Some thoughts concerning race and institutions

Speaking conveniently and without trying to establish any sort of absolute heuristic for judging racial affairs, I think two parameters for racial thinking ought to be defined. The first is racial experience interpersonally, or dyadically. The second might be termed racial experience institutionally, or triadically. Now these matters occur on a gradient, for institutions lack any kind of per se existence. Perhaps they bear properties which arise eminently, out of the concert of particular individuals who participate in them, but it must be said that such properties are not ultimately and totally reducible to interpersonal occurrences.

By that I mean this: let us suppose there are three individuals, X, Y, and Z, each of whom loves another in the set. Thus, X.Y, Y.Z, and Z.X are the attraction pairings (where the period signifies the attraction of the first person to the second). The situation, aptly termed a love triangle, can only be reduced to such pairings insofar as these pairings are conducive to the whole situation. However, the situation itself cannot be understood or expressed without abstracting out of the pairings a common fact – mutual, unrequited love. Thus, while the love triangle is contingent on the 3 actors’ interpersonal situations physically, if one is to speak logically and metaphysically, he cannot assert the same contingency. For, if I was aware that X.Y and Y.Z and days later became aware of Z.X while forgetting X.Y, I could not predicate of all 3 statement “love triangle.” No, I must bear all 3 relations in mind and only then as a consequence of the sum total relation between the 3 actors and the 3 attraction pairings can I call the matter triangular. In this way, the sum is greater than its parts. The emotional association is not one which merely involves dyads (two-sided pairs), but is wholly and truly triadic and thus bears properties contingent to the triadic formation.

Who would say that three points of themselves are not a triangle? If I have such points in space close to each other, then I necessarily have the triangle, as the lines connecting such points are inherent in the points being related proximately. The same is true of persons – again, I cannot break down the triangularity of attraction into dyadic relations without losing an integral aspect of the triad. Thus, the formation, the relation of the entities exists through them.

So it is with racism. The most pernicious and, in my opinion, harmful aspects of racial tendency are those eminent out of interpersonal relations which are often, themselves, triadic. Whereas, in the love triangle, the attraction relations constitute a whole almost in a lattice-like manner where X, Y, and Z, need have full cognizance of each other, the triadic relation of institutional oppression follows quite similarly. For any given institutional aspect, we might again define an X, a Y, and a Z, where X and Y are individuals and Z constitutes a group of which Y is a representative. Now, let us suppose Y is bigoted towards X, either implicitly or explicitly. Now let us suppose that Y.X relation signifies such bigotry, while Z.Y relation implies Y’s being representative, while the X.Z relation implies X’s externality with regards to Z. Now, if it is the case that Y.X is broken, it is not the case that X.Z is broken. Geometrically, the X.Z relation is dyadic — that is, it is a line. But the X.Z relation is meaningless without the triad, as X.Z cannot exist without mediation via some Y. That is, an individual cannot bear meaning towards an organization unless he or she bears meaning to some representative thereof. If no one in Group Z is aware of X, then X bears no relation to Z and the dyadic relation between the two is null. (Now, perhaps X has a cognitive relation to Group Z insofar as X has considered Z, but we cannot consider a cognitive relation to be a material relation. No, it is a concept – an abstract idea which does not bear on the actual intercourse of individuals until X interacts with someone from Z). Thus, in order X.Z to occur, Y.X must exist in some fashion (bigoted or otherwise), as it is Z.Y which enables X.Z. Thus it follows that, interpersonally, triadic relations can collapse into dyads – in this way they lose their identity as triads and become simpler 1-on-1 relationships. The same is not true institutionally, as institutional relations are necessarily triadic – an individual cannot relate to a group except through another individual.

