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Jeffrey B. Perry Blog

The University of Massachusetts-Amherst Special Collections and University Archives Library
Has Acquired The Theodore W. Allen Papers

June 4, 2018

Tags: University of Massachusetts-Amherst, SCUA, W. E. B. Du Bois, Special Collections and University Archives, Library, Theodore W. Allen Papers, Ted Allen, Jeffrey B. Perry Papers, Colllection

Theodore W. Allen










Great News with More to Come! The University of Massachusetts-Amherst Special Collections Library has acquired The Theodore W. Allen Papers. The Library is home to (and has put online) the W.E.B. Du Bois Papers and they will be similarly placing important Allen materials online. See HERE for a very preliminary description of the Allen materials – much more will follow. Stay Tuned and Spread the Word!

Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Publishes Finding Aid for the
Leo H. Downes Papers

July 28, 2017

Tags: Tony Martin, First World Alliance, African Experience Creates a Pan-African Philosophy, Caribbean Unity, Pan African Perspective, Marcus Garvey, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, Maulana Karenga, National Afrocentric Institute, Langston Hughes, The Dream Keeper, Molefi K. Asante, Preparing Our Children for the Challenges of the 21st Century, Ebonics, Bobby Seale, Cheikh Anta Diop, Donald Clark, Richard King, Wade Nobles, Liberating Our African Consciousness, Herbert Aptheker, W. E. B. Du Bois, Dr. Ben Jochannon, John Henrik Clarke, Ashra Kwesi, African Civilization, Asa G. Hilliard, Cultural Genocide as a Tool of Armed Warfare, Harlem, Lerone Bennett Jr., Dred Scott, Jose Pimienta-Bey, The History and Impact of the Moors in Spain, Chancellor Williams, Leonard Barrett, Jewish Influence, Slavery, Frances Cress Welsing, White Supremacy, Cornel West, Tim Wise, Race, Racism, James Small, Religion, Culture, Nicholas, Bynum, Illumanati, Noam Chomsky, WBAI. Palestine, Jews, Race and Social Political Construction, Black Culture, James Turner, Kelly Perkins, CCNY, Black Radical Congress, Richard Rene Laremont, South Africa, USA, Brazil, Barbados, Slave Economy, African Women, Indigenous American People, African American, Samori Marksman, Struggle in the Congo, Sierra Leone, Gullah, Bundo Island, Rice, Liberia, Michael Parenti, Ivan Van Sertima, African Presence in Early America, Howard Dodson, Evans, Mackey, Bobby Wright, Psychopathic Racist Personality, Edward Scobie, Brazil, Quilombo, Martin Luther King Jr., Nile Valley, Zulu, Black Resistance, Amos Wilson, Educating the Black Child, Jacob H. Carruthers, Kemetic, Slave Narrative, Leonard Jeffries, African Re-Emergence in World History, Rosalind Jeffries, Arthur Schomburg, Hubert Harrison, Hubert H. Harrison, C.L.R James, Jazz, Melanin, ISMA EL-JAMAAL, Winston James, Caribbean Radicalism, Jesse Jackson, Harlem Renaissance, St. John the Divine, Booker T. Coleman, The Creative Genius of Africans in World History, The Pharaohs of Egypt, Kawaida, Sankofa, Calvin Butts, Gil Noble, Like It Is, Lewis Gordon, Frantz Fanon, University of Memphis, Sartre, Brecht Forum, O'Mealy, Rare Book and Manuscript Library Columbia University, Diana Greenidge, Julie Siestreem, Patrick Lawlor, Thai Jones, African American Heritage Week, Kirk Franklin, God's Property, Zariab Gatar, JAN CAREW, Bruce Wright, Racial Politics, Media, Prison Papers, Black Inventors, African World, Gwendolyn Brooks, Guggenheim, African American Oral Traditions, Poets House, Bilal Abdullah, Paul Robeson, Henry Louis Gates, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Sister Marimba Ani, The Spiritual Healing of our African Race, Jeffrey B. Perry, Return to African Spirituality, Purging Ourselves, Sister Ann Brown, The African Community, Adelaide Sanford, Kofi Asare Opoku, Wade Nobles, LeRoi Jones, John G. Jackson, African Origin of Christianity, Jeremy Scahill, Amy Goodman, Blackwater, Democracy Now, WBAI, Malcolm X, Lorraine Hansbury, Colonization, Edward Said, Bill Moyers, George Bush, Afghanistan Osama Bin Laden, Imperialism, Zionism, Iraq war, Manning Marable, Multi Culturism, Black Liberation, Columbia, NYU, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Cuba, Immigration Act, Leo H. Downes, Pinderhughes, Black History, Abolition, John Brown, The Inner City Black, Phil Valentine, Mwalimu Baba Shango, Spirit of Africa, James Shenton, Irish, Ali Mazrui, SWAPO, Azania, Third World Newsreel, Freedom, United Nations, Africans At the Crossroads, Humanism, Black Intellectual

The Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library just published its Finding Aid for the Leo H. Downes papers (34 cassette boxes; 12 document boxes). It is a collection of great importance by an extraordinary individual (special attention should be paid to the audio cassettes). Many thanks to Diana Greenidge, Julie Siestreem, Thai Jones, and Patrick Lawlor for making this happen. See http://findingaids.cul.columbia.edu/staging/ead/nnc-rb/ldpd_11359941/

Leo H. Downes was an independent and provocative intellectual based in Harlem. His interests covered a wide range of topics, including African-American history, neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, philosophy, art, music, culture, sociology, theology, athletics, and education.
Downes was born July 15, 1933 in Coffee Gully, The Parish of St. Joseph on the island of Barbados. He was the only child of William Lionel Blackman and Adeline Ione Downes. His father was an engineer and, overseer. Leo graduated from St. Leonard's Boy's School in St. Michael Barbados West Indies in 1955. He attended the New School of Social Research in New York City from 1967 to 1970. He attended Columbia University School of General Studies from 1972 to 1974. He then attended New York Institute of Technology in Psychology in Westbury, New York.
Downes directed the Youth Opportunity Program for the New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) located in the Washington Heights neighborhood for 32 years, from 1971 to 2003. The YOP program was designed as a pairing of high school adolescents with doctors as mentors for 15 to 20 hours per week to work in each doctor's respective area of research. It was a valuable and critically successful support system that worked well for both the doctors and students. Downes received numerous awards for this outstanding work. A teacher, counselor and, rehabilitator, he worked with children and adults in the Reality Halfway House, Cornell's Children's Services, and New York City Model Cities Program. He worked one to one, with small groups and, large groups as needed. He taught ex-cons, ex-addicts, dropouts and, High School Equivalency Programs.
Downes had an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and consistently asked the most challenging questions of anyone on any given topic. Others sought him out frequently to attend their classes, lectures, discussion groups and, movies because, they knew he would come up with the best questions. For 35 years he moderated a monthly study group of the Society for the Study of African Philosophy. He was a part of the Institute for Research in African American Studies program at Columbia University from its beginning in 1993.
Downes was a member of the Harlem YMCA for 55 years. He was a competitive body builder from 1950 to 1974. He died on April 28, 2014 at the age of 80.

