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June 19, 2015



Your attempt to enforce strict individual subjective realities is in fact a spook. We are all as much a product of our peers as a product of ourselves. We are fat, skinny, pretty, ugly, tall, short, black, white. At a certain point liberal attitudes fly in the face of reality and that is why the conservative population rally against what they see as metaphysical mumbo jumbo. By the way, they're not a shadowy splinter group, Conservatives, but a majority of many populations and you write as though you have no understanding of other people.

Justin E. H. Smith

I'm not a liberal, and I'm not seeking to explain or defend liberal attitudes.

meika loofs samorzewski

@Carl "Your attempt to enforce strict individual subjective realities is in fact a spook. We are all as much a product of our peers as a product of ourselves..." What are you blathering on about? was that a cut and paste comment? Did you even read the post? Do you work for Putin? (I'm clutching at straws here, that last is not an attempt to identify you. = #facepalm) And just so you know I'm a dual German-Australian national living in Tasmania of no race because the US civil war didn't happen here, and I'm of Irish, English, Polish and Scottish Jewish descent and I identify as human because identifying as a race is more meaningless in Australia than it is in the USA. Jeebus.


Hi Justin,

"until Americans overcome their essentialism about race, their inscription of the Black-white divide into the basic ontology of the world, Charleston is going to keep on happening."

So, this is definitely an empirical claim, and the linking of identity politics with racially motivated shootings doesn't fare well qua such a hypothesis. That you linked to a Canadian "identitarian" already spells trouble for it, but it would not be hard to find passionate, widespread racial essentialism throughout most of the rest of the Western world (having lived and worked in Berlin and Zurich, I can tell you that it is alive and well over there). Social causation is of course tricky, but my understanding is that the per-capita rate of racially motivated murder is WAY higher in the USA than in these other countries. So why should we accept your claim?

meika loofs samorzewski

I don't think we should map North American slave-based racial essentialism onto other xenophobic bad behaviours. From outside north American the focus by all endeavours to mention/use/identify race (just check out a wikipedia entry on some small population centre in the US and they'll list the census categories of descendants of slave owners, slaves, neither and other using race descriptors) looks weird. Admittedly here in Australia the Atlantic ocean trade marketing terms for human cargo were used with 1800s pseudo-science of categories culminating in the White Australia Policy on immigration, and South African developers of Apartheid came to Queensland to study the reserve system... but now race is only used by US influenced radio jocks and Aboriginal Australians think of themselves as original owners more than some 1800s category. That is what Justin is pointing at methinks. Move on from the race debate, let's talk about slavery, lets talk abut caste. The US debates are block and blinkered, pot holed in some category errors. Who benefits from that? It's an empirical claim as far as it points out the blockages in the debate, in maintaining the debate as about X with no opportunity to reframe it and thus recyle the same shit over and over. (as I see them in this little comment). Don't confuse the message with the meat.


It seems to me to be a simple analytic mistake to go from anti-essentialism to the view that we can reinvent ourselves how we please. Somethings being socially constructed does not either logically or empirically entail such a position. As with almost all concepts we use on a day-to-day basis, the huge majority of which are also "socially constructed" inasmuch as they aren't picking out some natural kind, there are nonetheless uses and misuses and areas of contention, but there being areas of contention doesn't exclude clear cases of uses and misuses of a word.

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