Anarchism, Social Emancipation and Privilege Theory: A critique

  • Posted on: 27 October 2012
  • By: worker

<table><tr><td>From <a href=" Times</a> - By Jehu Eaves

<strong>TRIGGER WARNING: If you think your opinion is the only possible legitimate opinion on the subject of Privilege, you probably should stop reading this post now.</strong>

I grew up in a family that had a color line. One of my brother’s is relatively darker than the rest of us, and another of my brother’s is somewhat lighter than the average. Being typical children who can always find ways to taunt and humiliate our peers, we often called my fairer brother “honkie” — although, when my parents were in earshot, we called him “hink” — he still has that nickname today.

On the other hand, my grandmother, who was as fair as Hilary Clinton, and looked a lot like her, once called my brother and sister and myself “you little niggers”, when we pissed her off. I have a family member who has been challenged or otherwise assumed to be white in social situations that were awkward to say the least — for instance, in a room full of black women, who were discussing issues of relevance to black women, and once, when picking out a black doll for her daughter, when she was redirected to a white version of the same doll by a “well meaning” (read, “racist”) white woman.

Privilege theory is a crock</td><td><img title="there are lines everywhere" src=""></td></tr></table...

I say this to explain I come at the notion of “privilege” from a decidedly different perspective than many — not “valid”, “different”. Frankly, I am completely suspicious of the term, “privilege”, and think it is a crock. So, to be honest, I began reading “A Class Struggle Anarchist Analysis of Privilege Theory”, by the members of the Anarchist Federation’s Women’s Caucus with no illusions that I would agree with their fundamental argument. And my expectation was confirmed almost from the first sentence. The authors of this paper begin with an attempt to define the term, privilege:

“Privilege implies that wherever there is a system of oppression (such as capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, heteronormativity) there is an oppressed group and also a privileged group, who benefit from the oppressions that this system puts in place.”

The phrase, “system of oppression” is not defined by the authors, and enters the definition of privilege as an assumption we all know what they mean by the term. But, do we? Well, not so fast. The examples of a “system of oppression” include, capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, and heteronormativity. The problem with these examples of a “system of oppression” is that three of these forms of oppression aim at the actual exploitation of the labor of others, while one does not.

Capitalism, white supremacy and patriarchy have as their aim the actual exploitation of some people by other people. On the other hand, patriarchy, white supremacy, heteronormativity, are commonly held individual prejudices that exist in society even apart from exploitation of the labor of others. By lumping all four into a single category, “system of oppression”, the writers are actually combining two (maybe more) different categories of social relations without demonstrating why they should all be combined under the single category “system of oppression”.

There are, of course, widely held individual prejudices within society, and there are also systems of exploitation and the two are often interrelated. Capitalism, for instance, rests on the exploitation of wage labor, but this exploitation is itself mediated by divisions within the working class itself. Capitalism as a system of exploitation naturally makes use of individual prejudice, since it leads to competition within the working class over who gets to sell their labor and who is condemned to the reserve army.

I want to emphasize, however, that by “makes use of individual prejudice”, I do not simply mean that the capitalist employs racial, national, religious, gender and other prejudices to divide the working class — although this is the acceptable, liberal, politically correct, way to make this argument. As a matter of historical accuracy, I must insist the capitalist did not invent these prejudices and divisions, they already exist as real prejudices and divisions within the working class. All the capitalist does is make use of them as they naturally occur in society. Which is to say, the capitalist exploits the fact that the working class, as a collection of individuals engaged in competition, use every competitive advantage they find already in existence in their struggle against other members of their class to sell their labor power.

The working class are not angels — quite the contrary, when your next meal depends on getting that job, another worker is your enemy as much, and even more so, than the capitalist; the next guy is trying to keep food out of the mouths of your kids. So after the overthrow of slavery, at the insistence of the free white laborers of the South, black labor was prevented from competing with white labor in the South with the passing of the black codes. So when black people escaped the filthy conditions of the segregated South, they were greeted by white working class faces carrying torches and lynching ropes in every industrial area they fled to. They had, in many cases, unknowingly been recruited to break strikes in the North. If you want to know why Indiana today is reliably conservative, all you need do is look to the black exodus and the legacy of murderous outrages practiced there against black migrants.

Competitive advantages are not passively enjoyed

The writers argue privilege can be a completely passive benefit bestowed on its recipient:

“The privileged group do not have to be active supporters of the system of oppression, or even aware of it, in order to benefit from it.”

I think this is complete nonsense and I want to call this bullshit out. I think we should assume the opposite: every time a person has a competitive advantage, she has every incentive to take advantage of it. We are, after all, speaking of forces that determine someone’s entire life. Rather than assuming everyone is naively unaware of their competitive advantages, the very existence of these advantages presuppose people are commonly aware of them. Unlike the writers, I do not assume folks passively enjoy advantages arising from their race, gender, nationality, etc., but actually exploit those advantages to get what they need.

We need to pull the covers off that taboo subject within the movement from the beginning. I don’t think there is anyone who turned down a job, because he felt he got it because the hiring manager went to the same school or hailed from the same ethnic group. You throw people into an environment of universal, all-sided, competition, and what do you expect? Quakers? Liberals? People don’t benefit from their advantages by reason of being seen as the norm, they exploit their advantages. The writers here haven’t a clue how shit works in the real world.

Laws that are selectively enforced against black men were designed to work that way. They were meant to round up hundreds of thousands of young black men and incarcerate them en masse. When the fucking laws were written, the authors pictured black male faces bent over the front of a cop car, handcuffed from behind. In fact, if you remove black and Hispanic prisoners from the total number of prisoners, American incarceration rates are not that different than other advanced nations — the numbers incarcerated are still higher, but not grossly higher than the UK. The difference between the US and UK incarceration rates could be explained as a form of collateral damage.

But this is all beside the point since anarchists are against the state, aren’t they? Does the higher rates of incarceration for young black men in the present society suggest that if the state is abolished there will still be a higher rate of incarceration? The higher rate of incarceration of young black males suggest white supremacy and the systematic subjugation of black folks by white folks is at work, but without the state what becomes of this “system of oppression”? How does it express itself without the police, courts and prisons? How does it express itself in the absence of competition to sell one’s labor power?

Racism certainly doesn’t go away, but really, who gives a fuck? You can be as damned racist as you want to be. As long as it does not affect me, I could give a shit. Oddly enough, the writers agree that prejudice requires material advantages and means to be effective:

“It makes sense that where there is an oppressed group, there is a privileged group, because systems of oppression wouldn’t last long if nobody benefited from them.”

In other words, although each of these commonly held social prejudices do not owe their existence to capitalism, they would provide no material benefit to anyone with the abolition of capitalist competition and the state. Since in a society founded on voluntary association, no one can be compelled to associate with anyone else, I would guess all the racists and homophobes will still likely hang out in their own circles — but really, would you have it any other way? They will all be able to sit and talk about how wonderfully white and straight they are, and leave the rest of us the fuck alone.

If you don’t like racists getting together to congratulate themselves on how white they each are, tough shit. There ain’t shit you can do about it since you no longer have a state, and you can’t impose economic sanctions on them through you control over the total social capital. You have no more power to dominate them than they have to impose their vile racist shit on you.

That is the future, but what about now? What about the next union meeting with the guy who beats his wife, or called the boy down the street “nigger’ or “fag”? And what about the guy who never beat his wife or called anyone “nigger” or “fag”; but is still a straight white male? What do we do about that motherfucking “privileged” assed white boy — should we kill him? Should we fuck him up? There he is walking around the union meeting all “privileged up” in his own world, completely blind to the very real disadvantages his fellow workers suffer in the workplace and in society generally.

