Classism, and Blame for Racism

In the United States, the finger-pointing and blame for racism (directed at the South, the police, soldiers) is part of a deeply embedded classism in which those in oppressor roles (the North; the financial and political institutions, which are dominated by the owning class) avoid their responsibility in the institutionalization of racism.

The blaming angers white working-class people, and sadly many of them adopt defensive and reactionary positions. White working-class people in the North may even have the Confederate flag on their car or truck, along with other right-wing messages blaming immigrants or people on welfare for the problems of a destructive economic system.

The blaming of working-class people, based on classism, has created a huge backlash that has thwarted progressive moments in the Untied States for decades—at least since the university-based anti-war movement of the 1960s and ’70s, which was hugely classist: “Soldiers are baby killers,” “Police are pigs,” (and if you are rich, your children will never have to be either). Both the right-wing and the “liberal” media have been content to exploit this false characterization of the problem and to avoid taking responsibility for it by blaming working-class “ignorant” people. And every Democratic “liberal” now feels that he or she has to be a hawk (pro-war) and promise to cut taxes and reduce the government (except for the military) to get elected.

The “liberal” middle- and owning-class-dominated Democratic Party does not know how to speak to working-class people. The term “working class” is rarely even used. We are now all referred to as “middle class.”

A huge source of confusion in U.S. culture was the anti-Communist and anti-Jewish attacks on trade unions in the years following World War II, which drove the people who were educating the working class about classism out of the trade unions. The major political parties have had a hard time articulating anything sensible about classism and the economic system ever since.

One of the reasons for my proposed “New Initiative on Ending Classism”* is my hope that RC will see itself as one of the progressive institutions that will play the important role of educating working-class people about the true nature of the economic system.

But getting back to racism: I have been successful on Facebook with my Northern (and some of my Southern) right-leaning friends and relatives in saying that each of us carries a piece of racism (how could we not?) and that it has wound itself into all of our institutions; that cleaning our house of racism means not just pointing fingers at those whom we think created the dirt. Regardless of who created it, there is no denying that it is there and that we each need to play a role in cleaning it up. This message wins the support of many of my right-leaning white working-class friends.

Dan Nickerson

International Liberation Reference
Person for Working-Class People

Freeport, Maine, USA

* See "A New Initiative on Ending Classism," by Dan Nickerson, on page 8 of the July 2014 Present Time

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00