On Thursday, April 26th, author of Yoga Anatomy, Leslie Kaminoff, posted the video below, which he called “[b]rilliant, succinct, and moving.” Tell us what you think:
The video you just watched is a product of the website FreeMarketAmerica.org, an off-shoot of Americans for Limited Government, which although sounding like a cool thing, is actually a cover for campaigns against NPR/PBS, President Obama’s Health Care reforms, and, by way of using faux-environmental doublespeak, regulations intended to curb environmental destruction.
Please allow me to go a little politico for a moment….
The idea that markets are, or could in any way be, “free” when racism and classism are facts of life for more people than you could possibly imagine, is one of the more naive conclusions I have seen Right Wing libertarians come up with. The idea that inequality is somehow caused by businesses being held accountable for their practices, and that equality is achieved by businesses being allowed to run amok is typically the brainchild of people who do not experience the ramifications of inequality on a daily basis. The idea that freedom is in some way hindered by regulations on pollutants is the quintessential Right Wing fodder we should all be used to hearing. Of course, Right Wing prop as non-discreet as the above is not necessarily what one expects to see promoted by yoga personalities represented by yoga’s talent agency, YAMA Talent, which is, in part, what makes this finding so interesting.
As a retort, I turn to three pieces by antiracist, author, and educator Tim Wise.
First, in order to understand why “free markets” as defined by Right Wing libertarians is inherently racist, I direct your attention to the essay “Racism, Free Markets and Libertarian Deceit: The Problem of Whiteness as Property.”
A quote to wet yr appetite:
“Under a libertarian “utopia,” the accumulated wealth from centuries of admittedly non-free market actions on behalf of whites and against people of color would be left in place, and its holders allowed to continue banking their privileges, to the detriment of fairness and future free exchange.”
Next, we recommend Wise’s essay “This is Your Nation on White Privilege (Updated).” Since it is our belief that people who have not fully engaged the concept of white privilege with a humble open mind are not ready to engage in discourse on how a so-called “free market” economy “works,” we feel taking a closer look at how white privilege manifests in daily life to be of utmost importance.
Here’s a taste:
“White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because ‘every family has challenges,’ even as black and Latino families with similar ‘challenges’ are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.”
Finally, if you are unsure as to what is actually meant by the invented terms “white” and “whiteness,” and how living in a society that identifies a specific class of people as such can create inequality regardless of the political paradigm in play, please watch the following video:
Thank you for this interruption. You may now return to supta kurmasana…
…an asana that makes breathing as fun as debating against Right Wing libertarian politics.
where did he post this video?
Propaganda is getting very serious in this country, scary stuff, scary times…
Hey Babarazzi, cheers to you for taking this angle and pointing us to the Tom Wise sources. There’s a lot of directions you could have gone to speak against the nonsense free market video above, and I believe you have bravely chosen the most honest.
Greenpoint: Right WIng prop has taken on some eerie facades as of late…
looking up: No problem. It’s kinda like, if you don’t start there and at least get a working definition for whiteness and privilege, you end up missing quite a bit when you start pontificating as to how much of a role gov’t should play in our commerical lives.
I only watched through 2:24 but it’s horrifying. There is no other word but propaganda. And very destructive propaganda at that.
The Right demonizes people who disagree with their super-simplistic principles, no matter how reasonable, civil, and principled their opponents may be. Therefore, the 99% of serious scientists concerned about global warning are simply anti-American extremists who “want America to fail.” And so on.
America IS going to fail if we can’t discuss the very real problems facing us because the Right can’t deal with facts, rationality, and civil discourse. We have reasonable ideas on the table about how to move forward with tackling some of our biggest problems, yet we can’t because there’s political deadlock. To be fair, many on the left-of-center side are way too invested in defending the last shreds of the New Deal order rather than coming up with new ways to realize the old goals of greater equity in our society. But it’s hard to be creative when you’re faced with a reactionary movement dedicated to destroying the government and demonizing anyone who dares raise any objection, no matter how reasonable.
It is a very sad and demoralizing state of affairs. I never thought that it would get this bad, and now I have a hard time believing that it’s not going to get much worse. We are spiraling down faster and faster.
If the yoga community is going to become more politically aware and socially engaged, which I think is vital (along with the rest of the country – nothing special about yoga in that regard), we’re simply going to have to accept the fact that we’re going to have deep disagreements and divisions, however. If we can deal with them without trashing our opponents, that will be in and of itself a huge and needed improvement.
So, let’s disagree with Leslie K. but assume that he holds his positions in good faith, and debate him respectfully if he wants to engage, and recognize his right to his own opinions in any event.
Completely agree, Carol. That’s why in this piece we merely critique the political ideas and reference LK in name only to refer to the source and show that within yoga there is an affinity for these kinds of political narratives.
Thank you Babarazzi for not only informing and entertaining us, but educating us as well. I started tuning in for fun and humor, but this is serious stuff that needs to be examined. Keep up the good work.
Thanks, chai. Really appreciate the thoughts.
that narrator is worse than David Spade’s character in PCU.
I abhor violence but the narrator needs to get hit in the face with a shovel…
“Looney Tunes” style, of course…
We get your message… 🙂
What that narrator said is so twisted. Fewer twists and a little Garudasana perhaps? For a moment I thought it was a parody. Thank you for addressing the issues with insight and clarity.
Any time, Laurie. We try…
Whether your leanings are to the left or to the right (neither capitalized), there are no such things as free markets nor should there be. Left unrestrained, businesses will run over anyone or anything that gets in their way be it the old Standard Oil or Apple Computer. The complexity of the tax code is a testament to how “un-free” our markets really and truly are. Every industry as well as countless citizens seek favorable treatment in the tax code to further their own agenda or impede that of another.
