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Class oppression and discrimination

Written By: - Date published: 12:45 pm, November 27th, 2021 - 79 comments
Categories: class, discrimination, identity - Tags: , , ,

I tweeted the other day to someone about the three axes of class oppression vs discrimination. Might as well put the explanations here.

Longer explanation thread on the differences, from philosopher, writer and activist Jane Clare Jones, (note, JCJ is left wing and feminist, and is criticising identity politics within that frame).

So, little summary of what I said at the beginning of the panel on Female Class Politics which we gave at FiLiA. Structural oppression is a class based relation between a dominant class and a subjugated class through which the dominant class extracts labour, or access to bodies, or both, from the subjugated class. That is, structural oppression is a class based relation of material extraction, through which the dominant class profits from the oppression of the subjugated class.

Therefore, not all forms of discrimination, or disadvantage, are instances of structural oppression. This is not to say that people do not suffer, or have their life choices limited, by forms of discrimination or disadvantage that are not structural oppression.

It is to say, however, that there is not a dominant class profiting from that disadvantage, and who has political interests in maintaining the oppression of the subjugated class.

That matters.

There are three main axes of structural oppression – socio-economic class, sex and race. One of the things that it most notable about wokeist bullshit is the way they spend most of their time focussed on alleged oppression which are not in fact oppressions, and the fact that they have pretty much fuck all to say about extractive class based relations, especially with respect to socio-economic class, and of course sex, which they point blank deny is an axis of material extraction.

Denying recognition to axes of material class based extraction while making a big song and dance about non class based discrimination, is a really great cover for large exploitative institutions that want to carry on extracting, while covering themselves in symbols of justice that have no impact on their bottom line.

That, by the way, is where white working class men can politically ally with feminists (assuming they’re ok with women having our own politics and that they recognise sex as a class oppression. This applies to allying with Māori and other non-dominant ethnicities and recognising race/ethnicity as a class oppression). However it does rely on acknowledging that discrimination is also a thing and integrating that into one’s politics.

To the anti-woke I would say: just because solidarity politics across oppressed classes and discriminated against groups has been subsumed into neoliberalism, turning identity politics into a tool of the oppressor, doesn’t mean that discrimination isn’t an important political issue. Likewise identity. It’s possible to have class based politics that include those aspects of human society.

To the woke I would say: stop fudging the differences between class oppression and discrimination because it’s handing power to the neolibs on a plate, and it’s making a lot of people hate identity politics who would otherwise be supportive of anti-discrimination.

To everyone that is going wtf? It’s complex but this stuff matters as the systems that oppress us are undermining progress on the core aspects of human society that liberals value.

79 comments on “Class oppression and discrimination ”

  1. SPC 1

    Why did Trump hold a bible … because all three oppressions are God washed.

    The white race God, patriarchy and capitalism (evolved out of fuedalism).

    Then the Moslem variant – the reward for successful jihad in establishing Islamist order in society is legitimising male power over women.

    Democracy has enabled “minorities” the opportunity to claim their equal citizenship, but it is no guarantee that already established privilege would be successfully challenged.

  2. Gezza 2

    To everyone that is going wtf? It’s complex but this stuff matters as the systems that oppress us are undermining progress on the core aspects of human society that liberals value.

    Most of that post has gone straight over my head. I spose I could go back & read it again a few times in hopes of understanding it better – but I don’t want to – & imo I shouldn’t have to.

    It seems written from a rareified introspective academic-type perspective few folk in the gen pop have or want to acquire. To get the message across to those folk you probably need a different way of presenting your argument in terms they can more easily identify with, including giving some concrete examples.

    Otherwise they are not going to engage with this topic as it just seems too puzzling & remote.

    My thorts anyway. FWIW.

    • weka 2.1

      Thanks Gezza, I’ll have a think about that. JCJ is an academic, I’m not, not sure about ThinkBlackWoman. The post is aimed at people who have some understanding of class politics and identity politics, but you are right, it would be useful to write something that makes sense to readers who don’t get that.

      do ask questions though, it’s a good way to generate useful debate and it helps me figure out what to write.

    • Andrew Miller 2.2

      It will go over most people’s heads because it’s largely word salad.
      A handful of buzzwords do all the heavy lifting and end up replacing any actual meaningful analysis.
      The irony is that those practiced in the use of these buzzwords are able to give the appearance of a more sophisticated understanding of politics where if it’s actually translated back into English you soon realise it’s usually pretty reductive and superficial.
      Whilst it’s obvious not true of all academic takes on politics if you spend enough time reading it (which sadly I have) you soon realise their grasp of what actually impacts on the lives of people is often far more superficial than Jo Public.

