Race, Gender and Class

October 2021 Forums General discussion Race, Gender and Class

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 86 total)
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  • #81757
    jondwhite
    Participant

    Saw this post on revleft and don't entirely agree with it (don't believe in patriarchy but do in safer spaces) but thought there was enough interesting in it to share here

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/race-gender-and-t177310/index.html

    one of the reasons why i broke with old school left communism (was pretty close to the icc at one point as in i actually met with them and write for them and was like 1 inch to become a member) is that left communists are pretty bad at the whole gender/race thing theoretically. i disagree with the privilege politics paradigm but i do not dismiss the fact that there is such thing as a patriarchy. there is a part of the icc platform that says "race is an illusion" or something similar but race is a material reality, for better or worse. for example, i've seen left communists call "feminism" bourgeois and build a strawman out of it cuz' they compare it to ordinary leftist bourgeois feminism. however, feminism in general seems to me to write about the disadvantages of being a woman in general, so it seems silly to call that bourgeois. feminism is a term vaguer than anarchism and marxism. i had an epiphany about this when every women i agreed politically with also called herself a sort of feminist. i also think that its ok for women or minorities to organize "safe spaces" to discuss their own shit outside men or white people or whatever, however that doesn't really mean i am really down with identity politics or whatever

    so i want to discuss how to basically deal with the race and gender issue without some shitty left communist outdated reductionism-into-class or the other extreme which is leftist identity politics or north american therapy sessions where some hippie girl calls out some dude for being sexist while at the same time that dude calls her out a white suburbanite and everyone plays the game of who is more privilieged or who manages to guiltrip the other one more.

    in my experience, priviliege politics, at least practically, treat the whole race and gender issue as more or less separate things to class, even if they theoretically sometimes pay lipservice to that sort of stuff. i recently read an article by some endnotes gal called "communisation and the abolition of gender" and gave a very interesting perspective about woman, patriarchy, and class. basically said that gender issues form some sort of manifold with class issues, because they cannot exist separately from each other. for example, there can't really be women liberation in capitalism because women get pregnant (unless babies are made in test tubes), so this implies a lot of disadvantages in the labor market that can only be countered artificially through laws and reforms, cuz' if it were by the sheer will of the market, women's labor is objectively more problematic for capital valorization. some theory/praxis like this needs to be developed i think, to use critique of political economy to develop a theory of gender and race, to avoid the boring declaration that "class is the only thing that matters", or the shitty pseudo liberal fluff that has post structuralist, critcal theory.

    so that's basically my position, that race, gender, disabilities and class form a manifold that have value signatures in the market and have to be smashed more or less at the same time as capital is smashed. i am still being kinda vague, because i haven't made up my mind completely about this sort of stuff.

    #91474
    SocialistPunk
    Participant

    Hi jondwhiteActually "race" is not a material reality. Racism is the actual reality you mention. But just because small minded poorly educated people will direct hatred towards someone because of skin colour, does not give the idea of "race" any concrete scientific validity."Race" is essentially a social construct, a tool to divide humans on the dubious basis of fairly obvious physical traits. The reality of "race" is it masks very real economic  divisions in capitalist society.It is a very useful tool, that is allowed to flourish when a distraction is needed to keep us peasants occupied instead of directing our anger and energy into changing society in our favour.I don't have a lot of time to go into this at the moment, but it is an important subject. I did a bit of research into it earlier in the year as a result of debating the issue with a friend. I'll share my findings later.For now here is a link to an interesting article from the Guardian.http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/17/race-is-a-myth-deborah-orr

    #91475
    jondwhite
    Participant

    Well spotted I missed that bit.

