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"Is Capitalism NECESSARILY Racist?"

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1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I suppose this is either shockingly obvious or astonishingly erroneous.  In either case, I need reevaluate my use of time and my hierarchy of values. 

It's mostly obvious.  You could have saved a lot of space by pointing to your earlier post rather than fully repeating it.

 

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I suppose one should criticize this description of "expropriation," since it's the alleged link between capitalism and racism.

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Let me begin by defining expropriation. Distinct from Marxian exploitation, expropriation is accumulation by other means. Dispensing with the contractual relation through which capital purchases “labor power” in exchange for wages, expropriation works by confiscating capacities and resources and conscripting them into the circuits of capital expansion. The confiscation may be blatant and violent, as in New World slavery— or it may be veiled by a cloak of commerce, as in the predatory loans and debt foreclosures of the present era.

The trick here is classifying certain voluntary transactions as "confiscations." You might not like being saddled with high-interest loan payments or losing property to foreclosure, but that's what you agreed to in the contract. Confiscation is seizure of property by authority, not by contract.

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On 8/18/2020 at 10:20 AM, StrictlyLogical said:

Is her so called racial extortion simply an echo of the technological extortion (conquest and slavery), causally linked and persistent in the minds of each population generations later merely because race is easily visible and distinguishes people as descendants of that technological extortion?  If so, then rather than tending to show any particular system is racist,  her ideas should lead her to the conclusion that the remnants of technological extortion and conquest persist psychologically in populations and arguably any system, where people can be identified as uniquely descendant from those groups, the conquered and the conquerors.  But such would require original investigation into psychology, tribalism, historical conquest, and how systems in general work, which do not necessarily fit well with her already determined outcome, and would take her far afield from her desired narrative.

I think this is her argument, and she does try to demonstrate this. Her view is that the echoes of expropriation and exploitation exist, and that capitalism necessarily takes advantage of the conditions that expropriation and exploitation create. Moreover, the mechanisms with which capitalism operates will focus on making money at the cost of those who still suffer from the echoes. So what we end up with is a system that will always be oppressing and holding power over someone. This would be systemic racism, the system in this case being all of capitalism. 

I disagree that she doesn't talk about historical conquest, how systems in general work, and tribalism. 

Although I sort of agree about how she didn't talk about tribalism - she only spoke in terms of collectives, never individuals, so when you only think about collectives, you start to think in terms of tribalism. If individuals are the focus of a system, then racism can only exist to the extent that individuals are racist. It would not make sense to say a system is racist, unless you also claim that the people are racist. The echoes may exist, but for the system to still be racist, there must still be overt racism that people try to take advantage of. Systems only do what you tell them to do. Moreover, if you focus on individuals, you can recognize that small institutions can hold power over others precisely because he can't homogenize any system. (What is racism if not viewing a culture as homogenous?)

The main issue I find is that she ignores any investigation into psychology as you said. The closest she gets is mentioning the desire to make more money. But everything is talked about in a mechanistic way. As if what people think and believe is secondary. 

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13 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I suppose this is either shockingly obvious or astonishingly erroneous.  In either case, I need reevaluate my use of time and my hierarchy of values. 

It leans toward the obvious. For those who seek to lean toward values, looking for errors may not serve as a high value.

Pointing out the errors serves those who may not see them unless they are pointed out. 

Some folk are better at pointing out error than others. I sought to identify the essential issue without exhausting the nuances surrounding it. 

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Posted (edited)

Thank you all for sharing your impressions, your pertinent knowledge, and especially some extended criticisms.

I’m finding myself drifting to a broader conception of capitalism than I had in mind to now, which had been capitalism as with all the economic structure one sees in it by the nineteenth century. I would not have thought of capitalism as something around before the nineteenth century, but now I think that is not the best conception. Now I’m thinking of capitalism being around before there is even any banking and borrowing, just so long as there was some production of capital goods, such as plows, and just so long as there was trade. 

Perhaps the economic organization at issue would be better called not capitalism, but market system. Be that as it may, going back to its beginning, the market systems seem to have had both private and state elements and some slavery. One might have reason to reserve capitalism to private market systems and without slavery, though I gather that that restriction motivated by particular theory and certain weights on certain distinctions would have to be introduced into dialogue as a special definition, not something meant by the term in advance by all. Some would surely come into the dialogue with a simple complete identification of capitalism with market systems tout court.