      • weka 2.2.1

        you think that "class oppression" is buzz words? How would you talk about oppression if you didn't use those two words?

        • Andrew Miller

          You could actually describe what it is you’re talking about, or do you really believe that everyone is does or should understand/agree what the word ‘oppression’ means in this context as either an abstract or reality? You could actually talk about what you mean by ‘class’ in a 21st century context and how that’s a meaningful way of describing peoples lives and their circumstances.
          I’d bet any money you like that if the people who think chucking out two words counts as meaningful analysis of politics, had to do that, it would be apparent pretty dam quick their take is either actually really shallow or little more than some ivory tower talking point.
          Social media needs to take a fair chunk of the blame for this, but we’re sadly in a political environment where so much political debate is reduced to a handful of words that an awful lot of people think chucking them into a tweet, meme, hashtag counts as serious political debate.

          The irony is these people have so convinced themselves of their own righteousness and superior understanding that anyone not getting it, or not being on board with their reductive analysis is dismissed as either too dim, or venal, when the reality is most people just see out of touch people chucking weaponised jargon at each other.

          • RedLogix

            Sighs – you're last para feels all too familiar. What this might speak to is how hard it is to do rationality and coherent political analysis.

            Just listening to Kim Hill talking to Steven Pinker that seems relevant.

          • weka

            ok, so you do think that 'oppression' is a buzz word. I don't. I think it's reasonable on a political blog to use that political term without explanation other than what was given in the tweets in the post. Not every post is written for every person, no post is in fact. eg it's normal here for posts to be written about a current political event with explaining what that event is.

            Here's what I do when I read a post that has concepts in it that I don't understand: I ask for an explanation, or I go read the wiki or something else that explains it to me in terms I can understand.

            This happens quite a lot for me, because I like learning. It took me a while to understand what feminists were saying about the three axes of oppression and how they are different from discrimination. It took mental effort as well, I had to think about it, read, think about it some more.

            All the women in that post including myself were posting in context and speaking to a particular audience. None of us need to write everything in one post, and I think it's interesting that you're not the only man here trying to tell feminists how to explain things and that we're not doing it right. JCJ didn't just chuck some words in a tweet, she took the time to do a thread on twitter that is a briefer version of a talk she gave at a feminist conference. ThinkingBlackWoman has a context, see if you can figure out what it is. In the post none of the tweets sit in isolation, they build a picture in relation to each other and my own words.

            I do agree that a post explaining class analysis in relationship to discrimination written in language that a broader audience would more easily understand would be a good idea (and have said as much to Gezza). Someone should definitely write one. Anyone here could actually go find something on the internet that explains and link here for others. But I don't believe that people who understand those concepts already should stop talking about them in the meantime.

            The irony is these people have so convinced themselves of their own righteousness and superior understanding that anyone not getting it, or not being on board with their reductive analysis is dismissed as either too dim, or venal, when the reality is most people just see out of touch people chucking weaponised jargon at each other.

            My sense here is that either you don't like academics, or feminists, or the analysis. I don't see anything in the post to suggest elitism or dismissal of people as dim.

            Maybe you should do some mahi now eg explaining what you think is weaponised jargon. Otherwise we're just sitting here wondering what you are on about.

            • weka

              btw, if I'd written a longer post, with all the explanations, most commenters wouldn't have read it. Sometimes we write short posts because it gets more engagement.

  3. Blazer 3

    Hard to fathom how sex is a class of oppression in this day and age.

    Female achievers,leaders everywhere,even throughout history.

    • weka 3.1

      it's explained well in the post. You are thinking about discrimination not class oppression.

      • Blazer 3.1.1

        Your reply to Gezza indicates ,it's not well explained at…all.

        • weka

          Oh, so you don't understand what class oppression is and how it differs from discrimination? Sweet, I will write a post along those lines at some point. In the meantime, please stop trolling my post. If you want to understand how sex is a class oppression, just ask.

  4. Descendant Of Smith 4

    Seems straight forward to me. One of the ways the power is expressed by the right is to have lots of written and verbal anti-discrimination policies. These basically change little but give the appearance of changing lots and allow for when the shit hits the fan to give some ass-covering excuse like " they acted against our internal policies". Meanwhile the oppression continues unabated.

    The example I gave the other day about women who felt they had to get better at negotiating – because they were all given lower starting salaries than the men – is a good example of how those who had the power to decide salaries did this.

    Puckish's response was classic in reinforcing that the fault laid with the women themselves and wasn't structural.

    You see a similar example with the two tier benefit system that Labour introduced when COVID-19 occurred (or the refusal to increase benefit rates as per the WEAG recommendations – and previous Royal Commission recommendations).

