"Towards a class based movement against racism and sexism"
I originally wrote this as a response to someone in another post about affirmitive action (AA) after he commented on my suggestion that perhaps AA should be class and income based rather than race and gender based. I essentially argue that we, in fact, don't want AA to benefit black people and women who are already in the middle or upper class, regardless of how small their numbers are. Moreover, we should know by now that people of colour and women who are already well off in society are automatically favoured in AA programs because owners and administrators would rather give a job, position or spot in school to people they perceive as well-to-do comparitively.
Anyway, here is my response to a person on this board who doesn't quite agree with me. I want this as a new thread because I believe it is an important topic for us all to consider and I wanted other people to get involved. I want people to ask themselves, "What's class got to do with it?" Thanks, here it is...
Okay, now this is a discussion! See, I have to agree and disagree with you at the same time. I completely agree that the ruling class is overwhelmingly white but that is not the same thing as saying that the the majority of whites are members of the ruling class? You dig? My point is that despite the whiteness of the ruling population, the majority of white people in this world are struggling workers and I know that this is a difficult concept for a lot of people to accept. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not running to whitey's defense and I certainly understand the impact of white privelege, even within the working class. However, the point is that ALL workers, whether white or black or yellow or brown, all share the same fundemental interests in society. Once again, don't get me wrong I know that black people have interests that whites do not have such as not being viewed as lessers in society. But, even then, as workers (AS WORKERS) have like interests in that they are all deprived of control over what they produce in society as well as over control of their own lives in general.
This leads to my next point. You said that the creation of a class system, in our case capitalism, has nothing to do with racism. Sure, we live under an highly exploitative and racist system but the motive of this system's being is not white superiority. White superiority is an OUTCOME (rather than a motivating factor) of class relations where the majority of one race (say, black) are producers while the majority of owners of productive wealth are of another race (ie, white). But notice how I am careful to explain that the majority of the owning class is white rather than the majority of whites being owners of productive wealth.
Further, class systems have existed the world over, well before the white man conquested anything. In the region we now know as Rwanda, prior to Euro conquest, Hutu and Tutsi were class significations that determined that a Tutsi was one who owned land and cattle and a Hutu owned little of value. However, these groups did not have much conflict until Europeans arrived and immediately favoured the owning-class of Tutsis. In fact, the white man wasn't anything in the global sphere until they arrived in the Americas and accumulated all sorts of wealth in gold and silver. Prior to this the Abbasids, the Mughal Empire, the Dynasties of China, the Ummayads, and so on were the imperialist forces of the world that, by the way, were not one bit peaceful. So, the problem is not one of race but race is certainly an important problem.
The reason I favor class as a nucleas to fight in favour of race and gender struggles has to do with the way people are exploited. Black people, historically, have been exploited not as anything other than a means of producing wealth for a ruling class of whites, however I must repeat that this ruling class is no more than 10 to 20 percent(generously speaking) of the entire white population. Likewise, even though it has been conducted in different manners, white workers have also been exploited by the white ruling class as producers of wealth. That is a strong connection to make.
Despite the similar interests that white and black workers have, the fact that these groups have experienced class exploitation in a such profoundly different ways throughout history serves to distort and obscure their common oppression. I think white labour leaders, as well as many postmodern and postcolonial theorists, are to blame. White labour leaders, it must be said, have historically alienated women and people of colour in the labour movement. I think, however, that many advances have been made in our collective consciousness where it is possible, if we work together as working class people with similar interests, to consolidate our numbers against the ruling class by developing a strong working peoples movement that with women and people of colour at the front of our conscious development.
******************************************** "If you think you're too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito."