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Thread: Did you know that "Classical Music is Inherently Racist?"

  1. #106
    Senior Member MacLeod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    I gave a working definition in the very post you just quoted: a pseudo-scientific extrapolation of proto-evolutionary (and later, Darwinian) biological theories dating from the late enlightenment that sought to establish a hierarchy of human types that could be classified, tested, and measured. Why is this so difficult?
    I don't know. Is it difficult for you, to have to explain to others what you mean? This is not what I'd call a "working" definition. It's more a thesis on the origins of 'racism' than a practical definition which we can use to point to and measure the extent to which this or that behaviour is racist.

    My point was that the author of that piece is making use of purely Western notions of morality and political equality in order to portray Western civilization as hopelessly exploitative and morally corrupt.
    But since you didn't actually say that, you'll understand my difficulty.
    "I left TC for a hiatus, but since no-one noticed my absence, I came back again."

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacLeod View Post
    It's more a thesis on the origins of 'racism' than a practical definition which we can use to point to and measure the extent to which this or that behaviour is racist.

    But since you didn't actually say that, you'll understand my difficulty.
    It's a thesis adopted by the overwhelming majority of scholars (among whom one might cite Winthrop Jordan, probably the most respected American historian of racism, and George Mosse) who study the subject, and the procedure for applying it to concrete situations is quite simple. We ask ourselves, is this behavior, emotion, policy, feeling, or act related to or influenced by pseudo-scientific extrapolations of proto-evolutionary (and later, Darwinian) biological theories dating from the late enlightenment that sought to establish a hierarchy of human types that could be classified, tested, and measured? If so, it may be denominated racist.

    I said: "Both the anti-racist ideology of equal rights and racism are entirely Western notions, so that whichever one supports one has been ideologically colonized. The very notion of rights as we know them is a Western one. In fact, the entire moral framework under which anti-racist thought operates is thoroughly Western. I'm not even sure that "morality" is the proper term to describe the traditional ethical customs of non-Western cultures since they seem to have so little in common with the meaning that attaches to that word in modern usage." It's precisely the same thing, only elaborated for greater specificity.
    Last edited by Logos; Dec-06-2019 at 09:20.

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  4. #108
    Senior Member MacLeod's Avatar
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    Well I'm sorry that no scholars are around to have an intellectual discourse with you and Winthrop (no disrespect intended to Oortune or SM who have also engaged with you.)

    In the meantime, I'd look for something more practical to help us see whether CM is racist.
    Last edited by MacLeod; Dec-06-2019 at 09:39.
    "I left TC for a hiatus, but since no-one noticed my absence, I came back again."

  5. #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacLeod View Post
    Well I'm sorry that no scholars are around to have an intellectual discourse with you and Winthrop (no disrespect intended to Oortune or SM who have also engaged with you.

    In the meantime, I'd look for something more practical to help us see whether CM is racist.
    What is the meaning of this harping on "intellectual discourse?" What are you trying to imply? Is determining what key terms actually mean impractical? Do you know what "practical" means?
    Last edited by Logos; Dec-06-2019 at 09:50.

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  7. #110
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    It would if those actions were motivated by racist theories, which had nothing to do with the policies of the Mongol Empire. You seem to apply "racism" without any distinct meaning that would differentiate it from all other forms of hostility between cultural groups. This fails to account for the unique intellectual history of racism proper as a product of the late enlightenment: a pseudo-scientific extrapolation of proto-evolutionary (and later, Darwinian) biological theories that sought to establish a hierarchy of human types that could be classified, tested, and measured. Since your broad definition is unable to distinguish between the ideology of the Confederacy and the Mongol Empire, its usefulness in intellectual discourse seems to me to be slight.
    I must assert here that two things can be true and operative at the same time. In the case of human group interactions we discuss here, tribalism when present (as it usually is, often just below the surface) is the base condition, accounting for the global occurrence of episodic hostility and warfare among groups. Logos' racism definition is simultaneously operative everywhere it has been introduced as the post indicates as a pseudoscientific justification for any pre-existing tribalism. I cannot verify personally the conditions that many historians have assured us prevailed during the days of Ancient Rome or of the early Arab/Muslim expansion and later civilization. But they tell us that in both the Roman Empire and during the various Muslim Caliphates, and under the Mongols, etc., racism as it is understood and practiced today was unknown--ordinary garden-variety tribalism being more than sufficient to account for any ensuing carnage.

