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View Diary: Is Race a Problem for the Left? (338 comments)

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  •  Mazlow's hierarchy is relevant here (16+ / 0-)

    The US, as a society, is at the top of Mazlow's Hierarchy. And most whites (especially the young white college males who make up most of the left-progressive movement) are also at the top of the Hierarchy. And the things they fight for --- freedom and personal fulfillment--are appropriate to that level of the Hierarchy.

    Alas, many segments of the US are NOT at the top of the Hierarchy--they are still stuck in the lower levels struggling for basic Physical and Safety needs. They cannot ever reach the upper levels of the Hierarchy until those needs have been met--and THAT is what they struggle for.

    The reason why those high up in Mazlow's Hierarchy cannot cooperate easily with those in the lower levels is simple--they are, quite literally, not fighting for the same things.  The lofty ideological goals of the left progressives are, literally, meaningless to those who cannot meet their physical needs or who have no safety within the social structure.

    As I often say, any successful advocate for social change MUST deal with the people he is talking to from where THEY are, not from where HE is.

    The progressive left does not do that.

    •  Mazlow's Hierarchy of Needs, for those who don't (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP, SoCaliana, just another vet

      know what it is:

    •  Nit (8+ / 0-)

      It's Maslow, not Mazlow.

      I agree that the hierarchy presents real food for thought/explanation on this larger issue.

    •  Are you suggesting (0+ / 0-)

      that minority advocates for social change must address 'white' concerns in order to be successful?

      My feeling is that this is basically an unfortunate inevitability. (That is, yes, race is a problem for the Left. Race is a problem for everyone, why would the Left be immune?)

      I'm privileged as fuck, and my privilege utterly informs my concerns. And yet, they remain my genuine concerns. If I'm a wealthy Jew with mental health issues, I'm gonna focus on issue of importance to wealthy Jews with mental health issues. If I'm a poor Latina with housing issues, I'll focus on those. The imbalance--the 'problem' of the title--is that one of those positions is much more powerful than the other.

      But people address their own concerns first. Expecting otherwise is strange. And I don't think that a successful movement has to encompass some sort of fractal unity, or perfect equity. Neither of things is remotely possible. Discussions like this one are very important, because they raise vital questions--but the solution is always 'muddle onward, and try not to be too much of an ass.'

      "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

      by GussieFN on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 09:56:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  no, I am suggesting the opposite (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GussieFN, Catte Nappe, PapaChach
        Are you suggesting that minority advocates for social change must address 'white' concerns in order to be successful?
        White activists for social change (in the sense of idealistic goals such as "freedom" and "democracy") cannot be successful unless they FIRST address the more basic problems of physical and safety needs faced by those who are still at the lower levels of the hierarchy. Marx was basically right---social structure is based on economics (not in the narrow "monetary system" sense of the word, but in the larger and more inclusive sense of "providing basic needs of life for all its members"). So the first task of white well-off activists is to make sure that every other member of society has the same physical and social security that they do. Until then, all their idealistic goals are just empty--they mean nothing to people who can't eat or be physically safe every day.

        As I have often put it before, "freedom of press" doesn't mean anything to someone who can't get an education and can't read; "democratic elections" don't inspire people for change when they don't have enough to eat every day. When the Soviet Union collapsed, it was not because of lofty goals like "democracy" or "freedom"--it was because their society simply could not provide the basic needs for its own population and was no longer tolerable.  

        Maslow's Hierarchy is over-arching---no social progress can be made until everyone is pulled at least through the most basic layers at the bottom.

        •  Yeah, the minute I posted (0+ / 0-)

          that I thought, 'D'oh!'.

          I haven't read Maslow in forever, but I think you're reducing it to two positions: 'white and well-off' and 'the lower levels.'

          Here we go. I just checked.

          1) Physiological needs: Food, water, sex, sleep.
          2) Safety of health, property, family, employment.
          3) Love/belonging with friends, family, intimacy.
          4) Self-esteem, respect from others, self-respect.
          5) Self-actualization, including morality, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts.

          I daresay that most of us white, well-off people aren't at 5. Most of us are much lower. And many black, well-off people--as well as many white, not-so-well-off people, and non-white not-so-well-of people--are undoubtedly higher on the scale.

          What's interesting, too, is that you can kinda see where Republicans are on that scale: obsessed with safety, with an edge of belonging with the in-group.

          Yeah, I know I'm totally drifting from your point! Which is a good one. I find this interesting, though:  like the political spectrum doesn't go from left to right but 5 to 1. Hard to express that theory without feeling just incredibly superior and elitist, though.

          "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

          by GussieFN on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 11:38:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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