Race, Gender, and Class Politics in the US Primaries

Navarro, Vicente
Date Written:  2016-02-23
Publisher:  CounterPunch
Year Published:  2016
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX18856

The US has some of the largest feminist organizations in the Western world. I should also add that it has the largest organization for the elderly, the AARP. In spite of this, the US is the country where African Americans, women, and the elderly have fewer political, civil, and social rights. African Americans, women, and the elderly have the least health benefits among their equivalents in other developed countries. The primary reason for this underdevelopment of human rights is the absence of powerful socialist forces and parties, rooted historically in the working class. This reality, however, is rarely mentioned in the US. It is presented as too "ideological" or antiquated.



In the US, one reason for the enormous weakness of blacks, women, and the elderly is that their movements are not based on class but on primarily or only race, gender, or age. Class is what could unite all of them. But class and class policies are basically repressed in the US. This is an indicator of the enormous power of the corporate class. The dominant class does everything possible to have groups that could potentially rebel against the system divided and separated. It allows race and gender discourse, but not class discourse. Needless to say, African Americans and women are divided by class. The objective of the "billionaire class" is to co-opt African Americans and women into the system so they are closer and more aligned to the dominant class. The fact that so little is spoken about class in the US is because the billionaire class does not want people to speak or think in class terms.


The establishment, including the Democratic Party establishment, keeps enforcing what divides people rather than what unites people. And here is where the leadership of major African American organizations, and the feminist movement, with close links to the establishment, are stressing their own cause without realizing they are harming their own constituencies by not linking their cause with the causes of other groups, with class as the strongest link among them. Please notice that I am not saying “emphasizing class rather than race and gender..." but rather "emphasizing class in addition to race and gender..." For all of these groups, emphasizing class-based policies will get more for their constituents than limiting themselves to their own groups.


Let me finish by stressing what should be obvious: women, the elderly, and ethnic and minority groups have more civil, social, and political rights in Western Europe than in the US. The overwhelming scientific evidence that I show in my teaching and in my books shows this reality. The primary reason is that in Europe, class has played a major role in the guidance of political mobilization, much more than in the US. In other words, socialism has been far more powerful in Europe, and incidentally in Canada, than in the US. This is why the US working population has so few human rights. It is very important and urgent that in your work you show the commonality of class interest that the major components of the popular class in the US have.

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