Oct 26, 2022

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

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Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents audiobook

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Review #1

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents audiobook free

The Warmth of Other Suns was one of the most important books I’ve read. So, I was really looking forward to Caste. When I previously thought of castes, I thought only of India. Wilkerson posits that the Third Reich was also a caste system. And, of course, the US. In fact, the Nazis used American race laws to design their own system. Unlike the Indian caste system, which had hundreds if not hundreds of separate castes, we basically have two. White and Black, as the poorest white is still above a Black person. Wilkerson uses the first section to set out her premise. By Part Two, she gets down to the history, spelling out how it came to be and evolved through time. From 1619 until 1865, the slaves were the obvious lowest caste. But even after Emancipation, the country found ways to keep the Blacks in the lowest segment of society. The surprise is how current this book is. She not only covers the Obama presidency, but also the Trump election and his first three years. Even the corona virus is covered. One of the most important points she makes is that racism is not just the personal hatred by one person, but a systematic abuse, often so deeply ingrained in society as to be oblivious to those in the upper caste. And that the upper caste will do everything to keep their privilege intact. Wilkerson uses a blend of historical research, individual examples and even personal history to flesh out her theory. Some of the stories are gruesome in the extreme. It’s a hard truth to realize that there’s scant difference between a Nazi labor camp and a southern plantation, both using multiple means to dehumanize the targeted segment . And she rightly points out that brutality actually worsened after the Civil War, as the whites no longer had a monetary investment in the black population. By 1933, there was a black person lynched every four days in the south. Wilkerson is not shy about talking about current US affairs, post 2016. She makes an important point about the narcissism of a group. “A group whipped into narcissistic fervor is eager to have a leader with whom it can identify…The right kind of leader can inspire a symbiotic connection that supplants logic. The susceptible group sees itself in the narcissistic leader, becomes one with the leader, sees his fortunes and his fate as their own.” This isn’t an easy book, but it’s extremely important, especially in light of current times. It’s one of my best of 2020. Towards the end of the book, Taylor Branch is quoted as asking, “So the real question would be, if people were given the choice between democracy and whiteness, how many would choose whiteness?” My thanks to netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.


Review #2

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents audiobook streamming online

Wow!! I really loved her first book but I cannot say that about Caste. The first chapter is so biased towards the left it\’s laughable and I\’m libertarian. I cannot recommend this book to anyone and if I could give it negative stars I would. How can we mend our country when you only see the speck in someone else\’s eye and not the log in your own. So sad.


Review #3

Audiobook Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

Part One, Chapter One will be a tough read for half of the American audience. If this is you, push through – you may learn something.


Review #4

Audio Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents narrated by Robin Miles

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, makes the case that America is a caste system analogous to that of India\’s but organized on the basis of race. She strongly implies that the 2016 Presidential Election was somehow evidence for this claim and then outlines what she posits are the features of the American caste system (8 pillars of caste): Wilkerson\’s 8 Pillars of Caste: 1) Divine Will and The Laws of Nature 2) Heritability 3) Endogamy and the control of marriage and mating 4) Purity vs pollution 5) Occupational hierarchy 6) Dehumanization and Stigma 7) Terror as enforcement, cruelty as a means of control 8) Inherent superiority vs inherent inferiority Wilkerson\’s thesis is ostensibly ridiculous as a description of contemporary America, which is actually organized as a hierarchy of competence where competence is roughly determined by free market forces (any serious discussion of political economy is strikingly absent from Caste), a meritocracy in other words. Wilkerson\’s claims are also reckless, especially given the media attention given to her work (i.e. Oprah\’s recommendation). This is not a work that is seeking to achieve the racial reconciliation and harmony of a post-racial America where all races and creeds can cash the promissory note of the American founding and the American dream. It wallows in the racial sins and misery of America\’s past (slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow) and labels those evils as America\’s essence rather than the chronic disease that America has always aspired to eliminate. I would be more inclined to take her arguments seriously if she didn\’t assiduously avoid all the aspects of American life that plainly contradict her or at least mitigate against such a stark perspective. For instance, Wilkerson completely ignores Asian American minorities in her books. She fails to address why in a caste system organized by race with \”whiteness\” as the dominant identity that Asian Americans are the most educated, wealthiest ethnic group. Of course black/African Americans historically suffered much deeper, more severe iniquities than Asian Americans, but her thesis is predicated on the claim that society is systemically organized to ensure dominant status for white Americans. It\’s just sloppy to have such a glaring omission, a white elephant of sorts that lurks behind every lines. Moreover, Wilkerson\’s seeming aversion to sociological and economic data is evidence as she opts for the telling of emotive anecdotes of racial iniquities. Wilkerson is a moving writer; however, the lack of rigor, specificity, data, and analysis belie her true intentions, which are those of an activist rather than a scholar (activists don\’t have time for pesky facts or to dissect a delicate, hot-button topic in a balanced, dispassionate fashion). There were some aspects of Wilkerson\’s discussions of race that I thought were accurate. For instance, she does point out that there is no biological (i.e. genetic) definition of race, making it decidedly a social invention. I think this is an important insight, but Wilkerson does not follow this understanding through to its conclusion. Given the harm caused by the arbitrary use of skin color as a historical system of oppression and disenfranchisement, we should aim for a future where skin color is no longer a meaningful measure (a color-blind egalitarian society where one\’s merit determines their place in the social hierarchy). Despite Wilkerson\’s vagueness on how this supposed American racial caste system can be remedied, it is clear that this is not the vision she has for America\’s future or even believes that such a future is possible. I could belabor my critique endlessly, but I think a recommendation to readers interested in this topic would be better. Political Tribes by Amy Chua, although not as directly engaged on the issue of race, is still far superior in its discussion of similar issues, a balanced, reasonable analysis of the tribalism in contemporary American society.


Review #5

Free audio Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents – in the audio player below

I had an open mind until I read this opening description which posits as self-evident the proposition that: \”Most people see America as racist,,,,,\”. Now that it is obvious there is zero objectivity in this thesis, there is no point in reading it.. It is anti-American SJW trash. I feel sad for anyone that is this brainwashed.


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