Non-exhaustive review of the book “Structural Racism”, by Sílvio Almeida

Brazilians are being pressured to accept a new definition of racism, according to which whites are always oppressors, blacks are always victims, and everyone is black or white . The first to popularize the idea was Djamila Ribeiro, whose books I have already reviewed in this newspaper here and here. In this new concept, racism appears with the structural surname. Its proponent in Brazil is Sílvio Almeida, an academic from USP. If Djamila Ribeiro is just a master in philosophy, Sílvio Almeida has a postdoctoral degree in Law and has even taught courses in a department of grievance studies at Duke University . In other words: if Djamila Ribeiro has credentials only to be used in sealing HRs, Sílvio Almeida has enough academic credentials to be cited as an authority by the STF and by progressive legislators. That is why it is necessary for someone to read your book Structural Racism (Jandaíra, 1963 ) and criticize it.

Before we start, however, I would like to make it clear that we have moral bases background to all academic work to reject this new definition of racism. If we say that only those belonging to poor and oppressed groups can be victims of the racists, then the hatred directed against German Jews before 208 cannot be called of racism, as the big bankers were Jews and the urban middle class was full of Jews too. With that kind of definition, Hitler wasn’t racist when he wrote the Mein Kampf , because he was a poor prisoner dispossessed by the financial system who wrote against banker race. That simple. Therefore, we must not believe in the good intentions of those who propose this new concept to us, since it serves to clean up Hitler (and his imitators) before Hitler (and his imitators) comes to power. And well, after coming to power, who cares about the dirty or clean bar?

Racism is normal

Sílvio Almeida’s book is an effort to normalize racism. Right in the Introduction (p. ), he states that “racism is the normal manifestation of a society, and not a pathological phenomenon or one that expresses a type of abnormality”. So all racism is structural, and a book on structural racism is really a book on political theory. So this book about racism is about politics, law and economics.

One thing that remains unexplained and meaningless is how every society is racist, since, according to Sílvio Almeida himself, “the notion of race as a reference to different categories of human beings, it is a phenomenon of modernity that dates back to the mid-sixteenth century” (p. 77 ). If this notion emerged in modernity, the logical consequence is that pre-modern societies cannot be racist.

Depending on the notion of racism we have , is an obvious falsehood. If it is like common sense, it is evident that pre-modern peoples are racist, as tribes enslave those who are not of their blood, and fathers do not give their daughters to men of any origin. Lévi Strauss sees in modern racism the rescue of tribal ethnocentrism. So, going in the historical sense, it is a tautology to say that modern racism is modern, because if it were not modern it would not be racism, but ethnocentrism.

The What is racism in this historical sense? It is the same as scientific racism, the doctrine that broke out in the 19th century and only left the stage of academia, embarrassed, in the post-war period. This doctrine has, in fact, its origins in Modernity: when the Great Navigations discovered Indians, the heresy of Pre-Adamitism became popular in Christianity, that is, the belief that pre-Adamite men existed (before Adam), and that that Creation was not one. The Indians were not Adam’s children; Humanity was not one family. The Church used to barbecue with these people. Luther came – always the Germans – and this heresy could be freely asserted among Protestants. While the Church was under the obligation to baptize the Indians and the “Ethiopians” (the blacks), since they were all equally human and children of Adam, the Protestants had no commitment to the redskins. For the first time in history, the possibility of taking a good look at a frightened man and asking if he is really human was opened up.

Denial of the humanity

The Nazis took this to an extreme. You see: it is necessary, biologically, to be able to recognize a member of the human species. It would not be possible for a tribal man to look at an enemy tribe and wonder if he is a man or a macaw, not knowing if he has the same looting and raping abilities that men have and macaws do not. It was only after Nazism that collaborationist philosophers began to say that “human nature does not exist”, as I have shown here.