    It is when you look beyond what has been said and expressed to see what actually changes you can see that so often nothing really changes and in some cases I would argue that the introduction of anti-discrimination policies drives things backwards as it gives the impression of change. Labour gets sucked into this all the time – they are too busy seeing the trees and can't see the woods.

    • weka 4.1

      Not sure about that. I can think of anti-discrimination changes that are positive and make a big difference. Think disability access. I also think that if we solved the three axes of class it's not a given that disability access would be included along the way.

      But you are right in that those things can become a distraction from the fact that while disability access is mandated in some places we still don't have affordable housing for disabled people who tend to be over-represented in low income groups.

      And yes, Labour are resting too heavily on anti-discrimination gains, but they're a neoliberal party so it's kind of up their alley. The thing I liked about the explanations in the post is that it places the dilemma back with us and our own politics as well.

      • Descendant Of Smith 4.1.1

        "Think disability access."

        Are you talking about building access?

        I'd argue that improvements to building access for those with disabilities have been improved by direct regulation rather than by improvements in discrimination attitudes and to a large extent have been offset by reduced public transport access – great if you can get in the building but getting to the building location is now much more difficult. Centralisation of services to large centres such as Wellington and Christchurch, closure of hospitals in rural areas, closure of bank branches, government agencies in small towns and so on.

        I'm certainly much less able to travel around the country, even to get home to see my parents which now means I can public transport only part way and then someone else has to travel two hours to pick me up, than I was in the 70's and 80's. Must be great to live in a large urban centre with great public transport. There seems to be these days much more of an expectation that the person with disabilities somehow gets to the service than the service gets to them – the loss of public health nurses for instance. While de-institutionalisation has been good for some (most definitely), for others the lack of access to services and support has simply meant one institution has been swapped for another – prison.

        While there has been good work done in consulting the disability sector – it is a very good national disability strategy – but what real change has occurred for instance in people with disabilities being helped into employment? HNZ has only just started building houses with wide passages for people with wheelchairs = this is even rarer in the private sector and suitable showers and toilets even rarer still despite years of lobbying for this. What real movement has happened in wage rates for people with disabilities – let alone benefit rates. You can't have access to normal things over time without sufficient income to purchase them. What support to those with spouses with disabilities through either the welfare system or the tax system? Basically nil. In fact it is likely the reverse – I pay about $6,000 more a year in tax while supporting two people than a couple earning the same amount between them but both working. It has been that way since Rogernomics – before that I could claim for a dependent spouse. It is definitely not progress. Sole parents while they still get the benefit have had increasingly more restrictions and obligations imposed on them. Only cutting their benefit by 50% instead of right off is something to be proud of!!!!

        But yeah that someone might get fired for making an insensitive or discriminatory comment is seen as tremendous progress.

        • weka

          Are you talking about building access?

          I'd argue that improvements to building access for those with disabilities have been improved by direct regulation rather than by improvements in discrimination attitudes and to a large extent have been offset by reduced public transport access – great if you can get in the building but getting to the building location is now much more difficult.

          Yes building access but not only that. And yes, it came from regulation, which in turn came from people who understood the need for anti-discrimination measures (i.e. attitudes).

          Imo this is an improvement. And I agree that lots of things have been lost, but I don't think that's a result of the other gain unless one argued that the inherent ableism in society means we subconsciously organise so that there are limits on how many gains disabled people are allowed. I think it's more that people often just don't think about it and design shitty systems all round. Where they do think about it, disability access doesn't have a high priority (it's just a few people after all /rolleyes).

          My point above wasn't that we're good at anti-discrimination disability policy, we're actually pretty bad (long term SLP beneficiary here). My point was that we can have both class changes and progress on discrimination issues.

          I do agree about the problem of neolibs using such progress to justice-wash politics so it looks like we're doing better than we are on the class issues (or the discrimination issues).

          • Descendant Of Smith

            Malcolm X's observation stands as true today as it did back then.

            “Hence I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.”
            ― Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X

            There is a lot of truth in this.

            "unless one argued that the inherent ableism in society means we subconsciously organise so that there are limits on how many gains disabled people are allowed."

            While there are a few of us on here that argue overall society is better across the world we should despair some gains are offset by the losses. In New Zealand benefit rates are probably the biggest indicator of this in shutting down the uppity classes by increasing their poverty and keeping it that way over a long period of time. The significant reduction in work opportunities for people with disability and assistance to help them into work was part of that change.

            Then came obligations and cutting benefits and then benefits were drugs.


            Then came rentier behaviour and then profiting off the poor in modern day poorhouses in motels.

