Down with all racial hierarchies!
There is a major contradiction at the heart of modern capitalist ideology today when it comes to questions involving the social construct of ‘race’. One pole of the contradiction is that advanced capitalist governments in the West are increasingly insistent that racism is a thing of the past, that unlike their predecessors, they are opposed in principle to racism, and that racism is against the essence of liberal capitalist meritocratic ideology. This strain of bourgeois ideology depends on an abstract model of a market economy where someone’s money, no matter their colour or origin, is as good as anyone else’s, and anyone can enjoy the rewards of the ‘hard work’ which supposedly enables capitalist ‘success’.
But while this ideology is propagated, massive racial inequalities persist, hierarchies remain and are unyielding for nearly all ethnic minority populations. It is still true that particularly non-white minorities in all the advanced capitalist countries all suffer from disproportionate rates of unemployment, low-pay when employed, precarious employment, lack of access to quality education, disproportionate levels of ill-health and greater difficulty accessing quality health care. Such minorities are also disproportionately subjected to police and state violence, to deaths in custody and at the hands of the police in general.
In the United States, where America’s first black President is in his second term, the recent protests against the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Missouri, have once again underlined that for American blacks, despite Obama and all his works, racial oppression very much remains and continues unabated. The Missouri case is one of so many over so many years and decades; it is telling that even now such things can explode into significant struggles. If society had really changed for the better in some fundamental sense, as the ideologues of capitalism claim, then there is no way that such major conflicts could erupt between large sections of a traditionally oppressed minority and the forces of the state.
In the UK, a major outbreak, right across the country, of apolitical rebellion by disaffected lower class youth, taking the form of largely politically aimless rioting and looting, was triggered off by a highly political, racially charged police shooting of an apparently unarmed black man, Mark Duggan, in August 2011 in Tottenham, North London. There was a huge, and obvious, contrast between the highly political struggle in Tottenham, which has a history of militant defiance of racist police brutality, and the low level, aimless and sometimes anti-social and lumpen character of the copycat riots that followed in its wake.
As in previous explosions in the UK, notably during the 1980s, the rioters were not confined to black youth, but included lower class youth of all ethnic backgrounds. This signifies in Britain at least that racial divisions among the poorest sections of the working class, are tending to break down under impact of Britain’s now very advanced economic decline. When there is a real upsurge again of working-class struggle, which the despairing eruptions following Tottenham unfortunately did not represent, this points to massive potential for class unity and the destruction from below of traditional British racism.
But where relations with the state and the ruling class are concerned, despite the change in rhetoric of the rulers, little has changed on the ground: above all the cops are just as corrupt and racist as they ever were, as politically active black fighters against racism such as Doreen Lawrence, elevated to the House Of Lords by a ruling class eager to prove its anti-racism, have pointed out.
A new synthesis
Traditional capitalist white racism has undergone a significant ideological shift in the past couple of decades, particularly since the end of the Cold War and some diminution of ruling class fear that struggles against racism constitute a revolutionary threat. It has become a paradoxical presence, expressing itself in a more and more cryptic form. Racism always was a complex phenomenon that crossed class lines and involved many sections of the population, including the ruling class and at times sections of the industrial working class, as well as other impoverished sections of majority populations in imperialist countries, poor farmers, small shopkeepers, chronically unemployed, etc.
One factor that is very important, and has modified racism particularly in the ‘war on terror’, is a shift in the racial hierarchy in the imperialist-capitalist world. The position of Jews has shifted dramatically since the Second World War. Before WWII they occupied a contradictory position in capitalist society. They played an important role among the bourgeoisie, notably in finance, with a representation considerably greater than their numbers in society as a whole, but at the same time Jewish workers and poor were among the most oppressed and victimised by capitalism, and subjected to racist discrimination, oppression and organised, bigoted violence of a type that is very familiar today to non-whites in imperialist countries.
Jews certainly suffered racial oppression in the pre-WWII period, though the roots of this oppression were different. They were not related to imperialist-colonial conquest and subjugation, but rather a different set of causes based on the role of Jews as a class of merchants and usurers, the bearers of money and market -relations in earlier European feudal societies that were not based on capitalist commodity production. This led to them being seen as adjuncts to the feudal exploiters and hated by the poor as well as regarded as dangerous ‘foreign’ competitors by native capital once feudal society began to give way to capitalist economic relations in the proper sense. As feudal society went into its final decline, Jews lost their privileged position as appointed traders to the monarchs, lords etc., and were often used by the nobility as a lightning rod for the mass discontent of the poor. Thus they were driven into ghettos and at the dawning of capitalism, had been reduced to an oppressed, pariah population.
