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The limits of anti-racism

Left Turn
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Left Turn
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Adolph Reed Jr. - The limits of anti-racism

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The contemporary discourse of "antiracism" is focused much more on taxonomy than politics. It emphasizes the name by which we should call some strains of inequality-whether they should be broadly recognized as evidence of "racism"- over specifying the mechanisms that produce them or even the steps that can be taken to combat them. And, no, neither "overcoming racism" nor "rejecting whiteness" qualifies as such a step any more than does waiting for the "revolution" or urging God's heavenly intervention. If organizing a rally against racism seems at present to be a more substantive political act than attending a prayer vigil for world peace, that's only because contemporary antiracist activists understand themselves to be employing the same tactics and pursuing the same ends as their predecessors in the period of high insurgency in the struggle against racial segregation.

...

Quote:
All too often, "racism" is the subject of sentences that imply intentional activity or is characterized as an autonomous "force." In this kind of formulation, "racism," a conceptual abstraction, is imagined as a material entity. Abstractions can be useful, but they shouldn't be given independent life.

...

Quote:
My position is-and I can't count the number of times I've said this bluntly, yet to no avail, in response to those in blissful thrall of the comforting Manicheanism-that of course racism persists, in all the disparate, often unrelated kinds of social relations and "attitudes" that are characteristically lumped together under that rubric, but from the standpoint of trying to figure out how to combat even what most of us would agree is racial inequality and injustice, that acknowledgement and $2.25 will get me a ride on the subway. It doesn't lend itself to any particular action except more taxonomic argument about what counts as racism.

...

Quote:
I remain curious why the "debate" over antiracism as a politics takes such indirect and evasive forms-like the analogizing and guilt by association, moralistic bombast in lieu of concrete argument-and why it persists in establishing, even often while denying the move, the terms of debate as race vs. class. I'm increasingly convinced that a likely reason is that the race line is itself a class line, one that is entirely consistent with the neoliberal redefinition of equality and democracy. It reflects the social position of those positioned to benefit from the view that the market is a just, effective, or even acceptable system for rewarding talent and virtue and punishing their opposites and that, therefore, removal of "artificial" impediments to its functioning like race and gender will make it even more efficient and just.


martin dufresne
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Fascinating piece. Thanks for posting it. The liberal privilege of choosing what identity/cause to espouse is the moment where one unlatches from the community's bottom-line issues and crafts one's own way/theory/priority, i.e. renewed, unaccountable privilege.


RosaL
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Left Turn wrote:

Adolph Reed Jr. - The limits of anti-racism

Quote:
I remain curious why the "debate" over antiracism as a politics takes such indirect and evasive forms-like the analogizing and guilt by association, moralistic bombast in lieu of concrete argument-and why it persists in establishing, even often while denying the move, the terms of debate as race vs. class. I'm increasingly convinced that a likely reason is that the race line is itself a class line, one that is entirely consistent with the neoliberal redefinition of equality and democracy. It reflects the social position of those positioned to benefit from the view that the market is a just, effective, or even acceptable system for rewarding talent and virtue and punishing their opposites and that, therefore, removal of "artificial" impediments to its functioning like race and gender will make it even more efficient and just.

The term "classism" is reflective of the same kind of thing. 


martin dufresne
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So, RosaL, the critique of classism - as support for maintaining class lines - reflects itself a class line?...Undecided


M. Spector
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Also from the same article:

Adolph Reed Jr. wrote:

I've been struck by the level of visceral and vitriolic anti-Marxism I've seen from this strain of defenders of antiracism as a politics. It's not clear to me what drives it because it takes the form of snide dismissals than direct arguments. Moreover, the dismissals typically include empty acknowledgment that "of course we should oppose capitalism," whatever that might mean. In any event, the tenor of this anti-Marxism is reminiscent of those right-wing discourses, many of which masqueraded as liberal, in which only invoking the word "Marxism" was sufficient to dismiss an opposing argument or position.