Tony Martin First World, 10/22/1988 (HF 90/Sony)

Dr. Tony Martin First World Alliance, 10/22/1988 (AV-90/TDK)

Brother Tony Martin Africa Experience Creates a Pan-African Philosophy #1, 3/6/1993 (dB 90/memorex)

Brother Tony Martin Africa Experience Creates a Pan-African Philosophy #2, 3/6/1993 (HF 60/Sony)

Brother Tony Martin Caribbean Unity and a Pan African Perspective, 3/1/1997 (HF 60/Sony)

Dr. Martin /Garvey Story, No date (FI 60/JVC)

T. Martin / Garvey Story, No date (HF 90/Sony)

James Baldwin / Speak, No date (HF 60/Sony)

James Baldwin / interview, No date (CHF 90/Sony)

James Baldwin Conf., 6/24/1989 (HF60/Sony)

James Baldwin, No date (HF90/Sony)

James Baldwin Conf., No date (DC 9/TDK)

James Baldwin/ Baraka at St. John Divine, No date (60 min./audio tech)

Dr. Maulana Karenga, Temple Univ. Nat. Afrocentric Institute, 5/9/1992 (60 min./ Greatronic)
(more…)

Contents
"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

August 2, 2015

Tags: Contents, Hubert Harrison, Hubert H. Harrison, Theodore W. Allen, Jeffrey B. Perry, Cultural Logic, Daedalus, Joseph G. Ramsey, David Siae, Labor, U.S. Labor History, W. E. B. Du Bois, C. L. R. James, David Roediger, Communist Party, Socialist Party, Black Lives Matter, White Privilege, White Skin Privilege, SDS, Winthrop D. Jordan, Edmund S. Morgan, Lerone Bennett, Jr., Class, Race, Economic Crisis, U.S. Workers, White Supremacy, Wisconsin, St. Croix, Socialist Party, Southernism, Socialism, Race First, Class After, Class Consciousness, Duty to Champion the Cause of the Negro, Touchstone, Why No Socialism, Werner Sombart, James S. Allen, John R. Commons, UMW, White Blindspot, The Invention of the White Race, whiteness, William Sylvis, National Labor Union, A. Philip Randolph, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., poison bait, an injury to one is an injury to all, solidarity forever, repudiate, Verso Books, Columbia University Press, Ted Allen, Jeff Perry, Black Reconstruction, Black worker, white worker



Table of Contents


Epigraph
Introduction
  Hubert Harrison
  Theodore W. Allen
  Harrison and Allen and the Centrality of the Struggle Against White-Supremacy
Some Class and Racial Aspects of The Conjuncture
  Deepening Economic Crisis
  U.S. Workers Faring Badly
  White Supremacist Shaping
  Wisconsin
  Millions are Suffering and Conditions are Worsening
Insights from Hubert Harrison
  Arrival in America, Contrast with St. Croix
  Socialist Party Writings
  “Southernism or Socialism – which?”
  The Socialist Party Puts [the “White”] Race First and Class After
  Class Consciousness, White Supremacy, and the "Duty to Champion the Cause of the Negro"
  On “The Touchstone” and the Two-Fold Character of Democracy in America
  Concentrated Race-Conscious Work in the Black Community
  Capitalist Imperialism and the Need to Break Down Exclusion Walls of White Workers
  The International Colored Unity League
  Struggle Against White Supremacy is Central
Insights from Theodore W. Allen
  Early Research and Writings and Pioneering Use of “White Skin Privilege” Concept
  White Blindspot
  Why No Socialism? . . . and The Main Retardant to Working Class Consciousness
  The Role of White Supremacy in Three Previous Crises
  The Great Depression . . . and the White Supremacist Response
  Response to Four Arguments Against and Five “Artful Dodges”
  Early 1970s Writings and Strategy
  “The Invention of the White Race”
  Other Important Contributions in Writings on the Colonial Period
  Inventing the “White Race” and Fixing “a perpetual Brand upon Free Negros”
  Political Economic Aspects of the Invention of the “White Race”
  Racial Oppression and National Oppression
  “Racial Slavery” and “Slavery”
  Male Supremacy, Gender Oppression, and Laws Affecting the Family
  Slavery as Capitalism, Slaveholders as Capitalists, Enslaved as Proletarians
  Class-Conscious, Anti-White Supremacist Counter Narrative – Comments on Jordan and Morgan
  Not Simply a Social Construct, But a Ruling Class Social Control Formation . . . and Comments on Roediger
  The “White Race” and “White Race” Privilege
  On the Bifurcation of “Labor History” and “Black History” and on the “National Question”
  Later Writings . . . “Toward a Revolution in Labor History”
Strategy
The Struggle Ahead

Addendum [re “Daedalus”]


This article originally appeared in the July 2010 issue of Cultural Logic edited by Joseph G. Ramsey with the assistance of David Siar.

To read the article CLICK HERE and go to top left,

or CLICK HERE.

To read the article without downloading a PDF CLICK HERE!

For information on “Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918” (Columbia University Press) CLICK HERE

For writings by and about Hubert Harrison CLICK HERE

For a video presentation on Hubert Harrison, "The Father of Harlem Radicalism," who is discussed at the beginning of this video CLICK HERE

For information on Theodore W. Allen's "The Invention of the White Race" (Verso Books) CLICK HERE

For additional writings by and about Theodore W. Allen CLICK HERE

For a video presentation on Theodore W. Allen's "The Invention of the White Race," which draws insights from the life and work of Hubert Harrison CLICK HERE
For key insights from Theodore W. Allen on U.S. Labor History CLICK HERE




Hubert Harrison: "The Voice of Harlem Radicalism,"
Founder of the Militant "New Negro Movement"
and Giant of Black History
Slide Presentation/Talk by Jeffrey B. Perry
Brooklyn, Nov. 19, 2014

November 12, 2014

Tags: Hubert Harrison, Hubert H. Harrison, Militant New Negro Movement, When Africa Awakes, Harlem Radicalism, Arthur Schomburg, A. Philip Randolph, W. E. B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Jeff Perry, Williana Jones Burroughs, Eugene V. Debs, White Rose Home, Frances Reynolds Keyser, Freethought, anarchism, Booker T. Washington, Post Ofice, Charles Burroughs, Chandler Owen, William Monroe Trotter, James Weldon Johnson, NAACP, Joel E. Spingarn, East St. Louis, soapbox oratory, book-reviewing, armed self-defense, St. Croix, Theodore W. Allen, social control, white supremacy, D. Hamilon Jackson, Claude McKay

Hubert H. Harrison (1883-1927) is one of the truly important figures of twentieth-century history. A brilliant writer, orator, educator, critic, and political activist, he was described by Joel A. Rogers, in "World's Great Men of Color" as "the foremost Afro-American intellect of his time." Labor and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph described Harrison as "the father of Harlem Radicalism."

Harrison served as the foremost Black organizer, agitator, and theoretician in the Socialist Party of New York during its 1912 heyday; he founded the first organization (the Liberty League) and the first newspaper ("The Voice") of the militant, World War I-era "New Negro" movement; edited "The New Negro: A Monthly Magazine of a Different Sort" ("intended as an organ of the international consciousness of the darker races -- especially of the Negro race") in 1919; wrote "When Africa Awakes: The 'Inside Story' of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World" in 1920; and he served as editor of the "Negro World" and principal radical influence on the Garvey movement during its radical high point in 1920.

His views on race and class profoundly influenced a generation of "New Negro" militants and common people including the class radical A. Philip Randolph and the race radical Marcus Garvey. Considered more race conscious than Randolph and more class conscious than Garvey, Harrison is the key link in the ideological unity of the two great trends of the Black Liberation Movement -- the labor and civil rights trend associated with Martin Luther King, Jr., and the race and nationalist trend associated with Malcolm X. (Randolph and Garvey were, respectively, the direct links to King marching on Washington, with Randolph at his side, and to Malcolm (whose father was a Garveyite preacher and whose mother wrote for the Negro World), speaking militantly and proudly on street corners in Harlem.