For other purposes, I had been dipping into my big book, by Robert N. Bellah, Religion in Human Evolution — From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age (2011). Along the way, he mentions some things that seem good background knowledge for the present paper and critique of it. I’d like to record some of those points in this post.

So far as I’ve been able to determine, there is no reason to think that hunter-gatherer groups had slave relations in them (though women and children were oppressed). After that era would be the Archaic period, such as in Mesopotamia starting about 4,000 BCE. From about 4,000 years before that, plant and animal domestication had been taken up by humans. After 4,000 BCE, however, a number of fairly large settlements appeared in Southern Mesopotamia. By 3200 BCE the first true cities in the world emerged there. The raising of domesticated animals had gone beyond sources of meat and milk. Plows had been invented, and animal power had been brought into service in agriculture. Animals could pull carts, which made it easier to bring grain from outlying regions. (In the Americas, not only were there no horses, there were no cattle, forestalling this sort of revolution.) Southern Mesopotamia had fertile land if irrigated, but no wood, stone, or metal. Long-distance trading was essential to the economic development. By 3100 BCE some of the larger settlements were walled, temples and other public buildings had become larger, and there had to have been large workforces at work for lengthy periods. Mass production was introduced for manufacturing some kinds of pottery. Systems of accounting and writing were introduced.

“The reality of archaic civilization was centralization of political power, class stratification, and magnification of military power, the economic exploitation of the weak, and the universal [i.e. in all archaic civilizations] introduction of some form of forced labor for both productive and military purposes” (264). (There were good points too, I omit here.)

Turning to archaic Greece, as of the eighth century BCE (Homer’s time), with Athens the largest city: “The degree to which slave labor was used in agriculture is debated, but it seems unlikely that Greek nobles ever had vast slave estates” (335).

“The citizens, including the people as well as the nobles, could view themselves as radically distinguished from another group, the slaves. The extent and degree of slavery in ancient Greece is debatable, but the definition of slaves was that they were, in contrast to citizens, unfree. Orlando Patterson has argued persuasively that the very idea of freedom so central in Greece and the later Western civilization, was intelligible only in contrast to the unfree status of slaves; that is, a society without slaves would not have developed that particular notion of freedom.” (336)

“Democracy and slavery went together in democracy’s two greatest exemplars, ancient Athens and modern America, for a long time at least” (524). There is an argument “as to whether slavery was a necessary prerequisite for radical democracy, the argument being that the kind of direct democracy in Athens requires so much of the time and energy of the citizens that only if they had slaves to attend to day-to-day business would they have been able to sustain their high rate of participation. Ober argues against this view as well, indicating that many citizens were not slaveholders.” (671n79)

“The classic Marxist characterization of the ancient economy as a slave economy has been pretty well abandoned, even though the importance of slavery is not denied. A good treatment of the relatively marginal importance of slavery in the lives of the peasant-citizens of ancient Athens is given by Ellen Meiksins Wood in her Peasant-Citizen and Slave (1988).” (672n80)

I have not found indication that slavery in ancient Greece coincided with racial divisions, only division between Greek and non-Greek.

A couple of notes from Josiah Ober’s The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece (2015):

“In the period of classical efflorescence (as before and for a long time thereafter), Greeks employed various forms of nonfree labor, including historically innovative forms of chattel slavery. . . . 

“[My] first hypothesis for explaining the phenomenon of Hellas’ wealth during the era of classical efflorescence centers on the general Greek (and especially democratic Athenian) commitment to what I will call ‘rule egalitarianism’. Rule egalitarianism means in practice that many people within a society, rather than just a few elite people have equal high standing in respect to major institutions: e.g. to property, law, and personal security. . . . In an ideal rule-egalitarian society, all people subject to the rules would be treated as equals. In the Greek world, those enjoying equal high standing were, in the first instance, the adult male citizens . . . .

“Rule egalitarianism drove economic growth, first by creating incentives for investment in the development of social and human capital, and next by lowering transaction costs. . . .

 (I omit mention of his second hypothesis for the wealth of classical Greece.)