This anti-Marxism has some curious effects. Leading professional antiracist Tim Wise came to the defense of Obama's purged green jobs czar Van Jones by dismissing Jones's "brief stint with a pseudo-Maoist group," and pointing instead to "his more recent break with such groups and philosophies, in favor of a commitment to eco-friendly, sustainable capitalism." In fact, Jones was a core member of a revolutionary organization, STORM, that took itself very seriously, almost comically so.

And are we to applaud his break with radical politics in favor of a style of capitalism that few actual capitalists embrace? This is the substance of Wise's defense.

This sort of thing only deepens my suspicions about antiracism's status within the comfort zone of neoliberalism's discourses of "reform." More to the point, I suspect as well that this vitriol toward radicalism is rooted partly in the conviction that a left politics based on class analysis and one focused on racial injustice are Manichean alternatives.


Left Turn
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I've been told that Aldolph really liked the Walter Benn Minchaels piece that covers similar terrain.

 

What Matters

 

Quote:
But it would be a mistake to think that because the US is a less racist, sexist and homophobic society, it is a more equal society. In fact, in certain crucial ways it is more unequal than it was 40 years ago. No group dedicated to ending economic inequality would be thinking today about declaring victory and going home. In 1969, the top quintile of American wage-earners made 43 per cent of all the money earned in the US; the bottom quintile made 4.1 per cent. In 2007, the top quintile made 49.7 per cent; the bottom quintile 3.4. And while this inequality is both raced and gendered, it's less so than you might think. White people, for example, make up about 70 per cent of the US population, and 62 per cent of those are in the bottom quintile. Progress in fighting racism hasn't done them any good; it hasn't even been designed to do them any good. More generally, even if we succeeded completely in eliminating the effects of racism and sexism, we would not thereby have made any progress towards economic equality. A society in which white people were proportionately represented in the bottom quintile (and black people proportionately represented in the top quintile) would not be more equal; it would be exactly as unequal. It would not be more just; it would be proportionately unjust.

An obvious question, then, is how we are to understand the fact that we've made so much progress in some areas while going backwards in others. And an almost equally obvious answer is that the areas in which we've made progress have been those which are in fundamental accord with the deepest values of neoliberalism, and the one where we haven't isn't. We can put the point more directly by observing that increasing tolerance of economic inequality and increasing intolerance of racism, sexism and homophobia - of discrimination as such - are fundamental characteristics of neoliberalism. Hence the extraordinary advances in the battle against discrimination, and hence also its limits as a contribution to any left-wing politics. The increased inequalities of neoliberalism were not caused by racism and sexism and won't be cured by - they aren't even addressed by - anti-racism or anti-sexism.

My point is not that anti-racism and anti-sexism are not good things. It is rather that they currently have nothing to do with left-wing politics, and that, insofar as they function as a substitute for it, can be a bad thing. American universities are exemplary here: they are less racist and sexist than they were 40 years ago and at the same time more elitist. The one serves as an alibi for the other: when you ask them for more equality, what they give you is more diversity. The neoliberal heart leaps up at the sound of glass ceilings shattering and at the sight of doctors, lawyers and professors of colour taking their place in the upper middle class. Whence the many corporations which pursue diversity almost as enthusiastically as they pursue profits, and proclaim over and over again not only that the two are compatible but that they have a causal connection - that diversity is good for business. But a diversified elite is not made any the less elite by its diversity and, as a response to the demand for equality, far from being left-wing politics, it is right-wing politics.

 


Infosaturated
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A lot of this article is way over my head in that I would probably have to start looking things up and studying it to truely understand, but I think I get the over all picture.

Fighting racism used to entail making practical changes that had a direct impact on the lives of black people or POC.  Today's anti-racism "movement" if you can all it that, is mainly talk with little action.

There are many black people who are now members of the upper-classes, of the wealthy. They may still suffer from some racism, but they aren't getting lynched. Poor black people aren't getting lynched either, but they are getting shot. They are over-represented in prisons and on the street. They are over-represented in poverty-stricken areas. We saw that clearly with Katrina.