When he asks the union to endorse Obama, clearly this is because the only fucking thing going through his self-absorbed thinking process is how great Obamacare will be for his kids, and it never occurs to him that that fucker in the White House, who pushed this idea into law, is also systematically killing folks without due process all over the world and is handing out trillions to the wealthiest members of society. He has no idea that he is “privileged” to not be a “bug splat” in Pakistan because he is a greedy grasping Obama supporter in America, only concerned with getting his — he is fucking clueless.

In fact, tell him about his “privilege”, and he is likely to tell you he supports “Our President and our troops”. The fact that our “privileged” straight white male worker supports the president killing kids in Afghanistan doesn’t mean he is unaware of his privileges, or even that he only passively enjoys them — it could even be that he was an active participant in the murderous outrages ordered by that war criminal in the White House. We could even suppose this “privileged” motherfucker joined the marines and has murdered innocent people for six years before joining the union — and he is proud of that, between bouts of PTSD.

Your tiny anarchist circle is not “the revolution”

How do we handle this? Do we tell him he is not allowed at future union meetings? Really, this is not just a question of someone not accepting you as gay or black or a woman, etc. As the writers note, this “privilege” does not make that worker any less exploited by capitalism. In any case, he belongs to the union, not your insular little fucking anarchist sects. You can tell people to “check their privileges at the door”, when it is just you and five activist friends (plus the cop informant who is there to spy on radicals, but can’t stop hitting on all the lesbians in the group and making racist jokes). Since it is your tiny little isolated meaningless circle-jerk of idealistic young radicals (plus one cop informant), you can set whatever silly fucking rules you want.

But, please, don’t confuse your insignificant fucking tiny anarchist tea party with “The Revolution”.

Next, the writers address several objections to the concept of privilege. First, they try to explain why it makes sense to describe people as privileged for possessing individual attributes that are mere accidents of birth? Here is their answer to this objection:

“If you dislike the term but agree with the concept, then it would show practical solidarity to leave your personal discomfort out of the argument, accept that the terminology has been chosen, and start using the same term as those at the forefront of these struggles.”

Ha! I was born “colored”, grew up a “negro”, declared myself “black”, and now am routinely referred to as an “African-American” or a that dog whistle term “minority”. Black people change their self-description more than most people change their underwear. Fine, call people what they want to be called — this falls under the heading of not being rude. But by the same token, since the social revolution has no other aim than to free the individual from external compulsions, we are all in the “forefront” of our own struggle for individual emancipation — and I don’t like the fucking term “privileged”.

The second objection the writers address is that the term privilege turns the absence of something into a positive description.

“You could say that not facing systematic prejudice for your skin colour isn’t a privilege, it’s how things should be for everyone. To face racism is the aberration. To not face it should be the default experience.”

Their answer to this objection is silly, at best:

“The problem is, if not experiencing oppression is the default experience, then experiencing the oppression puts you outside the default experience, in a special category, which in turn makes a lot of the oppression invisible.”

Really? Racism is invisible to whom? Me? Or the fucker whose nose I just broke because of his inappropriate joke, “So, an Irishman, a Jew and a black guy go into a bar…”? To say your racist attitudes is invisible to you does not imply you will not be compelled to face your racism by me or any black person.

The writers also make the specious argument that there is a practical advantage provided by privilege theory:

“Privilege theory is systematic. It explains why removing prejudice and discrimination isn’t enough to remove oppression.”

But who is talking about removing prejudice? Do we really expect the present society to pass away only after everyone has been rehabilitated and cleansed of their prejudices? Another way to put this is, why do I have to wait until you stop being racist, or do you have to wait until I stop being homophobic, for both of us to be freed from the competition within which your racism and my homophobia is materially expressed? Frankly, if you tell me I have to wait until racism is expunged from society before capitalism and the state is overthrown, I am likely to tell you to fuck off.

Privilege can survive capitalism?

Next, the authors argue because these “systems of oppression” preceded capitalism, they can survive capitalism:

“Patriarchy, in particular, existed long before modern industrial capitalism and, there’s evidence to suggest, before the invention of money itself, and it’s not difficult to imagine a post-capitalist society in which oppressive gender roles still hold true.”

Really this is quite a bold statement and deserve more than a passing mention. It is akin to the dumb arguments of Moishe Postone or Robert Kurz that capitalism can collapse and leave the state intact. Capitalism is a totalizing social relation that commodifies every pre-existing relationship. It is not just patriarchy that predates capitalism, the state, money, labor, property, world trade, religion — even the proletariat itself — all existed before capitalism and do not owe their existence to capitalism. Where capitalism differs from all these older forms is not that it gives rise to them, but that it subjugates them to the same imperative: the logic of capitalist self-expansion.

All of these pre-existing relations are reconstituted on a capitalistic basis — the state is not simply taken over by capital, but is converted into the manager of the total social capital. The argument “that other oppressions won’t melt away ‘after the revolution’”, cannot be simply asserted, but must be demonstrated by examining the “laws” that govern these other oppressions, identifying what of them must survive capitalism’s demise. You cannot just simply assert white supremacy can survive capitalism, you have to demonstrate theoretically that this survival is both possible and necessary, i.e., how the material form white supremacy takes is transformed by the demise of capitalism.

The writers argue that privilege theory allows us to understand how “systems of oppression” affect each other within the sum of social relations, providing a more nuanced understanding of oppression within society:

“Kyriarchy allows us to get away from the primacy of class while keeping it very much in the picture. Just as sexism and racism divide class struggle, capitalism and racism divide gender struggles, and sexism and capitalism divide race struggles. All systems of oppression divide the struggles against all the other systems that they intersect with.”

This assertion appears more convincing than it actually is. I cannot find a single person who argues that in the absence of men (if that were possible) women would oppress themselves as women, or, in the absence of white folks, black folk would oppress themselves as blacks. However, it is quite possible, even in the absence of the capitalist class, for the working class to act as its own capitalist. It is called fascism. Even without a capitalist class that controls capitalist property, the working class in this society still manages to exploit itself through its own democratic state. While this property is legally recognized as owned by the capitalist class, control is entirely in the hands of officials elected by the working class. The fascist state is essentially capitalism without a capitalist class.

The totalizing character of capitalism implies not simply that patriarchy and white supremacy becomes forms of capitalist relations and nothing more, but even that the working class’s own political rule as a class is a specifically capitalist rule. Moreover, patriarchy is not simply left as the routine exploitation by a man of his wife’s labor, that relation itself is commodified, so the woman too can be dragged into the market for labor power. Children are dumped in warehouses call “schools” that are little more than preparation for a life of labor or prison. Capitalism takes all preexisting categories and reconstitutes them on an entirely capitalistic basis. Not to understand this is to miss the significance of the entire capitalist epoch.

How privilege theory balkanizes the struggle

However, the writers really show the fallacy underlying privilege theory when they try to explain the need for separate organizations of “the oppressed”:

“In the AF, we already acknowledge in our Aims and Principles the necessity of autonomous struggle for people in oppressed groups; but rather than analyse why this is necessary, we only warn against cross-class alliances within their struggles. The unspoken reason why it is necessary for them to organise independently is privilege. Any reason you can think of why it might be necessary, is down to privilege: the possible presence of abusers, the potential of experiences of oppression being misunderstood, mistrusted, dismissed, or requiring a huge amount of explanation before they are accepted and the meeting can move onto actions around them, even internalised feelings of inferiority are triggered by our own awareness of the presence of members of the privileged group. This may not be their fault, but it is due to the existence of systems that privilege them. The reason we need to organise autonomously is that we need to be free of the presence of privilege to speak freely. After speaking freely, we can identify and work to change the conditions that prevented us from doing so before – breaking down the influence of those systems on ourselves and lessening the privilege of others in their relations with us – but the speaking freely has to come first.”