            Overall a steady and consistent exertion of power by the powerful.

            • weka

              ae, but you are now talking about something else. It's pretty obvious to me that 40 years of neoliberalism has done a huge amount of damage. Not sure I see it as offsetting so much as Labour for examples picks the easier liberal projects and avoids the harder left wing ones. I guess I use the term offset in a different way. Here to me it implies that no gains are made, but think about loss of disability transport, shit benefits, no support for disabled people into jobs and no building access.

              Benefit rates are a clear example of socio-economic oppression rather than discrimination.

              • Descendant Of Smith

                The point is, not that those things like poor benefit rates exist but that the previous generations efforts to improve opportunities and income and housing for the most disadvantaged were lost or reduced significantly by our generation and for a long period of time and to this day are still not back where they once were.

                Imagine a world where benefits had remained the same as the rate of NZS, there were sufficient state houses and we had building access.

                A single person turning 18 with significant disability and going on SLP until reaching 65 and moving to NZS will have an income (in todays terms) that is just on $245,000 less than prior to Ruth Richardson's benefit cuts. Tack on to that the lower rents paid in state housing opposed to private and the sums start to get larger.

                • weka

                  yes, but this is obvious so I'm not sure what we are talking about. How does this relate to the theories of oppression and discrimination?

    • Foreign waka 4.2

      I think oppression is a political tool used to keep certain classes within a population in power. This results in discrimination of those who are not part of the power elite and/or race/gender/religion within that society. It is interconnected, oppression is used to subjugate (in whatever form) and those who are targeted are being discriminated against it in deed.

      I hope I got this right.

  5. That_guy 5

    I think this is an excellent summary. Oppressed=someone is extracting resources or labour from you to make their lives better. Marginalised=your life choices are limited but nobody is directly extracting resources or labour for their benefit.

    That's why corporations are happy to talk about marginalisation. It is genuinely important, but addressing it is relatively cheap. You can even make money if you can convince corporations that your two-day diversity course is a good rainbow-wash.

    Convincing them to address wage disparities? Harder. Convincing them that CEO salaries should be indexed to the lowest paid worker? Yeah nah.

  6. Unlike the other commenters, I thought this post was brilliant. The use of technical words expresses abstract concepts with a level of precision that simpler terms do not. Appreciate that as "anti-woke" I am certainly aware that identity and anti-discrimination movements make valid claims, But unfortunately, for the woke left these claims seem to eclipse other more fundamental social issues that materially hurt most of society.

    It is a deeply intolerant religious mindset that blocks erstwhile allies for disagreement on thorny identity claims, seeing everything in black and white, even stoops to making false allegations about members of parliament because they work on the other team.

    There is a difference between valid criticism and outright persecution and vilification. The woke cannot tolerate even mild criticism and that makes them dangerous.

    • SPC 6.1

      Yeah all those woke people are all the same (sarc) …

      • felix 6.1.1

        On a great many questions, yes. By definition really. To be woke means nothing more or less than subscribing to a certain set of ideas or beliefs about reality. And if you diverge from those beliefs then by definition you are not woke. There is no category of people who are both woke and also do not hold those beliefs

        • SPC

          My comment was in relation to the reckon that those so categorised (by belief/perspective) are dangerous because they cannot handle even mild criticism.

          It's just a derivative of the old McCarthyist line that left wingers are unAmerican (threat to the non woke order).

          • felix

            People who can't tolerate criticism are certainly dangerous to themselves.

            To the extent that those same people hold any power in society they are dangerous to everyone.

            • SPC

              Intolerance to criticism is not unique to any particular set of beliefs or group, nor universal within any group.

              • weka

                I think you might be missing that woke is being used with a particular meaning here.

                • SPC

                  Sure? I have just been disputing the veracity of this comment

                  The woke cannot tolerate even mild criticism and that makes them dangerous.

      • Anker 6.1.2

        I am not quite sure who or what the woke is although I am guilty of using the terms from time to time.

        I am concerned by a sort of group think where someone decides someone/comment idea is wrong and there is outrage about this and calls (which are often effective) to cancel this person/ event etc. It appears to be ideologically driven and sometimes it appears the focus of the outcry and the cancellation is unnecessarily trivial. Eg cancelling the Charlie Chaplin musical at Canterbury Uni.

        • SPC

          Censorship has been around a long time and is practiced across the political spectrum (in the 20thC moral conservatism to anti-apartheid).

          Because of what has been called branding – activism for minority rights, environmental action and critical race theory has intruded into the corporate world. This has disturbed those complacent with the supremacy of capitalism in business activity (singular focus on economic rationalism in delivering profit to shareholders). Some call it "woke" neo-liberalism.

