From racial division to class unity
|The rulers of this country - and indeed, the world - are increasingly confronted with a serious problem: how to control the world's impoverished masses. Now that production is global, the form of bribery that arose with slavery is no longer needed to facilitate exploitation. That exploitation is now achieved through automated production, the international competition for jobs and the laws of the global marketplace. The whites in this new class have lost or almost lost the bribery and social privilege that bound them to their exploiters. Under these conditions, the old methods of control designed over two hundred years ago can no longer be effective. One reason that the racism of today's police, government and reactionary intelligentsia takes such vicious form is that the system is fighting its last stand, its back to the wall of its own ugly history.
To protect its current interests, the ruling class has no choice. It must take away the weapon of democracy and, more important, constitutional rights from the growing millions of poor people. The ruling class cannot allow the propertyless mass to determine the direction of this country (or the world); the ruling class, and that class alone, means to determine where the profits, privilege and potential for secure well-being is going. As the struggle unfolds, larger and larger sections of society are inevitably being effected. This effect does not by any means have to drag workers down to the level of homeless destitution to be deeply felt and acted upon.
As in every period of our history, the ruling class today is using the African Americans to push its own agenda. This time, however, the rulers have no reason to promote reforms as a means of achieving their goals. Instead, the rulers and their media, educational and legislative apparatus mounted a massive anti-black propaganda campaign, which arose in the early 1980s with the "War on Drugs" and attacks against welfare and continues today in even more drastic form. This effort is meant to guarantee that historic divisions based on the deceptions of race and white supremacy are kept alive. The goals of this campaign are twofold: first, to make Americans accept a world in which the limitation or elimination of their rights was the price of freedom, then, to shore up the crumbling foundation for unity among whites across class lines, which has become more and more difficult as the ruling class has increasingly destroyed the American dream.
On the first count, the ruling class has been largely successful. Basic constitutional protections have been gutted; serious inroads have been made into the rights of free speech, assembly, privacy and due process. Police are virtually unrestrained in their ability to beat and murder at will, prison budgets exceed those for public education in a growing number of states, and more than 5 million people live under control by the legal system in some form. Entire neighborhoods are under electronic surveillance, federal wiretapping rights have been extended, and the judicial system protects police privileges - including the privilege of slaughter - over the rights of all other citizens. So-called anti-terrorist legislation further tightens avenues of political dissent.
Although white workers are the majority of the jobless and propertyless, the isolation of the minorities is what established the basis to attack the rights of all workers. No more proof of this is needed than an understanding of what welfare reform really means. Passed after more than fifteen years of anti-black propaganda, the true intention of changing "welfare as we know it" is now clear - the destruction of the wages floor and the creation of a pool of slave labor (workfare) in order to maximize profit.
Under the weight of such developments it is becoming increasingly difficult for the ruling class to maintain the fiction of "racial" unity as beneficial for either the majority of whites or African Americans. The developing social resistance is moving from scattered and isolated struggles to a broader response that involves those very sectors of society from which the ruling class has drawn its working class support. Equally important, these developments find expression in efforts to organize and educate this developing new class around its own interests, which are inherently in opposition to the ideas and the solutions of the rulers.
©1998 Speakers for a New America Books
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Last updated 4/27/15