FW: Mormon Racism/Genocide

Sherry & Stan Goff sherrynstan at igc.org
Thu Apr 4 07:27:33 MST 2002


There is so much wrongheadedness here that it's difficult to fugure out
where to begin.

> There is much confusion amongst communist. There is no such thing as races
> among humanity, consequently talk about oppression based on race is
nonsense.

Race is a social construction, but social constructions are themselves real.
And there is most definitely oppression based on race.  That it
interpenetrates with class, that class is the foundation of the house, so to
speak, doesn't nullify the fact that racial oppression is a very real and
burning issue (and some would say in the US a national question), and if we
are to tear down the house, we don't do it by beginning with the foundation.
There is more to a movement than what we identify as historical
materialists, i.e., the issues that mobilize people based on their lived
experience, and their consciousness in the here and now.  As I finish this
little pesponse, I am headed to a State University where a young man was the
victim of a racist attack and the administration has refused to move on it,
and we are closing ranks with him, out of a moral imperative, but also to
mobilize other African-American students and members of the surrounding
community, put them into the struggle, and it is there in that process of
struggle--with all sorts of ideological currents--that some will be exposed
to the deeper roots of racism in capitalism.

> This is not an academic discussion for communist but a question of
strategy -
> meaning a strategic view of capital and the fundamentality of property
> relations on the one hand and a "determination of where to throw the main
> blow" or in military terms, determining the line of march.

This is not only a linear reaction to a dialectical (read non-linear and
dynamic) reality, it is a military anachronism.  The best of modern
warfighting theory has shed the doctrine of main blows and lines of march
for more flexibility to respond to emerging developments on the battlefield,
and staying inside the decision-making loop of your opponent.  The military
metaphors are also, ahem, very gendered.

>This is what the
> word strategy means.

In fact, you are wrong.  Strategy is the identification of overarching
objectives required to win, and it is composed of many and varied and often
changing campaigns, each of which is composed of many and varied and often
changing tactics, which are based on specific missions, the strength,
disposition, capabilities, and composition of one's enemy, the literal or
figurative terrain and weather one operates in, one's own strength,
disposition, capabilities, and composition, and the amount of time that is
avaiable.  Strategies that put all one's eggs in one basket, so to speak,
that doggedly pursue one single line of march, will inevitably be rendered
irrelevant by changes in the overall situation.

>The concept of race is the antithesis of the "national
> question," which according to Lenin is the national-colonial question.

Ideological struggle is essential in all our work.  IMHO, African-Americans
are an oppressed nationality, but the ideology that continues to reinforce
and reproduce this national oppression is white supremacy.  That it is an
unscientific ideology does not make it any less real... or important.

> Lenin's "Right of Nations to Self Determination," "Imperialism,"
"Imperialism
> and the Spilt In Socialism," makes it fairly obvious that the question of
> non-sovereign peoples is inexplicably fused with their economic
exploitation
> by capital. One of the reasons Lenin became an "ism" or Leninism is
precisely
> its description of the national question as a national-colonial question.
You
> misunderstand Lenin.

I must misunderstand him, too, then.  Imperialism is a concretely distinct
form of capitalism, and today's imperialism is distinctly American,
historically specific, and not reducible to some schema.  The essence of
Leninism, as I read it, is flexible response to evolving historical
specificity.

>
> The Leninist conception of the national-colonial question means that the
word
> oppression has a meaning that doesn't reduce itself to discrimination.

Ubiiquitous patterns of discrimination are, by definintion, systemic
oppression. Whether those patterns are experienced as racial oppression or
gender oppression or national oppression, and whether or not you can TRUMP
them with class, does not change those patterns or change the fact that they
are experienced BY women, queer people, or oppressed nationalities (as race)
AS sexism, homophobia, and racism.

> One cannot help but notice that you forget that the working class is at
> loggerhead with itself and not simply the various groups and sectors of
> society that in the main constitute the totality of the working class or
more
> accurately the laboring classes. Lumping the question of homosexuality
(gays)
> together with the national-colonial question, as if they are basically the
> same is revealing. The word "sexism" is understood to basically mean
sexual
> freedom for homosexuals as opposed to say the historical evolution of the
> woman question. That is to say I am trying to understand your meaning and
not
> clear as to if you mean "reproduction rights" for instance. Sexism and the
> woman question are not identical in scope.

