We should proceed on the assumption that the working class in any undertaking, will require alliances with other social constituencies as a matter of course. The notion of the working class as the singular agent of social revolution or social progress, for that matter, finds no evidence in actual, that is, historical experience. Notwithstanding the lyrics of the Internationale and the dreams of insurrectionary radicals, social change that radically re-configures power and possibilities in favor of democracy, social progress, and socialism, has been (and will be) the handiwork of the socially many and varied, no pristine class affair.
I was thinking that if the strategic necessity of defeating Trump (and the imperative of unity that follows from that) are foremost in the mindset of supporters of Bernie Sanders’ and Elizabeth Warren, then bitterness and acrimony toward on one another should have no place in their interactions.
But here’s the rub: such a mindset, while generally embraced by both sides, still finds a group of Bernie’s supporters who aren’t yet won to this way of thinking. In fact, they are quick to attack Warren for her supposedly less than sterling credentials, while insisting that Bernie is the only “class” candidate worthy of the nomination. Not smart!
At the disruptive heart of racialized capitalism is its re-occurring process of asset stripping, land and wealth dispossession, forced migration, and confinement and segregation of people of color to designated geographical spaces — the ghetto, barrio, reservation as well as particular zip codes, cities, and towns. When I lived in Detroit, I saw the operation and effects of this pernicious and racist process at first hand.
When I visit there now, the city seems to be rebounding, and that is understandably welcomed by many Detroiters, but the rebound appears to me lopsided, uneven, and still in the hooks of the re-occurring process mentioned above, albeit in new forms and conditions. Indeed, the new centers of wealth making and economic activity, in this overwhelmingly African American city, while dynamic in some ways, fail, using my very unscientific eye test, to radiate across the city and combine with a sea of deep and endemic poverty, dispossession, depopulation, long term unemployment and underemployment, desolate neighborhoods, struggling schools, and more of the like.
All of which makes me think that any resolution of Detroit’s long crisis will require, first of all, a political fix, that is, a new correlation of democratic and progressive political power at the city, state, and federal levels, supported and nudged along by a sustained surge of grassroots activity. It goes without saying that defeating Trump and his Republican acolytes next year at the ballot box is absolutely essential.
Racism, among other things, functions to enlist, energize, and stabilize a cross class coalition of white people. And the racist glue that holds it together is material as well as ideological and political. The biggest winners in this coalition are those who sit at or near the top of the economic and political chain. Racism allows them to expropriate enormous wealth, amass power, and fend off political challenges from below. But others down the chain secure advantages too, even if they pale in comparison to those at the top. Without this, the unity and durability of this socially diverse coalition could fray. Said another way, the downward distribution of some of the “fruits” of racism is necessary to bind this coalition together, not to mention breathe life into racist ideology.
As the popular mood shifts against Trump and more incriminating evidence piles up, I have to think that the courts won’t be friendly to his stonewalling of Congress.