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Jeffrey B. Perry Blog

Theodore W. Allen's "The Invention of the White Race" -- Tonight “Racial Oppression and Social Control”

The Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen Society is hosting a presentation by Jeffrey B. Perry on Theodore W. Allen's "The Invention of the White Race" (new expanded edition Verso Books, 2012) tonight Friday, March 1, 2013, 7:30 PM at the Brecht Forum, 451 West St., NYC. Tonight’s discussion will focus on Volume 1: “Racial Oppression and Social Control.” Come and bring a friend! Open to the public! For more information -- CLICK HERE Read More 
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"Slavery in All But Name"

“Slavery in All But Name”
from Theodore W. Allen
The Invention of the White Race
Vol. I: Racial Oppression and Social Control
(1994; Verso Books, Nov. 2012), p. 144


The Material Basis for the Abandonment of Reconstruction

Just as the British ruling class had come to accept the necessity of involving the Catholic bourgeoisie in Ireland in the maintenance of social control; so the Northern bourgeoisie, though only for a limited period of time as it turned out, “made him [the Negro] a part of the state,” as the investigative journalist Charles Nordhoff wrote. “If the North had not given the negroes suffrage,” a Southern Democrat confided to him, “it would have had to hold our states under an exclusively military government for ten years.” John Pool, a Republican Senator from North Carolina, said he “accepted the necessity of Negro suffrage only reluctantly, as the only means by which the country could be “nationalized.” The country was in fact in a material sense “nationalized” by other agencies. In 1867, Abilene, Kansas became the railroad loading point for cattle driven up the Chisholm Trail from Texas, intended for northern and eastern markets. Two years later, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads met at Promontory Point in Utah completing the transcontinental steel spine of United States industrial capitalism. Thus were doomed the hopes of the slave bourgeoisie beyond all appeals to ink or blood. The Northern bourgeoisie, its hegemony in national affairs thus undergirded, signified its acceptance of post-Emancipation racial oppression by abandoning Reconstruction. The subsequent white supremacist system in the South was established, not by civil means, but by nightrider terror and one-sided “riots” in order to deprive African-Americans of their Constitutional rights, reducing them again, by debt peonage and prisoner-leasing, to a status that was slavery in all but name. Read More 
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Slide Presentation/Book Talk on "The Invention of the White Race, Social Control, and The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America” -- Talk by Jeffrey B. Perry based on the work of Theodore W. Allen

Slide Presentation/Book Talk on
"The Invention of the White Race, Social Control, and The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America”
A presentation by Jeffrey B. Perry
based on the new, expanded edition of
Theodore W. Allen’s The Invention of the White Race
For information on hosting a slide presentation/book talk contact jeffreybperry@gmail.com

Theodore W. Allen’s The Invention of the White Race, with its focus on racial oppression and social control, is one of the twentieth-century’s major contributions to historical understanding. Its two volumes (Racial Oppression and Social Control and The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America) emphasize the centrality of struggle against white supremacy to efforts at social change and present a full-scale challenge to what Allen refers to as “The Great White Assumption” – “the unquestioning, indeed unthinking acceptance of the ‘white’ identity of European-Americans of all classes as a natural attribute rather than a social construct.”

Readers of the first edition of The Invention of the White Race (in 1994) were startled by Allen’s bold assertion on the back cover: “When the first Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, there were no ‘white’ people there; nor, according to the colonial records, would there be for another sixty years.” That statement, based on twenty-plus years of research of Virginia’s colonial records, reflected the fact that Allen found “no instance of the official use of the word ‘white’ as a token of social status” prior to its appearance in a Virginia law passed in 1691. As he later explained, “Others living in the colony at that time were English; they had been English when they left England, and naturally they and their Virginia-born children were English, they were not ‘white.’ White identity had to be carefully taught, and it would be only after the passage of some six crucial decades” that the word “would appear as a synonym for European-American.”

Allen was not merely speaking of word usage, however. His probing research led him to conclude – based on the commonality of experience and demonstrated solidarity between African-American and European-American laboring people, the lack of a substantial intermediate buffer social control stratum, and the indeterminate status of African-Americans – that the “white race” was not, and could not have been, functioning in early Virginia.