          The accessibility of modern social media enables widespread Alinkski capacity to be politically effective. That involves counter-insurgency (including effort to negate/censor and supersede past norms) as well as a more positive campaign activism.

          Unfortunately this is all so much easier than diminishing income and wealth inequality – still largely inter-generational and based around race, sex and class.

          • Anker

            SPC I take your point about censorship.

            However I have never experienced my opinions being censored as I have around gender ideology.

            SUFW had their public meetings shut down by trans activists. Their meetings were to discuss proposed legislation that they felt effected women. They had to go to the High Court to reverse the decisions of councils and libraries to close their meetings down. Fortunately the High Court awarded in SUFW favour and ruled they are not a hate group.

            The group had their adds cancelled in the media and also a bill board in Wellington, this despite the ASA ruling that the add was not offensive.

            The add merely said Women, adult human female (noun). Its the dictionary definition. Some commentators have said that this is hate speech. But as I have pointed out, there is an attempt to change the definition of women, to anyone who identifies as such. As many of us don't agree with that, it is only to be expected that there will be push back.

            • SPC

              Sure some women have experienced the negative side of a political campaign for minority rights (the effort to silence resistance to it) of the transgender. Just as religious and social conservatives did in the campaign for the rights of those with same sex partnership – so they now resort to advocacy for their faith based rights to discriminate (as per Sco Mo's proposed legislation in Oz) in their own sphere.

              I suspect advocates for biological women's rights will focus on safe places and fair competition in sport.

              The key difference is that people today are more likely to be confronted over their positions on these issues because of the greater connection provided by social media.

    • Descendant Of Smith 6.2

      "There is a difference between valid criticism and outright persecution and vilification. The woke cannot tolerate even mild criticism and that makes them dangerous."

      lol your "criticism" immediately meets:

      1. Strong rejection of alternative beliefs
        2.Tends to lump together all variety of disbeliefs into one category
      2. Tend to view the world as a hostile place

      It definitely doesn't meet:

      1. Do not strongly reject disbeliefs
      2. Do not sharply divide belief and disbelief systems
      3. Do not lump together varieties of belief system
      4. Operate from a realtively non-restrictive sense of time and space

      Fuck off with your "woke" labelling which is just another right-wing version of PC and the right trying to control the language and debate. If there is an arguement /proposition that you disagree with say so on its merits – argue your case. Lumping large amounts of left wing thought together as "woke" is just nonsense and given every woke labeller seems to have a different view of which thoughts are "woke" which in most cases gets down to – those things I disagree with, such words become even more meaningless – in the same way that labelling all and sundry "communists" is meaningless.

      Things that I fought for in the 80's are now suddenly called "woke" instead of a good cause. To suggest such is a joke. Such labelling means you avoid having to make a case and is terribly lazy thinking.

      This is all stuff Dale Spender pointed out in the 80's in Man Made language. Simple feminist resistance like this poster from the 80's would now be argued as "PC" or "woke". It is no coincidence that the pejorative use of these terms is predominantly by wealthy males and powerful people.

      It remains the case that when I'm in a room with older white males (of my own age) the conversations that occur quickly turn racist and sexist than when I am in mixed company. When I see that changing then I may sense some greater progress. What has changed is that they are less likely to say that stuff in mixed company – because of the rules and anti-discrimination policies and fear of being caught out. Their attitudes and hold on power haven't changed one iota – but they know the right things to say and they know the right things to put on paper. They have traded outright hostility and discrimination for passive-aggressive.

      I get what Weka is saying about progress in some areas but fundamentally lots of things have got worse – the plight and value we place on sole parents is a really good example. Raising their kids is now not as important as their commitment to being a productive unit in a workplace and financially they are much worse off than prior to 1985 and pay a greater percentage of their meagre income to rentier landlords and are more, not less likely to be homeless. I simply cannot see that as progress.

  7. RedLogix 7

    I'll go into bat here for the OP.

    I'm probably one of the more 'anti-woke' regulars here, yet I can read what is being said with considerable sympathy. In my view the left has been captured by marxist oppression analysis in one form or another for far too long – and has betrayed the progressive movement repeatedly.

    But with such a troublesome legacy it's not easy crafting an alternative that will have a broad appeal across the entire left. The OP makes a reasoned attempt at this and is internally consistent. Proposing three primary axis of human diversity – race, sex and class – does have real merit. People do encounter disadvantage in these dimensions and these broad categories are necessary and workable in the political domain.