Harrison was also an immensely skilled and popular orator and educator; a highly praised journalist, critic, and book reviewer; a pioneer Black activist in the freethought and birth control movements; and a bibliophile and library builder and popularizer who helped develop the 135th Street Public Library into what is now the internationally famous Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

For information on Hubert Harrison CLICK HERE
and CLICK HERE

For a video of Slide Presentation/Talk on Hubert Harrison CLICK HERE

"Insights From the Work of Theodore W. Allen, on
'White Skin Privilege,' The Invention of the White Race,
and the Centrality of the Struggle Against White Supremacy"

October 26, 2014

Tags: Theodore W. Allen, Ted Allen, White Skin Privilege, The Invention of the White Race, Centrality of the Struggle Against White Supremacy, Jeffrey B. Perry, The Center for Marxist Education, Doug Enaa Greene, racial oppression, social control, Marxism, why no socialism, labor history, Hubert Harrison, W. E. B. Du Bois, Bacon's Rebellion, Elizabeth Key, white privilege, white identity



"Insights From the Work of Theodore W. Allen, on
'White Skin Privilege,' The Invention of the White Race,
and the Centrality of the Struggle Against White Supremacy"
Slide Presentation/Talk by Jeffrey B. Perry, at “The Center for Marxist Education,” Cambridge, Massachusetts
Filmed by Doug Enaa Greene on October 25, 2014.
.

Video On "Hubert Harrison, the Socialist Party, the Founding of the ’New Negro Movement’
and the Liberty Congress” (1911-1918)
Slide Presentation/Talk by Jeffrey B. Perry
August 9, 2014 at The Commons

August 11, 2014

Tags: Socialist Party, the IWW, the Paterson Strike, the Modern School, the “New Negro Movement, ” Liberty League, The Voice, East St. Louis, Liberty Congress, class radicalism, race radicalism, internationalism, World War I, W. E. B. Du Bois, the NAACP, Joel E. Spingarn, William Monroe Trotter, A. Philip Randolph, Chandler Owen, Marcus Garvey, early Black theater, soapbox oratory, federal anti-lynching legislation, civil rights legislation, democracy in America, armed self-defense, “Make the World Safe for Democracy, ” “Make the South Safe for Democracy, ” “Close Ranks, ” Military Intelligence, “the touchstone”



“Hubert Harrison, St. Croix, Early Years in New York,
and Black Working Class Intellectual Circles (1883-1909),"
by Jeffrey B. Perry,
Slide Presentation/Talk at The Commons, Brooklyn NY, August 2, 2014


Hubert H. Harrison (1883-1927) was the leading Black activist and theoretician in the Socialist Party; a brilliant writer, orator, and editor; the founder of the "New Negro Movement," the major radical influence on A. Philip Randolph and Marcus Garvey, and a self-described "radical internationalist." He was an autodidact and a free-thinker and he is known as "The Father of Harlem Radicalism."

Jeffrey B. Perry preserved and edited the Hubert H. Harrison Papers, edited “A Hubert Harrison Reader” (Wesleyan University Press, 2001) and authored “Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918” (Columbia University Press, 2008). Perry also authored "The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy" (“Cultural Logic,” 2010). He is currently working on a new edition of "When Africa Awakes" by Hubert Harrison for Diasporic Africa Press and on Vol. 2 of the Hubert Harrison biography.

For the article “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, CLICK HERE

For information on Hubert Harrison --
CLICK HERE for reviews of "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918"
and CLICK HERE for information on "A Hubert Harrison Reader"
and CLICK HERE for writings, audio, and video abour Hubert Harrison

For a video of a Slide Presentation/Talk on Hubert Harrison CLICK HERE

For a Slide Presentation/Talk on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” CLICK HERE

For information on Jeffrey B. Perry CLICK HERE

For Videos of the Slide Presentation/Talks in the series “Hubert Harrison, Theodore W. Allen, and the Centrality of the Struggle Against White Supremacy” by Jeffrey B. Perry see


1. "Hubert Harrison, Theodore W. Allen, and the Centrality of the Struggle Against White Supremacy," by Jeffrey B. Perry, Slide Presentation/Talk at The Commons, Brooklyn NY, July 26, 2014

2. “Hubert Harrison, St. Croix, Early Years in New York, and Black Working Class Intellectual Circles (1883-1910)," by Jeffrey B. Perry, Slide Presentation/Talk at The Commons, Brooklyn NY, August 2, 2014

3. “Hubert Harrison, the Socialist Party, the Founding of the 'New Negro Movement,' and the Liberty Congress (1911-1918)," by Jeffrey B. Perry, Slide Presentation/Talk at The Commons, Brooklyn NY, August 9, 2014

4. “Theodore W. Allen, 'White Skin Privilege,' 'The Invention of the White Race,' and the Centrality of the Struggle Against White Supremacy,"[Part 1] by Jeffrey B. Perry, Slide Presentation/Talk at The Commons, Brooklyn NY, August 16, 2014

5. “Theodore W. Allen, 'White Skin Privilege,' 'The Invention of the White Race,' and the Centrality of the Struggle Against White Supremacy," [Part 2] by Jeffrey B. Perry, Slide Presentation/Talk at The Commons, Brooklyn NY, September 6, 2014

“Hubert Harrison, Theodore W. Allen,
and the Centrality of the Struggle Against White Supremacy"
by Jeffrey B. Perry (Introduction)

August 6, 2014

Tags: Hubert Harrison, Hubert H. Harrison, Theodore W. Allen, The Developing Conjuncture, J. A. Rogers, W. E. B. Du Bois, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Big Bill Haywood, Centrality of the Struggle Against White Supremacy, Jeffrey B. Perry, race, class, St. Croix, Virgin Islands, Harlem-based, Black activist, theoretician, Socialist Party, writer, orator, editor; New Negro Movement, A. Philip Randolph, Marcus Garvey, radical internationalist, Father of Harlem Radicalism, white skin privilege, white privilege, Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery, The Invention of the White Race, Racial Oppression and Social Control, The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America, Verso Books, A Hubert Harrison Reader, Wesleyan University Press, The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, Columbia University Press, 2008, “Cultural Logic, When Africa Awakes, Diasporic Africa Press, Fight Against White Supremacy

“Hubert Harrison, Theodore W. Allen,
and the Centrality of the Struggle Against White Supremacy"
by Jeffrey B. Perry (Introduction)



“Hubert Harrison, Theodore W. Allen, and the Centrality of the Struggle Against White Supremacy” Introduction to 5-Session Class by Jeffrey B. Perry
July 26, 2014
at The Commons in Brooklyn, NY


This course focuses on the relevance today of important insights from Hubert H. Harrison (1883-1927) and Theodore W. Allen (1919-2005), two of the twentieth century's most important writers on race and class. The St. Croix, Virgin Island-born, Harlem-based Harrison was the leading Black activist and theoretician in the Socialist Party; a brilliant writer, orator, and editor; the founder of the "New Negro Movement," the major radical influence on A. Philip Randolph and Marcus Garvey, and a self-described "radical internationalist." He is known as "The Father of Harlem Radicalism."

Theodore William Allen (1919-2005), was an anti-white-supremacist, proletarian intellectual and an autodidact who pioneered his "white skin privilege" analysis in 1965, authored Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race, in 1975, and authored the two-volume The Invention of the White Race, (2 vols., Verso Books, 1994, 1997, new edition 2012) and "Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race" (1978).