    #91476
    Tom Rogers
    Participant
    SocialistPunk wrote:
    Hi jondwhiteActually "race" is not a material reality. Racism is the actual reality you mention. But just because small minded poorly educated people will direct hatred towards someone because of skin colour, does not give the idea of "race" any concrete scientific validity."Race" is essentially a social construct, a tool to divide humans on the dubious basis of fairly obvious physical traits. The reality of "race" is it masks very real economic  divisions in capitalist society.It is a very useful tool, that is allowed to flourish when a distraction is needed to keep us peasants occupied instead of directing our anger and energy into changing society in our favour.I don't have a lot of time to go into this at the moment, but it is an important subject. I did a bit of research into it earlier in the year as a result of debating the issue with a friend. I'll share my findings later.For now here is a link to an interesting article from the Guardian.http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/17/race-is-a-myth-deborah-orr

    I'm curious about this notion that race is a social construct – or, as you put it, "essentially a social construct" and "a tool to divide humans on the dubious basis of fairly obvious physical traits".  Just to clarify, are you merely referring to the way that race is constructed within academic disciplines as a concept and then used in discourse on various subjects in wider society or are you actually saying there is no such thing as 'race' as a physically-verifiable fact?

    #91477
    DJP
    Participant

     

    Tom Rogers wrote:
    Just to clarify, are you merely referring to the way that race is constructed within academic disciplines as a concept and then used in discourse on various subjects in wider society or are you actually saying there is no such thing as 'race' as a physically-verifiable fact?

    As far as I know it's pretty much the consensus these days that "race" has no solid basis in biology or DNA terms, so it's more meaningful to talk of "ethnicity" or "culture".Science has proved that there's only one race, the human race.http://www.science20.com/adaptive_complexity/what_our_genes_tell_us_about_racehttp://www.science20.com/gerhard_adam/why_race_pseudoscience-92948

    #91478
    SocialistPunk
    Participant

    Hi TomI think DJP has summed it up nicely. Time and time again I am reading on the net that "race" is now considered to have no biological basis.If we look at the taxonomists of the 17th and 18th centuries they used very simple methods to classify humans, skin colour being the most common. From them we are left with a legacy of four "races". They were very often prejudiced in their thinking, classifying the "races" with behavioural traits the most favoured belonging to, shock horror, white Europeans.Is it any wonder "race science" really took off during the colonial years. Looking down upon whole groups of people as inferior no doubt made it easier to justify the subjugation of native people and the plundering of their homelands.Think about it this way. If "race" had not been invented before now and scientists wished to classify humans, do you think they would be so obsessed with skin colour or hair type?Do you not think that our science would be better equipped to handle the complex job with more accurate scientific objectivity?Yet in the 21st century some people still feel the need to cling to such an outdated, limited vision of humanity.Why?What use is "race" anyway?

    #91479
    Tom Rogers
    Participant
    DJP wrote:
    As far as I know it's pretty much the consensus these days that "race" has no solid basis in biology or DNA terms, so it's more meaningful to talk of "ethnicity" or "culture".Science has proved that there's only one race, the human race.http://www.science20.com/adaptive_complexity/what_our_genes_tell_us_about_racehttp://www.science20.com/gerhard_adam/why_race_pseudoscience-92948

    Thanks.  You state [as far you know] that race has no solid basis in biology or DNA terms, but I do not see how that assertion can hold.  I am white and it seems apparent to me that there are both particular and average group differences between, on the one hand, myself and other whites, and on the other hand, people of other races: for instance, people of African origin.  Apart from anything else, it just seems empirically self-evident that there are differences and it seems to me quite odd  to deny this.I don't have an axe to grind here really, and I don't want to get into a heated row over this.  I'm just curious.  I agree that race could be seen as a social construct in the way that it is often dispensed in argument, but the notion that race is merely and only a social construct seems to me a little simplistic – and wrong on the observable facts.Also, you suggest it is more "meaningful" to talk of ethnicity and culture, but aren't both those concepts a consequence, even a product, of racial identity, both self-perceived and externally-ascribed?

