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Hubert Harrison
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Jeffrey B. Perry Blog

Hubert Harrison on Book Reviewing

October 27, 2011

Tags: Hubert Harrison, Book Reviewing




"In the first place, remember that in a book review you are writing for a public who want to know whether it is worth their while to read the book about which you are writing. They are primarily interested more in what the author set himself to do and how he does it than in your own private loves and hates. Not that these are without value, but they are strictly secondary. In the next place, respect yourself and your office so much that you will not complacently pass and praise drivel and rubbish. Grant that you don’t know everything; you still must steer true to the lights of your knowledge. Give honest service; only so will your opinion come to have weight with your readers. Remember, too, that you can not well review a work on African history, for instance, if that is the only work on the subject that you have read. Therefore, read widely and be well informed. Get the widest basis of knowledge for your judgment; then back your judgment to the limit."

--Hubert Harrison --
"On a Certain Condescension in White Publishers" (Part 2)
"Negro World," March 11, 1922
Reprinted in "A Hubert Harrison Reader" ed. by Jeffrey B. Perry

The "White Assumption"
Food for Thought

October 24, 2011

Tags: Theodore W. Allen, white assumption, white race, labor history left history, Developing Conjuncture, Jeffrey B. Perry

Theodore W. Allen describes the "White Assumption" as “the unquestioning, indeed unthinking, acceptance of the ‘white’ identity of European-Americans . . . as a natural attribute, rather than a social construct.”

He writes that for most labor and left historians in the U.S. there has been “an unbroken continuum of . . . ‘white’ as a norm, with respect to which African-American labor is only a relative, secondary concern.”

Based on this, it followed for them “that organized popular challenge to the socially ruinous policies of the ruling capitalist class necessarily requires the adherence of a 'white’-majority working class.”

Allen maintained that for “the true reflection” of U. S. history, “the beginning of wisdom for labor historians must be the recognition that from 1619 on the history of African American bond-laborers is a history of proletarians. From this all else follows.”

See “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” by Jeffrey B. Perry by clicking HERE and going to TOP LEFT

White Supremacy by Ruling Class Design

October 24, 2011

Tags: White Supremacy by Ruling Class Design, Conjuncture, Hubert Harrison, Theodore W. Allen

Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in "The German Ideology" (1846), part 1, write --
"The ideas of the ruling class, are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e., the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force."

Looking back to the era of capitalist racial slavery throughout the South we see Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts explaining in the course of his March 7, 1850, oration on the proposed Compromise of that year --

". . . the general lead in the politics of the country, for three-fourths of the period that has elapsed since the adoption of the Constitution, has been a southern lead."


Alexander Stephens, the future Vice-President of the Confederacy, boasted in January 1861 --

"We [the southern slaveholder states] have always had control of it [the Federal government] . . . we have had a majority of the Presidents chosen from the South, as well as the control and management of most of those chosen from the north. We have had sixty years of southern presidents, to their 24, thus controlling the executive department. So of the judges of the Supreme Court, we have had 18 from the south, and but 11 from the north; although nearly four-fifths of the judicial business has arisen from the free states, yet a majority of this court have always been from the south. This we have required, so as to guard against any interpretation of the Constitution unfavorable to us. In like manner, we have been equally watchful to guard our interests in the legislative branch of government. In choosing the presiding presidents (pro tempore of the Senate) we have had 24 to their 11. Speaker of the House, we have had 23 and they 12. While the majority of the Representatives, from their greater population, have always been from the North, yet we have so generally secured the Speaker because he, to a great extent, shapes and controls the legislation of the country . . . Nor have we had less control of every other department of the general government."

See “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” by Jeffrey B. Perry at http://www.jeffreybperry.net/works.htm (top left)

Hubert Harrison on “The Touchstone” and on the Two-Fold Character of “Democracy” in America

October 23, 2011

Tags: Hubert Harrison, Touchstone, Two-Fold Character of "Democracy" in America

Hubert Harrison’s class consciousness and anti-white-supremacist race consciousness led him to offer profound insights on the two-fold character of “democracy” in America – that is, when it is a “whites only” (or a white supremacist-shaped) “democracy” it is a retardant to social progress; when it is thoroughgoing and genuine, it is a catalyst for progressive social change.

In 1911 in the Socialist Party of New York’s "Call" he wrote: “Politically, the Negro is the touchstone of the modern democratic idea. The presence of the Negro puts our democracy to the proof and reveals the falsity of it.” A touchstone is a black stone used to test the purity of gold. As such it is also a metaphor that can be applied widely to test the degree of equality – socially, politically, and economically – in America. Every area where political work is undertaken – housing, employment, education, healthcare, incarceration, etc. – can be put to the test and the questions can be asked “How are Black people faring?” and “What is to be done about it?”

In that same “touchstone” passage Harrison added that true democracy and equality for “the Negro” implies “a revolution startling to even think of.” This compelling insight foreshadowed the civil rights/Black liberation struggles of the 1960s, which posed such an important challenge to the existing social order and gave impetus to the anti-war, student, women’s, Latino, Asian, labor, gay, and other movements for progressive social change.

