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(en) US, The Color of Authority - The Bring the Ruckus* website has been updated with three new articles.

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(Mike Kramer mkramer666-A-yahoo.com)
Date Sat, 16 Oct 2004 10:14:11 +0200 (CEST)


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A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
http://ainfos.ca/ http://ainfos.ca/index24.html
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The recent additions are:
"How Are Schools Racist?" by Steve Lorenze
"Amnesty International on Racial Profiling in America" by Clayton Szczech
and "The Color of Authority" by Roy San Filipo, which follows below.
To read these articles and for more information on
Bring the Ruckus go to http://www.agitatorindex.org .
>>>>>>>>>>>>> The Color of Authority by Roy San Filippo<<<<<<<<<<<
One of the most compelling aspects of anarchism is its
holistic approach to human freedom. “We are opposed to
all forms of domination and oppression” is a phrase
that appears almost universally in every statement of
purpose and political statement of anarchist
collectives and projects. This reflects anarchism’s
total rejection of all forms of oppression and its
belief that no one oppression is the base or “primary
oppression” upon which all other oppressions rest.
Racism or sexism could thrive in a socialist society,
and eradicating racism or sexism by no means
guarantees the eradication of capitalism or the state.
Oppressions, as the saying goes, are relatively
autonomous. This is an important insight that
developed out of a critique of the crude class
reductionism of neo-Marxism and was often used as an
excuse by white, male leftists to not take the
seriously the struggles for racial justice, women’s
liberation, and queer liberation. However, when
pressed to develop this analysis further, anarchism
falls silent. Beyond recognizing this “relative
autonomy” (and thus the “relative” interconnectedness
of various oppressions), anarchism has failed to
articulate precisely how these oppressions
interconnect in a way that is useful for organizers.
Predictably, this has hampered the capacity for
anarchists to effectively develop the analysis of
society that is needed to develop strategies for
revolution.

Moral Equivalency, Strategic Hierarchy

For revolutionaries, it is not simply enough to oppose
all forms of authority and oppression; we need a plan
for destroying them. If we are to transform society,
we must understand precisely how forms of authority
are related and determine where the weak points are so
we can develop effective strategies. An important step
in developing a strategy is the recognition that while
oppressions are morally equivalent, strategically they
are not. Many organizers implicitly accept this notion
in practice—at least when it comes to systems of
authority other than race, class, gender, and sexual
orientation. Anarchists who do community organizing on
a regular basis know the importance of working with
religious institutions—churches, mosques, and
synagogues—in any organizing effort. They do this
despite anarchism’s opposition to religious forms of
authority. To use just one example, in the immediate
aftermath of September 11th, anarchists from across
the country, clad in their black “No Gods, No Masters”
t-shirts, began working closely with Muslim groups and
mosques in their cities in order to assist Arab and
Muslim communities with self-defense efforts. Clearly
this was the correct thing to do and consciously or
not, reflected an assessment by anarchists that
defending Muslims from attacks by racists and the
state takes a strategic priority over anarchism’s
(largely philosophical and ideological) opposition to
forms religious authority.

A second important step in developing a strategy is
the recognition that oppressions connect in ways
particular to the historical context and social forces
in which they develop. The relationships between race,
class, and gender in one country are likely to be
quite different than it is in another, and therefore
the strategies for destroying them will also be
different. The U.S.’s rather unique history of racial
slavery and segregation have made white supremacy
central to the functioning of America in a way it
hasn’t in others societies. Activists must understand
the ways that the particular historical experiences of
the United States wove race and class together that
makes fighting white supremacy central to any
revolutionary project. In other words, those who wish
to fight against all forms of authoritarianism must
understand one crucial fact of American politics—in
America authority is colored white.

The White Shadow

In the United States, one cannot escape the importance
of race. Anyone familiar with the literature of
critical race theory already knows this basic truth:
that race is a social construct with no biological
basis. Though biologically race is “fiction,” it is
still a social reality. Race is a signifier of social,
legal, economic, and political value (or lack thereof)
in America. White supremacy casts a long shadow over
American society and colors more than just the
consciousness of white folks. It has institutionalized
white privilege in political institutions, the courts,
schools, and labor unions to name just a few. The
state not only legitimates these privileges, it also
actively enforces them in the back rooms, through
public policy, and in the frontlines, through police,
prisons, and jails. American society grants real and
significant material and psychological benefits to
those defined as “white.”