That POC are over-represented in poorer areas is due to racism, but even if racism were completely gone they would still remain over-represented.  Generational welfare occurs in white families too and those children don't have a significant advantage in getting out because they are white. If that were the case, the population of white people on welfare would be shrinking.  Even Bill Cosby jumped on the "culture" bandwagon as the reason black people are still in the getto.  There was a huge todo over the Harvard professor because he is a Harvard professor. Everyone is all up in arms about the Freddy Villeneuva case and I believe the community got some money for recreational facilities. Big whoop. In Toronto they are opening up a school that will focus on black history etc. to provide black role-models. It couldn't hurt, but big whoop again.

Focusing on the colour concentrations in poorer neighbours frames the debate as an issue of racism when it is more an issue of poverty than it is racism.  Racism may have led to over-representation in poor neighbourhoods but it has always become a self-perpetuating circle of poverty and racism. Bill Cosby supported the myth that it is black culture and attitudes that are keeping these kids down. If only they would have more respect for education and work harder and dress nicer they could escape their fate.  Others will say if only racism were gone they could escape their fate.

Neither of these things is true. While racism certainly still exists, and may be the original root cause generations back, racism is not the primary factor keeping people mired in poverty. Better than a "black school" would be a solid breakfast and lunch program coupled with a generous after-school program of free extra-curicular activities with all necessary equipment provided. Higher minimum wages would be very helpful too.

The focus on the racial face of poverty may even be feeding racism. The focus should be on the poverty not the colour of it, because by focusing on the colour it makes it seem as though that is the "problem".  It makes it a "black" problem instead of a "poverty" problem. 

I'm not saying racism isn't an important factor, but we have a four way split not a two way split. It isn't black/white.

In order from worst to best in social positioning it's  black poor/white poor/black rich/white rich.

The more important allies are black/white poor and black/white rich.

That is the limit of anti-racism.

 


RosaL
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martin dufresne wrote:

So, RosaL, the critique of classism - as support for maintaining class lines - reflects itself a class line?...Undecided

 

Yes. It seems to be a critique of attitudes towards people of "the lower class". It doesn't seem to see class itself - as an economic reality - as the problem. So there are endless accusations of "classism", which appears to be some sort of prejudice against the poor or some kind of failure to "give them a chance" but no interest in the economic foundations of class, let alone in doing anything about it. The implication is that the fundamental problem is attitudes towards and treatment of the poor rather than the economic system that makes some people poor and limits their (our)  lives in other ways as well.

The critique of "classism" (quoting the article) "reflects the social position of those positioned to benefit from the view that the market is a just, effective, or even acceptable system for rewarding talent and virtue and for punishing their opposites and that, therefore, removal of "artificial" impediments to its functioning like race and gender [and class] will make it even more efficient and just". 

I need to write this up more fully and carefully but right now I also need to get to work!


N.Beltov
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Diversity as a neo-liberal (and right wing) substitute for equality.  What an outstanding insight. Thanks for that, LeftTurn.

 

Supplement: It seems that it is impossible for our society to deny it`s own history of racism. What it continues to deny, however,  is the reality of exploitation and social class.


Kanada2America
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The Left and the Right get on board various anti-racism initiatives for their own reasons. There is a reason that the same political party that talked about immigration reform, is the one that sends its ministers to India to drum up immigration. That's because non-white immigration is actually an industry for canada.

Diane Ablonzy and Jason Kenney didn't suddenly decide they like East Indians. They did it because they have a vested interest in the $4-5B industry that makes this country a lot of money. The Liberal Party doesn't just invest in certain ethnic neighborhoods with an ethnic candidate... it's all about control.

Kanada2America


Slumberjack
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Complicating White Privilege

Quote:
Here, then, is the rub: We, in the white privilege brigade, often, and somewhat generically, in my opinion, like to say that racism is about power. That word, power, might be the most often-spoken word in conversations about white privilege. Rarely, though, do we speak to the nature of power beyond the types of privilege so eloquently expounded upon by Peggy. This is where critical race theory, with its frameworks for deconstructing racism, has flown past the white privilege discourse. Critical race theorists centralize the fundamental questions too often left unasked in conversations about white privilege: What, exactly, does power mean in a capitalistic society? Why, in a capitalistic society, do people and institutions exert power and privilege? What are they after?