Jeffrey B. Perry edited “A Hubert Harrison Reader” (Wesleyan University Press, 2001) and authored “Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918” (Columbia University Press, 2008). Perry also contributed new front and back matter to the new edition of Allen's “The Invention of the White Race” and he authored "The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy" (“Cultural Logic,” 2010). He is currently working on a new edition of "When Africa Awakes" by Hubert Harrison for Diasporic Africa Press and Vol. 2 of the Hubert Harrison biography.

Dr. Perry is also preserving and inventorying the Theodore W. Allen Papers. He edited and introduced Allen’s Class Struggle and Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race (1975; Center for the Study of Working Class Life, State University of New York, Stony Brook, 2006) and he has authored numerous other pieces on Allen including "The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy"(Cultural Logic, July 2010). Most recently he contributed new introductions, back matter, internal study guides, and expanded indexes for the new (Verso Books, November 2012) expanded edition of Allen's two-volume The Invention of the White Race. (Vol. 1: Racial Oppression and Social Control and Vol. 2: The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America.)

For the article “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, CLICK HERE

For information on Hubert Harrison --
CLICK HERE for reviews of "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918"
and CLICK HERE for information on "A Hubert Harrison Reader"
and CLICK HERE for writings, audio, and video abour Hubert Harrison

For a video of a Slide Presentation/Talk on Hubert Harrison CLICK HERE

For a Slide Presentation/Talk on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” CLICK HERE

Also see the following links –

For information on Theodore W. Allen's "The Invention of the White Race" Vol 1: Racial Oppression and Social Control (Verso Books) CLICK HERE and for Vol. 2: The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America CLICK HERE

For additional writings by and about Theodore W. Allen CLICK HERE

For a video presentation on Theodore W. Allen's "The Invention of the White Race," which draws insights from the life and work of Hubert Harrison CLICK HERE

For key insights from Theodore W. Allen on U.S. Labor History CLICK HERE

Go to the following link to read Jeffrey B. Perry, "The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy"

For information on Jeffrey B. Perry CLICK HERE

For Videos of the Slide Presentation/Talks in the series “Hubert Harrison, Theodore W. Allen, and the Centrality of the Struggle Against White Supremacy” by Jeffrey B. Perry see


1. "Hubert Harrison, Theodore W. Allen, and the Centrality of the Struggle Against White Supremacy," by Jeffrey B. Perry, Slide Presentation/Talk at The Commons, Brooklyn NY, July 26, 2014

2. “Hubert Harrison, St. Croix, Early Years in New York, and Black Working Class Intellectual Circles (1883-1910)," by Jeffrey B. Perry, Slide Presentation/Talk at The Commons, Brooklyn NY, August 2, 2014

3. “Hubert Harrison, the Socialist Party, the Founding of the 'New Negro Movement,' and the Liberty Congress (1911-1918)," by Jeffrey B. Perry, Slide Presentation/Talk at The Commons, Brooklyn NY, August 9, 2014

4. “Theodore W. Allen, 'White Skin Privilege,' 'The Invention of the White Race,' and the Centrality of the Struggle Against White Supremacy,"[Part 1] by Jeffrey B. Perry, Slide Presentation/Talk at The Commons, Brooklyn NY, August 16, 2014

5. “Theodore W. Allen, 'White Skin Privilege,' 'The Invention of the White Race,' and the Centrality of the Struggle Against White Supremacy," [Part 2] by Jeffrey B. Perry, Slide Presentation/Talk at The Commons, Brooklyn NY, September 6, 2014

Theodore W. Allen
Offers Key Writings for the Study of U.S. Labor History
by Jeffrey B. Perry

April 7, 2014

Tags: Labor History, working-class, Theodore W. Allen, The Invention of the White Race, Verso Books, Toward a Revolution in Labor History, Jeffrey B. Perry, The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy, Cultural Logic, labor historians, African American, bond-laborers, proletarians, class-conscious, anti-white supremacist, counter-narrative, re-interpretation, white labor apology, slavery in Anglo-America as capitalism, slaveholders as capitalists, enslaved laborers as proletarians, capitalist, racial slavery, means of production, plantations, non-owners, alienation of labor power, commodities, capital, plantation bourgeoisie, slaves, proletarians, chattel bond-labor, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Lewis C. Gray, Roger W. Shugg, Hubert Harrison, David Roediger, Winthrop D. Jordan, Eric Williams, C. L. R. James, Caribbean, Karl Marx, surplus-value, Civil War, free wage-labor, Negroes, wage labor, labor-power, commodity, labor power, Abraham Lincoln, International Socialist Review, essentially proletarian, most throroughly exploited, proletariat, duty of the party, crucial test, Socialism, kernel and the meaning, labor movement, chattel bond-laborers, white blindspot, labor historians, heterogeneity, safety valve, homesteading, social mobility, relative shortage of labor, pure and simple trade unionism, classical consensus, Frederick Engels, proletarian revolution, Frederick A. Sorge, Frederick Jackson Turner, Richard T. Ely, Christian Socialist, Morris Hillquit, Socialist Party, John R. Commons, Selig Perlman, A Theory of the Labor Movement, Mary Beard, Charles A. Beard, William Z. Foster, communism, American exceptionalism, white-blindness, white supremacism, white skin privilege, main retardant, white supremacy, white race, majoritarian democratic facade, main barrier, incubus of white identity, European-American, free land safety valve theory, railroads, mining companies, land companies, speculators, homesteading, heterogeneity, industrial unions, workers party, language problem, Exodus of 1879, 1877, Haymarket, 1886, Pullman strike, 1894, Populists, the South, Middle Western farmers, sit down strikes, industrial unionism, workers and poor farmers, Free land, constitutional liberties, immigration, high wages, social mobility, aristocracy of labor, white skin privileges

Those studying of US Labor History would do well to include writings by and about the independent, working-class scholar Theodore W. Allen (1919-2005), especially as put forth in his The Invention of the White Race (2 vols., Verso Books, [1994, 1997], 2012) and his still-to-be-published “Toward a Revolution in Labor History” (2004). (See some of these writings can be found HERE.)

Important insights from Allen’s writings are found in Jeffrey B. Perry, “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” (Cultural Logic July 2010) available online HERE (top left) and HERE . (This article includes links to many writings by Allen.)

Allen contends, that “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.”

In his writings Allen seeks to lay the basis for a class-conscious, anti-white supremacist, counter-narrative of American history. He offers “the groundwork for a total re-interpretation of U.S. history” that he considers to be “unfettered by white labor apology which consistently locates Afro-Americans outside the working class.”

Of major importance is Allen’s analysis of slavery in Anglo-America as capitalism, slaveholders as capitalists, and enslaved laborers as proletarians. In describing “the capitalist development which motored the Anglo-American racial slavery system,” Allen’s historical work shows “that the means of production on the plantations were monopolized by one class,” that “non-owners were reduced to absolute dependence upon the owners and could live only by the alienation of their own labor power to the service of the owning class,” that “the products of the plantation took the form of commodities,” and “that the aim of production was the accumulation and expansion of capital.”

He emphasizes that “slaveholders were capitalists – a plantation bourgeoisie – and the slaves were proletarians.” He also points out that the “proposition that the United States plantation system based on chattel bond-labor was a capitalist operation is a widely recognized principle of political economy” and cites a disparate group of writers including W. E. B. Du Bois, Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Lewis C. Gray, Roger W. Shugg, Hubert Harrison, David Roediger, and Winthrop D. Jordan who have taken this position, and he adds that Eric Williams and C. L. R. James “view Caribbean slavery in this light, as well.”

