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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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).
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.
The uprisings over the horrendous oppression and killing of black people in the US have united people in ways we have rarely seen. Most protests in the past have been comprised of a single demographic group: mostly white in anti-war marches, Latin in immigration demonstrations, and black in anti-racist protests. The multi-racial and multi-ethnic participation in the rebellions stirred by police violence, disproportionate Covid19 deaths in black and native families, and sacrificial back-to-work decisions creates an enormous potential for working class solidarity and revolutionary change.
A REVIEW OF AWAY WITH ALL PESTS: AN ENGLISH SURGEON IN PEOPLE’S CHINA DR. JOSHUA S. HORN 1954-1969. LONDON: Monthly Review, 1969.
by Peter Scheckner, May 28, 2020
As of this writing, May 18, 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has infected over 4 million people worldwide and killed over 300,00 people. The USA, supposedly the most advanced and wealthiest capitalist country, is leading the world in the wrong way as usual. It has the most deaths—91,000 plus, and the most cases, 1.5 million. It also has, ironically, the costliest health care system in the world.
In March of this year, CNN reported this about the connection between America’s awful health record regarding the Covid-19 pandemic: “The US is the only developed nation without universal health care. Nearly 28 million non-elderly Americans, or 10.4%, were uninsured in 2018, according to the most recent Census Bureau data available. This is an improvement from what it was before the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010. That year, 46.5 million non-elderly people — or 17.8% — lacked coverage. But the uninsured rate has started ticking up again over the past two years. Continue reading “What Communism in the People’s Republic of China Achieved in Public Health”
Review of The Greater Leveler: Violence and the History from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century Inequality by Walter Scheidel (Princeton and Oxford, 2017) and “Pandemics and the Shape of Human History: Outbreaks have sparked riots and propelled public-health innovations, prefigured revolutions and redrawn maps.” by Elizabeth Kolbert, from The New Yorker, April 6, 2020 edition, written March 30, 2020
In March of this year, commenting on the novel coronavirus pandemic, Vijay Prashad wrote the following in an editorial that appeared in the April 8, 2020 edition of Consortium News, an independent on-line political review:
Neoliberalism is the political philosophy that has urged governments over the course of the past 50 years to cut social spending, cut taxes and allow the magical markets to allocate resources effectively. The virus has done damage; but the real damage has been done by this political philosophy. Now, in the midst of the novel coronavirus, it seems impossible to imagine a return to the old world, the world that left us so helpless before the arrival of these deadly microscopic particles. Waves of anxiety prevail; death continues to stalk us. If there is a future, we say to each other, it cannot mimic the past.”Continue reading “Working People Have been Destroyed by Pandemics Throughout History”