ideology, history, transhistory

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Sat Jul 11 21:35:22 PDT 1998

Lou writes:

> [SNIP]
It's interesting, isn't it, that alcoholism seems to afflict Indians,
> blacks and Irish, the three nationalities who had tribal origins, as
> Theodore W. Allen pointed out. Something tells me that alcoholism in these
> groups can be explained better by capitalist oppression rather than genetic
> propensities.

Lou, the problem comes here primarily through the hidden premise that race exists. Whenever that idiotic premise appears in some new disguise, it turns into nonsense the understanding of what we do know (which is not all that much) about the genetic component in various illnesses. There seems to be a genetic component (which establishes possibility or potential only) in a number of illnesses (the depression I suffer from, some varities of alcoholism (which is not a very precise term actually), various other conditions. Now some gene or limited combination of genes can appear within a population, and of course the spread of that gener will be mostly within an inter-marrying population. THEN if someone with a racialist fixation (i.e. who believes, knowingly or unknowingly, that race is real), that simple and politically neutral empirical observation that in such and such a population some gene (e.g., sickle cell anemia) is common turns magically into a bizarre assertion about the Alcoholism of Indians or the Irish. The key point is that "The Indians" or "The Irish" HAVE NO BIOLOGICAL EXISTENCE, they are not "real" biological categories.


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