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  1. #1
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    Default Can we connect philosophy with racism?

    Can we connect philosophy with racism?

    In Antebellum South the white man would not work for anyone because he considered laboring for hire made him no better than the black slave and his superiority to the black man was essential to his self-esteem. There was no labor class in the Antebellum South. The slaves did the labor but the slave was a capital investment just like a horse or oxen. Here was a total society without a laboring class.

    What were some of the effects of no free labor in the South? The most important factor I suspect was that the ordinary white man felt any labor was beneath his dignity. This lack of ‘free labor’ led to many of the characteristics of the Southern man and woman that probably is a factor today in the still distinctive character of the Southerner.

    I think that the wheel might be a useful analogy for understanding the mind of the South. The spokes of the wheel represent the essential components of all societies--economy, law and culture. The hub to which all spokes focus is labor. The Antebellum South revolved around slave labor.

    Classical Athenians “believed that to render any form of service, especially the physical, to another man in return for money, even if only for a short time, was a form of slavery, and unacceptable to a free man”.

    Ideology universalizes, absolutises, and reifies (makes an object of) abstract concepts. The ideological group converts its concrete experiences and its abstract concepts into universal standards (a form of philosophy?) for the whole society.

    A society like our own, in which there exists free labor that “sells” its skills, capacities, and activities to another, must find a means of defining humans in such a way that such individuals can still feel like complete and free individuals even though they sell part of them self to another.

    How does a society define the human essence in such a way that the individual “sells” only that which is alienable to him or her while maintaining the essence of a free individual?

    “In order to say that his freedom is not compromised when his abilities, skills, and activities are placed at another man’s disposal, he had to be defined in the barest possible manner.”

    If a person’s skills, capacities, and activities are alienable to her what is his essence that may be considered to be unalienable? Capitalism, wherein labor is commodified and thus faces this problem, has located the human essence as being the capacity for freedom of choice and will.

    “The individual was, above all, an agent. As long as he was not physically overpowered, hypnotized, or otherwise deprived of his powers of choice and will, his actions were uniquely his, and therefore his sole responsibility. It did not matter how painful his alternatives were, how much his character had been distorted by his background and upbringing and how much his capacities of choice and will were debilitated by his circumstances.”

    This description seems much like what we Americans now use to assuage our guilt when consciously considering the death and dismemberment, physical and mental (PTSD), of our soldiers serving, dying, and being fragmented in our war in Iraq and Afghanistan.


    Quotes from Marx’s Theory of Ideology by Bhikhu Parekh

  2. #2
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    Yes, philosiphy is related varriably to racism. For example: Nazis.

  3. #3
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    Interesting thread idea.

    I dunno if philosophy directly connects to racism, but racism definitely connects itself to philosophy, kind of as an excuse. Racists take philosophy and manipulate it to serve their needs and make them feel better.
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  4. #4
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    Yes actually you can, particularly if you adhere to a form of philosophical naturalism. I guess you can start with the theories of Arthur de Gobineau, since he's considered the father of modern racism.

  5. #5
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    Normally I don't bother responding to cobert's posts, but this deserves an answer:
    In Antebellum South the white man would not work for anyone because he considered laboring for hire made him no better than the black slave and his superiority to the black man was essential to his self-esteem.There was no labor class in the Antebellum South. The slaves did the labor but the slave was a capital investment just like a horse or oxen. Here was a total society without a laboring class.
    Bullshit. There was indeed a white working class in the South. They were often given more dangerous jobs, such as mining, since they were more expendable than Black slaves(who were valued as property). This was especially true with poor Irish immigrants.

    In many ways the economic situation for poor whites in the South was no different than that of Blacks. That's why rich Southerners were so determined to promote theories of racial superiority, in order to help drive a wedge preventing poor whites and poor blacks from uniting in a single cause.

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    The connection between philosophy and racism exists in the discipline called CT (Critical Thinking). Philosophy might appropriately be said to be about radically critical self-consciousness. CT is the art and science of good judgment and can, in my opinion, be considered as 'philosophy lite'. Social theory becomes an ideology when CT is not part of the general attitude of a population.

    A population that is unskilled in CT cannot be easily reasoned with and thus the leaders use emotional appeal. Thus the low level of sophistication becomes permanent in a democracy. If the population does not have a level of sophistication to recognize that they are not sufficiently sophisticated then they may not have the ability to become sophisticated. A vicious circle ensues.

    Does this not insure the destruction of the human species when its technology reaches a critical level of too much power in the hands of too many fools?

  7. #7
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    I have been a self-actualizing self-learner for more than 25 years. It began to develop into a hobby in 1980 while reading a book on the Vietnam Civil War when I decided that to understand this civil war in Vietnam I must understand our own Civil War in the United States.