From oppressed, to part of the oppressor camp
In the earlier, progressive phase of capitalism, the Jews were emancipated from this social role and began to be absorbed into capitalism as an expanding, progressive economic and social system. As capitalism outgrew the early progressive impulse it gave to human development, and began the reactionary, destructive stage of imperialism in the late 19th Century, the Jews suffered persecution, ultimately leading to a genocide that was among the most barbaric in world history. Jewish workers and the progressive elements of the Jewish middle class were radicalised to the left by their oppression; they were subjected to ferocious repression; while in Germany in particular, Jewish bourgeois were offered as scapegoats by the dominant sections of the bourgeoisie as a means to deflect mass discontent with capitalism. This potent combination led to the barbaric Nazi regime and its attempt at genocide from 1941-45.
It is clear today, though, that this was an anomaly. Because the Jewish question was not linked to matters of imperialist plunder, but was rather a hangover from earlier social systems within what later became European capitalist-imperialist states, this oppression of the Jews was conjunctural, not strategic and permanent. Jews were subsequently able to escape from oppression and subordination within the imperialist countries – unlike any other comparable oppressed people.
The old bourgeois paranoia about Jewish ‘subversion’ and their supposed threat to capitalism is now completely dead and discredited. Jews have gone from being a disadvantaged minority in the first couple of post-WWII decades, to being on a par with, or even having a somewhat higher level of personal and family wealth than most of the non-Jewish white population in the United States, with similar developments for Jewish communities in Western Europe, including here.
At the same time, the Jewish presence in the ruling classes of such countries as the United States and Britain has been consolidated. In the past, even when they were there in greater proportions to the non-Jewish population, they felt nevertheless insecure because of the possibility of becoming scapegoats, which was again, related to the existence of a radical Jewish proletarian element, feared by the non-Jewish bourgeoisie for their revolutionism. But with this having disappeared, the material basis for such fears is gone, and Jews have effectively made it to joint first place in the racial hierarchies of the most important of the advanced capitalist countries, which are those which tend to lead the world in terms of bourgeois ideology.
Multiculturalism and racial hierarchy
With this modification of racial hierarchy, there has also been something of a modification of the way mechanisms of racial subordination are maintained. With Jews reaching the summit, the old masters of the hierarchy, the traditional white bourgeoisie, have accommodated superficial aspects of their behaviour to the exigencies of the newcomers, since for obvious historical reasons, Jews are not keen on overt demonstrations of racial bigotry even where they are a privileged minority.
These changes could be taken as simply amounting to a progressive reform, were it not for one obvious fact. Those in the ruling class (and their more humble supporters) who have newly reached the summit of such a racial hierarchy, have no interest in abolishing the hierarchy itself. They do have an interest in modifying the appearance of the hierarchy, and giving it a makeover particularly in terms of its language, rhetoric and superficial appearance, but such a liberal makeover is aimed at strengthening the system itself, not abolishing it.
This new synthesis at the top is the bourgeois material basis for multiculturalism, which projects (sometimes forced) ‘tolerance’ of different cultures as the dominant ethos of how the bourgeoisie aspires to manage ‘race relations’ and immigration. This ideology really began in the 1960s as a response to the various radicalisations that occurred in that period of the peak of post-war boom and social democracy, and the growth of a New Left whose material and ideological basis was this prosperity in the advanced countries, and the belief that some kind of radical social democratic programme was in fact a feasible way to overcome capitalism.
This was interrupted in the late 1960s and early 1970s by the Vietnam war and significant working class struggles, as the first signs appeared the prosperity would not last. This led to the growth of a subjectively revolutionary wing of the New Left, with the growth of Trotskyist and occasionally Maoist organisations with thousands of activists in several of the advanced countries. However, at that point capitalism still had enormous economic reserves that it could mobilise to outmanoeuvre, demoralise and inflict severe defeats on this new far left.
A key weapon in co-opting activists, radicalised by struggles against imperialism and racism, was this left-social democratic multiculturalism, symbolised in Britain possibly more than anyone by Ken Livingstone. In turn, as the ruling class went on the offensive against the workers movement and against even this left social democracy, one of its new and effective weapons was, not a return to overt racism, but a modified, neo-liberalised version of multiculturalism, that reflected the change in racial hierarchies but gave an unambiguously capitalist content to this reformist idea.
