Affirmative Action and ideology -Reply

Wed Apr 12 12:29:20 MDT 1995

>>> Kenny Mostern <kennym at>  4/12/95, 10:42am >>>
....  racism really can provide psychic dividends in a social  system
where the real economy provides nothing or next to nothing.

<<<<< I've seen a good case made for an upswing in overt racism, such
as KKK membership and number of white supremacy organizations,
corresponding to economic indicators such as unemployment rates in
the US during this century.  Maybe what I call "scape-goating" is
something like what Kenny means by "psychic dividends", but I think
that material gains or attempts to gain are often congruent with
apparent psychological motivations.  Wasn't lynching at an all-time
high, at least for this century, during the Depression?

For instance, one may feel some gratifying sense of power when
turning a black person away from the polls, but one also is helping
to ensure that the elected sheriff remains corrupt and white so that
one can continue to abuse and exploit blacks with impunity.  And the
tougher the economy, the more one may desperately need to exploit in
order to keep up the profits.

Besides, if one liberal white do-gooder steps forward to protest,
what will happen?  Another lynching possibly, but at least some
serious social/material sanctions from powerful racists.  These are
some of the forces that I think contribute to individuals' racism.

Now, if you have economic insecurity (as everyone does under
capitalism, but some more than others) and you see other easily
identifiable groups posing an increasing threat of economic
competition (which is perfectly realistic under capitalism) and
certainly an increasing threat of reduced power for the formerly
ruling group (which may be an even bigger threat if socialist
equality is looming) then racism is not surprising.

The things that skin-heads get from supremacy groups are not only
mental, like a "feeling of belonging".  I think of the need for
friends, family and a real importance of oneself to other people and
among them as material things, in addition to the fact that such
camps may actually provide room, board and cash.

Besides, if you don't get some respect somewhere, you probably don't
get any women.  And sadly, in a brutal world, who do women sometimes
prefer?  The biggest bastard of them all, to defend them against the
other bastards and to give a woman more power than she might
otherwise have, given what is available in a certain time and place
and social circle.

Longer-term class interests must loom mighty large to overcome these
kinds of short-term factors.

Finally, let me note that all of the arguments above apply equally to
"poor-ism".  In fact they dove-tail rather neatly.  These things
could occur in a mono-chromatic society, with divisions on ethnicity,
or in a mono-ethnic society with division on income.  When they all
occur together, topped off with a shot of "blame-the-victim," then
the poor all deserve to be poor, and blacks and browns are poor so
they must deserve it too, and here we are.

KM: .... Ideologies must be able to support individual interest to an
extent, or  they will not survive;...

Kenny Mostern

<<<< I agree.  All my ramblings above are an elaboration of my view
of what individual interests look like.  I don't expect that all
these ideas are new to everyone, I just think it adds depth or
perspective to the interesting but so-far general discussion of the
interaction between capitalism and racism.

Lisa Rogers

     --- from list marxism at ---

     --- from list marxism at ---


More information about the Marxism mailing list