Sunday, 1 January 2017

Class vs Race Privilege

A question was recently put: Class privilege is real, white privilege isn't. Agree or disagree?

I think there's something to the idea of white privilege. But it's become this sweeping and reductionist idea that's been used to license shitty behavior.  Hate the white working class all you want, they have all the power because they’re white.  That makes it okay.  Upper middle class academic progressives can thereby scapegoat those stupid, unwashed rednecks for the collective historical sins of the white race. Beneath the very thin progressive veneer of this sentiment is downward punching snobbish regressivism at its ugliest.

Not that this makes racism among the white underclass okay.  It certainly doesn’t, for it erodes their capacity for solidarity with the black underclass that is so needed for both to get a better deal in the long run.  It also lends the legitimacy of “popular support” to regressive policy enacted against the black underclass by the elite.  So called "brocialists" should keep in mind that the black underclass does not have it easy, and that affirmative action and knapsacks of privilege have a funny and ironic way of being colorblind where the lower classes are concerned.  The black underclass has it worse, if anything.  So the white working class should take nothing that I say as a license to be racist towards blacks, so don’t be.  The white working class has a long history of class blindness, motivated in part by racial prejudice and in part by a US left that long ago traded in class for racial concerns and embraced neo-liberalism. This has repeatedly driven the white working class to support regressive right wing politics, as has been recently demonstrated in the US 2016 elections, and they've always ended up suffering for it

But for the varied segments of the underclasses to fight among each other over who has it worse is quite stupid, for reasons that should be obvious by now.  It is likewise misguided for the black underclass to despise whitey. This has been good for the black upper middle class that has arisen in the wake of the civil rights movement and the rise of neo-liberalism - the twin engines of the Democratic Party.  Better for them that the black underclass blame white rather than class privilege for their woes.  But this just puts them in a position oddly comparable to that of the Republican supporting white working class.  The real color of privilege is green, and this can only be challenged by white and black together.

Between class on the one hand and identity - race and gender - on the other, I do think class is the more fundamental of the two, though I don't think identity is completely irrelevant.  This is because it has been made relevant by an elite that has used race and identity as a means of dividing the underclass.  So the reality is that identity and class cannot be so easily extricated from one another.  The postmodern left likes to claim that racism/sexism is "prejudice plus power" and that powerless identities cannot oppress. But where does the power - that makes the prejudice of some groups more pernicious than others - come from?

Ownership of capital and the access to political power this inevitably entails. In short, class.
The problem with the postmodern academic left is not identity politics per-se, but how those politics have been co-opted and made to serve powerful interests. The academic postmodernist "left" refuses to see class for one simple reason: they're much higher up on the class totem pole than they'd like to admit. They're not Fortune 500 or Military Industrial Complex by any stretch of the imagination, but they do possess significant advantages over the working and middle classes. Namely that of supremely privileged access to media.

Their position can be compared to that of the clergy in a more religious era, such as that wherein Marx declared religion the opiate of the masses. They use institutions empowered by capital and backed by the state to spin the dominant cultural and social narratives. As we know from the theorists of the early Frankfurt school, Gramsci's theory of cultural hegemony and even from Marx himself, the ruling narrative of any era is the narrative of its ruling class. Or in this case, how its ruling class was NOT responsible for the historical atrocities brought to light by earlier generations of radicals.

Plus, you'll notice that the solutions to racial and gender inequality favored by these "leftists" always either empower capital - "fire him from his job!" - or the state - "sue for hate speech!"

As such, the SJWs - the new clergy of our secular era - are not radicals, but rather ego driven enforcers of a decidedly statist and capitalist status quo.

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