Alexander Lynn

Jul 19, 2021

3 min read

Academic Musings about Oppression

The following analysis was conducted on Harvard professor Robert Harro’s “Cycle of Oppression” (https://depts.washington.edu/geograph/diversity/HarroCofS.pdf) in response to the writing prompt from a college English class.

Michelle Winbush

We have been asked to reflect on Harvard sociology professor, Robert Harro’s presentation of what he calls “the cycle of socialization.” Presented to the reader as social science, this reviewer sees random jabs taken at the subjects of oppression via socialization, with no method, theory or system of thought identified save that which is unsaid — the entire presentation is written within the bounds of the present regime, and therefore, does not address the dissolution of this regime, the source of the oppression.

For the above-stated reasons, Harro’s “Cycle of Socialization” does not rise to the level of genuine social science. A more appropriate designation for his narrative and findings would seem to include the title “Musings Regarding Socialization,” with a subtitle, “Random Thoughts Regarding Oppression.”

Genuine social science sets out to (1) enlist the oppressed themselves (the large majority of the world’s people) in discerning the logic of their plight, towards generating a people’s liberation movement whose goal is to end oppression of whatever kind. (2) Identify the era in human history in which the phenomenon under examination was born, has lived its life, and is dying. (3) Identify the social system inside the historical era in which said social phenomenon has developed and is dying away.

In the above connection, Harro’s initial “stab” at defining the problem of socialization leading to oppression contains within it the logic of the oppressive regime itself: Without naming the historical era under which this socialization and oppression are taking place, he offers the following “oppressed” social groups: “Races,” “ethnicities,” and “skin color”.

“Races” All elementary school children know (1) race is a biological term, not social science. (2) That there is, biologically speaking and proven so over decades of struggle against white supremacist/male supremacist “sociology,” only one race — the human race. There is absolutely no proof of sub-species of the human race that are taken seriously, save for liberal presentations like that of Harro, which, on one hand, claim to be opposing oppression, while on the other hand, methodically using what Audre Lorde calls “the masters’ tools to try to bring down the master’s house” — it’s not going to happen. By agreeing with the oppressor social order that there are sub-species to the human race, Harro reduces “our” struggle to convincing those in power that they should treat us better….

“Ethnicities” Ethnicity is a white supremacist sociological term designed to “other” 84% of the world’s people. White people come from proud countries and nations: “America” — everyone knows White people in the United States are “Americans”; the rest of us are “colored people,” “ethnics,” “minorities” (i.e., less than, minor, in human value), sub-racial groups, niggers, chinks and spics. People whose ancestries come from Europe proudly proclaim they are from “Great” Britain (please let it not be forgotten that the “great” refers to this country going around the world and perpetrating genocide against indigenous peoples); France, Germany, Spain, Russia and other perpetrators of the evil system of European colonialism and white supremacist enslavement of the peoples of the world.

Historical Era and Social System We are living in the era of human history known as class society, with the initial class oppression being that of men dominating and owning women. We are living in the death throes of the social system, inside the era of class society, known as capitalism. The capitalist system arose and throve with the enslavement of nations and peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America and the trade in the labor power of these peoples, and it will certainly come to its end with the complete emancipation of these oppressed peoples. By leaving out the centrality of the fight of the vast majority of nations and peoples of the world for their liberation from the imperialist and colonialist system (the capitalist system in its declining period), Harro, et al, leave out the resolution of this decaying social system. The resolution lies in the revolution by the peoples world-wide for a humane social order; a social order free of the “cycle of socialization.” How can we free ourselves from the “cycle” if we are “ethnicities,” minorities (84% of the world’s people), “racial sub-groups,” etc. How can we configure a new social order if we use the master’s tools to define the “liberation movement” of the ethnics, and sub-racial groups…? It can’t happen. Only self-determined revolutionary national, gender and class movements of the peoples, whereby we define what a genuinely humane social order is, can be successful in overcoming the “cycle of socialization.”