A very interesting post from Jacobin magazine reveals the confusion First Worldists face when trying to understand the lack of revolutionary potential in the First World. It’s author Connor Kilpatrick is under the impression that the working class in the First World isn’t rising up against the capitalist class because the Democratic Party is condescending them. Yes, according to him, the Democratic party is what is blocking the real progressive and revolutionary consciousness in America.
Kilpatrick claims that the White working class is larger than ever. I find this statement nothing less than fraudulent. The demographic is far better off than it has ever been before. Access to abundance thanks to imperialist plunder exceeds anything in history. Perhaps Kilpatrick laments the loss of post-WW2 prosperity? Perhaps he is confused about the idealized version of the 1950’s we’re given by the bourgeois media. We certainly live in far more abundance than we ever have. Average home sizes are larger than ever, quality of life is higher, access to consumer goods and services is at its greatest, and life expectancies are reaching a possible peak. This same increase applies to the Black population as well, to a lesser degree.
Are we to believe that the average White working American has less now than they did in 1915? Absolutely not, most homes didn’t even have an indoor toilet until the early 1900s. Wealth has only increased among the working class in America thank to the imperialist pillage of the Third World. In fact, it is completely measurable, the wealth discrepancy between the two Worldw. In the 1820s, the gap between the two was 12 to 1. Today that gap stands at 72 to 1.
What does he mean when he says they’re being marginalized? He notes several important statics:
While the Economic Policy Institute projects that the US working class will be 49.6 percent “non-hispanic white” by 2032, 77 percent of all minimum wage (or below) workers today are white. Half are white women, who it should be noted joined young working-class women of color as an enthusiastic core of Sanders’s base. And as Tamara Draut shows in her new book Sleeping Giant — which stresses the diversity of the new working class — 63 percent of all workers without a bachelor’s degree are still non-Latino white.
What I think he means is that the White workers are not the main focus anymore. The demographic shift has caused a changed the voting power of minorities. Those who were once marginalized are now receiving the attention they deserve, even though it’s under a bourgeois party.
He laments the so-called demonization of the White working class as racist. Apparently he hasn’t realized that it is racist. A great deal of liberals who claim to be anti-racist are in fact racist themselves. We know the type, “I’m not racist, but…”, or those who continue to support racist ideas while calling themselves anti-racist. We need only look at most White American’s view of international politics. They lament the savagery of war, yet they continue to support it every time the war drums begin to pound. Be it Afghanistan, Iraq, or Libya, the liberal is still willing to support the imperialist invasions on “humanitarian grounds.” Even the more progressive “support the troops, but not the mission,” nonsense is still pro-imperialist.
Just because some White working class people have an interest in free college and health care, does not mean they’re not racist. It just means they recognise their own material interests.
To Kilpatrick, that “marginalizing” White workers is, in his view, inherently anti-working class. The heart of his criticism can be found here:
It becomes clearer every year, particularly with Sanders’s popularity, that the American ruling class has made out like bandits simply by keeping portions of the large (and potentially powerful) working class from uniting in a single political party behind even a social-democratic program. And that such a scenario would be nothing short of a disaster for them.
It’s obvious that this kind of popular politics will never be built if segments of the working class — much less a majority of it — are written off. So when I hear liberal pundits saying that white workers are morally compromised beyond hope or on the way to irrelevance, I tend to get a little suspicious.
I’d be interested in why he thinks the working class would be powerful under the Democratic Party, if only they’d stop being so prejudiced against White workers. When has the Democratic Party ever been revolutionary?
The better question to ask is, how the First World White working class can’t see their own class interest with other workers? The answer is because they’re not proletarian. First World people are not proletarian. They have a class interest in maintaining imperialist oppression because it benefits them. Our previous pro-war examples serves us nicely as an example of their willingness to do so. In Kilpatrick’s view, the “working class” in America would be united if only the Democratic Party wasn’t dividing them. They’re not proletarian, they don’t have a total class interest. The bourgeoisie has a collective interest in maintaining capitalism, but they still compete with each other.
The same can be said for the labour aristocracy that is the First World “working class.” They have a collective interest in maintaining their imperialist privilege; yet they’re also willing to fight with each other over the size of the slice of the imperialist pie they get.
It’s time to acknowledge the truth: no significant revolutionary potential exists in the First World due to the buying off of First World workers with imperialist super-exploitation. If they can’t even ally with each other, what makes us think they can ally with the Third World poor?