Frankly, I am not sure how this will work, since, previously, the writers note:

“To say that somebody has white privilege isn’t to suggest that they can’t also have a whole host of other oppressions. To say that somebody suffers oppression by patriarchy doesn’t mean they can’t also have a lot of other privileges.”

So how then is it possible to have an organization of anyone that is free of “privileged” folks that just might not “trigger” someone? This silly shit is nothing more than a call for an ever more divided movement, balkanized along every possible “trigger” point imaginable. Moreover the logic of this srgument calls for precisely those who are most aware of the impact “privileges” have on those who don’t have them to withdraw from the movement at large and confine their activity in small, balkanized, isolated, “privilege-free” circles where they can somehow avoid all the impurities of “privilege” operating outside the circle. I think the writers need to go back and figure another approach to what is clearly a troubling problem within the anarchism movement.


Honestly, I thought this article would be really bad but it actually makes its points quite well, and the author isn't even trying that hard. It's funny how a lot of these identity politicks are best fought with unpretentious common sense.

some petit-bourgeois manarchists wrote this.

I for one stopped reading after the bold text.

A Fabulous article

The undefined, ill-defined and downright pathetic "concept" "system of oppression" deserves all the scorn it can get.

There is oppression and there are system-reproducing social systems. Capitalism (whatever one might call modern society) uses and reproduces racism, sexism and a number of other chauvinisms. Oppression is a condition, a self-reproducing social system is just that.

gotcha. so "systems of oppression" is an ill-defined concept (maybe it is, though i'm not so sure), but "system-reproducing social systems" is a well-defined and understood concept that is totally different? other than that it's a "condition," (just like oppression, apparently, but NOTHING like a "system of oppression") maybe you could provide a bit more of a definition of what a "system-reproducing social system" is and how it is differentiated from a "system of oppression"


A system is a configuration of things that function together as a whole. A car is a system whose components work together to let you go down the road. The planets form a system through gravitational processes which tend to make orbits stable. The capitalist *system* maintains itself through the circulation of wage labor, commodities and capital. The relation of wage labor turns most people into *workers* (and the remainder into capitalists) and consumers and thus maintain the circulation of commodities and the relation of wage labor itself. It is a self-reproducing system.

A "system of oppression" is what? Capitalism is *oppressive* but it's badness isn't what keeps it going. The theorists of "systems of oppression" are morons, they just add the term "system" because it sounds impressive in their rhetoric. "Oppression", misery, badness and so-forth aren't "systems" but conditions.

You fucking dumb-shits don't even understand what it is you are missing.

ok, maybe..but i was under the impression that those different types of oppression actually *do* play a role in perpetuation capitalism. are you saying that racism, heterosexism, ableism, none of these help maintain the world within its capitalist framework?

You're skipping the actual argument here.

Racism help perpetuate capitalism and is perpetuated by capitalism. Neither the article nor my parent post deny that.

The point is that the *term* "system of oppression" is incoherent, it is not useful analyzing how capitalism works. Capitalism is system based on wage labor, commodity production and private ownership of the means of production. It is *oppressive* in numerous ways, including provoking and maintaining sexist, racist, anti-gay and other chauvinistic attitudes.

This is the incoherent language around "systems of oppression" is related to real, dysfunctional practices in the anarchist micro-milieus. The aim of anti-capitalist uprisings is to create a collective which undermines capitalist relations as a whole. Privilege Theory pretty much says that *before* such a collective can *begin*, racism, sexism and etc must be overcome. But that's impossible because only with the space created by anti-capital uprising can we really begin to create new ways of relating.

i think there are lots of instances in which the condition of oppression functions as the social force necessary to funnel people into capitalism's expansion. for example, heteromonoganormativity is a requirement for the system of marriage to continue functioning, which exists to divide us into productive and reproductive units that more greatly resemble the images of success society has showed us our entire lives (from the perspective of a normative experience, the self-producing system being referred to), thus validating and encouraging our progression, now perhaps as a more profitable demographic or market category. conversely, identifying as queer and rejecting that standard path subjects you to oppression. that oppression is systemically enforced in order to be a deterrent so powerful it can overcome your self-knowledge. so in this way capitalism's "badness" IS what keeps it going because it is relying on a configuration of positive/negative reinforcements/punishments.

maybe the difference in understanding is in where all these systems are coming from. growth and profit may be the primary goals, but the fact that capitalist expansion simply cannot be achieved without exploitation/oppression means they become one in the same - similar to wondering about a chicken and egg situation (the egg came first, duh ^_^). i understand the rejection of oppression as a singular objective, though sadism is arguably a desirable societal goal when directed properly. capitalism is so socially and psychologically manipulative, it's systemic configuration cannot be described just by "wage labor," "commodities" and "capital." this disregards the importance of social control and romanticizes the worker. opposing capitalism in terms of class struggle alone is not enough to address its totality!

good article

"There never has been, and will never be, any revolution if people can't dissolve their character before they start it."

this is easily one of the best articles i've seen on this site ever.

This is a great pissed off rant. I think, a lot of people who are not white, mixed race or grew up in a mixed family feel the same way and just keep their mouth shut a lot of the time. People need to be realistic and even though its cliche, treat people how you want to be treated. This is sometimes harder said than done with people who grew up in all white communities. It bothers me when white activists talk about oppressed people as some sort of subject to be studied, it actually is embarassing.

"Treat people how you want to be treated." Well, if I was being a bully I'd expect to be called out on it. Yes the way white activists that talk about oppression and have to immediately turn it into some sort of scientific spectrum and talk about oppressed people like their in some lab are fucking stupid, but if some fascist bonehead with a pro-syndicate Falange philosophy tries to join my union I'm still putting the boots to 'em even if he's just as oppressed by capitalism as I am. And as far as a post revolution society is concerned if we get that far I'm sure I'd let a lot of shit slide, because of the situation, but fuck the worker drones of the capitalist pigs too.

if your analysis of fascism is that it's racist or even fits into the privilege model your analysis is terrible.

I'm pretty sure they're referring to pro-union proto-fascism. I don't think they're talking about privilege either, I think they're talking about tolerance of racist and totalitarian views.

Eugenics, cultural supremacy, and racism are key part of the fascism. I dunno about the privilege part though.

I really don't think arguments of privilege are about privilege at all. I think it's more about combating ignorance and understanding that one does not fully understand the plight of another in a far different social situation. We're poisoned by bigotry, but it's up to us to help each other understand each others' plight. I wasn't aware that people were claiming that "privilege" was something that couldn't be worked around. Honestly though being as skeptical and unassuming as possible when talking about situations of oppression one is not familiar with helps a lot. All in all this is a decent article and it got me thinking and it's critiques of the non-extrapolation of ambiguous words is spot on.

Where I agree that prejudices would not be as actively oppressive if capitalism and the state fall, I would still have to argue that not everyone is going to play by the rules and Xenophobia and Bigotry are infectious. Also I'd like to add that fucking up bigots should always be an option. Not necessarily ignorant bigots, because education can cure that, but certain scum suckers just don't deserve to have resources wasted on them.

Let's be clear.

A wide variety of theories would agree that it is important to see things from other people's viewpoints.

What's unique about "privilege theory" is that it view privilege as so poisonous that it must be rooted out *before* people of different backgrounds can work together *at all*. IE, it calls for separate suborganizations of oppressed people, etc.