Allen calls special attention to the fact that Karl Marx invariably treated the American plantation economy as capitalist enterprise and quotes Marx that “The production of surplus-value is the absolute law of this [capitalist – TWA] mode of production.” He similarly quotes Marx that “The overworking of the Negro [bond-laborer – TWA] . . . was no longer a question of obtaining from him a certain quantity of useful products [as in ancient classical slavery – TWA]. It was now a question of the production of surplus-value itself.” Referring to circumstances where both rent and profit go to the owner-employer Marx explained, “Where capitalist conceptions predominate, as they did upon the American plantations, this entire surplus-value is regarded as profit.” Allen also quotes Marx before the Civil War discussing the nature of differential rent and commenting that while free wage-labor is the normal basis of capitalist production, still “the capitalist mode of production exists” in the Anglo-American plantation colonies based on “the slavery of Negroes.”

In the course of his work Allen addresses a question that might be raised – How can slavery be capitalist, since it is not based on wage labor? He responds, “What is historically significant about the wages system is that it is based on the general transformation of labor-power into a commodity, and that in turn is due to the fact that the producers have lost ownership of the means production, and therefore can live only by the sale of their labor power.” He cites Marx’s letter to Lincoln, that the African-American bond-laborer was “sold without his concurrence, while the European-American worker could ‘sell himself,’” and Marx’s statement that “‘the business in which slaves are used [in the United States] is conducted by capitalists,’ and for the same purpose, the accumulation of capital by the extraction of surplus value from the exploitation of commodity-producing labor.”

Allen notes, “the bond-labor form was a contradiction of the basic requisites of general capitalist development – a contradiction that was purged away in the Civil War,” but emphasizes that “[for] a time that form of labor was not a barrier to rapid capitalist accumulation, but its main engine.”

On the topic of slaveholders as capitalists and the enslaved laborers as proletarians Allen quotes from Hubert Harrison in the 1912 International Socialist Review that “The . . . Negroes of America form a group that is more essentially proletarian than any other American group.” Allen adds that in “a presumed reference to African American bond-laborers” Harrison wrote, “the Negro was at one period the most thoroughly exploited of the American proletariat.” After quoting Harrison’s statements that “the duty of the [Socialist] party to champion his [the African American’s] cause is as clear as day” and “this is the crucial test of Socialism's sincerity,” Allen concludes: “the study of class consciousness, ‘the working people’s consciousness of their interests and of their predicament as a class,’ should start with the recognition of that fact.”

Allen draws a similar conclusion from Du Bois’ discussion of the interests of “the laboring class, black and white, North and South.” Over his last forty years he would often cite, and add emphasis to, Du Bois’ seminal words that “the [white] labor movement, with but few exceptions, . . . never had the intelligence or knowledge, as a whole, to see in black slavery and Reconstruction, the kernel and the meaning of the labor movement in the United States.

For Allen, this insight expressed by Du Bois was “a basis . . . for understanding and applying the general Marxist principles in assessing the interests of American labor and the state of American labor’s consciousness of those interests.” As Allen explained:

"Given this understanding of slavery in Anglo-America as capitalism, and of the slaveholders as capitalists, it follows that the chattel bond-laborers were proletarians. Accordingly, the study of class consciousness as a sense the American workers have of their own class interests, must start with recognition of that fact. But historians guided by the white blindspot have, in effect, defined the United States working class as an essentially European-American grouping. In doing so they have ignored or, at best, marginalized the propertyless African-American plantation workers, the exploitation of whose surplus value-producing labor was also the basis of capital accumulation for the employers of those workers."

Also of great importance is Allen’s historical research in which he challenged (almost 50 years ago) what he described as the prevailing consensus among left and labor historians, a consensus that attributed the low level of class consciousness among American workers to such factors as the early development of civil liberties, the heterogeneity of the work force, the safety valve of homesteading opportunities in the west, the ease of social mobility, the relative shortage of labor, and the early development of “pure and simple trade unionism.”

He argued that the “classical consensus on the subject” was the product of the efforts of such writers as Frederick Engels, “co-founder with Karl Marx of the very theory of proletarian revolution”; Frederick A. Sorge, “main correspondent of Marx and Engels in the United States” and a socialist and labor activist for almost sixty years; Frederick Jackson Turner, giant of U.S. history; Richard T. Ely, Christian Socialist and author of “the first attempt at a labor history in the United States”; Morris Hillquit, founder and leading figure of the Socialist Party for almost two decades; John R. Commons, who, with his associates authored the first comprehensive history of the U.S. labor movement; Selig Perlman, a Commons associate who later authored A Theory of the Labor Movement; Mary Beard and Charles A. Beard, labor and general historians; and William Z. Foster, major figure in the history of U.S. communism with “his analyses of ‘American exceptionalism.’”

Allen challenged this “old consensus” as being “seriously flawed . . . by erroneous assumptions, one-sidedness, exaggeration, and above all, by white-blindness.” He also countered with his own theory that white supremacism, reinforced among European-Americans by “white skin privilege,” was the main retardant of working-class consciousness in the U.S. and that efforts at radical social change should direct principal efforts at challenging the system of white supremacy and “white skin privilege.”

As he further developed his analysis Allen would later add and emphasize that the “white race,” by its all-class form, conceals the operation of the ruling class social control system by providing it with a majoritarian “democratic” facade and that “the main barrier to class consciousness” was “the incubus of ‘white’ identity of the European-American.”

Allen discussed reasons that the six-point rationale had lost much of its force and focused on historical analyses. He noted that the free land safety valve theory had been “thoroughly discredited” for many reasons including that the bulk of the best lands were taken by railroads, mining companies, land companies, and speculators and that the costs of homesteading were prohibitive for eastern wage earners. He similarly pointed out that heterogeneity “may well . . . have brought . . . more strength than weakness to the United States labor and radical movement”; that the “rise of mass, ‘non aristocratic,’ industrial unions has not broken the basic pattern of opposition to a workers party, on the part of the leaders”; and that the “‘language problem’ in labor agitating and organizing never really posed any insurmountable obstacle.”

He then focused on what he described as “two basic and irrefutable themes.” First, whatever the state of class consciousness may have been most of the time, “there have been occasional periods of widespread and violent eruption of radical thought and action on the part of the workers and poor farmers, white and black.” He cited Black labor's valiant Reconstruction struggle; the Exodus of 1879; the “year of violence” in 1877 marked by “fiery revolts at every major terminal point across the country”; the period from “bloody Haymarket” in 1886 to the Pullman strike of 1894 during which “the U.S. army was called upon no less than 328 times to suppress labor's struggles”; the Populists of the same period when Black and white poor farmers “joined hands for an instant in the South” and when Middle Western farmers decided to “raise less corn and more hell!”; and the labor struggles of the 1930's marked by sit down strikes and the establishment of industrial unionism. Allen emphasized that in such times “any proposal to discuss the relative backwardness of the United States workers and poor farmers would have had a ring of unreality.” He reasoned, “if, in such crises, the cause of labor was consistently defeated by force and cooptation; if no permanent advance of class consciousness in the form of a third, anti capitalist, party was achieved . . . there must have been reasons more relevant than ‘free land’ that you couldn't get; ‘free votes’ that you couldn't cast, or couldn't get counted; or ‘high wages’ for jobs you couldn't find or . . . the rest of the standard rationale.”

His second, “irrefutable” theme was that each of the facts of life in the classical consensus had to be “decisively altered when examined in the light of the centrality of the question of white supremacy and of the white skin privileges of the white workers.” He again reasoned, “‘Free land,’ ‘constitutional liberties,’ ‘immigration,’ ‘high wages,’ ‘social mobility,’ ‘aristocracy of labor’” were “all, white skin privileges” and “whatever their effect upon the thinking of white workers may be said to be, the same cannot be claimed in the case of the Negro.”

