Sozialwissenschaft: Rassismus

Für manche ist Rassismus ein Vorurteil, für andere eine politische Einstellung, für wieder andere eine Ideologie. Manche halten den Begriff für überholt, für unpassend, andere betonen, dass Rassismus zu einer Leerformel verkommen ist, die nur noch affektiven Gehalt trägt. Robert Miles und Malcolm Brown diskutieren, was dafür spricht, Rassismus als politische Ideologie zu betrachten.

“On the mutual influence of the ideologies of nationalism and racism Balibar writes:

The excess that racism represents with respect to nationalism and therefore what it adds to nationalism, tends at one and the same time to universalise it, correcting in sum its lack if universality, and to particularise it, correcting its lack of specificity. In other words, racism simply adds to the ambiguity of nationalism, not only on the theoretical plane – in many respects, racism has supplied nationalism with the only theories it has – but also on the practical plane, which means that through racism, nationalism engages in a ‘blind pursuit’, a metamorphosis of its ideal contradictions into material ones. (1991: 54).

In other word, the ‘nation’ will inevitably identify itself with the ‘race’, because historical, cultural, political and other distinguishing factors of a ‘nation’ are ultimately subsumed under the idea of ‘race’. This inevitably leads to a nationalistic purism, an ideology that ‘we’ must not be contaminated by ‘them’ (whether ‘they’ are German Jews in the 1930s, Bosnian Muslims in the 1990s, or asylum seekers in early twenty-first century Europe), but this is contradicted by the supernationalistic echos of racism – hence Balibar’s ‘blind pursuit’. At the same time, the ideology of nationalism, under the influence of racism, develops into an ethnocentric conception of humanity and, where the national unit is powerful enough, a programme of cultural imperialism. Importantly, racism is implicitly defined as an excess of nationalism, therefore dependent on nationalism for existence-such-as , while it also exerts influence on the ideology of nationalism as we have seen.

For these reasons, and in these ways, the argument that racism is a form of ideology, if unfashionable for some, is important and worth repeating, like a Socratic gadfly that repeatedly pesters the Athenian cultural theories of racism, ethnicities, identities and difference that all to often show little interest in explorating the material context of the capitalist world economy.

(MIles & Brown, Racism, p.10)