“Specialization was also a way for the Greeks to increase gains from the forced labor of slaves. Greek states and individual slave owners alike invested in human capital by buying skilled slaves and training slaves in specialized skills. But slaves were not mindless machines. As the Greeks realized, slaves made behavioral choices that affected productivity. . . . Pseudo-Xenophon . . . notes that slaves in Athens would not be economically productive if they feared arbitrary expropriation. Moreover, he claims that the Athenian citizens who owned slaves recognized this behavioral fact and passed laws protecting slaves from arbitrary mistreatment accordingly.”

Now there are those among us—guarantee there is one—for whom economic thinking ameliorating hardship of being a slave or even eventually leading to its disappearance is secondary (putting it in a sweet way). For we stand with the Quakers and others coming into the American 1860’s for whom slavery is, every day it continues, a standing heinous crime against our brothers, to be eliminated under force of new law.

When I first read Prof. Fraser’s paper, I thought some wider historical perspective on capitalism than I had known was on display. Maybe so, but now I’ve gotten to opening some of my own books, I see how limited is the historical perspective on capitalism in her paper and how limited the historical perspective on slavery and its factor in economic development. 

Edited by Boydstun
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  • 3 weeks later...

This is a sidebar, but I'd like to share this fascinating historical resource: Interviews of American Slaves

These are interviews, in 1936-38, of formerly enslaved persons. These are elderly people who had been old enough at the time of emancipation to have memories of life under slavery and how things went with freedom. The experiences and the attitudes vary greatly. The transcripts of these interviews often try to capture the exact vocabulary and dialect of the persons interviewed. 

Some samples:

Lizzie McCloud -- Arkansas

Louisa Adams -- North Carolina

Prince Bee -- Oklahoma

Emanuel Elmore -- South Carolina

Edited by Boydstun
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I haven't done much reading in this forum (I have a learning impairment), but I have an argument.

Capitalism cannot be inherently racist because Capitalism is not an individual person.

We might invoke the concept of structural racism, as being a disembodied phenomenon.

But in order to understand structural racism, we need to understand that every structure is constructed by individuals.

Structural racism is a legacy of the work and actions of individuals.

Capitalism is actually not conducive to racism, because the primary activities in Capitalism are production and circulation.

Production is not racist because commodities are made for everyone. Circulation is not racist because if you have money you can buy commodities.

If some companies will not hire racial and ethnic minorities, because they are racist, there will be others who do not discriminate.

If some stores will not sell to racial and ethnic minorities, there will be others who do.

If all companies and stores are discriminating, this does not mean capitalism is racist. It simply means that all current existing companies and stores discriminate.

Capitalism actually does a lot to destroy racism. It was the capitalist north that offered jobs to freed slaves who moved from the south to the north. It was the capitalist manufacturing sector which employed large numbers of black people in the fifties and sixties.

Capitalism is not inherently racist. People are racist.

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45 minutes ago, Sebastien said:

If all companies and stores are discriminating, this does not mean capitalism is racist. It simply means that all current existing companies and stores discriminate.

If that were the case, then you could make a case that capitalism is racist. After all, you would be saying it is widespread, and would be important to ask why that is. Economic systems can be a good explanation. On top of that, individuals within a system can propagate or ignore any issues or injustices. So if capitalism creates an incentive to be racist, then we can say it is racist, that is, it comprises individuals who are racist. You basically described what systematic racism would be: all current existing companies and stores are racist.

When it comes to hearing out the argument, it doesn't actually work. The argument that capitalism is racist is incorrect. 

But the counterargument isn't to say that "some people wouldn't be racist." That doesn't change how plainly evil racism is. You can argue that such discrimination would be legally permissible, the problem is you would be conceding that capitalism does nothing to incentivize people to not be racist. 

I'm addressing this because I think many capitalist minded people don't appreciate what it means to be against racism. Don't say there are other options if somebody is being racist. The fact is, capitalism provides incentive for people to judge others as individuals. You're right to say that the North was more capitalistic than the South, but the important point is that capitalism caused the North to be less racist. Feudalism caused the South to be more racist (their feudalistic system created incentive to be racist). Pointing out employment doesn't help that issue. 

Edited by Eiuol
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Dear Eiuol,

Systematic racism is not the same as structural racism, and it is also not identical to all-pervasive racism.

Systematic racism means that racism comes from the system itself.

Structural racism means that there are social structures of oppression which operate independently of individual racists.

All-pervasive racism means that all companies are discriminating.

