[Marxism] Dolphin May Have 'Remains' of Legs

Rakesh Bhandari bhandari at berkeley.edu
Mon Nov 6 13:40:26 MST 2006

On relevance of biology...While Lysenko did not write about human 
genetics, he did accuse Mendelism of racism. If he had focused his 
critique on Galton and Weismann and distinguished them from Mendel, 
he would not have done such damage to Marxism. Les forwarded to this 
list the review by Garland Allen of Nils Roll Hansen's book Lysenko.

For a definition of racism opposed to mine see the following chapter 
from Benjamin Isaac's The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity. 

Of course if Isaac accepted  Banton's and my more specific definition 
(I think more clarity is needed on what Banton means by stable 
inherited characters), Isaac probably would have had to title his 
book The Forms of Ethnocentrism in Classical Antiquity--a lot less 
provocative  title.

I deny the existence of  ancient or premodern racism.

An excerpt from Isaac:

It is essential to adopt a proper definition of racism. The adoption 
of a definition that is too narrow and too specific will result in a 
failure to recognize manifestations of racism for what they are, 
because they do not correspond precisely with the strict criteria 
imposed by the definition. A definition that is too broad and too 
vague makes it possible to describe virtually every form of 
discrimination as racism. Both phenomena occur frequently and are 
harmful for intellectual and moral clarity. There are numerous 
definitions of racism, varying from a narrow to a broad 
interpretation. A British sociologist who has published widely on 
racism, Michael Banton, defines racism and prejudice as follows: "By 
racism is meant the doctrine that a man's behaviour is determined by 
stable inherited characters deriving from separate racial stocks 
having distinctive attributes and usually considered to stand to one 
another in relations of superiority and inferiority." Prejudice, 
although related to racism, is somewhat different: it has been 
defined as "a generalization existing prior to the situation in which 
it is invoked, directed toward people, groups, or social 
institutions, which is accepted and defended as a guide to action in 
spite of its discrepancies with the objective facts."38 This 
definition of racism is very precise and clearly refers to the form 
encountered in modern Europe.39 However, it ignores a number of 
features usually included in racism: it only refers to judgments of 
the behavior of man and not to his moral qualities, inborn gifts, or 
physical appearance. These are almost always the subject of racist 
views. Thus it would deny the qualification of racism to claims that 
a certain people has a distinctive smell or an ugly skull, for 
instance, since these are not forms of behavior. Moreover, it 
describes racism as a way of looking at others and does not relate to 
forms of aggression or the actual behavior of the racist. 
Furthermore, it implies, but does not clarify explicitly, that racism 
is an attitude which denies the individuality of human beings. It 
regards them exclusively in terms of a collective and does not allow 
for individual differences. In any case, this definition does not in 
fact allow for the existence of nonwestern or ancient racism, for the 
phrase "stable inherited characters deriving from separate racial 
stocks" clearly suggests the biological determinism which 
characterizes modern racism.


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