Classes of people can be oppressed, but classes of people cannot be the oppressor.
Side Score: 19
Side Score: 18
There's very little real oppression happening in the United States. If someone who feels oppressed in the U.S. had to live in a truly oppressive society, they'd run back to the red, white, and blue forever changed. There is no oppression in the United States strong enough to keep anyone away from the American dream if they want it bad enough. Most countries and cultures cannot say that. I'm comparing the United States to other real countries and societies, rather than a Utopia that does not and will not ever exist.
There is no real super "oppressor" in the United States. There are amazingly rich people all around, but you don't have to work for them or associate with them at all. You can even sue them or challenge them. That is not oppression. Iran and Pakistan's treatment of women is oppression. Being a slave is oppression. Having no opportunity no matter what you do or how hard you work is oppression. That would be some country, but it would not be THIS country. Blacks decades ago were oppressed. Their ancestors are NOT oppressed. Any black person that decides they are going to be successful is successful, and no one can stop them. They have created a culture of "feeling oppressed" and hanging onto past "wrongs", but it just hurts them. I'm Native American. My forefathers were done more wrong than any group in American history, but what that does NOT mean, is that I am oppressed. What that does not mean, is that I went through the Trail of Tears. What that does not mean, is that I cannot be successful in the U.S. of TODAY, in real life, right now.
That's a tough one. But I voted false because in those (admittedly rare) circumstances where a nation has legal and widespread slavery you can indeed blame the entire class of slave owners because they control the rule of law and they have institutionalized the process of oppression.
But like I said, that's admittedly rare. Far more often the allegation of oppression and the reason it occurred isn't so cut and dried. I for example do not feel I or my direct ancestors were responsible for US slavery and shouldn't be lumped in with the oppressors despite my skin color. But that's because my family came over after it had already been institutionalized, did not own slaves, and lived in a state which voted to be "free". Yet I would say though that at the height of US slavery, before any serious bubbling up of emancipation cries, it would be fair to say the Whites (as a class) were oppressing Blacks.
At the height of US slavery, it was an institution for the rich. Most white people were not slave owners as most white people could not afford it. It's not even the case that all the rich were slave owners. John Adams, for example, did not own slaves.
Thus, you cannot know an oppressor by their class. Being white, male, or even rich was not sufficient to know an oppressor when you saw one. You could, however, know an oppressed man by the color of his skin.
In modern terms, there is an ongoing problem with human trafficking and forced prostitution. It happens in every state of the nation. It happens almost exclusively at the hands of men. This does not make every man a pimping slave driver. Not even if the man has done nothing to fight human trafficking. As most of us haven't.
I would agree with this statement. Even with a class of oppressors, there is usually a few that question the reason for it or look to form a bond with those who are oppressed. Be it in sympathy or as a way to be seen as a "savior" in the eyes of the oppressed, some may be with good intent, others may be doing it only for self-interest.
I'll take this side to play devil's advocate.
"Being the oppressor" is subjective. You could argue that you are the oppressor if you are directly allowing oppression to take place. For example, a man in the late 19th century using physical force to keep his wife in the kitchen and out of the polling station, or a white person in 20th century America forcing a black person to the back of the bus.
There is also the argument that if you are complicit in oppression, or if you are allowing yourself to benefit from the oppression without doing anything to stop it, then you're part of the oppressing group.
The daughter of a slave owner who is in full knowledge of what her father is doing, but chooses to ignore it because she has a very comfortable and wealthy life. She uses dehumanising slurs to refer to the slaves and enjoys watching them get punished, though she doesn't oversee or punish them herself.
A youngster in 1930s Germany who believes the Jews to be evil. When he goes out with his parents, he sees their behaviour towards them and doesn't stop it or even consider that it is wrong. He and his school friends talk about what they want to do to Jews "to help save Germany" but never carry out their fantasies.
A young woman in modern day Russia has three older brothers whom she knows routinely beat up gay men coming out of underground haunts in central Moscow. She doesn't particularly agree with what they're doing, but she doesn't do anything to try and stop them.
We could expand that to say that two centuries ago, a specific class of people (white slave owners and their families in the Deep South) were the oppressors. So yes, classes of people can be oppressors.
However, expanding this to an entire skin colour, gender or sexual orientation is very dangerous as it implies that huge groups of diverse people who don't hold a central shared viewpoint all think exactly the same way.
Hi Catninja , do oppressors always know they're oppressors ?
Thay may not see it this way as in slavers who purchased slaves for large plantations in the US , a lot of these people saw it as a divine right to purchase and own slaves and would mostly class themselves as ' Christian pillars of the community ' and would be horrified to be branded oppresssors .
No, I don't think you have to know or believe you're an oppressor to be one.
Obviously it's much clearer-cut if you know you're squashing certain people down, but you can be unaware of what you're doing and still be squashing those people down.
For example, you could be a man in the 19th century who genuinely believes women do not have the logical capabilities to make a sensible choice, and is worried that to allow them the vote would be to doom the country. This may be due to Victorian ideas or the kind of "science" that being peddled about by phrenologists etc. at that time.
You could have been taught in school that Jews are a threat to the Aryan race and if you don't have any reason to question it then you'll believe it just as surely as you would if you'd been taught the earth was flat.
