Affirmative Action and reform

Scott Marshall Scott at
Tue Apr 11 06:53:05 MDT 1995

Justin said:

>I didn't say that white workers are innately morally deficient. But we
>must drop the brainwashing model of ideology. See Marx on anti-Irish
>racism--Marx to Meyer and Vogt, 9 April 1870:
>"The ordinary English worker hates the Irish worker as a competitor who
>lowers his standard of life. In realtion to the Irish worker he is a
>member of the ruling nation and so turns himself into a tool of the
>aristocrats and capitalists of his country against Ireland, thus
>strengthening their dominatioin over himself. He cherishes religiousm
>social, and national prejudices against the Irish worker. His attititude
>towards him is much the same as that of 'poor whites' to 'niggers' in the
>former slave state of the USA. The Irishman pays him back with interest in
>the same coin...."

This doesn't contradict my approach at all, it fully recognizes the source
of, and who profits by, anti-Irish prejudices. To me the key phrase here is
"thus strengthening their domination over himself." Clearly the "himself" is
the English worker, and the domination is by the "aristocrates and capitalists."
>Thus far, all this prejudice arises from the circumstances of the working
>class itself. Now the bourgeoisie comes in:

"Now the bourgy come in!!!" This is not simply a "chicken and egg" question
surely. The circumstances of the working class in a capitalist system are a
product of the capitalist system. Capitalist exploitation in a country that
has national and racial minorities has built into it a system of
discrimination and racism that is the **primary** source of racism. This is
not simply brainwashing - though it is that too from the Bell Curve to
welfare reform to great chunks of television, news media and etc, - it is
also the systems of discrimination, insult, assault on dignity and etc that
are the direct hand of the capitalist class and it's state superstructure.

>"This antagonism is artificially kept alive"--note, not created, but
>maintained--"and intensified by the press, the pulpit, the comic papers.,
>in short by all the means at the disposal of the riling classes."

IMO - Your insert changes the whole meaning of what he was saying.

>I don't quote the Old Mole for religious reasons, but because, as usual,
>he's right. The case is exactly analogous to the one we are discussing. So
>it is worth quoting the conclusion too:
>"This antagonism is the secret of the impotence of the English working
>class, despite its organization [into unions]. It is the secret by which
>the capitalist class maintains its power. And that class is fully aware of

Thus the importance of winning white workers to the fight against racism and
discrimination. Thus the importance of Black and white unite and fight. In
my experience this is not very well done by making moral arguments (though
I've rarely talked to a white worker who could not be moved somewhat on
moral grounds about racism). But more fundementally if you can show the
white worker that racism and prejudice "thus increase 'capitalist'
domination over himeslf" then you are getting at his broader class self
interest. But to do this then your starting point **must** be who does
racism benefit and who does it hurt - source can't be separated from the
question. IE: white workers don't have the power to deny jobs to others, the
corporations do, white workers do not produce and peddle books like the Bell
Curve and produce all the racist images in media etc, white workers do not
have the where-with-all in any significant way to deny equal housing, equal
education, etc etc.

True they (we) do reflect the racism of the dominant culture and are fooled
very often and persistently into assuming attitudes that are in direct
contradiction to our own true interests - thus the importance of struggle,
of militant anti-racist fights among and lead by the working class - thus
every time the labor movement takes up the question of fighting prop 187 or
for affirmative action (ie: Weber case) it is of far more importance and
significance than any poll or liberal or conservative opinion.

>I would have hoped that someone else would bite on a discussion of
>affirmative action in this context. Do we want to talk about the
>determination of consciousness by social being? Here's a concrete case. Do
>we want to discuss interests and overlapping group membership? No better
>case could present itself. And this one matters in terms of concrete
>politics. As Scott says, it is even possible we could win this one. So
>let's hear it, eh?

Agreed whole heartedly!


>--Justin Schwartz
>     --- from list marxism at ---

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