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Jeffrey B. Perry Blog

Lerone Bennett, Jr. on The Shaping of Black America and Theodore W. Allen on The Invention of the White Race



“Back there, before Jim Crow, before the invention of the . . . white man, and the words or concepts to describe them, the Colonial population consisted largely of a great mass of . . . [European American and African American] bondsmen, who occupied roughly the same economic category and were treated with equal contempt by the lords of the plantation and legislatures. Curiously unconcerned about their color, these people worked together and relaxed together. They had essentially the same interests, the same aspirations, and the same grievances. They conspired together and waged a common struggle against their common enemy – the big planter apparatus and a social system that legalized terror against . . . bondsmen. No one says and no one believes it was a Garden of Eden in Colonial America. But, the available evidence . . . suggests that there were widening bonds of solidarity . . . And the same evidence indicates that it proved very difficult indeed to teach white people to worship their skin.”

Lerone Bennett Jr.
The Shaping of Black America, Chapter 3, “The Road Not Taken,” 1975.

See also Theodore W. Allen, “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. II: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America" [Verso Books] (including comments from scholars and activists and Table of Contents) HERE

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, first published in 1994 and 1997, 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 equalitarian motif and emphasis on class struggle it speaks to people today who strive for change worldwide. Its influence on our understanding of American, African American, and labor history 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 establish 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.

In developing these theses Allen challenges the two main ideological props of white supremacy – the notion that “racism” is innate, and it is therefore useless to struggle against it, and the argument that European-American workers benefit from “white race” privileges and that it is in their interest not to oppose them and not to oppose white supremacy.

His challenge to these ideological props of white supremacy is both historical and theoretical. Allen offers meticulous use of sources, probing analysis of “Racial Oppression and Social Control” (the sub-title of this volume), and important comparative study that includes analogies, parallels, and differences between the Anglo-American plantation colonies, Ireland, and the Anglo-Caribbean colonies. He chooses these examples, all subjected to domination by Anglo ruling elites, in order to show that racial oppression is a system of social control not based on phenotype (skin color, etc.) and to show that social control factors impact how racial oppression begins, is maintained, and can be transformed.

"The Invention of the White Race" is Allen’s magnum opus – he worked on it for over twenty years. Its second volume, subtitled "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America," rigorously details the invention of the “white race” and the development of racial slavery, a particular form of racial oppression, in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Virginia. He claimed, with justification, that the second volume “contains the best of me.”

In Volume II, on "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America," Allen tells the story of the invention of the “white race” in the late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Anglo-American plantation colonies. His primary focus is on the pattern-setting Virginia colony, and he pays special attention to the reduction of tenants and wage-laborers in the majority English labor force to chattel bond-servants in the 1620s. In so doing, he emphasizes that this was a qualitative break from the condition of laborers in England and from long established English labor law, that it was not a feudal carryover, that it was imposed under capitalism, and that it was an essential precondition of the emergence of the lifetime hereditary chattel bond-servitude imposed upon African-American laborers under the system of racial slavery. Allen describes how, throughout much of the seventeenth century, the status of African-Americans was indeterminate (because it was still being fought out) and he details the similarity of conditions for African-American and European-American laborers and bond-servants. He also documents many significant instances of labor solidarity and unrest, especially during the 1660s and 1670s. Most important is his analysis of the civil war stage of Bacon’s Rebellion when "foure hundred English and Negroes in Arms" fought together demanding freedom from bondage.

It was in the period after Bacon's Rebellion that the “white race” was invented as a ruling-class social control formation. Allen describes systematic ruling-class policies, which conferred “white race” privileges on European-Americans while imposing harsher disabilities on African-Americans resulting in a system of racial slavery, a form of racial oppression that also imposed severe racial proscriptions on free African-Americans. He emphasizes that when African-Americans were deprived of their long-held right to vote in Virginia and Governor William Gooch explained in 1735 that the Virginia Assembly had decided upon this curtailment of the franchise in order "to fix a perpetual Brand upon Free Negros & Mulattos," it was not an "unthinking decision." Rather, it was a deliberate act by the plantation bourgeoisie and was a conscious decision in the process of establishing a system of racial oppression, even though it entailed repealing an electoral principle that had existed in Virginia for more than a century.

