White supremacy is the unnamed political system that has made the modern world what it is today. You will not find this term in introductory, or even advanced, texts in political theory. A standard undergraduate philosophy course will start off with plato and Aristotle, perhaps say something about Augustine, Aquinas, and Machiavelli, move on to Hobbes, Locke, Mill, and Marx, and then wind up with Rawls and Nozick. It will introduce you to notions of aristocracy, democracy, absolutism, liberalism, representative government, (...) socialism, welfare capitalism, andlibertarianism. But though it covers more than two thousand years of Western political thought and runs the ostensible gamut of political systems, there will be no mention of the basic political system that has shaped the world for the past several hundred years. And this omission is not accidental. Rather, it reflects the fact that standard textbooks and courses have for the most part been written and designed by whites, who take their racial privilege so much for granted that they do not even see it as political, as a form of domination. Ironically, the most important political system of recent global history-the system of domination by which white people have historically ruled over and, in certain important ways, continue to rule over nonwhite people-is not seen as a political system at all. It is just taken for granted; it is the background against which other systems, which we are to see as political are highlighted. This book is an attempt to redirect your vision, to make you see what, in a sense, has been there all along. (shrink)
Moral psychology studies the features of cognition, judgement, perception and emotion that make human beings capable of moral action. Perspectives from feminist and race theory immensely enrich moral psychology. Writers who take these perspectives ask questions about mind, feeling, and action in contexts of social difference and unequal power and opportunity. These essays by a distinguished international cast of philosophers explore moral psychology as it connects to social life, scientific studies, and literature.
In this paper, Charles Mills discusses what he calls “white ignorance”, developing one of the main themes of his 1997 book, The Racial Contract. His discussion is concerned with the idea of a cognitive disadvantage based on membership in a social group, which is not strange to the radical philosophical tradition, and that has been explored with more vigor in the recent Social Epistemology, in debates about epistemic injustices, silencing, willful ignorance, cognitive biases, epistemological standpoints, etc. Mills argues for an (...) “Epistemology of the white ignorance”, a racially and socially situated epistemology, which contraposes itself, in a great extent, to the individualistic tendencies of the traditional epistemological work, while conserving the interests in objectivity and truth of this work. (shrink)
‘Racial justice’ is a term widely used in everyday discourse, but little explored in philosophy. In this essay, I look at racial justice as a concept, trying to bring out its complexities, and urging a greater engagement by mainstream political philosophers with the issues that it raises. After comparing it to other varieties of group justice and injustice, I periodize racial injustice, relate it to European expansionism and argue that a modified Rawlsianism relying on a different version of the thought (...) experiment could come up with suitable principles of corrective racial justice. (shrink)
This essay tries to develop a “black radical Kantianism”—that is, a Kantianism informed by the black experience in modernity. After looking briefly at socialist and feminist appropriations of Kant, I argue that an analogous black radical appropriation should draw on the distinctive social ontology and view of the state associated with the black radical tradition. In ethics, this would mean working with a social ontology of white persons and black sub-persons and then asking what respect for oneself and others would (...) require under those circumstances. In political philosophy, it would mean framing the state as a Rassenstaat and then asking what measures of corrective justice would be necessary to bring about the ideal Rechtsstaat. (shrink)
Since its original 1996 publication,Jorge Garcia''s ``The Heart of Racism'''' has beenwidely reprinted, a testimony to its importanceas a distinctive and original analysis ofracism. Garcia shifts the standard framework ofdiscussion from the socio-political to theethical, and analyzes racism as essentially avice. He represents his account asnon-revisionist (capturing everyday usage),non-doxastic (not relying on belief),volitional (requiring ill-will), and moralized(racism is always wrong). In this paper, Icritique Garcia''s analysis, arguing that hedoes in fact revise everyday usage, that hisaccount does tacitly rely on belief, (...) thatill-will is not necessary for racism, and thata moralized account gets both the scope and thedynamic of racism wrong. While I do not offeran alternative positive account myself, Isuggest that traditional left-wing structuralanalyses are indeed superior. (shrink)
After a brief summary of the 17 essays in Sally Haslanger ’s collection, Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique, I raise questions in two areas, the defense of constructionism and the definition of gender and race in terms of social oppression. I cite Robin Andreasen’s and Philip Kitcher’s essays arguing that races are both biologically real and socially constructed, and also Joshua Glasgow’s claim that constructionist arguments ultimately fail. I then cite Jennifer Saul’s critique that “ oppression ” definitions (...) of gender and race run into problematic counterexamples, and add some other points arising from the different histories of gender and racial categories and realities. As someone sympathetic to constructionism myself, my aim is not a critique of Haslanger but rather an inquiry as to how she thinks constructionists should answer such challenges. (shrink)
Starting from Thomas Hobbes's distinctively materialist version of social contract theory, I argue that Hobbes can assist us in theorizing the racialized body politic of the white LEVIATHAN that is the United States. However, we will need to go beyond his own qualified materialism to recognize the social materiality of race, a materiality not to be reduced to, though incorporating, the body.
The “Occupy Wall Street!” movement has stimulated a long listing of other candidates for radical “occupation.” In this paper, I suggest the occupation of liberalism itself. I argue for a constructive engagement of radicals with liberalism in order to retrieve it for a radical egalitarian agenda. My premise is that the foundational values of liberalism have a radical potential that has not historically been realized, given the way the dominant varieties of liberalism have developed. Ten reasons standardly given as to (...) why such a retrieval cannot be carried out are examined and shown to be fallacious. (shrink)
In this paper, I differentiate “two Enlightenments,” the mainstream Enlightenment and what I call the “radical Enlightenment,” that is, Enlightenment theory (rationalism, humanism, objectivism) informed by the fact of social oppression. Marxism can be seen as the pioneering example of radical Enlightenment theory, but it is, of course, relatively insensitive to gender and race issues, so we also need to include Enlightenment versions of feminism and critical race theory. I defend the radical Enlightenment against (on one front) the mainstream Enlightenment (...) criticism that it is either already included in the latter, or if excluded, justifiably so, and (on the other front) against anti-Enlightenment criticisms (poststructuralism and some multiculturalists) that in whatever form, Enlightenment theory cannot adequately address social oppression. (shrink)
G. A. Cohen's influential ?technological determinist? reading of Marx's theory of history rests in part on an interpretation of Marx's use of ?material? whose idiosyncrasy has been insufficiently noticed. Cohen takes historical materialism to be asserting the determination of the social by the material/asocial, viz. ?socio?neutral? facts about human nature and human rationality which manifest themselves in a historical tendency for the forces of production to develop. This paper reviews Marx's writings to demonstrate the extensive textual evidence in favour of (...) the traditional interpretation ? that for Marx, the ?material? includes the economic, and is thus ineluctably social in character. Thus those critics of Cohen who have urged the inclusion of the relations of production in historical materialism's explanans do seem to have Marx's terminological and conceptual backing. (shrink)
Mills argues for a new critical theory that develops the insights of the black radical political tradition. While challenging conventional interpretations of key Marxist concepts and claims, the author contends that Marxism has been 'white' insofar as it has failed to recognize the centrality of race and white supremacy to the making of the modern world.
Through case studies that highlight the type of information that is seldom reported in the news, Faces of Environmental Racism exposes the type and magnitude of environmental racism, both domestic and international. The essays explore the justice of current environmental practices, asking such questions as whether cost-benefit analysis is an appropriate analytic technique and whether there are alternate routes to sustainable development in the South.