of the most idiotic, corrupt and authoritarian characters in modern day politics."
Kelley can’t fathom how a Republican billionaire managed to beat the Marxists at their own game of class warfare. Naturally, he immediately faults racism; Islamophobia; xenophobia; an "arcane Electoral college," itself a "relic of slave power" (whatever that means); voting rights suppression; and the "white nationalist" movement.
After explaining Trump's win through the lens of racism, Kelley runs into a real roadblock. Communism is about the plight of the working class; the haves versus the have-nots. In 2008 and 2012, Kelley states, Obama won in predominantly white, Democratic rural areas. In 2016, these same voters crossed over to Trump en masse. What happened? How did the Democrats lose this crucial demographic?
Since Kelley refuses to blame Obama for not delivering on his promise of hope, change, and "shovel-ready" jobs, he instead gives us a history lesson on the aftermath of the Reconstruction era. Following a period of racial justice and "democratic rights," says Kelley, comes the "whitelash" – a term fellow communist, CNN commentator, and anti-cop activist Van Jones used in his own post-election meltdown.
Still, Kelley's detour into America’s racial history doesn't quite work. What about the class struggle?
Kelly suggests a 21st-century paradigm shift to bring whites and blacks together beyond "remaking economic structures" into changing the meaning of the whole democratic process. "Refashioning" identity, he calls it.
How? This is where we get a tour of the Marxist mind.
Kelley wants to set whites free from the "prison of whiteness."
From Boston Review:
But I want to return to the white working class and how we might break the cycle of “whitelash.”…I am talking about opening a path to freeing white people from the prison house of whiteness.... Exposing whiteness for what it is—a foundational myth for the birth and consolidation of capitalism—is fundamental if we are to build a genuine social movement dedicated to dismantling the oppressive regimes of racism, heteropatriarchy, empire, and class exploitation that is at the root of inequality, precarity, materialism, and violence in many forms.I am not suggesting we ignore their grievances, but that we help white working people understand the source of their discontent—real and imagined.
According to Kelley, the source of white discontent is "whiteness," which is a "myth." These mythical creatures created capitalism, which has to be destroyed in order to help whites understand they are white.
In the end, the befuddled Kelley rallies other true believers to fight back against a Trump presidency, but it’s clear he has no idea what that might entail. President-Elect Trump has traumatized Professor Kelley.
"The sites of resistance will become clearer as the political situation becomes more concrete, especially after January 20," he writes.