Towards a Revolution in Labor History: White Supremacism and Bourgeois Social Control in US History
Sean Ahearn and the Revolutions Study Group
4 more sessions
Why is the US working class unorganized and suffering to a far greater extent than in other advanced capitalist societies?
There are two texts for these sessions: “Towards a Revolution in Labor History” (an unpublished manuscript by Theodore W. Allen now made available on line by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst) and The Southern Key: Class, Race and Radicalism in the 1930s and 1940s by Michael Goldfield.These two critical works challenge the way in which US labor history is currently understood and taught.
Goldfield connects racial oppression, “white” blindness and “white” racial opportunism in the heyday of labor’s apparent greatest victories, to it’s post war defeats and subsequent rise of neo-liberalism.
Allen views the exclusion of the 17th,18th,and 19th century ante-bellum African American chattel laborer from standard labor histories as an example of the “White Blindspot” which supports “white” labor opportunism. Connected to this is a misunderstanding of the ante-bellum southern plantation system as a non-capitalist mode of production. The racially oppressed and exploited chattel laborer, who produced the surplus value central to the growth of capitalism in North America, is thereby placed outside the purview of “labor history,” relegated to a pre- history, a Black history, a side show at best to the emergence of the factory system based on the waged European-American laborers in the 19th century.
The Revolutions Study Group (started at the Brecht Forum) has met since 2009. The groups has recently completed an in-depth study of W.E.B. Dubois’ Black Reconstruction. Sean Ahearn is a long-time New York City activist, organizer, and instructor who has been thoroughly engaged with a study of the development of class in relationship to race from the time of the colonial settlers coming to the Americas to developments taking place during these days of late capital.
These classes originate in New York City. If you are out of this timezone use this for reference: 6:30 – 8 PM (EST NYC) 11:30 PM – 1 AM (GMT)
All classes and events are sliding scale. No one is denied admission for inability to pay. If you are unable to contribute but would like to attend this or other classes or events, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain the URL for the codes to enter the on-line zoom sessions.