[W]e often attempt to see forms of institutional racism as rooted purely in cultural attitudes rather than political institutions and economic arrangements that favor finance. In city after city run by Democratic mayors, many of whom were elected on platforms involving racial justice, police violence is endemic. Ross Barkan explained that in New York City, the reason is economic. The NYPD is a massive paramilitary force, and it exists in its current form because to protect the main industry of the city, which is property value appreciation. New York used to have a mixed economic base, with manufacturing, shipping, transportation, and finance. The Garment District was actually a place people made clothes. But in the 1980s and 1990s all that got ripped out in favor of making the city dependent on the appreciation of financial assets, most evidently real estate. A finance-dependent political economy with rampant inequality is dependent on brutal security measures, regardless of how tolerant the culture is.
The inability to reckon with the political economy choices we’ve made that result in social dysfunction is in my view a result of the cynicism of the [1960s and 70s] counterculture. Proponents in that world are openly and nakedly greedy, and they justify their libertine activities using the language of tolerance, of progress, often techno-utopian flavored. That is certainly the politics of Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and McKinsey, and both political party elites. It’s why Burning Man is what it is, a seeming place of creativity and artistic license, with a subtext of billionaires being self-righteous libertine jerks. It’s why fear is now rampant among anyone who works for a living, either doctors, engineers, daycare workers, cheer coaches, whoever. That’s how we structure our economy, with various layers of coercion.
Matt Stoller on being.