Five Reasons Why Racism Remain Unresolved

There are five very clear reasons why the problem of racism remains unresolved, and until they are understood and addressed, there is no chance of eliminating, or even ameliorating it.

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Racism has been considered a major problem in the West for approximately 70 years. Despite the attention it has received and the social damage that it continues to cause, the problem is scarcely closer to being resolved today than it was in 1950. This is an extraordinary social failure, given the fact that the prejudice popularly designated as racism is clearly common to every human being, even while they deny it. To be free of all racism, someone would have to regard anyone of a different race to their own in exactly the same way as they do someone of their own race. This is obviously an impossibility, so far as any normal person of any culture is concerned. As humans, we are all racist, to some degree or other. It appears that resolving the problem of racism also requires an understanding of why we persist in denying this self-evident truth.

There are five very clear reasons why the problem of racism remains unresolved, and until they are understood and addressed, there is no chance of eliminating, or even ameliorating it.

These reasons are:

  1. What is termed racism is not a prejudice aroused solely by somebody’s race (as popularly understood), but a prejudice aroused by everything about them that is culturally different to what we ourselves have been brought up with.
  2. The root cause of racism is the otherwise positive learning process of socialisation that we all undergo during our early lives, and by which we come to identify closely with our own family, tribe, clan, and nation.
  3. While racism is an entirely negative phenomenon in terms of the modern world’s social organisation, it nevertheless served a positive biological function during the greater part of humanity’s early development.
  4. As noted above, it is highly probable that everybody feels racial prejudice to at least some degree or other, and this reality, allied to our inherent human foolishness, explains why racism is so pervasive and so difficult a problem to resolve.
  5. Anti-racism and non-racism are very recent phenomena in historical terms, and racism was the social norm in all societies until very recently.

Sociologists, rather than investigating racism’s origin and nature objectively and scientifically, appear for some reason to choose to perceive it almost exclusively in moralistic terms. Accordingly, rather than being led by science to comprehension and due resolution of the problem, Western society remains infected by a behavioural malaise that is seriously undermining the modern social order, and if not addressed properly, can only intensify.

To expand on each of the five reasons:

  1. A major obstacle to a clear understanding of racism is the failure to recognise that what is referred to commonly as racism consists, in fact, of two disparate phenomena. The first of these is ideological racism – the hostile prejudice against the members of another race centred upon the belief that they are innately inferior. The second is cultural prejudice – which does not centre on the ideological belief in racial inferiority, but is simply the normal prejudice that arises from the natural human apprehension of, and aversion to people who are perceived to be significantly culturally different.

The former, appropriately termed ‘racism,’ is malign, and accordingly deemed immoral today, among other reasons because it violates the modern democratic principle of the moral equality of all people.

The second type of prejudice, more accurately and usefully described as cultural prejudice than as racism, is not immoral, and cannot be, because, as we have noted, it is common to all humans. The failure to understand the disparity leads to the false conclusion that anyone who feels any prejudice against people of another race must be a racist: i.e., someone who believes ideologically that some races are inferior to others. This assumption is incorrect. Not everybody who feels prejudice against people of different race necessarily subscribes to the malign ideology of innate racial inferiority.

Cultural prejudice is essentially the prejudice that all normal humans feel, in varying degree, against whatever is significantly different culturally to what they themselves have been brought up with. Cultural prejudice expresses the negative feelings aroused by an outsider’s different culture, religion, language, appearance, beliefs, and behaviour, among other things. This cannot meaningfully be categorised as racism. The  negative feeling that generally exists between social classes in every society is another example of cultural prejudice.

A negative form of behaviour that is ubiquitous in a society, such as cultural prejudice, or impatience, or anger, while unpleasant, cannot rationally be categorised as morally wrong. To be morally wrong, a behaviour must be characteristic of only a minority of a population, and not be an attribute common to the population as a whole. If everybody behaves in a certain way, the action is, by definition, normal.

