The recent dust up with The Master Race got me to thinking about why racism exists. I am sure for many people, the standard answers fit: can’t have a sense of self w/o having someone to be superior to, need someone to blame for real/perceieved problems, etc, but I started to wonder about why seemingly rational and fairly intelegent people would believe the garbage that many supremesists spout, stuff that is demonstrateably and proveably untrue. This is the theory that I came up with while making spaghetti sauce from scratch for dinner. I am not an anthropologist, or a genetisist, doubtless people who are will show up and tell me the whole thing is an oregano influenced crock, but here goes.
It occured to me that as primative man and primative society evolved, the propensity to band toigether would have been a valuable survival trait. A group of people are better equiped to survive than an individual, thus societies developed along the classic lines: Family, village, tribe, etc…, thus giving a group of people who could depend on each other to produce food, weather disasters, assist each other and so on. One of the most useful advantages this gave, it seems to me, is the ability to resist “them”- a different family/village/tribe that also wants access to resources and the like.
Now, given that society tends to evolve much faster than genetics, it seems to me that in the relatively short timeframe where human society has evolved from tribes to superpowers ( 3-4000 years, generally speaking ), genetics hasn’t had a chance to do much. In many parts of the world, “Tribe” is STILL the dominant identifier for any given individual.
So, in a modern, industrialized society, what does an individual have to identify with? “Family” is still there as the base group, but “village” is gone, for the most part, and the closest analagous group to “Tribe” is the extremely inaccurate and mostly illusitory “Race”.
My hypothesis, such as it is, is that humans may be hardwired to band together, and “race” is, for many people, the easiest common identifier above “family” but below “nation-state”, a classification that is fairly meaningless when you’re competing against other people who also are part of that nation-state, and because it is meaningless in this situation, many people revert to race as their self identifier, thus having an “us” to stand together against the “them”.
So, what do you think? Do I have something, or am I full of hooey?