Humanism or racism
from Hardy Hanappi and issue 93 of RWER
The state of the global political economy is producing an extremely dangerous dynamic. The human species has conquered the planet, its productive forces are reaching ever more sophisticated levels and are arranged in a global network that would be able to transform growth of profits into growth of general welfare. But such a transformation needs a political agent, which is powerful enough to defeat the forces, which currently exploit large parts of the human population just to accumulate profits in the hands of some small, globally ruling classes.
The essential characteristic of the human species is that its members are using internal mental models to choose their actions. These models mostly are learned and shared by groups, constituting what in political economy has been called class consciousness. The formation of this consciousness partly takes place in local family and work contexts, partly it is shaped by the global information sphere. The structure of classes thus today can only be understood by taking the processing contradiction between local and global experiences serious. The successes of Fascism leading to WWII show that there are ways to interpret exploitation, which can mobilize the population of nation states against an imagined group of enemies. This strategy of a self-proclaimed new national ruling class to strengthen their new rule and the accompanying exploitation regime is called Racism. It divides the human species into two groups, a superior one (which has the right to exploit) and an inferior one (which in the long-run is thought to fall back to the status of intelligent animals). Racist ideology is “rational” as far as it promises to keep class rule and exploitative force in the hands of the superior class. To exert power two different possibilities can be combined: direct coercive force and ideological power, i.e. manipulation by ideology. Being a member of this class – or at least to believe that one is a member of it – it is evident that there is an immediate material and psychological benefit of subscribing to racism.
Humanism, the ideology that ranks the welfare of the whole species first, denies that there is a division between superior and inferior humans. Though it insists on the existence of classes and class struggles it nevertheless also underlines that progress towards general human welfare of all in the long-run is the lesson to be learned from history. Racist short-run maximizations can be understood, but to suppress them in time is important: destructive military force as part of the general growth of productivity nowadays even in the short-run easily can lead to the extinction of the whole species if races or nations go to war.
Humanism comes in different flavours. The simplest form takes a short-cut via religious rules or morale sentiments. This axiomatic humanism does not refer to any further justification but rather views itself as a self-evident, innate attitude. As a consequence, its carrier is the single human individual. It thus remains deeply rooted in methodological individualism and is free from being linked to any consideration of classes and exploitation. This independence from any decisive political stance allows a wide-spread acceptance in different social strata. The downside of this flexibility is the impotence of axiomatic humanism with respect to well-defined social and political actions that go beyond a single individual’s morale or religious judgement. Another type of humanism is evolutionary humanism. In short, it is based on a deeper understanding of long-run social progress of the whole species – that is, it represents the full version of what axiomatic humanism often is the unconscious short-cut of. Evolutionary humanism necessarily needs to interpret history in its sequence of class struggles – of emergence and demise of classes – to delineate long-run progress. Single individuals are not the starting point of the explanation, their internal model-building and communication is just one ingredient to better understand the upward leading oscillations that class struggles produce. In between these two types of humanism it is easy to position mixtures, which interpret the axiomatic version as the evolutionary outcome of unconscious historical experience, or vice versa the evolutionary progress as an asymptotic approximation towards optimal ethical behaviour.
Racism in turn, also appears in a variety of ways. read more