Theodore W. Allen
Offers Key Writings for the Study of U.S. Labor History
by Jeffrey B. Perry

October 30, 2013

Tags: Labor History, working-class, Theodore W. Allen, The Invention of the White Race, Verso Books, Toward a Revolution in Labor History, Jeffrey B. Perry, The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy, Cultural Logic, labor historians, African American, bond-laborers, proletarians, class-conscious, anti-white supremacist, counter-narrative, re-interpretation, white labor apology, slavery in Anglo-America as capitalism, slaveholders as capitalists, enslaved laborers as proletarians, capitalist, racial slavery, means of production, plantations, non-owners, alienation of labor power, commodities, capital, plantation bourgeoisie, slaves, proletarians, chattel bond-labor, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Lewis C. Gray, Roger W. Shugg, Hubert Harrison, David Roediger, Winthrop D. Jordan, Eric Williams, C. L. R. James, Caribbean, Karl Marx, surplus-value, Civil War, free wage-labor, Negroes, wage labor, labor-power, commodity, labor power, Abraham Lincoln, International Socialist Review, essentially proletarian, most throroughly exploited, proletariat, duty of the party, crucial test, Socialism, kernel and the meaning, labor movement, chattel bond-laborers, white blindspot, labor historians, heterogeneity, safety valve, homesteading, social mobility, relative shortage of labor, pure and simple trade unionism, classical consensus, Frederick Engels, proletarian revolution, Frederick A. Sorge, Frederick Jackson Turner, Richard T. Ely, Christian Socialist, Morris Hillquit, Socialist Party, John R. Commons, Selig Perlman, A Theory of the Labor Movement, Mary Beard, Charles A. Beard, William Z. Foster, communism, American exceptionalism, white-blindness, white supremacism, white skin privilege, main retardant, white supremacy, white race, majoritarian democratic facade, main barrier, incubus of white identity, European-American, free land safety valve theory, railroads, mining companies, land companies, speculators, homesteading, heterogeneity, industrial unions, workers party, language problem, Exodus of 1879, 1877, Haymarket, 1886, Pullman strike, 1894, Populists, the South, Middle Western farmers, sit down strikes, industrial unionism, workers and poor farmers, Free land, constitutional liberties, immigration, high wages, social mobility, aristocracy of labor, white skin privileges

Those studying of US Labor History would do well to include writings by and about the independent, working-class scholar Theodore W. Allen (1919-2005), especially as put forth in his The Invention of the White Race (2 vols., Verso Books, [1994, 1997], 2012) and his still-to-be-published “Toward a Revolution in Labor History” (2004). (See some of these writings can be found HERE.)

Important insights from Allen’s writings are found in Jeffrey B. Perry, “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” (Cultural Logic July 2010) available online HERE (top left) and HERE . (This article includes links to many writings by Allen.)

Allen contends, that “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.”

In his writings Allen seeks to lay the basis for a class-conscious, anti-white supremacist, counter-narrative of American history. He offers “the groundwork for a total re-interpretation of U.S. history” that he considers to be “unfettered by white labor apology which consistently locates Afro-Americans outside the working class.”

Of major importance is Allen’s analysis of slavery in Anglo-America as capitalism, slaveholders as capitalists, and enslaved laborers as proletarians. In describing “the capitalist development which motored the Anglo-American racial slavery system,” Allen’s historical work shows “that the means of production on the plantations were monopolized by one class,” that “non-owners were reduced to absolute dependence upon the owners and could live only by the alienation of their own labor power to the service of the owning class,” that “the products of the plantation took the form of commodities,” and “that the aim of production was the accumulation and expansion of capital.”

He emphasizes that “slaveholders were capitalists – a plantation bourgeoisie – and the slaves were proletarians.” He also points out that the “proposition that the United States plantation system based on chattel bond-labor was a capitalist operation is a widely recognized principle of political economy” and cites a disparate group of writers including W. E. B. Du Bois, Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Lewis C. Gray, Roger W. Shugg, Hubert Harrison, David Roediger, and Winthrop D. Jordan who have taken this position, and he adds that Eric Williams and C. L. R. James “view Caribbean slavery in this light, as well.”

Allen calls special attention to the fact that Karl Marx invariably treated the American plantation economy as capitalist enterprise and quotes Marx that “The production of surplus-value is the absolute law of this [capitalist – TWA] mode of production.” He similarly quotes Marx that “The overworking of the Negro [bond-laborer – TWA] . . . was no longer a question of obtaining from him a certain quantity of useful products [as in ancient classical slavery – TWA]. It was now a question of the production of surplus-value itself.” Referring to circumstances where both rent and profit go to the owner-employer Marx explained, “Where capitalist conceptions predominate, as they did upon the American plantations, this entire surplus-value is regarded as profit.” Allen also quotes Marx before the Civil War discussing the nature of differential rent and commenting that while free wage-labor is the normal basis of capitalist production, still “the capitalist mode of production exists” in the Anglo-American plantation colonies based on “the slavery of Negroes.”

In the course of his work Allen addresses a question that might be raised – How can slavery be capitalist, since it is not based on wage labor? He responds, “What is historically significant about the wages system is that it is based on the general transformation of labor-power into a commodity, and that in turn is due to the fact that the producers have lost ownership of the means production, and therefore can live only by the sale of their labor power.” He cites Marx’s letter to Lincoln, that the African-American bond-laborer was “sold without his concurrence, while the European-American worker could ‘sell himself,’” and Marx’s statement that “‘the business in which slaves are used [in the United States] is conducted by capitalists,’ and for the same purpose, the accumulation of capital by the extraction of surplus value from the exploitation of commodity-producing labor.”

Allen notes, “the bond-labor form was a contradiction of the basic requisites of general capitalist development – a contradiction that was purged away in the Civil War,” but emphasizes that “[for] a time that form of labor was not a barrier to rapid capitalist accumulation, but its main engine.”

On the topic of slaveholders as capitalists and the enslaved laborers as proletarians Allen quotes from Hubert Harrison in the 1912 International Socialist Review that “The . . . Negroes of America form a group that is more essentially proletarian than any other American group.” Allen adds that in “a presumed reference to African American bond-laborers” Harrison wrote, “the Negro was at one period the most thoroughly exploited of the American proletariat.” After quoting Harrison’s statements that “the duty of the [Socialist] party to champion his [the African American’s] cause is as clear as day” and “this is the crucial test of Socialism's sincerity,” Allen concludes: “the study of class consciousness, ‘the working people’s consciousness of their interests and of their predicament as a class,’ should start with the recognition of that fact.”

Allen draws a similar conclusion from Du Bois’ discussion of the interests of “the laboring class, black and white, North and South.” Over his last forty years he would often cite, and add emphasis to, Du Bois’ seminal words that “the [white] labor movement, with but few exceptions, . . . never had the intelligence or knowledge, as a whole, to see in black slavery and Reconstruction, the kernel and the meaning of the labor movement in the United States.

For Allen, this insight expressed by Du Bois was “a basis . . . for understanding and applying the general Marxist principles in assessing the interests of American labor and the state of American labor’s consciousness of those interests.” As Allen explained:

"Given this understanding of slavery in Anglo-America as capitalism, and of the slaveholders as capitalists, it follows that the chattel bond-laborers were proletarians. Accordingly, the study of class consciousness as a sense the American workers have of their own class interests, must start with recognition of that fact. But historians guided by the white blindspot have, in effect, defined the United States working class as an essentially European-American grouping. In doing so they have ignored or, at best, marginalized the propertyless African-American plantation workers, the exploitation of whose surplus value-producing labor was also the basis of capital accumulation for the employers of those workers."