    But at the street level – disadvantage is always resolved down to the individual. Given every individual is unique, along multiple immutable characteristics – age, height, attractiveness, temperament, intelligence, disability, etc , but also unique in terms of their on life experience – there is simply too much complexity to make sense of in political terms. Peterson's approach is this means change is most likely to be effective within the life and motivations of each individual. And there is considerable merit in this too.

    It's my sense that many people on the left are quietly wrestling with a similar puzzle – it's easy to type something like 'society and the individual are mutually interdependent' – but finding pragmatic, working pathways that are effective and workable in both our political and personal lives is not easy.

    And in this I'm happy to see the OP give expression to it. Posts like this take considerable effort and should be respected in that light.

    • DS 7.1

      I think you err by calling it "Marxist oppression analysis". The whole point about Marxism is that material relationships are All, and that everything else builds off that. Moreover, those relationships are changeable, not a matter of Identity, and change along with technology. Marx cites capitalism's homogenising effects (and arguably even it celebrates it) – the guy would be no fan of modern wokeists.

      • Tiger Mountain 7.1.1

        Good take on that DS. “Marxism” with or without “cultural” is used regularly by people with seemingly little idea of materialist vs post modern philosophy as a universal pejorative term.

        • RedLogix

          Marxism cloaks itself with endless intellectual wankery – the reality is much simpler and very consistent. Mass death and misery.

          And you are an apologist for it.

    • Gezza 7.2

      Proposing three primary axis of human diversity – race, sex and class – does have real merit. People do encounter disadvantage in these dimensions and these broad categories are necessary and workable in the political domain.

      … and what follows.

      Bingo. Red’s nailed explaining it in more meaningful terms to the ordinary, non-academic, citizen.

  8. AB 8

    The idea that a key dfferentiator is the presence or absence of material extraction is a useful start point. Something to think about – thanks.

  9. Ad 9

    Dr Jane Clare Jones needs to expand her worldview.

    "There are three main axes of structural oppression – socio-economic class, sex and race."

    Let me just get a check there of what constitutes oppression.

    Humans constitute about 0.01% of all life, but we have caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and over 50% of all plants.

    70% of all birds on the planet are farmed chickens.

    60% of all the remaining mammals on earth are livestock, humans are 36%, and wildlife now constitute 4%. We manufacture and reify 96% of all mammals.

    We've lost 25% of the entire forests of the earth in 100 years. Another 25% in the 500 years before that.

    The mass extinction that we are causing is already larger than the last one 65 million years ago.

    And of course we've irrevocably accelerated the temperature and sea level rise of the entire earth inside 150 years.

    Class, sex and race are kinda interesting as axes of oppressions, but the world hasn't come together as a whole and regularly in whole-earth global events since 1995 to talk about any kind of oppression that threatens the entire world other than environmental catastrophe.

    The others sure are real oppressions. But Dr Jane Clare Jones having yet another whine about identity politics while simply ignoring the largest and most pressing one is something of a neglect.

    • weka 9.1

      ok, so please make sure that every post you write from now includes that, ta.

      (and in between, go read some feminists with class analysis that not only takes into account ecology and nature but understands the relationships between all those things. There are plenty out there, including JCJ)

    • SPC 9.2

      The world has only come together to discuss global warming that threatens humans (not the oppression by humans of the non human).

    • Tricledrown 9.3

      Ad shifting the argument but when you look at the environment the wealthiest 1% cause 35% of the world's pollution.

      The recent global QE print benefited the wealthy while increasing poverty and homelessness.

      Giving printed money to the banks who are risk adverse is stupidity. Giving printed money for solving bottlenecks in the economy as the new deal and our own govt did fixing housing supply with direct govt spending is far less damaging than creating speculative bubbles.

  10. Mika 10

    Thank you Weka. I really enjoyed that perspective.

  11. Dennis Frank 11

    Oppression is a state of mind. It's a valid focus for politics, inasmuch as some political groups get motivated by a shared sense of oppression. I was amused by those wearing MAGA at the recent Groundswell when I discovered the meme had morphed from its US origin into Make Ardern Go Away. That it symbolises an oppressed feeling in the wearers is arguable – media queries to elucidate the underlying feeling have not been evident to me. Journos probably couldn't care less.

    However a conversation with an old friend with whom I share decades of alt thinking gave me a sense of grievance being produced by the govt mandate & it does fit the oppressed framing. Despite the govt recognising their minority rights, I mean.

    I suggested a while back in response to the pivot to North Korea that Citizen First Class was a looming option for the compliant majority. We haven't yet had reportage of a Citizen Second Class identifier. The 90% threshold is looking increasingly realistic nationwide but shortfall in some regions may register the second class citizens at around 10% of the whole.