One of the affects of these benefits has been that the
white working class has identified its interests with
the white ruling class and not with the rest of the
working class; this has effectively driven a wedge
within the working class—a fact illustrated every time
a real estate agent “steers” a Black family to a Black
neighborhood and every time a bus driver made Black
folks sit in the back of the bus. In order to
seriously challenge the existing system, this wedge
must be removed. A successful, anti-authoritarian
revolution in American can be engendered by a
revolutionary crisis in the institutions of white
supremacy. As happened during Reconstruction and the
Civil Rights Movement, attacks against institutions of
white supremacy generated such a crisis and opened up
political space for movements to attack not only
racial oppression, but also all forms of domination.
In the case of Reconstruction, the United States was
brought to the brink of a social revolution, the first
wave of feminism emerged from the abolitionist
struggles, and queer liberation, AIM and countless
other struggles for freedom emerged on the heels of
the Civil Rights movement. The lesson learned here
should be clear: a strategic orientation to the
destruction of white supremacy does NOT violate the
anarchist opposition to all forms of oppression,
rather it fulfills the potential of their
anti-authoritarian vision.

White Abolitionism as a Strategy for Revolution

When Donovan Jackson, a Black youth, was brutally
beaten by a white police officer in Inglewood,
California last summer, the incident was caught on
videotape by Mitchell Crooks, who is white. A
revealing twist to this incident lies in the fact that
the first two people arrested in connection with this
incident were Jackson, the Black victim, and Crooks,
the white man whose videotape exposed the police
brutality. In this moment we see enforcement of the
color line by the state twice: first in the all too
common form of police abuse in the Black community and
secondly in the form of the harsh retribution against
the person who exposed one instance of that abuse.
Crooks’s act was an instance of race treason—when a
white person violated an unspoken rule of whiteness by
actively opposing the state’s attempt to enforce the
color line, a transgression of the norms of whiteness
that the state took so seriously that Crooks was
promptly incarcerated. Why are such acts of race
treason so threatening? Because the enforcement of the
color line is predicated on the belief that the state
can determine who is a friend and who is an enemy by
the color of their skin. By attacking the institutions
of white supremacy and flagrantly violating the norms
of whiteness, the state would no longer be able use
white skin as reliable determiner of who is a friend
and who is a foe to the existing society, undermining
the separate deal that the white working class struck
with capital.


Though white supremacy has driven a wedge within the
American working class, these social relationships are
neither natural, nor inevitable. It is the current
result of historical contestations for power. Simply
put—the state and capital have been more successful at
institutionalizing white supremacy than we have been
in fighting it. The task ahead is to reverse that
trend. As activists, agitators, and revolutionaries,
we needn’t abandon our anti-authoritarian vision.
However, strategies for realizing that vision need to
be informed by an understanding of the intersection of
oppressions that have resulted from this society’s
particular historical development. In the United
States, focusing on white supremacy does more to fight
all forms of oppression than by “fighting” them all
simultaneously. When we refuse to strategically
prioritize our political work in response to
historical and structural conditions, we lose the
struggle.
==============================
* Ed.: The "Bring the Ruckus" is: (say http://www.agitatorindex.org)
a new revolutionary organization that rejects the loose
network model of the anarchists and the vanguard model
of the Leninists. We seek to build a revolutionary
organization of organizers, committed to an anti-statist,
revolutionary feminist, and anti-capitalist vision of a
new society. We place a strategic focus on combating racial
oppression. We believe that separate deal the white
working-class has struck with capital has prevented the
full participation of white workers in the struggle for
liberation. Only combating racial oppression and attacking
institutionalized white privilege and white supremacy can
break that separate deal. Only a directly democratic,
revolutionary movement led by the working class will can
truly remake society.


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