Re: [OPE-L] Inter-species slavery

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Thu Nov 23 2006 - 15:47:48 EST

>Hi Rakesh,
>I remember some years ago visiting frequently an art gallery in Santa
>Monica, California that displayed classically simple stone sculpture from
>Zimbabwe.  Exquisite stuff.  My enthusiasm for the gallery was diminished
>when a brochure appeared describing the work as 'primitive'.  I think I
>understand what you mean.
>But I've also taught critical race theory and I know how difficult these
>issues are and I think I understand the kind of thing Jerry is getting at.

I have no idea what he was getting at. Nor do you say.

>It doesn't appear obviously racist to me and I've had the impression that
>part of the recent discussion has been concerned with the title given to the
>thread.  My experience teaching suggests that if points are not well
>understood, and you have insight to offer, patient explanation works better
>than hostile labeling.

I don't throw the word around. I am deflationary as to what counts as
racism. But to say
that non human animals are capable of the social relations of
primitive communism and
certain non monetary forms of human slavery is to equate for all
practical purposes
these 'primitives' with animals. That is precisely racism. And that
is precisely what Jerry did.

By the way, I am married to an African American and you know what
that makes our
child by American definitions, so please don't counsel me on how to
approach these questions.  She would be horrified if she knew I was
participating in a discussion like this.

Your advice is paternalistic and annoying. I don't have to teach
Jerry anything; I mark my difference with him, and don't let his
racist comment pass.

I am not flying off the handle; I am speaking exactly. You are in
fact quite vague about what
you think Jerry is getting at. Do note that you do not say what you
think he is getting at.

>Fo example, I'm sure I am not fully aware of the
>complex social relations involved in the primitive communism to which you
>refer.  I have not had a chance to make this a special focus of study and
>would welcome fuller knowledge about it.

The kind of hunting, sharing and cooperation, alliance, sacrifices
etc are uniquely human behavior. Full stop.

Please take any Anthro I course.

>So let me try and divert this thread to another and related issue.  You said
>earlier that the human species has no races.  I fully agree with what I take
>to be your meaning here.  There is no biological basis for differentiating
>homo sapiens on the basis of race.  But does that mean race is a fiction?

No. But race was implicitly referred to as a biological reality.


>To say the human species has no races seems to mean the same thing as saying
>that race is a fiction.  Yet this seems to contradict our experience.
>What's going on?  The human species is not only a matter of biology, of
>course, but also of its social relations.  Would you agree that there are
>causal structures of race that make race real but that these are social
>structures just as, for example, commodity exchange is not a matter of
>biology, but of social structure?
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Rakesh Bhandari" <bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU>
>Sent: Thursday, November 23, 2006 12:27 PM
>Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Inter-species slavery
>>  >  >>Primitive communism and slavery are modes of production, I think,
>>  >>>are possible for other species.  Feudalism and capitalism, I think,
>>  >>>  aren't
>>  >>>... for a variety of reasons.
>>  >>  This is just racism--so called primitives and slaves aren't really
>>  >>  humans; serfs, dependant peasantries and formally free wage workers
>>  >>  are. Such an idea is only possible on the basis of the invidious
>>  >>  distinctions built up by racist Euro-American culture.
>>  >
>>  >This is just laughable.
>>  I'm not laughing. Nor do I hope are other people on this list.
>>  >  The concrete, historical circumstances
>>  >having to do with why feudalism and capitalism can't be imagined
>  > >as existing in non-human species have to do with specific forms of
>>  >property relations, ownership, money, markets, etc.
>>  And so called primitive communism (what Marx thought at times still
>>  to be contained in the Indian village)
>>  is based on complex social relations of  which non humans are
>>  incapable. To think otherwise is to be a racist.  That you do not see
>>  this is not surprising to me.
>>  >  There doesn't have to
>>  >be money or markets (including a slave market) for slavery to exist.
>>  It's simply a bad metaphor to describe non human animal forms of
>>  as slavery. The reasons have been given. That you see non monetary
>>  slave societies (e. g. Tupinamba)
>>  and  so called primitives as closer to non human animal societies is
>>  in fact racist.
>>  In fact it is the definition of racism.
>>  But why not? This is after all a list in which its moderator is more
>>  concerned to get right the nature of elephant treatment than the
>>  character of New World slavery, a list member rallies to the defense
>>  of the white farmers of Zimbabwe, a list member refers to Negros and
>>  the different human races.
>>  The diversity of this list is not surprising--is it, Mr Moderator?
>>  Rakesh
>>  >Capitalism, however, _requires_ monetary exchange, etc. -- conditions
>>  >which are specific to a certain period in human history.
>>  >
>>  >In solidarity, Jerry

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