The final result is basically fucking nuts. The goal of destroying capitalist society is generally put on hold in favor of rooting out "oppressors in our midst" and things degenerate in the fashion that can be observed in the little anarcho-groupoids.

To be fair, "privilege theory" is the cause of cultish behavior within leftist and/or anarcho grouplets. Rather, it is a ideology which naturally accompanies the tendency toward paranoid group reification.

This is complete garbage. I won't waste too much time with it...but my favorite part is when the author suggest that fascism = working class people - capitalism. ((whoever this pure "working class" mass is? apparently not one and the same with the "capitalist class??))

"However, it is quite possible, even in the absence of the capitalist class, for the working class to act as its own capitalist. It is called fascism. Even without a capitalist class that controls capitalist property, the working class in this society still manages to exploit itself through its own democratic state. While this property is legally recognized as owned by the capitalist class, control is entirely in the hands of officials elected by the working class. The fascist state is essentially capitalism without a capitalist class."

Hilarious logic. Flipping the script all over the place.

Seriously, to critique the use of the word privilege and make dozens of assumptions and then use fascism so incorrectly.

The fascism comment is a weak point but it really doesn't have much to do with the rest of article, which is excellent. Self-managed capitalism is possible but that doesn't matter that much, the working class has defended capitalism many times. It is only the particular situation of a communist revolt that results in something different.

All the assumptions the article makes about "privilege theory" seem clear and defendable.

The article makes mince-meat out of the so-called "theory" that anarchists have around oppression. It correctly targets the ridiculous, unexamined, undefendable term "system of oppression".

1. Fascism always starts as a working class movement.

2. The "capitalist class" are not the lower or middle class workers who support capitalism, they are the the class of producers, the ones that own the "means of production", the corporations, sit on the board of companies.

3. Fascism does not = working class people - capitalism.

4. Fascism = alot of working class support + corporate/state merger and rule (the state upholds capitalism and fascism still has a capitalist class).

5. Capitalism is still a part of fascism

6. Capitalism is at its strongest in fascism.

7. Capitalism is different in fascism than it is say, in the US and that is a different type and strength of capitalism then in China (which by the way is not really communist).

8. Capitalism as a system of certain social relationships purposefully perpetuates oppressive social relations such as racism, patriarchy with a directed vigor not seen in other socio-economic systems.

9. Capitalism is also more cancerous then any other socio-economic system, seeping into and influencing other systems and all aspects of life, our social relations.

10. Capitalism must be destroyed, especially in its dominant form Fascism.

11. It could be argued that the statist socio-economic system of communism is capitalist. I would argue that it isn't, it is another production based economy though, which is also problematic. Seeing that I have not heard too many arguments as to why statist communism is capitalist I am welcome to hear some.

I would say it's more protectionist economics mixed with capitalism then plain capitalism, but yeah, I guess the common usage definition of capitalism has become something else.

actually, fascism often starts off as a petit bourgeois movement...the idea that fascism is worker self-management as capitalism is pretty ridiculous. every existing form of fascism involved collaboration between the working class and big capitalists. these capitalists were not displaced by working class representatives at all.

"the idea that fascism is worker self-management as capitalism is pretty ridiculous." thank you, jesus fucking christ.

"You can be as damned racist as you want to be. As long as it does not affect me, I could give a shit."
What a selfish and counter-revolutionary way of looking at things. Boot parties on all the racists! :D

Its not just outlook that privelage theory is meant to effect, its habits. Criticising homeforeclosure activisism as midle class is probably coming from a place of middle class individualist conditioned narcissism, even whike that person is claiming victimhood (and rightfully so). If privelage theory doesn't apply, why does my family sing the praises of a western wkrld that within the last century tried to whipe us off the earth? Were white, but only so long as were assimilated into mainstream America. Special interests could in a second decide that my family is representative of an element that they don't want in their society and put into place a series of propoganda and laws designed to instigate ethnic tensions. They don't, why? Because we stopped beinga threat to any sort of order about 40 years ago and are jow middle class white people in funny hats, and they see themselves as that. That's really where American zionism comes from. Go back 40 years Israel was considerably not an interest to the overwhelming majority of American Jews, who were more interested in civil rights and conventional "leftist" causes. Still many are to a large degree. But the cultural dislocation of Ashkenazi Jews and institutional solidity is where our current apathy and downright chauvinism in many cases comes from, even if many of us still hold onto some remnants of an oppressive past. I.e. America was good to us, Israel is representative of western values, Muslims and Arabs aren't fans of the free market so probably don't deserve their own country. And its not just us, most groups from the Irish to the Italians can say that middle clas America has pretty much become their identity. Social hierarchy becomes much.more obscured, especiallh during economic depression, and in the end is probably the one thing that we will be able to whipe out that easily.

I agree with you in long term outlook, but to say its bullshit...Its meant to wake up white kids from the burbs who say stupid things like...well, see criticism of home foreeclosure activism. Yeah, he's, and I'm being assumptive, probably not middle class but at some point probably was and has shaped his identity, and maybe his megalomania.

Interestingly enough Amaerican zionists rale against Marxism while overlooking the fact that Marxism is very popular in Israel from European state socialists to revolutionary Trotskyists. One of the reasons for the break up of the labor part was many drifted further left, not the other way around. The Israeli Anarchist community is about 500 people in a country of 12 million. Definite cultural dislocation between the two. I lived in Jerusalem for a bit.

Even the attitudes towards terrorism are bread from privelage. The best responses towards acts of terror against civilians, which I'm not condoning are " put yourself in their shoes." The clash of civilizations: two countries with Mcdonalds will never go to war with one another. This is still a desent rant against a theory which when practical is true when obsolete is destructive and counterproductive. Identity politics should be about self criticism not self loathing or across the board dogma, false expectations too.

How well has the "saying stuff that doesn't make sense and advocating strategies doomed to defeat in order to 'wake people up'" approach been working so far?

"Bullshit" is actually good term for an ideology that mixes some good, important ideas with some confused ideas and reactive psychology.

I would claim that to destroy capitalism, the whole of the working class has to grasp that capitalism is against their interests and to create ways of acting collectively against. So basically we need to avoid both separatist ideology and avoid ideology which focuse other maybe-slightly-less-dispossessed-people as the enemy. The doesn't means racism or sexism or homophobia or any other prejudice should be ignored but they need to be overcome while we are working together to destroy the system rather than being overcome first, before the struggle begins (which is ultimately what all the privilege theorists wide-up saying).

good luck getting the majority of the planet to agree on a single thing, nerd. being working class is not inherently revolutionary, as both sides of the picket line are workers.

*WE* dont need to avoid anything, because people (in the most general sense) should do what ever it is that they think is correct, truth will follow.

TRUTH WILL FOLLOW sounds like a good campaign slogan for a immoral vanguardist fascist.

more like LIES WILL LEAD...

Wait is the author making fun of trigger warnings?
Uck, what a fucking tool.

I thought that was the best part!

Tell a rape victim with PTSD that.

Or physically assaulted for his ethnicity. I agree with some of this subjectively but like privelage theory its way too broad. Fun to read though


If someone really triggered by articles which attack privilege theory, then the warning is real, right?

There's nothing a rape victim appreciates more...than a trigger warning.

I went as a trigger warning for halloween every costume I saw at the local bar that might trigger for someone I would stand in front of just to let everyone know that it may trigger I met a bunch of girls who thought I was cool but they just ended up wanting to b friends

yea I agree with this 100%. Glad you said it. Rant all you want but minimizing other heavy shit while complaining about your own heavy shit being minimized is ... stupid.

