Alabama and Tibet (?)

Doyle Saylor djsaylor at
Thu Jul 9 00:02:06 PDT 1998

Hello everyone,

Mat Forstater writes (July 8, 1998): Could you imagine a post-capitalist system that was still racist, patriarchal, etc.? Or does socialism automatically eliminate racism and sexism? And I do not mean by definition, but because you believe that racism and sexism are mechanically reducible to class, rather than mutually reinforcing but not parallel forms of oppression?

Doyle You are asking me to conduct a thought experiment about the future in a world I’ve never known. I have no crystal ball. Still I take seriously your question, can another system be racist, and patriarchal besides capitalism. Certainly if we must posit such a thing! My goodness you have an ugly imagination. I want to dream of Utopia, and you want to dream about hell. But perhaps you are right maybe there is a good set of criteria to use to examine such a case which might result in a better way to fight the oppression. Give me some more details to use to fantasize about please? Incidentally mechanics was mainly a nineteenth century form of physics, and allied thinking in philosophy. Marx rejected mechanics as mechanical if I remember correctly. Reductionism merely states that one examines the parts to understand the whole. Does socialism automatically eliminate racism because racism is class; that is the theory as I understand things. But theory needs explanatory power. That is what I think Wojtek provided in rough form. Let us debate the merits!

Mat My argument is that historically racism has played a crucial structural role in the rise and reproduction of capitalism, and that theoretically capitalism does require mutually reinforcing modes of oppression such as racism and patriarchy that mediate the hierarchies necessary for capitalism.

Doyle I believe you said this before. I understand racism to be an invention, an illusion constructed by the system. I note here you seem to be saying there is class, there is racism, there is patriarchy, each apart from the other. I understand this because you state above in the thought experiment imagine a system not capitalism with racism, and patriarchy. So I understand you to be saying in your first paragraph that you feel if we got rid of class then racism would still be there. Is that reformulation correct that I just made?

Mat There has never been a capitalist world system in which racism did not play an indispensable structural role, in both its rise and reproduction. These are the "facts of world history" and the empirical record with which we are faced.

Doyle I think you missed my drift in my reply to you. I was asking you to explain to me with some kind of rough comments to show me from historical detail the truth of your theory. You repeat yourself, but with little detail to give me a reason to "believe" you. Your theory lacks explanatory power. When did racism start in human history? Or other pertinent details to support your theory. By comparison Wojtek claims that racism is constructed against a group within a nation state for x reasons. That has testable parts to the concept. We can apply his conditions and get certain results. You continue to use the concept, racism, in such an amorphous way I can’t get a handle on what it is, and I lack a means to understand how to end racism. Since I believe racism is an illusionary concept, there is a certain consistency in my thinking that I need something more concrete to satisfy my hunger for explanatory power. I have an open mind about this. Just give me enough so I can understand your point, and agree with you if it seems valid to me. Regards, Doyle Saylor

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