Is the White Working Class Necessary for Revolution?
“Obviously for us to achieve unity, we must see this city society in relation to the struggle. For against the Portuguese colonialists, we accept even persons from this group of whites in the struggle on our side, if they so wish. Because among the whites there may be some who are in favor of colonialism and others who are anticolonialists. If the latter join us, that is fine, it is an additional force against the colonialists. Let all the forces we can bring together come. But not blindly; we must know what is the position of each one in relation to the colonialists.
So in the cities we see the following: very few whites took any action against the colonialists. First, because they are the *colonial class*, those most representative of colonialism in our land. Second, because some have no interest in this, as they have their own life, want to go away when they have made their pile, are not looking for trouble. Third, because the whites, the Portuguese who live in our land, do not generally have sufficient political training to take a clear, specific position against any regime, wherever they might be.” — Amilcar Cabral, Unity and Struggle
The question of “working class unity” and the old right opportunist canard of “dividing the working class” has been bandied about so much that it’s enough to drive a pacifist to violence. Sentimentality and idealism have no place in the Communist movement. Many people yearn for a unity that never existed in the first place, and acting as if it ever has is not in the service of the revolutionary movement. We study history to uncover trends and inform our analysis. We analyze classes and blocs, not individual acts of goodwill. Delusions serve nobody, and are in fact harmful. People are informed by their own biases and seek out information to confirm their biases. So, we should not be surprised at how colonizers who fancy themselves “Communists” yet have not truly broken with the chauvinist mindset play havoc with their bastardization of history. They do not critically engage with the observations of Du Bois, Walter Rodney, Robert F. Williams and others because, simply, it is not what they want to hear. They want assurances of their central place and necessity, not to truly engage with the reality of the world and State in which we live.
Mocking and roasting the white left is a common pastime among colonized revolutionaries. For all their chest thumping, mememaking, posturing, arguing and sloganeering, the simple truth of the matter is that none of them, regardless of tendency, have a snowball’s chance in hell of delivering on their revolutionary dreams. For all their appeals to their working class, colonizers in the United States are not turning to Communism, they are turning to fascism or social fascism. They know this, and are extremely envious of formations such as the Black Panther Party and Black revolutionaries in general because they know that it is we who will ultimately destroy this empire. Instead of moving with humility, they seek to divide us against one another and wreck our movements for their own ends out of spite.
W.E.B. DuBois wrote in Marxism and the Negro Question: “No soviet of technocrats would do more than exploit colored labor in order to raise the status of whites. No revolt of a white proletariat could be started if its object was to make black workers their economic, political and social equals. It is for this reason that American socialism for fifty years has been dumb on the Negro problem, and the Communists cannot even get a respectful hearing in America unless they begin by expelling Negroes. “
Very little has changed. We see the white “proletariat” taking violent exception to the simple slogan that “Black Lives Matter”. We see them hanging nooses in their supposed Black class siblings’ lockers. We see their trade unions as bastions of racism and nepotism, fundamentally no different than the old craft unions that denied us a living decades ago. Ask any Black or Brown worker and I guarantee you that they will have a story of abuse or treachery at the hands of one of their colonizer class siblings. Colonizers do not see the colonized as their equals, nevermind class siblings with shared interests. White workers in the 1800s did not see enslaved Africans as their class brothers and sisters, and they rioted all throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries to deny us the fruits of our labor. They staged hate strikes, banned us from unions, and aligned with the ruling class to break our strikes with violence. They expected us to honor their strikes, but did not honor ours. In Mobile, Alabama, white workers violently attacked Black workers in the midst of WWII.