In theory, and also in practice, Capitalism actually provides incentive to not being racist, because if you produce for and sell to everyone, you will make more money. Rand would argue that if this incentive exists, there will always be markets for people of color. She might be wrong, but if you look at history, black people in the United States have rarely starved or gone without essentials for a long period of time.

 

 

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14 hours ago, Sebastien said:

I haven't done much reading in this forum (I have a learning impairment), but I have an argument.

Capitalism cannot be inherently racist because Capitalism is not an individual person.

We might invoke the concept of structural racism, as being a disembodied phenomenon.

But in order to understand structural racism, we need to understand that every structure is constructed by individuals.

Structural racism is a legacy of the work and actions of individuals.

Capitalism is actually not conducive to racism, because the primary activities in Capitalism are production and circulation.

Production is not racist because commodities are made for everyone. Circulation is not racist because if you have money you can buy commodities.

If some companies will not hire racial and ethnic minorities, because they are racist, there will be others who do not discriminate.

If some stores will not sell to racial and ethnic minorities, there will be others who do.

If all companies and stores are discriminating, this does not mean capitalism is racist. It simply means that all current existing companies and stores discriminate.

Capitalism actually does a lot to destroy racism. It was the capitalist north that offered jobs to freed slaves who moved from the south to the north. It was the capitalist manufacturing sector which employed large numbers of black people in the fifties and sixties.

Capitalism is not inherently racist. People are racist.

Nice to meet you Sebastien.  Neat and tidy conceptualization... very important for proper thought.

Query:  Why do some tend to avoid neat and tidy conceptualization?  What is achieved by "avoiding" it?  What motivations are at play?  The left will conflate and equivocate and provide arguments which are semi-formed, confusingly self-contradictory and anti-conceptual... how does a person adhering to reason "argue" against a position which inherently eschews neat and tidy thought?  In the end I suppose being clear in your own mind is more important than worrying about another's lack of understanding.

 

Keep thinking clearly and critically. 

 

14 hours ago, Sebastien said:

If all companies and stores are discriminating, this does not mean capitalism is racist. It simply means that all current existing companies and stores discriminate.

Wisely observed.  Some would see "all companies and stores discriminating" and conclude that must be the result of cause and effect of an economic system on the culture of the people... this of course is a laughable error.  Many cultures of the world included racism, tribalism, etc. ... one can easily conclude from the same observation "all companies and stores discriminating" is the result of the culture of the people (arising from religion, ancestral stories, myths, dogmatic indoctrination by parents and teachers, countless other factors) and not an "effect" of capitalism.  In fact, the truth of it, the reality may be that a flawed culture having discovered capitalism, may not have been exposed to capitalism long enough for the inertia of the culture to have been eroded.

In science, as in logic, one must be careful to understand that statistical or perceived "correlation" does not as of a logical necessity point to a cause and effect, although cause and effect of course often leads to correlation, analysis of a correlation requires a neat and tidy mind to understand it.

 

The "Left" will see the persistence of racism in a culture, and conclude that the "capitalist system" is racist.  But this is NO MORE logical than concluding that the "capitalist system" is "religious" simply because religion persists, for example, in the U.S. 

A scientific mind might see the apparent lack of a capitalist system's imposing any effect on the culture of the people as an indicator that capitalism leaves people generally free to form their own culture... and perhaps that might not be such a bad observation.

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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3 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Some would see "all companies and stores discriminating" and conclude that must be the result of cause and effect of an economic system on the culture of the people... this of course is a laughable error. 

But this way of thinking would also be an error. Going by Rand, we should be able to say that capitalism is morally good because of the direct evidence in front of us. That would mean we recognize that capitalism is good because we see that it is good, that people generally get what they deserve, that productivity is better, that innovation is better. Also going by Rand, if it were the case that racism was pervasive so that everyone was doing it,  and the system was capitalist, that would be direct evidence in front of us that capitalism is evil and bad. 

If we can't conclude that a terrible society was caused by the system it operates under, then we certainly can't conclude that a great society was caused by the system it operates under. If you agree with that, great, though I think you would be better off making a case why capitalism causes a better society, rather than arguing that the connection between an economic system in society is just correlational. In other words, not making causal connections can equally be from sloppy thinking. That's not an attack on you, I'm encouraging you to be an even stronger voice for capitalism.

