This is a contentious subject. Please keep the discussion respectful. I think this will get more traction, here, but I’ll cross-post it to !Communism, too.

Workers who sell their labour power for a wage are part of the working class, right? They are wage-workers because they work for a wage. Are they wage-labourers?

“They’re proletariat,” I hear some of you shout.

“Not in the imperial core! Those are labour aristocrats,” others reply.

So what are the workers in the imperial core? Are they irredeemable labour aristocrats, the inseparable managers and professionals of the ruling class? Or are they proletarian, the salt of the earth just trying to get by?

It’s an important distinction, even if the workers in any country are not a homogenous bloc. The answer determines whether workers in the global north are natural allies or enemies of the oppressed in the global south.

The problem is as follows.

There is no doubt that people in the global north are, in general, more privileged than people in the global south. In many cases, the difference in privilege is vast, even among the wage-workers. This is not to discount the suffering of oppressed people in the global north. This is not to brush away the privilege of national bourgeois in the global south.

For some workers in the global north, privilege amounts to basic access to water, energy, food, education, healthcare, and shelter, streetlights, paved highways, etc. As much as austerity has eroded access to these basics, they are still the reality for the majority of people in the north even, to my knowledge, in the US.

Are these privileges enough to move someone from the ranks of the proletariat and into the labour aristocracy or the petit-bourgeois?

I’m going to discuss some sources and leave some quotes in comments, below. This may look a bit spammy, but I’m hoping it will help us to work through the several arguments, that make up the whole. The sources:

  • Settlers by J Sakai
  • Corona, Climate, and Chronic Emergency by Andreas Malm
  • The Wealth of Nations by Zac Cope
  • ‘Decolonization is Not a Metaphor’ by Eve Tuck and K Wayne Yang.

I have my own views on all this, but I have tried to phrase the points and the questions in a ’neutral’ way because I want us to discuss the issues and see if we can work out where and why we conflict and how to move forwards with our thinking (neutral to Marxists, at least). I am not trying to state my position by stating the questions below, so please do not attack me for the assumptions in the questions. By all means attack the assumptions and the questions.

I think its a general rule of thumb you’ll get more bang for your buck radicalizing oppressed peoples. Now should we “not appeal” to the “white” working class? What does Sakai mean by appeal or whiteness?

Not appeal as in ignore them entirely or try not to placate to white comfort? The latter makes sense as it’s more than likely to be antagonistic to oppressed people’s liberation.

What’s whiteness supposed to entail? Two car garage, backyard pool, slumber party hosting mother fuckers or still impoverished Appalachians descendant from Celts who recently gained the title of white? I assume the “middle class” is what Sakai tells us to count our bullets with.

I think it’s important to note that overall in the US the workers at at the SocDem level of class consciousness for revolution, which entails through the current proletarianization of the “middle class”. White workers are being opened up to change it would be wise to utilize this and foolish to ignore the largest members of the US working class.

More good points.

I’m not sure that Sakai uses the phrase ‘appeal to whiteness’. That comes from one of my interpretations of his point in a footnote.

I think you’re right that workers in the US have some revolutionary potential, and the class conscious should nudge the workers in that direction.

But there seems to be one main barrier, which is true in other imperial core countries, too: how can the proletarianised middle classes be convinced to be anti-imperialists rather than for a ‘return’ to the middle class?

I could give some highly thought out analysis of minor contradictions in the imperial world view, but to be honest the threat of Climate Change and Nuclear War are so existential that they affect the proletarianized middle classes (and even the labour aristocrtaic middle class) in horrendous ways that can only be solved with the dismantling of Imperialism.

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They will not be convinced by us but by the material realities facing them, namely the realization that a return to the past is impossible and that the decline is irreversible. There will be no serious revolutionary movements in the West until the conditions deteriorate to such a point that a plurality of people face the same destitution and misery that have forced other parts of the world to revolt. As for the question of decolonization i am hopeful for South America due to the example of the plurinational model of Bolivia and other such experiments in indigenous self-determination, but for North America i sometimes fear it may be too late. I look at the numbers of indigenous people left compared to the many orders of magnitude bigger settler population and don’t see how they can ever mount a successful resistance.

Are there any examples of successful decolonization taking place where the colonized are a minority? From my point of view their best hope is to enter into an alliance with the other internal colonies of the US settler state, particularly the systemically oppressed black and brown people who have already shown in recent years that they have revolutionary potential, especially when conditions of extreme police violence push them to mount uprisings. This demographic question plays a large role also for the liberation of Palestine, it is clear that the goal of the Zionist occupation is to expand the settler population and decimate the Palestinian to such a point that the Palestinians become a minority in their own land, as then the colonization will be all but irreversible. This is something that Palestine still fiercely fights against and has a chance of beating.

Palestinians still have the numbers on their side. They also have allies and potential allies all around the region with whom they share a religion and a language and who could join them in an armed conflict to expel the occupier. How, in practical terms, is the indigenous population of the US and Canada supposed to defeat the settler state’s military and the white settler majority in order to take back their land?

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