M. Spector
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Interesting article, Slumberjack.

It appears that Gorski is finally coming to recognize the importance of (what he calls) class in understanding racism, which puts him well out in front of the rest of the typical CRT "white privilege brigade" (as he calls them):

Gorski wrote:
The most heavy-handedly enforced rule, and the one we, in the white privilege brigade, still seem determined to protect with the greatest earnestness, dictates that Nobody shall, during a conversation about white privilege, mention any identity that is not a racial identity or any oppression that is not racism. To my knowledge, there is no official rulebook governing conversations about white privilege. If such a rulebook did exist, though, I am sure that this rule would be printed in bold italics....

I feel the tug - believe me, I do - of that race-only white privilege rule. Still, no matter how I slice it, I come back to this: Class matters, even when it comes to white privilege. In other words, I have come to believe that the white privilege brigade, with me among its chief enforcers, has been wrong to police the complexities of class (and, for that matter, other forms of oppression), out of conversations about white privilege.

Worse, by doing so, we also have failed to interrogate the hierarchy of privilege among white people, including white people who are attempting to be anti-racists. And there is much to interrogate....

This is especially true when our white privilege work, at times, has included insisting that economically disadvantaged white people who, like many People of Color, have experienced hunger, who are crowded into the most dilapidated schools, and who are disproportionate targets of economic injustice, take the same responsibility for white privilege as we take. It is especially true when we insist that we're here to talk about race, not class, as if economic injustice is not part of the same power hierarchy as racism.
[italics in original]

Of course what Gorski means when he talks about class is a rather liberal idea that goes no deeper than recognition of "economic inequality" (as if "class" is simply a matter of how much money you have). "Class or, more precisely, economic injustice is the real issue," he says, "but so is racism as well as sexism and heterosexism and ableism, and the many intersections of these and other oppressions."

Still, Gorski's recognition that "class matters", that privilege is relative, and that racism is one of many ways that people experience oppression, is a positive step forward, and one that will no doubt earn him criticism from some of his fellow anti-racism educators.


Catchfire
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Interesting article, with many good points. However, the quoted punctum ("Nobody shall, during a conversation about white privilege, mention any identity that is not a racial identity or any oppression that is not racism.") has never appeared to me in the way it seems to appear to Gorski. Not in bold italics, not ever. Usually, the anti-racist conversations I have, or try to have, have been governed by a version of bell hooks wonderful gloss on modern Western society: "imperial­ist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy." Intersection. Layering. Cross-pollination.

What I have seen is other forms of oppression used to diminish or render invisible the specific vector under discussion. This is less a theory than a defensive mechanism, apparent in virtually every sort of discussion we have here an elsewhere (another important point: Peggy McIntosh's "knapsack" is not theory: it is an educational tool. A telling distinction which makes it a poor target for a critical argument). However, whenever I am discussing racism, and especially sexism or patriarchy, with white males whose social position or class has been severely compromised economically or otherwise, the discussion becomes much more difficult and strained. But oppression works in manifold, not singular, ways, so these discussions--about capitalism, patriarchy, heterosexism, white supremacy and imperialism--remain crucial.

Gorski says that:

Quote:
We simply cannot understand class in the U.S. without also understanding racism. Class or, more precisely,economic injustice is the real issue, but so is racism as well as sexism and heterosexism and ableism, and the many intersections of these and other oppressions.

Hortense Spillers would add that we can't talk about gender in the United States without talking about race. I'm sure that if CMOT Dibbler were around, he would also tell us that we couldn't talk about disability without talking about race or class. So yes: of course it's relative. This isn't news.

