This article was commissioned from the Workers Solidarity Federation (WSF), for Red and Black Revolution: a magazine of libertarian communism, number 4, 1998/1999. You can get the PDF of the relevant Red and Black Revolution here.
Racism and the Class Struggle
Racial oppression remains a defining feature of the modern capitalist world. It is manifest most spectacularly in violent attacks on immigrants and minorities by fascist gangs. More important to the fate of these communities has been the systematic and increasing discrimination by capitalist states, manifest in attacks on the rights of immigrants, cuts in welfare services, and racist police and court systems.
How can racism be defeated?
An answer to this question requires an examination of the forces which gave rise to, and continue to reproduce, racism. It also requires a careful analysis of which social forces benefit from racial oppression.
By racism is meant either an attitude denying the equality of all human beings, or economic, political and social discrimination against racial groups.
The roots of racism
Capitalism developed as a world system based on the exploitation of workers, slaves and peasants – black, brown, yellow, and white. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the young capitalist system centred mainly on western Europe and the Americas. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Africa and Asia were brought increasingly into the ambit of capitalist power. Continue reading