90 Miles From Tyranny : How The Theory Of White Privilege Leads To Socialism

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

How The Theory Of White Privilege Leads To Socialism

In 1989, sociologist Peggy McIntosh penned a famous essay that propelled an ideological movement well beyond the ivory tower and into political discourse, pop culture commentary, and workplace seminars. It is now part of our modern lexicon.

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” listed 50 examples of struggles white people don’t usually have, or perks of being the majority race, from being able to “see people of my race widely represented” in media to never being asked “to speak for all the people of my racial group.” These examples, according to McIntosh, are how “privilege” manifests.

Yet white privilege theory, even as McIntosh conceived of it nearly 30 years ago, is far from benign. The danger this essay poses is not in acknowledging that the 50 occurrences McIntosh mentions do happen and can frustrate the efforts of black Americans and lead to feelings of being in the “out-group,” but in the surrounding commentary. It lays the groundwork for how white privilege theory is supposed to change our thought processes and economic systems.

Acknowledging the 50 examples in themselves can help us be more charitable and sensitize us the disadvantages blacks still often face, but that was only a small part of McIntosh’s goal. A closer look at the rest of the “knapsack” essay reveals a system of thought that, at best, runs counter to traditional Western ideas of individual justice and personal merit:
‘I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day…’

‘My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor, as an unfairly advantaged person.’

‘The pressure to avoid [white privilege] is great, for in facing it I must give up the myth of meritocracy. If these things are true, this is not such a free country; one’s life is not what one makes it; many doors open for certain people through no virtues of their own.’ (emphasis mine)
McIntosh advocates for a “taxonomy of privilege” and sees many of her examples as indicative of “conferred dominance.” When she says she sees “unearned advantages” as a type of “oppression,” she’s employing the language of neo-Marxism.
What Is Neo-Marxism?

Briefly, neo-Marxism divides the world between oppressor and oppressed and identifies a system, or systems, by which the oppression takes place. In classical Marxism, the oppressed were the proletariat, the oppressors were the bourgeoisie, and the system of oppression was capitalism. The Marxist framework has been adapted to categorize and pit against each other various group identities, all toward the end of ...Read More HERE

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