Based on a talk given at the Feb. 5 webinar “Global Class War: Lessons from Sam Marcy for workers struggles today.” Go to https://youtu.be/5Arb33Q8SN0 to view the webinar.
As capitalism reaches its breaking point, more and more people are realizing that the so-called American dream they’ve been sold their whole lives is a mere mirage. The spark for many people was the Great Recession of 2007, when many people lost their houses, their jobs, their savings and any semblance of a stable future.
Fearing the masses discovering the instability of the capitalist system, the ruling class started looking for alternative ways to diffuse class consciousness among the people.
Beginning with the Tea Party movement in the late 2000s and continuing all the way into the MAGA movement in the present day, billionaire oligarchs have invested millions of dollars to platform politicians and ideologies that promote easy answers to systemic problems.
Instead of looking at imperialist hegemony and the way it destabilizes foreign governments trying to create a better life for their people, they point the finger at immigrants, who are escaping the wretched conditions brought forth by such interference.
Instead of thinking about how companies can use their wealth to create jobs, instead of paying off politicians, they pass the buck to Black and Indigenous peoples and criticize them for the alleged way they benefit from affirmative action.
In doing so, the elite hope to drive a wedge between workers of all races and nationalities. And more importantly, they erase the ongoing disenfranchisement of Black people, Indigenous people and immigrants.
During an ever-growing precarity, it is easy to wish for a return to the “good old days” and the long-gone ability to own two cars and a white picket fence. But for many in this country, especially Black and Brown people, those “good old days” were never good.
They were filled with violence, dehumanization and disenfranchisement in the name of securing basic human rights. In recent years, it’s becoming clear that those human rights were extremely provisional.
In addition to being victimized by the capitalist system, people of color are being brutalized by police, having sacred lands polluted and being victimized by nonsensical hate crimes.
Through their common culture shared by centuries of marginalization under a country based on slavery and genocide, many people-of-color groups in the U.S. fit under the Leninist definition of oppressed nations.
As nations oppressed under a legacy of settler-colonial capitalism, Black, Brown and other people of color are entitled to complete autonomy and self-determination to resist the dominant oppressor nation, whose very existence depends on its disenfranchisement, whiteness itself.
Sam Marcy, the founder of Workers World Party and the comrade we are honoring today, put it succinctly when he said there cannot be any unity between the workers of the oppressed and oppressing nations, as long as the workers of the oppressing nation do not recognize and do not advocate the right of the oppressed nations to self-determination.
As the specter of fascism tries to divide the workers along racial lines, it threatens the ability of comrades to recognize not only the oppression of the Black and Brown nations but the hegemonic force that thrives on its disempowerment.