The key to understanding racial oppression, Allen argues, is in the formation of the intermediate social control buffer stratum, which serves the interests of the ruling class. In the case of racial oppression in Virginia, any persons of discernible non-European ancestry after Bacon's Rebellion were denied a role in the social control buffer group, the bulk of which was made up of laboring-class "whites." In the Anglo-Caribbean, by contrast, under a similar Anglo- ruling elite, "mulattos" were included in the social control stratum and were promoted into middle-class status. For Allen, this was the key to understanding the difference between Virginia’s ruling-class policy of “fixing a perpetual brand” on African-Americans, and the policy of the West Indian planters of formally recognizing the middle-class status “colored” descendant and other Afro-Caribbeans who earned special merit by their service to the regime. This difference, between racial oppression and national oppression, was rooted in a number of social control-related factors, one of the most important of which was that in the West Indies there were “too few” poor and laboring-class Europeans to embody an adequate petit bourgeoisie, while in the continental colonies there were '’too many’' to be accommodated in the ranks of that class.

The references to an “unthinking decision” and “too few” poor and laboring class Europeans are consistent with Allen's repeated efforts to challenge what he considered to be the two main arguments that undermine and disarm the struggle against white supremacy in the working class: (1) the argument that white supremacism is innate, and (2) the argument that European-American workers “benefit” from “white race” privileges and that it is in their interest not to oppose them and not to oppose white supremacy. These two arguments, opposed by Allen, are related to two master historical narratives rooted in writings on the colonial period. The first argument is associated with the “unthinking decision” explanation for the development of racial slavery offered by historian Winthrop D. Jordan in his influential, White Over Black. The second argument is associated with historian Edmund S. Morgan’s similarly influential, American Slavery, American Freedom, which maintains that, as racial slavery developed, “there were too few free poor [European-Americans] on hand to matter.” Allen’s work directly challenges both the “unthinking decision” contention of Jordan and the “too few free poor” contention of Morgan.

Allen convincingly argues that the “white race” privileges conferred by the ruling class on European-Americans were not only ruinous to the interests of African-Americans; they were also against the class interest of European-American workers. He further argues that these “white-skin privileges” are “the incubus that for three centuries has paralyzed” the will of European-American workers “in defense of their class interests vis-à-vis those of the ruling class.”

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Expanded Index for Theodore W. Allen The Invention of the White Race Volume 2: The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America (Draft Index vol.2, part 1)


The Invention of the White Race Vol. 2
For those interested in probing Theodore W. Allen'sThe Invention of the White Race Volume 2: The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America, The Expanded Index (Draft, vol. 2, part 1) may prove useful. More of the expanded indexing for these important volumes will follow.

INDEX
[Vol. II of “The Invention of the White Race”]



