White Privilege?

September 2021 Forums General discussion White Privilege?

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    Identity politics challenged
    <p class=”css-38z03z”>Prof Kalwant Bhopal, director of the Centre for Research in Race and Education at the University of Birmingham, commenting after the hearing, added: “This argument presents a discourse that you cannot discuss race and class together.</p>
    <p class=”css-38z03z”>“It suggests a hierarchy of oppression which ignores the evidence that Black, Indian and Pakistani/Bangladeshi poor working class pupils are disadvantaged in their educational experiences due to the structural and institutional racism they experience.</p>
    <p class=”css-38z03z”>“Furthermore, it is not white working class groups who are the most disadvantaged, it is Gypsy, Roma and Traveller groups who have the worst outcomes at all stages of their educational experiences.”</p>
    MPs investigating underachievement among disadvantaged white pupils in England have been told that the communities they come from are suffering “a status deficit” and the use of terms like “white privilege” could create further problems.
    <p class=”css-38z03z”>Prof Matthew Goodwin, professor of politics and international relations at the University of Kent, told MPs the national conversation in the last 10 years had become “much more consumed with other groups” and disadvantaged white families felt they were not afforded the same recognition, respect and esteem as others.</p>
    <p class=”css-38z03z”>White pupils from poor communities – in particular boys – perform worse on average at school than their peers from most other ethnic backgrounds. The Department for Education’s 2018 GCSE performance statistics show that while the national average attainment score across eight subjects was 46.5, white boys who are eligible for free school meals score an average of just 28.5.</p>
    Dr Lee Elliot Major, professor of social mobility at the University of Exeter, who also gave evidence to the committee, said later: “I do think we should avoid pitching one working class group against another – this shouldn’t be positioned somehow as a zero-sum game. As I argued we’ve created a narrow academic race system that is unwinnable for white working class communities.”

    Prof Diane Reay, emeritus professor of education at the University of Cambridge, said white working class communities did not have any sense of being powerful, or having any power in wider society. “I think there’s growing levels of social resentment and a sense of being left behind among white working classes.”

    Dr Sam Baars, director of research and operations at the Centre for Education and Youth, told the committee he did not see whiteness as a marker of disadvantage, and that at other stages in education those gaps were flipped on their head.


    L.B. Neill

    Hi Alan,

    I have worked in homeless communities where the most marginal are competing against one another for the welfare resources- both limited and competitive.


    In some circles white power is dismissed.

    White privilege is not essentialist: I am white- so white has access to power.

    Some right wing commentators say poor people have no access to power and use imagery of the white homeless to say “what white power”?


    But yet- in marginal groups, competition for scarcity occurs. I have seen the most disadvantaged complain that ‘other races’ have taken what is theirs. Usually expressed by ethnic Europeans who compete against newer, equally poor migrants from differing ethnicity.

    It is metropolis over peripheral played over again: right through the social strata: from up high to the precariat (dare I say a new strata: the left out in the cold ‘unemployed, displaced, non-classed because of it”).

    Metropolis (colonial) thinking is still systemic right through the divisions of society. That division tries to keep unity apart.

    White privilege still comes up, and in communities without capital,  competing for the rarity of any resource for the most disadvantaged.

    Any race can be in a disadvantaged and marginal position- and it is sad that competition for daily living drives a wedge rather than unity of purpose.

    But on a positive note: I have seen selfless acts of sharing and non competition too in diverse groups…

    Does that make some sense?

    Ask me to elaborate when COVID is over, but many forms of privilege run riot (male, capital, class,and race) throughout societies- long may we resist it.

    • This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by L.B. Neill.
    • This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by L.B. Neill.

    As socialists, we can not fall prey to the tactics of divide and rule practiced by the ruling class and their running dogs.  Poverty, exploitation and oppression has everything to do with class, not colour of our skin.

    L.B. Neill

    Hi Leon,

    Glad you recovered from the axe in Mexico. Sorry, it is Friday, and I appreciate the pseudoname.

