|AN OLD AND EARLY PUBLICATION FROM THE SOJOURNER TRUTH ORGANIZATION|
First, some housekeeping news. I am eliminating Cultural Monday. I am moving Theoretical Weekends from Saturday to Monday and renaming it, of course, Theoretical Monday. Theoretical Monday will also include pieces that previously would have been on Cultural Monday. I want to free up my weekends to spend more time with my love, and to read, study, play.
Second, this week is going to be dedicated to articles and analysis dealing with white supremacy and white skin privilege. The articles which I plan to post will offer some different perspectives but will all deal with the same thing. I should state up front that my own view on white skin privilege and white supremacy is pretty much the mirror image of that presented by Noel Ignatiev.
It is fitting therefore that I will start today with a written piece by Noel Ignatiev elaborating very briefly on the origins of white skin privilege and where he and Ted Allen disagree. Noel, who I know, and Ted who I never met (and is now deceased) taught me pretty much everything about the theory of white skin privilege and white supremcay. I owe them both a deep debt of gratitude. I have learned much from them and have attempted to put what I have learned into my practice for decades.
Today, will also be a little different. Noel asked for comments and questions regarding what he wrote and I am including at the end of his piece a question which I relayed to him yesterday.
The following is taken from Noel's blog at PM Press.
My Debt and Obligation to Ted Allen
First, let me say that I owe both you and Ted a debt of gratitude. I have learned a tremendous amount from both of you. I have tried to incorporate into my everyday life and into my political life the lessons which you both have taught me. I have tried to build my practice around these lessons and to pass them along to others, especially those younger than myself.
I would be amongst the last to argue with either you or Ted about any of this. I do have a question.
I, like you, "...do not believe that great historic turns can be attributed to conspiracies." I, like you, believe, "Historical materialism explains the origin of white supremacy in the plantation colonies of mainland North America in the seventeenth century without resort to conspiracy theories or any other variant of “conscious decision,” and also without resort to theories of the inherent character of the English soul."
My question is would your understanding allow for the fact that conscious decisions were in fact made as Ted describes, but were only able to be made within the historical materialist framework which you state. Ted does place the emphasis on the conscious decisions of some real people. I would not do that as I, and agreeing with you, believe that, "...there are innumerable intersecting forces, an infinite series of parallelograms of forces which give rise to one resultant—the historical event. This may again itself be viewed as the product of a power which works as a whole unconsciously and without volition.”"Basically, I am asking again if you feel, "..a conscious decision by the plantation bourgeoisie of the tobacco-growing regions of the Chesapeake Bay in response to the problem they faced, how to control the labor force on whom the production of surplus value depended," could have indeed occurred resultant to the historical material conditions which existed at the time. I would disagree with Ted emphasis on the centrality of these decisions to the process, but I think he does demonstrate that some such decisions were made. It seems to me, and correct me if I am wrong, that the simple adoption of certain Acts and laws demonstrates the existence of such decisions. However, again, they do NOT demonstrate the centrality of them, all on their own, to the origin of and development of white supremacy.