1 Edw. VI 3 (1547) Vagrancy Act of 1547 20-23
5 & 6 Edw. VI 5 (1551) Tillage 283n18
43 Eliz. 2, (1601) Poor Law: as social control 24-6; right to pay and to leave employment 26
Abbot, Elizabeth 96
Abolition: abolitionist movement 280n66; of slavery 237, 253
absentee landlords 299nn 59-61
Accomack County 157, 161, 166, 180, 335n22: plot 155, 327n51
“Act concerning Servants and Slaves” (1705) 250-1: and establishment of racial oppression and “white race” 272-4; as ruling class manipulation 253
Act “directing the trial of Slaves . . . and for the better government of Negroes, Mulattos, and Indians bond or free” (1723) 241-2, 250-1
Act of Union of England and Scotland (1707) 349n2
Act repealing ban on slavery in Georgia (1750) 253
Adams, William 156
“Address from the People of Ireland to Their Countrymen and Countrywomen in America”
admiralty-type case 180
adulterie/adultery 129, 288n91, 318nn 85, 89
Adventurers 53-4, 63-4, 109, 206, 299n60
African-American bond-laborers: abuse of 141, 323nn 183, 188; arrivals without indentures 179; in Bacon’s Rebellion, joint struggle with European-American bond-laborers for freedom 211, 248, 346n93, not motivated by anti-Indian interests 330n23; barter by 322n167; bastardy laws and 134; collaboration with European-American bond-laborers in actions against their bondage 148-162, 188, readiness to make common cause 161; colonists fear of, uniting with Indians 42; denied right to bear arms 199; direct action with others by running away 188; Elizabeth Key case 194-9; evangelical questions and objections 191-2; John Punch case 178-80; lifetime chattel bond-servitude imposed on, preceded by chattel bond-servitude of European-Americans 300n67; livestock confiscated 250; marriage and freedom 318n77; Maryland slave-owners deliberately foster marriage of male, to European-American women 134, 320n126; number 123-4, 211, 316n40; plots to escape 219, (1722) 242; preamble to South Carolina slave law 293n72; pressure to reduce to lifetime hereditary bond-servitude 123-4, 187-8, challenged 180, 188-91; prohibition from setting free 249, 359n61; punishment for running away 187; rebelliousness of 340n118, 223; in skilled positions 354n97; some owners encourage social mobility and expiration of servitude 193; threat of alliance with French 340n121; time added as penalty 311n37; Virginia-born 123-4; Washburn ignores 340n4; “white identity” and keeping down 249
African-Americans: as buyers and sellers, 181; barred from bearing witness 250; in center of economic history of the hemisphere 9; buy-outs of bond-laborers 188-9; challenge hereditary bondage 188-91; class character of 148; in court 180; contracts made 180-1; in contracts and wills 187-8; denial of rights 250-1; denial of social mobility 279; denied presumption of liberty extended to “white persons and native American Indians” 316n39; denial of testamentary rights 249, 359-60n62; establish normal social status 182; excluded from militia 250; forbidden from holding weapon 250; exclusion of as corollary of “white” identity 249; forbidden from owning Christians 250, from owning “horses, cattle, and hoggs” 287n84; free African-Americans excluded from trades 354n97; free, women declared tithable 187, 190, 250, 336n40; gun licenses 360n74; intermarriage with European-Americans 336n40; importation of bond-laborers 183; laborers 148-149; laborers rights undercut 339n103; landholding, historical significance of 182-6; law against free female, “most explicitly anticipates racial oppression” 187; letter from an African-American, 240; loss of voting rights 242; normal social standing 180-2; not motivated by anti-Indian sentiment in Bacon’s Rebellion 205, 330n23; opposition by propertied class to racial oppression of 193-6; as owners of European-American bond-laborers 186-87; plots 219; prohibited from buying Christian bond-laborers 198; racial oppression in laws against free 250; relative social status of 177-9, “indeterminate” 178; servitude for marriage to European-American 287n84; significant landholding of, in 17th century 182; social mobility of, incompatible with racial oppression 181-2, 186; in trades 354n97; Virginia seeks “to fix a perpetual brand on Free Negros & Mulattos” (Gooch) 242
African bond-laborers: in the Americas 279n58; attempt to establish free settlement at head of James River 245; in Barbados 38; in British West Indies 38-9; discrimination against in skilled occupations 240; Dutch as principal merchants buying and selling (1630s) 310-11n35; English become preeminent suppliers (in 18th century) of 171; Las Casas regrets role in Asiento 4, 277n8; lifetime bond-laborers elsewhere 178-9; in Europe 279n48; number of 8, 198-9, 218, 279nn 48, 58; rebellions 218, 224-5, 240, 352n46, 339n116; social control and 198-9, 224-5, 228-9; status of 177-90; West Africa labor exporting regions of 332n53
African laborers: imported children of African ancestry, age tithable 320n121; shift to, as main supply 240; trade in, as self-motivating capital interest 172; from West Africa; 198, 332n53, 356n9. See also African bond-laborers
Africans: allying with Indians 261; ancestry and headrights 314n4; and intermediate stratum 226, 228; population in Europe 8; prohibitions against working in skilled occupations in English plantation colonies in Americas 240, in Barbados 229; purchased by British army for military service in West Indies 354n108; rebelliousness of newly arriving 356n12; resistance 9, 280n63; as source of labor 8; to Sªo Tomé 277n11. See also African bond-laborers, African laborers
Afro-Brazilians 34, 261-2
Afro-Caribbeans: at first excluded from skilled occupations 233; bond-laborers struggle and “free colored” demands for full citizenship after Haitian Revolution lead to Emancipation 238; bond-laborers who enter British army (after 1807) become free 235; difference of status between persons of African descent in Anglo-America and in the Anglo-Caribbean 238; every concession to freedmen eroded rationale for white supremacy 237; “free blacks and coloreds” in Jamaica own 70,000 of 310,000 bond-laborers 234-5; free colored as shopkeepers and slave-owners 234; free homesteads offered to “every free mulatto, Indian or Negro” in Jamaica 234-5; free persons of color in Jamaica 36% in 1789 and 72% in 1834, in Barbados lower 233; majorities in the British West Indies 232-4; normal class differentiation 234; parallels with Irish struggles against religio-racial oppression 238; petite bourgeois and capitalists sprouted through walls of “white” exclusionism 234; Pinckard argues for social promotion of “people of colour” 236; Rev. Ramsay proposes promoting mulattos as intermediate buffer social control stratum 236; ruling class insights on concessions to freedmen and control over bond-laborers 235-7; traded for enslaved Indians shipped to West Indies 41
agrarian revolution 286n71
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Theodore W. Allen, The Invention of the White Race Super Special Sale, 40% off with bundled e-book