    The thing is, racism exists. It can be measured, quantified and qualified.

    Rather than trundling a series of facts, my last post (though irregular) was self reflexive. It was based on direct observation and experiential discovery (a social science tool of grounded theory): what you see- and what it is. And then build a theme around direct observation.

    I have observed them/us/other violence and how groups use of power between human characteristic variations. I have observed it based on skin tone, on body weight, on gender, on sexuality,  on class,  and so on. These measures are mark points of antagonism, and show significant  aggression used between and within groups that divide, segregative and incorporate who is a group member.

    Class is not talked about much in liberal formations of democracy. They avoid the ‘class issue’ and instead consider the disparate competitions of gender, race, sexuality and religion- but class and its division is silenced.

    Class should be primary. If socialism brings egality to the historical forces of the class struggle, then all the other struggles will fall into line.

    It is a bi-directional sequence: if a=b=c, then b=c, or a=c and so on. (relational frames)

    Yet racism exists and be observed. When we think of white privilege- we should think who supports it, and in the service of who. It can’t be dismissed from so many who have experienced its oppressive effects- but we can disambiguate it- point it out for what it is- like you said: the running dogs of capitalism.

    Socialism based on true democracy will rhyme those ABCs. But we can’t ignore people’s lived experience of racism.

    Be safe,


    • This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by L.B. Neill.

    No section of the working class is privileged. The only people in society who are are those who own and control the means of life as this enables them to draw a non-work income and lead a privileged lifestyle,

    The suggestion that some workers may be privileged arises from the use of the word “underprivileged” to refer to some groups of workers. This implies that other workers are therefore “privileged”; in fact it implies that the group designated “underprivileged”  is itself privileged but just doesn’t have enough of it.

    I don’t know who invented the word — probably some do-gooder reformist— but it’s a word that should not be part of the socialist vocabulary.

    L.B. Neill


    The term is complex: privileged.

    Some times it depends on how it is used and its context.

    In studies of power-over it is used as a sense of entitlement over an other: male over female, stronger over weaker, capital over labour… to name a few.

    What it is in its base form is: use of violence over someone, some class over another.

    If I prevent someone from harming a community member, I am not a reformist. I am doing good and doing good should be a term that is centred in socialist vocab… liberals use that term ‘do- gooder’ as if doing good is bad.

    Come on- doing good is not reformism, it is being part of a social network of caring. I hate it when libs scorn people who are doing good, doing the sociable, socialism should avoid seeing helpfulness in genuine human need (very immediate and dangerous need) as do gooder ridicule.

    The word privilege, is used in anti oppressive practices to define those who use violence against another because they are given some entitlement to do so, or feel entitled to do so.

    Okay:  one focus in my work is on family violence and my emotive reactions may seem ‘high affect’- but it is born out of the effects of privilege being used to exercise coercive control over another, and help those who experience it escape some of the worst forms of violence.

    It is both theory and really hard practice for me, and others too.


    • This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by L.B. Neill.
    • This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by L.B. Neill.
    • This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by L.B. Neill.

    Sorry, LBN, I think “do-gooder” is a perfectly acceptable derogatory term. It refers to liberals and others who want to do good to or for others rather than want the group they have taken pity on to act for themselves. Socialists are not do-gooders. We are do-it-for-yourselves-ers !

    L.B. Neill


    That is not it. There should be not pity- I know we should do it for ourselves- and for each other.

    I will own the term ‘do good’. To be a good dad, a good partner,  a good friend, and a good comrade.

    Doing good is an act of kindness. Saying ‘Sorry LBN’ is a kind thing.

    I am part of the group of  male survivors, not wanting pity (if only I could openly declare my lived experience) and who speak for our experiences that no ‘do gooder’ in the derogatory term could account for- and we speak for ourselves. And some of us entered the space of health care- and we speak out.

    Done. Said.

    “We are do-it-for-yourselves-ers !” is great, but every now and then, we need help get there. And I am glad I got there too, but not by myself alone.