I went to see Howard Zinn's Marx in Soho awhile back, and it began with a lecture on Zinn's politics. The speaker, whose name escapes me, was talking about politics America and its connection with imperialism. He mentioned offhand the US media's obsession with Iran. A well known (locally) Iranian refugee and communist, stood up an denounced the speaker for sympathizing with an oppressive murderous regime. I think we can picture the dynamic quite clearly, familiar as it is with us babblers. I can't help but think that this incident speaks to us here.

When I ask myself if racism is simply a product of capitalism, even if the racism we have now is a specific form of racism inextricable from capitalism, I always arrive at another question: if capitalism ended tomorrow and society was transformed into a socialist one, would racism disappear? Would sexism? And, always, I am forced to answer no, I don't think it would. The pertinant point here is that, in fact, economic injustice is not  "part of the same power hierarchy as racism," as Gorski insists. They are on different, overlapping, intersecting hierarchies, and we need to attend to each individually and carefully if we are to attend to them all. I've never seen this approach as damaging to discussions about class or gender (or to race, for that matter, as Gorski tries to argue). I've only found them enriching and instructive.


M. Spector
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Catchfire wrote:

if capitalism ended tomorrow and society was transformed into a socialist one, would racism disappear? Would sexism? And, always, I am forced to answer no, I don't think it would.

Not ipso facto and not immediately. But the material basis for racism and sexism (and for their persistence despite anti-racist and anti-sexist education campaigns) would no longer exist. Within a few generations they would wither away.

In fact, racism and sexism will never disappear under conditions of capitalist expoitation. Socialism is a precondition for the emancipation of women and oppressed races.


6079_Smith_W
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Well I can't argue with that, Spector. 

Really. I can't.


Catchfire
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M. Spector wrote:
In fact, racism and sexism will never disappear under conditions of capitalist expoitation. Socialism is a precondition for the emancipation of women and oppressed races.

Well, I more or less agree with this. But I don't think their elimination is simply a matter of waiting out a few generations post-revolution. Since both forms of oppression predate capitalism (albeit with different character), there's no evidence that they are wedded to capitalism's life cycle. What's to prevent another form of racism/sexism from surfacing under socialism? The underlying question here is this: is the only form of oppression exacted through controlling the mode of production? 


Fidel
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Catchfire wrote:
Since both forms of oppression predate capitalism (albeit with different character), there's no evidence that they are wedded to capitalism's life cycle.

War and conflict have always been part of actually existing capitalism. War and warfiteering are a threat to everyone's rights and the ultimate manifestation of racism. Today the new liberal capitalism has run up against nationalist barriers to its expansion Eastward. Nationalist barriers are ultimately ethnic and even religious barriers. Militant Islam represents the largest threat to women's rights in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia today. And take a wild guess as to who's been working diligently to facilitate the spread of militant Islam since the 1950's. Theocratic feudalists and our own right wing extremists in the west became inextricably twined some time ago.

Actual capitalism today is phase of human development evolved from imperialism. And today's religious crusades are about remaking the world order to facilitate capitalist expansion. The current system is not just stagnant but hopelessly bankrupt and requires new resources and people to exploit in order to prop-up an impossible monetary situation of debt-driven economy. Capitalism will die without fresh blood to feed on. Such is the nature of predatory capitalism. Capitalist expansion must happen because the current debt-driven scheme for banking and balance of payments between countries is a hydrogen bomb which will explode unless they defuse it by victimizing millions more human beings and plundering international resources.

We need a socio-economic system that isn't driven by profit. We have to do certain things because they are necessary and vital to human existence and not because it feels good. We need to do the necessary things even if it doesn't satisfy a minimum capitalist profit margin of 10-12%. Socialism operating at cost, or even at a loss if necessary, has to be an option if humanity will survive the transition to a sustainable future. 


Slumberjack
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If we recognize the co-dependencies between Capitalism and other distinct forms of oppression, racism being one of them, then it becomes clear from the outset that we're discussing separate, but mutually supportive entities. Capitalism as a system of oppression onto itself doesn't begat additional oppressive mechanisms as part of its function, but it certainly provides the sustaining fuel.  The theoretical elimination of one though doesn't necessarily spell an end to the remaining networks. We can recognize for instance that with the institutions of slavery being as old as the hills, exploitative economic systems throughout history have always entered into partnerships of convenience with 'othering' forms of oppression. An innate human fear of differences predates every form of exchange ever devised.

