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February 15, 2023


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"Throughout human history, three caste systems have stood out. The tragically accelerated, chilling, and officially vanquished caste system of Nazi Germany. The lingering, millennia-long caste system of India. And the shape-shifting, unspoken, race-based caste pyramid in the United States."

That's ...interesting, intriguing actually. Everyone who knows anything about India knows about its infamous and very deep-rooted and entirely reprehensible caste system. But those other two, that's something new. I mean, sure, there's the big fat racism thing in the US, probably way more than in Europe for instance, given the shameful slave-owning history that's such an intrinsic part of what the US is all about; and as for the Nazis, those lowlifes are like the epitome of racism and the worst of its excesses, sure. But to think of those two as some caste system? That's new.

Not doubting Wilkerson's thesis, I'm sure she knows what she's talking about. Just, I'm not sure how that works, in practice. If it's just the two "castes", those at the oppressor end of racism, and those at the oppressed end of racism: well then, what we have is simply racism, is all. For it to amount to a caste thing, we'd need a full-on hierarchy, of the kind that prevailed (and, although now diluted down, but still continues to persist to a not insignificant degree) in India. How might that translate to the US, and also to Nazi Germany, is what I'm wondering.

Thinking about this some more: might casteism, of a kind, not better describe the situation in the UK, than in the US or with the Nazis? What you have over there is a whole hierarchy of classes, of "castes" if you will. Obviously less cast in stone than in the past, obviously watered down aplenty, obviously allowing for like a huge amount of toing and froing across classes: and yet, that absurd, and reprehensible, hierarchy, it's still a thing, as anyone who's spent some time in the UK will attest. (We've got lots of commenters here who actually live there, no doubt they can attest to this far more authoritatively than an occasional and casual visitor might.)

Right at the top of this absurd UK caste/class system sits the monstrosity that is the monarchy. Next the aristocracy, another complete abomination, that still holds jaw-dropping economic clout in terms of land holding and inherited weatlh, and not to forget a whole fucking House dedicated to these --- cringe at the term! --- "Lords", most of whom are there via unearned and undeserved hereditary titles, and only a few actually people of worth who've earned their title through merit. Then you've a whole absurd string of highs and lows and people-we-admire and not-good-enoughs, the like of which people who haven't actually spent some time in the UK will be hard put to properly appreciate.

A full-on casteist hierarchy? India obviously is the mother of that abomination. But it is UK that I'd say comes a close second.

Not that racism in America isn't reprehensible, of course it is, completely so. As for the Nazi horror, that's like a whole different category of evil, obviously. But I really don't see a hierarchy proper in there, is what I'm saying.

(But of course, that's just a knee-jerk reaction, made in ignorance of Isabel Wilkerson's complete thesis, and based just off of a quick persual of these excerpts here, so the pinch of salt thing when you read this.)

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