16 hours ago, Sebastien said:

Systematic racism means that racism comes from the system itself.

Structural racism means that there are social structures of oppression which operate independently of individual racists.

I still think this is splitting hairs, I don't think there is any real difference between these two even by your own wording. But anyway, I wasn't using either term in my post, I just wanted to make my point about incentives.

16 hours ago, Sebastien said:

In theory, and also in practice, Capitalism actually provides incentive to not being racist, because if you produce for and sell to everyone, you will make more money

Yeah, I agree. Like I was saying earlier, killing or enslaving a populace seems plain stupid. Why would you want to kill your market, literally and figuratively? It's like people who say that pharmaceutical companies want to make you sick so that you keep buying their drugs, overlooking the fact that the sick or dead patient isn't going to give them as much money... Basically, there never really would be a case where every existing store and company would be racist under capitalism. It's fantasy, or the racism would end quickly. 

Edited by Eiuol
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Also, NHC folks don't use words literally. "Capitalism is racist" is also a tautology for "capitalism is against what I want." In this way, by saying the words "capitalism is systemically racist" we cast the spell that refutes capitalism. This is called problematizing.

The first post I made was the closest thing approximating an actual argument, a more classical Marxist would make. Capitalism is racist because it's exploitative, and chattel slavery is a logical extension of (100%) wage slavery. 

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

But this way of thinking would also be an error

Actually no.  

Identifying that IT IS AN ERROR to draw a conclusion that X MUST be the case from premises which do not logically necessitate X, is not itself an error.

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

Going by Rand, we should be able to say that capitalism is morally good because of the direct evidence in front of us. That would mean we recognize that capitalism is good because we see that it is good, that people generally get what they deserve, that productivity is better, that innovation is better. 

I must disagree. 

Your line of reasoning implies that Rand justified or showed capitalism was good based on purported results or outcomes of the system,  "productivity", "innovation", people "generally" getting what they "deserve".  On the contrary, what Rand held as the justification of Capitalism, is not the outcome but the opportunity and freedom a moral and ethical system absent initiation of force, provides.  IT is not the presence of goodies or the public good purportedly resulting from Capitalism which validates it, but the presence of freedom and opportunity which the prohibition of the initiation of force (force which is normally part of any other system) and the protection of individual rights provides.

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/capitalism.html

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

Also going by Rand, if it were the case that racism was pervasive so that everyone was doing it,  and the system was capitalist, that would be direct evidence in front of us that capitalism is evil and bad. 

You commit the very error I point out that the leftist's make.  This reasoning is equivalent to saying "if it were the case that racism was pervasive so that everyone was doing it,  and the system was FREEDOM, that would be direct evidence in front of us that FREEDOM is evil and bad"

Racism is not smart, it is unselfish on the part of the perpetrator, causing missed opportunities and diminished values, but it is not a violation of another's individual rights.  As such, it's mere existence is no more an indictment of any economic or political system than the existence of any other vice, such as stupidity, or irrationality. 

People do not become perfect even in a perfect system...  instead, their individual rights are protected such that they are free to live their imperfect lives, and yes to behave irrationally and unselfishly, as a racist.

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

IT is not the presence of goodies or the public good purportedly resulting from Capitalism which validates it, but the presence of freedom and opportunity which the prohibition of the initiation of force (force which is normally part of any other system) and the protection of individual rights provides.

That's correct, and I wasn't trying to argue otherwise. I'm saying you can validate the moral good of respecting individual rights by observing the concrete outcomes. Capitalism is justified because it protects individual rights, and individual rights are good because they are critical to life in a society. Capitalism creates good outcomes because it is a moral system. If capitalism created bad outcomes, then there would be something wrong about capitalism morally speaking. The quotes you gave me agree with me.

1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

This reasoning is equivalent to saying "if it were the case that racism was pervasive so that everyone was doing it,  and the system was FREEDOM, that would be direct evidence in front of us that FREEDOM is evil and bad"

That's what an argument from counterfactual is. We recognize that the alleged evils could not occur in reality, because the counterfactual creates a contradiction, namely, pervasive racism coexisting with capitalism. 

It shouldn't be controversial here to say that capitalism causes less racism. My position is that capitalism is necessarily not racist. 

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20 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I think it is uncontroversial here to say that capitalism CAUSES no racism.