    #91480
    Tom Rogers
    Participant
    SocialistPunk wrote:
    Hi TomI think DJP has summed it up nicely. Time and time again I am reading on the net that "race" is now considered to have no biological basis.If we look at the taxonomists of the 17th and 18th centuries they used very simple methods to classify humans, skin colour being the most common. From them we are left with a legacy of four "races". They were very often prejudiced in their thinking, classifying the "races" with behavioural traits the most favoured belonging to, shock horror, white Europeans.Is it any wonder "race science" really took off during the colonial years. Looking down upon whole groups of people as inferior no doubt made it easier to justify the subjugation of native people and the plundering of their homelands.Think about it this way. If "race" had not been invented before now and scientists wished to classify humans, do you think they would be so obsessed with skin colour or hair type?Do you not think that our science would be better equipped to handle the complex job with more accurate scientific objectivity?Yet in the 21st century some people still feel the need to cling to such an outdated, limited vision of humanity.Why?What use is "race" anyway?

    OK, but for some reason very many people do still feel the need to "cling" to race as a form of identity and as a delimiter.  Why?  Is it, as you might put it, 'false consciousness', or does race have a deeper significance?  Race is more than skin colour or hair type.  Though those attributes are important, they form part of a more general picture of what race means and is, and I have to confess, I am finding it difficult to accept race as an entirely invented characteristic.  Yes, you could say that words such as 'white' and 'British' are entirely made-up and the various historic and present-day artefacts of the Occident – i.e. of 'whiteness', 'Westernness' and 'Britishness', and so on – are invented, and that would be true, but they reflect certain primordial and ancient ties of blood, language and geography, do they not?Interestingly, you conclude by asking: What use is "race" anyway?  Actually, I think the utilitarian position underlying that question is the more rational and defensible.  I think any fair and sensible observation betrays that race does exist – the real question is whether it is a delimitation we should continue to rely on in our social world.  And my response to that challenge would begin with a few simple truths.  Fecundity is the basis of humanity, and even under conditions of social co-operation, human beings will inevitably exhibit a profound feeling of closeness, loyalty, warmth and kinship toward their extended family.  This excluding attribute among human beings is part of what it is to be human.  We feel closer to those who generally look like us, and who share close linguistic and blood ties with us, and we want to have our children with females who 'look like us' (in the racial sense) because we want our children to resemble us.  Of course, it may be that some people do not feel these instincts so keenly, or choose to deny them, but should those who dissent from this 'multi-culturalism' – in that they see such things as race and kin as a basic aspect of humanness – be denied their instincts?

    #91481
    SocialistPunk
    Participant
    Tom Rogers wrote:
    I think any fair and sensible observation betrays that race does exist

    I think that just about sorts the issue out. What do modern scientists know? We just have to look at the obvious, skin colour, language, what clothes people wear, the food people eat and we can tell what "race" they belong to. Easy. Just like the pioneers of human "racial" classification.If you are interested in the truth about "race", I urge you to look into the history of human "racial" classification. Very often history has a habit of exposing the truth. 

    Tom Rogers wrote:
    We feel closer to those who generally look like us, and who share close linguistic and blood ties with us, and we want to have our children with females who 'look like us' (in the racial sense) because we want our children to resemble us.  Of course, it may be that some people do not feel these instincts so keenly, or choose to deny them, but should those who see kin as a basic aspect of humanness be denied their instincts?

    You talk of a need to breed with the same "racial" type as ourselves as if it were some human instinct. So can you explain why it is that humans have been so able to overide our instincts for thousands of years and continue that trend quite willingly today, by taking partners from other so called "races". My partners best friend married a black dude she met while at Uni' in Birmingham and they now have a young son of so called "mixed race". I do not think his parents have any issue regarding his not looking like them.It is a well known fact that the more diverse genetic mix humans have the better it is for our offspring and so our species.So much for instinct!?

    #91482
    Tom Rogers
    Participant
    SocialistPunk wrote:
    Tom Rogers wrote:
    I think any fair and sensible observation betrays that race does exist

    I think that just about sorts the issue out. What do modern scientists know? We just have to look at the obvious, skin colour, language, what clothes people wear, the food people eat and we can tell what "race" they belong to. Easy. Just like the pioneers of human "racial" classification.If you are interested in the truth about "race", I urge you to look into the history of human "racial" classification. Very often history has a habit of exposing the truth. 