    The other dimension worth noting is the extent to which oppression is built into social structure. The residual patriarchy maintains oppression of females by males despite equal rights – considerably reduced nowadays. Mainly evident in income differentials. Oppression of Maori by the state is also greatly reduced and primarily framed as insufficient service delivery by the media. I'm unaware of any current Asian minority rights deprivation due to structural racism here.

    Exploitation seems more of a problem than any shared sense of oppression. When the structure of society permits that, suffering is produced. That's more serious than a mere psychological state and/or feeling. It causes harm. But political consequences only arise if those harmed organise and act in common cause. Identity politics drives focus onto individuals. Engaging the common interests of a group gets harder…

  12. SPC 12

    Is experience of poverty or homelessness as oppression just a state of mind?

    Is experience of racism and sexism just a state of mind?

    It’s common experience that enables (within democracy at least) effort at a collective political response. And of course resistance to progress will be based around the rights of capital, property owners, free speech, freedom of religion (Oz and “Sco Mo’s” proposed legislation to let bigots remain faith based bigots) and white folk society and men as innocent of woke (critical race theory) PC accusations of wrong doing or any “offence” until proven guilty.

    • Dennis Frank 12.1

      Those experiences tend to produce oppression as a state of mind. Consequent politics arises when those thus affected become conscious of their state, then notice that others share their state, then acknowledge to those others the extent of the sharing.

      Then comes the mutuality. When the oppressed attain shared awareness of their collective state, and openly discuss it with each other, focus can shift from despair to a search for a solution to their collective problem.

      The slough of despair has an ancient tradition. I suspect that's because folks drift into passive acceptance of the status quo rather than agreeing to replace it with something better. Empowerment comes hard to those who don't attempt it. Mass political action to achieve collective transcendence of an unpleasant status quo requires a proactive stance and determination to work together.

      • SPC 12.1.1

        Working together or political contest for power over decison-making?

        • Dennis Frank

          Both. Politics includes collaboration and competition. The best model is team sports: collaboration within the team, competition between teams.

  13. Tricledrown 13

    After WW2 a more egalitarian society formed because the working,middle and ruling classes worked collaboratively during the War .While the working classes sacrificed their lives the ruling and middle classes respected that and gave those less well off a fairer go.

    Now it's dog eat dog divisiveness .Trump is a manifestation of this he rides on the coat tails of the oppressed while enriching the money hoarders.leaving the oppressed fighting each other.

    • Gezza 13.1

      For me, Trump is the very epitome of both The Rich Prick & The Ugly American.

      An arrogant, wilfully ignorant, narcissistic bully, bullshitter & compulsive liar.
      And those are his good points.

      And yet the bugger was right on the money in terms of some of the policies he advicated and got elected on. Big NATO countries were continually defaulting on their agreed contributions, leaving it to the US to pick up the slack. China needed a reckoning with over its trade shenanigans. American industrialists & corporates needed reminding they’d abandoned American workers for no other reason than to maximise already outrageously high income gains.

      And the US had effectively lost control of its borders. No country can be expected to put up with that these days. Kiwis wouldn’t accept it. We’re just lucky so far we’re at the arse end of the world surrounded by ocean.

      It’s going to be interesting to see if & HOW the oppressed & the ordinary folk find some way to take back more power from the uber rich & powerful who effectively own most of the elected “democratic” governments of today.

  14. Tiger Mountain 14

    Good effort to explore this Weka. Some elements of the “three axes” seem really to amount to overthinking and over complicating the relationships involved.

    My take as a person with a marxist world view is that private ownership of property and the means of production, and permitted private appropriation of the results of socially produced wealth–all enforced as necessary by an armed state, is the base oppression and exploitation.

    This has long caused problems in determining points of unity for those with additional layers of oppression. Whether via patriarchy, white supremacism, nationalism, ageism, homophobia, lumpen prolitariat–the underclass, as Marx put it for alienated and degraded sections, and so on–what about me? Exactly. All exploited and oppressed are worthy of support and capitalists thrive on division among the exploited and oppressed.

    • weka 14.1

      My take as a person with a marxist world view is that private ownership of property and the means of production, and permitted private appropriation of the results of socially produced wealth–all enforced as necessary by an armed state, is the base oppression and exploitation.

      How do you account for the control of women's bodies in the reproduction of the human species in that? eg I can still see abortion being illegal even if property was collectively owned, labour collectively organised, and socially produced wealth equally shared.

      Are you arguing for the end of the state?

      • Gezza 14.1.1

        How do you account for the control of women’s bodies in the reproduction of the human species in that? eg I can still see abortion being illegal even if property was collectively owned, labour collectively organised, and socially produced wealth equally shared. Are you arguing for the end of the state?

