Hating the Rich
Go Ahead, Hate Them, It's Good for You
By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
"The rich are not like you and
me." "The poor will always be with
us." Get real and accept it we are told. Give alms and aid to the
poor, tax the rich. Establish private foundations, be a responsible trust
baby and give. You've heard it all, and maybe even believe it in your
heart. But, it's toxic thinking. I have a suggestion for clarifying our
consciousness: learn to hate the rich. Hate, yes. You can dress up the
language and call it rage. But, hate is a concept underrated. Everyone
does it, but no one wants to admit it, usually hating the wrong person.
Hate is the opposite of love. Do you love the rich? Like the rich? If
not, than maybe you can learn to hate the rich. I don't mean shame the
rich in order to get money out of their guilt, as has been a long
practice on the left and among non-profits. I mean NOT taking money from
the rich, isolate the rich, make them build tall walls around their
estates and corporate headquarters as the people force the rich to do
Latin America. How dare they have plate glass windows! We are held back
and diminished by the claim that hating is bad for us, bad for everyone.
You can hate the act but not hate the person. You can hate wealth or
capitalism but not the rich. It's a ridiculous logic that keeps us hating
and blaming ourselves for not being rich and powerful. Anyway, it's not
consistent; it's all right to hate slavery and slaveowners, fascism and
Hitler, etc. Why not hate the rich, the individual rich, not an abstract
Ah, but who are the rich? We
have to be careful about that, living in a
country that does not admit to class relations, and class is subject to
little analysis even on the left. It's not a matter of income per se.
it's essential in hating to target the enemy and not some front for the
enemy. High income can certainly make a person full of herself, and most
US citizens who live on high fixed or hourly incomes due to circumstances
of a good trade union or a professional degree have no idea that they
aren't rich. In polls they say they are in the top fifth of the income
ladder, and they aren't. A majority of US citizens don't want to tax the
rich more, because they think they will be rich one day. They won't. The
rich own not just a mortgaged house and a car, maybe a boat or a cabin
the woods or a beach house to boot; rather they own you. Even the cash
and luxury soaked entertainment and sports stars are not the rich; they
certainly deserve contempt and disgust, but not hatred. Don't go for
scapegoats--Jews, Oprah, Martha Stewart. Hatred should be reserved for
those who own us, that is, those who own the banks, the oil companies,
the war industry, the land (for corporate agriculture), the private
universities and prep schools, and who own the foundations that dole out
worthy projects for the poor, for public institutions-their opera, their
ballet, their symphony, that you are allowed to attend after opening
night. My oldest brother, who like me grew up dirt poor in rural
Oklahoma, landless farmers and farm workers, rebuts my arguments by
saying that no poor man ever gave him a job. That says it all. The rich
own you and me.
In all the arguments about the crimes
of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim
religions, rarely is their greatest crime ever discussed--the leveling
class, rich and poor are the same in god's sight. What a handy ideology
for the rich! The same with US democracy with its "equal opportunity"
"level playing fields," absurd claims under capitalism, but
dear by liberals. Hating the rich means also hating the state, the
United States of America that is the ruling corporate body of the rich.
Why are we so silent about this,
grumping over the increase in the
income gap, trying to figure out how to narrow it? What do we expect,
that the rich will empower the people to overthrow them as they almost
did in response to the labor movement in the 1930s or the Civil Rights
Movement with the War on Poverty? Not again will they make that mistake.
I'm not saying we shouldn't point to it as evidence of the crimes of the
rich, but we should not delude ourselves that the rich will give up their
ownership of us. So, we need to stop longing for the return of the New
Deal or savior Roosevelt. Passionate, organized hatred is the element
missing in all that we do to try to change the world. Now is the time
spread hate, hatred for the rich.
"Hating the rich" is a talk given by Roxanne
Dunbar-Ortiz at the Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair on March 17, 2007.
It is also available at