We are entitled to clean air, clean water, clean land and the opportunity to exist without the threat of violence. You need ‘less than free markets’ to make all of that possible. We should strive to truly offer equity opportunity but should realize attempting to guarantee an equal outcome is as much folly as pure free market capitalism (or cronyism as it really is).
and this comes from a Milton Friedman – University of Chicago guy…
To steal from Einstein, markets should be as free as possible, but no more free than that.
Love the Einstein reference….
I am repelled, not only by the content, but by the tone in his voice, so self-righteous, sneering and full of contempt… and that music…. gah! Given the tone of Mr Kaminoff’s video reply to anonymous critics, I can see why he likes it. I predict another on its way in 3, 2, ….
I am seriously flabbergasted. For the record, free markets not only maintain, but also lead to monopolies and oligarchies. These people are the ones who want America to fail. They want to tear down our government and its regulations so they can control all the wealth, and enjoy all the freedom. What could be more un-American than that?
Leslie Kaminoff is a twit.
Also, along with the rest of the misinformation in this video it’s a Global Warming Denier. I mean PLEASE LESLIE KAMINOFF! Tell me, please tell me, is he really that much of a dummy?? This is beyond “respecting the right to your opinion”. SOme things are true and some things are false. Global Warming is true and to deny it is down-right misinformed ignorance. In Leslie’s tweet (posted on his website) he not only says about this video: “brilliant, succinct, moving” etc., etc., but also “HARD-CORE ENVIROS WATCH THIS AT THEIR OWN RISK”. Excuse me…um…but it seems to me that risk here is all Leslie’s. He’s outed himself as an idiot and basically on the same page as an evolution denier and… perhaps a … holocaust denier? It’s no risk for me to gather, by watching this video, even MORE PROOF that the right wing/libertarians/tea party beliefs are repulsive and anti-democratic. I’m spreading the word about Leslie and certainly never taking any anatomy advice from him. Thanks Babs (that’s my new name for you) for posting this.
We would have loved to go into the “hardcore” reference, but just didn’t have the time. Is it really that “hardcore” to want corporations kept in check? I’d rather they be monitored by shunning and anarchist right to refusal too, but….
Oh come on. As someone who has enjoyed Leslie’s anatomy teaching immensely and disagrees with his politics immensely, comments like “certainly never taking any anatomy advice from him” strike me as perpetuating the same black and white, absolutist attitudes you complain against. Leslie’s politics have no bearing on your muscles and bones, and while you’re totally entitled to stand up and say “because Leslie is a libertarian and an objectivist I will not learn anatomy from him,” if that’s your line in the sand, then you’ve got some pretty unsavory folks standing on your side of that line. Like Mitt Romeny & Company, who just silenced a top campaign official for being openly gay. Or the Chinese government, which routinely refuses to acknowledge and allow the work of dissidents. Or Stalin. Some pretty “anti-democratic” company there.
I may hate the man’s politics, but he’s a brilliant teacher, and I’ll gladly defend his right to hold his politics and his teaching both. He’s a decent guy. Your loss.
holy crap, and excuse me while i pick my jaw up off the floor. i know of no other yoga-centric blog that’s delving deep into free market economy myths and breaking down white privilege. thanks for thinking deeply, and encouraging the same out of your readers. made me start thinking about the class and color breakdown one sees in most western yoga studios…perhaps another post at another time?
We try to mix equal parts Foucault and poop jokes. So glad you’re into it all!!! Thanks.
It obvious that Leslie Kaminoff is the Ted Nugent of yoga.
At his best:
omg, I just blew my chai out my nose with that comment! 😀
Hilarious. He also thinks fracking is cool. I enjoy his anatomy, not his politics. The politics of this blog, I adore. Namaste!
Not to ignore Leslie, but I think Brooklyn Yoga teacher Paul Manza wins the Yoga Ted Nugent award for unlawfully (and unethically) killing a deer in his movie debut.
LK removed the link from his FB page. To me that’s almost as bad as putting it up in the first place. What a smug tool.
Ahh…thanks for the update, Jane.
Looks like it’s still up…. Which, I believe to be a good thing….
You’re treating the issue as if it’s a personal idiosyncrasy of one yoga teacher – and you are completely missing the larger picture.
The entire American yoga culture is SUFFUSED with libertarianism, which includes a real hostility to public scrutinty and oversight – let alone formal regulation fo the kind that many other countries, including India, the yoga motherland, have instituted.
And I must say, radical feminists like Dr. Horton who think yoga is “their” movement are totally in line with this same thrust, whether they want to cop to it or not. “Leggo my eggo” and let me run my business as I see fit, mesh quite closelyin practice. It’s hands of my yoga – men and the state.
It’s even more apalling when this same feminist-libertarian alliance claims “religious freedom” as a justification for keeping the hand of regulation at bay, while of course, trashing Christian or Christian-onspired movements when they claim the very same mantle.
Ultiamtely, the solution is for yoga to evole into a “collective public good” – subject to genuine accountablity and overeight from consumers and the public at large. Right now it’s largely a private staging ground for fundamentalisms of class and gender ideology to masquerade as a spiritually-based “wellness” movement.
We can get there, eventually. If yoga wants to survive long-term, it can come willingly, or be dragged.
What terrifies me is that smart, creative, skilled and talented people are willing to craft pieces like this. Pieces which they must be aware are built on blatant falsehoods.
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