But why make the weaker claim? We both agree that capitalism does not cause racism. Do you also agree that capitalism causes less racism? 

If capitalism neither causes nor reduces racism, then capitalism has no real impact on society. It would be morally neutral with no causal impact. If capitalism is morally good, it has a definite impact on society and the moral values within that society. 

 

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As best I can tell, the morality of capitalism stems from the morality of the individual's freedom to act. Therefore, the freedom to produce, to create, to own, to trade - with others, with that same freedom. In this formulation (positive) individual rights leads the way and capitalism the direct offshoot. While neither is an ethical code per se, I think these moral systems would in practice be highly discouraging of prejudices like racism (already evident in the reduced Capitalism, as we know it) but a govt. would not and could not ban and censor the voiced articulation of them. (Until interference in others' physical freedom to act). One has the right to do business with whom one chooses to, simply.

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On 9/9/2020 at 4:02 PM, Eiuol said:

It shouldn't be controversial here to say that capitalism causes less racism.

That is a questionable claim. Evidence to the contrary are the infinite amount of companies selling skin lightening creams in India and abroad, creating the gigantic fair skin business. These companies bank on the irrational insecurities of people. The adverts for these products generally show people getting fairer skin with these creams and suddenly getting hired or married.

Examples are fair and lovely (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 89 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 and many more), which was the og brand for self hatred, Pond's white beauty (white beauty series 2 3), Fair and handsome (1 2 3 4 5 6 7), L'Oreal white perfect (1) and infinitely many more. There are corporations that promote "accepting yourself" in the West while these same exact companies promote "dark is inferior" products in India and elsewhere.

Industries, such as bollywood and other film industries in India also bank on "whiteness" (or preference for a higher caste). Dark actresses find it difficult to find jobs in India. This is also present in other countries: almost all media personalities in Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Mexico, etc favor "whiteness". Even in the US, a lot of "black" media personalities are light skinned compared to the black population of USA, simply because that is more profitable. "whiteness" or fairness is considered aspirational (there's this "we can be white too" attitude that is sold by these companies).

Indian designers only hire fair skinned models in India and would claim that the idea that "dark is doomed" is more profitable and it's not their job to change it. Modeling competitions only have light skinned people in India. Directors don't hire dark skinned people because it's not profitable (in India). Even roles of darker skinned characters are given to lighter skinned actors because darker actors are not bankable in India. The few that are hired may be cast as poor or rural or as servants. People who work in the industry usually deny it. Some delusional North Indians also deny it by saying that the majority of North Indians are light skinned (they're not)  and that these products are marketed towards them. Even a lot of music made in India promotes the idea that "white is glamorous" because it's more profitable (For eg, "chittiya kalaiya" or "my white wrists"). All of this is in a country in which at least 90% of the people are dark skinned.

No one would hire you in India when "image" is at stake because if you're darker, you're not "presentable". You can't be an air hostess or an actor or a salesperson or any get hired for any job which involves the "image" of a brand or customer service if you're dark skinned in India. There are things such as "white monkey jobs", which bank on the soft power of white people (or light skinned people), to sell things.

 

On 9/9/2020 at 2:22 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

Racism is not smart, it is unselfish on the part of the perpetrator, causing missed opportunities and diminished values

Racism can be pretty profitable (some industries, such as skin bleaching, probably would not exist without racism. It may still exist, but would be much smaller).

While I don't think capitalism is inherently racist, the idea that capitalism would "solve" racism is stupid. It requires societal change that may not be tied to the free market.

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4 hours ago, human_murda said:

Racism can be pretty profitable (some industries, such as skin bleaching, probably would not exist without racism. It may still exist, but would be much smaller).

Yes, I agree. But we certainly should not equate "profitable" with "capitalism". I'd rather think of capitalism in terms of a system where free choice is the entire point, which encourages more rational thinking. I don't think there is any mechanism within capitalism that would make an industry like skin bleaching a meaningful business. It's more of a cultural phenomena largely pushed on by factors that are not about capitalism (it's easy to trace something like skin bleaching to overt racism that denied individual rights). 

You are right that capitalism can't solve racism. I'm only pushing back against the idea that capitalism is causally impotent toward society. It helps, but it's important to actively advocate against even the subtle racism of skin whitening.  

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