It is in the context of such findings that he offers his major thesis – that the “white race” was invented as a ruling class social control formation in response to labor solidarity as manifested in the later, civil war stages of Bacon's Rebellion (1676-77). To this he adds two important corollaries: 1) the ruling elite deliberately instituted a system of racial privileges to define and maintain the “white race” and implement a system of “racial oppression” and 2) the consequences were not only ruinous to African-Americans, they were also “disastrous” for European-American workers.

In the course of discussing these topics Allen, in Volume I, reviews the history of the debate over "Which came first – racism or slavery?" He uses the mirror of Irish history for a definition of racial oppression and for an explanation of the phenomenon in terms of social control, rather than phenotype, or classification by complexion. Compelling analogies are presented between the oppression of the Irish, in Ireland, and white supremacist oppression of Indians and African-Americans. Examples are offered to show that racial oppression is a deliberate ruling-class social control policy that differs from national oppression in terms of the recruitment of the intermediate social control buffer. Examination of similarities and differences in the social control systems developed in the Anglo-American plantation colonies, the Anglo-Caribbean, and Ireland show how racial oppression may, or may not be, replaced by national oppression under the same ruling class. In addition, Allen shows the “relativity of race” in the “sea-change” by which Irish haters of racial oppression in Ireland were transformed into opponents of Abolitionism and supporters of racial oppression in America.

With the conceptual groundwork laid, free of the “White Blindspot,” Allen focuses, in Volume Two, on the plantation colonies of Anglo-America during the period from the founding of Jamestown to the cancellation of the original ban on slavery in the colony of Georgia in 1750. He pays particular attention to the pivotal events of Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 and the 1705 revisal of Virginia laws, particularly the “Act concerning Servants and Slaves.” He also discusses the English background, the origin and peculiarities of Virginia’s original plantation labor supply, and the implications for the evolution of the bond-labor system in Anglo-America; why the Spanish example could not be followed in regard to the labor force; the consequence of the economic addiction to tobacco; the chattellization of labor; the oppression and resistance of the bond-laborers, African-Americans and European-Americans, together; the growing interest on the part of the Anglo-American continental plantation bourgeoisie in reducing African-Americans to lifetime, hereditary bond-servitude; the John Punch and Elizabeth Key cases; the divided mind of the English law on the enslavability of Christians; the sharpening class struggle - in the absence of a system of racial oppression - between the plantation elite on the one hand, and the debt-burdened small planters and the majority of the economically productive population, the bond-laborers, three-fourths English, one-fourth African-American; the dispute over “Indian policy” between “frontier” planters and the ruling elite; the eruption of the social contradictions in Bacon’s Rebellion, in which the main rebel force came to be made up of English and African-American bond-laborers, together demanding an end to bond-servitude; the defeat of the rebels, followed by a period of continued instability of social control; apprehension of a recurrence of rebellion; the social control-problem in attempting to exploit newly-gained African sources of labor by reducing African-Americans to life-time, hereditary bondage, especially considering the refuge available for escaping bond-laborers in the mountains at the back of the colonies, and in a continent beyond; the invention of the white race - as the solution to the problem of social control, its failure in the British West Indies, its establishment in the continental plantation colonies, signaled by the enactment of “Act concerning Servants and Slaves,” which formally instituted the system of privileges for European-Americans, of even the lowest social status, vis-à-vis any person of any degree of African ancestry, not only bond-laborers, but “free Negroes,” as well; the remolding of male supremacy as white-male supremacy as an essential element of the system of white-skin privileges; the creation of white male privileges with regard to African-American women; and how the “Ordeal of Colonial Virginia” gave birth to the Ordeal of America.

Invention’s thesis on the origin and nature of the “white race” and the origin of the system of racial oppression in Anglo-America contains the root of a new and radical approach to United States history, one that challenges master narratives taught in the media and in schools, colleges, and universities. With its egalitarian motif, focus on class struggle, and emphasis on the centrality of struggle against white supremacy it contributes significantly to our understanding of American History, African American History, and Labor History and speaks to people today who strive for change worldwide. Its influence will continue to grow in the twenty-first century.
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Just Published -- The New Expanded Edition of "The Invention of the White Race" (2 vols.) by Theodore W. Allen. Introduction by Jeffrey B. Perry. From Verso Books.



