Privilege is a tricky topic as those who have it often claim to not have it or to even understand what privilege is.
There are all sorts of privilege including white skin privilege, male privilege, heterosexual privilege and even cis-sexual/gender privilege*.
But I sometime think class is the greatest of all privilege.
It separates those women who come from a certain level of wealth from those who do not in a manner that often transcends male privilege, which tends to operate in the status gap between men and women of the same class.
The leveling of class difference between the higher status woman and the lower class man is the stuff of dramas such as Lena Wertmuller’s “Swept Away” or John Huston’s “African Queen”.
As some one working class by birth and red by education my class analysis derives in part from Marx.
Identity politics have made the divide and conquer strategy of the wealthy corporate elites easy. It is the Confederate Strategy. I say that because prior to the Civil War most white people in the South did not own slaves. Most of the people who died in the Civil War were were not the slave owning rich nor the the wealthy northern industrialists. Those who died like those who do most of the dying in all wars were united by one common bond. They were poor. Now they may well have believed heart and soul in the cause they were being asked to murder and die for but they had little invested in the out come and results of that war. Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight…
Racism is an instrument of control it plays upon skin color and demands that one identify as that skin color with all the attributed traits supposedly innate, when about the only real non socially constructed attribute is the amount of melanin. Racism based on origin is especially ironic given the knowledge that if we go far enough back we are all African with common shared ancestry.
Enslave people, deprive them of human dignity, prevent them from having the same from the womb opportunities of education and contacts that people who are the rich and powerful from before their parent’s conception have and you create a class that will be the worker class. A class who you can rely upon to murder and die to protect the interests of the rich and powerful.
Racism is used to keep people who share common class oppressions from uniting to form structures such as unions that help even out the power balance between the rich who own so much (80% of all wealth is in the hands of the top 20% of people in the US).
In the late 1960s SDS/Weatherman, which offered a Marxist analysis of class, appealed to me because I saw that the kids being sent to die in Vietnam and murder for the interests of the rich were united by class. That whether white or people of color they were mostly poor or middle class.
I was skeptical of second wave feminism that said all women were oppressed the same no matter one’s color or class. I thought, “How stupid do you think I am?”. You are connected with a degree from one of the Seven Sisters/Ivy League with no student loans and can take unpaid internships while I’m working at minimum wage and can barely afford to take a class now and then. You think we are equally oppressed? It is insulting to be taken for a fool.
I’ve wound up feeling the same sort of way about ENDA.
Somehow it seems like the people it will most affect are those who already have privilege. The privilege of degrees and job experience garnered as men, often as heterosexual men for whom transitioning has been stepping on the social status elevator and hitting the down button.
This is not meant to open the whine stream about how people never had male privilege so close that tap before responding to this.
Working people in the US, Canada, Europe and other places we used to called the developed nations or the industrialized nations are being fucked over by the globalization process.
Our jobs are being taken away from us and given to people who make pennies per hour. (See Marx on surplus value creation) This gives working people an even smaller slice of the money pie.
ENDA might help the privileged, but and here is the but…
On Facebook, Katrina Rose asked “What’s On the Menu” which I am repurposing from her point about marriage equality vs ENDA.
ENDA will do nothing to guarantee a living wage with health care benefits.
These sorts of measures may benefit the privileged with the resources to fight for their rights in a court of law.
Nor will ENDA do anything about too many people chasing too few jobs with Human Resource departments able to pick and choose from that huge pool based on often whimsical reasons rather than concrete qualifications.
ENDA will do nothing to end the ability of corporations and businesses to employ and fire at will.
So what is on the menu?
The same thing that is on the menu for everyone else in the 17% real unemployment class.
Part time hell, McJobs, baristas and wait staff with advanced degrees.
The top 20% in this nation control 80% of the wealth and the bottom 80% are being …force to give the top 20% even more through austerity measures.
The right wing in this country has destroyed the unions and legal aid. they want to ban class action law suits.
Since the Reagan years we have had drug testing. Hiring is on a strictly subjective basis and one can be fired for any reason or no reason what so ever.
This is the reality for all workers in the new servant economy. Particularly older workers with a memory of a time when things were different.
So workers are angry and sullen and afraid to even think of revolt.
The idea that ENDA will do anything to change this is kind of delusional. Look at the rate of unemployment of young African American men.
Membership in the privileged class that makes up that top 20% starts when your parents were born. If you aren’t part of that class the likelihood of your moving into that class via personal ability is very slim unless you are in sports or the arts and even then…
I think the transcentric point of view of this situation is often due to a loss of status when transitioning from male to female.
For those of us born either people of color, working class white or too obvious it has been a life long reality.
For many of us the computer industry was like manna from heaven but that was too much like those old manufacturing jobs. They are now in India along with the tech support jobs that gear heads who were either asocial or non conformist used to work even 15 years ago. The sort of job where they didn’t give a shit about your piercings and tats. Or gender presentation, as skill actually meant something.
Maybe we all need a greater level of working class consciousness and a lot of healthy class rage at the way the corporations and wealthy are destroying the world.
Maybe we need to have a world wide revolution that redistributes wealth and power from the hands of the few rich right wing oligarchs and levels out the wealth disparity.
As it is it is only a matter of time until all working people are reduced to living in hovels and scavenging from the garbage piles of the rich 20%. A fortunate few of us will get to wait on and be servants to that class, the rest of us are disposable.
Welcome to the proletariat.
*As much as I hate the construction sometimes there is no avoiding the term cis-sexual or cis-gender.