Labour and aristocrats

Philip Ferguson plf13 at
Wed Feb 12 18:35:02 MST 2003

Lou Paulsen in response to Jose:

> I don't think that is always true.  White male anglo workers have a bigger
> piece of the pie right this moment without doing anything at all.  In some
> places it might be the case that the easiest way for the white male anglo
> workers to get an even bigger piece is to allow themselves to be bribed by
> the capitalists with a slice of pie from the diminutive slices of the Black
> or Latino or female majority of workers.  Getting the capitalists to give us
> more pie takes work and struggle!

How is it 'easiest' for white anglo workers to get this?

For a start if something can be taken off the most oppressed and
poorly-paid workers, it will go into the bosses' pockets.  If the white
male worker wants it he will still have to fight the boss for it, so
he'd actually be better off joining with the most oppressed and fighting
against the boss.

One of the problems with the idea that white male workers benefit in
this situation is that it misunderstands how capitalism actually works.
If the capitalists can make bigger profits from worker A than from
worker B in their factory, they pocket the super-profit.  They don't
invite worker B into the office and share it out.

Worker B's racism and/or sexism doesn't have to derive from any actual
material benefit out of Worker A's oppressed condition.  It derives from
the fact that, living in capitalist society, Worker B doesn't think in
politically conscious terms and therefore just assumes that his few
bucks more is dependent on Worker A getting a lower wage, when the real
situation is that if he banded together with Worker A they could both do
a lot better.

No doubt many white workers in the South thought the struggle for civil
rights for blacks was against their material interest.  But as Marxists
we know that the oppression of blacks allowed bosses to hold down wages
of white workers and prevent (or at least severely retard) white workers
from functioning as part of the working class politically.  No benefit
in that for white workers, although plenty of them no doubt thought
there was.

Philip Ferguson

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