Everything is racism

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Pfhorrest
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Everything is racism

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Jun 29, 2018 3:01 am UTC

Title is kinda clickbait again, sorry, that's just how titles occur to me. (Also, in retrospect I feel like lots of this is kind of obvious or common knowledge, but it felt revelatory to me at first thought so posting anyway).

I've often thought it interesting how of the common types of bigotry I hear talked about these days, most seem to have something to do with sex -- sexism obviously, and homophobia and transphobia too -- but that racism is frequently in there alongside all of those, which feels like an odd man out because that alone isn't about sex.

But it occurs to me now that it sort of is. Sex is how reproduction happens, how parents beget children and lines of descent propagate, and what is race supposed to be but a grouping of people by their common lines of descent. So it seems like maybe all of the sex-related forms of bigotry really boil down, probably on a subconscious level mostly, to "you're not contributing properly to the propagation of our line of descent".

After that it occurred to me that a bunch of other forms of discrimination and hatred, even really trivial petty ones that don't rank up there with these in severity, might also boil down to a racist basis by way of culture, which aside from obvious phenotypes like skin color is largely the only way people without a genetics lab can tell who is related to whom.

Speak the wrong language? You're obviously from a different people (i.e. race) than us, because language is inherited; not genetically, but it still runs in families, memetically. Follow the wrong religion? Religion is largely inherited too, so you're probably a different "race" again. Dress wrong? Historically almost all culture is largely inherited so even trivial things like that signal you as probably-not-related-to-us.

Even things like the hate for veganism seem plausibly attributable to this. Diet is cultural as well, and (again) culture is largely inherited, so if you eat different food, you're probably not related to us. Even the really trivial social 'religious wars' between fandoms of different music/TV/movies/whatever seem plausibly attributable to a "different media -> different culture -> different race" inference.

As lines of communication have gotten faster and attained greater reach, we're seeing lots more lateral meme transfer (as opposed to inheriting everything, language and religion to clothes and diet and media, from our parents and closely-related neighbors), so these things are starting to come apart. You can hate someone for their love of dubstep over your favored country-western even though you're both strait white cismen of broadly Germanic heritage. But maybe, deep down inside, the reason you hate their music is because it's not your music, not the music of your people, so they're "obviously" of a different "race".

I know we say "tribalism" to refer to things like this, but I'd always taken that as mere metaphor. On reflection is seems more like it could be more literal: trivial cultural differences mark someone as probably-of-a-different-line-of-descent, at least maybe to the subconscious mind.
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Re: Everything is racism

Postby ucim » Fri Jun 29, 2018 3:11 am UTC

Tribalism is what you're talking about. Racism is a form of this, as is nationalism and a lot of other -isms. No need to overload the word "racism", which has its own specific meaning.

Pfhorrest wrote:But it occurs to me now that [sexism] sort of is. [...] it seems like maybe all of the sex-related forms of bigotry really boil down, probably on a subconscious level mostly, to "you're not contributing properly to the propagation of our line of descent".
No, because that's not what sexism is about. Sexism is about {particular sex} is inferior, because of their sex. Now possibly bigotry against gays and the like could fall under your category, but not "women (or men) are inherently inferior and shouldn't be given positions of responsibility". It's a really big stretch to fit that around reproduction of "our line of descent", since nothing about being a woman has anything to do with a specific line of descent.

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Jun 29, 2018 3:25 am UTC

I mentioned tribalism at the end there, and I don't mean to say that all of these things are literally racism in and of themselves, but rather that all forms of cultural tribalism, as well as the various sex-related forms of bigotry, seem to plausibly have racial psychological origins.

As to the connection with sexism, I was thinking about the prescribed roles for different sexes and how they are constructed for reproductive purposes; to put it crudely, the idea that women should be baby-factories and men should fight and die to have the most productive and largest number of baby-factories. Notions of men or women being superior or inferior seem like post-hoc rationalizations of that order.
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Re: Everything is racism

Postby ucim » Fri Jun 29, 2018 3:44 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:...but rather that all forms of cultural tribalism, as well as the various sex-related forms of bigotry, seem to plausibly have racial psychological origins.
To do that however you are stretching the word "racial" way beyond its ordinary meaning. Better to use a new word. And I claim "tribal" is that word.

