1960s >> 1965 >> no-732-august-1965

Letter: The Causes of Race Prejudice

Is this madness or do my eyes deceive me?”The root cause of modern race prejudice is the capitalist system of society.”

 

No one has ever been able to isolate the cause of race-prejudice and I doubt if anyone ever will. It seems that as it is “in the blood” the only thing one can do is to sublimate it and keep it in the background. Certainly it is absurd to catch on to such a silly reason for it as the one suggested above; race-prejudice might just as well he caused by famine or butterflies.

 

If the Socialist movement is to progress it can only do so by good sense and not in propagating nonsense: perhaps it could do well by reverting to its original Christian basis although as I see it Christianity and Socialism have reached such staggering dimensions in words that any good within them has long since been dissipated. The time is now ripe for a new system particularly now that the international state is looming large upon the horizon and clarity of thought and objects is essential.

 


Yours faithfully,
John S. Craig. B A.

 

Reply:

 

If race prejudice is “in the blood”, why does it vary in its form with the time and place at which it appears? Why does it now exist in one country and not another? Why is it now principally a matter of people of European origin discriminating against those from other continents and not the other way round The only logical answer to these questions and to many others is that raw prejudice is not an idea inborn in human beings it is not “in the blood” — but it has a social basis and can be explained only by reference to that basis.

 

Modern race prejudice nourishes because capitalism produces chronic problems in employment, housing and welfare. The working class suffer these problems but they do not understand their cause. They are, therefore, ready to blame the problems onto any fashionable scapegoat, including foreigners or Negroes or any other group which happens to be a readily identifiable minority.

 

Far from finding its origins in Christianity, Socialism is completely hostile to it, and to all other religions. It is typical that the very organisation which has so often claimed that the two are inseparable — the Labour Party— should now be doing so much to pander to race prejudice in this country.

 

The so-called international state is an old idea, one of many delusions used in an attempt to divert working class discontent. Any move towards an effective international organisation of capitalism has always come to grief on the system’s conflicting interests.

 

The time is indeed ripe for a new social system, and this is what socialists advocate. The only people who are immune from racial prejudice are those who have realised where the interests of the world working class lie—in a system of society based on the common ownership of the means of wealth production, and in which all men will stand equally without distinction of race or sex.

 

Editorial Committee