Saturday, November 29, 2008

Feminism, racism and communism

Of course there's white privilege. And of course there's male privilege.

But I think Womanist is not digging deep enough: Why is there white privilege? Why is there male privilege?

Is it simply because white people are inherently racist (and men inherently sexist)? Is it simply because there are more white people than non-white? I say both explanations are false, and therefore attempting to eliminating/extending specifically white and specifically male privilege will fail; even if it were to succeed, we would not achieve justice, we would simply distribute the injustice differently.

The reformist program of the "liberal" bourgeoisie is not to eliminate economic and social injustice, it is to ensure that injustice is not arbitrarily imposed by race or gender. Oppression and exploitation are not inherently wrong, it is wrong only to oppress non-white people because they are not white, and women because they are women.

The reformist program will fail because given the necessity of exploitation under capitalism, there will always be some easily identified group of people who will be pushed down simply because they are easily identified. This tactic serves two purposes: First, it makes some group of people directly ripe for hyper-exploitation. Second, it distracts the rest of the ruled-class from their own oppression: "Sit down and shut up, cracker. Things could be worse: You could be black."

But reformist program can liberate only a tiny fraction of women and non-white people; the bourgeoisie can be only a fraction of the population. The vast majority of people will still be crushed by the capitalist, imperialist system. I suppose it will be a comfort to a working class black woman to know she's being crushed because she's poor, not because she's black or a woman, but she'll still be crushed.

And the bourgeoisie is perfectly OK with the vast majority of people being crushed by the system, just so long as their own economic privilege is maintained.

I say that feminism and anti-racism are absolutely necessary and central to communism and socialism. But I also say that communism and socialism are also absolutely necessary and central to feminism and anti-racism.

3 comments:

  1. I am, by western standards, a poor woman, and not a fan of capitalism. If I had to pick, I would prefer to be a poor woman in a gender-egalitarian capitalist society than a rich woman in a sexist communist society. I don't believe for a second that transferring my energy from feminism to communism will help women at all. Intersectionality is one thing, and I agree that it is important. Claiming that feminism is based on a false premise* and should be given up in favor of your cause is irritating. Claiming that I am selfish because I want rape cases to be taken seriously in North America, because I want people to stop the traditional mutilation of genitals of young girls in Africa, because I want women in the Middle East (and everywhere else for that matter) to dress how THEY please, whether this means nudity or full-body covering, without "deserving" shame and assault and death, is just infuriating. Misogyny exists in all cultures, even communist ones**. If disliking capitalism must mean that I have to pretend every problem in the world stems from it, then I am a huge fan.

    Also, why are "retards" not allowed to post? Are the opinions of those with developmental disabilities automatically inferior? For someone who claims to care so much about the downtrodden, you sure have a potty mouth.

    * Which you made up, because it does not appear in Renee's post, the comments, or modern feminism, except for maybe some radfems, who remain totally ignored except when nonfeminists need a strawman.

    ** This is probably the point where somebody says that none of our cultures have been communist enough to count. And that's exactly the problem. No culture will ever be communist enough to count. The goalposts will be moved.

    ReplyDelete
  2. than a rich woman in a sexist communist society.

    Oxymoron. You can't be rich in communism and there can be no sexism when everyone is equal.

    Claiming that I am selfish because I want rape cases to be taken seriously in North America,

    He's not claiming that you are selfish. He's claiming that you are fighting a losing battle. Certainly, you may achieve not being crushed for being a woman only to replace it by being crushed for being poor.

    This is probably the point where somebody says that none of our cultures have been communist enough to count.

    If you read what communism actually proposes, then you're figure out that societies that do the direct opposite might probably not fit the bill...

    ReplyDelete
  3. If I had to pick, I would prefer to be a poor woman in a gender-egalitarian capitalist society than a rich woman in a sexist communist society.

    As db0 notes, this is not the choice. The choice is between an inherently sexist capitalist society, and a non-sexist communist society.

    Claiming that feminism is based on a false premise* and should be given up in favor of your cause is irritating.

    When did I say that feminism was based on a false premise? The idea that women really are equal and have been unjustly oppressed for millennia is true.

    I'm saying that the bourgeois reformist program of limiting feminism and anti-racism to merely ensuring that women and non-white people have equal access to the bourgeoisie is doomed to failure.

    If that's all feminism is to you, well, that too narrow for me. I want to achieve social and economic justice for all women, not just the 10% that can make it into the bourgeoisie.

    Also, why are "retards" not allowed to post? Are the opinions of those with developmental disabilities automatically inferior?

    The developmentally disabled are free to post here. Retards such as yourself, on the other hand, will receive minimal consideration.

    Misogyny exists in all cultures, even communist ones.

    <shrugs> All we can do is try harder next time. Communism without feminism is doomed to failure.

    ReplyDelete

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