    I have since that time read many books about this important part of our history. The most enlightening book that best answered my questions was the book “The Mind of the South” by W.J. Cash. Cash says-- “With an intense individualism, which the frontier atmosphere put into the man of the South also comes violence and an idealistic, hedonistic romanticism. This romanticism is also fueled by the South conflict with the Yankee. Violence manifests itself in mob action, such as lynching, and private dealings.”

    One question that developed early in my reading was why the ordinary white citizen of the South was such a good soldier, superior to the Union soldier. Why did the ordinary southern man fight so valiantly to preserve slavery when he was not a slaveholder himself? This valiant southerner fought with very little comfort and support from the Confederacy because the Confederacy was a financially poor institution. The rebel soldier often did not even have shoes. The rebel soldier often had to find food on his own. Very little in the form of supplies were provided to the rebel army.

    I have over the years discovered answers to my questions. One particular aspect of this situation, which I had not considered, was how the fact of slave labor in a culture affects the culture totally. In the South there was no free labor. Slaves did virtually all labor. The effect of this reality determined to a great extent the nature of the society.

    The white man would not work for anyone because he considered laboring for hire made him no better than the black slave and his superiority to the black man was essential to his self-esteem. There was no labor class in the antebellum south. The slaves did the labor but the slave was a capital investment just like a horse or oxen. Here was a total society without a laboring class.

    What were some of the effects of no free labor in the South? The most important factor I suspect was that the ordinary white man felt any labor was beneath his dignity. This lack of ‘free labor’ led to many of the characteristics of the Southern man and woman that probably is a factor today in the character of the Southerner.

    I think that the wheel might be a useful analogy for understanding the mind of the South. The spokes of the wheel represent the essential components of all societies--economy, law and culture. The hub to which all spokes focus is slavery. The antebellum South revolved around slavery.

    This area of the United States developed as any frontier area in the US during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. The climate and the circumstance of the cotton gin invention led to the evolution of a society that never lost its frontier characteristic while becoming an agricultural economy dependent almost totally upon cotton.

    The economy was cotton and the power controlling the society was the cotton plantation. Early in the nineteenth century South Carolina plantation owners gained complete political control of the entire state and these plantation owners became the core that moved the eleven Southern states to emulate the South Carolina system. By the 1820s the South Carolina plantation politicians determined their goal to be separation from the Union if the Union failed to allow the expansion of slavery into the developing land as the nation moved West and new states began to join the Union.

    There were three basic economic classes—plantation owners, yeomen farmers and poor whites. I do not include slaves as an economic class—they were basically capital (objects) just as horses and oxen are capital. The plantation owners controlled the wealth and power in their particular areas and banded together to control the wealth and political power in a region of state.

    The yeomen and poor white were primarily subsistence farmers. Some of the yeomen had a few slaves but by and large the vast majority of slaves worked the large plantations. The plantations owned the good land leaving the less desirable land for the yeomen and poor white. Basically population ringed the best lands of the plantation with each succeeding lower rung in the economic ladder existing on less and less productive land.

    There was somewhat of a heterogeneous mixture of relatives occupying each economic sector. The plantation owner was related by blood to many of the citizens in the area. There was not a great sense of hierarchy in class sensitivities because of the interrelated blood relationships. This fact also made it easier for the plantation owners to exercise their power over the community.

    All classes recognized the importance of slavery to the whole society. While the yeoman and poor white did not, in most cases, own slaves they were as dependent on slavery as was the owner of slaves. For the yeoman and the poor white their self-esteem depended upon their sense of superiority to the slave. For these reasons the laws and the culture took the same attitude toward the importance of slavery, as did the plantation owners.

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    The attitude (refusing to work) appears to be a stupid sense of entitlement that spawned from belief in an arbitrarily asserted dogmatic principle (that whites are "better" than blacks).

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    Normally I don't bother responding to cobert's posts, but this deserves an answer:


    Bullshit. There was indeed a white working class in the South. They were often given more dangerous jobs, such as mining, since they were more expendable than Black slaves(who were valued as property). This was especially true with poor Irish immigrants.

    In many ways the economic situation for poor whites in the South was no different than that of Blacks. That's why rich Southerners were so determined to promote theories of racial superiority, in order to help drive a wedge preventing poor whites and poor blacks from uniting in a single cause.
    Repeated for freaking emphasis. It's all class dynamics - the South is a very hierarchical social system, and it's unwise to forget that. There has always been an unease about democracy compiled with an outright disgust with egalitarianism, as it contravenes "God's will".

    Remember the New Deal Coalition. Poor Southern whites loved the social programs until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 guaranteed the same treatment for African-Americans. Then, it was nothing but talk about "law and order" and "high crime".

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