All of this amount to the following – the ending of an interpersonal bigotry will not ensure the solution to systemic issues. No, as a fact of logic, it cannot ensure it. For, the Z.Y relation, the being representative of, will necessarily be fulfilled by some individual at some time in order to ensure X.Z. So, even if X nullifies Z.Y, lets say, by having the biggoted individual fired, they’ve in effect done nothing to ensure any necessary change in X.Z, that is, X’s relation to group Z. Perhaps we might conjecture that the firing of Y will necessitate shock-waves in the identity of group Z, and perhaps this might then change the relation Z.X. But this is precisely the kind of thinking which misunderstands the love triangle. One cannot assume that the breaking of one dyad in the love triad will necessarily decompose the unaffected dyad. That is, if Tom loves Joan and Joan loves Jim while Jim loves John, there’s no guarantee that Joan falling for Jenny means Tom will fall for John – we don’t know if Tom is bisexual! Sure, maybe it could happen, but maybe an entirely new love triangle will form; either way, there is no necessity to the matter. Here there is but mere probabilistic conjecture. If you “cancel” a few individuals, will you stop the oppressive activities of Apple? Will you end the torturous, capitalistic construction of electronics in FoxConn’s factories? Will you prevent the logistical errors that result in millions of dollars in food being wasted every day? Will you end the visible subjugation of women needed to sell nearly every single product on the planet? No, you won’t. These are situational, institutional matters, and they won’t be solved by getting mad at the “bad guys.” Perhaps they’ll be ameliorated – perhaps FoxConn will make their suicide nets more cushy, or perhaps we’ll get “body positive” ads selling Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. burgers. But at the end of the day, the exploitation at hand will not end – it will merely continue in a varied form predicated entirely on the institution who enables it.

So it is with race. The bigot being fired will not guarantee anything with regards to the group he or she represents. It perhaps will enable the possibility of change but, other than this, nothing is guaranteed. It remains incumbent on X and his associates to advocate for structural change within group Z – whether group Z be the government, a corporation, a union, or any association of any sort. Again, if Group Z could foster a particular representational relation with person Y, there is no guarantee that such a relation will not again form with some person Y2. We cannot reduce the experience of social minorities to simple “cancellations” of bad apples. No, bad apples spoil the bunch. If we are to solve anything with regards to race, we must begin looking at the structural assignments of individuals within groups – hierarchy, law, organizational norms. All of these matters are the binders through which any Group Z is able to ensure representation by any person Y – they are the constitution of the Group qua Group and the Group qua relate. These are the lines between the Z.Y dyad inside the Z.Y.X triad. If one breaks down the group-individual relations, they break down the extent to which interpersonal X.Y relations can be had. But, if one breaks down X.Y relations, he does next nothing with regards to the group that enabled the issue to begin with.

All of this is to assert as follows, both concerning the love triangle triad and the institution-representative-externality triad – each point in in a whole not only bears a unique relation to some other point and some secondary relation to a second point, but that there is an internal ordering of the point in question, and there is no necessary logical relationship between that point’s internal ordering and its external relations. Now, there is certainly a contingent relationship. Let us suppose we have coordinate points (1,2), (-2,0), and (5,2). Certainly it is the case that the resulting triangle qua triangle is contingently born in relation to its points. That is, the shape of the triangle depends on the structure of each point – absolutely it does. So it is with race – the internal ordering of individuals and institutions conduces their relative bigotry. But here is the key takeaway from this analysis – taking away one of these points will not necessarily adjust the internal ordering of any of the other points. Each is an independent entity, and if we are to affect real change, we cannot stop at the work of ending dyadic relations. No, we must alter the structure of triadic relations, a matter which necessitates the alteration of the internal structure of the points constituting those relations.

That is, we will not end the exploitation of man until we adjust his real material relations to other men and to capital on the wholeinstitutionally.

Some thoughts on analytical-critical activity

Anyone who’s had the fortunate opportunity to read any of Marx’s work will be familiar with his notion of praxis. Similarly, anyone who’s been fortunate enough to read the work of Plato will be familiar with the two components of his dialectic – synthesis and analysis (cf. Phaedrus). The latter two are arguably adaptations of Empedocles’ notions of love (a coming together, form the greek syn-) and hate (a moving apart, from the greek -lysis). It is evident, then, that Plato’s theory of cognition is couched in a broader physical theory that persists to this day – attraction and repulsion, unity and separation, identity and difference. The lattermost term was adopted in the French by the Post-Structuralist Derrida by virtue of the semiotical works of Saussure, but I digress.

