A Statement Against White Supremacy
The violent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, and President Donald Trump’s responses following this overt expression of white supremacy reminds us in Marxist Sociology that we cannot expect silence and business-as-usual to magically improve social relations. In fact, our work as Marxists shows that, on the contrary, there will be neither justice nor peace for people of color, for Jews, or for any minority group in society if we continue to ignore the sources of inequality.
Conflicts such as those in Charlottesville must be understood as the outcome of poisonous racial ideologies fueled by economic inequality. As both Marx and DuBois point out, racism is fundamental to the operation of the capitalist system, but racial ideology and hatred can take on a life of its own. Capitalism creates stagnating or declining living standards for millions of Americans, and hundreds of millions across the globe, alongside fabulous wealth for the top one percent. It is no accident that President Trump, a white man born into a wealthy family, is sympathizing and inspiring white nationalists’ violent statements and actions.
In her telling of “Okie” history, which can be applied to the white supremacist actions openly escalating this past year, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz explains,
In the end, the only advantage for most has been the color of their skin and the white supremacy, particularly toward African Americans, that pervades the culture; what they are not (black, Asian, “foreign”) is as important as what they are (white, “true Americans”) in their sense of propriety and self-esteem […] [W]hite supremacy has been a bone to throw to the Okie dogs, their reward, also essential to maintenance of the system. White supremacy works internally mainly in relation to blacks and other minorities and immigrants in the United States, but also globally in relation to the third world. Militarism is necessary to maintain the corporate capitalist ruling class, so imperialism must be reproduced in a defensible popular form.
Capitalism and its incessant need to grow profits and concentrate wealth into the hands of an elite few, depends on social inequalities to muddy the connections between wealth and those who produce that wealth. We must support minority groups under siege, while we do not lose sight of the structural inequalities that feed racism and anti-Semitism. Given their interrelated nature, we must vigorously pursue an end to all inequalities.
As Marxist sociologists, we also understand that out of conflict arises systemic change. Change is possible when people first understand the conditions necessary for maintaining systems of oppression, and also move to act on that understanding in order to realize this change. For these reasons, the Marxist scholars, and activists Marxist Sociology represents, join the many people who reject the white supremacist ideology as well as the actions perpetuated by those who seek deeper divides amongst people oppressed by the current system of capitalism.
— Submitted by the Council of Marxist Sociology
Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxane. 2002. “One or Two Things I Know about Us: Rethinking the Image and the Role of the ‘Okies.'” Monthly Review, Vol. 54, Issue 2.