Also of great importance is Allen’s historical research in which he challenged (almost 50 years ago) what he described as the prevailing consensus among left and labor historians, a consensus that attributed the low level of class consciousness among American workers to such factors as the early development of civil liberties, the heterogeneity of the work force, the safety valve of homesteading opportunities in the west, the ease of social mobility, the relative shortage of labor, and the early development of “pure and simple trade unionism.”

He argued that the “classical consensus on the subject” was the product of the efforts of such writers as Frederick Engels, “co-founder with Karl Marx of the very theory of proletarian revolution”; Frederick A. Sorge, “main correspondent of Marx and Engels in the United States” and a socialist and labor activist for almost sixty years; Frederick Jackson Turner, giant of U.S. history; Richard T. Ely, Christian Socialist and author of “the first attempt at a labor history in the United States”; Morris Hillquit, founder and leading figure of the Socialist Party for almost two decades; John R. Commons, who, with his associates authored the first comprehensive history of the U.S. labor movement; Selig Perlman, a Commons associate who later authored A Theory of the Labor Movement; Mary Beard and Charles A. Beard, labor and general historians; and William Z. Foster, major figure in the history of U.S. communism with “his analyses of ‘American exceptionalism.’”

Allen challenged this “old consensus” as being “seriously flawed . . . by erroneous assumptions, one-sidedness, exaggeration, and above all, by white-blindness.” He also countered with his own theory that white supremacism, reinforced among European-Americans by “white skin privilege,” was the main retardant of working-class consciousness in the U.S. and that efforts at radical social change should direct principal efforts at challenging the system of white supremacy and “white skin privilege.”

As he further developed his analysis Allen would later add and emphasize that the “white race,” by its all-class form, conceals the operation of the ruling class social control system by providing it with a majoritarian “democratic” facade and that “the main barrier to class consciousness” was “the incubus of ‘white’ identity of the European-American.”

Allen discussed reasons that the six-point rationale had lost much of its force and focused on historical analyses. He noted that the free land safety valve theory had been “thoroughly discredited” for many reasons including that the bulk of the best lands were taken by railroads, mining companies, land companies, and speculators and that the costs of homesteading were prohibitive for eastern wage earners. He similarly pointed out that heterogeneity “may well . . . have brought . . . more strength than weakness to the United States labor and radical movement”; that the “rise of mass, ‘non aristocratic,’ industrial unions has not broken the basic pattern of opposition to a workers party, on the part of the leaders”; and that the “‘language problem’ in labor agitating and organizing never really posed any insurmountable obstacle.”

He then focused on what he described as “two basic and irrefutable themes.” First, whatever the state of class consciousness may have been most of the time, “there have been occasional periods of widespread and violent eruption of radical thought and action on the part of the workers and poor farmers, white and black.” He cited Black labor's valiant Reconstruction struggle; the Exodus of 1879; the “year of violence” in 1877 marked by “fiery revolts at every major terminal point across the country”; the period from “bloody Haymarket” in 1886 to the Pullman strike of 1894 during which “the U.S. army was called upon no less than 328 times to suppress labor's struggles”; the Populists of the same period when Black and white poor farmers “joined hands for an instant in the South” and when Middle Western farmers decided to “raise less corn and more hell!”; and the labor struggles of the 1930's marked by sit down strikes and the establishment of industrial unionism. Allen emphasized that in such times “any proposal to discuss the relative backwardness of the United States workers and poor farmers would have had a ring of unreality.” He reasoned, “if, in such crises, the cause of labor was consistently defeated by force and cooptation; if no permanent advance of class consciousness in the form of a third, anti capitalist, party was achieved . . . there must have been reasons more relevant than ‘free land’ that you couldn't get; ‘free votes’ that you couldn't cast, or couldn't get counted; or ‘high wages’ for jobs you couldn't find or . . . the rest of the standard rationale.”

His second, “irrefutable” theme was that each of the facts of life in the classical consensus had to be “decisively altered when examined in the light of the centrality of the question of white supremacy and of the white skin privileges of the white workers.” He again reasoned, “‘Free land,’ ‘constitutional liberties,’ ‘immigration,’ ‘high wages,’ ‘social mobility,’ ‘aristocracy of labor’” were “all, white skin privileges” and “whatever their effect upon the thinking of white workers may be said to be, the same cannot be claimed in the case of the Negro.”

Brief Comments on the Importance of the Work of
Theodore W. Allen
author of
The Invention of the White Race
by Jeffrey B. Perry

September 25, 2013

Tags: Theodore W. Allen, The Invention of the White Race, Verso Books, The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America, Racial Oppression and Social Control, Carl Degler, Winthrop D. Jordan, Oscar and Mary Handlin, Eric Williams, Timothy Breen, Slavery, Racism, and Democracy, Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom, The Wages of Whiteness, Cultural Logic, Jeffrey B. Perry, The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights from Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen On the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy, Frederick Engels, Frederick A. Sorge, Frederick Jackson Turner, Richard T. Ely, Morris Hillquit, John R. Commons, Selig Perlman, Mary Ritter Beard, Charles A. Beard, William Z. Foster, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Lewis C. Gray, Roger W. Shugg, Hubert Harrison, David Roediger, Winthrop D. Jordan, Edmund S. Morgan, Eric Williams, C. L. R. James, Norman Ware, Herman Schlueter, Philip S. Foner, Harry Heywood, James S. Allen, Sol Auerbach, Toward a Revolution in Labor History

I strongly encourage people who want to know what Theodore W. Allen’s The Invention of the White Race” is about to read it in the original.

His two-volume “classic” is approximately 800 pages including some 30% notes and appendices. It includes voluminous primary research conducted over thirty years and offers profound and compelling theses. He knows the contending arguments, he tries to treat those positions seriously and in their best light, and he refers readers back to detailed and specific sources so they can investigate for themselves. It is high quality and very principled scholarship.

Allen has also provided a very helpful Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race

The new expanded 2012 Verso Books edition of The Invention of the White Race includes introductions to each volume, background on Allen and his work, internal study guides, and significantly expanded indexes (especially the index to vol. 2 on The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America).

Allen’s “Introduction” to Volume 1: Racial Oppression and Social Control discusses his work in relation to that of Carl Degler, Winthrop D. Jordan, Oscar and Mary Handlin, Eric Williams, Edmund S. Morgan, Timothy Breen, and others.

The following two reviews by Allen are particularly important --

1) Theodore William Allen, “Slavery, Racism, and Democracy," Review of Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1974). Monthly Review 29, no. 10 (March 1978): 57-63.
2) Theodore W. Allen, "On Roediger's Wages of Whiteness," Cultural Logic, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Spring 2001)

Strongly recommended for understanding the development of Allen’s thought is “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights from Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen On the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy,” in "Cultural Logic" (2010) available in pdf format at the top left HERE and also available at Cultural Logic (2010), especially pages 1-6, 8-12, 26, 30-113.

"The Developing Conjuncture . . ." offers some of Allen’s thoughts on work by labor and left historians and writers on history including Frederick Engels, Frederick A. Sorge, Frederick Jackson Turner, Richard T. Ely, Morris Hillquit, John R. Commons, Selig Perlman, Mary Ritter Beard, Charles A. Beard, William Z. Foster, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Lewis C. Gray, Roger W. Shugg, Hubert Harrison, David Roediger, Winthrop D. Jordan, Edmund S. Morgan, Eric Williams, C. L. R. James, Norman Ware, Herman Schlueter, Philip S. Foner, Harry Heywood, and “James S. Allen” [Sol Auerbach]. Of particular interest are Allen’s thoughts from his unpublished “Toward a Revolution in Labor History.”