This is great! More outraged comments please. I love it when academic purists get all tossed up when one of the "oppressed" throws their logic out the window.

lol at academic purists

Decent article, it has some good criticism and some bullshit, but it's a dialogue that needs to be had.


We need the dialog

But it's funny how little counter-argument there is here. There's not a single "Privilege Theory is X and I defend it" post. There's either "yes" or "ho, hum, weak" or sniping at some detail (yes, the fascism comment is off but that's a really small part of the article).

I'm trying to figure what the right wedge would be start the dialog which forces the "privilege theorists" to defend their stuff would be. In the 90's, identity politics had something like an autonomous existence as a kind of theory. Now, it seems like we just wind-up with identity politics added as a half-assed addendum to one or another current theory. "Lies Journal" adding stuff to "Communisation", Privilege Theory added to "Class Struggle Anarchism", "Race Traitor" adding stuff to "Anti-State Communism" and so-force.

The article is one good step towards seeing that capitalism itself is not a frigging "system of oppression" but, I like I said, we see people not wanting to engage with strong theory here.

"The working class are not angels — quite the contrary, when your next meal depends on getting that job, another worker is your enemy as much, and even more so, than the capitalist; the next guy is trying to keep food out of the mouths of your kids."

I'm black and work at a factory with almost all poor, single mothers - and I have never before seen among them the levels of rude, unethical, nasty, back-stabbing competitiveness that I have witnessed among white academic women. They work together, not against one another.

It's what I've also experienced, the commonalty retain their down to earth human qualities, they have no great expectations, humility and genuine feelings are free, like time, there is no agenda other than to make it through the day. Ironically the capitalists make us stronger the more they try to suppress us. We are not jet-setters, we find beauty in everyday experiences. Nothing can ever be bland when the mind's imagination contemplates reality.

I never said any of those things, and I really don't fucking appreciate you attributing ANY of them to me, NOR attributing ANY thoughts to me at all from your own cliche-ridden toilet of a mind.

Well then it seems you, in your bitter resentment for life, your mechanical factory mentality, need an hypothetical scenario to awaken you from your nasty petty perceptions. Imagine, OK, let's make this a tad more extreme and entertaining than the workerist factory world you inhabit by imagining you're an underdeveloped illiterate indigenous alcoholic sleeping in bus terminals, who has AIDS and a lisp, whose former ancestors were hunter/gatherer warriors, evicted from your tribal lands, and you find a suitcase with 1 million dollars of untraceable currency. You're still under-privileged right? Soooo, attitude rules, or identity? Do you know the difference? OK, try this! Society IS the cliché! Can you grasp that concept?

I'm almost positive the quality of my life is better than yours...

just quietly waiting for you to commit suicide..

Suicide is not in my vocabulary. I may get hit by a runaway train, or shot by police, but no, you will be waiting until your own demise if you expect suicide. Why don't you arrange for a hitman? If you give me 2,000 dollars I'll give you my location, saves you alot of frustration. You sound VERY frustrated, sad :(

Nope, not frustrated at all....You sound like a basketcase. Which is precisely what you are.

I am an anarchist firstly, and a basket case secondly! At least I have my priorities in order, and I'm happy, not frustrated, which you are in denial of in your own condition. Emancipation requires firstly -
1- An admission of failure to identify and relate to specific social inequalities, from which stage -
2- Rebelling against and opposing hierarchical institutional conformity, including,,,(and this is pertinent to your particular bitter condition),,,adopting an empathy for common grievances by workers enmeshed within the totality of slave morality.

well said, Im not clear at all what this post has to do with anarchism or liberation specifically as an ideology - there is an excitement of using anarchism as a way to channel personal individual misanthropy and desire to standout but has zero to do with liberation or community anything. That mindset has been corrupting and shutting down the movement for too long. Im so over rants about people's personal shit. It is tedious individualist minirebellions over nothing.

And that is exactly what this article is.

no, this is a rant *over* something. obviously written by a racist.

Yeah, the "individualist minirebellions over nothing" is a really accurate concise description of how the movement, which is not really a 'movement' because its precept is quintessentially to melt down and deconstruct all preceding cultural ethos, yet it must organise itself to enable a process of introducing the theory and creating community praxis. The narcissistic rather than individualistic I prefer as the minirebellious descriptive, considering the nuances which exist and confuse newcomers who are unfamiliar with Stirner and his exact definition beyond Western egotistical interpretations.
You're right, the article is all self-absorbed chatter of little significance. One says to the author, "Get a life, a heart, a weapon, something beyond petty me me me obsessions"

your goofy marie calloway gossip-core theory isn't really relevant to this conversation (or anything, really)

It is if you're having a sexual relationship with her (gossip) and you happen to be an under-privileged indigenous person trapped in a white body!!!

everyone's so proud of you for getting laid. quite an accomplishment.

It is my opinion that this portends something is very, very wrong - in particular - with that culture. Military, politics, and academia are the strongholds of empire. So maybe it's no surprise.


This essay barely makes sense. I see it was originally written on a twitter. It is extremely disjointed, and the logic is lamentable, when it's not downright laughable.

Oppression of all kinds will indeed outlive capitalism.

Do people have assigned spots in the pits?

No, however, all the traders dealing with a certain delivery month (September, for example) trade in the same "pie slice"-shaped section of a pit. In addition, brokers, who work for institutions and/or the general public typicaly stand at the edges of the pit. From this position, they can easily see other traders and have easy access to their runners (who bring orders from phone booths) and an unobstructed view of the firm's trading booths, from which they may receive flashed orders. The locals, who trade only for themselves, typically stand in the center of the pit.

Why do traders wear colored jackets?

Exchange rules dictate that personnel on the trading floor must wear jackets and ties, but business attire is not tailored to the physical demands of the trading pit. So the trading jacket was developed as a lightweight, loose-fitting alternative in which a trader may move more freely.

Some member brokerage firms have large floor staffs. In practice, all the staff from the same brokerage firm wear the same color jackets, which sometimes also bear the company name or logo, in much the same manner that sports teams wear uniforms. This helps the staff find each other on the crowded trading floor. The jackets also help for easy recognition during active trading.

Independent traders often wear trading jackets in colors of their own choosing or they sometimes wear the same color of jacket as that of the member firm that clears their trades.

Why do traders shout and use hand signals?

Trading is conducted through a public auction system. Their is no central auctioneer; each trader plays that role for himself. Through open outcry, the trader shouts the quantity of the commodity he is buying or selling, and the corresponding price he wants. The hand signals are a specialized sign language which clarify the traders verbal bids and offers, particularly when trading is highly active.

What do the hand signals mean?

A trader with his palm facing inward signals a wish to buy; one with his palm outward signals a wish to sell. Each finger held vertically indicates quantity. Fingers extended horizontally express the price at which the bid or offer is made.

Why not trade by computer?

In 1994, the CBOT®launched Project A®, an electronic trading system, and most recenlty, in August 2000, the CBOT®replaced Project A®with a/c/e (Alliance/CBOT®/Eurex). The a/c/e platform is used to expand trading time after the close of the traditional open outcry trading hours to offer our members, member firms and customers additional trading opportunities. The a/c/e platform had a volume of more than 280,000 contracts during it's first week of operaton.

The open outcry is the primary market. The open outcry method lends more liquidity to the market because of the number of trades involved and the ability to negotiate price face to face. To negotiate price by computer each trader has to type in a price, then wait for a reply.

Sure, working people who have something are more likely to fight over that something than working people who have next to nothing.

