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+1 vote
After considering the quote," black people weren't made slaves because they are black, they were called black because they were enslaved", and an epiphany where I came to consider gender as simply rules for the two sexes, I wondered why smash racism and sexism when you can smash race and sex as social constructs? This isn't to say I want to live in a world here everyone looks and acts the same, but a world where the way someone looks has no affect on assumptions, the way they are treated, etc. And a world where peoples genitals have no bearings on duties they "should" preform, colors of clothing they should wear, basically whether they choose to express masculinity or femininity in differing ways at different times in general. How can this be approached in a world where certain issues affect certain groups(however you define those groups). It seems that a colorblind mindset in today's world would keep someone from addressing issues like racism and sexism but most ways that people talk and act against them would make what I'm suggesting impossible?
by (900 points)
I think just because someone oppress me because of my given identity does not mean that i have to put my resistance based on this identity. I should put forward my uniqueness, not my race or sex.
i would agree with your comment. being oppressed for a given identity (which may or may not be your own) means.... you are being oppressed. your resistance to that does not need to be based on that identity, and i would argue that making it so is somewhat limiting. (although of course at times it might also be empowering, eg having allies in that resistance). i resist oppression because i despise it, and i refuse it at every opportunity. not because of the justification/rationalization someone else makes for oppressing me.
dd: getting rid of race and gender would be fucking awesome!!!  but holy shit what a maze - of complexity and baggage and ideology and victimization and opposing perspectives and what have you - to navigate in order for that to happen.  like the fall of civilization, i'd love to see it, but i can't imagine it happening in my lifetime.

that said, it can't hurt to try it in your own life!
Ofcourse, it's like my definition of anarchy-- no one being oppressed ever. Unachievable? Most likely. Definitely something to work towards though.

1 Answer

+1 vote
my knee jerk response is i don't like it. i like people being different. and i think it's unavoidable for people to group ourselves around differences/similarities. but even if it weren't unavoidable...

it just seems like targeting the labels people have for the similarities/differences (of course we could cogitate on the labels and who creates/enforces them) is not actually getting at the problem, which (i think) has to do with the assumptions people make about the *consequences* of those similarities/differences.

i don't know. maybe it just seems like a world full of individuals in which there is no way to make assumptions or guesses about who someone is, is both a long ways toward the theoretical understanding of each of us as atomized, isolated units (which is horrible to me) -- and -- wouldn't be as much fun as the pattern-making and -breaking we do now.

on the other hand, perhaps this is just another case of i'm-too-broken-to-know-a-good-thing-when-i-see-it,-or-to-enjoy-a-less-broken-world."
by (52.9k points)
Agreed. It's not the similarities and differences between people (and between humans and non-humans) that are important, but how and why people create mythologies about, and impute existential/cosmological importance to, those similarities and differences.
"i like people being different"
I fail to see how asker's suggestion would make us same. I don't want to abolish race and sex in order to make everyone a universal "I", i want to accept everyone and myself as unique. Why should i stuck with adjectives i have while my uniqueness is the only thing that matters?
i agree with dot, i would hate a world of sameness in individuals.  but as metalist mentioned, i do not see getting rid of the concepts of race and/or gender to be in *any* way the same thing as eliminting differences, or making everybody the same.

i also don't see it as taking away any ability to discern (incorrectly or not) something about an individual from what is seen or heard. clothing, makeup, body modifications, genitalia, hair, skin color, etc...  would all still of course provide some indicators. or not.  

i see it as working towards eliminating, to the extent possible and/or desired, (mass) abstractions from our initial impressions of another. some may not like that idea. i do.  i think.  guess i have minimal experience with it in real life, as much as i'd like to say otherwise.
"i want to accept everyone and myself as unique"
i don't have a good way to talk about this, so bear with me...

one way to approach what i'm trying to get at is to consider that we are not all unique, that -none- of us are unique.
consider that our uniqueness is something that is sold to us by a system that wants to cater to us as specialized marketing niches...

obviously this is a very different use of the word from what the stirner translation proposes, and i'm not arguing that stirner (nor the translation) is wrong.

i guess i'm just saying that there are multiple things going on.
dot: "consider that our uniqueness is something that is sold to us by a system that wants to cater to us as specialized marketing niches..."