A number of additional writings by and about Allen can be found HERE!

Hubert H. Harrison, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Theodore W. Allen
Important Building Blocks "Toward a Revolution in U.S. Labor History"

May 2, 2013

Tags: Hubert H. Harrison, W. E. B. Du Bois, Theodore W. Allen, Toward a Revolution in U.S. Labor History



“The ten million Negroes of America form a group that is more essentially proletarian than any other American group . . . and the Negro was . . . [under slavery] the most thoroughly exploited of the American proletariat, . . . the most thoroughly despised.”
Hubert Harrison
“Socialism and the Negro,” International Socialist Review, 1912
[The Developing Conjuncture top left]



“The South, after the [Civil] war, presented the greatest opportunity for a real national labor movement which the nation ever saw or is likely to see for many decades. Yet the [white] labor movement, with but few exceptions, never realized the situation. It never had the intelligence or knowledge, as a whole, to see in black slavery and Reconstruction, the kernel and the meaning of the labor movement in the United States.”
W.E.B. Du Bois
Black Reconstruction, 1935


“Given this understanding of slavery in Anglo-America as capitalism, and of the slaveholders as capitalists, it follows that the chattel bond-laborers were proletarians. Accordingly, the study of class consciousness as a sense the American workers have of their own class interests, must start with recognition of that fact.”
Theodore W. Allen
On Roediger’s The Wages of Whiteness, 2001



Slavery as Capitalism, Slaveholders as Capitalists, Enslaved as Proletarians

January 19, 2012

Tags: Slavery as Capitalism, Slaveholders as Capitalists, Enslaved as Proletarians, Theodore W. Allen, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Lewis C. Gray, Roger W. Shugg, Hubert Harrison, David Roediger, Winthrop D. Jordan, Eric Williams, C. L. R. James

In his writings [Theodore W.] Allen sought to lay the basis for a class-conscious, anti-white-supremacist, counter narrative of American history. He offered “the groundwork for a total re-interpretation of U.S. history” that he felt was “unfettered by white labor apology which consistently locates Afro-Americans outside the working class.” This “new and consistent interpretation of colonial history and the origin of racial slavery” would, he believed, have significant implications “for interpreting all subsequent periods” of United States history.

Of major importance in this counter-narrative is Allen’s analysis of slavery as capitalism, slaveholders as capitalists, and the enslaved as proletarians. In describing “the capitalist development which motored the Anglo-American racial slavery system,” Allen’s historical work shows “that the means of production on the plantations were monopolized by one class,” that “non-owners were reduced to absolute dependence upon the owners and could live only by the alienation of their own labor power to the service of the owning class,” that “the products of the plantation took the form of commodities,” and “that the aim of production was the accumulation and expansion of capital.” He emphasizes that “slaveholders were capitalists – a plantation bourgeoisie – and the slaves were proletarians.” He also points out that the “proposition that the United States plantation system based on chattel bond-labor was a capitalist operation is a widely recognized principle of political economy,” he cites a disparate group of writers including “view Caribbean slavery in this light, as well.”

Allen calls special attention to the fact that Karl Marx invariably treated the American plantation economy as capitalist enterprise and quotes Marx that “The production of surplus-value is the absolute law of this [capitalist – TWA] mode of production.” He similarly quotes Marx that “The overworking of the Negro [bond-laborer – TWA] . . . was no longer a question of obtaining from him a certain quantity of useful products [as in ancient classical slavery – TWA]. It was now a question of the production of surplus-value itself.” Referring to circumstances where both rent and profit go to the owner-employer Marx explained, “Where capitalist conceptions predominate, as they did upon the American plantations, this entire surplus-value is regarded as profit.” Finally, Allen quotes Marx before the Civil War discussing the nature of differential rent and commenting that while free wage-labor is the normal basis of capitalist production, still “the capitalist mode of production exists” in the Anglo-American plantation colonies based on “the slavery of Negroes.”

In the course of his work Allen addresses a question that might be raised – How can slavery be capitalist, since it is not based on wage labor? He responds, “What is historically significant about the wages system is that is based on the general transformation of labor-power into a commodity, and that in turn is due to the fact that the producers have lost ownership of the means production, and therefore can live only by the sale of their labor power.” He cites Marx’s letter to Lincoln, that the African-American bond-laborer was “sold without his concurrence, while the European-American worker could ‘sell himself,’” and Marx’s statement that “‘the business in which slaves are used [in the United States] is conducted by capitalists,’ and for the same purpose, the accumulation of capital by the extraction of surplus value from the exploitation of commodity-producing labor.” He notes, “the bond-labor form was a contradiction of the basic requisites of general capitalist development – a contradiction that was purged away in the Civil War,” but emphasizes that “[for] a time that form of labor was not a barrier to rapid capitalist accumulation, but its main engine.”

(For more on this topic, including footnotes, see “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” (“Cultural Logic,” 2010) by Jeffrey B. Perry at http://www.jeffreybperry.net/works.htm (top left)

Hubert Harrison, W. E. B. Du Bois, Theodore W. Allen, "dust in the eyes," "Blindspot in the eyes of America," "White Blindspot" Concept

August 11, 2011

Tags: Hubert Harrison, W. E. B. Du Bois, Theodore W. Allen, "dust in the eyes, " "Blindspot in the eyes of America, " "White Blindspot"

“As long as the Color Line exists, . . . The cant of ‘Democracy’ is intended as dust in the eyes of white voters . . . It furnishes bait for the clever statesmen.”
--Hubert Harrison--
--New Negro, 1919--

“It is only the Blindspot in the eyes of America, and its historians, that can overlook and misread so clean and encouraging a chapter of human struggle and human uplift [as Black Reconstruction].”
--W.E.B. Du Bois--
--Black Reconstruction, 1935--

“All the while their white blindspot prevents them from seeing what we are talking about is . . . the ‘white question,’ the white question of questions - the centrality of the problem of white supremacy and the white-skin privilege which have historically frustrated the struggle for democracy, progress and socialism in the US.”
--Theodore W. Allen--
--“White Blindspot,” 1967--

Hubert Harrison, "the crucial test of socialism's sincerity" and W. E. B. Du Bois, "the great test of the American socialists"

August 9, 2011

Tags: Hubert Harrison, the crucial test of socialism's sincerity, W. E. B. Du Bois, great test of the American socialists

“ . . . the mission of the Socialist Party is to free the working class from exploitation, and . . . the duty of the party to champion . . .[the "Negro’s"] cause is as clear as day. This is the crucial test of Socialism’s sincerity.”
-- Hubert Harrison --
-- “Socialism and the Negro,” "International Socialist Review," 1912 --

"The Negro problem, then, is the great test of the American socialists.”
-- W.E.B. Du Bois --
-- “Socialism and the Negro Problem,” "The New Review," 1913 --

Letter on Hubert Harrison and W. E. B. Du Bois posted.

November 30, 2010

Tags: Hubert Harrison, W. E. B. Du Bois, Race and Racism, Socialist Worker, Jeffrey B. Perry, International Socialist Organization, Paul D'Amato

My November 18 letter to the editor on Hubert Harrison and W.E.B. Du Bois was published today (November 30, 2010) by Socialist Worker.Org http://socialistworker.org/2010/11/30/response-on-race-and-racism . I commend the International Socialist Organization and editor Paul D'Amato for publishing this. Both my letter and the article it responds to are parts of an overall effort to deepen our collective understanding.

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

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