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby elasto » Fri Jun 29, 2018 1:27 pm UTC

I think ucim is right: 'Everything is tribalism' is more of a truism than 'everything is racism'.

Moreover, the capacity for people to split themselves into smaller and smaller tribes is boundless. No matter how many things people have in common, people will always define themselves by their differences to others, no matter how minute.

If you don't know... Shame on you! wrote:BRIAN: Are you the Judean People's Front?
REG: Fuck off!
BRIAN: What?
REG: Judean People's Front. We're the People's Front of Judea! Judean People's Front. Cawk.
FRANCIS: Wankers.
BRIAN: Can I... join your group?
REG: No. Piss off.
BRIAN: I didn't want to sell this stuff. It's only a job. I hate the Romans as much as anybody.
PEOPLE'S FRONT OF JUDEA: Shhhh. Shhhh. Shhh. Shh. Shhhh.
REG: Stumm.
JUDITH: Are you sure?
BRIAN: Oh, dead sure. I hate the Romans already.
REG: Listen. If you wanted to join the People's Front of Judea, you'd have to really hate the Romans.
BRIAN: I do!
REG: Oh, yeah? How much?
BRIAN: A lot!
REG: Right. You're in. Listen. The only people we hate more than the Romans are the fucking Judean People's Front.
P.F.J.: Yeah...
JUDITH: Splitters.
P.F.J.: Splitters...
FRANCIS: And the Judean Popular People's Front.
P.F.J.: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Splitters. Splitters...
LORETTA: And the People's Front of Judea.
P.F.J.: Yeah. Splitters. Splitters...
REG: What?
LORETTA: The People's Front of Judea. Splitters.
REG: We're the People's Front of Judea!
LORETTA: Oh. I thought we were the Popular Front.
REG: People's Front! C-huh.
FRANCIS: Whatever happened to the Popular Front, Reg?
REG: He's over there.
P.F.J.: Splitter!

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby dg61 » Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:24 pm UTC

Also, this is a difference I think between where you are-the US has one very specific concept of racism, while other countries have different social divisions. Within the US I don't think "Everything is Racism" is wrong(certainly almost every issue we have faced and most or all of the social fault lines in this country are connected to race or based in it), although it could certainly be argued that it is a statement that is risking explaining nothing because it can if you push it enough explain everything.

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 02, 2018 4:51 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:I mentioned tribalism at the end there, and I don't mean to say that all of these things are literally racism in and of themselves, but rather that all forms of cultural tribalism, as well as the various sex-related forms of bigotry, seem to plausibly have racial psychological origins.


That doesn't seem to be the case. I don't think that sexism is only a result of racism, though individual cases might be.

Sure, sure, tribalism is universal, but I've known folks who did not appear racist, yet exhibited troubling behavior in other ways. You don't have to dislike any particular race to have backwards ideas about gender roles. Potentially there's correlation between the ideas, though.

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Re: Everything is NOT racism

Postby Ranbot » Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:08 pm UTC

I'm sure the Venn diagrams of racists, homophobes, sexists, etc. have lots of overlap [i.e. correlation], but don't mistake that for causation.

ucim wrote:No need to overload the word "racism", which has its own specific meaning.

Agreed. The word racism has a specific meaning, history, and social power.
Pfhorrest wrote:Title is kinda clickbait again...

When you usurp a socially powerful word for attention, you risk diluting the social power of the word and undermining your own argument. Lose, Lose. An analogy may be acceptable, but not equivalency.

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby reval » Thu Jul 05, 2018 11:48 pm UTC

As it happens, ucim is right about this one. Tribalism is what you're talking about. US-style racism, with its US-specific history of slavery and violence and segregation, is a subtype of a larger social pattern that is observed in many different places and times. The type is tribalism. US racism may be a striking example, but racism is the subtype, and tribalism is the type.

Tribalism is the type because you hit it on the head with this one: "Sex is how reproduction happens, how parents beget children and lines of descent propagate, and what is race supposed to be but a grouping of people by their common lines of descent." In evolutionary terms, this is subspeciation. Reproductive isolation is what it's about.

