Class-based

“Cancel culture” sounds catchy and cute (plus, there’s alliteration, which always makes for a good slogan) but it’s confusing and open to endless time-consuming debates. What constitutes canceling? What’s a culture?

Once you call it what it really is, JOB WARS, things become much clearer. Job wars intensify once jobs start evaporating. We are in a recession, so job wars have become vicious.

Similarly, “Resistance” (does anybody even remember it anymore?) is a lot easier to understand if you remember that it’s a class war.

There are many discussions of Marxism yet there’s not a shade of a class-based analysis of anything.

No, not everything is about the economy. But cancel culture, resistance, and #metoo absolutely are.

Here’s Cliff Arroyo’s analysis of Robin DiAngelo’s book as a tool of workplace discipline. Unless you think of the book as a workplace phenomenon, you won’t understand it. And the same goes for microaggressions as a concept.

40 thoughts on “Class-based”

  1. cliff wrote: ” the function of Robin and those like her is to prove corporate employers with a convenient way of firing people at will. ”

    Can’t employers already do that? It’s not like most workers have anything resembling tenure.

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    1. El’s right. Most US states have “at will employment” except Montana. And unless you have a contract, a union or are a public sector employee, “at will” employment applies to you. And just because you belong to a protected class doesn’t mean you can’t be fired. Or it’s even that hard to come up with a reason to fire you that doesn’t violate the law.

      Read HR blogs for a while. They are full of letters from people who think they have more employment protections than they actually have. The #1 solution to most intractable problems is to leave and find another job.

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    2. They do but it usually has a demoralizing effect and you’ve got to worry how other workers will react. It’s easier to fire when it’s part of a moral crusade and not just your whim.

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  2. “There are many discussions of Marxism yet there’s not a shade of a class-based analysis of anything.”

    Very crudely, that’s because the woke are far more disciples of Hegel (ideas are the motor of history) than of Marx (material forces are the motor of history.) Exploitation comes from biological-derived ideological categories like “race” or “gender” rather than being structured by the socio-economic relations of production.

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    1. Uh… race isn’t a biological category, though — it is created by socio-economic relations of production and is meant to justify the preservation of an underclass that cannot rise

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      1. Human physiology doesn’t care about our ideological needs. 🙂 Race and ethnicity, in many cases, are very well-defined biological categories. This is why many doctors ask about these things in order to begin treatment.

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          1. “If it’s a social construct”

            With respect, genetic testing for cystic fibrosis and Tay-Sachs based on family history or region of family origin does not prove that there are biologically-determined “races”.

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            1. Tay-Sachs is obviously about ethnicity, not race.

              Physiological differences between different races and ethnicities are not only well-documented but really quite obvious. They arose in response to material reality. I’m not sure what they point is to debating clearly observable things. The epicanthic fold, for instance, is an example of such observable reality.

              I also want to add that nowhere on the planet is the existence of biological sexed or races debated like it is in North America. Where I’m from, for instance, this discussion we are having would be considered something on the same level as “it’s not true that the Earth revolves around the sun.”

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              1. Yes, the epicanthic fold is predominantly found in one geographical region of the world. Even there, it is not universal and outside this geographical region one can find it in individuals of European and South Asian origin. It is not a marker of biological “race” or proof of racial determinism any more than is skin colour. “Races” are a 19th century product of pseudo-scientific Enlightenment thought.

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              2. I’m sorry, I don’t understand the point of this discussion. It’s really like debating the statement “birds fly.” I can’t participate in activities when I don’t understand the point.

                Human physiology is real. It’s not scary or icky. It’s real. And that’s fine. Or it is for everybody but North Americans.

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              3. The difficulty might be in that North Americans invest the word “race” with all sorts of meanings that scare and repel them. The rest of the planet doesn’t, so the subject isn’t that fraught.

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        1. I’m surprised to learn that you think that race is a “well-defined biological” category because it just isn’t.

          Minor genetic variations that are over-represented, or even dominant, in certain geographic areas are not “races.” All humans are members of one species. Unlike Z, I would not reduce notions of biological racism to class struggle alone, they are also rooted in Enlightenment ideas of science and progress. But he’s completely right about “race” being a political rather than a biological category.

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          1. ” “well-defined biological” category because it just isn’t.”

            It’s not that useful in some places (like a lot of Latin America) and it’s a fuzzy category rather than an extremely clear cut one.
            The American idea that it doesn’t exist at all (I first heard about it in the early 1980s…) seems politically motivated rather than based on genetics.
            What is true is that in any given society some part of racial identification is conventionalized around folk categories (like “Hispanic” in the US)
            It’s also true that African Americans are as much a cultural and linguistic group as a purely racial one.

