Okay look. I get it. It’s really easy to look at class and see that as the only “real” oppression in the world. When you’re a straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied man, it’s quite literally the only oppression you can possibly face. And it’s absolutely true that the only privileges we can truly see as individuals are the privileges we don’t have, which are, as a result, magnified in our minds.
To get selfish for a moment… I obviously know that white privilege is a thing, but I don’t see it because I’m white. I obviously know that male privilege is a thing, but I don’t see it because I’m a man. Same for cis privilege, and straight privilege. Technically I don’t suffer from class oppression because my family is middle class and I get to take advantage of that. But then again, I work in retail and make maybe $200 a week. So I can see class privilege to a point because my only protection from class oppression is my parents… I’m not going to say that I know exactly what said oppression looks like, because I’ve never been homeless, but I also have a roof over my head because my parents give me one without charging me a rent I can’t afford; which is why I try to give when I can to the homeless and fight so hard for a Universal Basic Income and Universal Housing… no one should have no money, and no one should be homeless. And it’s a lot easier to make that happen at the federal level than people think… you just have to get rid of the greedy capitalists in power, first…
So… maybe not so easy…
But I digress…
The point is that I get it. I get only fighting for class.
The thing is, though…
Bigotry is still real. Racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, etc are still real issues that really exist.
There’s an interesting, and frankly infuriating, fiction on some parts of the Left that, somehow, all you have to do is institute a Socialist economy and government, and suddenly all other bigotries will just… melt away. Tear down Capitalism, and… apparently… the KKK will lose their “only” recruiting tool.
This… of course… is absolutely false.
Now it’s true that the ruling class use the various bigotries as tools to distract us so they can maintain their power. But they didn’t invent those bigotries, and those bigotries will be around long after they’re gone.
I think the best possible evidence of this right now is a study done asking why people voted for Trump. To this day the narrative of “economic woes” persists. And it’s very attractive, especially for people who genuinely want to believe that Sanders could win over Trump voters (and I’m not even disputing this entirely… although I don’t think he’d be as successful amongst that crowd as people think).
And in some minor way that might actually be true. I don’t want to downplay economic woes, here. The reality is that the vast majority of people are absolutely desperate for anything that can pull them out of their poverty. And here in the United States, everyone is born into Capitalism as the status quo. So everyone here thinks that the only way out of poverty is by working… basically “pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps”… despite the fact that that is a fiction.
So ideas like “workers should seize the means of production” are largely laughed off as ridiculous, when, in reality, that is one of the ways in which we’ll actually fix what’s wrong, here. But because so many people laugh it off, they buy in to the Neoliberal lie about bootstraps and self-actualization and so on… and so they vote Republican… and sometimes Democrat. And the angrier, more desperate people march in the streets shouting phrases like “Jews will not replace us”, drive vans into crowds of anti-protesters, shooting up mosques and synagogues, murder trans women (FYI… more trans women, especially black trans women, have been murdered this year… have you noticed? Have you cared?), call the cops on black people for the crime of merely existing while black (effectively murdering them), brutalize women…
I understand how economic woes can play into it all.
But the simple reality is this…
Most Trump voters did not vote for him based on their economic situations… they did so based on one thing… racism.
Back on May 8th, 2017, Sean McElwee and Jason McDaniel posted an article at The Nation called “Economic Anxiety Didn’t Make People Vote Trump, Racism Did”
In our models, racial attitudes towards blacks and immigration are the key factors associated with support for Trump. The way that these variables impact Trump support can be seen in the charts below. Both racial resentment and black influence animosity are significant predictors of Trump support among white respondents, independent of partisanship, ideology, education levels, and the other factors included in the model.”
“Our results also indicate that economic peril was not a significant predictor of voting for Trump once either racial attitudes or immigration attitudes are included in the models. As shown in the chart below, Trump vote probability for an average white person does not change regardless of whether they express high or low levels of economic insecurity.
Of course that’s just one data set, and it’s based on a survey with only 4000 respondents. So it’s entirely correct to question the very basis of it. And further, it’s not like this is an easy question to answer. In the minds of most white people, being accused of racism is worse than actual racism. So of course most white people will find a way to deny their own racism if they can help it.
But I do agree with the conclusions. Trump has massive support amongst racists… Nazis, the KKK, etc absolutely love him. Economics is 100% not the reason why.