This does not have to start with traits that are actually inherited. You can start a tribe along any lines of perceived difference. Language or religion will work just as well as skin color to create a line. Then you play the game "with my brother against my cousin, with my cousin against the stranger". You support your tribe by your economic choices, by your family organization, and by siding with fellow tribe members in any conflict.

Subspeciation might be fine for animals, but it's such an enormous delusion for people that it would be hilarious except for the suffering it causes. Twentieth century nationalism was another spectacular fail for this way of thinking, but it won't be the last. The point is that people are no longer pawns in an evolutionary game. We are rapidly taking control of genetic information and putting it to use in our much more powerful thought process.

People who continue to play the tribal game have already lost. And, somewhere deep down, they know it. They just don't know what else to do.

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby Zamfir » Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:55 am UTC

. Tribalism is what you're talking about. US-style racism, with its US-specific history of slavery and violence and segregation, is a subtype of a larger social pattern that is observed in many different places and times. The type is tribalism. US racism may be a striking example, but racism is the subtype, and tribalism is the type.

I see this word pop up more and more, especially in American context. And I don't like it. "Tribe" is historically a word for groups that westerners looked down on as primitive. Indian tribes, Arab tribes, African tribes.

If some aspect of your social systems got translated to tribe, it was rarely a good sign for the future. It meant that someone was planning to elevate you to a better form of political organization, typically with them at the top and you at the bottom. Because you're tribal, you can't be expected to run things in the modern world can you?

"Tribalism" as used in the last years is drenched in that historic connotation. It's a negative word, not a neutral category. People complain about the rise of tribalism around them, or they accuse others of tribalism. It can mean a different things in detail, but it's always a bad thing. It's being like primitive people, the kind of people who have tribes. Not like what good people should and can be.

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby reval » Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:33 pm UTC

Tribalism is the correct word if we have the courage to see that it applies to what we ourselves are doing. We're not calling someone else primitive. We ourselves are primitive, if we cling to these old tribal behavior patterns. And, yes, that needs to change.

Tribalism also has a simple etymology that actually matches what it describes. The Roman people were divided into tribes which were organized by family and connected with civic and military obligations. Although tribal identification was subordinate to the Roman state, citizenship still required membership or adoption into a family as late as the Empire, so it's a valid example of the pattern.

I'm not the only one who thinks this is important. Obama (and I wish he had done more than talk) said in his first inaugural address "we cannot help but believe that ... the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve". He was talking about US racism, and about Kenyan clans ... and also about all of the other tribal projects that fit the pattern. He chose the word for a reason, and if we don't like to hear it because it might apply to us, then maybe we need to think a little harder about what we're doing and why we're doing it.

Tribalism is a pattern. And we're going to change it.

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:55 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:
"Tribalism" as used in the last years is drenched in that historic connotation. It's a negative word, not a neutral category. People complain about the rise of tribalism around them, or they accuse others of tribalism. It can mean a different things in detail, but it's always a bad thing. It's being like primitive people, the kind of people who have tribes. Not like what good people should and can be.

It's also pretty much invariably used as a way to ignore all the important details of a situation so you can draw false equivalences between completely disparate things.

You can use "tribalism" to simplistically describe a Nazi's distaste for non-Aryans and to describe a PoC's distaste for Nazis, but I can think of no (non-Nazi-sympathizing) perspective from which those two things are similar enough to be treated analogously.
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Re: Everything is racism

Postby Outchanter » Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:09 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:So it seems like maybe all of the sex-related forms of bigotry really boil down, probably on a subconscious level mostly, to "you're not contributing properly to the propagation of our line of descent".


You could as well say "everything is evolution". The interesting thing with humans societies is that we have several layers evolving simultaneously- while our genes are evolving vertically (the "line of descent" you talk about) we also have ideas that evolve horizontally. E.g. religion and culture. And ideas can evolve much faster than genes can.

