[Marxism] Class is Race: Brexit and the Popular Will

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Dec 17 06:45:00 MST 2019

Now fast forward to the 2010s. These extant debates have been erased by 
contemporary retrievals of the “white working class”. This category is 
now rendered in common-sense as an indigenous constituency, particular 
to itself, innocent of colonial pasts, independent of imperial divisions 
of labour. Pundits and politicians alike bemoan how this constituency 
has been unfairly leftbehind by their own metropolitan elites as they 
pander to the demands of multi-coloured newcomers. But contra colonial 
aphasia, and given the short genealogy I have just recounted, I want to 
assert that there is no unsullied category of class that exists before 
being racialized within the imperial division of labour. Consequently, 
any mobilization of the current “popular will” in the service of social 
justice for the (white-)working class will also have to reckon with the 
legacy of empire.

This provocation has not only academic but political import in the 
Brexit era. Public debate since the EU referendum has almost entirely 
obscured the diverse constituencies of working peoples in Britain. For 
instance, in the current political lexicon Black citizens appear only in 
terms of victims of or aggressors in the criminal justice system, and 
Muslim citizens only as victims of Islamophobia or suspects of 
terrorism. It is almost as if it does not matter that Black and minority 
ethnic communities – especially their women – have in relative terms 
been most detrimentally impacted by austerity measures over the last ten 
years (“New Research Shows That Poverty, Ethnicity and Gender Magnify 
the Impact of Austerity on BME Women” 2016).

full: https://robbieshilliam.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/ips-1-2.pdf

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