Back in 2018, researchers from Harvard, Stanford, and the U.S. Census Bureau published a study about racism and economic status. According to the write-up at The Lantern…
The study tracked incomes of 20 million people born between 1978 and 1983 for 30 years and published the findings in March. It showed at every economic starting point black males had lower rates of employment and lower wages than white males. Kyle Strickland, a senior legal analyst at Kirwan, said the revelation dispels a widely held belief that racial inequality stems from black children disproportionately coming from poor households.
“It really is a great study in the support of what we’ve been arguing for a very long time, which is that race plays a hugely determinative role in your life outcomes,” he said. “And not just race, let me very clear about that — It’s really racism.”
Researchers tested multiple hypotheses and found the best predictor for the severity of the income gap was the levels of explicit racism and implicit racial basis in an area.
Gaps for black and white males and “racial bias measures have the strongest correlations with black boys’ income ranks,” the study states.
It’s likely that you’ve seen the statistics: The median white family has 41 times more wealth than the median African-American family and 22 times more wealth than the median Latino family. And things are getting worse, not better: The proportion of black families with zero or negative wealth rose by 8.5 percent to 37 percent between 1983 and 2016.
Native American median household income is similar to that of black households. Nearly 34 percent of Native American children live in poverty (in contrast to 10 percent of white children), according to the most recent publicly available data.
The economic precariousness among Americans has become notoriously widespread, but it’s the worst for African-Americans without a high school diploma, over half of whom couldn’t handle an unexpected expense as low as $400 with their current income.
The fact of the matter is that claiming that fixing the economy (like instituting Socialism) will somehow end racism and all other forms of bigotry is putting the cart before the horse.
I had this discussion over on the lefty side of Reddit recently, and somebody said this…
Yes but without the shittyness of capitalism the KKK or incels won’t be able to recruit anyone
Yeah… no. Incels and the KKK don’t recruit on the basis of economic status. Incels recruit on the basis of entitlement to sex (you think Eliot Rodgers had economic woes? Dude lived in a wealthy family for fuck’s sake!), and the KKK recruits on racism.
I do think it’s true that groups like the KKK and Nazis and Incels use economic insecurities as tools for getting people to be more racist, and that it’s a powerful tool. But that doesn’t make it their only one.
Do you not think that the KKK will find ways to fearmonger about black people getting the same social welfare that the KKK claims should “only” go to white people? Do you not think Nazis will find new ways to twist a Socialist economy into anti-Semitic propaganda? Do you not think Incels will find ways to complain about women getting the same welfare as men?
Just because one tool in these groups’ arsenals will be gone doesn’t mean it will be harder for them to recruit… they’ll just change the way they go about it.
Bigots will always find a way to be bigots. They don’t have to be poor to be bigots. Elliot Rodger (honestly, I neither know nor care how to spell his name correctly; you know who I’m talking about… you don’t need to tell me) wasn’t poor. Sheldon Adelson isn’t poor. Donald Trump isn’t poor. The Koch Brothers aren’t poor. Yet they all were, and are, bigots.
Like I said… I completely understand thinking that class oppression is the end-all, be-all. Class oppression is probably the one “intersectional” oppression. Pretty much anyone can be poor.
But bigotry will exacerbate that for certain groups of people. White Supremacy will hold back people of color, while Patriarchy, compromised not just of misogyny but also of homophobia and transphobia (both of which stem from misogyny, honestly), will hold back women and the LGBTQIA community. Christian theocracy (which is de-facto in the US right now… let’s be honest… even if we’re technically supposed to be a “secular country”) will hold back Muslims, Jews, Pagans, Hindus, Buddhists… basically anyone who isn’t Christian… and there’s even hatred/holding back of some sects of Christianity in the US that the powerful sects don’t like.
Yet none of this changes the fact that even if (hopefully when?) we do tear down capitalism, seize the means of production, and institute a Glorious Socialist Utopia™ (full of universal health care, universal housing, a universal basic income, co-ops as far as the eye can see, the working class running the government, wealth distribution, free education with zero student loans, and all that wonderful stuff), we will still have to deal with bigotry, because bigots will always be bigots, and they will always find new ways to recruit more bigots.
If we cannot guarantee Socialism to the most oppressed amongst us, then we simply cannot guarantee it at all.
The Revolution will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.