I've driven a Taxi. Other drivers are happy to take your fare. That's how that systems works. I've worked in an office where everyone was well paid and people generally didn't stab each other in the back - IE, another factor is if a work place requires working together to get a final outcome, well, back stabbing is less common. So a factory full of poor people would be a place where I'd expected cooperation. That doesn't mean if take the same people out and put them in academia they wouldn't fight each other 'cause the college work environment is currently organized like a cage fight.

Yeah, the article could have mention competition varies by workplace and situation. But I don't think that really detracts from the overall argument: capitalism -> competition -> racism/sexism/multiple-discriminations.

That isn't the overall argument. The person who wrote this is a social darwinist. And it seems pretty clear that they think humans "innately" behave this way. I don't care if it's a black person who eats dirt for a living who wrote it (it's not.). It's complete garbage.

Did they really quote the fucking Anarchist Federation???

“In the AF, we already acknowledge in our Aims and Principles the necessity of autonomous struggle for people in oppressed groups; but rather than..." blah blah blah

Yo FYI, Federations are usually fuuucked up. BUT the higher the economic class the different the motives and world view someone has. Its something to be cautious of since capitalism does perpetuate other forms of oppression and racism for instance doesnt necessarily perpetuate capitalism

"BUT the higher the economic class the different the motives and world view someone has. Its something to be cautious .."

it has more to do with"culture" than economics... get out into the wide world. do the math.

The whole mocking the trigger warning is fucked up..... c'mon what if someone is in a bad mind set and need something to read and focus on and they just see that and are like woah fuck this. It also trivializes that shit yo

agreed however I don't think "triggers" were trivialized here but rather it's the identity politicians who have trivialized the term "trigger."
It's important to be respectful of people who've lived through something that might actually cause them distress to relive or remember however the way some people use the term "trigger" seems to point to petty butt hurt or this one time this one white male said something mean to me.
Basically the comfort of a "victim's" blanket.
It happens so often that when I read that warning.
I loled.
pretty hard.

Please try to be aware that saying "butt hurt" may be triggering to some.

"Butt hurt" - an internet slang term that refers directly and mockingly to trauma from anal rape. Gee, I wonder why it's associated with trigger warnings?


Nice job making up a definition for a string of words you happen not to like but no.
Butt hurt is what wheapy children experience after a spnking. Your twisted obsessive mind is what transformed that phrase into having anything to do with rape

So there ya go, you dumb fucking identity politician.
Sorry for your butt hurt.
Sorry I chapped your ass. (Can't say that either can I. All mention of the ass should from now on include a trigger warning for dumb shits such as yourself.)

Why is there an assumption that rape victims are unable to read an article that has the word "rape" in it and that they needs to be treated like a baby that can't take care of themselves?

You know what's triggering to me? Society, police, jail. And nobody gave me a fucking trigger warning for it. It's also funny how trigger warnings are only placed on things that specifically (or even just broadly) talk about rape/sexual assault when people are typically triggered more by mundane things that remind them of a traumatizing event. It's just a total misunderstanding of how trauma works for most people.

What's interesting is this is only ever used for sexual assault related things. I've never seen trigger warning on literally anything else. Even though if you follow this logic it would make complete sense, for instance, that there would be a trigger warning on an article dealing with the holocaust, something millions of people alive today were affected by.

I'm pretty sure it's because of the PTSD related to sexual assault. There is a sense of babying, but let's say and article graphically describes a rape...I think a trigger warning is something to be considered there.

I don't think you understand how gas chambers work.

Trigger warning function for everybody. You don't have to fit into the category of victim or survivor to appreciate trigger warnings. I use trigger warnings when presenting about the systemic use of rape as a tool of control sure but also when showing films that show corpses or police brutality- those are all disturbing things that are hard to witness regardless of ones personal experience with them. don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, just because a certain millieu you may not politically agree with uses it doesn't mean trigger warnings aren't helpful for talking about hard stuff.

I mean, technically, warnings of all sorts have been used for a long time and they should be. Some people just don't want to see gore, rape, extreme violence etc. But if it's fucking ridiculous, petty and/or borderline silly you can't just accept it because of the intention. Not to mention, the feminist "community" is split on this issue as well, some blogs think the concept has gone entirely too far bordering on absurd, which it has. It might be a better idea to figure out how and who pushed it to that point. It is why people get fed up with identity politics, you can't take things seriously when irrationality becomes somewhat consistent across the board.

Excellent post.
--best line in the piece:
"... why do I have to wait until you stop being racist, or do you have to wait until I stop being homophobic, for both of us to be freed from the competition within which your racism and my homophobia is materially expressed?"

Wait, and wait, and wait, indeed. Might this be why the Billionaire's foundations spend billions of dollars setting up entire departments at universities across the globe to teach separatism in the name of fighting oppression? Hint - if David Rockefeller supports what you do, you are probably being played as a 'useful idiot', however well-meaning you are.

In that spirit, let's try an experiment:
Just for a few moments, we can consider 'privileges', racism, genderism, religionism, etc as 'handles' which are used to manipulate people.

Now imagine if we discontinued putting our energies into a totalitarian effort to 'make everyone good' by removal of said handles, recognizing that this would entail a complete reworking of the innately nepotistic and tribal nature of human beings, as this nature is expressed within the current system of artificial scarcity.

Now imagine that we, instead, recognized that most human attributes, both 'good' and 'bad', are epigenetic (responding to the environment). Given this foundation of understanding, wouldn't it be most constructive to co-create a context where these propensities are least likely to be activated?

It it not *fear* of not having food, shelter, etc - for the self or family / tribe - which is the driver of *force*, whether under capitalism, monarchism, or any other 'ism'? Is it not the deprivation of these things which is utilized to make people *do* things in exchange for the system's permission to continue simply living? Is not that *fear* the primary epigenetic-driver of cruel tendencies which harm others?

Does it not follow, that when every individual is endowed with their share of the Earth, they will no longer be *under duress*? In addition to creating an environment less likely to manifest cruel human traits, would this arrangement not also have the added benefit of allowing every individual to *freely* cooperate with whom they choose. Would that, alone, not liberate every person from the threat of being 'oppressed' by any individual or group, including those who might retain elements of racism, genderism, religionism, etc?

terrible definition of fascism in here, but otherwise the piece is spot on.


"privilege theory" is a tool used by a dominant person, or a person who wishes to assert their dominance, to win an argument. If used by the correct kind of person, i.e. one who is a member of a recognized "oppressed class", it is an instant winner - either the person on the other end of the tool submits and drops their argument, or they walk away. "Check your privilege" is another way of saying "Agree with me, or leave." It's one of the most useful tools of authoritarian oppression ever conceived.

Privilege is a term which summarizes a condition of status. It is not a theory in itself, one may also be under-privileged. Is there an 'under-privileged theory'
I don't think it is solely an authoritarian tool, that's a broad and vague statement.

It's used to cut off debate and to stop argument. It's used by authoritarians masquerading as "anarchists" to assert domination over other people. I've even seen it used by upper-middle-class white university students on working-class white kids, and it has the effect of driving them away - and thoroughly marginalizing them. It's a dishonest conversationalist gambit, and it creates divisions and alienates people.

I think that this happens. I know it does; I've seen it. I totally get it. But the fact that this happens does not in ANY WAY excuse the reactionary thinking exemplified in this dogshit article.

Lololol !!
"authoritarians masquerading as "anarchists" ". That's like ummm, informants, undercover cops, or yuppies? Where the fuck does a statement like that come from?

