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Author Topic: Reparations?  (Read 9892 times)

((A))P

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Reparations?
« on: December 14, 2006, 10:50:19 AM »
Anyone else agree that Affirmative Action is a pathetic excuse for reparations? Is there any room to argue that affrimative  action, put into effect by whites, deflected the vison and purpose of the Black liberation struggle in this country? Does affirmative action operate to provide oppurtunities for some people of color while keeping the overall conditions of oppression and white privilege in place? In other words the fact that some under-represented minorities receive some preferential consideration is ultimately miniscule in light of the larger structure of inequality. Instead of being drawn into debates on AA what about building a movement to take back what was stolen through slavery and oppression.

n/a

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Re: Reparations?
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2006, 11:22:55 AM »
Throwing out empty rhetoric about opression, the "larger structure of inequality", and taking back what was "stolen" without making any attempt to quantitatively justify any of those comments in any shape or form won't help the situation either.


EDIT:  Im not going to get involved in this topic; I feel strongly about this issue, as Im sure you do as well.  My beliefs are unpopular and misconstrued as somehow bigotted since I don't feel that reparations and AA are ethically appropriate in today's day and age.  There's my .02... I dont feel like getting heated over this or debating it, since nothing either of us does will change anything about the system.

((A))P

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Re: Reparations?
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2006, 12:10:42 PM »
I'm glad to hear that you arent going to get involved in this topic. I am specifically interested in discussing the implications of AA with those who either recognize the existence of racial oppression or those who have lived through such oppression. There does happen to be plenty of published scholarship which disucsses racism and the legacy of slavery, i would particularly reccomend the short book, "Are Prisons Obsolete?" by Angela Davis, of course anything by well respected scholars Cornell West or Manning Marable would also suffice. I would suggest researching Thaddeus Stevens, a US Congressman who proposed a bill for reparations after the Civil War. With regard to what was stolen, for starters how about simply labor power. In any case i think we are familiar with the mainstream arguments against AA, what i am interested in here is trying to understand why whites initially supported AA (and executed it). and what role AA plays within the larger struggle against oppression. my position is that it operates to absorb the threat of revolt and largescale resistance and ideologically imposes a particular set of values. any serious comments welcome, but i doubt i'll get any.

redemption

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Re: Reparations?
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2006, 12:14:59 PM »
Yes, yes. And the alternative is?

ptown

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Re: Reparations?
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2006, 02:13:06 PM »
AA is not an attempt at reparations, it is an attempt at integration.  In law school admissions, for instance, minorities are referred to as under-represented.  The intent is to give them a leg up on integration, not to make up for some past transgression.

In order to collect actual reparations, one would have to prove an economic loss.  The claimant would need to identify individuals that were wrongly enslaved, tally their hours of labor, find the prevailing labor rate, subtract off their cost of living (which considering the subsistence nature of the work, would likely barely exceed the cost), and then apply interest until the present day.  Furthermore, the claimant would need to identify the actual owner of the slave and pursue the debt from their family.  All of this is irrelevant of course, because it is a basic principle of law that one cannot be charged retroactively for a an action that was made illegal after the fact.  Therefore, there is no ability to collect against a party for an action that was not considered a tort at the time of commission.  One might say, "well then it is the governments fault for being negligent in providing an adequate framework of laws".  This is of course, also irrelevant since our society and legal system rests on the individual.  The government, even if it were somehow responsible, cannot compensate a nebulous group of society.  Only individuals can collect.  In order to do so, they must prove their case. 

The only part of the original argument that I have discussed here is that of lost labor.  Actions (or inactions) of the government during the civil rights movement are a different issue, since one could argue about damages done by the government negligently not enforcing laws.  Still though, each individual, in order to be compensated monetarily, would need to prove an economic loss.

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((A))P

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Re: Reparations?
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2006, 03:36:50 PM »
I'll try to clarify to the best of my ability the issue which i am interested in with regard to AA. When i refered to it as a pathetic excuse for reparations (this is also a partial quote from a song performed by Immortal Technique) i meant to indicate that AA is not worth debating. We (those who acknowledge racial oppression) should disengage from the distraction of debating AA and try to get at something more significant; mainly the function of AA as a state apparatus designed to enforce a racist  and capitalist hegemony. it might be usefull to consider Louis Althusser's concept of the ideological state apparatus (isa). an isa is an apparatus which interpellates individuals as subjects through the use of ideology. In the case of AA it reproduces a certain set of values and material conditions which, in my opinion serve to benefeit only a few under-represented minorities at the expense of a more liberatory and communitarian social justice praxis. In the words of Audre Lorde, "The Masters Tools Will Never Dismanle the Masters House."

Red: I am not sure what it is you agree with, however as to the alternative to AA this is precisely the kind of question we need to ask and take seriously. Theorizing creative alternatives may not be easy but its extremly necessary (if you agree that AA is a form of social control and reaction rather that a tool for liberation).


redemption

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Re: Reparations?
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2006, 04:28:52 PM »
How are you going to get whitey to sign on to reparations?

I assume that you know the all of the form arguments for and against, so how are you proposing to break through that impasse?

redemption

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Re: Reparations?
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2006, 04:41:28 PM »
rbg -- tell us what you think of these two proposals as an alternative to reparations:

http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~wright/Redesigning%20Distribution%20v1.pdf

briefer version of the 2nd proposal:
http://www.prospect.org/print/V11/16/ackerman-b.html

((A))P

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Re: Reparations?
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2006, 01:23:12 AM »
rbg -- tell us what you think of these two proposals as an alternative to reparations:

http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~wright/Redesigning%20Distribution%20v1.pdf

briefer version of the 2nd proposal:
http://www.prospect.org/print/V11/16/ackerman-b.html

i honestly didn't have much time to look over in depth the proposals you posted. the first one was really long (sorry). the second involves an $80,000 grant given to every young american as a "birthright of citizenship." The second proposal is not valid in my opinion because for one thing it reifies u.s.economic dominance and the first world privilege of its citizens. Note as well that this proposal does not include permanent residents or "illegal" (no human being is illegal) immigrants. Reparations at least for me is only a point of departure leading to more radical social change. AA in my opinion operates as an apparatus for preventing this change by incorporating very few oppressed people into the power structure. To make us think that if we play by the rules we'll get some chips to cash out at the end of the day. For more on the liberation i am interested in please take the time to view this clip:

http://www.freespeech.org/fscm2/contentviewer.php?content_id=1435

also i respect the tendency to try and come up with proposals that are "practical." however something that i think is crucial is to think about how i think. in other words embrace theory, to paraphrase william v. spanos "think positively the unsayable."

redemption

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Re: Reparations?
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2006, 10:44:48 AM »
Forget reparations. Its never gonna happen.