“Why Trump? Why now? Why not Bernie?”
Don’t worry, US readers: this will not be yet another thinkpiece about how Donald Trump reflects the latent white supremacy of the settler-colonial Yankee national identity. This will not be yet another thinkpiece about how many of Donald Trump’s supporters are bourgeois. This will not be yet another thinkpiece which repeats that the Trump presidency is the means by which the crisis punishes all of the US for the victory of Clintonite status quo-ism over even the most modest reformism of Sanders.
You know these things already. The fact is, everyone knows these things. Everything under the sun is old and burnt.
Rather, let us dispense momentarily with a simple meditation, in lieu of a hot take. At this point, all but the most out-of-touch critic would agree that Bernie, would in fact have won. But given that the objective conditions are such that Bernie didn’t in fact win, let us not forget how much of the blame lies precisely with political subjects such as Sanders and the Sandernistas for failing to see beyond the Whitegeist.
The Zeitgeist, as all of our readers know, is the spirit (Geist) of the age (Zeit). We are most concerned with the level of development of the masses, their collective consciousness and spirit. It does not suffice to consider oneself a meaningful political subject and not consider the objective reality of the development of the revolutionary masses. But who are the revolutionary masses In the United States? Quite simply, everyone except white people.
At this point, their biases against us confirmed, all the white leftists in the United States have stopped reading. But seriously, folks, nobody is actually preaching that there is no revolutionary potential in the struggles of “white” proletarians. And if they do appear to exist, they’re just Worker’s Spatula psyops.
In fact, just to be safe, assume that everyone on left Twitter discussing such matters is either a Spatula writer or a sockpuppet which is part of a Spatula psyop, depending on whether or not we unironically share the views they espouse or not.
Can we all stop talking about the problem of imaginary leftists condemning labour strikes because of the skin colour of white workers? How often has this actually obstructed your practice, if you’re reading this and actually have any practice (since most of the internet left has neither theory nor practice)?
However, many white leftists in the United States, particularly the Sandernistas and large sections of the DSA, but also some anarchists and Marxist-Leninists, seem to think that chauvinism is found only in explicit statements of condemnation for oppressed nations and identities or movements addressing said oppression. Strasserite chauvinism finds its reflection in an obsession by more honest socialists with saving the soul of white workers, no matter how chauvinist those workers might be.
“Oh so you’re saying all white workers are chauvinists?” Hell yes we are, every single one of them is chauvinist trash, no different to the KKK, and all non-white workers are pure vessels for the revolution, whose only flaw is not kicking white workers out of their unions screaming “beat it, whitey!”
But seriously, the editing process for this piece was inordinately held back by debating how many times we should insert a joke about how we hate all white people* or there are no white workers or whatever. The hyper-sensitivity on this point by white communists (particularly in the US) is so obnoxious and we wonder when they will stop it. We assure you: we have considered the class implications.
We all know Trump voters are not disproportionately the disenfranchised in this country. We all also agree that there should be a unity of struggle between the white proletariat and the oppressed nationalities. The problem is, to build a sincere solidarity after literally centuries of harsh national oppression, which is not merely a scar on historical memory but which creates a real hierarchy in economic reality, we must do so on the terms of the more impoverished oppressed nationalities.
Occupy Wall Street began in 2011. Afro-Americans have been struggling for their most basic democratic rights since before there was a United States. It is not unreasonable to expect that in uniting the two struggles, the one should show due deference to the other.
But what is the response of the white left? To scold others for bringing up the national question, to speak of “One United American Working Class™”, to compare George Washington to Robespierre, and other such thinly-veiled patriotic nonsense, right as the US Empire is weakening for the first time since the end of the Cold War!
It is not only the DSA, who speak of the US as a “nation”, who do this, but even many ostensible Marxist-Leninists! While the Whitegeist in the US may be one step ahead of Occupy Wall Street, the Zeitgeist of the oppressed nations in the US is one step ahead of Black Lives Matter, is in Cooperation Jackson, is speaking about “decolonisation”. We struggle to unite these struggles of course, but the Whitegeist must be brought up to the level of the heroic oppressed peoples in the US, their struggle cannot be buried because the Whitegeist of the white working class (or intellectuals’ idealist conception thereof) is frightened of it!
Our hypocritical white US leftists insist that they support Black Lives Matter, that they “like” Malcolm X, that they name-drop Assata Shakur. Like anarchists, they use their individual lifestyle to cover up the essence of a more general theoretical critique; like social democrats, they assure us that Black America is on their mind, but we can’t divide the working class [vote?] by distracting precious white workers from their own precious white problems with anyone else’s “identitarian” non-white problems; like the liberals who worship Barack Obama, they want Black “allies” who validate their position as good white people and do not make them uncomfortable.
In short, these labour aristocratic settler-colonialist white leftists who have yet to face their own history and social position substitute their own consciousness for that of the revolutionary proletariat. They may be well-intentioned, but their good intentions are only an indication of of how far we can travel with them as individuals. They are no indication of the correctness of their analysis, which entirely substitutes their idealist and subjective conception of the working class for a critical dialectical process of material struggle of all workers and all oppressed.
There is a general tendency in the United States to characterise polemics such as this one, without using precisely this terminology, as “reverse racist”, or “anti-white”. The code-word used is “Third Worldist”. You would think, therefore, that those who demand that liberation of the oppressed be centred in the rhetoric of revolutionaries in the US are either idealists who don’t understand the material conditions of their own country, or foreign leftists who don’t understand that the objective conditions of struggle in the US are so undeveloped as to not be ready for this sort of revolutionary rhetoric.
And indeed, one of the writers who pushed this piece in committee did come from a country with wildly different economic conditions, political history, and culture.
Yes, whatever you want to say about Socialist Alliance, and no Worker’s Spatula writer can pass up the chance to point out that Green Left Weekly, while a fine news source, simply has NOTHING TO SAY ABOUT HEGEL, but from the vantage point (Ollman lol) of Melbourne, it’s frankly startling to see how little the liberation of oppressed peoples means to white leftists in the US. It’s not as if we committed less genocide against the indigenous than the Yanks. If Yanks are under that impression, it’s simply because their settler-colonial society’s population has been bolstered by more immigration than ours.
And while it’s true that in Australia, Aboriginals are a greater portion of the population than the Indigenous nations in the United States, it’s equally true that the Afro-American people, who are subject to similar national oppression, are a much greater percentage of the overall population of the United States than the Aboriginals in Australia. Thus we can see that it is not that the white left are ignoring the oppressed peoples within “their own” borders based on irrelevance, but out of a chauvinism that even other settler-colonial peoples, such as the arch-racist white Australian society, are capable of overcoming on the radical left. This is a clear example of the role subjectivity plays in shaping objectivity. If the white left in the US insists on tailing the Whitegeist, then they will see no objective need to embrace the liberation struggles of the oppressed peoples. If the white left in Australia overcome the Whitegeist, suddenly it becomes completely objectively obvious to them that there is a pressing need to embrace the struggle of the Aboriginals.
In fact, whether or not we had written this screed, things are in motion in the white left, and the Whitegeist itself is developing. Different elements of the white working class in the US will be driven towards fascism whether we intervene or those with a less full analysis intervene with a more vulgar class politics. But to intervene most correctly we hope all interested comrades will grasp the limitations into which they were socialised, struggle to overcome them, and take on the struggle of the oppressed peoples as their own, and by doing so, become themselves a living connection.
Workers and oppressed peoples of the world, unite!
*Although, you know, fuck white people.
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