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            1. “The American idea that it doesn’t exist at all… seems politically motivated rather than based on genetics.”

              This isn’t an “American” idea. There’s no robust science that supports the idea that there are genetic “races” and so racial determinism is bunkum. African-Americans are not a “racial” group because there are no biological races – none. It’s all late 19th century pseudo-science; social darwinism, the eugenics movement, and Nazi race “science” all spring from the same poison 19th century well. There’s a huge, enormous literature that can fill out these points.

              Now it is true that lots of ‘progressive’ Americans cling to ideas of biologically-based categories in politics – viz. identity politics. Of course, they’re not progressive at all but rather have their heads stuck in notions of biological entitlement to political power that historically characterized slave and feudal societies.

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              1. Those identities are not ‘clinging to biology’, they’re historically created ones. Europeans created the category “Indian” and Native Americans do have a particular kind of history since this “race” was created, policies made about the people in it, wars waged, etc., etc.

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              2. It is an American idea, though. Nowhere else is it possible to say “the epicanthic fold is real but race isn’t” because it’s the same as saying “penises exist but the biological category of a male doesn’t.”

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              3. Here’s a question, though. Americans are really bad at race relations. Really, really bad. They manage to spoil and make everything weird for everybody.

                If they are so bad at it, why not have some humility and learn from the cultures where people aren’t yelling at each other, drowning in snot, that having a friend of another race is hoooooorrible and where it isn’t extremely polite and cute to ignore the murders of dozens of people a week because everybody is so messed up about race?

                This “race was invented” theory is clearly not working, judging by results. Why not try something else?

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              4. I’ve traveled and all and I confidently say that nobody is as uncomfortable and weird around race as North Americans. Yet they are also completely certain they know exactly what race is and have it all figured out.

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              5. Professors at a leading university wrote a statement asking that black professors be given extra sabbatical time because it’s so exhausting to be black that they don’t manage to publish anything. There can’t be any clearer statement of belief in racial inferiority. Everywhere else in the world it would be unthinkable. But here it’s actually fashionable.

                The rest of the world has nothing to learn from North Americans about race. North Americans could learn a lot, though.

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              6. “Nowhere else is it possible to say ‘the epicanthic fold is real but race isn’t’ because it’s the same as saying ‘penises exist but the biological category of a male doesn’t.'”

                Sex is an assigned biological category based on chromosomes – almost 100% of humans fit into one of two chromosomally-defined sexes. There is no similar biological basis for differentiating between categories of humans based on quite superficial external differences such as skin colour, epicanthic folds, shape of skulls, size of feet, smell of armpits, etc. etc.

                “Americans are really bad at race relations”

                So, if there are no biological “races” in a measurable scientific sense, then who benefits from the social and political construction of racial divisions? Cui bono in America from “bad” race relations?

                “why not have some humility and learn from the cultures where people aren’t yelling at each other”

                The eastern European territories of the Pale of Settlement had no shortage of bitter ethnic and religious conflict for many, many generations before the new pseudo-scientific ideas of biological racial determinism were introduced in Europe in the late 19th century. This did not improve the yelling. From that point, Jews and others were considered race enemies suitable only for extermination in biologically necessary race war.

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              7. I have no idea why Americans can’t get over themselves already and stop being ridiculous about this. I’m from elsewhere. This all looks absolutely insane to me.

                And yes, we absolutely had tons of ethnic insanity in Eastern Europe. Half of my ancestors pogromed the other and then the other half Holodomored the first. We stink. But even so, we aren’t the ones coming up with “white fragility” and sabbaticals based on physiology. I’ve traveled, I’ve been to many places and I absolutely insist that there’s no place in the world where people are as freaked out by race as North America. There are places that are a lot more racist. But the unbearable discomfort – there’s no other place like this one.

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              8. “I have no idea why Americans can’t get over themselves already and stop being ridiculous about this.”

                Because it’s a road to political power for race-baiters and a source of $$ for others. It’s not that complicated. Cui bono?

                Defending oneself from a vague charge of racism is just about impossible unless one insists that the meaning be clearly specified as biological determinism. Defending oneself against a charge of discrimination, on the other hand, greatly levels the playing field as solutions, where necessary, can be sought and found.

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              9. Those race-baiters are the exact same people who promote the idea that “race and sex are a social construct.” Their truly insane policies are driven precisely by the need to prove that all racial and ethnic disparities of outcome are a result solely of bigotry. Since that’s impossible to demonstrate and these disparities are impossible to erase, this situation can never be resolved.