So in a way, religions that spread horizontally (by conversion) are in competition with genes (that spread vertically). E.g. Catholicism is officially anti-racist because it wants to have everyone join the church, not just white people. The church even encouraged European colonists in South America to intermarry with natives so as to reduce racial divisions (which interfere with the church's message). That's partly why South America is less "purely white" than the more Protestant North America.

But religions can also spread vertically (if Catholics have more kids than Protestants, this helps spread Catholicism as a proportion of the earth's population). Hence religions tending to promote homophobia etc.

But liberal religions can spread faster by conversion - arguably the most liberal "religion" is atheism, and tons of people from Catholic families become atheists just by deciding that hardcore Catholicism is too much work and too restrictive. But atheists (or liberal Catholics) tend to have fewer children than hardcore Catholics. So if you were to model the population by ancestry, you might find that the majority of people are liberal (atheist or religious), but have recent ancestors who were more hardcore religious and keen on having lots of children.

So there's a population flow where the more hardcore religious groups grow faster by reproduction, but then lose many of their offspring to the liberal groups that grow faster by conversion. So conservative religions are better at propagating genes, but liberal religions are faster at propagating ideas.

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby Tobias » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:07 pm UTC

Tribalism is much, much less than the things being discussed here, and it is frustrating to see the term misused just as much as it's frustrating to see the term racism used.

Especially since it's so particularly unsuited - racism, bigotry, homophobia, sexism. All of these can be directed at members of the same tribe, all of these can exist without tribal divisions. All it requires is for the tribe to have and maintain a social hierarchy.

And a great many instances of tribalism do not contribute to any of those evils. Tribalism is not the cause, nor the motivation, nor the means - it's simply a tool to propagate the evils generated by other factors (and can just as easily be used to propagate good things)

"Classism" is a hell of a lot closer to what you want (and even that isn't all encompassing, but covers a huge portion of whats being discussed here)

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby reval » Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:16 pm UTC

Focussing on the pattern of tribalism makes it that much harder get away with special pleading: "My tribal motivation is fine, but your tribal motivation is bad."

gmalivuk wrote:You can use "tribalism" to simplistically describe a Nazi's distaste for non-Aryans and to describe a PoC's distaste for Nazis, but I can think of no (non-Nazi-sympathizing) perspective from which those two things are similar enough to be treated analogously.


In this example, the motivation is given for the first party (Nazi), but not for the second party (PoC). That stops short of identifying a tribe, and omits possible tribal motivation. Everyone has identities, but what matters is motivation. Is the second party playing for tribal advantage? Or are they not playing that game?

Finally, we're not talking about "distaste". We are talking about concrete acts that confer evolutionary advantage (or disadvantage). These acts are directed towards members (or enemies) of the actor's tribe.

Each act takes place against the background of existing advantages one way or the other, a background of existing power relationships. So you can call it the act of an underdog or a bully, if you want. Either way, the act is intended to shift the existing power relationship. It is intended to obtain an evolutionary advantage for the benefit of a tribe. It is playing the game.

You don't have to play the game. You can reject the goal of evolutionary advantage. That amounts to a rejection of tribal competition.

(The same logic also leads to a rejection of individual competition, and a goal of dismantling our competitive system. That goal is further away, because wealth and power are more formidable opponents than tribalism; i.e. we are much closer to defeating tribalism.)

(So, does that mean I can stomp a Nazi and claim it's for the universal benefit of humanity? Maybe, but you might not buy that. You might still reckon me a threat unless you can see that I was forced to act in immediate self-defense.)

TL;DR Should I measure a tribally motivated act against a Nazi by the same standard that I measure a tribally motivated act by a Nazi?

Yes, precisely. That is a true equivalence.

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby reval » Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:33 pm UTC

Outchanter wrote:The interesting thing with humans societies is that we have several layers evolving simultaneously- while our genes are evolving vertically (the "line of descent" you talk about) we also have ideas that evolve horizontally. E.g. religion and culture. And ideas can evolve much faster than genes can.

Yes, these are two distinct sets of information, which you have mapped to different axes. That distinction leads to a number of interesting consequences which are discussed here. The first essay (Purpose) is relatively short but dense, while the other essays are longer and lighter.
Last edited by reval on Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:42 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:38 pm UTC

reval wrote:In this example, the motivation is given for the first party (Nazi), but not for the second party (PoC). That stops short of identifying a tribe, and omits possible tribal motivation. Everyone has identities, but what matters is motivation.