The neo-liberal form of multiculturalism has also had knock on effects in other spheres of oppression, in particular with a liberalisation around the question of gay rights. Perhaps the most startling manifestation of this is in Britain. During the heyday of local government ‘left’ Labourite multiculturalism in the 1980s, the Tories in government responded by instigating homophobic laws such as Section 28 of the Local Government Act (prohibiting the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ in schools – i.e. discussion and education about gay rights), which were comparable with the kind of measures recently introduced by Putin in Russia.
Yet this same party, now in government again (in a coalition with Liberal Democrats), recently presided over the full legalisation of gay marriage. This does appear a remarkable change, but in reality it represents a fearsome form of bourgeois pragmatism and indeed cynicism. Even gay rights can be an ideological weapon for the bourgeoisie. It is significant that the party that in government has introduced gay marriage also has 80% of its MP’s affiliated to the Conservative Friends of Israel.
So multiculturalism, in part a product of shifts in racial hierarchies and a new composite at the top, and in part a product of co-option of social struggles from below, is a two-edged sword. There have been gains for the oppressed in terms of expanded social and legal rights, yet at the same time the neo-liberal variant in particular has elements within it that can and have been used to fragment and play off different groups against each other, to the benefit of those at the top of the hierarchy, and of course most notably the ruling class.
The result is a kind of hegemony of varied forms of identity politics, where instead of uniting for a struggle against capitalism, the self-appointed representatives of various oppressed layers: blacks, gays, Muslims, women, etc, compete with each other to get favours from the ruling class and the influential layers at the top of the system of racial/ethnic hierarchy.
… and the ‘war on terror’
During the ‘war on terror’, this shift in the hierarchy has become a potent question, with the scapegoating of the Pakistani and Bengali Muslim communities in the UK by the Blair government, continued by Cameron, which was and is pretty virulent and in tone quite consciously focussed on issues of religion and culture. This is another sense in which the shift in the racial hierarchy that was one of the conditions for the emergence of multiculturalism is a two-edged sword.
In the first period of ‘multiculturalism’ in Western bourgeois politics, a more diverse top layer of the hierarchy led to a liberalisation of ‘racial’ politics in general. But with the war on terror, the position of Jews at the top of the heap has now meant the importation of Israeli style anti-Muslim bigotry into the Western countries, and the sophisticated and hypocritical manner of Israeli claims of democracy and tolerance which in practice operate with an iron fist against the ‘other’.
Far from portending a new era of tolerance and diversity, this presages a new, and more hypocritical era of racism and racial oppression, which can easily spread its targets from the Muslim population to other non-whites and minorities, anyone who does not fit into the paradigm of ‘Judeo-Christian’ civilisation. Indeed, we have at times seen a grumbling from various neocon types about the perils of ‘multiculturalism’, which one day may presage a full scale break if the components of the new synthesis become qualitatively more fused together, but we are probably quite a way from that. At the moment, despite periodic grumbling and even hysteria about ‘multiculturalism’, they still need it.
Fashionable hypocrisy and bourgeois sophistry claims that the constant drip-drip of hatred of Muslim people that infects the Western media and body politic has nothing to do with ‘race’, but is rather about dealing with the supposedly ‘evil ideology’ of radicalised Islam. But this rhetoric is overlaid with dog-whistling – it is not coincidental that Islam is the faith of huge numbers of the indigenous population of the parts of the world the Western powers regard as their most strategic source of energy. These mainly non-white people are themselves regarded as an enemy who cannot at any costs be allowed control of their own economies and natural resources.
The near-financial collapse near the end of the first decade of the 21st century, and the resulting drive by the ruling classes to cut back on every kind of social programme to ‘balance the books’ after a huge chunk of the state funds of the advanced imperialist nations were used to bail out the collapsing credit system, has exacerbated these inequalities considerably. After all, it is the poor that depend most on social programmes, social benefits whose rationale is at least to ameliorate the worst forms of destitution and oppression, and it is those who were already in the weakest position – disproportionately those who come from despised minorities who always were excluded from mainstream capitalist economic life, who most suffer from these cuts in social programs.
Nor is it a coincidence that the vanguard role in ideological hatred of mainly Muslim people is taken by many of those in the Western ruling classes who are most of all loyal to the Israeli state, whose land was stolen by force from the Arab people, and whose entire existence as a state is bound up with permanent war based on a racialised hatred, of Arab peoples.
