David Erixon on Wed, 31 Oct 2018 01:47:52 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Grand narratives vs Identitarianism

On 30 Oct 2018, at 13:44, Ian Alan Paul <ianalanpaul@gmail.com> wrote:

It's possible to critique biological essentialism in relation to race/sex, while also defending the reality of race/sex in the sense that they are real distinctions/categorizations that have been historically acted upon by the material forces of capital.

Of course we must recognize race (and thus racism; without the anchor point of race, there can’t be racism) in order to understand apartheid (and other forms of oppression based on the social ghost / misinformed social construction of “race”), but that’s rather different from using it to build a preferred future. We should know better. 

If we want an “a-racial” world (I assume that’s what we want, but I could be wrong; lex SA and the politics of ANC) then cementing the notion of race hardly does the job. It perpetuates it.

I find the position of using “race” to build a vision of the future deeply cynical, manipulative, nostalgic and/or naive. Even racist. Or at least, metaphorically, tone deaf. Or do you believe that the difference between “races” is greater than “within” race? Then you are factually incorrect. And that’s not a humble opinion. 

Again, I understand that race is essential for analysis of past problems, but I reject it’s essential for building a future vision.

And whether we subscribe to capitalism (as in risk/reward, freedom/prison/lack of choice and collective/individual intelligence/stupidity; thus over time concentrating power to people/class with wealth/timing/luck) or more regulated economic frameworks (promoting wealth distribution and other types of balancing interventions impacting “quality of life”, equal opportunity, fairness and justice), explain to me how the notion of race informs a way forward? What do you want to do with your “defending” of race going forward? In what way does it inform your vision? And I will not buy a lazy “I don’t know; that’s not my job”. You need to be able to take your position into reality. Lay it bare.

I get the intersectional analysis, I get the oppressed and oppressor (as a way of analyzing history and even contemporary society), but what are you proposing? In what way will this analysis help us going forward? Just to get concrete.

The best theories are deeply practical. Imho.

What is being pushed back against is the notion that you can ever understand class absent of an understanding of race and sex.

Of course you can. Just look at cash flow and balance sheet. How much profit are you making (or loss) and what is your net asset position? Look at it from sperm to worm (ie over a lifetime). Compare. Contrast. 

Believe me, I’m a son of parents, both adopted, one racially reassigned (my dad was the result of a “white man” raping a 15 yo sami girl; consequently forced by state to be put into orphanage and later fostered by two “Swedes”); the other “domiciled” (my mum, born into a traveling community, reassigned to a farmer family by state; this was Sweden in the 30s), I could easily fall into both race and sex analysis (been there, done that, got the t-shirt), but reality is, they were REDUCED to categories, not liberated from it. What got them into the situation, is not the same as what got them out of the situation. What got them out were access and opportunities based on socio economic conditions. 

Now, you might find that there are high correlation between race and social class, but race do not equal class. Neither does sex. And even if that WAS the case (which it factually isn’t; and probabilities is not valid here, unless you’re a Maoist and ready to sacrifice humanity for ideology; you obviously must have skipped the multi variable analysis in statistics class) then we should be back at fighting for class. Because anything else is a slippery slope to equality meaning we must all BE the same (or even worse; the oppressed becomes the oppressor) — which we are not. Unless you do believe that we can only be equal if we are the same. Or that “difference” somehow merits any type of “special treatment” (white OR black, man OR female, etc). 

I’m not buying what you’re selling. But I’m open to me misinterpreting your ad. The copy could just be too academic for my comprehension. Talk to me like a worker / consumer please. 

What’s in it for me and my people?

All the best,

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