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Invention of the White Race – Fall 2022

Tue, November 15, 2022 @ 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

$45.00 – $75.00

A reading and discussion group convened with Sean Ahern, on Theodore W. Allen’s The Invention of the White Race, including vol. 1, Racial Oppression and Social Control; and vol. 2, The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America (the 2022 edition combines both volumes into a single book).

“Racial Capitalism,” “Critical Race Theory,” “Settler Colonialism,” “Whiteness Studies,” “The 1619 controversy,” “Identity Politics,” “Black Marxism,” “Caste vs Race” all identify some of the ideas, lenses and explanations that contend for our attention.  A fair consideration of these and related approaches may be well informed by studying The Invention of the White Race by Theodore W. Allen. We will read from the third edition, which combines both volumes into a single book with a new introduction by Jeffrey B. Perry, Allen’s literary executor. (Available from Verso at a 30% discount)

In 1972, after over 30 years of activism in the labor and communist movements, Allen shared the following strategic insight with a new generation of revolutionaries: “The most vulnerable point at which a decisive blow can be struck against bourgeois rule in the United States is white supremacy.  White supremacy is both the keystone (in the arch) and the Achilles heel of U.S. bourgeois democracy, the historic form of bourgeois rule in the US.  It is a vulnerable point because it is a historically developed and unresolvable internal contradiction of US bourgeois democracy.  It is the decisive vulnerable point because – as history has repeatedly proved – the basic class contradictions in bourgeois democracy can never fully mature until and unless the anti-proletarian nature of white supremacy has been completely established in the minds of the proletarian masses.”

Allen spent the next 20 years researching the primary sources and writing his magnum opus.  It provides a historical materialist analysis of racial oppression and the white identity which emerged as a principal form of social control over a rebellious laboring class of Europeans and Africans in the pattern-setting colonies of Virginia and Maryland in the 17th and early 18th century.  It is a history for today.

Sean Ahern was radicalized as a NYC high school student between 1968-1971 and was drawn to activism in labor struggles in the 70s and 80s with the American Postal Workers Union and the Transport Workers. Sean lives on the Lower East Side where he grew up and went to school. Sean met Theodore Allen in 1971, studied with him, and helped to distribute “Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery:  The Invention of the White Race (1975)” which served as a precis for The Invention of the White Race.