"cut off debate and to stop an argument"!! WTF type of sit around the table sipping latté fucking culture do you derive from? Fuck me, I'll fucking flip the fucking table over and start some fucking stompin'. Lololol

PS, Not a personal attack on you, just saying why the hell are working class kids taking this alienation when they should be out there fighting in the streets, just makes me angry, kids have gotta start standing up!!! You only get one shot at life, anarchists have gotta live it to the fullest or else all is lost.....Sorry.

In almost 90% of the occasions in which people get in the streets and fight the police, it's a losing situation - and not for the police. Either the people doing the fighting get arrested and run through the "justice system" which takes their money and puts them or their supporters into debt (bail funds, attorneys fees, court costs, probation, jail) or they get the shit kicked out of them or get killed or end up with PTSD. This isn't a winning stategy. There's certainly ways of standing up which don't involve driving your force into your opponent's power - that's a way to lose, not win. Direct confrontation against a force which has superior arms will result in defeat. You have to figure out how to go around their force, or direct it in a way that is advantageous to you. I've seen exactly none of that done by anarchists.... pick up a copy of Sun Tzu and memorize it and apply that; look at youtube videos of demosand see how the police apply it, because that's exactly where they draw their strategy and tactics from.

"Check your privilege" has been used in inappropriate ways, but checking each-other on own bigotry is important in any radical community. People from certain privileged backgrounds are at times ignorant of others' struggles. At the same time though it can be communicated in other more appropriate ways. For instance checking people on there ignorance might be a more appropriate thing to say or maybe in some situations, "Shut the fuck up whitey."

""The unspoken reason why it is necessary for them to organise independently is privilege. Any reason you can think of why it might be necessary, is down to privilege: . . . even internalised feelings of inferiority are triggered by our own awareness of the presence of members of the privileged group.""

If someone wants to forever stew in the juices of their self-perceived inferiority . . . who are we to stop them?

I know this is Bizarre to you, but some people (who are in no way *inferior* to you in reality) care about people around them, and justice. I know, you're never going to believe that; it's so very "unnatural". Why are you ANYWHERE near a social movement???

I did say self-percieved, didn't I? Maybe a tad bit too much sarcasm though. But again, you say 'care about people around them'. It's a mindset. It makes me sad when people cut themselves off from the rest of the good in the world, even for good reason.

You should think about how self-deception can be averted, because it is a reification in itself which is forced upon us by the state. Cutting oneself off is not a voluntary choice, it is an imposition.

I'll second this, you so well destroyed the lie that is status and how it is internalized within cultural ethos.

You know, when I was growing up I had a black mammy. She was wonderful, and we loved her, and treated her VERY well. I consider her to be part of the family. Therefore, racism does not exist.

People are innately evil and cruel. Nepotism and tribal isolationism is natural. The important thing is that we overcome capitalism. Then everyhting will be great, in the promised land. Like heaven. None of that other stuff matters. It's all just babies whining about nonsense.

There's no such thing as passive privilege. All privilege is natural, based on each person's true potential to compete in physical and intellectual environments.

Let us have this important, contrarian conversation. This is probably stuff you thought, but were afraid to say. (It's okay, I'm black. And I give you permission to be racist.)

(slow hand claps)

NO! Not slow hand claps but rapid jabs to your face! Your god is a deformed twisted figment of your imagination, and I will stomp on it hah :)

Nepotism and Tribal Isolation are Survival-Tactic Responses To Scarcity.

Show me one parent who would sacrifice their own baby to save a stranger's baby - or sacrifice a baby of their own tribe/culture for that of a foreign tribe. This aspect of human nature is not going away as long as people are threatened by potential non-existence for themselves or their offspring.

The best way to combat the *Expression* of these tendencies, (including wars) is to end scarcity. The only way to end scarcity, is to remove the monopoly-control over land and resources, such that these, and products from them, like 'food' and 'places to live' will not be manipulated by the monopolists to the 'optimum price point' for 'maximum profit'.

And the only way to prevent monoplies from forming, is for everyone to have an equal share of the Earth and its Resources.

Utopia, heaven? Probably not, but a hell of a lot better than where we stand today. And if some bigots live in the 'next holler' - you won't have to trade with them, or share a 'representative' in a 'government' to rule over you. Let them inbreed their blue-eyed selves to extinction.

So, talking about privileges, let's say I have a "system" of privileges, like a windows Active Directory, where individuals have individual privileges granted by administrators, as well as privileges as part of whatever groups they belong to, which could be more than one.

A person's account will have access to various resources, files and programs, but also configuration options, dependent on what privileges have been granted.

Essentially, an individual with administrative privileges, that is, a person with absolute power over the system, in both physical but sometimes, only in remote access, could do something as drastic as reboot the system, or even install and/or run a different system with different privileges and even different users.

So, privilege is very real.

This article was bad. Anarchist do things that anarchists find important, without feeling the need to include the rest of society or get anyone's permission. That's fine.
Anarchists who have some specific interests, people of color or women, say, do things that they find important and don't feel the need to get permission or validation from the wider anarchist "community" either. Speaking from my own experience, I get tired of having to explain the same things to every white person I come across, or having to justify what I decide to do, so sometimes I prefer to just work with people who are already on the same page, which often means people of my own ethnic group. If that's "advocating separatism" then fine, that's what it is, but its sure easier and more efficient in getting me what I want than arguing with people who don't care/want different things than I do.
And for people who say "well why can't we just have an all white/male/heterosexual group then?", you probably already do have that, so nothing is going to change for you.

mcDonalds is efficent and easy too. u always get "what u wunt"

Fuck bullies, bourgeoisie, and especially fuck the ignorant and over-privileged. NWBCW

This is Jehu. Thanks for the comments, even the negative ones. I should explain that I am not an anarchist, but a communist from a Marxist background. So, although I discussed privilege theory within the context of a document written by anarchists, my argument is not directed at anarchist communism, but specifically privilege theory advocates.

I want to clarify some things I touched on in the post:

1. Privilege theory is not a theory at all, since it cannot define its terms. It can neither explain why all the various forms of oppression, exploitation and prejudice can be lumped into a single category, nor why they should be lumped in a single category. Moreover, it cannot explain the relation between problems of social relations within the movement to problems of social relation between the movement, on the one hand, and capitalism and the state on the other hand.

2. Privilege theory does not address the whole movement. It offers no direction for the least disadvantaged elements of the movement -- white, straight males. Instead it addresses only those who are disadvantaged by capitalist competition within the working class.

3. Privilege theory is unrealistic in that it assumes people passively enjoy their privileges, when all evidence is to the contrary: namely, that people consciously and deliberately exploit their advantages to get what they want.

4. Privilege theory has nothing to say about how competitive disadvantages and non-class forms of exploitation work in the absence of the state and capitalist competition, even though it argues these prejudices and non-class forms of exploitation can exist in the absence of the state and capitalist competition.

5. Privilege theory is, by nature sectarian and divisive, since it calls for the movement to be balkanized along every imaginable division existing within the working class and offers no argument for how these divisions can be overcome -- except to postpone this overcoming to some future when the unprivileged feel they can now speak up.

6. Privilege theory proposes that very real structures of domination, like white supremacy and patriarchy, can survive the demise of capitalism. This suggests white supremacy and patriarchy have their own laws of development that are not identical with those of capitalist relations of production. If this is true, those who advocate privilege theory have a responsibility to uncover these laws and demonstrate their capacity to continue even in the absence of capitalist relations of production.

7. Privilege theory suggests, although it does not directly argue, that the working class must somehow be cleansed of its prejudices before the social revolution can be accomplished. This is a basic ambiguity in the privilege argument that must be clarified.