Indeed. Everyone's in a tribe, but not all actions are equal. If the only reason you need to be awful to someone is that they're outside your tribe, you're a worse person than someone who only is awful to those who pose a threat. Self defense is not equal with initiating force.

I don't think we can get rid of tribal identities entirely...that's really hard, given that on an evolutionary timescale, it hasn't been *that* long since humanity mostly lived in tribes. But we can make more decisions based on behavior instead of tribal membership. That sort of routes around many of the tribalism problems. Given modern penal codes, we seem to have mostly adopted this workaround, at least in principle. Execution may vary, sometimes.

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:49 am UTC

reval wrote:TL;DR Should I measure a tribally motivated act against a Nazi by the same standard that I measure a tribally motivated act by a Nazi?

Yes, precisely. That is a true equivalence.

But you can't just judge individual acts in isolation, whatever the motivation for that particular act. Even if an act against a Nazi is "tribally motivated", the fact that Nazis are an existential threat to basically everyone who isn't a Nazi means that act would likely have a protective effect on countless other people.

Plus, regardless of how much nuance you want to try to work back into what "tribalism" means, the fact remains that in the general discourse it's most often a way to dismiss all the other important details of a situation. And even with all the nuance in the world, different "tribes" exist for very different reasons and exist in the world in very different ways, so at best you still end up with a lot of vacuous false equivalences.
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Re: Everything is racism

Postby Zamfir » Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:14 pm UTC

It's an extremely vague concept. Nazis are a tribe? People who don't want Nazis in power are a tribe? At that point, does it mean anything more than just "group of people", with an added negative connotation?

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby ucim » Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:25 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:At that point, does ["tribe"] mean anything more than just "group of people", with an added negative connotation?
It's a group of people that are cohesive in some meaningful way. Classically this means through contact, communication, and some organized power structure, but the concept generalizes. One must generalize carefully, but doing so provides insight. Indirect signalling can induce group behavior in like-minded but otherwise separated individuals; this is the danger that Trump has tapped into. By tactical dogwhistling, he may have turned isolated fascists and nazis into a tribe. This is one of the ways (and results) of the presidential office setting the tone for the nation.

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:13 pm UTC

I'd just like to comment that (half of) the interesting thing I was trying to say in my original post was essentially that these kinds of cultural "tribalisms" could be rooted (in the evolution of our psychology) in literal tribe-alism; that in the ancestral environment, before writing and long-distance communication and such that allows for lateral meme transfer, one's culture was usually inherited from one's parents, and so a person with a different culture (in any respect: religion, language, dress, diet, music, whatever) was likely from a different breeding population, a different "tribe" or "race", just as much as someone with the wrong skin color or nose shape would be. Just wanted to bring that up again since the topic seems to have drifted to cultural tribes regardless of any actual relatedness of the people therein.
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Re: Everything is racism

Postby reval » Fri Jul 13, 2018 6:01 pm UTC

I believe we are in fact talking about relatedness. Yes, people are using cultural signifiers to make these distinctions, and they are frequently confused about which traits are inherited and which are not inherited. But they know exactly who (they think) "looks like us" and who is "the other". Relatedness is the point.

There's nothing vague about this. They're playing for the evolutionary advantage of "people like us", and they want to hurt the "other". That is what a tribe is. It looks pretty well-defined to me.

The important question isn't whether someone's tribe is currently at the top of the "league standings", or at the bottom, but whether they're playing the game at all. Getting out of this mess isn't going to be accomplished by obtaining some special advantage for each identity that is currently at the bottom of the heap. It's going to be accomplished by recognizing that each person is more valuable as an individual than as a pawn in an evolutionary competition.

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby Tobias » Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:38 pm UTC

reval wrote:There's nothing vague about this. They're playing for the evolutionary advantage of "people like us", and they want to hurt the "other". That is what a tribe is. It looks pretty well-defined to me.


