[Marxism] A forwarded message on class

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Dec 7 19:01:25 MST 2006

(Mike Friedman sent this to the list, but he neglected to clip the 
rest of the digest that Joaquin's message appeared in. It bounced to 
the moderators. Reminder also not to put the names or initials of 
subscribers in the subject heading, please.)

He (Joaquin?) actually didn't "throw out a judgement that social
distinctions such as race and gender are more important or real than
class," but merely that race and gender "trump" class in our social
formation in terms of impeding the development of class consciousness on
the part of the bulk of white working people. In that sense (that of E.P.
Thompson), the working class in this country doesn't exist as such.

Bustelo spent the bulk of his last post discussing "the determinant
relationship between these distinctions and the behavior of the capitalist
system as a whole." First, I didn't see any denial that workers are
exploited, although exploitation varies with racial and gendered
oppression: is this controversial? Second, the relative privilege of white
workers and their acceptance and identification with this privilege
(again, *relative*) has forestalled the development of class consciousness
and solidarity. And third, this has meant that movements of oppressed
workers of necessity pass through struggles for national and gendered
afirmation. Does this qualify as discussion of determinant relationships
between these distinctions and the behavior of the system? Maybe this has
to do with the war in Iraq or the brutal repression underway in Oaxaca or
the sequaelae of Hurrican Katrina? Or of the tasks that are posed to
progressive people viz the concrete system in which we live?

Further, you allude to the "scientific concensus that there is no such
thing as race." That's false. None of my colleagues would deny the
existence of race as a social category (as opposed to a biological
category). This is simply to ignore a reality that produced the police
murder by firing squad of an unarmed Black youth here in New York just two
weeks ago. The NYPD certainly recognizes race.

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