[Marxism] Racism and the working class

RobBollard at aol.com RobBollard at aol.com
Wed Jun 23 18:36:06 MDT 2004

Ian Pace wrote:
`To try and broaden this discussion, I wondered people's thoughts on the 
riseof support for the far-right amongst some working-class people?  
That'scertainly been the case in Britain recently, with the ever-increasing andominous rise 
of the British National Party.  Obviously we need to fight thisto the last, 
but can hardly avoid the question of why they draw theirsupport particularly 
from the working-classes?  Liberal middle class peopleuse this fact as another 
weapon for proclaiming their own superiority(actually their racism is just as 
prevalent, just not expressed in quitesuch direct terms).'

The important point to understand with regard to the working class is that 
they are not born with class consciousness etched upon their toil-worn brows.  
Their class position leads them to struggle and to organise which in turn 
encourages a world view that is collectivist and so on.  Workers who are not 
organised are just as likely as anyone else to fall for the lies of the far-right.  
Indeed, they are likely to be (largely because they are unorganised) more 
alienated than middle class voters and more inclined to want to register a 
`protest' by voting for the likes of the BNP.
That said, there is a lot of rubbish written about `working class' support 
for fascism.  Journalists commonly talk about `working class communities' as if 
anyone living in, say a steel town, or a `working class' suburb is `working 
class', regardless of their income or their employment status.
Nor is it only journalists who get it wrong.  Take one respectable academic 
study of the socio-economic/educational etc background of One Nation voters.  
(One Nation is the far right electoral grouping that had great success in 
Australia recently - particularly in Queensland).  The study broke down its 
respondents into `white collar' and ` blue collar''.  Yet, as the study asked all 
respondents (not just wage earners) to identify as one or the other, it's obvious 
that a whole heap of small business people: gas station owners, self-employed 
motor mechanics, electricians and plumbers, and probably farmers as well, 
would have described thmselves as `blue collar.  Heaps of workers would of course 
have described themselves as `white collar'.  The study then went on to 
identify One Nation voters as `mostly blue-collar', which of course was then 
interpreted in the media as saying that One Nation was a threat to Labor's working 
class base (despite the fact that the same study identified the same voters as 
also being overwhelmingly rural and former voters of the traditional 
Australian conservative parties.)
I Hope this helps
Robert Bollard

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