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July 03, 2004

DoublePlus Ungood

Three quotes, to start off with.

The first and simplest stage in the discipline, which can be taught even to young children, is called, in Newspeak, crimestop. Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity. But stupidity is not enough. On the contrary, orthodoxy in the full sense demands a control over one's own mental processes as complete as that of a contortionist over his body. - 1984, by George Orwell

His inner pros and cons and doubts are not private problems of the individual himself any more; his thoughts belong to the state, the dictator, the ruling circle, the Party. His inner thoughts have to be controlled. - The Rape Of The Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing, by Joost A. M. Meerloo, M.D

But since racism is so deeply rooted in the languages, the images, the sounds, and the structures of the electricity, hardware, software, and, most of all, interior articulations (thoughts) that appear to be natural, normal, and okay, blogging can also advance racism if we don’t explicitly resist it in our own blogging, in all the courses we teach and take, in our publishing, and in the day-to-day institutional decisions we all make. - Power Surge: Writing-Rhetoric Studies, Blogs, and Embedded Whiteness, by Kathleen Ethel Welch, University of Oklahoma

There are two groups that would love nothing better than for America to put thoughts about race at the forefront of its consciousness and keep them there. The Neo-Nazis, for whom whiteness is celebrated, and the academic left, for whom it is the source of all evil.

Though upon cursory examination the goals of each group appear different, both are remarkably similar in nature.

Both call for the rigid adherence of the individual to a group-promulgated and enforced code. On the right, the practice is known as fascism. For the left, it's "consciousness raising."

It is 'sexuality' or 'gender', rather than 'class', that define an individual's identity and group status. Racial classifications apply, too, and are discussed as much by 'progressives' as they are by the far right. The theory of false consciousness applies as much to these new groups as it did to workers in the past. Thus the homosexual who opposes the gay rights movement and is contented with existing roles is suffering from 'internalised homophobia', whilst the woman who dislikes feminism needs 'consciousness raising'.

One could be forgiven for thinking that consciousness raising as a philosophical exercise has had its moment in the sun, but, like fascism, it's cropped up again.

The best location I can think of for uncovering racism is a blogging re-enactment of the early 1970s consciousness-raising groups in which many people, particularly some white women, some African American women, some Native American women, and many others, including men, gathered in groups to work to unveil the lived ideologies of gender-coded behaviors that appeared to be normal and were in fact ideological expressions that served, unconsciously, to reproduce various hegemonies.

Both groups are constantly aware of the need to purge impurity. While Neo-Nazis are obsessed with extirpating Jewish influence, the left wishes to purge itself of...well, see for yourself.

As scholars, we must reflect on the influence of whiteness in our discipline, our professional journals, our conventions, our books and articles, our professional networks, and, dare I say, even our friendships.” As teachers, we must introduce students to rhetorical tactics that will enable them to reflect on the influence of whiteness in their own lives and cultures.

Substitute "Jews" for "whiteness" in the snippet above, and it becomes a note-perfect Nazi sentiment. Hell, substitute any racial term other than "whiteness," and the context of the quote renders it a racist sentiment.

Both groups classify favored and disfavored races in a similar manner. The Neo-Nazis lump most of the world's population into the "mud peoples", then subdivide the Aryans.

...there are 3 types of Aryans. Nordics (northern Europe), Alpines (centralized Europe) and Meditteraneans (Southern Europe). Romanians are ARYAN....no doubt about it. You dont need to be blonde haired and blue eyed to be ARYAN. Meditteranean Aryans (Italians, Spaniards, Greeks, Albanians, Bulgars etc...) may display darker features such as dark hair, eyes and olive tone skin...doesnt mean they arent Aryan.

On the opposite side of the mirror, peoples of color for the Left are "African-Americans", "Native Americans", "Samoan Americans"--the list of *-Americans is long and growing. Logically, Caucasians should be "European Americans," or perhaps "Melanin-challenged Americans." Instead they are "Whites," people who are by default deemed racist unless they castigate the culture that produces them a racist. Essentially, whites are racist no matter what. The best one can hope for from such people is that they at least admit it.

Oddly, both groups claim Aristotle as member of the race(s) favored by their respective philosophies, even when they disagree with him. The Neo-Nazis do so via the simple expedient of naming him an Aryan. Professor Welch uses a more contorted process.

...Aristotle, who was not, it should go without saying, white but who has been regarded, by default, as white, in a constituent move of white supremacy of the last several hundred years.

Needless to say, Jews get the exact opposite treatment from both groups, though in fairness I should point out that Prof. Welch doesn't mention them.

For the racially obsessed groups on either fringe, individual attempts at the color-blind judgment of a person sought by Martin Luther King are anathema--on the left because the practice does not challenge what is perceived as a ruling racist hegemony, and on the right because such an attitude hinders the development of a ruling racist hegemony. Both groups are thus uninterested in the removal of racism from the culture as a whole, for its removal would mean the loss of its use as a political tool.

Thus it would seem that, in the end, the best strategy to follow when it comes to race is one that will not only enrage both groups, but deny them the use of the race tool entirely--to see other individuals not as members of the black, white, brown, yellow or red races, but as members of the human.

Of course, that's probably speciest of you.

Posted by Bigwig at July 3, 2004 12:09 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself.
Comments

An interesting way to look at groups with ideologies on the extreme right or on the extreme left is to view them not an opposite ends of a straight line, but as opposite ends of a curved, almost circular, line. It is then easy to see that rather than being very far apart in their idology, they are in fact very close together.

Posted by: Yomama at July 4, 2004 12:34 PM
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