Merry Black Christmas, Everyone!

2010 December 23
by Carl Watson

“Economic reports Thursday suggest employers are laying off fewer workers, businesses are ordering more computers and appliances, and consumers are spending with more confidence…Orders for long-lasting manufactured goods, excluding the volatile transportation category, rose by the most in eight months in November, the Commerce Department said. Factories saw demand increase for computers, appliances and heavy machinery…The economy is expected to pick up next year as consumers spend more freely.” –AP News release

Lemmings led to the cliffs edge of economic doom for the God of Wall Street

Thank God! Having held its breath for weeks, months, maybe even the whole year, the country can finally let out a collective sigh of relief. By all accounts, Black Friday receipts will live up to expectations. People are religiously interviewed in the stores by salivating journalists, and presented to the public as participants in good spirits in the American Way. Those who don’t shop are condemned as scrooges, nihilists cynics anti-American etc. Lately even the left is getting into the blame game, pointing a finger at the American consumer for not buying enough, being stingy with their pocket books, as various commentators inveigh the public to come on get out there and spend, get this economy going, as if its our fault. Indeed no one talks about the banks anymore—their books are back in order.

Of course no one mentions that the money being spent is likely to be money that no one has. After having been scolded for going into debt we are being told to get back into debt and fast. In fact get way into debt. Get the big-ticket items.

The incredible pressure put on the Friday after Thanksgiving has something to teach us about the strength, indeed the very viability of our economic system. It is well known t hat most retail establishments would finish in the red, i.e. lose money and fail, if it were not for the holiday season, when they finally go into the Black–thus the term Black Friday for a day overloaded with significance and anxiety. Every year the same anxious question: Will Black Friday pull us though? Will we be saved this season? Will any one die (rather, be sacrificed) this year, trampled or crushed by mad consumers? Who cares!

Black Friday, which is driven by Christmas shopping fever, is the beginning stage of the Salvation of Capitalism that takes place at the end of every year. This should point to an obvious problem. Take Christmas out of the picture and what would happen? Nobody really wants to address this so no one does. But the truth is, the so-called obvious success of the Capitalist system rests on a flimsy foundation, which oddly enough is a religious one.

Firstly, Christmas is directly related to un-necessary, spending, buying stuff that doesn’t need to be bought and most of which will not even be used and may even be thrown away within days of its purchase. It is waste. Capitalism cannot succeed without such waste. If Capitalism depended on need-based, strictly pragmatic and thoughtful purchasing by responsible citizens, the system would collapse. Therefore the God of Waste must reign, and for many, that God is Christ. The Christ of waste. And this is the starting point for the digression that follows.

The power of Black Friday, connected by its economic umbilical cord to Christmas, begs the possibility of a similarly titled Black Christmas, celebrated perhaps as homage to a Black Jesus, a Jesus who, standing at the other end of the holiday season, brings us back into the red, who saves us from economic collapse. And a Black Jesus always reminds me of those guys those who used to hang around Times Square in the Port Authority area claiming that Christ was black. These are not just some kooks. They are true believers. Indeed there have been scholars and zealots alike who would advocate for the racially Black Christ. (see footnote below)

All of this is possible, even probable, but I am not engaging in this historical debate. My argument for a Black Christ is not a racial one. Rather it is symbolic, a financial argument meant to acknowledge the power of Christ, to, as mentioned, lead us from the red to the black. No small thing in these strained times. Therefore, the myth of Black Christ is here reinterpreted, by me, to signify a Black Christ arisen from the desert of the accountant’s record books. A savoir of the bank balances of the masses as well as the millionaires. He is a Christ of figures. Some, like Duncan Smith, might call him an oil-stained Christ, a savior arisen from the ancient dessicated and compressed death of all former living creatures, that place from which all energy and profits are mined.