To assist individual readers, classes, and study groups this new expanded edition of Allen’s seminal two-volume "classic" includes new introductions, new appendices with background on Allen and his writings, expanded indexes, and new internal study guides. The study guides follow each volume, chapter-by-chapter, and the indexes also include entries from Allen's extensive notes based on twenty years of primary research.

Please read the extraordinary praise from such scholars and labor, left, and anti-white supremacist activists activists as Audrey Smedley, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Tim Wise, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Gene Bruskin, Tami Gold, Muriel Tillinghast, Joe Berry, George Schmidt, Noel Inatiev, Carl Davidson, Mark Solomon, Gerald Horne, Dorothy Salem, Wilson Moses, David Roediger Joe Wilson, Charles Lumpkins, Michael Zweig, Margery Freeman, Michael Goldfield, Spencer Sunshine, Ed Peeples, Russell Dale, Gwen-Midlo Hall, Sean Ahern, Sam Anderson, Gregory Meyerson, Younes Abouyoub, Peter Bohmer, Dennis O’Neill, Ted Pearson, Juliet Ucelli, Stella Winston, Sean J. Connolly, Vivien Sandlund, Dave Marsh, Russell R. Menard, Jonathan Scott, John D. Brewer, Richard Williams, William L. Vanderburg, Rodney Barker, and Matthew Frye Jacobson. Click Here to read these comments

Table of Contents for Vol. 2
"The Invention of the White Race: The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America"


Introduction to the Second Edition [by Jeffrey B. Perry]

PART ONE: Labor Problems of the European Colonizing Powers
1. The Labor Supply Problem: England a Special Case
2. English Background, with Anglo-American Variations Noted
3. Euro-Indian Relations and the Problem of Social Control

PART TWO: The Plantation of Bondage
4. The Fateful Edition to “Present Profit”
5. The Massacre of the Tenantry
6. Bricks without Straw: Bondage, but No Intermediate Stratum

PART THREE: Road to Rebellion
7. Bond-Labor: Enduring . . .
8. . . . and Resisting
9. The Insubstantiality of the Intermediate Stratum
10. The Status of African-Americans

PART FOUR: Rebellion and Reaction
11. Rebellion – And Its Aftermath
12. The Abortion of the “White Race” Social Control System in the Anglo-Caribbean
13. The Invention of the White Race – and the Ordeal of America

Appendices
Appendix II-A: (see Chapter 1, note 64 [re “Maroon communities” in the Americas])
Appendix II-B: (see Chapter 2, note 6 [re Wat Tyler’s Rebellion])
Appendix II-C: (see Chapter 5, note 46 [re the “‘cheap commodity’ strategy for capitalist conquest and William Bullock])
Appendix II-D: (see Chapter 7, note 197 [re the bond-labor system])
Appendix II-E: (see Chapter 9, note 54 [re reduction in the supply of persons in England “available for bond-labor in the plantation colonies”])
Appendix F: (see Chapter 13, note 26 [re William Gooch and the discussion of white supremacy among the ruling classes in eighteenth-century Virginia])
Editor’s Appendix G: A Guide to “The Invention of the White Race” Volume II
Editor’s Appendix H: Select Bibliography on Theodore W. Allen

Notes
Index [Newly Expanded]

This new edition of "The Invention of the White Race" is essential reading for those interested in matters of race and class, for study groups, and for classes. The volumes make especially thoughtful gifts for loved ones, friends, and co-workers.

Please encourage public librarians and school librarians to order these new editions so they are available for others to read!