8. Privilege theory should be criticized precisely because it calls on activists who are most sensitive to prejudice within the movement to withdraw from the movement into what can only be characterized as "privilege-free circles" outside the movement, rather than adding their voices to the struggle to combat prejudice within the movement. As a guide to action, privilege theory is a cop out, since it effectively leaves the movement as a whole in the hands of those it criticizes for being most privileged.

I hope this helps to clarify my argument.

a black man has the same opportunities as a white man in contemporary society?
a white transwoman has the same opportunities as a white "straight" female?
a woman with a disability has the same opportunities as an "able bodied" woman?
a working class man has the same opportunities as a bourgeois man?
a gay man has the same opportunities as a "straight" male?

privilege exists as the dualistic relationship requires one member to oppress the "other".
one is privileged, while the other is subordinated. even more importantly, one is normalized while the other is marginalized. it is how we continually redefine what is normal and what is or more importantly what should not be normal. and this has everything to do with with neoliberalism, governments and power.

the damage is done where normal is defined, as it precludes that there is "not normal", this is nature of our langauge, the problem of the signifier.


Privilege only exists where some individuals have 'power over' other individuals. Get rid of that structure, and these 'minority' defintion / aspects no longer have an effect on those to whom they apply.

Jehu here.

I am pretty sure I made none of those arguments. In fact, I took issue with the privilege theory in that paper because it assume "privilege (competitive advantages within the working class) are passive. Given the history within the labor movement of deliberately shutting women and folks of color out of jobs, I argue these advantages are aggressively employed as a strategy by those who enjoy them.

So what is the solution to this? Is it privilege theory? Not a chance. It is directing the movement's attention to abolishing competition. If everyone has a job, then no group is hit by high rates of unemployment, unequal pay, and other assorted forms of discrimination. The problem is not one of "privilege" in anarchist circles, so it cannot be fixed by creating "privilege-free circles". The problem is rampant competition in society, which privilege theory never addresses nor offers any solution for.

"Privilege theory should be criticized precisely because it calls on activists who are most sensitive to prejudice within the movement to withdraw from the movement into what can only be characterized as "privilege-free circles" outside the movement, rather than adding their voices to the struggle to combat prejudice within the movement. As a guide to action, privilege theory is a cop out, since it effectively leaves the movement as a whole in the hands of those it criticizes for being most privileged."

I used to be very critical of people separating themselves by sex and class, etc. Seeing that it just reinforces apartheid and segregation, etc. I still believe that to be somewhat true.

However, the sad fact is that there is only so much one can take in an environment that is consistently dehumanising, where class lines, both imaginary and real, are daily and purposely drawn, and no one is listening to you, or is purposely misunderstanding and deforming everything you say.

As far as I can see, Deep Green Resistance, despite their many other issues (I am still studying them, and do not agree point by point by any stretch of the imagination) is the only consistently feminist organisation (or "non") in the international anarchist milieu.

Mostly, anarchism seems to be a movement for the privileged, and self-selected "privileged" who like to fuck shit up, who neither have any plan or care about what things are to be like after the "glorious revolution", nor care for the actual conditions of people before this supposed "coming rapture" of violence, despite the many interesting ideas buzzing within it.

Separation is sometimes necessary for health. And, if one sees that a "movement" is more than 90% corrupt, dishonest, and mimicking the state, I'm not so sure they should lend their body nor body of the thought to that movement. There is little hope of it changing, unless movements are formed outside of it - there is going to be more territory "outside" than "in" - then it can infiltrate. That is the logic. Break the master's tools, and do not step into his house as a servant - only if you can take it over.

that dickhead derrick jensen only wrote one good thing, and that was the chapter on pacifism in Endgame.

The concepts of privilege and oppression are as important and potentially unifying as they can be “derailing” and “divisive”. The one word I missed in your argument is “intersectionality”.
The concept of intersectional oppression is useful here. The idea is that one form of oppression + another form of oppression does not equal double the oppression, but instead that different experiences of oppression build on and reinforce each other exponentially. This goes the same for privilege.
I have never heard someone say “we have to dismantle all systems of oppression besides capitalism before we can begin anti-capitalist struggle”. This assertion is ridiculous and inaccurate. What I HAVE heard is “make power while taking power” (from Sista II Sista in Brooklyn). What I HAVE heard is “dismantling patriarchy is impossible without dismantling capitalism” and “dismantling white supremacy is impossible without dismantling capitalism”. This is the argument that broadens a base and builds an actual revolutionary movement.
Dismissing “identity politics” as “trivial” and “divisive” is missing the point entirely. So is insular engagement only with people mirroring your oppression who understand your specialized academic jargon. Identity politics are the very ways we can politicize the personal. They are the very ways we can connect with and understand each other’s liberation as bound up with our own. If you let “identity politics” be redefined as “useless” and “trivial” you are throwing away a super-powerful unifying tool, a way to articulate why anyone else should give a damn about your revolution. Were you born a radical? In this world that seems pretty impossible. You must have had a learning curve. You must have had a reason to ask questions. If you’re doing a bunch of work against oppression on someone else’s behalf without feeling the need for it personally, you’re doing it wrong. Whites should work to dismantle white supremacy because it humanizes them, not just to “rescue” people of color. “Men” and cis people should work to dismantle patriarchy because it humanizes them, not just to “rescue” everyone else. Also, that way people can stop wasting half their lives trying to heal from trauma caused by some selfish idiot’s thoughtless attack on them.
They can put that energy towards the revolution we all want. I think people talking about identity politics often are doing so in an attempt to be heard by their communities. Interpersonal violence normalizes and invisibilizes institutional violence. We get used to capitalism because we act it out on each other. We accept institutional oppression because it mirrors, reinforces, and arises from social norms.
Also, I agree that trigger warnings may be inappropriately used, or perhaps that violence is so pervasive in this society that you really can’t make a move without acting some bullshit out. I strongly disagree that trigger warnings are useless or divisive. I strongly disagree with the sentiment that if you’re going to give a trigger warning for one thing you’d have to give them for everything and people who ask for or use them are big whiny babies. Triggers cause flashbacks. Have you ever had a flashback? Do you know what one feels like, what it looks like? Is there a reason you think people should get used to them? Of course we have to build our resilience and do healing work. Does this mean exposure to triggers? Yes. Does shaming someone make them stronger? Not that I’ve ever seen. It just promotes emotional distancing and dishonesty. If we want a strong, resilient movement we need to acknowledge wounds and work to heal them.

p.s. of course the person who wrote this is a Marxist. Now it makes more sense.

p.p.s: also, everyone has triggers. healing work done by (a) survivors of sexual assault and abuse provides a model for the rest of us to follow with our own healing. Understanding how trauma works only benefits ALL OF US because it is harder for the white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchal state to use it as a tool of control.

One of the central failures of this article is its claim that oppression is always an intentional, active process. But so much of our socialization leads us to ignore our own privilege. In many ways, it is privilege that is passively silent, and oppression that is *silenced.*

An example: When many cisgender "anti-oppression" activists don't know about a lot of the ways transphobia and gender normativity manifest, how the hell can we expect people who have never heard of intentional, non-normative gender variance to be aware of (how far-reaching) their privilege (is)?

*expect cisgender people

If you don't like this article you are prob racist, for real.

Aren't you post-leftists supposed to be *anti*-identity politics? What's up with your cries of bigotry?

"Racism certainly doesn’t go away, but really, who gives a fuck? You can be as damned racist as you want to be. As long as it does not affect me, I couldn't give a shit" - Jehu (author)

what the fuck.
how can anyone on this site enjoy this article.

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
Enter the code without spaces.