As CF mentioned, living under socialism for any given length of time is no guarantee that racism or sexism would eventually disappear. If everyone were provided with an equal share from the economic output of a country..say the US or Canada, you would still have people begrudging different communities for one thing or another...perhaps for having too many babies as an example, and thus requiring more redistribution from the production cycles.

I wouldn't know how to eliminate oppression entirely because it seems to be a constant within the human condition, despite what Capitalism, its social democratic apologists, and the media tell us about how great everything is compared to the past, now that they say there is opportunity for everyone because a few regulations and laws have been put into place.  While the tasks should obviously and constantly be directed toward the outright elimination of oppression, both Capitalism and Socialism are quite capable of making promises they can't possibly fulfill in that regard.  It's when the respective spokespersons and loudspeakers say they already have is where white anti-racists are caught up in our own self perpetuating delusions.  It comforts us by saying we're winning....we're making the difference with our example.


6079_Smith_W
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Now that I do agree with, SJ. 

Seriously. In fact you mention my biggest concern about this sort of analysis. 

 


KenS
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I also agree SJ. [With the caveat that I may not fully grasp it all.]

I am going to drop in some thread drift that following up on would not belong here.

Slumberjack wrote:

... both Capitalism and Socialism are quite capable of making promises they can't possibly fulfill in that regard. 

Reading histories and especially social histories of areas of Spain where the anarchists were in charge for some time, is also pretty sobering.

Which BTW, I take not to be necessarily an 'equal time indicment' of 'anarchism' per se. That it could be, but it is only necessarily a reminder to all of us that all revolutions unleash the good, the bad, and the ugly.

And about racism as a lasting force, this unfortunately but not surprisingly is all too true.


Slumberjack
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Catchfire wrote:
Interesting article, with many good points. However, the quoted punctum ("Nobody shall, during a conversation about white privilege, mention any identity that is not a racial identity or any oppression that is not racism.") has never appeared to me in the way it seems to appear to Gorski. Not in bold italics, not ever. Usually, the anti-racist conversations I have, or try to have, have been governed by a version of bell hooks wonderful gloss on modern Western society: "imperial­ist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy." Intersection. Layering. Cross-pollination.

There are bound to be different and discouraging [to say the least] trial and error conversations in trying to identify Capitalism as the alpha and omega of everything, because it is easy to point to a culprit and say once we deal with that...then most of the work is behind us now that the major impediments have been removed.  I think it misses the point of how we became so entangled in the first place.


Slumberjack
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KenS wrote:
I also agree SJ. [With the caveat that I may not fully grasp it all.]

I certainly don't.  It's just me thinking out loud...borrowing heavily from sensible concepts that have arisen elsewhere.


KenS
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I guess I missed Catchfire saying that.

If you make allowances that Gorski is exagerrating [and maybe a lot], I certainly pick that up in anti-racist discussions. Here included.

The way I read him is that anti-racist discussions are so frequently derailed by white people bleating "I'm oppressed too," that it inevitably causes a prickliness that ends up inadvertently quashing those kinds of multidemensional approaches to the forms of oppression.

Not only do I think that is true. But even without being able to remember a specific incident, I am certain I have in discussions materially contributed to that prickliness.


Fidel
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Slumberjack wrote:
I wouldn't know how to eliminate oppression entirely because it seems to be a constant within the human condition, despite what Capitalism, its social democratic apologists, and the media tell us about how great everything is compared to the past, now that there is opportunity for everyone because a few regulations and laws have been put into place.

I think that racism and sexism are probably more pervasive in the most capitalist countries, ie. the USA and India at the extremes. The list of inequalities and basic rights violations would be too long to list here. I can't see a lot of hope for African-Americans vastly overrepresented in measures of poverty and incarceration. Black incarceration rates in the U.S. are still several times higher that was true of Apartheid South Africa. And same-sex rights will be a long time coming in democratric capitalist countries of America and India.

