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(en) THE NORTHEASTERN ANARCHIST #5 Revolutionary Strategy Or Stagism? - by Wayne Price

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 27 Mar 2003 10:46:26 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

A response to the 'Bring The Ruckus' statement... [from ]
Revolutionary Strategy or Stagism?
by Wayne Price, Open City Anarchist Collective (NEFAC-NYC)
The BRING THE RUCKUS (BTR) position paper proposes
that the "priority" of its organization be the destruction of
white supremacy. This is supposedly based on a "strategic
argument." It points out that white people have "special
privileges... such as preferred access to the best schools,
neighborhoods, jobs, and health care...and better
treatment by the police," among other advantages. This
leads to white workers "agree[ing] to police the rest of the
population," and to politically "unit[ing]" with the
ruling class against the rest of the working class. Unlike
many, the Ruckusites do not deny the strategic importance
of the working class, as the social force capable of
stopping and starting the society. But they put aside class
issues for now, while focusing on racial oppression as the
immediately central issue.

Wooden, crude, workerists (of the mechanical Marxist or
anarcho-syndicalist varieties) have advocated a two-stage
theory: First a working class revolution is won, and then,
second, racial issues are solved. BTR proposes a similarly
wooden two-stage approach (the same thing upside down):
First white supremacy is overthrown, and then, second,
there is class unity which leads to a socialist revolution.
Both of these stagist approaches are mechanical and
unreal. In real life, issues are too intertwined and
overlapping to be so split up into stages. Racism supports
class exploitation and class exploitation creates racism -
and both are supported by the oppression of women, and
by other issues such as the destruction of the ecology.

That white workers have relative privileges compared to
workers of color is true. But it is only half the truth. An
analysis based only on this fact is completely
misleading. It implies an inaccurate South African
apartheid model for North America. In South Africa, a
minority of the working class is white. Under legal
apartheid, its
main role was to support the white capitalists against the
majority of African workers, whom it could be said to
"police". In return, it got specific privileges, such as
virtually full employment.

Statistically speaking, in North America - and even just in
the U.S. - the majority of the industrial working class
happens to be European-American. White workers produce
most of the surplus value pumped out of the North
American working class. They include most of the very
poor, most of the homeless, and most of those on welfare.
suffer most of the industrial accidents. None of which
denies that African-American and Hispanic people are
disproportionately among the most exploited sections of
working class.

To imply that the main role of the white workers is "to
police the rest of the population" is completely wrong. The
main role of the white workers, just like non-white
workers, is to be exploited by the capitalist class. The
so-called privileges of the white workers amount to being
relatively less exploited, and less oppressed, than Black
or Hispanic workers. But they remain exploited and

The bloc between the white workers and the capitalist class
has been a major obstacle to the creation of an independent
working class movement - as has been pointed out by
many theorists. Due to its origins as a settler society, the
U.S. in particular has been deeply affected by racism,
extreme individualism, unconcern for the environment,
and macho sexism. All these lead to a lack of class
identification - unlike, to a large degree, the workers of
Western Europe - and to a willingness to identify with its

The key question is whether this has been good or bad for
the white workers. The political tendency which produced
BTR has held that this white unity has been good for the
white workers -- at least within the limits of capitalism
(obviously it has been bad in that it has prevented us from
reaching the delights of socialism). This position is
implied in BTR by only mentioning the so-called privileges
of the white workers. Of course, each privilege in itself is a
benefit. But the gains must be balanced by the
losses. A racially-divided working class has been unable to
force larger gains from the ruling class, gains which are
taken for granted in Western Europe. The U.S. working
class has been unable to win nationalized health care,
public child care, month-long vacations, guaranteed
pensions, real rights to form unions, job security, and other
benefits taken for granted in Europe and, to some extent, in
Canada. The U.S. has the lowest rate of unionization of any
industrialized capitalist democracy -now less than
9 % in private industry. All this is directly connected to
racial division within the working class.

Empirically, the worst-off white workers in the U.S. are in
the South, the most racist part of the country. U.S. white
workers are worse off than Canadian workers. North
American workers are worse off than Western European
workers. So to focus only on the relative privileges of the
white workers is to miss the most important effect of white

Our analysis of the effects of white supremacy affects our
strategy to overcome it. The fight against racism would be
very difficult if the main effect of racism is to make
life easier for the white workers. How are we to persuade
the white workers to give up those privileges? The only
possible appeal is a moral one, appealing to their sense
of guilt (if any) and to the values of democracy and religion.
This is a tough row to hoe. The implications are
authoritarian - that the white workers may have to be
to give up their privileges. Otherwise, how will they be
gotten to give up the benefits they provide for their
families? Those who invented this theory (Noel Ignatiev and
the Sojourner Truth Organization) were Maoists at the time
(that is, a variety of Stalinist). They had no problem in
advocating a revolutionary dictatorship over the white
majority of North America. However, this strategy does not
fit in with anarchism.

An anti-racist appeal is easier (if still hard) if it is in the
self-interest of the white workers. Morality always goes
further when it is merged with self-interest. A
libertarian-democratic society is possible today because
there is a working class in whose interest it is to overthrow
all forms of oppression and to create a free,
humanistic, and cooperative world.

The possibility of a more holistic approach is suggested in
the BTR's section on feminism. Logically, feminism does
not fit in with a sole focus on overthrowing racism.
But, for reasons which can be guessed at, the document
calls for "feminist political work...that connect[s] struggles
against sexism with struggles against white
supremacy". Why not union work which connects struggles
against sexism with struggles against white supremacy and
against capitalism? Why not struggles against white
supremacy which connect with struggles against sexism? A
holistic class struggle approach would attempt to integrate
all struggles against oppression with the overall
struggle against racist-patriarchal capitalism and its state.

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