2000s >> 2003 >> no-1186-june-2003

Editorial: Racism is bunk

Socialists stand for a system of society based upon the principle of each individual having access to what they need, as a pre-condition of social activity. That is, securing for each human being the clothes, food and housing they need, as well as the cultural and social goods of life, should be the first priority of any sane society. Of course, each person getting what they need means that different people will get different things. People are, of course, born with different needs, so it is not a question of everybody getting the same.

Some people share genetically inherited features which are passed on through human reproduction. Genetic features, though, can be mixed and changed by the same process – there is no essential correlation between, say, skin colour and some disease. Merely, there is a chance that the genes for these two separate features will be passed on from parent to child. Just as there is no specific correlation between skin colour and facial features, or eye colour and hair colour. That these features seem to belong together is an effect of the fact that each parent passes on half their genetic characteristics to their off-spring, and that historically people of similar appearance (and roughly common descent) have tended to breed with one another in similar climates.

The fact of the matter is that we are all members of the same republic of genes, all related very closely to one another no matter what part of the globe we hail from. We are the surviving descendants of some less than 20,000 early humanoids. We share a common genetic trait, traceable back through the ages to just one female, many thousands of years ago.

It’s also a fact that we developed as a species to be dependent upon one another for our needs; but also able to communicate and co-operate with one another to meet those needs. Yet, today, we live in a society in which the needs of a great many people go unmet. It’s clear to Socialists that the ideas surrounding race and racialism are bunkum, un-supported by the scientific facts. We can point to the history of the development of capitalism, to show how the misapprehensions surrounding race developed along with the needs of capital to expand and control the globe, and to build loyal armies in pursuit of such conquest. Yet, they continue to do harm and deny our common humanity in the modern world.

But why do such mistaken ideas continue to exist in the world today, in the face of the evidence of the facts? We would point to the mutually re-enforcing tendencies of today’s modern world. On the one hand is the continued existence of poverty fed by ignorance, which nurtures the desire for people to cling onto what little they have, instilling in them a fear of a threat from apparent strangers. On the other, capital’s drives for efficiency, the need to cut out anything that interferes with or reduces the profit-making capacity of the industrial machine, which means that worker’s whose needs cause costs (such as dealing with language and cultural differences) are squeezed out in a “one size fits all” approach.

What socialists propose is a different world. Wherein everyone could have more than enough of the things they require, so they need no longer fear to lose it; where meeting and exploring our different needs becomes a past-time and an end in itself; where without conflicts of power and dominance – because we co-operate voluntarily and democratically – there is no limitation set on, nor distortion of, our endeavour to understand what it means to be a part of the human race. In short, socialism will allow us to be treated as unique individuals, rather than as a bureaucratically allocated “race” on an equal opportunities monitoring form.

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