    You're misrepresenting me here.  I clearly didn't make these statements that you attribute to me.  I doubt you have done this intentionally, though.  Rather, I think this is an issue you are emotional about and so you are latching on to my comments and extracting the odd word or choice phrase as if this represents my entire position.  This is a perfectly understandable (and human) thing to do, and it's something we all do from time-to-time when we feel strongly about an issue, but it doesn't advance your points.  Skin colour can only be superficially indicative of race, in some cases it will be quite a definitive and conclusive attribute, in others not.  The other variables you refer to are more relevant to considerations of ethnicity and culture.  I looked at the articles you link to above (for which, thanks).  The articles are politically-charged but in any case they do not necessarily contradict my observation that race is a material reality and not just a social construct.  I am no scientist (nor am I an anthropologist) and I will always defer to scientific opinion within reason, but much in science depends on interpretation.  My point, that race exists as a valid delimiter, is a more existential one, for which there may or may not be firm contemporary scientific support, but for which many people feel strongly that some allowance and consideration should be made.  It is not always necessary to go out and prove something down to the nearest adenine or guanine, and though any genuine efforts to do so are of course welcome, a rational society makes constructive use of its scientists, it doesn't worship them.  I don't consider my position here to be ignorant or bigoted or unreasonable in any way, nor do I ignore or discount valid scientific work, but nor do I take it as gospel either.

    #91483
    ALB
    Keymaster
    Tom Rogers wrote:
    we want to have our children with females who 'look like us' (in the racial sense) because we want our children to resemble us.

    Socialist Punk has already pointed out that this is nonsense. Do redheads want to marry other redheads? If not, why not? Surely because skin colour is a "social construct"  as a marker of  "race" today while red-headedness isn't, though both have a genetic basis. And why, in this country, are so-called "mixed race" people regarded and sometimes regard themselves as "black" rather than "white" (which would be equally logical — or illogical, from a biological point of view). Surely, again, because "black" and "white" are "social constructs" not biological categories.

    #91484
    Tom Rogers
    Participant
    SocialistPunk wrote:
    Tom Rogers wrote:
    We feel closer to those who generally look like us, and who share close linguistic and blood ties with us, and we want to have our children with females who 'look like us' (in the racial sense) because we want our children to resemble us.  Of course, it may be that some people do not feel these instincts so keenly, or choose to deny them, but should those who see kin as a basic aspect of humanness be denied their instincts?

    You talk of a need to breed with the same "racial" type as ourselves as if it were some human instinct. So can you explain why it is that humans have been so able to overide our instincts for thousands of years and continue that trend quite willingly today, by taking partners from other so called "races". My partners best friend married a black dude she met while at Uni' in Birmingham and they now have a young son of so called "mixed race". I do not think his parents have any issue regarding his not looking like them.It is a well known fact that the more diverse genetic mix humans have the better it is for our offspring and so our species.So much for instinct!?

    Well, I don't refer to a "need" to breed with the same racial type.  Again, that's a misrepresentation.  What I state is that there is an instinct.  I hope you are not denying that human beings have instincts – it would be very odd if you did – but perhaps for clarification you might want to tell us your position?  If you accept that human beings do have certain instincts then a great deal follows from that.  Now, here is where you misrepresent me again.  I have not suggested that the relevant instinct of person X is to breed with a white woman because he is a white man.  What I am referring to here is kin, of which race is an inevitable consequence: groups that breed together will look alike.  The existence of races in the world today proves this, no?  Ah, no you're a candidate for the Flat Earth Society, aren't you.  (I'm pulling your leg).  Again, I am no scientist and so I must adopt a somewhat humble posture in the matter, but I would respectfully posit that people feel closer to their own kin and that racial and ethnic groups could be considered as extended kinship groups that have evolved with time, and that these kinship groups serve a variety of social, cultural, ethnographic, medical, even political, purposes.  If this is at all true, then there are implications.

