Notions #3 – White Privilege at the Self-Serve

Some notions, every week. Here are some:

Champagne Socialism? Fuck Yes!

The obscenity of wealth is only in its concentration. We’ve created phenomenal riches, and we’ve created them collectively. Don’t buy into the lie that the capitalist classes create wealth. They’re just in a position to siphon the majority of that wealth into their own pockets, throwing a crumb those who actually worked. The aim of socialism should never be the simple eradication of wealth, but to make everyone wealthy – let everyone share more fully in the spoils of humanity’s labours!

Champagne for the masses!

Kill or Be Killed

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a peaceful person. In everyday life, I abhor violence. I’d never raise my hand against someone except in playful sparring or to defend myself or those I loved. But I’m obsessed with violent media. I watch action films regularly, I binge-watched The Punisher on Netflix, and my favourite video games always involve killing hundreds of people in battles of one kind or another.

When Leonard Cohen travelled to Cuba 1961 it seemed due to his interest in socialism, Utopian ideals, and the poet Lorca. But he visited at a very dangerous time when he was more likely to get shot at than investigate peaceful socialism or read poetry. He later said:

Leonard Cohen (centre) in Cuba with some militants

“It was a kind of test … a stupid male treat … I was very interested in what it meant for a man to carry arms and kill other men … The real truth is I wanted to kill or be killed.”

I have no intention of jetting off to a war zone, but at some level, I really relate to this. I think the appeal that violence, and especially ‘battle’, has for many people (it’s not just men, Lenny) comes down to that ‘test’ that Cohen mentions. Violent conflict offers an ultimate test of certain qualities in a person.

A test that answers certain questions:

‘Would I survive a battle or a war?’

‘Would I be able to kill?’

‘Would I lose my mind?’

‘Would I be brave or a coward?’

‘Would I ‘die well’ or die screaming for my mother?’

These questions can’t be answered in theory, only in practice. Hence the appeal, at least in fantasy, of military life and organised violence.

White Privilege at the Self-Serve Checkout

My job pays me so terribly I’ve had to cut my food shopping budget for each month down to $200 (for my daughter and myself). Australian prices being what they are, this isn’t always easy, so I steal. That is, I accidentally-on-purpose forget to scan certain items and just put them straight in my bag.

I’m white, I dress well in op-shop clothes, and I carry myself with confidence. As has been explained well by John Scalzi, this effectively sets the video game of life on easy mode for me, and it makes stealing very easy.

My superpower is being an average white male, what’s yours?

Leaving the supermarket the other day I gave some change to a homeless First Nations woman out the front. I realised she, who needs free food much more than me, could never pull the same trick I do. She could turn her day’s collection of small change into a proper shop with some savvy swiping. But being black, and noticeably poor, she would be watched like a hawk and caught. She would also be treated far worse when caught than I would be.

I should leverage my white privilege and (perceived) class privilege in a subversive way – by taking snack requests from people before I walk into the supermarket…

. . .

Got any notions of your own or notions about my notions? Put your notions in the notion-box below or, if the notion strikes you, swing me a like!

You can read last week’s Notions here

You can read next week’s Notions here

The image used for all these posts is artwork from a Magic: the Gathering card called ‘Horde of Notions‘. It’s beautiful.


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