White Privilege?

September 2021 Forums General discussion White Privilege?

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    ‘ 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.’

    A common refrain from reformists. Trouble is that when this fails to resolve anything, and if we align ourselves with such an approach, the whole struggle for socialism is weakened by being associated with it. Capitalism will always find minorities and those who represent ‘the other’ to oppress because its failures will always need such scapegoats. It feeds on the victims of war, famine, religious sectarianism, racism etc.

    L.B. Neill

    Appealing to a our shared experience, our common factors is a certain start. Changing the mode of production is changing the mode. It is not insisting on a singular and uni-vocal society.. It will be vibrant and filled with many voices. Socialism by deep democracy will have a lively richness to it. This notion of changing the mode is just that: changing the mode from capitalism to socialism would help reduce nominal fears that its opponents negatively paint it with… But appealing to our common shared experiencing is a really good start.


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

    I was out for a walk yesterday and was reminded of just how much my ancestors benefitted from the privilege of being white working class, when walking through Earsdon Churchyard. I remember being taken to the memorial their as a young kid and had been aware of the story of Hartley Pit all of my life having been born and brought up just a couple of miles away from Hartley.

    The Hartley Pit Disaster:

    a quick trawl through the internet shows this was not a rare occurance, just a few further examples of many:





    As someone who lost a father, a grandfather and two great grandfathers to industrial deaths, I find the idea of white privilege as a bit of a joke, was being white any privilege at the battle of Orgreave, or when the police turned whole swaiths of the North East into a police state during the big strike?



    I don’t know why you think, Alan, that the trade union activity on the issue that you describe and support is in any way incompatible with the Party’s principles.

    The Party has always supported trade union action on sound lines and yours was a clear example of that. However, if a union advocated job reservation or so-called “positive” discrimination that would be an example of unsound action which we couldn’t support.

    My experience of trade unionism in a civil service context was that union members and other workers were very concerned about promotion. The union’s policy was to try to ensure objective criteria for this and that they were abided by so that the management couldn’t discriminate in favour of those it liked or against those it didn’t. We also had colleagues on less secure contracts and the union policy was to give them a chance to get onto the same conditions as the rest of us. The everyday sound activity of a union to try ensure equal treatment of all those working for a particular employer. Naturally this includes opposing discriminating on the basis of skin colour, not that this was an issue as the management wasn’t that stupid or backward.


    Had a job down the pit…BD…lucky devil…


    I’m sure it is compatible with being a socialist, ALB, defending what we got and trying to gain what we have not got, to survive under capitalism.

    But Wez seems to be saying to me that i am a reformist to organise alongside non-socialists to resist capitalism even i do realise that we would more often than not lose. That is the nature of the class struggle…as James Connolly described it …empty bellies against full wallets.

    For sure there will always be somebody worse off than others. We shouldn’t ignore his or her plight, deny them the reality of their particular hardship by declaring it is all relative.

    By accepting that some patients are in ICU and require extra-special care does not take away from the rest of us that we are victims of the pandemic and some are sick and others sicker yet some are infected but asymptomatic. We treat the cause of the disease – the virus that we all share – the commonality.

    But i also recall some old Standard article from the 30s saying that if we don’t have the guts to fight back against the capitalists now, we aren’t worth the salt in the fight for socialism later…words to that effect.


    “However, if a union advocated job reservation or so-called “positive” discrimination”

    We had what was called the S-bill jobs that were light duties which was  reserved for the sick and the convalescing.  Isn’t that an example of positive discrimination? We recognised that they had  the privilege of sitting down and not lifting heavy bags.

    And aren’t there certain occupations which now advertise that “extra consideration will be given from applicants” from a particular sector of the population that were previously discriminated and not fully represented. As i pointed out higher educational opportunities were biased towards the public schools.  But isn’t the legal profession providing special entrance  procedures to attract those identified as “working class” or from the “minorities”.

    We have always said that we are not equal, we are not all the same, we have different requirements and varying abilities. Some need a helping hand or a lift-up.




    That sounds like Marx too in his talk to English trade unions in 1865 later published as the pamphlet, Value, Price and Profit:

    ”the necessity of debating their price with the capitalist is inherent to their condition of having to sell themselves as commodities. By cowardly giving way in their everyday conflict with capital, they would certainly disqualify themselves for the initiating of any larger movement.”


