idealism/ontology?

George Snedeker snedeker at concentric.net
Sun Jun 3 16:14:04 MDT 2001


Andrew says:
Race is much more than a category of thought. It is a social reality just as
class is. It is objective and largely operates independent of consciousness.
The racial system is a real social structure.

I don't disagree with this formulation. I have trouble when he calls Cox's
conception of racism "idealist." I cannot figure out what "idealism" could
mean here. perhaps he is using some theoretical framework that I am not
familiar with. I do have some trouble with the idea that racism is outside
consciousness. it's both inside and outside. he also refers to "social
class" as an ontological conception. perhaps he is being ironic. there is
nothing ontological about the Marxist theory of classes. well, perhaps for
some it is ontological? nor do I think that race is an ontology. it is a
social construction, like whiteness. that is the connection between Cox and
Alan. they would not agree about details. they are both social
constructionists. for Cox, Blacks became the Other, the other to white
Europeans.

I don't understand the point about Du Bois either. his original formulation
of racism was not very Marxist. I mean "the question of the twentieth
century is the question of the color line." but if you look more closely at
his overall work, he does see racism as a creation of modern capitalism.

here is my point put country simple-- racism did not fall from the sky one
day. it grew out of chattel slavery, which was a central feature of
capitalism. it has taken on new forms. its reality is not ontological, but
social. "ontology" is the language of Being.





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