At one time this expressed itself in hatred of the secular Arab left; now that has been proven impotent and discredited, the resultant growth of radical Islamic sentiment as a manifestation of resistance, means that Jewish communalists in the Western ruling classes, with Zionist politics and their own subjectively nationalist project, have been able to interact with the mainstream gentile imperial contempt for the Arab/Muslims peoples of the Middle East, and inject a more virulent strain of politicised anti-Muslim bigotry into wider political life.
Hypocrisy and provocation
This bloc of traditional imperial bigots and the newer strain of Jewish-Zionist reactionary communalism is a potent mixture, but it does have its peculiarities. We now find extreme bigotry against ‘foreign’ communities mixed with pseudo-progressive rhetoric around gay rights and women’s rights and advancement. Indeed, we now sometimes find gay rights activists and feminists joining in objectively racist anti-immigrant campaigns, and also supporting imperialist military adventures in the Muslim world, on grounds that they are opposing ‘homophobia’ and defending ‘women’s rights’.
On the other hand, we also find an increasing tendency to render the entire concept of racism meaningless by divorcing it from any context of oppression. It is not uncommon for members of oppressed minorities to themselves be accused of some kind of ‘racism’ by the political mainstream simply for acts of resistance to racism that in the past would be considered unexceptionable. Now, with the widespread bourgeois ‘common sense’ that racism is a thing of the past, minorities who complain too loudly about persisting inequality, are all-too-often branded as ‘racist’ themselves.
Some symptomatic examples. When in a dispute among black activists in 2o12, Dianne Abbot MP tweeted that “white people love to divide and rule” she was rabidly denounced by the ‘morally rearmed’, supposedly anti-racist right wing press as engaging in racism herself. But her remarks were innocuous. They were not, it should not need to be said, about consciously, genuinely anti-racist whites, but obviously about those with no such commitment, who are no doubt still the majority, despite the change of ruling class rhetoric. In France, similar issues were posed when Houria Bouteldja, spokesperson for anti-racism movement Parti des Indigènes de la République, was prosecuted and acquitted for ‘anti-French racism’ in a similarly ridiculous context.
The ideas of the ruling class, are, outside of a revolutionary situation, the dominant ideas of any society, and this cosmetic shift does not change the underlying reality of racial hierarchy. The new ‘anti-racist’ hypocrisy justifies this just as did the old, more honest ruling class overt racism.
Another example from the world of sport: after the demeaning saga where Chelsea’s John Terry was first of all unsuccessfully prosecuted, and then punished by the Football Association, for admittedly calling the black QPR player Anton Ferdinand a ‘black cunt’ on the field of play, one further party apart from Terry, was penalised.
Rio Ferdinand, the more famous of the Ferdinand brothers, was fined by the FA for expressing public agreement and amusement at the description of another black player, Ashley Cole, as a “choc-ice” – black on the outside; white on the inside. Cole had not only testified in Terry’s defence, but had married singer Cheryl Tweedy, who many believe was lucky to escape jail for racially-aggravated assault on a black attendant at a nightclub in 2003. There had been much gossip about Cole’s sexuality as a possible quid-pro-quo.
Be that as it may, that ‘choc-ice’ is seen by the newly ‘anti-racist’ FA, and the media, as a ‘racist’ term when in fact it means something similar to ‘Uncle Tom’ – i.e. a black person who defends racists, is based on the assumption that ‘our’ society is no longer racist, but that anyone who complains too loud that it is can themselves be branded as racist. Very strange, and Orwellian; this gives a new and sinister twist to the more straightforward racism in the past.
These are straightforward results of the shift to the new synthesis at the top of the racial hierarchy, while maintaining it just as much as before. It means that hypocritically expressed ‘anti-racism” has now become a racist weapon in itself. This is true with Islamophobia, where the new racists use a fig leaf of pretence that what is involved is merely something to do with dislike of a particular religion – Islam. It is equally true of the kind of vilification of black ‘racists’, who in reality are black people standing up to racism in various ways and contexts, analysed above.
The Orwellian hypocrisy of the modified hierarchy has had some unforeseen consequences, that are slightly more difficult to analyse. Hypocrisy and ‘political correctness’ imposed from above, by the composite at the top of the hierarchy, can now give rise to a racially-tinged rebellion from those lower down the hierarchy. Such is the significance of the quenelle.
The quenelle is the brainchild of the French-Cameroonian comedian, Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, and made itself known in the UK when the French international footballer, Nicolas Anelka, then playing for West Bromwich Albion, used it as a gesture of triumph after scoring a goal in the Premiership in December 2013. He was subsequently banned by the FA, and soon found himself out of the Premiership altogether.
