There is an interesting anecdote doing the rounds at the moment, written by Field Ruwe, a Zambian novelist and journalist currently based in California.
It tells the story of a chance meeting on a plane between Ruwe and ‘Walter’, a former IMF official now working in a similar capacity for another organisation. On realising that Ruwe is from a country with which Walter has had some connection, a conversation is struck up. Walter starts by boasting of the pleasant time he had in Zambia, when he came as part of an IMF delegation to “rip you guys off”, and that he is about to repeat the scam under the auspices of a different organisation; of the theft of native American land and of the exploitation that the Bwana (masters, often used to denote whites) reap from the spoils of their trickery. Rowe silently reacts and on noticing his reaction, Walter aknowledges the fundamental similarity of people of differing pigmentations.
Over on искра/iskra, Kit Withnail has been thinking over the whole “chav” culture and the way in which it is looked down and the snobbery associated with the use of the term.
I have problems with the whole “classism”(discrimination on the basis of class) narrative. Class is a relationship to the means of production, discrimination on the basis of class is a given – people who own the means of production *automatically* have more power than those who don’t. Kyriarchial discrimination on the other hand is based on socially constructed power – power which just floats along through the use of narrative rather than embodied in bits of paper.
Since discovering the term kyriarchy earlier this year, I’ve become a big fan.
I’ve always been quite uncomfortable about the inter-relationship between feminism and race, not only with the temptation to “rank the oppressions” (as one wit said on twitter – being feminist and anti-racist is all very well, but who wins when Julie Bindel meets Louis Farrakan?) but also the tolerence of racism inherent in some feminist discourses and the tolerance of sexism inherent in some anti-racist activism. As the Lesbian and Gay movement has expanded over the years to include various other “deviant” sexualities and gender identities, landing us in the alphabet soup of LGBTQIA, the relationship between gender and sexuality based oppression has become ever more confused.
Furthermore going beyond the “big three” of gender, race and sexuality, it is clear that there are a number of different oppressions and prejudices which affect people, frequently only situationally, the list of discovered oppressions has expanded beyond all reasonable dimensions to the extent that listing them seems almost to trivialise, but none the less they exist and affect people. Kyriarchy gives us new way to look at oppression which can encompass the unseen power structures without reification of their modes and manners.
On 6th August 2011, England erupted. First Tottenham, then Hackney, then all across London and beyond to Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Manchester and even Gloucester erupted in the most widespread wave of insurrectionary activity in a century. Sparked by the death of a man at police hands, further escalated by a beating dished out to a young girl who turned up at the police station to demand answers, these have been labelled riots – which is of course correct. But riots on this scale and of this widespread can only be considered an insurrection.