Progressive Labor Party on Race & Racism



Progressive Labor Party (PLP) fights to destroy capitalism and the dictatorship of the capitalist class. We organize workers, soldiers and youth into a revolutionary movement for communism.

Only the dictatorship of the working class — communism — can provide a lasting solution to the disaster that is today’s world for billions of people. This cannot be done through electoral politics, but requires a revolutionary movement and a mass Red Army led by PLP.

Worldwide capitalism, in its relentless drive for profit, inevitably leads to war, fascism, poverty, disease, starvation and environmental destruction. The capitalist class, through its state power — governments, armies, police, schools and culture —  maintains a dictatorship over the world’s workers. The capitalist dictatorship supports, and is supported by, the anti-working-class ideologies of racism, sexism, nationalism, individualism and religion.

While the bosses and their mouthpieces claim “communism is dead,” capitalism is the real failure for billions worldwide. Capitalism returned to Russia and China because socialism retained many aspects of the profit system, like wages and privileges. Russia and China did not establish communism.

Communism means working collectively to build a worker-run society. We will abolish work for wages, money and profits. Everyone will share in society’s benefits and burdens. 

Communism means abolishing racism and the concept of “race.” Capitalism uses racism to super-exploit black, Latino, Asian and indigenous workers, and to divide the entire working class.

Communism means abolishing the special oppression of women — sexism — and divisive gender roles created by the class society.

Communism means abolishing nations and nationalism. One international working class, one world, one Party.

Communism means that the minds of millions of workers must become free from religion’s false promises, unscientific thinking and poisonous ideology. Communism will triumph when the masses of workers can use the science of dialectical materialism to understand, analyze and change the world to meet their needs and aspirations.

  Communism means the Party leads every aspect of society. For this to work, millions of workers — eventually everyone — must become communist organizers. Join Us!


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"A Mercy," a Marxist appreciation

 Words of praise poured in for the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison when she died on August 5, 2019. She was lauded for her mastery of language, the depth of her characterizations, and her profound understanding of the lived consequences of sexism and racism. She was also celebrated as a national treasure. As the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy K. Smith wrote, “I don’t believe there is a writer who understood America better and loved it with more ferocity than Toni Morrison.” There is no doubt that Morrison was not a radical, but a liberal, and that her heavy reliance on psychoanalysis to explain her characters’ behavior fails to target the roots of their systemic oppression in the coercive power relations generated by capitalism.  
Morrison’s Black female characters: Pecola Breedlove in The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula and Nell in Sula (1973), Sethe and Baby Suggs in Beloved (1987) all experienced extreme suffering, physical and psychological. But the direct and indirect sources of their oppression, found in the capitalist drive to profit, remain obscure. Morrison’s idealist approach to causality is reinforced in her novels by her occasional reliance upon the supernatural to account for her characters’ motivations. In her book of literary criticism, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (1992), Morrison ahistorically traces many white writers’ individualistic conceptions of heroism to a generalized need to dominate and marginalize a racialized “other”; the material origins of this need remain largely unexplored.
In one of her novels, however—A Mercy (2008)—Morrison quite persuasively utilizes the tools of class analysis to explore the origins of race-based social inequality. Set in late 17th-century colonial America, the novel confirms and enacts a Marxist understanding of the ways in which the category of race emerged and then hardened as capital accumulation took increasingly brutal forms. The kinds of insights into the origins of race and racism that we gain from historical texts like Lerone Bennett’s The Shaping of Black America (1973) and Theodore Allen’s The Invention of the White Race (1994, 1997) are amply borne out in Morrison’s fictional treatment. Theodore Allen’s biographer asserts that Morrison claimed to have read both volumes of Allen’s important study before writing A Mercy.
The novel stresses the common oppression experienced by a group of laborers in the same household: Lina, a Native American woman who survived a smallpox epidemic; Rebekkah, an English mail-order bride from an impoverished family of religious fanatics; Sorrow, a dark-skinned young woman who refuses to hate her own body; Scully and Willard, two indentured servants who may never escape their bondage; and Florens, a young woman of mixed parentage who mourns her unexplained abandonment by her mother. Moreover, Jacob Vaarck, the “master” of the household, while clearly positioned to benefit from the labor of those he controls, is portrayed as initially humane and free of racialized preconceptions. He respects as an equal the free Black man whom he hires as a blacksmith; he hardens into a racist only when his wealth is invested in the Caribbean slave trade, and he aspires to turn his farmhouse into an Old World-style mansion with wrought-iron gates.
The novel is a painful read, in that Florens, through whose consciousness much of the story is told, never understands why her mother—an enslaved Angolan brought to Barbados—chose to “give” her away to Jacob Vaarck. Only at the end is the reader exposed to the thoughts of Florens’s mother, who feared that her spirited daughter would be dragged into the whorehouse of chattel slavery should she remain on the Caribbean plantation. Ironically, the loss of her daughter was “a mercy” compared to such a fate.
Mainly, though, the novel testifies to the fluidity of conceptions of race in the colonial period; indeed, the narrative never uses the categories that would subsequently become “natural” descriptors: white, Black, Negro Indian. Moreover, Bacon’s Rebellion of 1677—the last multiracial rebellion of oppressed laborers before the hardening of racial divisions—is referenced early in the novel as a lost possibility.
The novel is narrated in the present tense: the reader knows where the nation is headed, but the characters do not. That the United States should end up being founded on racialized inequality was a function of the ideologies of superiority and inferiority accompanying the development of capitalism, not an inevitable reflection of the human need to exploit those who look different.  Tracy K. Smith’s description of Morrison as a lover of America is not borne out of the incisive analysis of the class-engendered politics of divide and conquer that shapes A Mercy. In this novel, Morrison may have “understood” America; that she “loved it with . . . ferocity” is highly dubious.

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