    And aren’t there certain occupations which now advertise that “extra consideration will be given from applicants” from a particular sector of the population that were previously discriminated and not fully represented.”

    There certainly are but there shouldn’t be unless you want to split the working class even more. It’s based on the whole mistaken, divisive and dangerous concept of “white privilege” and should be rejected out of hand by socialists.

    Talk about wanting to redistribute poverty evenly amongst different identity groups according to their proportion in the population. Socialists can’t have anything to do with that as an aim. It’s  worse than ordinary reformism.




    Indulging in ‘identity politics’ is a sure way of losing focus on resolving the class struggle. One of the few things I agree with Lenin about is his assertion that trade union consciousness and political consciousness are very different things and the former rarely translates into the latter. ‘Appealing to our common shared experience’ might well lead to victim mentality and political cynicism and is no substitute for focused revolutionary action born of political education.


    Its more than “white privilege”. Its also gender, disability, and as i have already said in some professions its class.

    It is also more than “identity politics”. It is recognizing and acknowledging that there are some who suffer far more than others and such law and policies that exclude them should be opposed.

     “If Socialism, international, revolutionary Socialism, does not stand staunchly, unflinchingly, and uncompromisingly for the working class and for the exploited and oppressed masses of all lands, then it stands for none and its claim is a false pretense and its profession a delusion and a snare.” Eugene Debs supporting open borders.


    Opposing and denouncing all forms of prejudice and discrimination is one thing, Advocating or condoning measures within capitalism to rectify this by improving the conditions of one section of the working class at the expense of another section is quite another. Socialists do not stand for an equal distribution of the problems capitalism causes workers.

    Actually, under capitalism the best that could be done would be to treat everyone as an individual not as a part of some  artificial identity group. Which is what will happen in socialism of course.


    “Socialists do not stand for an equal distribution of the problems capitalism causes workers.”

    Capitalism is built on inequality. Nobody disputes that. We recognise that no amount of reform can bring equality to capitalism.

    As i have said other times and other places, socialism should be the umbrella – or as we say, the banner to  muster under – to bring together all the diverse movements of resistance into one unified force.

    I do NOT have any trouble combining the struggle for socialism with the struggle for survival. Incapacitated socialists deprived of the basics, cannot make the revolution, we need such things as democracy, bourgeois or otherwise. We need bread for the head. We refuse to accept certain views from the left that destabilising capitalist society and creating distress leads to socialism. People place such ideas as socialism on the back-burner as they confront the the immediate necessity of  staying alive.

    Many of us recognise that the starving and suffering must first fill their bellies and alleviate their pain – yes, by achieving certain reforms and improvements in their daily lives – before they can focus their thoughts and concentrate effort on socialism.

    If there is privilege, it is ourselves who have achieved that degree of awareness that we can see beyond putting the next meal on the table, and it took economic and political action in the class struggle to achieve that “luxury”. We cannot dismiss historical precedent so easily and think those in the undeveloped and developing world, living under despotism, can jump necessary social developments. It is our criticism of backward revolutions such as the Russian Revolution, that the material basis was not ready for any evolution of consciousness.

    Wez accepted one expression of Lenin, i am also prone to agree with Lenin that there is indeed uneven development. We are world socialists and when addressing those from other parts of the world, we have to cut our cloth accordingly, horses for courses, fit our arguments with the situation and conditions people actually face and live. We don’t impose our own template, other than some broad guidelines of universal application to all societies.

    But it seems i have gone further than discuss “white privilege”


    I do NOT have any trouble combining the struggle for socialism with the struggle for survival.”

    Nor do I. After all, it’s the Party case. Except that the socialist party itself as such only advocates socialism while recognising that all workers as workers, whether socialist or not but including socialists as individuals, have no alternative but to struggle to survive and can do this better collectively.

    You could be right that millions of people in the world have to concentrate on just getting their next meal. This could be one reason why the movement for socialism is more likely to take off in those parts of the world where this is not the case for most people.

    This reminds me of something our late comrade Richard Montague used to say — we want socialism, they need it. Not quite sure what the implications of this are.



    Schools which teach pupils that “white privilege” is an uncontested fact are breaking the law, the women and equalities minister has said…She added that schools have a statutory duty to remain politically impartial and should not openly support “the anti-capitalist Black Lives Matter group”.

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