Suffice it to say, the work of analysis is a legitimate one and, as the Derrida invocation accomplishes, a deconstructive one – it is one which takes apart. Now, what this ultimately has to do with Marx is this – for Marx, praxis is more aptly discussed as practical-critical activity which addresses the sensuous material relations of man (cf. Theses on Feuerbach). There is a necessary intersection of practical-critical activity with the work of analysis – indeed, where analytical work is to be found mentally, practical-critical activity is to be found sensously, that is, materially and physically. Now, it must be said both inductively and virtually that we cannot truly isolate the sensuous from the mental, that is, I cannot demonstrate this fact per se, in and of itself, nor can I demonstrate it deductively, from first principles. Rather, this statement seems to me to be intuitively true in virtue of all observations had prior to this writing. I cannot write except in matter (on paper or via a computer), I cannot think except with a brain, I cannot be except through a body – these are but instances which illustrate the more broadly induced point.

Now, there is no formal proof for this, so far as I can tell. If there is, its beyond my capacities as an undergraduate. Regardless, it illustrates a broader point concerning the work of anlaytical-critical activity, one which now tugs at my shirt sleeve like a child eager to have a question answered. Marxian practical-critical activity entails an analytical element asserted beneath criticism, namely, analytical-criticism. For, we cannot hope to improve what-is without first analyzing it, that is, taking it apart. But, herein, the investigation into what-is is overlooked! The only substantial counterpoint to the overlooking is the following banality –

“I know enough because I’ve lived enough.”

But who among us would be so bold as to assert such a thing? No one, so far as I can tell. It is, yet, the fact of induction, that we in pulling from particulars must rely on faulty sense-data, which undermines this statement. Where exactly is “enough”? Hell if I know – hell if anyone knows. But certainly, those involved in the work of analytical-critical activity are separating out facets of some X which they have certainly induced according to some self-perceived knowledge enough of it. How can one tear down that which he does not know? Its an absurdity – to deconstruct, we must posit that there is some THING able to be deconstructed. And, if the thing is but we don’t know it, how can we deconstruct that which don’t know? It is impossible, certainly. Instead, we must be deconstructing that which we know or, that which we know enough of.

But this is an absurd vanity. For, as my recent video has pointed out on semi-certain terms, we seemingly don’t know enough of anything! The question of “enough” may, in fact, be an unanswerable one – perhaps there is no sufficient knowledge which is preconditional to the analytical-critical work of deconstruction. Let’s take that for granted. But what, then, is to be said of critical analysis? Well, if one is analyzing that which he is criticizing, won’t the light in which he or she sees the thing already be tinted towards that conducive to criticism? Surely it will. And, if one is criticizing that which one is analyzing, won’t the sound in which he or she hears the thing be already resonant with analysis? That is, if one is only ever working with his conception of things, these conceptions need necessarily be conducive to the ends he desires of them. If I intend to analyze a rock, I will look for the parts to be analyzed – nooks, crannies, material substrata, and the like. If I intend to criticize a man because he strikes my senses as morose, bestial, or, to be less verbose, an asshole, I will look for the parts in him which lend themselves towards that which I have already asserted!

Now this is not a knock on the work of analytical-critical activity. It is certainly needed if we are to make advances in anything whatever. Indeed, there is nothing which strikes my senses more than the sight of impoverished men and women – this is a sight which I was forced to endure without any means to alter it for much of my life. In this way, I began to look for arguments and means to overcome what I felt as a dog biting at my scrotum, castrating me in impotence, bearing in me a feeling that some the poor, the destitute, the (in many cases around the world due to abject racism) dark-skinned, “must necessarily” die, so that others, the rich, the well-off, the (again, due to abject racism) light-skinned might live. What kind of a load of bullshit is that? Who is anyone to say that some certainly must be better off than others? Who would dare assert the superiority of one group to another, whether it be cognitively, racially, or otherwise? What a sham! True justice and liberation from fear and hatred cannot persist unless we critically analyze this state of affairs.

