Labour aristocracy and "male privilege"

Kim Bullimore k_bullimore at
Tue Nov 12 18:09:55 MST 2002

Tom writes:

So why do women have it worse than men? Because in addition to oppressing
and exploiting male
workers in disgusting fashion, the system oppresses and exploits women even

Kim writes:

Well this is the whole point isn't it.

The fact is that women *are * more oppressed and more exploited than men and
it is because of this fact, that working class men do receive a *relative*
or *institutionalised* privilege as a result.

A privilege (as defined by my little Oxford dictionary) is "a right or
advantage" and/or "a special advantage or benefit".  It can not be denied
that working class men in class society do receive institutionalised
benefits that women don't.  They receive better wages, better jobs etc,
better education, they don't carry the primary responsibility for care for
the age, the young or the sick or for domestic duteis etc. This is just an
objective reality.

It is these kind of institutionalised privileges or the relative privilege,
that  I am talking about and which you seem to ignore and gloss over.  These
privileges are *institutionalised privileges*  that working class men
receive as a result of the oppression of women in capitalist society.

However, as  I pointed out in my earlier post,I do agree with you  that
while working class men do receive a meagre relative privilege, these
institutionalised privileges are  nothing like and falls far, far, far short
of the privileges  that the capitalist class receives due to their
exploitation of the working class as a whole.

Tom writes:

Is this a privilege for men? I don't think so. I think the oppression of
women adds to my oppression.
Where women don't have equal pay, men will also suffer over time.


Of course most men SEE sexism as something that privileges them. That
illusion benefits the system.
What is tragic is that the left also tends to endorse it.

Kim writes:
While I agree with you that the oppression of women adds to the oppression
of men because buying into sexism etc and other such divisions does run
counter to the class interests of working class men.

It divides the working class and weakens their ability to fight and
overthrow capitalism,  however what you are failing to acknowledge is that
until working class men DEVELOP a class consciousness and break with sexist
ideas they will continue to put their interests as individual men above that
of working class women and their class.

Of course the illusion of "privilege" benefits the system, but if  * men as
a sex * didn't receive some sort of relative privilge why on earth would
they even buy in to the idea of sexism in the first place?  If whites didn't
receive some sort of relative privilege over blacks why on earth would they
buy into racism in the first place? They simply wouldn't.

The reason sexism and racism is accepted is because it does provide relative
privileges for one group over another.  In relation to race, the skin colour
is fetished and one skin group receives privilges that another skin group
doesn't (e.g whites over blacks) In the case of sexism, one gender receives
privilges that the other gender doesn't.

The recognition of this does not mean that one is endorsing it.  All it does
is recognise that it exists and means that we have to organise to patiently
explain to male workers or to working class whites that these meagre
material  privileges they receive are just  bread crumbs and are not REAL
privileges  and they have more to win by giving up these meagre privileges
for the real gain of working class solidarity.

Kim B

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