Defining Racism By Race and Culture

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Defining Racism By Race and Culture

Post by DSN on Fri Apr 12, 2013 3:25 pm

Today I shared an image on Facebook from an atheist page that mocked the veil that Muslim women wear, and a Marxist friend I've had in my friends list for a while commented on the pic saying that I should take it down because it was racist. Obviously my first reaction was that since the image was focused on religion and not race, I asked him to explain what was "racist" about the image, and his explanation actually got me thinking. I won't post all of it, as the conversation was far too long, but here are some extracts that explains the core of his argument:

"It doesn't matter that your intention was not centrally to mock people because they are non-white. The way it looks is like you, a person who identifies with white culture, are mocking the social practices as "inferior" of a non-white people. That comes across as "white-supremacist" in the traditional way (which, by the way, for most of the world, is not skin-heads in jackboots, but superior white people telling people of color to adopt the white beliefs, whether it is Christianity or atheism because they are superior to the beliefs of the non-white people).

"You don't get to choose by your intention what your images mean. They mean based on social practices. It is tied to race because of the history of white social practice with regard to non-white people. You can't erase that with your "personal intention" any more than Humpty Dumpty could with Alice.

"We all carry our groups and our history around with us. You can't escape that just because you would like to. You are an individual, yes, but there is a myth that capitalism pushes about individuality that you shouldn't buy into. That YOU can choose who you are by yourself. That is Humpty Dumpty, and it can't be done. (This is why Sartre came to realize the incompatibility of his Existentialism with Marxism later in his thought, in the 1950s.)

"Racism really harms people. It is a history of harm. White people have not been historically harmed by racism. It is not a two-way street."


What do you make of this? Is it really for the better of mankind that whites simply not criticise anyone who is non-white because it will be interpreted as an act of white/European supremacy? Is this going too far and simply just political correctness gone mad? The last quote is especially interesting to me. Surely the fact that whites can't speak out against anything non-white is harmful to "our" freedom and identity/identities? I'm curious to know what you guys think, because this has opened a door in my mind.

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Re: Defining Racism By Race and Culture

Post by Rev Scare on Fri Apr 12, 2013 11:37 pm

Actually, that argument is simply inane and would not warrant serious discourse were it not woefully prevalent on the contemporary (liberal) "Left." Why should normative statements regarding foreign cultures somehow be outside the realm of ethical consideration? If a non-European society practiced slavery, would we be obliged to refrain from condemning it due to our cultural predilections, which would supposedly judge such a society on the basis of racial inferiority? What about female genital mutilation in areas of Africa? Should we suppress our outrage at such a primitive and barbaric practice for fear of intimating "white supremacy"? This individual is conflating the history of European colonialism with an honest and rational critique. While we should indeed be skeptical of attempts to impose the dominant value system of one culture upon another, this does not somehow result in an impermeable boundary on questions of ethics, as there are human concerns which transcend ethnocultural considerations. To criticize the residual custom of a theocratic and sexually oppressive culture is not to somehow establish hierarchies--the converse is true.

I would also ask what exactly constitutes "white" culture? If a similar attempt to generalize "black" culture were made, for example, it would be decried as racist. Would he be equally incensed if a person of African ancestry were to issue the same criticism? Notice that he is cloaking his critique in Marxism by assigning primary blame to historical social relations, but the core of his argument is rooted in liberalism, not Marxian analysis. Liberals have had to cope with the real history of oppression by erecting an idealist fa├žade of "white privilege," not Marxists outside of the liberal infused New Left.

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Re: Defining Racism By Race and Culture

Post by DSN on Sat Apr 13, 2013 3:49 am

Well from what I can tell it wouldn't be much of a concern if a black person living in Africa were to insult a group of people they have no such historical relation with. I simply fail to see why it's my responsibility to look out for what other people (apparently) assume from the words I speak just because of my race and/or ethnicity. To me, it sounds like the exact same logic applied in telling a Muslim man not to read his Quran on the bus for fear of being seen as a terrorist, which surely he would not support.

As for the definition of white culture, I suppose it just loosely refers to any European customs. He mentioned Eurocentrism to explain his point further, claiming that the system is racist and white supremacist because of terms like "Black Studies" when there is no such thing as "White Studies".