    #91485
    Tom Rogers
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    Tom Rogers wrote:
    we want to have our children with females who 'look like us' (in the racial sense) because we want our children to resemble us.

    Socialist Punk has already pointed out that this is nonsense. Do redheads want to marry other redheads? If not, why not? Surely because skin colour is a "social construct"  as a marker of  "race" today while red-headedness isn't, though both have a genetic basis. And why, in this country, are so-called "mixed race" people regarded and sometimes regard themselves as "black" rather than "white" (which would be equally logical — or illogical, from a biological point of view). Surely, again, because "black" and "white" are "social constructs" not biological categories.

     The fact that you dismiss me so arrogantly says a great deal about the strength of our respective arguments, I think.  Your points are also feeble.  I did not say, nor imply, nor refer to, the idea that "redheads" should marry other redheads, and your other observations are equally spurious and irrelevant.  "Surely" what?  Surely I should just swallow it?  There is no innate reason why I should respect someone who carries himself with such arrogance.

    #91486
    ALB
    Keymaster

    The point I was making was this: that of course there are genetically-based differences between humans but the ones that are selected to differentiate "races" are socially-determined (eg skin colour rather than hair colour). So that why's it fair to say that "race" is a social not a biological classification.I still say that it is nonsense to say:

    Quote:
    we want to have our children with females who 'look like us' (in the racial sense) because we want our children to resemble us.

    And insulting too to the millions who don't choose to marry/have children with somebody of the same "racial" group. In fact, I would say that someone who wanted to marry/have children with someone just because they resembled their "racial group" would be a racist.In any event please exlude me from your "we".

    #91487
    Tom Rogers
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    The point I was making was this: that of course there are genetically-based differences between humans but the ones that are selected to differentiate "races" are socially-determined (eg skin colour rather than hair colour). So that why's it fair to say that "race" is a social not a biological classification.I still say that it is nonsense to say:

    Quote:
    we want to have our children with females who 'look like us' (in the racial sense) because we want our children to resemble us.

    And insulting too to the millions who don't choose to marry/have children with somebody of the same "racial" group. In fact, I would say that someone who wanted to marry/have children with someone just because they resembled their "racial group" would be a racist.In any event please exlude me from your "we".

    Yes, arguably skin colour is "socially-determined" but in making that observation you are trying to cleverly twist the argument.  The term 'skin colour' is a social construction, but skin colour itself is natural.  If people sexually select based on skin colour then, yes, it could be said that skin colour is socially-determined, but it does not follow that race (or any inherent racial attribute) is a social construction.  In fact, none of my interlocutors on here have yet posed a rational argument to support the assertion that race is a social construction.  I would suggest that is because the assertion is nothing more than sociological quackery, used by people who are not, deep down, intellectually-curious and who wish to appear cleverer than they really are.  I am sorry to say that plainly applies to many people on here.  There's nothing wrong with believing in things because you like the sound of them, but it is emphatically not an intellectual position.I see, as a last resort, you are bringing social etiquette into the equation.  Please explain how it is insulting to argue that human beings might instinctively wish to associate with kin groups?  Please enumerate for us the ways in which one might find this insulting.  I would suggest it is not insulting at all, and that your claim that it is so is just another feeble rhetoricism and an attempt to deflect the argument.You then go on to dispense an insult yourself, by suggesting that those who sexually select based on race are "racist".  It is of course fine for you to insult whoever you like, and at will, but please define racist and explain why people should be castigated (and presumably, in your view, locked-up) for this attribute?You finish with another rhetorical flourish, asking me not to use the term 'we'.  I am not sure why, but I have never asked the Socialist Party to refrain from using the term 'we' in its arguments for socialism.  Why should I do so?  Of course, I shouldn't.  It's just another silly, disingenuous distraction from you.

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