Perhaps we could extend the blackness argument to God him/herself, which would be to say that without God (whom many consider to be a ghost, a fairy, a fool’s authority) Capitalism again would fail. The correlation between economic failure and deity may be frightening, but it leads us to wonder: was Jesus invented to this end? Was he the intentional savior of the coming economic miracle that would raise millions out of poverty and supply them with endless goods and services? It has been rumored that the post-Middle Age advance of Christianity parallels the birth of consumerism, a consumerism that arrived like a Renaissance babe in a Renaissance manger in an allegorical display of the future trade economy that the Renaissance would give birth to. There is no ambiguity then in the image of wise men delivering monetary gifts to the unperceiving infant. They were indeed “investing” in their future king.

Because of the avarictic nature of Capitalism, its need for ever-growing markets, for ever-increasing cash reservoirs and liquidity, Christmas would eventually find itself inadequate to the demands of propping up the system. It has thus spawned an increasing plurality of holidays: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Presidents Day, Dentists Day, Valentine’s Day— little mini-Christmasses designed to open the pocket books and balance the accountant’s books. The new Christological science shows us that living like a ghost behind all holidays, is none other than a Das Capital in which Christ = Cash.

But we’ve heard it all before. Yet we buy in to it just the same, no matter. In fact we are bound to, just as many are bound to the laws of their god. Therefore, despite the numerous “Capitalism Is Ruining Christmas” type articles that inevitably appear at this time of year, despite the great collective sigh over rampant and misguided consumerism/commercialism, we shop on, knowing full well that we actually cannot survive without Christmas. The entire economy and the country itself would descend into permanent recession. What is needed then is some kind of reconfiguration of the holiday spirit, away from self-congratulatory altruism and “good will” and toward pragmatism. We can start with the holy man himself.

Let us paint Jesus as a free market savior, an Ayn Randian who knew the only way out of centuries/millenium of grinding poverty was through the department store.

This was especially true following the 18th Century fall of monarchies and aristocracies across the globe and the coming of the 19th Century of democratic values and the will of the people. Leonard Peikoff writes that indeed modern Christmas is a 19th century phenomenon. “In fact, Christmas as we celebrate it today is a 19th-century American invention. The freedom and prosperity of post-Civil War America created the happiest nation in history. The result was the desire to celebrate, to revel in the goods and pleasures of life on earth.”

Peikoff thus concludes, “Life requires reason, selfishness, capitalism; that is what Christmas should celebrate — and really, underneath all the pretense, that is what it does celebrate. It is time to take the Christ out of Christmas, and turn the holiday into a guiltlessly egoistic, pro-reason, this-worldly, commercial celebration.”

I am all for that. But maybe we can keep the Christ in Christmas. After all no one wants to celebrate “Cashmas,” or “Moneymas.” So let us make it a Black Christmas, not racially but economically. Let us Celebrate Black Christmas. After all, if we fail to do so, we are doomed to endless depression . . . or worse, self-destruction. Thank God for such a god, and a Merry Black Christmas to you!


One of these scholars is Kersey Graves who way back in the 30s wrote:

In pictures and portraits of Christ by the early Christians he is uniformly represented as being black. To make this more certain a red tinge is given to the lips; and the only text in the Christian bible quoted by orthodox Christians as describing his complexion represents it as being black. Solomon’s declaration, I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem’ (Sol, I, 5), is often cited as referring to Christ.

It is, of course, also thought to refer to Mary, who may herself have been black as witnessed in the numerous Black Madonna’s scattered about Europe and Latin America. Another advocate for the Black Christ is Albert Cleage, who states that Christ is indeed a Black man. He bases this observation on the fact that Arabs are Black people, and Egyptians are Black people. His thesis is the tribes of Israel are made up of non-whites such as Chaldeans, Egyptians, Midianites, Ethiopians, Kushites, and other dark peoples. Cleage feels that these people mixed the dark people of Central Africa. For Cleage, Jesus was really a Black Messiah born of a Black Woman, again the comely Black Madonna.

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