See “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” by Jeffrey B. Perry at http://www.jeffreybperry.net/works.htm (top left)

Response to the Great Depression -- White Supremacy by Ruling Class Design (by those who make the rules)

October 21, 2011

Tags: Great Depression, White Supremacy by Ruling Class Design

In his book, “When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America,” Ira Katznelson explains how the national policies enacted from the 1930s through the 1950s – initiatives such as Social Security, the National Labor Relations Act, emergency relief, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the G.I. Bill – “constituted a massive transfer of quite specific privileges to white Americans” and “widened the gap between white and black Americans.”

Katznelson describes how the South’s representatives in both Houses of Congress “built ramparts within the policy initiatives of the New Deal and the Fair Deal to safeguard their region’s social organization” and he cites three particular mechanisms that they used. First, “they sought to leave out as many African Americans as they could . . . not by inscribing race into law but by writing provisions that . . . were racially laden.” The “most important instances concerned categories of work in which blacks were heavily overrepresented, notably farmworkers and maids.” These groups, which constituted over 60% percent of the Black labor force in the 1930s and nearly 75% of those employed in the South, “were excluded from the legislation that created modern unions, from laws that set minimum wages and regulated the hours of work, and from Social Security until the 1950s.” Second, “they successfully insisted that the administration of these and other laws, including assistance to the poor and support for veterans, be placed in the hands of local officials who were deeply hostile to black aspirations.” Third, “they prevented Congress from attaching any sort of anti-discrimination provisions to a wide array of social welfare programs such as community health services, school lunches, and hospital construction grants, indeed all the programs that distributed monies to their region.” In this way “a wide array of public policies” gave preference to whites and “most black Americans were left behind or left out.”

One of the most glaring examples cited by Katznelson concerns the impediments to African Americans getting GI Bill home loans that had features such as low interest and zero down payments. The many impediments to African Americans were not limited to the South, and in New York and the northern New Jersey suburbs “fewer than 100 of the 67,000 mortgages insured by the GI Bill supported home purchases by non-whites.”

See “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” by Jeffrey B. Perry at http://www.jeffreybperry.net/works.htm (top left)

Theodore W. Allen Suggests 5-Stage Cycle -- Think About Where We Are, What's Ahead, and What Can Be Done About It?

October 20, 2011

Tags: Theodore W. Allen, 5-Stage Cycle

Theodore W. Allen wrote that "the history of class struggle in the U.S. could be interpreted as a five-stage cycle in which:

1) The normal course of capitalist events brings on a deterioration of the conditions of the laboring classes.

2) The substance of the white-skin privileges becomes somewhat drained away by increased insecurity and exploitation.

3) The laboring-class “whites” manifest, to a greater or lesser extent, a tendency to make common cause with laboring-class Blacks against capital.

4) The ruling class moves to re-substantiate the racial privileges of the white workers vis-à-vis the Blacks.

5) The white workers take the bait, repudiate solidarity with Black laboring people and submit themselves without radical protest to exploitation by the privilege-givers."

See “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” by Jeffrey B. Perry at http://www.jeffreybperry.net/works.htm To read article click on image above and go to top left corner of page

Struggle against white supremacy central to efforts at social change

October 20, 2011

Tags: Conjuncture, Hubert Harrison, Theodore W. Allen





"Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen pointed to white supremacy as the historic principal retardant to social change efforts in the U.S. They emphasized that struggle against white supremacy was central to efforts at social change. Given the unfolding conjuncture and the directness and clarity with which they addressed issues of race and class, their insights deserve considerable attention, particularly from those interested in efforts to end white supremacist bourgeois domination in the United States." - See “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” at http://www.jeffreybperry.net/files/PerryConjuncture.pdf

Theodore W. Allen on 3 Previous Crises

October 20, 2011

Tags: Three Previous Crises, Theodore W. Allen

“(In) three periods of national crisis [Civil War and Reconstruction, Populist Revolt of 1890s, and the Great Depression of the 1930s] characterized by general confrontations between capital and urban and rural laboring classes . . . The key to the defeat of the forces of democracy, labor and socialism was in each case achieved by ruling-class appeals to white supremacism, basically by fostering white-skin privileges of laboring class European-Americans.”
– Theodore W. Allen --
See “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” by Jeffrey B. Perry at http://www.jeffreybperry.net/works.htm (top left)

“The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” by Jeffrey B. Perry

October 18, 2011

Tags: Conjuncture, Hubert Harrison, Theodore W. Allen, Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy, Jeffrey B. Perry, Cultural Logic






“The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” by Jeffrey B. Perry is now available at http://www.jeffreybperry.net/works.htm (top left)

A pre-publication version of an article that will appear online in "Cultural Logic"

Hubert Harrison Event at Bronx Community College, October 25, 2011 at 12 noon

October 14, 2011

Tags: Hubert Harrison, Center for Inquiry-New York City, Bronx Community College

On Tuesday, October 25, 2011, at 12 noon, Jeffrey B. Perry will discuss Hubert Harrison in an event sponsored by the Center for Inquiry-New York City, at the Roscoe Brown Student Center, Bronx Community College, 2155 University Avenue, Bronx, N,Y, 10453.

Hubert Harrison:
The Voice of
Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918

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