Sometimes I get the urge to just lay out my beliefs on a certain subject in as few words as I can manage. This will not, of course, convince anyone of anything, as it consists of assertions rather than arguments. But it sometimes helps other discussions to have the basics clear. So here are my beliefs about differences and commonalities between and among people.
I believe there are greater differences between individuals than between genders.
I believe there are greater differences between individuals than between races.
I believe the poor and the working class of the world have more, and more fundamental, interests in common with each other than with the oppressors or the economically privileged in their particular geographical location.
I believe the poor and the working class of all races and genders have more, and more fundamental, interests in common with each other than with the oppressors or the economically privileged of their race and gender.
4 thoughts on “Differences and Commonalities”
I agree. And I also believe that the differences between don’t matter in the way lots of people think they must. We can and should be different, without being relegated to lesser status.
My belief is that race is not a useful concept, and the sooner people stop talking about racism the better. What is actually being discussed is culture, and how people use certain physical characteristics to make assumptions about the culture of a person, and the different ways that people assign importance and value to different cultures. And it is horrifying to me how the peculiarly American perversion of thought about what race is has been spreading around the globe.
The assumption that a person with dark skin born and raised in the Bronx has somehow more in common with someone with dark skin born and raised in Ethiopia, Nigeria or Australia than in someone with light skin born and raised in Brooklyn is absurd. Similarly, the idea that a Pole, an Estonian, a Moldovan, an Italian and a German necessarily have life experiences and cultures more similar to each other and to that person from Brooklyn compared to that person from the Bronx (or from those persons from Ethiopia, Nigeria or Australia) because they all are “white Europeans” is just plain obnoxious.
We all use visual clues to make judgments about people, their values, their background, and their belief systems. Oftentimes, the judgments made are downright stupid and obnoxious. And it is a sad fact that, in some cultures, certain characteristics such as skin color tend to be given way too much significance when people from that culture make these judgments. And too often what I hear when people speak of these judgments in terms of race is whether or not one should think of that characteristic as indicating a positive or a negative rather than asking themselves if it is relevant information in the first place. Sometimes it is, but only as a possible indication of a cultural background, and all cultures have very complex effects on an individual.
In other words, at best, “race” is a poor indicator of the cultural background and experience of an individual. And individual differences are more important than cultural differences.
I believe the poor and the working class (of all races, genders, and locations) have more, and more fundamental, interests in common with the economically privileged than they have differences.
I believe the economically privileged (of all races, genders, and locations) have more, and more fundamental, interests in common with the poor and the working class than they have differences.
I believe that, until we understand and embrace these commonalities (across race, gender, location, and economic class), we will not be able to solve the social inequalities that plague our societies.
I am all in favor of embracing those similarities, and, moreover, I am extremely optimistic we can get to a place where we can. But we can’t there by pretending we’ve already arrived. As long as there is class society–as long as some live by exploiting the labor of others–the class struggle is going to be the most significant factor in how society develops. Once we have created the conditions for full social, economic, and political equality, we can work together on the creation of a true human culture. Until then, the fight goes on, and those attempt to prevent the proletariat from developing class consciousness are working to disarm in front of their enemies.