    We may be discussing the same outcome, but with differing words.

    Maybe ‘do gooder’ is the same complex as privileged- but it should not lead to disunity between us, but an asking of what it means according to our experience.

    I did not mean any offence in my last post, I wanted to point to the the abusive forms of privilege.

    And thanks


    • This reply was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by L.B. Neill.
    L.B. Neill


    An interesting look at the period of White Australia and the systemic racism sponsored by the State.

    The article looks at the biological and cultural assimilation policies used by the state to interpolate the Aboriginal community into the capital mode of production through the ‘civilising’ process.

    It seems this version of supremacy thinking is one of the instruments of capital discourse.

    In the end, we are to be assimilated into wage slavery- our commonality no matter our race.

    I had a vision of capitalism as the Borg on Star Trek.

    I just looked at my previous post comments: what a tangential knot ! I had disclosed a personal experiencing that I could not go back and edit. But feel okay about it today. Just leave it there.

    What a tangle, yet that tangle leads to focus



    • This reply was modified 11 months, 1 week ago by L.B. Neill.
    • This reply was modified 11 months, 1 week ago by L.B. Neill.
    • This reply was modified 11 months, 1 week ago by L.B. Neill.
    • This reply was modified 11 months, 1 week ago by L.B. Neill.

    We have received an email at Head Office attacking “White Corporate UK” as if there weren’t any “non-white” capitalists, for instance these two who have just taken a big share in ASDA.

    The divide in society is not between privileged “whites” and unprivileged “non-whites” but between privileged capitalists (whatever their skin colour) and unprivileged workers (whatever theirs).


    “No section of the working class is privileged. ”

    So we deny South Africa’s or Israel’s apartheid or the American South’s Jim (and Juan) Crow laws or policies such as Australia’s past “white -only” immigration rules.

    LBJ once said “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

    And as  Dixiecrat politician he would know.

    So the corollary to not wanting to be known as a “do-gooder”, it  is to be known as a “do-badder”?

    By recognizing that there was racial bias and that certain groups were indeed bought off with particular privileges not granted to all does not mean that the solution is not socialism. Nor does it require building an identity scale of prejudice to show that some suffer more than others. The disabled deprived of facilities, for instance, or the stigma of being one of the mentally unwell. The most under-reported ism is ageism.

    Who would be at the top, an unemployed old ugly lesbian female paraplegic psychiatric patient who is black and a beef-eating Muslim living in a Hindu community?

    The State can remove the discriminatory laws as unnecessary obstacles to the functioning of the capitalist economy but they cannot so easily remove the legacy that linger long after they are meant to cease and it also merely drive anti-social attitudes underground to re-surface in another disguised form.

    In Scotland bigotry persisted, not by asking someone’s religion, but by asking what school a person went to. (reflected in class-society, too, by the old-school tie)

    The roots of Royal Mail’s seniority policy for job selection was deemed as discriminatory because new recruits i.e. newly arrived migrants did not have equal opportunity, yet it was as i was led to believe introduced to end management’s power of delegating jobs as they saw fit and sometimes religion in the case of Scotland and Northern Ireland was a factor in choosing a person for a particular job or delivery office so the commonality we all shared was length of service was made the deciding factor, although it did not make us all equal.

    Pun intended – the world is not an all black and white place, there are plenty of greys, being colour-blind is still a form of blindness.


    An interesting analysis of who elected Trump.

    Who Elected Donald Trump?