Dieudonné made his career as the most prominent black, anti-racist comedian in France at the end of the 1990s, when he did a double-act with a Jewish comedian, Elié Semoun, of similar inclination. He was a sterling anti-racist campaigner, who however made the ‘mistake’ of creating, for a comedy sketch, the figure of an Israeli settler in the occupied Palestinian territories, who he lampooned as similar to a Nazi. This led to a considerable witch-hunt against him by French Zionists, after which he denounced Zionism and its ‘lobby’, and shifted to an anti-Jewish position that brought him into political alliance with parts of the historically anti-Jewish far right in France, in particular former FN leader Jean Marie Le Pen.
However incongruous may be this alliance of black activist and the elder Le Pen, who is not exactly known for his liking of blacks, Dieudonné has developed a large following particularly among the children of immigrants of Arab and sub-Saharan African origin in France.
The quenelle is a paradox; it is both a gesture of defiance against a racist establishment, and a racially-tinged gesture in its own right. Its main signification is that of ‘up yours’, it resembles the practice of ‘fisting’. But it can be seen, and this is hardly likely to be accidental, as something like an upside-down Nazi salute, as many have pointed out. Since Dieudonné’s followers have made a point of being photographed doing the quenelle outside synagogues, and even outside the gates of old concentration camps in Poland and Germany, this is hardly likely to be a fanciful allegation.
How can this then be understood? From the point of abstract morality and liberalism, this is racism on behalf of these black people, led by Dieudonné, against Jews, and just as bad as any other form of racism.
From the point of view of a historical materialist understanding of the existence of racial hierarchies, however, and the relative recent rise of Jews to joint top position in those hierarchies in the Western imperialist world, it can be understood as an act of gross insubordination toward the perceived new recruit to the ‘boss’ camp.
As an inspired comedy artist, this is a clever synthesis bound to generate a following among the oppressed for its daring and sheer cheek, notwithstanding any discomfort at Dieudonné’s bedfellowship with the elder Le Pen. His following may well feel that Le Pen is no worse than Dieudonné’s persecutors, which include Le Pen’s daughter and current FN leader Marine Le Pen (who has condemned Dieudonné along with Blair-clone Socialist Prime Minister Vallis et al, and supported his performances being banned), and less hypocritical. And that feeling reflects reality.
In other words, the blame for this apparently unnatural confluence between a section of the oppressed and an obsolete part of the far right, rests not with the oppressed or even errant leaders of such like Dieudonné, but with the current tops of the racial hierarchy, the authors of the new synthesis of traditional white racism, and the Jewish-Zionist variant of racism. The ‘anti-racism’ that they promote is actually, increasingly seen through by those on the receiving end of the same old racist brutality and massive inequality, which is now getting considerably worse in the context of austerity and the attacks on the poor to save financial capital, as a new, disguised form of racism. In this context, it bec0mes comprehensible how this disguised racism can give rise to a rebellious response from below, itself racially tinged.
The Dieudonné case actually shows how the reactionary implications of the shift in the racial hierarchy can render the question of racism seemingly more complex, and play a poisonous role more generally. The same is true of the knock on effect that this change has had on other spheres, including questions like gay rights and women’s rights.
Both of these important, strategic questions for socialists have been subjected to severe distortions at the hands of the new establishment synthesis, taking on a puritanical form that is completely contrary to the spirit of socialism, working class politics and struggle for democracy and democratic rights. Women’s rights and even gay rights have been used as a mobilising tool for predatory imperialist wars in the Middle East, and even for threats of similar in Africa by some trends.
Just as damaging, though less obvious, is the transformation of women’s rights to a tool of reaction closer to home also. An example is the Julian Assange case. Not so much in the allegations against him, but the political way in which even supposedly left-wing defenders of the Swedish case mobilise against criticism, whereby attempts to analyse faults in the evidence are characterised as an abuse of the putative victims.
This whole method is reminiscent of the gutter press attitude towards the campaigns to exonerate Irish people who were framed up in the 1970s in connection with the Irish war, with headlines like ‘Loony MP supports bombers’ implying that those who believed that the Birmingham 6 or Guildford 4 were innocent supported putting bombs in pubs. Allegations of ‘rape denial’, coming from the most supposedly liberal sources, like the Guardian, or even from the SWP, are ‘left’ reflections of the ‘politically correct’ puritanism of the new hierarchy. It is a new manifestation of the same capitalist oppression, disguised behind ‘progressive’ phrase-mongering, and must therefore be intolerant of criticism in a pseudo-‘progressive’ manner.
