white privilege = revolution is impossible

When people say that whites have an inherent stake in defending the system, and then turn around and expect whites to turn around and help overthrow that system, it’s theoretically incoherent.  According to the 2012 Census, the USA is still 80% white!

Maybe they’re pessimists who don’t believe a majoritarian revolution is possible in the USA.  Personally I don’t support any revolution that lacks wide sympathy from the majority of the population, or which does not even claim to represent their interests.  Attempts at such revolutions don’t really conform to the mass-participatory style of taking over workplaces, etc.  They are more like military putsches which establish a new bureaucracy rather than being institutionally rooted in the majority.

Perhaps you can say “white workers may have some stake in racism, but have a bigger stake in ending capitalism.”  Or that they “benefit from racism, but would benefit more from throwing off racism and ending capitalism.”  Okay.  So they’re still revolutionary-aligned, maybe with a complicating counter-pressure, good.

But what is the point of talking about that, honestly?  I know some Marxists like to raise every fact under the sun, another practice I find unhelpful and which isolates us in ivory towers, away from people who have no time for such shit.  The point is to build unity among the forces who can overthrow capitalism, yes?  The point is to give most people more than what they have, not take away what they have, right?  The point is to fight oppression, yes?

I think people support that.  But you lose their support if you wag your scolding finger in their faces and tell them that they are privileged, which pretty much amounts to saying they benefit from oppression, which pretty much amounts to calling them The Enemy.  (Yes, this is what privilege means.  If “privilege” just means the “privilege” of not being oppressed, then (1) that’s not a privilege, it’s just neutral — if the oppressed have ill-will against those who are not the oppressor, but simply not oppressed then their rage is misdirected — and (2) actually most white people are oppressed, by living under capitalism, just not as badly.)

The Marxists among us understand that people will act on self-interest.  So how can you support majoritarian revolution while embracing a theory which would demand that people…overthrow themselves?  Because it is self-interest that will do it, not good intentions, or white people suddenly falling to their knees by the millions and confessing their white guilt.  It won’t be some great wave of love or selflessness which saves the world.  If that was true, Jesus or Buddha would have succeeded millennia ago.  It will be people realizing that there’s more in it for them if they revolt.

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