Texts on racism

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Agent of the International's picture
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Feb 7 2014 00:45
Texts on racism

I'm looking for texts on the history and social construction of 'race' and racism. Not just after the arrival of capitalism, but throughout the whole past ten thousand years of civilization, because I'm sure it was developing long before capitalism. .

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Feb 7 2014 06:16

You're probably already familiar with Race Traitor, yeah? It hardly covers all of civilization, just the last 500 years in North America, but it's still got some good stuff about social construction of race.

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Feb 7 2014 09:57

Aufheben:
Croissants and roses - New Labour, communalism, and the rise of muslim Britain.

http://libcom.org/library/croissant-roses-new-labour-muslim-britain

(no doubt the Privilege Theorists will be skipping along soon.)

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Feb 8 2014 12:09

Nationalism and culture - Rudolf Rocker especially 18. The Nation in the Light of Modern Race Theories

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Feb 8 2014 17:37

The Wages of Whiteness I thought was profound but it explicitly deals with working class/poor European immigrants to the colonial and 19th century U.S. and how notions of "whiteness", freedom, wage-slavery were created out of the conditions they faced and in opposition to slavery and African Americans. It's fascinating stuff, and he takes a really interesting materialist/psychonalayst standpoint (marxist). I think he did work with Race Traitor at one point no sure.

David Roediger - The Wages of Whiteness

Rocker is good for a furhter look back, and I believe this piece by Bordiga is supposed to be really good, and would be perhaps a left-marxist counterpoint to Rocker's A/S perspective.

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Feb 8 2014 18:00

Rocker's Nationalism and Culture criticises the main race theorists - Chamberlain in the UK, Gobineau in Germany, and others in other places. It was written in 1933 as a general history from early civilisation to the nineteen-thirties, from an anarcho-syndicalist perspective (against capitalism and state hierarchy). His work can be extrapolated elsewhere, I have used info from the chapter on race in militant confrontations against apartheid race theorists in S Africa.

Mr. Natural
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Feb 8 2014 18:57

For a book that is an enjoyable read and conclusively destroys any racial theories based on cultural or technological "superiority," the bourgeois historian Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel (1999) can't be beat. Geographically determined resources available to the various peoples turns out to be the root factor for difference,

As for physical, mental racial difference, I find it almost astonishing that there really is none, although that is the case. You would have a hard time persuading many of the locals in my blighted corner of northwestern California of this reality, though. Obama's election brought a lot of American racism out of hiding.

Marx and Engels exchanged a number of racial sniggers from time to time, by the way, but that was the 19th century. For Marx's real position, his Civil War commentary should suffice: "Labor cannot be emancipated in the white face while it is enslaved in the black."

.

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Feb 8 2014 23:10
Mr. Natural wrote:
As for physical, mental racial difference...

As Rocker suggests - only superficial variations occur usually by environmental influences to human development, such skin shade, eyes, etc and these all have no substance from a scientific perspective - the fact that a man and woman of any so-called 'race' can reproduce is material proof that there is no substantial variation in our species.

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Feb 11 2014 18:39

Btw, thanks for the suggestions. I have never heard of Race Traitors until this thread.

And Nationalism and Culture has been on my reading list for quite a while now (a list in which I am only 2% finished with). Hopefully I'll be done just before the great social revolution, otherwise it would totally useless after that point.

Drakula25
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Feb 21 2014 00:35

Wow, this comment is absurd.

Guns, Germs, and Steel is a completely bullshit whitewash of racism. It attributes 500 years of European supremacy to sunshine and where trees grow.

In Jared Diamond's view, black people in Sudan are suffering because the temperature there is different.

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/08/03/ggs

Racism and white supremacy are the result of Europeans objectifying and managing the identities of the populations they sought to crush. That legacy and the world economy that grew from it is the reason for economic inequality internationally, but you wouldn't know it reading Diamond.

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Feb 21 2014 02:50

I haven't read Guns, Germs, and Steel, so I can't comment on Diamond's treatment of race or racism.

I did just read that article you posted, though. Is it fair to say that Kerim Friedman's criticism is basically about what we might call "vulgar materialism"? It doesn't sound like anyone is arguing that geographical/material factors don't contribute to the social construction of race...only that an exclusively material analysis is insufficient.

I'm inclined to take a strictly Marxist view: material conditions caused different civilizations to develop unevenly, which allowed Europeans to subjugate and exploit other peoples, which led to the construction of "whiteness" and white supremacy as we know it today. In an alternate history where people of a different genetic phenotype lived in Europe, those people would still have become oppressors based on their geographical circumstances. Isn't that consistent with both anti-racist and materialist perspectives?

Drakula25
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Feb 21 2014 17:50

Diamond does not make the argument you constructed.

Instead, he argues that environmental factors alone, both centuries ago and today, are the primary cause of economic inequality. He does not argue that those factors created European imperialism, which goes unmentioned entirely.

The biggest problem is the assumption that the economic well-being of peoples in any given location over the last 500 years has depended on completely local conditions rather than the campaign of international theft and exploitation driven by European colonizers. There is no mention of world systems, of international trade, of colonialism, etc. If people are poor in Sudan, it's not because of history or colonialism, it's because it's too hot to work or some stupid bullshit.

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Feb 22 2014 21:37

lame