What do Socialists Say about Privilege?

Socialism 2017

August 15, 2017

Under capitalism, multiple power structures shape individuals’ lived experiences. Those structures provide and withhold resources to people based on factors like class, disability status, gender, and race. On the left today "privilege" is often deployed to describe and explain these inequalities. Privilege discourse has made its way into mainstream discussions. As significant numbers move into the left under Trump, the newly-politicizing are likely to encounter—or hold—some ideas influenced by privilege politics. But “privilege” isn't a productive way for us to gain a thorough understanding of the systemic injustice imposed under capitalism. Nor does it provide a framework that helps us develop collective strategies to dismantle those systems. How should socialists talk about privilege, and what should we pose as an alternative?

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