Every time I hear the term "the woman question", I feel as if I've stepped
into a time machine and gone back about fifty years.  Sexism is an ideology
of male supremacy, a superstructural phenomenon based on the very real
domination and exploitation of women--dare I say it--across all classes.
Heterosexism is an anti-gay ideology, closely related to sexism in that it
enforces the gender roles associated with the oppression of women.  I
haven't seen the post you responded to, and I would agree that lumping class
with heterosexism or sexism or racism is a mistake.  Homogenizing these
phenomena, as many petit-bourgeois liberals now do, as a list of -isms,
which include the bizarre notion of class-ism, is incorrect in too many ways
to count.  But in the real world, communists must demonstrate some
sensitivity to these phenomenon.  You rightly point out that most
proletarians are now women.  Many of them experience a fiercer repression at
home than they do at work, and if we only acknowledge that in passing, while
getting back to the REAL issue of class, we will continue to remain on the
fringes.  Marxism is not simply about eliminating class.  It is about
eliminating false consciousness and alienation.  Most queer people, most
women, and most oppressed nationalities (perceived often by themselves as
racial groups), are workers.  How can we propose to unify that working clas
without addressing the day-to-day reality of interclass oppression that
divides workers.  The ruling class has proven how adept they are at
exploiting these "other" forms of SYSTEMIC oppression to continue to divide
us.  This implies to me that the struggle within our own class to fight
sexism, heterosexism, and racism is of paramount strategic importance, as
well as being just plain right.

> The last fifty years of struggle by and on behalf of the African American
> people, as a people is revealing. Integration has created a situation
where a
> black hand now sits besides a white hand in the criminal bombing of
innocent
> people. The struggle of the African American people as a people always
> expressed profound class contradictions and is historically and currently
> against violence and economic deprivation. Within this struggle the
working
> class segment of the African American peoples have always had a specific
> economic agenda different from "Negro capital" and the various bourgeois
and
> petty bourgeois leaders. You must study the history of groups like the
Urban
> League and why they were funded by the bourgeoisie. Class is paramount.

Again, historical specificity.  This is too complicated to go into here, but
I would strongly recomend Louis Proyect's excellent essay on "Black
Nationalism".  Black workers, even Black marxists, make strategic alliances
with members of the Black bourgeoisie, while continuing to struggle with
that same stratum when they are acting as colonial surrogates.

> What is the class content of the struggle for sexual freedom? There
doesn't
> exist a nation of homosexuals nor are homosexuals a "national group" or
> advanced national group, which in our current body politic is called a
> "band." Sexual freedom is important and no one should face violence or
> discrimination in society, but to elevate every social issue to the same
> plane is to lose perspective on the very real configuration of the working
> class.

This is not, as you imply, an either-or situation.  While homogenization of
class with sexism, for example, is an interpretive error, these questions
are inextricable, and we must fight on multiple fronts (seems I have been
drawn into the military metaphors as well).

The various
> organizations that fight on behalf of questions called "women issues" are
> important but if ones work is to organize a new union, one would not
approach
> the questions from the identity of women as women but standpoint of the
> economic interest of workers.

In fact, I volunteer quite frequently with UE150, and it is a predominatnly
Black, majority women union.  Sexual harrassment on the job is one of the
central issues in that struggle.

If a female communist was involved in say one
> of the organizations dealing with reproduction rights, her task is that of
> all communist, to right for the political development of the working
class.

Her task in the short term is to contribute to the effort at hand in a
principled way, to show people that communists are excellent organizers who
can deliver victories.  And, by the way, reporductive freedom is about as
central as it gets in terms of the economic emancipation of women.  That
would include working class women, and that it benefits bourgeois women does
not make it any less progressive.

> The idea of "supporting members of oppressed groups in their struggle
against
> oppression" (your words) will run you smack dab into the bourgeoisie and
fuse
> you to capital.

You'll have to explain this "fusion" principle in the concrete.  And once
you define that, please explain concretely how this "fusion" becomes
inevitable.


>Gays as such are not an oppressed group in society.

Forgive me, but "horse shit!"  You really have no idea what you are talkng
about here.  My sister, who is gay, had her children taken from her by the
courts.  I suppose Matthew Shepard wasn't being oppressed when they torutred
him and left him to die.

I have to go, but we really must struggle against dogma.  Sorry about
cutting this short, but there's an anti-racist action waiting on this
communist.

Stan


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