MHI Conference; “Combatting White Nationalism: Lessons from Marx”

13th Nov 2017

Here is an update from MHI about their Annual Conference, and about some new articles (and an audio recording) in their web journal, “With Sober Senses.” []

The Annual Conference will take place via Skype and in select locations over the weekend of December 9-10. We welcome participation of invited guests, from anywhere in the world and of every age, but space is limited, owing to Skype technical limitations. If you would like to be invited, write to and tell us something about yourself and your interest in Marxist-Humanist Initiative.

New articles in With Sober Senses include: Audio: “Combatting White Nationalism: Lessons from Marx,” by Andrew Kliman. The article includes a link to his recent 40-minute audio presentation on this essay, and a PDF of the full-length text. The abstract of the essay follows.[]

“No Borders: A Movement in the Process of Becoming?,” a book review-essay by Chris Gilligan. []

“3.4 Million Puerto Ricans Remain in Dark since Hurricane; Lack Food, Water, Medicine,” by Anne Jaclard. It is now a whole month since the hurricane, but conditions in P.R. are little changed from those described in this article–people are still without drinking water, electricity, or emergency housing repairs. Disease is spreading; people are dying. Trump is perpetrating not only racism, but genocide. []

“The Impossible Referendum that Happened in Catalonia,” by Enrique Saiz. []

“The rise of the (Alt-)Right in Germany‚ Elections: A commentary,” by Ralph Keller.[]

We invite you to put your comments on these articles and others, and to explore our whole site. We also welcome article submissions from readers.


 “Combatting White Nationalism: Lessons from Marx”

Abstract This essay seeks to draw lessons from Karl Marx’s writings and practice that can help combat Trumpism and other expressions of white nationalism. The foremost lesson is that fighting white nationalism in the tradition of Marx entails the perspective of solidarizing with the “white working class” by decisively defeating Trumpism and other far-right forces. Their defeat will help liberate the “white working class” from the grip of reaction and thereby spur the independent emancipatory self-development of working people as a whole. The anti-neoliberal “left” claims that Trump’s electoral victory was due to an uprising of the “white working class” against a rapacious neoliberalism that has caused its income to stagnate for decades. However, working-class income (measured reasonably) did not stagnate, nor is “economic distress” a source of Trump’s surprisingly strong support from “working-class” whites. And by looking back at the presidential campaigns of George Wallace between 1964 and 1972, it becomes clear that Trumpism is a manifestation of a long-standing white nationalist strain in US politics, not a response to neoliberalism or globalization. Marx differed from the anti-neoliberal “left” in that he sought to encourage the “independent movement of the workers” toward human emancipation, not to further the political interests of “the left.” Their different responses to white nationalism are rooted in this general difference. Detailed analysis of Marx’s writings and activity around the US Civil War and the Irish independence struggle against England reveals that Marx stood for the defeat of the Confederacy, and the defeat of England, largely because he anticipated that these defeats would stimulate the independent emancipatory self-development of the working class. Owing to their prejudiced, supremacist thinking and their privileged position relative to Irish immigrant workers, large numbers of English workers identified with “their” ruling classes and were hostile to the Irish. Marx argued that Irish independence was crucially important for the whole working class—including the English workers themselves. If England’s effort to continue its rule over Ireland were defeated, this would strike a blow against the supremacist pretensions of the “ordinary English worker[s],” free them from identifying their interests with those of the English ruling classes, and put them on an independent, internationalist, and emancipatory path. Similarly, owing to privileges and white supremacism, “poor whites” in the US tended to support or accept slavery. Marx regard this as a “barrier to progress,” including the progress of the poor whites themselves. He championed the defeat of the Confederacy and the emancipation of the slaves largely because he anticipated that these events would eliminate that barrier.

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