To me it seems to be the opposite of this. What is sold to us by the system is a generic existence, of wanting to be like everyone else. Sure, it may come by way of specialized marketing niches, but that's nothing more than wanting to be different in the same way as everyone else within the niche. Right back to being part of a category, defined by the system, rather than being unique.

Or maybe I've missed what you're saying.
like i said, there aren't great/any words (that i know of).

but here goes in a slightly different way:
baa, what exactly is unique about you? what is special? what makes something unique/special?
are unique/special the same thing? why do we think that they are? are things only important if they are one of a kind? does scarcity imply value?  

(this is a two pronged argument, obviously...)
thanks for the prompts, dot...here is what immediately comes to mind...

Everything about me (and you, and everyone else) is unique - body, cell arrangement, the way we think and act, the way we express ourselves, experiences we've had, relationships, our tone of voice, etc. Each grain of sand on a beach is unique, each blade of grass, each woodpecker, every McDonald's burger and laptop (despite the attempt to make them uniformly).

In this sense, everyone and everything share a commonality of uniqueness, so it (being unique) is not scarce at all...it's everywhere. Being unique is not unique to anyone.

I've never cared for the world "special" (I'd have to think a little more about why that is), rarely ever use the word (for some reason it makes me cringe), and I don't equate it with unique.

Something being important is a value judgment, and I suppose that each person values things in their own way. Since I view everything I can perceive as unique, I don't really value it as important or un-important...  things simply seem to be that way to me.

In the monetary world, scarcity implies value, but not in the world as I see it.
Dot - People have all kinds of differences and label themselves in many different ways. Why do you thinking getting rid of race and gender would change that, or make it so that we don't see differences in each other? Or am I misunderstanding your answer?

Also it just seems like you really can't avoid the 'who creates/enforces them' aspect, because that is so connected to why it'd be advantageous to get rid of them in the first place.
i think we all probably agree that the label is not meaningful. what is meaningful (to the extent that it is), is our associations with the labels, who we feel connected to and who we don't feel connected to. these dis/connections could just as easily happen with being tall or being brunette, or wtvr.

as DD points out, we inherit a meaning to the difference that has been manipulated (the meaning as well as the difference) by our enemies. to resist, do we focus on the meaning? or on the difference?

i think we do both (for example we challenge what race and sex means biologically as well as culturally)... and i expect that is what DD (and others) have been getting at.

but that isn't what the headline says to me.
If my uniqueness comes from my stuff or my race this uniqueness does not belong to me. For instance, if i am unique because of being a Turk, than this uniqueness does not belong to me, it belongs to Turk-me. This causes dependence to adjectives or things i carry. My uniqueness comes from my acceptance of myself as unique. This is not to say i have no similarities with others, if i pursue to be different than everyone that would be cause another alienation from myself. I think Stirner's unique is a metaphysical one, it does not need proof. But today people need proofs to be "unique", like clothings etc. I do not need a proof.

"To cause other men no detriment is the point of the demand to possess no prerogative; to renounce all “being ahead,” the strictest theory of renunciation. One is not to count himself as “anything especial,” e.g. a Jew or a Christian. Well, I do not count myself as anything especial, but as unique.[“einzig”] Doubtless I have similarity with others; yet that holds good only for comparison or reflection; in fact I am incomparable, unique. My flesh is not their flesh, my mind is not their mind. If you bring them under the generalities “flesh, mind,” those are your thoughts, which have nothing to do with my flesh, my mind, and can least of all issue a “call” to mine."
dot: of course, there are many things about me that are the same or similar to others. and there are many things that are not. what makes me unique is not how measurably "different" i am from others. it is, quite simply, the fact that i am ME. period. nobody else could possibly be me. nor could i possibly be anyone else.  

