George Walford: Oppression is Sometimes Complicated

AB examples of oppressed groups take the working class, women, and South African blacks. In each case members of the oppressed group take part in the oppression. Workers carry out the exploitation of the workers, black police help in the oppression of the blacks, and sexual stereotyping – masculine domination, feminine submission – is instilled into children at an age when the main influence upon them is exercised by their, mothers.

In each oppressed group some support oppression, some accept it and some oppose it, and the same is true of the groups identified as oppressors: capitalists, whites and men. The division between oppressors and oppressed does not correspond with the division between whites and blacks, or between capitalists and workers, or between men and women.

The left wing routinely blame capitalism for these oppressions, but they are all found under other forms of society (earlier societies had people who worked for a living though not, in the fully technical sense, a working class). Advanced capitalism incorporates movements for limiting the oppression of workers, of women and of blacks. Can even that much be said for chattel slavery or feudalism?

from Ideological Commentary 27, May 1987.