Forum N.H.I.: Knowledge for the 21st Century. vol. 1, no. 1, Fall 1994.
FROM “NOBLE” TO “EUGENIC” DESCENT, “CASTE” TO “RACE,” WHITE/BLACK TO OWNERS, JOBHOLDERS/NON-OWNING JOBHOLDERS DIFFERENTIAL
Before the Civil Rights Movement of the Sixties, the institutionally secured White/Black segregation served to absolutize, as the icon of an ostensibly pre-selected genetic value differential between human hereditary variations, the representation of eugenic descent on whose basis the global middle classes legitimate their ontological hegemonic social status. In the same way as in the earlier feudal order of Europe the Noble/Peasant invariant status differential had recursively served to verify the “truth” of the divinely ordered hegemony of the aristocracy based on its Noble line of descent; one which legitimated their caste dominance. This earlier truthhad only been brought to an end by the intellectual revolution of humanism of fourteenth and fifteenth century Europe, when the lay humanists had challenged and displaced the absolutism of the theological categories of the then mainstream Scholastic order of knowledge, presided over by the Clergy - categories, whose primary function was to “verify” the ostensibly divinely ordained status principles of the order, and its code of “Caste.” Equally the code of “Race” can only be brought to an end with the bringing to an end of the “our present mode of truth” together with the Absolutism of its economic categories.
Both W. E. B. Du Bois and Elsa Goveia have emphasized the way in which the code of “Race” or the Color Line, functions to systemically predetermine the sharply unequal redistribution of the collectively produced global resources; and, therefore, the correlation of the racial ranking rule with the Rich/Poor rule. Goveia pointed out that all American societies are integrated on the basis of a central cultural belief in which all share. This belief, that of the genetic-racial inferiority of Black people to all others, functions to enable our social hierarchies, including those of rich and poor determined directly by the economic system, to be perceived as having been as pre-determined by “that great crap game called life,” as have also ostensibly been the invariant hierarchy between White and Black. Consequently in the Caribbean and Latin America, within the terms of this socio-symbolic calculus, to be “rich” was also to be “White,” to be poor was also to be “Black.”
Where the segregation system of the United States’ variant had made the White/Black invariant into the absolute and primary in-variant, with the Civil Rights struggle and the rise of the Post-Industrial consumer-driven economy, the primary focus has shifted to a variant of the old differential. This differential is one between the suburban category of the owners and jobholders on the one hand (of all races including the Cosby-Huxtable and A Different World Black Americans), and the Black non-owners and non-job-holders on the other. Consequently, since the Sixties, this new variant of the eugenic/dysgenic status organizing principle has been expressed primarily by the growing life style differential between the suburban middle classes (who are metonymically White), and the inner city category of the Post-Industrial Jobless (who are metonymically young Black males). Where the category of the owners/jobholders are, of whatever race, assimilated to the category of “Whites,” the opposed category of the non-owners, and the non-jobholders are assimilated to the category of the “young Black males.”
The analogy I want make here is this. That if the ostensibly divinely ordained caste organizing principle of the Europe’s feudal-Christian order was fundamentally secured by the Absolutism of its Scholastic order of knowledge, (including its pre-Columbus geography of the earth and its pre-Copernicus Christian-Ptolemaic astronomy), the ostensibly evolutionarily determined genetic organizing principle of our Liberal Humanist own, as expressed in the empirical hierarchies of race and class (together with the kind of gender role allocation between men and women needed to keep these systemic hierarchies in place), is as fundamentally secured by our present disciplines of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Given that once the physical and the biological sciences had, after long struggles, freed human knowledge of the physical and biological levels of reality, from having to verify, as they still did in the feudal-European and all other pre-Sixteenth century human cultures, the “truth” or mode of subjective understanding/inner eyes on whose basis the role allocation system of each order can alone be perceived as having been extra-humanly determined, and therefore as just, only the “truths” with respect to our knowledge of the social reality of which we are subjects (and therefore always already subjected and socialized agents/observers), could now be deployed to verify the ostensible extra-human, because bio- evolutionary determined nature of our present status-organizing principle based on the code of “Race.” As the Liberal analogue therefore of the feudal code of “Caste.”
My proposal here therefore is that it is only on the basis of the classificatory logic of our present Humanities and Social Sciences, and its related mode of subjective understanding or “inner eyes” generated from the representation of the human as an evolutionarily selected organism, (and who can therefore be more or less human, even totally lacking in humanness as in the case of the N.H.I.), that we can be induced to see all those outside our present “sanctified universe of obligation,” whether as racial or as Jobless Other, as having been placed in their inferiorized status, not by our culture-specific institutional mechanisms but rather by the extra-human ordering of bio-evolutionary Natural Selection.
That our global and nation-state socio-systemic hierarchies are therefore the expression, not of the prescriptive categories of our now globalized cultural epistemological model, but of the, in the last instance, evolutionarily pre-selected degrees of eugenic “worth” between human groups at the level of race, culture, religion, class, ethnicity, sexuality, and sex.