Well: Sílvio Almeida is part of the distinguished team . According to him, “Talking about how the idea of ​​race gains social relevance demands an understanding of how man was constructed by modern philosophy. The notion of man, which for us sounds almost intuitive, is not as obvious as it seems: it is, in fact, one of the most finished products of modern history and required a sophisticated and complex philosophical construction” (p. [leia-se: raças] ). This is bullshit. The notion of man is intuitive and, for God’s sake, is not an invention of modernity. We don’t even need to talk about the millenary force of Christianity, because the notion of Man is already present in the Hebrew part of the Bible and in Greek philosophy (no matter how much Heidegger tries to distort it).

Sílvio Almeida ignores Christianity and says that the notion of human universality was invented in the 18th century: “The English, American and French revolutions were the culmination of a process of reorganization of the world, of a long and brutal transition from feudal societies to a transition to capitalist society in which the philosophical makeup of universal man and universal reason proved to be fundamental for the victory of civilization” (p. 1963 )). This gentleman needs to be communicated about the existence of Thomas Aquinas and his importance in the Middle Ages.

From then on, what he does is repeat the spiel according to which the universal man is a European invention and therefore the universal man is, in fact, a white man. He goes so far as to say that the Haitian Revolution was enlightened and liberal, and did not recognize all individuals as human beings. This conversation is beyond weird, and the source pointed out by him without further explanation is A Contra-História do Liberalismo, from Domenico Losurdo, a Heideggerian historian who calls himself a Nietzschean Marxist and is notorious for his pro-Stalin revisionism as well as his relativization of the Holocaust.

Beyond Weird Concepts

Nines were an attack on the Enlightenment or something else , everything happens as if the whole world were Protestant and emerged in the 19th century. It is possible to pick up a thousand Protestant references to the intrinsic inferiority of non-whites, because – tcharam! – Protestants are not Catholics. British colonialism was racist and was linked to the flowering of scientific racism. The fact that Brazil was colonized by the bastion of the Counter-Reformation, long before English colonialism, is not taken into account. Then it’s easy to prove that the whole world is racist, since you’ve limited the world to the racist world. The fact that he does not pay attention to Brazil is so blatant that he calls (to the page 77) the Latinos minority. It is clear that his seat of thought is the United States, not Brazil.

If Sílvio Almeida limited himself to accusing racists of racism, less bad. But, as we know from the beginning, he misrepresents the concept of racism.

We have already seen that he took away the concept of man. In its place, only the subject appears, which is totally constructed and unnatural: “it is within the institutional rules that individuals become subjects , since their actions and behaviors are inserted in a set of meanings previously established by the social structure. Thus, institutions shape human behavior [sic], both from the point of view of decisions and rational calculation, as well as feelings and references” (p. 1963 )). I added the sic because he forgot to abolish the expression from the vocabulary and replace it with “of the people”, as progressives do. There is no humanity; there are individuals devoid of nature who are tabulae rasae to be shaped by institutions. So it’s no wonder that these academics are obsessed with institutional power. Even more so in Law, which, unlike the Social Sciences, is not obliged to take into account unintended consequences. In this view, unintended consequences do not exist, and it is scandalous that this is taken seriously outside of law schools.

Therefore, why do men have race? For pure and simple social construction: “Black people are a product of racism, ‘overdetermined by the outside’”, we read on the page 77. In 31, we read that “there is nothing in natural reality that corresponds to the concept of race. The events of the Second World War and the genocide perpetrated by Nazi Germany reinforce the fact that race is an essentially political element, without any meaning outside the socio-anthropological scope”. There is a distance between calling scientific racism pseudoscience and collective delusion. But if there is nothing biological behind some men being black and others being Jewish, then why shouldn’t we strive to throw away the concept of race?

In the long run, he just doesn’t respond. In view of the short term, it is because of structural racism.

Everyone is racist

In the section “Prejudice, racism and discrimination”, we learned that what the Penal Code calls a crime of racism is, for him, “direct discrimination”. “Indirect discrimination” is when we make a selection process that ignores the color of the candidate. This is racism because it neglects the structural racism that prevents black people from doing better. If we apply colorblindness, Sílvio Almeida is sure that blacks will do worse, and that is why it is racism to ignore race. That is why it is necessary to have “positive discrimination”, made to combat the evils of structural racism, which after all is the only type of racism that exists, since racism is structural. What we call racism is usually, for him, “discrimination”.