I think Sweden and Cuba, two extremes on the left of the political and economic spectrum, have done a better job of recognizing racism and sexism and are at least dealing with these problems. There has been measurable progress in general. Sweden and Cuba are freer and more democratic countries where inequality in general is less pronounced than in the most capitalist countries.


KenS
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I dont know about Sweden, where I cannot see that racism has changed much. Institutional efforts are just institutional efforts.

Cuba has made progress. But you have to consder that Cuba is also a creole society- where both apparently white and black people are minorities... with the usual very racist structure of locating people in the social order.

But take a look around in Cuba at the top levels of civil society as well as the party. You still do not see very many black people.

So what is 'progress' when la plus ca change....

For all the serious campaigns done in Cuba done on many issues, I do not remember one that went after all forms of racism beyond insitutional racism. Historically, Cuban revolutionaries of all colours took the approach that racism is wrong and will not be in socialist Cuba. End of story. End of discussion. Popular culture has certainly voiced otherwise. But I had a black Cuban friend and Party member, young and pretty accomplised, who in 1970 did not think it wise to voice the whole range of what it meant to be a black man in the new Cuba.


KenS
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And just 'in principle'-saying that racism is the most virulent in the USA and Mexico, and will remain that way, says nothing at all about whether socialism makes a fig of difference.

But I'm saying that to the wrong person- and its a distraction. Its not the subject at all.


M. Spector
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Catchfire wrote:

Since both forms of oppression predate capitalism (albeit with different character), there's no evidence that they are wedded to capitalism's life cycle. What's to prevent another form of racism/sexism from surfacing under socialism?

This comment illustrates the whole problem nicely in a nutshell. You see racism and sexism as standing completely separate and apart from class oppression, as if they just dropped from the heavens one day.

I see them as products of a class society. To turn Gorski's dictum on its head, "We simply cannot understand racism... without also understanding class".

BTW, where is your evidence for racism in pre-capitalist societies? Where are the racist writings, comments, vocabulary, slurs, insults, stereotypes, etc. in pre-capitalist literature?

Did feudal societies have racialized minorities?

 


Slumberjack
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M. Spector wrote:
To turn Gorski's dictum on its head, "We simply cannot understand racism... without also understanding class".

As far as trying to understand, the phrase seems to work well both ways, but it still says little about what came first.

Quote:
Where are the racist writings, comments, vocabulary, slurs, insults, stereotypes, etc. in pre-capitalist literature?  Did feudal societies have racialized minorities? 

This is worse than creationism.  It's as if history began circa 1917.


6079_Smith_W
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I think an important cautionary tale  is how the German Democratic Republic dealt with its Nazi and anti-Semitic past, which is to say, they didn't. They denied they had any connection to it. The Nazi capitalists had been driven out, and were running the show in the west. 

The DDR may have done better when it came to purging those who were in power, and profited, but in a country where there had been a blockwart on every corner, to pretend the legacy was entirely gone is a stretch.

Certainly the Federal Republic did not deal with their history in the best way either, and certainly some of what is seen as disregard for anti-semitism on the part of the DDR is actually legitimate response regarding the state of Israel.  But that does not account for all of it, and  I expect the complete denial that happened in the east had some role in the differences in the rise of neo-Nazism in both countries.

Whether or not a more equitable political and economic system can help reduce racism, sexism and other forms of oppression (and I agree that it does) that is only one part of fighting that oppression - as has been pointed out.

East Germany is a good example that these ills, if not dealt with directly,  can sometimes come back in unpredictable forms. 


KenS
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Joined: Aug 6 2001

M. Spector wrote:

Did feudal societies have racialized minorities?

Talk about distractions. Too bad you are not joking.

And for one of the most spectacular and cultually near at hand historical examples, google the roots of the word 'ghetto'.

And evidence in literature and written records... where to start? But the Old and New Testaments would not be bad. And several millenia back, Egyptian descriptions of where people live and must live, who can have what occupations...

No, you must have been joking. Or... 


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