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Re: Defining Racism By Race and Culture

Post by Red Aegis on Sat Apr 13, 2013 9:14 am

I think that the bullshit of his associating the color of the person's skin with the material conditions with which that person's society - despite society becoming increasingly global in nature - is just as faulty as blaming nations for their relative poverty. Culture is shaped by the material conditions of society in the same way as political hegemony. Actually, if you consider attacking people's religion to be an attack on the dominant race from which that originated you may as well consider an attack on Capitalism to be an attack on those whose lineage goes through Europe. That they would certainly either make them realize their ridiculousness or they will choose to continue being idiots.

Yes, there is systematized racial oppression, but that is a different question than the one that the person insisting that some people are immune to blame or criticism. Even if someone is raised to reject or compartmentalize logic they are still culpable to maintaining that meme instead of using Reason.

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Re: Defining Racism By Race and Culture

Post by RedBrasil on Sat Apr 13, 2013 10:40 am

I disagree with your friend, Islam is a reactionary piece of shit just like every abrahamic religion, but the judaism and christianity are almost dying out. Since centuries ago we are seeing religion gets its importance reduced and now that this is almost complete we cannot go back in time allowing muslims to ride free in european countries, islam is naturally more radical than other abrahamic faiths. I don't care if this sounds xenophobic, but as a brazilian, this is my opinion about what's going on in europe and usa.

Marxism is totally in favor of dialect progress, Karl Marx himself was in favor of the displacement of the mexicans by usa americans, not becuase they were inferior, but because he saw the american capitalism as a step towards socialism, so in this sense marxism do have a progressive deterministic way of thinking.

Islam is reactionary, not all arabs are muslims, islam is not a race, there are no races, just ethnic groups. When you say "arab" this is not really telling nothing, arab is not a race, original arabs were a particular ethnic group in the arabian peninsula, with the islamic expansion, arabs mixes themselves with other ethnic groups in the middle east and north africa.
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Re: Defining Racism By Race and Culture

Post by DSN on Sat Apr 13, 2013 10:59 am

This is the same logic I was using, but he seems to think that the ties I have to Europe and its culture are more important than anything else. I may speak with him about this again soon as I'm not really satisfied with his explanation so far. Here's something else he said about criticising Islam:

"Many Islamic people have been been harmed by stories and images that have been spread about Islam in general. I don't agree with religion, but I don't believe in harming people either. There is a BIG difference between criticizing the Bible in European countries and the US and criticizing Islam in non-European countries. You shouldn't take these to be the same thing.

"Don't treat all religions evenly. Understand the history of Christian and white supremacy that harmed the rest of the world massively through colonialism and imperialism."


Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Christianity try to completely destroy the old religions of Europe? Varg Vikernes burning down churches simply seemed to be getting his own back.

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Re: Defining Racism By Race and Culture

Post by Rev Scare on Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:52 pm

Christianity and white supremacy, but particularly the latter, were ideological justifications for European imperialism--the expansion of capital in search of new resources and markets. Mercantilism, arguably the first stage of capitalism or immediately preceding it, more or less followed the same logic, except that its accumulation was contingent upon surplus extraction via unequal trade. There is no necessary connection between contemporary critiques of non-European cultures and the history of Western European imperialism. They can be divorced from "white supremacist" intent or current bourgeois jingoism.

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Re: Defining Racism By Race and Culture

Post by RedBrasil on Sat Apr 13, 2013 5:00 pm

Islamic-arab expansion and slavery of africans is a kind of imperalism in my opinion
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Re: Defining Racism By Race and Culture

Post by Uberak on Sat Apr 13, 2013 5:22 pm

RedBrasil wrote:Islamic-arab expansion and slavery of africans is a kind of imperalism in my opinion

You can say the same for the Mali Empire or just about every single large state that existed before the concept of the nation-state.

That and you can't say that Islam, Christainity, and Judaism are all inherently reactionary when there are believers in those faiths who are dedicated revolutionaries, including me.

Also, slavery was common world-wide during the Middle Ages, even in Europe. Also, slavery wasn't race-based in the Middle Ages, with the Islamic law during the time period only discriminating by banning slavery for Muslims. This is not to justify the Arab Slave Trade, but rather to correct you on 'enslaving africans'.
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Re: Defining Racism By Race and Culture

Post by TheocWulf on Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:27 am

If your not part of his Cosmo organisation why should he feel the need to tell you what to do with your personal social media?.Next time tell the Cosmo cunt to worry about his own marginal liberal organisation and or outlook before mouthing off.

This is why I have nothing to do with the contempory left in the UK.

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