Except that isn't what a tribe is. You've offered no reason for anyone to think that's what a tribe is. On top of that the subject of this post is not just racism but generalized bigotry.

How does sexism fit into your definition of a tribe?

Also, it "looks pretty well defined" because you're making up a definition wholecloth and then using it simply because it's "neat and tidy" rather than descriptive.
Last edited by Tobias on Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:44 pm UTC, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:39 pm UTC

reval wrote:There's nothing vague about this. They're playing for the evolutionary advantage of "people like us", and they want to hurt the "other". That is what a tribe is. It looks pretty well-defined to me.
Except that everyone has dozens of distinct groups they could reasonably call "people like me".
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Re: Everything is racism

Postby dg61 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:56 pm UTC

More to the point, race or at least the biological conception of race as a primary dividing line is recent and originates in a historically specific matrix(the Atlantic sphere of colonization projects, and later in the general colonial project as a justification for a specific order of power). The idea of a "hierarchy of races" is a development of the Enlightenment period as classification became a major scientific endeavor and people increasingly sought to justify slavery and the slave trade by reducing kinship with black Africans, and to justify attempting and largely succeeding in seizing and conquering Indian lands. We can also observe this in how various "European" groups go from white to nonwhite(or rather from "not visibly marked racially" to "marked racially") and then back to white as the great migration and non-European immigration gain steam. That's not to say that tribalism, us-versus-them divisions didn't exist before this point or outside of here but they existed along other lines-religion, language*, etc.

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:45 pm UTC

Not that anyone is talking to me specifically, but to clarify again what I was originally saying in regards to a couple things people are talking about:

1) I never meant to suggest that sexism was a kind of tribalism or racism, but that it (and homophobia and transphobia and generally the entire push for cisheteronormativity against anything contrary to it) could have literally-tribal/racial motives deep down: anything that threatens maximal baby-making threatens the “race”, and traditional (cisheteronormative) gender roles seem geared to maximize baby-making.

2) I’m not using the term “race” in any parochial sense but in the broadest possible sense, the sense by which ancient Hebrews considered the indigenous Canaanites a different race, by which Nazi Germans considered Slavs a different race, or by which Japanese and Koreans consider each other different races. Nothing so simple as “black/white/asian” or anything like that.
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Re: Everything is racism

Postby sardia » Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:57 am UTC

When this thread was made, I was expecting a serious discussion about how much white people owe minorities for the crimes/thefts of their forefathers. e.g. Blacks deserve free housing and college education for the next 2 generations. Gays, an gay subsidy. Muslims? Maybe tax free casinos after the concentration camps blow over. Am disappointed.

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby ucim » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:16 pm UTC

sardia wrote:When this thread was made, I was expecting a serious discussion about how much white people owe minorities for the crimes/thefts of their forefathers. e.g. Blacks deserve free housing and college education for the next 2 generations. Gays, an gay subsidy. Muslims? Maybe tax free casinos after the concentration camps blow over. Am disappointed.
You'll find that in the Libertarian thread. Whodathunkit.

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby gd1 » Wed Dec 19, 2018 6:21 am UTC

Just watched a video about: https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/14-year-old-boy-choked-body-slammed-police-stealing-chocolate-school-vending-machine-scared-life-191740898.html

I disagree with the assessment of excessive force (the description made me think there was, but the video casts doubts)...

...then I went into the comments section.

"Dindunuffins"
"It's not about the candy bar it's about the crime!"
"etc."

I feel like these people are using this as an excuse to voice their racism that they have been so oppressed by not being able to voice it in public. I mean, I do see something about not being able to voice opinions, but hating people for what is literally an observable trait from birth (skin color) or the well documented social issue that harmed them for a while (slavery) is completely unfair.

Channeling it makes me think the following: They think that people of color are getting preferential treatment more than they deserve for crimes that these people had nothing to do with.

