Environment, racism, hierarchy, and dominance

January 29, 2023 by Joshua
in Nature

Many people point out how suffering from environmental problems like pollution and sea level rise correlate with skin color and ascribe the cause to racism.

You don’t have to look hard to see who lives in America’s Cancer Alley and Sacrifice Zones and compare their skin colors against the largest shareholders and board members of the companies profiting from creating those areas, or the people displaced from their land to extract resources or dump garbage compared with the people who pay for the plane tickets and SUVs the resources power or buy the cell phones and disposable diapers dumped there.

Eric Williams Capitalism And Slavery

It seems plausible, but I agree with Eric Williams and Ibram Kendi that slavery caused racism, not that racism caused slavery. Hierarchies that allow one group to dominate over another can lead to situations where the groups segregate by skin color, which then leads the dominant group to create stories and a culture justifying their actions.

Is the problem that subjugation is distributed unevenly by race? What if the dominance and subjugation were distributed evenly? I believe it would improve the world if the people dominating and causing suffering comprised each identity group evenly and likewise for the people subjugated and suffering.

Still, doesn’t it seem off that the amount of suffering doesn’t decrease in such cases? Williams, Kendi, and many others show that the racism didn’t cause the suffering so ending the racism wouldn’t end the suffering’s cause. The suffering would continue as long as the cause of the hierarchy remained.

Listen to my podcast episode with Daniel, host of the What Is Politics? videocast, or watch his show, to see what causes a dominance hierarchy: a necessary resource one person or group can control and no alternative. Absent those causes, if I try to tell you what to do, you can walk away. With them, if I control a resource you need and can’t acquire any other way, when I tell you what to do, you have to do it.

I’m working to end the source of a hierarchy leading to subjugation. In our world, those controlling energy sources like fossil fuels, uranium, or if it ever became viable, fusion can dominate over everyone who believes they need that energy. Since solar and wind require fossil fuels for manufacture, transportation, installation, decommissioning, and disposal, these not-clean, not-green, and not-renewable sources augment that dominance hierarchy. I’m trying to make us independent of those energy sources, as all humans were for 300,000 years.

What if there was no subjugation or suffering to distribute? Then no matter how you distributed equality, everyone would be equal, as all humans were for about 250,000 years.

I usually describe the problems of pollution and extraction as hurting people through their causing disease and lowering Earth’s ability to sustain life. On top of those problems, by creating a dominance hierarchy, depending on these energy sources also cause social problems.

If you pay for fossil fuels, fusion, fission, solar, or wind, you’re powering the dominance hierarchy causing the suffering I presume you want to end. Buying plane tickets, SUVs, cell phones, and disposable diapers funds the dominance hierarchy I believe that antiracists want to end.

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