The white proletariat has no real revolutionary organic class leadership of its own. Some don’t even consider them to be a real proletariat in the Marxist sense in the first place. Of course, most of the Communists in this country are idiots who arbitrarily throw petit bourgeois/intelligentsia positions such as nurses and teachers into the ranks of the proletariat while having the audacity to claim that sex workers, many of whom are colonized, are not engaged in work due to the moralistic handwringing that is all too common among the ideological and genetic descendants of various feuding tribes of Protestant assholes from the soggy backwaters of Europe. I personally believe that there is a colonizer proletariat. There are broke ass colonizers with criminal records and who are as broke as the brokest colonized person, working temp jobs and hustling on the side in the finest semi-proletarian fashion. However, it is dispersed, and its consciousness is not revolutionary, and never has been. The colonizer proletariat is an opportunistic, grasping, untrustworthy, duplicitous class. My ancestors loathed poor colonizers worse than the rich, detached ones for a reason. Poor colonizers in the slavery era aspired to nothing more than to buy a Black person and work them to death to climb the class ladder. Nowadays they sit around and whine about affirmative action and minorities taking their jobs. Their class consciousness is petit bourgeois, meaning that they aspire to owner-employer status. Anything that gets in the way of them “making good”, they will oppose. This is why so many of them fall for various get rich quick schemes, go in for prosperity gospel hucksters, and act against their supposed class interests, because they do not see themselves as oppressed proletarians. Colonized people, by and large, can not afford the luxury of such self-deception. We simply are not allowed to harbor these dreams in a fascist, racist, imperialist country. Furthermore, white proletarians, while admiring other colonizers who have become wealthy, historically have loathed and despised Black and Brown people who happened to be wealthier than them. Many a lynching and pogrom was sparked by the fact that a neighboring Black farmer or town was prosperous and thriving. This was no class antagonism, this was the same type of bitter envy and hatred that drove the Russians and Germans to stage pogroms against the Jews throughout history.
So, are Europeans in a settler-colonial country like the US necessary for the successful prosecution of a revolution? For one, we would have to ask ourselves why exactly the descendants of those who set up a country for them at the expense of millions of tortured, exiled, and murdered Indigenous and African people would magically give these things up to join Black and Brown people in a revolution to destroy their own country. They still think that all the system needs is a tweak and a mild change. Replace the open fascist Trump with the social fascist Bernie Sanders, that sort of thing. Until the system becomes as starkly oppressive towards colonizers as it already is to the colonized, there will be no mass participation of colonizers in the revolutionary movement. I don’t know if you know this or not, but colonizers do not give a shit about anybody but themselves. They also don’t give that much of a shit about themselves, to be perfectly honest. The bonds of mutual aid, solidarity and comradeship they had back in Europe were broken up and destroyed when they came to the United States and accepted integration at my people’s expense. As Du Bois said, “The Irish climbed on the Negroes. The Germans scrambled over the Negroes and emulated the Irish. The Scandinavians fought forward next to the Germans and Italians and “Bohunks” are crowding up, leaving Negroes still at the bottom chained to helplessness, first by slavery then by disfranchisement and always by the Color Bar.” Colonizers have never felt solidarity with the colonized. If they had, they wouldn’t be colonizers. Revolutions are not made lightly or by people with things to lose. People who have cheap gasoline, cheap food, cheap entertainment, 401Ks and riding lawn mowers. do not just pick up rifles and build guillotines. Revolutions are made by the starving, the prisoners, the criminalized, the proletariat with nothing to lose. For the descendants of colonizers to have a material stake in a revolution that will be as thorough as it must be, America must lose its material benefits and privileges for them. All the fat accumulated from imperialism must be stripped away, their delusions in the system must be shattered and they must be remade into real proletarians, those with nothing to lose. Right now, objectively, America still offers most of them a pretty sweet deal, and they wouldn’t in their right minds revolt against it. All bullshit aside, none of them would voluntarily change places with a Black person or a Brown person because they still know that being a visible colonizer accrues benefits that they are unwilling to part with. Europeans still are a majority of the American population, but that is changing with continued immigration and a declining birth rate. This is part of the sentiment behind the pushing of anti-abortion laws by colonizer reactionaries in statehouses. They don’t care if every colonized baby dies, but they want to ensure their continued demographic advantage.
Objectively, it’s wrong to say that colonized people need masses of colonizers to make revolution. I see no real material basis for this argument. From the perspective of New Afrikan people, colonizers have been a historical headache and a nuisance at best and downright genocidal enemies at worst. Latino and Indigenous comrades can attest to this fact. They lie, they steal, they make trouble, they are sneaky, they center themselves, they do not want to study or learn. I’m not going to tell my people that we must expose ourselves to such behavior for the purposes of the revolution. Those that call themselves Communists? Most of them are utterly useless as well, arguing over stupid shit and becoming very knowledgeable about and meddling in affairs in other countries while not knowing what is going on in a neighborhood within walking distance. Can colonizers be Communists? Sure, I know and have trained several, and they’d agree with me on this point. This is an attempt to hold the revolution hostage to those who, truth be told, will as of right now be on the opposing side in the first place. As a dialectical materialist, I realize that change is necessary and certain. But, it will require work on the part of those who come from working class colonizer communities. The shift in consciousness must be proletarian, anti-imperialist, and anti-American. Without this shift, the American colonizer, “working class” and all, will go the way of the Rhodesian. I don’t think my people will shed all too many tears.