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              10. Here’s another question. Has anybody here had a chance to hang out with, say, Swedes and Brazilians? Or, I don’t know, Estonians and Peruvians. Did anybody notice any differences between how fast their nervous systems fire? Would anybody sincerely claim there’s no difference in the degree of excitability of a Ukrainian and a Finn? Or a Cuban and a Russian?

                There isn’t good or bad physiology. Nobody is better than anybody. But it only hurts people to pretend this kind of difference doesn’t exist.

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              11. I have had a chance to hang out with Russians and Peruanos* together. It is hilarious, but the sample size was too small to draw any solid conclusions 😉

                *”Peruano” is a category so broad as to be useless here, as it covers a large number of indigenous groups (30 indigenous languages!), plus lots of people of Spanish, German, Japanese, African, and Chinese extraction. But most of the people we knew were cuzqueños, and our Russian friend made them all look like Zen masters.

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              12. Americans have studied race relations in other parts of the world. The reasons for racist policies were clearly stated.

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnegie_Commission_of_Investigation_on_the_Poor_White_Question_in_South_Africa

                “As white proletarianisation proceeded and racial integration began to emerge as an urban phenomenon, white poverty attracted attention and concern. In the 1870s, for example, a colonial visitor to Grahamstown wrote that ‘miscellaneous herds of whites and blacks lived together in the most promiscuous manner imaginable.’”

                “According to one memorandum sent to Frederick Keppel, then president of Carnegie, there was “little doubt that if the Bantu were given full economic opportunity, the more competent among them would soon outstrip the less competent whites”. Keppel’s support for the project of creating the report was motivated by his concern with the maintenance of existing racial boundaries. The preoccupation of the Carnegie Corporation with the so-called poor white problem in South Africa was at least in part the outcome of similar misgivings about the state of poor whites in the American South.”

                “Although the ground work for Apartheid began earlier, the report provided support for the idea that the maintenance of white superiority would require support from social institutions. This was the justification for the segregation, and discrimination of the following decades. The report expressed fear about the loss of white racial pride, and in particular pointed to the danger that the poor white would not be able to resist the process of “Bantu-isation.” In seeking to prevent a class-based movement that would unite the poor across racial lines the report sought to heighten race as opposed to class differences as the significant social category.”

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  3. “nobody is as uncomfortable and weird around race as North Americans”

    Isn’t it only white North Americans? I personally have never heard a non-white go on and on about how race doesn’t exist.
    “Race doesn’t exist” is an externalization of liberal white guilt: I think the internal logic is that if race doesn’t exist then somehow they won’t have to feel so guilty. It doesn’t make rational sense but it doesn’t need to – it just needs to balance the internal scales.

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    1. “I think the internal logic is that if race doesn’t exist then somehow they won’t have to feel so guilty.”

      Ummm… why would anyone “feel so guilty” about something that doesn’t exist as a scientific category? Humans are all one species. If you want to believe, or think it useful to believe, that biological “races” exist based on arbitrary superficial and politically-assigned characteristics like skin colour (or foot size, or length of fingers, or skull size) then I must caution you that biological race-thinking has caused nothing but massive grief and tears since it first emerged in the later half of the 19th century.

      Further, I only have guilt over what I have personally done or not done during my lifetime – inherited collective blood-guilt (or virtue) over what our biological ancestors may have or may not have done during their lifetimes is poisonous for humanity. The dead can have no legitimate voice or votes in a liberal democracy.

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    2. Oh yeah, totally. It’s also interiorized neoliberal competitiveness. If races are real, we’ll have to decide which one is best and wins the competition.

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      1. ” I think the internal logic is that if race doesn’t exist then somehow they won’t have to feel so guilty”

        Thinking a bit more on it, there’s also the “if we can convince everybody that race doesn’t exist then there won’t be any more racism” which is just…. Orwellian, if we take the words enabling thoughtcrime out of the language people can’t crimethink anymore….

        And there’s also the neoliberal hatred of biological reality that can’t be consumed away…

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        1. “if we can convince everybody that race doesn’t exist…”

          I’d put the shoe on the other foot. If there is science that proves the existence of distinct genetically-defined biological races based on, say, skin colour, let’s see it.

          “there won’t be any more racism”

          Just because race isn’t a biological reality doesn’t mean that the political idea of “race” isn’t a real political phenomena. But discrimination/unfair treatment of minorities is different in kind than systemic racism i.e. laws and institutions based on the promotion of racial theories of biological determinism. Precisely because real world cases of discrimination can be addressed and remediated by the state, political entrepreneurs prefer to stoke the fictional fires of systemic racism because actual policy solutions would put them out of business.

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