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  9. #111
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    . We ask ourselves, is this behavior, emotion, policy, feeling, or act related to or influenced by pseudo-scientific extrapolations of proto-evolutionary (and later, Darwinian) biological theories dating from the late enlightenment that sought to establish a hierarchy of human types that could be classified, tested, and measured? If so, it may be denominated racist.
    This is too narrow a definition of racism. Garden variety racists are not influenced by any theory at all. Pseudo-scientific theory is a rationalization of racism more than a definition of it.

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  11. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    This is too narrow a definition of racism. Garden variety racists are not influenced by any theory at all. Pseudo-scientific theory is a rationalization of racism more than a definition of it.
    And therein lies perhaps the most important difference between racism and other forms of tribal prejudice: it has a pseudo-scientific justification that made it more insidious and dangerous than those other forms, cloaking itself in scientific exactitude and plausibility. I would say that racism itself is a rationalization of tribal prejudice that makes use of pseudo-scientific theories of biological race. And unless you have a biological rationalization, or or are at least indirectly influenced by one, then your prejudice is not racist, but is merely one of the more generic forms of tribal prejudice that have existed throughout time. I would argue that garden variety racists (insofar as I understand that phrase), are in fact influenced by theories indirectly through being influenced by other people who are directly influenced by theories.
    Last edited by Logos; Dec-06-2019 at 20:08.

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  13. #113
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    I cannot verify personally the conditions that many historians have assured us prevailed during the days of Ancient Rome or of the early Arab/Muslim expansion and later civilization. But they tell us that in both the Roman Empire and during the various Muslim Caliphates, and under the Mongols, etc., racism as it is understood and practiced today was unknown--ordinary garden-variety tribalism being more than sufficient to account for any ensuing carnage.
    Exactly, I agree with this entirely. To speak of racism before the Enlightenment is a misleading anachronism. Proto-racialist tribalism perhaps, but not certainly not racism in the strict sense.
    Last edited by Logos; Dec-06-2019 at 20:13.

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  15. #114
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    This is too narrow a definition of racism. Garden variety racists are not influenced by any theory at all. Pseudo-scientific theory is a rationalization of racism more than a definition of it.
    Certainly the case in the American ante-bellum South where the Bible was mined exhaustively for evidence of divine wisdom in establishing the "proper" ordering of the races. If one reads extensively in such slavery-justifying literature as increasingly dominated Southern planters' efforts to justify their peculiar institution, it is difficult to escape a profound nausea. This interpretation of biblical approval of slavery also leads to the whole Southern slaveholder concept of "honor", which is the actual antithesis of genuine honor.

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  17. #115
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    And therein lies perhaps the most important difference between racism and other forms of tribal prejudice: it has a pseudo-scientific justification that made it more insidious and dangerous than those other forms, cloaking itself in scientific exactitude and plausibility. I would say that racism itself is a rationalization of tribal prejudice that makes use of pseudo-scientific theories of biological race. And unless you have a biological rationalization, or or are at least indirectly influenced by one, then your prejudice is not racist, but is merely one of the more generic forms of tribal prejudice that have existed throughout time. I would argue that garden variety racists (insofar as I understand that phrase), are in fact influenced by theories indirectly through being influenced by other people who are directly influenced by theories.
    That's rather tortured. Prejudices can arise and be perpetuated without any theoretical derivation or grounding, however people try to justify them. I'm quite certain that my father's prejudices against blacks and women involved a certain amount of rationalization going on in his own head, but had no relation whatever to any pseudoscientific theory. Some people just need to compensate for their own lack of self-esteem,or account for their own fears or difficulties, by looking for ways in which others, as individuals or groups, are alien, inferior, wrong, or threatening.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Dec-06-2019 at 20:20.