But, while this is a sham, it is only perceived as such because I’ve felt the sting of the bees whose work it was to design the hive. Had I been like a greedy bear, as the men on Wall Street are, and striven always to eat from the hive’s ambrosial honey, and my mindset would be entirely different. This, of course, poses dense epistemic issues concerning the entire affair. For, surely I am rightly indignant at the disgusting evil which goes on in this world. But what of the structure conducive to it? For, if I am to say on one hand that a thing bites, of course I will recoil and create logical structures enabling that – such work is analytical-critical. But the synthetical-critical aspect, that which aims to produce new theorizations about this work, cannot help but remain marred by the analysis of the bites. In the same way, analytical-critical activity cannot help but be coated by honey when those partake of it – hence the “white liberal” reformist stereotype – such people are well off, so the bites of the status quo don’t sting them quite so severely.

But again, why bother with these thoughts? Well, I believe firmly that the status quo ought be torn apart critically. However, I have fear in the expression thereof. For, if I have only engaged with my own conceptions of these things and have understood that the critical work at hand is a construct of such conceptions, then the entire affair might well be called delusive, as it is all according to myself. And, if it be delusive, then there’s nothing in it which will be of any good to anyone. Now, surely some might say that the work will be appealing to others, but that means little – we know shared delusion is possible, so why not the sharing of thoughts which are delusive? Certainly it is possible – Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud are called the “masters of suspicion” for a reason. Each of these theorists shared a similar anlaytical-critical mindset. Yet, as has been pointed out many times over, there are latent assumptions herein which bring each of their respective works, Freud’s especially, to little more than theoretical lenses of examination. Was it not the case that Robespierre held a similar mindset of his fellow Frenchman? Sure it was. Was it also not the case that Antony held such a mindset of Cicero? Or that John Brown held such a mindset of slave-owners? Or that Lenin held such an opinion of the bourgeois?

In all such cases, in those of Robespierre and Lenin especially, righteous indignation and a desire for synthetical-critical activity was necessarily tinted by analytical-critical activity. The end result? Robespierre’s Terror and Lenin’s ultimate disbanding of the Soviets in favor of the Party. Now, perhaps its vain of me to think that my ideas and my work could be so influential, but my fear is not that. My fear, rather, is that I contribute to a critical tradition which ultimately serves to do little more than stir hatred while failing to produce concrete truth. In the end, then, I am become little more than a follower in a line of impotent critics, a bead on a circular rosary which necessitates the next, a thinker devoid of thought with any power.

This fear hems me in and keeps me, for the most part, silent. I suppose all of my fears do so – tis easier not to act than to act and be acted upon. My solution to this issue used to be a beginning from a synthetical-critical place while leaving analytical-criticism implicit. If one can begin from a place of beauty, building up goodness, he need not necessarily take the status quo for granted. No, with qualifications he can say – “such and such is beautiful, and such and such alone because of what is unique to it.” But this seems to be a matter which is too subtle for most people. The idea here was to rally the spirits of people to a sense of the Good, one which would necessarily entail a negation of the status quo for its failure to measure up. In this way, the synthetical-critical would take front position, but of course, this was not to be. I see now more than ever people online positing analytical-critical works without a sense of the Good at all. No, there is only the analytical sense that X is bad. There is no glorification of what ought to be in these works – rather, they entrench an attitude of hate and disgust.

I feel as though in between a rock and a hard place, as a consequence. Clearly hatred, even if warranted, is desired among people. I bear this hatred in myself, but have then and do now continue to see the vanity and falsity in it. Should I give in to that disgust? Should I rail against all that smells putrid? I don’t know. The delusive emptiness of the whole thing leaves me feeling as if I’m deceiving people. How can I partake of something doomed to impotence, doomed to merely inspire hate without love of something better? To do so would seem to be Satanic – to portray a false light in hate out of a rightfully garbage state of affairs. To do otherwise would seem to be similarly worthless.