        Part of the problem is that even some women argue for state regulation of reproductive matters – i.e. state control over women’s bodies. I used to be an advocate for unlimited access by women to abortion services up until a foetus is considered viable if removed by C section.

        However, delving in more deeply to what is actually involved in late abortions when it became a major issue for Hilary Clinton in her Presidential run against Donald Trump, I became much less of an advocate. In fact, I found it so distressing it’s now an issue I try & stay out of completely. I favour much more liberal use of contraception & the morning after pill.

        Beyond that, though, there’s a practical need to consider, when one is planning on having a child, how one is going to feed, clothe, love, train/parent, teach values & manners to, & educate that child. There are many who put off having children until they have got what they consider the basics well in hand – steady earnings, some savings for baby-specific purchases, suitable accommodation sorted.

        And many of those folk plainly resent forking out their hard earned taxpayers’ dollars to fund – particularly – those young women with no prospects who are failing school & who get themselves knocked up as soon as possible, seemingly to make themselves feel better (I now have a job – I’m a mum) & to generate an income stream at least for a short time.

        Should the state be taking more responsibility – or less – for paying more for the upbringing of everybody’s children?

      • Tiger Mountain 14.1.2

        A serious widely supported anti capitalist fight in the 21st century has to include resolution of quite a list of issues and brutalisations for all oppressed and marginalised groups and individuals. So there could be no socialist workers state without full rights for women including health and reproductive rights.

        • weka

          why though? If the core problem is private ownership of property/means of production and appropriation of socially produced wealth, why would women's control over their own bodies not be an add on? And if it's an add on, then there is a whole class of people who are still being exploited for their largely unpaid labour.

          • RedLogix

            In TM's marxist utopia – nobody owns anything. Not even their own bodies or labour.

            And you'll be happy.

  15. McFlock 15

    So someone decides to sell golliwogs on [insert website here]. This is racism, and therefore structural oppression, and the seller is profiting directly from that oppression. Signing a complaint is therefore part of the global struggle against capitalists, and when the website removes the offending article it is a victory against structural oppression.

    Someone else decides to sell a mug with a homophobic message on it. Homophobia, while causing suffering, is merely marginalisation. Signing a complaint that gets the mug removed might therefore be a gift to neoliberalism because the website can tout how woke it is be removing the offending article.

    Neither will get the distribution workers more toilet breaks, but one is apparently worse than the other?

    • weka 15.1

      who said one is worse than the other?

      I don't think signing a complaint in either case is part of the global struggle against capitalists. Do you?

      Signing a complaint and thinking this makes one left wing is a gift to neoliberalism.

      A company removing both mugs from its inventory is a win for progressive values, but it's not a blow against class oppression if the remaining liberal-messaged mugs are still made with sweat shop labour and the people selling them work for Amazon and the people buying them don't care.

      • McFlock 15.1.1

        Race being an "axis of oppression" surely means addressing racism, even in a small way, is fighting oppression?

        • weka

          well leaving aside the other problems in your examples, I shifted that particular one to sex to see if I could figure it out.

          Let's say it's a mug with a playboy bunny on it. Does removing it from sale do much for ending the structural oppression of women? I guess it does something? But you know the playboy bunny imagery fight was lost a long time ago, there are a zillion images out there and generations of women have now been socialised into accepting this as normal. The solutions aren't actually at the level of signing something (although that could be part of a larger action/movement).

          Of course at the level of discrimination, removing the playboy mug is a good thing.

          You seemed to pit the two concepts (structural oppression and discrimination) against each other, and I find that confusing tbh.

          • McFlock

            Well, that's what seemed to come across from the post.

            But the difference between "oppression" and "marginalisation" still seems arbitrary to me. I used commodities because it all extracts direct profit from imposing continued suffering.

            Yes, removing a playboy mug or a golliwog from circulation is a small win, but it's still a win. It's all part of the same pyramid: if one is going to treat people in an inhuman way, it helps if the rest of society habitually dehumanises them, too. That increases the tolerance for inhuman behaviour. That's why oppression walks hand in hand with propaganda.

            But also, the "woke" are as much a part of the same struggle as those who choose to focus on what they see as the true struggle against oppression. Maybe they deal with the issues closer to their own home, but that doesn't mean they undermine the distribution workers e.g. currently striking at Countdown or the Warehouse.

            Each group – the ones who focus mainly on the three official "axes" and the ones who focus mainly on "identity" issues – have members who are conservative against the other group. Pink activists who are free marketeers, or unionists who think homosexual law reform was wrong. But the overlap is far greater than the exclusions, I believe.

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