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  19. #116
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    Certainly the case in the American ante-bellum South where the Bible was mined exhaustively for evidence of divine wisdom in establishing the "proper" ordering of the races. If one reads extensively in such slavery-justifying literature as increasingly dominated Southern planters' efforts to justify their peculiar institution, it is difficult to escape a profound nausea. This interpretation of biblical approval of slavery also leads to the whole Southern slaveholder concept of "honor", which is the actual antithesis of genuine honor.
    The Southern aristocracy was well acquainted with biological race theories and they wrote about them incessantly. It was they who ultimately decided what would be preached and in some cases they were the preachers. There you have a form of indirect influence--those directly acquainted with racist theory offering a theological justification to those who would be less likely to grasp a scientific justification.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Prejudices can arise and be perpetuated without any theoretical derivation or grounding, however people try to justify them. I'm quite certain that my father's prejudices against blacks and women involved a certain amount of rationalization going on in his own head, but had no relation whatever to any pseudoscientific theory.
    I should think that if one pursued the intellectual history of a person with those beliefs, one would ultimately find that, although he himself may have no distinct biological theories of race, he has probably been indirectly influenced by those who have, or been influenced by those who have themselves been influenced. The alternative, which is by no means to be rejected outright although it is less commonly observed in the modern world, is that such a person might dislike black people without being a racist in the same way that the characters in Othello hate the moor without being racists in the sense that we understand the word. They are merely xenophobic, tribalist, and bigoted. They don't believe that Othello is inherently, that is to say biologically, inferior because he stands lower in the evolutionary hierarchy. They had no such distinct concepts of race itself.
    Last edited by Logos; Dec-06-2019 at 20:32.

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  23. #118
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    I should think that if one pursued the intellectual history of a person with those beliefs, one would ultimately find that, although he himself may have no distinct biological theories of race, he has probably been indirectly influenced by those who have, or been influenced by those who have themselves been influenced. The alternative, which is by no means to be rejected outright although it is less commonly observed in the modern world, is that such a person might dislike black people without being a racist in the same way that the characters in Othello hate the moor without being racists in the sense that we understand the word. They are merely xenophobic, tribalist, and bigoted. They don't believe that Othello is inherently, that is to say biologically, inferior because he stands lower in the evolutionary hierarchy. They had no such distinct concepts of race itself.
    You're still insisting on the notion that a prejudice against something must derive - whether first-, second- or third-hand - from some "distinct concept" or theory of why that thing is bad. That notion is unprovable and defies common sense. Western scientific culture did give rise to a particular, genetically-based concept of race (which you presumptuously call "the sense that we understand the word" [who is "we"?]) - but less scientific, less specific concepts are not only possible but, it should be obvious, ubiquitous. Is the idea that blacks are sexually "animalistic" - that black men are sexually threatening and black women "easy" - based on some pseudoscientific theory? I think a little research will reveal that that idea predates by centuries the theories you're citing.

    For the most part, prejudices don't arise from academic theory, which is merely brought in to justify and reinforce them. When Africans became a commodity for economic exploitation, any theory of why blacks were inferior and slavery was proper, and any source of support from the Bible to Darwin, would serve to maintain the necessary attitude and the established order. This is, unfortunately, a part of human nature.

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  25. #119
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewWeflen View Post
    I came across this gem in my google feed last night:

    https://nmbx.newmusicusa.org/its-tim...cal-music-die/



    This kind of thing is very sad. The fine arts have long been a pastime for the wealthy elite, with everyone else having less access and opportunity to experience them. This is not the fault of the fine arts, but of the prevalence of economic inequality. The industrial revolution began a trend away from economic inequality, towards more access to the fine arts, including classical music, and not surprisingly, a boom in interest in classical music that lasted through much of the 20th century. But in recent years there has been a disturbing trend towards increasing economic inequality in much of the world. In western Europe and North America, we've seen a disturbing rise in anti-immigrant sentiments and "white nationalism" (though I don't see how those who would use racism as a weapon are entitled to be dignified with such a fancy term).

    Sorry to get all political, but I see authors like this as using classical music as a scapegoat for political issues that have nothing whatsoever to do with it. Fortunately and not surprisingly, non-white classical musicians continue to make their presence increasingly felt.

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  27. #120
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    It may be impossible to accurately disentangle from one another pseudoscientific theories of racial gradation from the more immediate and base exploitation of the power of one group over another. In contrast to notions of African virility were Buffon's assertions that native American peoples "have small organs of generation" and "little sexual capacity" in part due to the supposed unfinished state and "unprolific land" of the Western Hemisphere. Buffon never crossed the Atlantic to see for himself. But one can understand how some might acquire a racist mindset removed in time and/or space from the scene of current or future practice of racial oppression by reading such nonsense. One can also understand how useful such nonsense would be in justifying ex post facto any such oppression.
    Chicken/egg conundrum in at least some cases.

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