The volumes are available directly from Verso Books Click Here

They are also available on special discount (including both volumes shrinkwrapped) from Amazon Click Here

For the initial price for a shrinkwrapped set of both volumes at Barnes and Noble Click Here

Table of Contents for Volume I

“The Invention of the White Race: Racial Oppression and Social Control”


Acknowledgements
Introduction to the Second Edition [by Jeffrey B. Perry]
Introduction
1. The Anatomy of Racial Oppression
2. Social Control and the Intermediate Strata: Ireland
3. Protestant Ascendancy and White Supremacy
4. Social Control: From Racial to National Oppression
5. Ulster
6. Anglo-America: Ulster Writ Large
7. The Sea-change
8. How the Sea-change was Wrought
Appendices
Appendix A: (see Introduction, note 46 [re intermarriage])
Appendix B: (see Introduction, note 46 [re “cheaper labor” rationale])
Appendix C: (see Chapter 1, note 58 and Chapter 2 note 51 [re Africans’ strength as a limit to English colonization])
Appendix D: (see Chapter 2, notes 42 and 73 [re English Plantations in Ireland as “response to rebellion”])
Appendix E: (see Chapter 2, note 58 [re England on threshold of its career as a world colonial power, with Ireland as its first objective”])
Appendix F: (see Chapter 2, note 77 [re Mountjoy’s “starvation strategy” for Ireland])
Appendix G: (see Chapter 2, note 108 [re “social control policies of the Western colonizing powers”])
Appendix H: (see Chapter 3, note 8 [re “Scottish slavery”])
Appendix I: (see Chapter 3, note 46 [re relative cost differential of English and Irish common labor greater than differential between wage-labor and bond-labor in continental Anglo-America])
Appendix J: (see Chapter 4, note 107 [re “Daniel O’Connell’s views regarding revolutionary violence in Ireland”])
Appendix K: (see Chapter 7, note 62 [re “The Slave” by Leander (John Hughes)])
Appendix L: (see Chapter 7, note 80 [re “Address from the people of Ireland to their Countrymen and Countrywomen in America”])
Editor’s Appendix M: A Brief Biography of Theodore W. Allen
Editor’s Appendix N: Notes to Encourage Engagement with Volume I
Chronological Finding Aid for Users of this Volume
Notes
Index [Newly Expanded]

Theodore W. Allen’s "The Invention of the White Race," with its focus on racial oppression and social control, is one of the twentieth-century’s major contributions to historical understanding. This two-volume “classic” presents a full-scale challenge to what Allen refers to as “The Great White Assumption” – “the unquestioning, indeed unthinking acceptance of the ‘white’ identity of European-Americans of all classes as a natural attribute rather than a social construct.” Its thesis on the origin and nature of the “white race” contains the root of a new and radical approach to United States history, one that challenges master narratives taught in the media and in schools, colleges, and universities. With its egalitarian motif and emphasis on class struggle it speaks to people today who strive for change worldwide. Its influence will continue to grow in the twenty-first century.

Readers of the first edition of "The Invention of the White Race" were startled by Allen’s bold assertion on the back cover: “When the first Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, there were no ‘white’ people there; nor, according to the colonial records, would there be for another sixty years.” That statement, based on twenty-plus years of research of Virginia’s colonial records, reflected the fact that Allen found “no instance of the official use of the word ‘white’ as a token of social status” prior to its appearance in a Virginia law passed in 1691. As he later explained, “Others living in the colony at that time were English; they had been English when they left England, and naturally they and their Virginia-born children were English, they were not ‘white.’ White identity had to be carefully taught, and it would be only after the passage of some six crucial decades” that the word “would appear as a synonym for European-American.”

Allen was not merely speaking of word usage, however. His probing research led him to conclude – based on the commonality of experience and demonstrated solidarity between African-American and European-American laboring people, the lack of a substantial intermediate buffer social control stratum, and the indeterminate status of African-Americans – that the “white race” was not, and could not have been, functioning in early Virginia.

It is in the context of such findings that he offers his major thesis -- the “white race” was invented as a ruling class social control formation in response to labor solidarity as manifested in the later, civil war stages of Bacon's Rebellion (1676-77). To this he adds two important corollaries: 1) the ruling elite, in its own class interest, deliberately instituted a system of racial privileges to define and maintain the “white race” and implement a system of “racial oppression” and 2) the consequences were not only ruinous to the interests of African-Americans, they were also “disastrous” for European-American workers.

Please share this information with others who might be interested!
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