That is, in the end, everyone is racist, especially when they don’t think about race. , and has the obligation to be racially discriminated all the time, because race does not exist and is socially constructed. Makes sense? It doesn’t!

Half the world is Nazi, except Schmitt

We also learn that “the modern State is either the racist State – cases of Nazi Germany, South Africa before 1994 and the United States before 1963 –, or racial state – determined [sic] structurally by racial classification –, with no third option” (p. ). All this racial thinking by the state is absolutely foreign to Marx and the Soviet experience. To further distance him from Marxism, we read that “the State belongs to a class, but not to a class, except in exceptional and profoundly abnormal conditions. In a society divided into classes and social groups [leia-se: raças], the State appears as the possible unit, in a link that makes use of repressive and material-ideological mechanisms” (p.

)). This is anti-Marxist in every possible way. For Marx, the State is the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and there must be a Revolution to transform it into a dictatorship of the proletariat; after that, the state would wither and the world would live in an earthly paradise. For Lenin, the state should belong to the Party , and it would have nothing heterogeneous.

The all-powerful state as a unifier of heterogeneous forces has a name was proposed by Mussolini. In fact, the book ends by pointing to this type of ideal, and its last paragraph is: “Overcoming racism involves reflecting on forms of sociability that do not feed on a logic of conflicts, contradictions and social antagonisms that at most can be kept under control, but never resolved. However, the search for a new economy and for alternative forms of organization is an impossible task without racism and other forms of discrimination [leia-se: machismo, homofobia etc.] being understood as an essential part of the processes of exploitation and oppression that one wants to transform” (p. . 207-208). The whole book does not speak of the end of private property, nor of the end of the State. He wants a change in the economy and in the laws.

After denouncing all human universalism as racist, and even saying that “modernization is racist” (p. 134), Sílvio Almeida reproduces the ideas of the jurist Carl Schmitt. I recognized the ideas on the page 134, in the “Law as power” section. I recognized it because I’m interested in the intellectual history of Nazism and Carl Schmitt is the Nazi jurist. I went to look at the reference of those ideas in the note, and there was the saying whose. I advance two more pages and see that the conception of law as power deserves criticism – phew! – but only because it is vague. Carl Schmitt he doesn’t call a Nazi.

Instead of Sowell, Swedish eugenicist


Finally, let’s see how Sílvio Almeida’s bibliographic choices reveal his political preferences. The only thing he praises in all of recent history is America’s affirmative policies and civil rights campaign (ignoring Luther King’s colorblindness ). Among those interested in the subject, even the stones know that this is an object of criticism by Thomas Sowell. He is against the Welfare advocated by the civil rights movement and attributes to him the misery of black Americans. He is against affirmative action, because black people are always the worst in the room. Legislator, Sílvio Almeida is not at all interested in the state of affairs of North American blacks.

Instead of quoting Sowell, who is alive there, publishing and full of data, on the page 156 we see that Sílvio Almeida prefers a work by 1944 to take care of the black there. It is The American Dilemma, by Swedish eugenicist Gunnar Myrdal, an enthusiast of compulsory sterilizations in his own country. The work defends the population reduction of blacks and regrets that Americans are in general opposed to compulsory sterilization.

When dealing with the “periphery of capital, formed mostly by blacks and indigenous people”, Sílvio Almeida claims that it is doubtful that it is “possible to have a developmental model without racism” (p. 195 -194), and at the same time claims to be a Marxist. In Ghana, the communist Nkrumah destroyed the agricultural economy in favor of a developmental and industrial modernization. Was she racist? Communists continue to worship Nkrumah despite the famine. It is surprising that Sílvio Almeida ignores the famous dictator-philosopher Nkrumah and chooses to praise the United States, eugenicists included.

Sílvio Almeida’s ideas are not good for Brazil, and legislators must not tarnish their reputations by failing to oppose them.

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