I acknowledge it also paints the human race in a bad light to see everyone as either an oppressor or a victim. So while we may play the role of one or the other at times, our power shifts through our lives. So a child is "oppressed" in that they have less power than the adults in charge, but they can still take the role of a playground bully. A low-end office worker may have less power than his boss, but he can still go home and beat his wife. His wife may hold another sort of power (e.g. financial or social) over him, and so it goes on...
Oppression is not always "bad" (for example, letting pets or young children do whatever they like is probably not a good idea).
For the most part it's power dynamics and I also don't agree with the notion that all white people (or men, or straight people, or able-bodied people) are oppressors and all black people (or women, or gay / queer people, or disabled people) are victims. Some groups may or may not have certain advantages or generally hold more power in society, but it's too complex to try and draw generalisations.
This is exactly the error. Every black person can be targeted for oppression simply by being black. It is not the case that every white person necessarily oppressed simply by being white.
If you do nothing to stop human trafficking, that does not make you responsible for the actions of other men. Even if your a man.
Collectivist perspective has been the cause of the worst atrocities in human history. The error you are making helps explain how.
No, they didn't. Nazis did. The specific class of oppressors had oppression as part of their ideology, not their race.
Many in the master race were on the other side of the fight. Individuals are not defined by their group. Those who seek such definitions are the problem.
There is a narrow type of class that can be oppressive by virtue of their class. That is any class that has oppression as a necessary element of its nature. There are some clubs, gangs, and ideologies that fit this category.
It is a nuance that I couldn't build into the title and didn't think necessary to put in the description (it can be discussed here). It is the only situation that disproves the topic line. But I consider it the exception the proves the general rule.
The reason for the debate is to illustrate that oppressive people tend to view collective groups as a target and that many who oppose oppression make the same error of collectivizing people to oppose.
Your argument is false. It assumes that oppression is a choice rather than a natural by-product of hierarchical systems of government. In order to justify its own identity the ruling class must necessarily believe it has a right to that identity, which in turn leads to a justification of the identity of the lower classes. The ruling class quickly develops the notion that it is somehow "better" and this inevitably leads to oppression from above and resentment from below.
It assumes that oppression is a choice
Oppression is a choice. People choose to lynch black people and gas Jews.
rather than a natural by-product of hierarchical systems of government
All governmental systems are hierarchical, but not all governmental systems are oppressive. Nor do all forms of oppression stem from government. There are numerous non-governmental groups that choose to oppress other specific groups. The KKK are just one example.
In order to justify its own identity the ruling class must necessarily believe it has a right to that identity
Not only is it the case that not all ruling classes are governmental (except in Communist Regimes), but neither is it the case that all ruling classes are oppressive. Furthermore, the nature of rule wielded by the ruling class determines whether said class has a right to that identity or if a given individual deserves to wield the rule characteristic of the given class.
Not all power is equal, neither is it the same. Nor does all power lack justification. But more to the point, power and rule is not sufficient to claim oppression. Oppression requires actions by individuals.
The ruling class quickly develops the notion that it is somehow "better" and this inevitably leads to oppression from above
The ruling class quickly develops the notion that it is somehow "better" and this inevitably leads to oppression from above
The notion that you are better than others is usually necessary, though not sufficient to engage in oppression. Plenty of people, even most in a class, have thought they were better than me. They not only have thought this, but they have had the means to oppress. Yet, neither individuals nor groups from these classes have oppressed me. That's because oppression requires actions (which are necessarily individual in nature), not merely an oppressors notion.
Your positions technical incorrectness is made worse by leading to morally incorrect responses. Responses to faux oppression include various communist revolutions, the rise of Nazism, Berkeley Riots, and the Dallas Police sniper.
Oppression is a choice.
Wrong. It isn't as simple as that. Oppression is a by-product of the dominant culture in society. For example, slaveowners did not view themselves as oppressors, but rather believed they had the economic right to own slaves. This only changed once their culture changed, and the actions of slaveowners were only understood as oppressive by subsequent cultures.
People choose to lynch black people and gas Jews.
No, you are again oversimplifying. People did these things because they were legitimised by the dominant class culture. It is not by some magical coincidence that only German fascists "chose" to gas Jews. It is because it was justified by the ideology of the dominant class. The same applies to our present culture, in as much as the "choices" I make directly reflect the ideology of that culture.
All governmental systems are hierarchical
Clearly, no they aren't. The internet is governed, but it is not hierarchical.
but not all governmental systems are oppressive
All governmental systems which are hierarchical are oppressive, because otherwise you are saying people choose not to be valued as highly as other people.
There are numerous non-governmental groups that choose to oppress other specific groups. The KKK are just one example.
The KKK is governed, it is a hierarchy, and it has a dominant ideology, so you'd better try again.
Not only is it the case that not all ruling classes are governmental
I did not say that the government was the ruling class. I did not even mention government in the passage you quoted, so it appears that you are deliberately distorting my argument again.
but neither is it the case that all ruling classes are oppressive
Wrong. All hierarchy is oppressive, because nobody chooses to be at the bottom of a hierarchy.