  1. The reason why all humans are predisposed to cultural prejudice is fairly evident. As a consequence of the natural process of human socialisation that we all undergo from infancy, we come quickly to feel that the people among whom we are raised possess a particular virtue, not necessarily shared by the rest of humanity. This social process is an important and vitally necessary one for inculcating social cohesion. While cultural prejudice may not technically be innate to the species, it certainly becomes deeply ingrained, the process starting as it does for every normal individual in early childhood, and extending through adulthood. It is, unfortunately, a behavioural predisposition that unavoidably also tends to promote racism. This happens inevitably, because when we come to believe that the members of our particular community are special in certain important ways, then, by implication, those outside it are prone to be regarded, not just as different, but as inferior. Paradoxically, the very social process that binds homogenous communities together, also drives heterogenous communities apart.
  2. A little perspective helps us understand how cultural prejudice originated, and how it served a positive social function throughout our past, in contrast to the negative role that it plays in modern society today. As humans, we generally value and prefer what is familiar to us, and normally tend to be strongly averse to things or circumstances that are significantly different to what we are accustomed to. This predisposition of ours is in all probability an ancient protective behavioural mechanism, acquired for good reason over the countless years of hominin development, during which our ancestors lived as hunter-gatherers, in small, scattered, and sometimes mutually hostile family and tribal units. In those hazardous circumstances, and even later, whatever was different and unfamiliar was also potentially lethal, and so was avoided, or at least regarded with strong suspicion or aversion. Of Homo Sapiens’ roughly 250,000- year history, all of it until now has probably been characterised by the beneficial, and so positive, role played by ‘racism’, or, better, cultural prejudice.

It is this aspect of racism – the recent strongly negative change in the Western moral attitude towards it, while the prejudice still remains deeply ingrained in us – that is preventing a proper understanding of the phenomenon, and therefore its correction. We cannot bring ourselves to acknowledge openly that we are still naturally inclined to act immorally in this regard.

  1. We now consider briefly the other fundamental social reality that sociologists have chosen to ignore; the fact that there is a very high probability that everybody on earth is, in fact, ‘racist’, to at least some degree or other. As the reader will in all probability confirm, on honestly examining their own feelings regarding anyone they meet who is of a significantly different culture to their own, a totally unprejudiced response is highly improbable. Cultural prejudice being a social reality – even though now in many respects a negative one – it is counter-productive to regard and treat it as though it were solely a moral defect, alien to normal human nature. An unintended consequence of it has indeed, through historically altered social circumstances, become a serious social defect in today’s world, but that is certainly not all that it has been to humanity over time.
  2. History clearly indicates that throughout its recorded course, and probably in every society on earth, prejudice in regard to outsiders, generally unfavourable but sometimes favourable, was the norm, right up to the middle of the 20th century. The belief that it is morally wrong to consider other races or cultures as inferior to one’s own, became common in the West only with the widespread political acceptance of the democratic principle of the moral equality of all. It should be borne in mind that this elevated Western concept took hold effectively only in the mid -20th century, when blacks and women in the USA were finally and grudgingly granted the vote. This highly relevant fact is largely overlooked in this age of generational self-righteousness. The well-known prevalence of anti-Semitism, the history of the racially-based caste system introduced into India by its Aryan invaders, the historical Han Chinese/Manchu racial conflict, that of mediaeval Japan and the Ainu people, and numerous other ancient racial conflicts, further illustrate the diverse history of human cultural and racial prejudice. It is, in fact, the current and recent policy of Western non-racism that is the historical anomaly. Cultural prejudice, or ‘racism’, because it previously served a primarily protective and positive social function, was perceived historically as normal and desirable, rather than as the moral evil it is held to be today.

What happened, then, as recently as the 20th century to so radically change the West’s attitude towards racism? The likely answer is that the change of racial attitude was one of the many consequences of the geo-political, economic, and technological developments that have been taking place at an ever-accelerating pace in the West since the 18th century, leading to greater mobility and integration, known today as globalisation. The process accelerated in the 20th century, with the migration to European and North American cities from the newly-independent European colonies in North Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and Asia. This phenomenon radically altered and upset the relative homogeneity of Western urban populations.