as for capitalism selling us "uniqueness", of course it does! it will sell anything to anyone at anytime, if possible. it sells us uniqueness, sameness, weirdness, boringness, race, gender, sexuality, blah blah blah...  it tries to sell a materialized version of some abstraction or another, all the fucking time.  that's the game, and i think most thoughtful anarchists understand that. which does nothing to negate the underlying realities of my life and being that they are packaging and trying to sell back to me. unless i let it, of course. which i think is all too common.
i am failing to make my point, so i will stop now. sorry. :(
or i may just be not getting your point.  maybe you could explain this thought:

"one way to approach what i'm trying to get at is to consider that we are not all unique, that -none- of us are unique. "

i truly don't understand that thought. i guess it requires a definition of "unique" that i am not familiar with.  and just to be clear, i don't necessarily get stirner's  concept of unique either, other than what comes across to me as blatantly obvious (the "essence" of me?). i have only read stirner in roundabout ways, and not in great depth.

one thing about my perspective is that i tend to think in concrete (and somewhat simplistic) terms. i often have trouble with grokking certain abstractions, especially the way i see them written and spoken about. sometimes i just don't get em.  now, in computer software design/development (a former life), i do much better with abstractions.  :-)
me stopping is a combination of not being sure what i'm trying to say, added to my uncertainty about a way to say it, added to my uncertainty about whether i even agree with my own point (see last part of my answer), added to people's responses (which if nothing else indicate that i'm way out in outfield for folks). again, i'm not fond of walls of text, and would prefer to come at this (if i get more clarity) either in time or from a different direction.
there's no hurry. :)
dot, I very much appreciate your honest reflection and the depth of your thoughts which I may not able to grasp at this moment. Although after re-reading your comments a few times I do see a glimpse of what I think you're trying to say...but like you, I need a little more time to think about it.

Sometimes I read something, have insights and some clarity about what I read, and yet by the time I start typing I seem to have lost part of the thread of the thing. Like you, I think words often get in the way. But it can be fun (and alternatingly or simultaneously frustrating) to explore the ideas and words, wherever they take us.

funky, my former life also was immersed in computer software design/development...and yet now I can't even operate someone's cell phone when they ask me to take a picture for them! Abstractions can be fun too as long as I remember that's what they are.

Unlike much other communication I'm involved with on a daily basis, I almost always feel my energy used here is well worth it. These conversations help me to explore, clarify, challenge, and re-imagine my thoughts and my life.
to perhaps clarify a bit (maybe just for myself), it is the abstract *expression* of ideas - rather than necessarily abstract concepts themselves - that i often have trouble with. certain kinds of writing, for example, can be very difficult for me. eg, i have yet to read society of the spectacle in full. some ways of communicating just don't work well with my (fried?) brain.
also, dot, i think i get your point about wanting to have some way(s) to know something about another at first glance (or similar). that can clearly be useful. i just think that particularly in the case of gender and race (and unfortunately, many other identifiers), what we presume to discern from those identifiers is far too often inaccurate; based on stereotypes, cliches, lies, and other potentially invalid sources. which of course does not invalidate those times when those first impressions are accurate. nor does the fact that the same identifier will mean different things to different people and in different contexts.
i'm not sure if i'm thinking of it more from the outside (how do we recognize others) or from the inside (who do i feel dis/connected to or why or for what).
and yes, i think it goes without saying that how it happens now is A Problem. we all agree on that.

thanks, baa.

"i don't know. maybe it just seems like a world full of individuals in which there is no way to make assumptions or guesses about who someone is, is both a long ways toward the theoretical understanding of each of us as atomized, isolated units (which is horrible to me) -- and -- wouldn't be as much fun as the pattern-making and -breaking we do now."

see I just think that atomized isolated units is just a really harsh way to put people acting freely as individuals, without social constraints on who they should group up with look like or act like. as for pattern making and breaking, some people will always do things similar to others, however, I don't think this necessitates a "group" or if it does, not one that the "group" or being in that group or having x charictaristic affects peoples behaviors, but rather that peoples behaviors determine the group.