    “…there was no influx of white voters anxious to support Mr. Trump and his racialized nationalism…  Democratic strategists who had spent storied careers crafting cynical dog whistle campaigns, began shouting racist! to shut down any challenge to their campaign…the ‘white’ in white working class is politically and culturally loaded. While the overall population of the American working-class skews white in absolute numbers, a larger percentage of blacks are working class and poor. Industrialization facilitated the Great Migration of Southern Blacks from the rural South to the industrialized North. What the use of the term (‘white’) appears to reference is the social breakdown in Rust Belt communities subjected to the twin curses of deindustrialization and neoliberal creep into every aspect of modern life. Why this was considered a ‘white’ problem is a bit of a mystery … class antagonism was central to the outcome of the 2016 election…When the Democratic-leaning press began (falsely) reporting on rising hate and racial backlash, and the CEOs of large banks and tech companies began stating publicly that white supremacy is the only problem in need of solving, the havoc that neoliberal policies have wrought quickly disappeared as a topic of polite conversation….assertions that the large number of voters who voted for Barack Obama twice, but who then voted for Donald Trump in 2016, did so because they are racists, defies basic political logic…”


    As you point out, the state can remove legal discriminations such as used to exist against “niet blankes” in apartheid South Africa and currently against non-Jews in Israel. But this is because it is not a zero-sum situation. Everybody can be given the right to vote and other legal rights. Everybody can become “privileged”.

    However, when it comes to social matters like employment, housing, promotion, education, it is a zero sum situation. As there are only a limited number of crumbs available workers really are struggling against each other for a share of the crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table.

    I am not sure you have fully worked out the consequences in this situation  of the “white privilege” theory you seem to be embracing  and what can be done about it.

    What are the options?

    One would be to call for “black” and “white” to unite to get more social reforms so everybody can enjoy the same “privilege” that “whites” supposedly enjoy. But that won’t work as capitalism can’t offer the reforms, or not enough of them, to ensure this. So “Black and White Unite for More Money for Social Reforms” won’t work.

    Another would be to reserve some jobs, houses, etc for the “non-whites”. But that means taking away some jobs and houses from “whites” to give to “non-whites”. A sure-fire recipe for a “white backlash” and a “race war”. In any event for dividing the working class.

    The only way out, literally, is socialism where, the profit obstacle removed and the means of production owned in common, enough can be produced so that nobody’s needs are not met. In the meantime, our campaign slogan should be something like “Whites and Non-Whites Unite for Socialism” or, better, “Workers of the World Unite for Socialism.”



    There does exist affirmative action and nor restricted to the USA. Oxbridge under pressure from public opinion now include a certain amount of preference to state schools for admittance. I note Harvard are being taken to court for their bias against white and Asian applicants.

    What i am saying is that we should and probably do acknowledge that there is different degrees of oppression and as we usually can understand why, it should be part of our reaching out to those workers. In Northern Ireland, no-body would deny that there existed protestant privilege – a better class of slum in Shankhill  than on the Falls Road. And to give James Connolly the credit he did try to unite the two communities through the union…the trade union.

     The Belfast 40-Hour Strike where “Bolsheviks and Sinn Feiners” were leading astray many “good loyalist protestants” to the dismay of the Orange Lodge, where the composition of the strike committee was a majority of Protestant, but the chairman was a Catholic. Sectarianism was being challenged by working class militancy. The Officials belated learned that and became the Workers Party, but too little, too late.
    I don’t think anyone here would deny that the migrants, both the asylum seekers or economic refugees are particularly vulnerable and at risk of a variety of abuses. We acknowledge that condition and base our case firstly not on wait until socialism, but on class solidarity. We say if employers take advantage of migrants to keep wages low, the answer is not to stop migrants but to unionise them.
    Again it is from personal work experience, but the sorting office i worked in employed large numbers of part-time evening staff, many foreign students, Eastern Europeans  and many females. The full-time warehouse staff  walked out on unofficial action and when those part-timers arrived to work they were met by a picket-line. All turned back even though they would not benefit directly and were proportionally losing much more wages and they stayed out until the dispute was resolved. They instinctively knew that to do otherwise put them on the side of the bosses and that they were not willing to do.
    The answer for some socialists may be to cite the D of P and declare the only solution to unfair treatment, prejudice and privilege is socialism. I  feel differently. It is as said previously, appeal to the commonality, firstly, as fellow human beings, and,  secondly as fellow-workers. Achieve those and socialism will come.
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