The racial agglomeration that was now increasingly to be found in the Western democratic societies, led to escalating political conflict. Accordingly, under the pressure of rapidly changing social circumstances, cultural prejudice was transformed by circumstance into a strongly negative factor in regard to the increasingly populous and culturally heterogeneous Western societies.

In order to retain domestic social cohesion and order, the Western political leaders were compelled by the mid 20thcentury to reconsider and alter their racial attitudes and policies regarding the new, urbanised racial minorities. The social conflict that racism and cultural prejudice gave rise to could no longer be ignored or tolerated politically. The process of amending Western legislation started in the 1960s to accommodate the new political reality, and the now highly counter-productive expression of cultural prejudice was duly anathematised under the term ‘racialism’, subsequently shortened to the pathological term, ‘racism’. Socially, prejudicial behaviour that had been for so long morally normal in the West became totally unacceptable, virtually overnight in historical terms. While pro-integration legislation could readily be passed, it was not possible, however, to legislate away cultural prejudice and it remained, and still remains, deeply embedded in human society.

The claim that ‘there is no such thing as race; it is only a social construct’, subsequently arose from a misinterpretation of the evolutionary geneticist Richard Lewontin’s 1972 assertion that racial categories are biologically meaningless. Neither he nor any reputable evolutionary geneticist ever claimed that race as a social concept did not exist, and he himself declared that race was unquestionably a social reality. The social phenomenon of racism exists whether or not races themselves do genetically, rendering the discussion regarding the biological nature of race irrelevant.

Although racism is demonstrably an ancient phenomenon, in the United States and elsewhere it is currently being presented as a relatively recent social phenomenon. This moral evil is said, supposedly, to have arisen only as a consequence of white 17th century imperialism and colonialism, specifically in order to justify the Atlantic slave trade morally, by depicting blacks as grossly inferior to whites.  Previously in the world, it is claimed, race was not connected to heritability, and attributes such as skin colour were understood to be determined by environment. Ideological racism, derived from perceptions of relative racial inferiority, therefore did not putatively exist anywhere in the past. By convincing people that racism is only a relatively recent phenomenon, uniquely characteristic of whites, rather than an ancient one ingrained in all humans, those who make the claim are able to gain moral and political authority over all those uncritically accepting their dogma. Since racism did not exist in the past, they claim, and is a relatively recent evil, whites as a whole are guilty of a moral crime, and so are morally unqualified to lead society, command of which must accordingly be ceded to the victims of their immoral behaviour. Significantly, what is propounded today as an anti-racist ideology, is in reality being utilised to justify what is little more than a form of inverted ideological racism: racism redux.

Choosing to perceive racism moralistically, purely as a social evil, rather than recognising its biological nature and origin, precludes the understanding that is required if what is ambiguously termed racism is ever to be fully understood, or if the social problem is ever to be resolved. The latter cannot even start to happen before people come to understand the causes and nature of cultural prejudice, to appreciate the archaic origin of their own ‘racism’, its primitive and unsophisticated nature, and above all, the reason why it is totally inappropriate socially today. Because, however, racism has been weaponised and is currently and simplistically categorised as a moral pathology in the West, anyone who dares to acknowledge feeling any degree of cultural or racial prejudice automatically thereby labels themselves publicly as evil, or morally defective. This devious and manipulative moralisation obviously discourages honesty and frankness, while encouraging false piety and massive collective social delusion.

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  1. tim bester Reply

    So called “identity politics” and idea of victimhood are a double whammy that provided fertile ground for exploitation by self-seeking politicians and their intellectual advisors. Karl Marx popularized the idea of haves and have nots. The human destruction under this ideology has made every other historical racial, racist, tribal, cultural or geographic war seem like a walk in the park on a sunny day. There are, for sure, immoral ideologies dressed up as humanitarian. Individualism is the solution.

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