Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor Speaking Out For Antiracist Marxism

by Karyn Pomerantz, 9-12-2021

This article reviews the revolutionary politics of Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a Marxist, anti-racist scholar, author, and activist. It presents her positions on class, racism, and capitalism, and the critical need for working class unity.

Over the last ten years, tens of thousands of people have rebelled against racist police murders, immigrant deportations, climate disasters, Covid-19 catastrophes, and incarceration rates that disproportionately endanger black and brown workers. People are asking about the causes of oppression and strategies and solutions to end them. Explanations range from the exploitative practices of capitalism, bad legislation to misbehaviors of poor people. Strategies include voting, building organizations to fight specific injustices, decentralized and uncoordinated organizing, unionizing, cooperatives, community control of the police, and communist parties. People call for abolition to defund and eliminate the police and prisons and end all forms of injustice. Many believe in white privilege and blame all whites for racism.

In a time of these identity politics, leaderless protests, and decentralized organizing, Taylor’s call for organized, multiracial, revolutionary struggle provides a more realistic course of action that can achieve working class power. Her works are worth understanding and applying.

The editors strongly recommend reading her publications and listening to her presentations on YouTube. She has written 3 major books, Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, and How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective.

This blog has promoted multiracial organizing that fights the system of capitalism. Take some time to read the posts on “white privilege,” exploitation, and “It’s Time to Name Names: Capitalism and Imperialism” at  https://multiracialunity.org/category/capitalism-and-imperialism/page/3/ . (If you’d like to get together and discuss these topics, come to our biweekly discussion group and email us for the details).

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Review of Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist

By Barbara Foley       Reprinted from Science and Society, July, 2021

Near the top of the New York Times bestseller list through the summer of 2020 and beyond, Kendi’s 2019 provocatively titled book is one among several books urging racial self-awareness and systemic transformation that attained prominence in the wake of the May 2020 murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police. Accompanied by a SparkNotes study guide, How to Be an Antiracist is clearly headed toward classroom use; it is not just a book, but an event. Moreover, in 2020 Kendi was appointed director of Boston University’s new Anti-Racism Institute, which he calls a “factory for antiracist policy.” One must ask, Does Kendi’s book help to develop the anti-capitalist potential of current attempts to de-naturalize racist ideologies and practices? Or does it aid and abet the current rush to the anti-racism bandwagon on the part of corporate America?

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The USSR in 1945 – A Book Review

by Ellen Isaacs

June 3, 2021

Edgar Snow, widely known for his portrayal of the Chinese Communist Revolution, Red Star Over China, also chronicled conditions in the Soviet Union in late 1944 to early 1945.  Although not a communist, Snow looked at the struggles to create a communist society with an honest and appreciative eye. In The Pattern of Soviet Power completed in April, 1945, Snow described conditions in the USSR and policies and plans of the Communist Party.

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Book Review: The Sum of Us- What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee.

By Karyn Pomerantz, 3-4-2021

In The Sum of Us (2021), Heather McGhee refutes the pervasive idea that racism, specifically white supremacy, benefits white workers. She contradicts the paradigm of a “zero-sum game” in which gains for black workers diminish the economic and social status of white workers. Instead, she advocates for “social solidarity” that would create a “solidarity dividend” that enriches the lives of all workers.

McGhee is another liberal capitalist author who has stong antiracist arguments but a weak analysis of the role of capitalism that requires racism to create profit and enforce divisions among workers. Liberal reformers, such as Sanders, the Ford Foundation, and unions, try to preserve capitalism by making it more equitable. McGhee was president of Demos, a liberal think tank for economic reforms. Her book reflects the insights she gained there.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Sum of Us- What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee.”

Agent Sonya: Moscow’s Most Daring Wartime Spy — A Book Review and History

by Peter Scheckner. December, 2020

In many respects the early decades of the last century resembled our own disordered and perhaps calamitous moment, though the differences between the two periods were equally apparent. In the two decades between the two world wars, fascism was on the rise, particularly in Western Europe, notably in Italy, Spain, and Germany and, in the East, China and Japan. Benito Mussolini, the head of the Italian National Fascist Party, became Prime Minister in 1922. In the decade before Hitler became the Chancellor in January, 1933, post-war Germany was roiling with street battles between fascists belonging to roughly thirty different parties and at least eight left-wing parties, most significantly the KPD (the pro-Soviet German Communist Party) and various factions of the Social Democratic Party.

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Book Review: The Tragedy of American Science by Clifford Conner

A Review by Nayvin Gordon, M.D., November 24, 2020

I highly recommend this short book, The Tragedy of American Science: From Truman to Trump, by Clifford D. Conner, 2020. This is an easy to read, concise and well documented analysis of how U.S. science has been affected by the capitalist economy since World War Two. The author does not hold back from placing the origin of the tragedy at the feet of U.S. imperialism. This is a must read for everyone starting with students. The book is broken into three major sections.

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Wally Linder: Review of A Life of Labor and Love, A Memoir of Communist Organizing and Family

by Carol Caref, 11-4-2020

In A Life of Labor and Love, Wally Linder reminds us of the power of a united working class to fight the capitalist bosses and of the special people that make up our class. He interweaves the political and the personal as he chronicles his 89 years of life. He shares the joys and the tragedies, and we get a glimpse of the heart and soul of this ordinary but extraordinary man.

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Hating on Hamilton

By Karyn Pomerantz, 7-14-2020

Hamilton, the smash Broadway musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, has seduced thousands of theatregoers with its hip hop lyrics, dancing, black cast, costumes, and lighting.  It is a triumph of form over content.

The musical tells the story of Alexander Hamilton who grows up in the West Indies, arrives in the colonies, and becomes the aide to and US Treasurer under George Washington. He exercises his ambition through alliances with powerful men and his marriage into the slave owning Schuyler family, a travesty which is barely noted in the play. 

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Book Review: “White Fragility” versus Anti Racist Agility

By Karyn Pomerantz, June 29, 2020

“White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo ranks as the number one best selling book on many publisher lists and has a months long waiting list at public libraries.  It clearly has an important message to garner such attention. What does this message mean for a multiracial fight against racism as we’ve witnessed in the protests around the world? What kinds of strategies does it encourage to overcome the racist nature of capitalism?

Dr. DiAngelo is a white woman educator who helps companies and organizations diversify their workforces and develop more harmony between workers of different “racial” and ethnic backgrounds. She creates and delivers an antiracist curriculum to the employees, mostly white, in order to expose white people’s racism and, as she states, to encourage them to recognize their privilege so they can stop oppressing black people. (The book focuses on black and white people). 

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Antiracist Book Reviews: Working-Class Unity versus “White Privilege”

by Bill Sacks, retired physician, REVISED June 27, 2020

Black authors have written many nonfiction books on racism over the last decade. Mark Whitaker listed and commented on several in the Washington Post’s Outlook section (June 14, 2020). He pointed out that Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me (2015) opened up a market for such books, and that Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow (2010) was an earlier bestseller that had a huge impact on public thought about incarceration.

The various authors’ analyses of racism differ. Coates claims that there is a caste system, in which all white people oppress all black people, regardless of class. The category of caste draws strict lines between members of different castes, in this case between all white people and all black people. Caste is proposed by Coates as the significant social categorization, as opposed to class, which is defined in relation to exploitation and consists of exploiters and exploited. However, it is class that defines the main interests of each group, not caste. Black exploiters have little in common with black victims of exploitation, who in turn have more in common with white victims of exploitation. Similarly, white victims of exploitation have little in common with white exploiters. The interests of exploiters and exploited are opposed to one another.

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