[Marxism] If Charlie is racist, then so am I by Zineb el- Rhazoui

David P Á david at miradoiro.com
Fri Jan 16 12:45:26 MST 2015

On 16/01/2015 17:24, Charles Faulkner wrote:
> yes, i hope that death of author considerations are irrelevant. but that wasn't the limit of beardsley's argument. it also applied when the artist herself was unaware of her intent or worse, deceptive. the upshot was that the work stands on its own quite aside from the intent an artist had when it was made. beardsley concluded that criticism was impossible if we had to rely solely on author intention. 

Sure. I have issues with this position but they are not germane. What
I'm pointing at though is that there is a context. It is not just the
matter of intent, but the matter of the actual outcomes involved.

> i am quite willing to accept that there is a difference between racist art employed by a racist and racist art employed by an an anti-racist but both are offences if only of different degree. 

Sure, but this is affirming the consequent. The question is determining
whether products of an anti-racist magazine, that are deployed to
anti-racist ends, and which seemingly successfully carry out this
purpose, can be said to be racist in the first place. Or rather, at this
point we need a bit of a theory of racist art: is it a formal or a
material issue? Is it contextual or it inheres to particular features no
matter how they are utilised? My own view on these matters is
consequentialist: if something tends to disarticulate and combat racism,
it is not racist; if it does the opposite, it is racist.

> religion is simply a fact. it goes well beyond simple accusations of oppression. we atheists on the left need to get over ourselves with our pious superiority. we are the minority. denigrating religion with offensive caricatures of its believers is a doomed project. if we want to claim moral superiority over religious hierarchy, we must demonstrate respect for all people and condemn goofy ethnic images. 

Capitalism is simply a fact. [...] We communists on the left need to get
over ourselves with our pious superiority. We are the minority.
Denigrating capitalism with offensive caricatures of the bourgeoisie is
a doomed project. Etc. Religion is a fact, just like capitalism and
alienation and class society are facts. A fact we must endeavour to get
rid of.

> having been oppressed and then siding with "liberators" who are also oppressors isn't so uncommon. 

Perhaps it isn't, but this siding is extremely dubious to me. What's the
theory here, that the PCF is the major cause for oppression in Morocco?
This all seems to presuppose that anticlericalism and oppression can be
straightforwardly conflated, which is really weird to me. I genuinely
don't understand why there's so much reverence for religion. I'd say
it's related to the way it permeates US and English-speaking societies
in general but I could well be talking nonsense.

> i haven't gone back to her text yet but she also uses techniques of distraction. one such, her claim of being married to a black man. it reminds me somewhat of jarheads i knew who married locals, made claims of purity of racial thought with proof in their marriage and then went on to express some of the most unlightened racist garbage i've heard in my life. and i've dealt with klan dialogue! i'm not saying she's being racist herself but maybe, just maybe, her defence of charlie hebdo, at a time that it was being criticized for it's racism, is little more than locating the butter on bread. 

Thing is, at this point those people who have made up their mind that
this is about racism are probably not going to change it. But I don't
see those things as attempts to distract, I see those things as attempts
to place matters in context and to try to call attention and explain to
people that maybe there is something else going on than their default
assumptions. I get the feeling that for some people making arguments of
why something isn't racist seems to be taken as a proof of racism
itself... Let's put it this way: is there any utterance that could be
made by her in the article that might change your mind? Or is it all
going to be read as siding with oppression, defending her material
interest and distracting or obfuscating? The least one can do is assume
good faith, in my opinion.

> who would you say is doing this? 

I'd say your paragraph regarding how religion is a fact and we have to
live with it (like people have said we have to live with rain and taxes
and slavery and illiteracy) counts as what I'd consider reflexively
defending religion.


More information about the Marxism mailing list