Indeed, this whole method of discourse is very widespread, and infects not just mainstream treatment of ‘race’ questions and women’s equality, but also the treatment of sensitive issues of child abuse, particularly borderline cases where there are issues of considerable sensitivity and complexity to be addressed, and no simple solutions in the real world. Obviously this takes us outside the subject matter of this article, but there is a common approach, where rational debate about complex issues is replaced with a method that uses punitive methods to impose a fake simplicity and absolutism on reality that is not so simple. The predictable result of this is … a new generation of capitalist barbarism and injustice, in a ‘progressive’ wrapper.
Programme and politics needed
So what is the socialist answer to these modified, but familiar phenomena? There are no new answers, but only new contexts and understandings in which to promote the historical aims of the socialist and communist movement, which have been eclipsed and submerged. This is not because they are fundamentally wrong, but because the left have failed to address the questions posed by the current phase of political developments, and to bring out the aspects of current reality that provide concrete points of support for the programme of working class rule.
A key strategic demand is to tear down all racial hierarchies, both within the imperialist nations, through the organisation of a united class struggle to overcome racial oppression, and on an international scale through the struggle to defeat imperialism and thus do away with systematic inequalities between peoples.
Neither of these tasks is as simple as they sound. The question of imperialist oppression abroad is beyond the scope of this article. Ethnic and ‘racial’ divisions, in the absence of an actual national question, need to be fought with demands that address inequality while at the same time mobilising all sections of the working class to improve their situation through a joint struggle for power. Above all this means rebuilding working class organisations, and socialists and communists being both the most far sighted and militant partisans of struggles against racism, while trying all the time to link them with the struggles of the whole working class.
The current trade unions have been hollowed out by leaderships that, either openly in words, or covertly in practice, have capitulated to the decades of attacks by the bosses. They have to be either replaced from within by a revolt of the memberships, or rebuilt from scratch if this proves impossible. The chances are it will be somewhere between the two, with a combination of internal revolts and splits fuelling a reinvigorated labour movement when things do finally blow up from below.
Without a perspective of organising the unemployed to demand work for all, and to demand a decent living wage for all those stuck at near penury on the minimum wage, trade unions will not even begin to reach the most oppressed layers of the working class that they need to revive themselves. We need to demand that the capitalist state provide massive programmes of public investment to provide jobs for all that need them. There are huge quantities of work to be done; just solving the housing crisis alone is something that needs the involvement and active work of millions.
It is a well-known economic fact that there are hundreds of billions of pounds’ and dollars’ worth of ‘homeless’ money capital stored in the financial system, earning interest for idleness, as an alternative to investing it in productive industry because of the low profit rates that are endemic to capitalism in advanced decay. Apart from the fictitious capital that the system generates, much of this capital is the product of previous exploitation of the working class. Under capital, nothing is invested that does not make a profit.
Taken out of private hands, and subordinated to democratic planning by the organised working class, these financial resources, as well as the material underpinning of them in terms of the wealth of advanced countries and the corporate bodies that make then up, can feed the whole planet. They can also lay the basis for the elimination of scarcity on a world scale, mobilising huge quantities of productive labour using environmentally sustainable technologies, which tend at the moment to be more labour intensive. This can abolish joblessness, including among those oppressed populations who currently suffer discrimination in that field, which gives rise to so many other ill effects relating to oppression.
Of course also, the workers movement has to address the question of the state, not just in terms of its disproportionate victimisation of minorities, but also in terms of its enmity to the organised working class itself. Indeed, as soon as the class begins to get organised, it will face the forces of the state from day one. This will tend to have a unifying effect in terms of the struggle of workers and minorities, as was shown in the miners’ strike of 1984-5, when miners underwent a similar experience with the police that had been the lot of black and Asian people in the inner cities for decades. Any serious class organisation for a fightback will immediately resume that experience.
But all this must be unified through politics. Tearing down capitalism means also tearing down its racial hierarchies, and this has to be done by a political movement, a political party, that is conscious of these aims. Without consciousness and organisation, struggles will be incomplete, or can even tend to go off in strange directions, given the complexity of the modern capitalist organism. This means that the tools of materialist analysis have to be applied in solving each and every problem of the movement, from apparently high-level matters such as the nature of the relationship between class and racial hierarchy, as analysed here, to the practical steps needed to overcome them. With that approach, there is every reason for confidence that progress can be made towards emancipation for all from the worsening situation we find ourselves in today.