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comment by blackbootz

This article has totally dilated my understanding of privilege and racism, and of Marxism and capitalism in general. Pushing back the dark.

Can you recommend anything more?

Some thoughts: how enlightening but totally dispiriting it is to learn that privilege theory is so unproductively divisive on purpose. The theory's Stalinists-Maoists originators wanted to transmogrify the oppressor-oppressed relationship as then understood from capitalists-workers to Americans-Third World peoples. Privilege theory has been modified since its inception in the ~60s to its more contemporary meaning of white-skinned privilege at the expense of POC in the United States. While I could intellectually understand why I should excuse myself from, say, a Black Lives Matter protest I attended while in Boston, it always felt somewhat counterproductive. But I couldn't articulate it why (especially when being reminded of, and sometimes verbally attacked for, my whiteness and maleness and straightness. But I don't want to make this about me.)

    The destructive and divisive atmosphere often found in today's privilege-checking culture reflects both the toxic sectarian factionalism of the theory's originators, and the light years we have travelled from the civil rights and Black Power movements. Then, white radicals in this country routinely participated in and helped organize demonstrations and activities in support of anti-racist causes and campaigns--the victorious "Free Huey [Newton]" campaign (involving the Black Panther's shoot-out with the police), an international cause célèbre, being one example. Then, Black and white militants joined forces in the interests of necessity and revolutionary unity. In today's left, by contrast, white activists may "excuse" themselves, or be discouraged, from joining and organizing anti-racist protests, on the "privilege" basis that they cannot possibly understand the Black experience of oppression and should not act like they do.

    Whereas in the late '60s and early '70s, the raised fist--Black and white--expressed political, anti-racist, class solidarity for a generation, today's popular symbols of anti-racist resistance (hands raised in the "Don't Shoot" stance, hoodies, and "I am Trayvon Martin" signs) are sometimes argued by privilege advocates to be inappropriate for whites. In what would have been anathema to anti-racist movements of the past, some privilege advocates call upon whites to identify as whites--as part of a community with racists--instead of identifying themselves as anti-racist fighters.

I think it a valid argument that racism is a tool of the ruling class to neutralize the working class's greatest tool, cohesion and unity. And furthermore, as total and urgent as racism and an awareness of privilege feels to my peers, it's fair to say that it is subordinate to the ultimate issue, the tension between the ruling-, landed-, capitalist-class and the working-class.

But I don't know how likely it is that I could ever convince my black and/or activist friends to join a Marxist organizing group.




bfv  ·  968 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Ted Allen's own theory evolved in much the same direction.