I personally look at it as damage was done to that segment of the population and we have an obligation as decent human beings to make some efforts to help the ones worst affected. Success or failure irregardless, we have at least done something and it's better than doing nothing (at least that's my hope).
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Re: Everything is racism

Postby mosc » Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:01 pm UTC

gd1 wrote:irregardless

You sound like a nice guy but then you said this and I had to roll me eyes.
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Re: Everything is racism

Postby jewish_scientist » Wed Jan 16, 2019 3:24 am UTC

Here is a really big flaw in your argument; concept of race has not always existed. The idea was created as recently as the 16th century, right around the time the Age of Exploration started (infer from this what you will). This is one of those annoying things where I know it is true, but I could not find a good citation online. The best I could do is this. I only read the first 2 pages because Google Books cuts stuff out there. The author does not get around to saying when the concept of race was created, but he makes it clear that it has not always existed, which is the important part. Any discrimination that happened before this point in time must have not been based on race.

You could say that race is a social construct that has always existed and has only recently been attributed to biological causes. The problem with defining race as, "a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition" is that we already have a word for that; ethnicity. This means the best your can due is change your theory so that it claims that all discrimination is based on ethnicity. Although this may be possible, it would be very difficult because you no longer have the reproductive aspects of race to explain discrimination based around reproduction.
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Re: Everything is racism

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Jan 16, 2019 3:37 pm UTC

Yeah, I'm going to need a better argument for that. Like, I'll buy that "Race" as a name for a divisor among various groups didn't exist until the 16th century. But it smacks of the argument people have that Autism didn't exist until the late 1800s/early 1900s or even mid 1900s. I'd argue that before regular travel, people are going to identify as whatever city/nation they're in or religious faith far more than whatever ethnic group they belong to, if they even recognize such a thing exists, and discriminate based on that.

Is that the same thing as racism? I mean, we can always look at the treatment of Jewish folk by medieval groups.

Basically, that seems to be an awful lot like "They didn't have a word for it, so clearly they couldn't have done it." as an argument, which is.... dumb.
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Re: Everything is racism

Postby Zohar » Wed Jan 16, 2019 4:14 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Basically, that seems to be an awful lot like "They didn't have a word for it, so clearly they couldn't have done it." as an argument, which is.... dumb.

Well, not entirely. Yes, probably in this case - bigotry and prejudice against others always existed, but there are many cases where even though behaviors that we would use specific words for today wouldn't have been recognized in the past. For example, while there has pretty much always been same-sex sexual behavior throughout human history, the cultural identity of gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc., didn't really exist until the 1800s or so, and neither did the concept of being straight or heterosexual. Similarly, there have always been people who displayed behaviors and outward appearances (and identified as well) in ways that are not common for most of the people of the same sex-assigned-at-birth group (see Hijra in India, twospirits among American Indian communities for a couple of old examples), but they wouldn't necessarily agree with being called "trans*". Also true for gay effeminate men in the past - there's a fine transition between the ones using the word "woman" to describe themselves and the ones using the word "gay". That isn't to say they weren't necessarily really women or anything like that - in many cases the distinction didn't make much sense, or was just not in use. And oftentimes, the "mainstream" identity (cisgender, straight, etc.) only came up because of the growing visibility of other identities.

Anyway, none of this is relevant to this discussion exactly because I agree - there was still hateful behavior based on people's outward appearance and origin etc.. I wanted to provide more context that yes, sometimes "they didn't have a word for it" does actually mean it didn't exist.
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Re: Everything is racism

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Jan 16, 2019 5:18 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:the cultural identity of gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc., didn't really exist until the 1800s or so, and neither did the concept of being straight or heterosexual.

Cultural identities and concepts are akin to "words for it". There were still people who were exclusively attracted to people of the same sex, or the opposite sex, or both sexes, etc, and them not identifying themselves by that behavior, or not having a concept of that behavior, is basically the same as just not having a word for it. And we in the future who do have words for those things are free to apply them to the phenomena those words now denote when looking back into the past, even if back then in the past they would not have recognized those words.

I'm reminded of a debate on the Wikipedia article [[Person]] a long while back, where someone was arguing that social recognition as a person is a defining characateristic of personhood, to which I vehemently objected because that implies that when looking back into historical periods where certain humans were not recognized as persons, we'd have to say that those humans actually were not persons at that time (because they were not socially recognized as such), rather than just that their personhood was wrongly denied.
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Re: Everything is racism

Postby Zohar » Wed Jan 16, 2019 6:08 pm UTC

I really disagree with you. The practicing of a sexual act doesn't equate with an associated cultural identity, even in modern times. Incarcerated people who have same-sex relationship sometimes call themselves bi or gay, but definitely not always. Same is true for the stupid concept of a "brojob". Some cultures have ritual same-sex sexual relations built-in the culture (look up Guardians of the Flute for a fun read) and those people generally don't define themselves as queer in any way. The self-definition and the existence of the concept is essential for the identity to be relevant.

The same is true for all the articles about "Gay penguins" and what not. Sure, there's a ton of same-sex sexual activity in nature, and there's a ton of non-confirming gender performance (or even biology) in nature as well, but to ascribe to them the human notions of homosexuality and transgender identities is misguided1.

1This goes without saying but I do not equate past humans with animals, only giving another example of an occasion where the existence of an act doesn't (or shouldn't) indicate identity.

Edit: I suggest we ask for a split to a different thread ("historical definitions of cultural identities"?) if we continue talking about it, since it's pretty off-topic.
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Re: Everything is racism

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Jan 16, 2019 6:21 pm UTC

There's two different layers of things that we're talking about here. I'm struggling to come up with more accessible labels for them, but Marx's terms of "base" and "superstructure" seem applicable, if you're familiar with those. I'm not at all disagreeing that the "superstructure" was different in the past, that the way that societies conceived of themselves and the behaviors of the people within them was different in the past; that concepts like sexual orientation and race haven't always been employed by all peoples everywhere. But the "base" has always been there, the things that we today employ those concepts to refer to have always been there. People haven't always called themselves gay, but people have always behaved in a way that we would call "gay" today. Likewise with race: people haven't always employed the concept of race, but they've always differentiated between groups of people along lines of what we would call "race" today. The words, concepts, labels, identities, etc, have changed, but the things being labelled or identified, the referents of the words and concepts, have always been there.
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Re: Everything is racism

Postby Zohar » Wed Jan 16, 2019 8:13 pm UTC

I don't know these definitions, but again, I disagree. Saying that people behaved in the past the same way that gay people do today is just incorrect. Saying that straight people in the past behaved in the same way they do today is incorrect, as well. The concept of marrying for love was foreign to the vast majority of people for most of human history. Today, love is almost the standard, but still isn't! Can you say that marriage in the US, let's say, behaves in the same way as in India, where arranged marriage is very much the norm? Arranged marriage is the norm in most of the world, in fact. So can you say marriage has remained the same, or love, when love was an inconsequential concept that most people never attached to who you might spend your life with? People, and culture, change. And you're welcome to use the same words today, but that doesn't mean much.

I'm still not clear how your concepts work with people who, today, behave in similar ways but define themselves differently. Fellatio between men is a common rite of passage among the Sambia people, a tribe that actually lives and exists today, not some ancient culture. Are their men all gay just because the men that you know around you who perform fellatio are considered gay? Are college boys playing with each other gay even if they don't call themselves gay, and aren't interested in having any sort of actual romantic connection with other men?
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Re: Everything is racism

Postby ObsessoMom » Thu Jan 17, 2019 1:22 am UTC

Pfhorrest, the Wikipedia article on the Cagot people of Western France and Northern Spain might prompt you to reconsider some of your opinions about race.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cagot

TL;DR: Jerks are happy to seize on some societal reason to say that their victims deserve ill-treatment--no matter how vague that societal reason may actually be, apart from "This is just the way it has been around here for as long as anyone can remember, and therefore this is how it should always be."

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Re: Everything is racism

Postby jewish_scientist » Thu Jan 17, 2019 2:25 pm UTC

Racism could be based on race, a biological concept, or ethnicity, a cultural concept. No matter which definition Pfhorrest subscribes to, their argument in the OP, which was that all discrimination results from racism, still falls through. The former because he cannot explain discrimination in the past; the later because he cannot explain sexism. Unless they propose a third definition of racism, Q.E.D.
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Re: Everything is racism

Postby doogly » Thu Jan 17, 2019 4:20 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote: race, a biological concept

slow down there tiger
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