Super Special Sale of 40% off and free bundled e-book for Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” (for each of 2 vols.). The new editions from Verso Books have much supplemental front and back matter including internal study guides. Help to spread the word!

For info on “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. I: “Racial Oppression and Social Control" see HERE
and HERE


For information on “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. II: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America" see HERE
and
HERE


For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race” Part 1 see HERE
and for Part 2 see HERE

For an in-depth treatment of the development of the work of 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 in PDF format at the TOP LEFT at HERE

or at “Cultural Logic” at HERE


People may also be interested in the video of a slide presentation/talk on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” (2 vols., Verso Books) at HERE

“You have to work to get through these two volumes, but once you do, it will change your life and outlook forever. You simply can't understand America and who we are without this book.”
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Theodore W. Allen’s "The Invention of the White Race" (Verso Books) With References to Hubert Harrison Presentation by Jeffrey B. Perry May 4, 1917 Paul Robeson Freedom School Lecture Series, Brooklyn

This Thursday, May 4, 2017, at 6:00 PM
Jeffrey B. Perry will offer a slide presentation/talk on "Theodore W. Allen’s "'The Invention of the White Race’ and the Centrality of Struggle Against White Supremacy" (with some references to the life and work of Hubert Harrison) and Dr. Jahi Issa will offer a presentation on “American Slavery." Paul Robeson Freedom School Lecture Series at The Brooklyn Christian Center, 1061 Atlantic Ave (between Classon and Franklin Avenues), Brooklyn, NY. The event is FREE. For additional information call 347-618-8675.
For information on “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. II: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America" (including comments from scholars and activists and Table of Contents) CLICK HERE

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“The Invention of the White Race” Volume 2: “The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America” by Theodore W. Allen Special Sale for 50% Off

“The Invention of the White Race,” Volume 2: “The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America” by Theodore W. Allen is available in a Special Sale for 50% off, with bundled e-book and free shipping from Verso Books till January 1, 2017. This new expanded edition has an internal study guide, a new editor’s introduction, and supplemental notes that are ideal for classroom and/or study group use. See HERE

In Volume II, on "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America," Allen tells the story of the invention of the “white race” in the late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Anglo-American plantation colonies. His primary focus is on the pattern-setting Virginia colony, and he pays special attention to the reduction of tenants and wage-laborers in the majority English labor force to chattel bond-servants in the 1620s. In so doing, he emphasizes that this was a qualitative break from the condition of laborers in England and from long established English labor law, that it was not a feudal carryover, that it was imposed under capitalism, and that it was an essential precondition of the emergence of the lifetime hereditary chattel bond-servitude imposed upon African-American laborers under the system of racial slavery. Allen describes how, throughout much of the seventeenth century, the status of African-Americans was indeterminate (because it was still being fought out) and he details the similarity of conditions for African-American and European-American laborers and bond-servants. He also documents many significant instances of labor solidarity and unrest, especially during the 1660s and 1670s. Most important is his analysis of the civil war stage of Bacon’s Rebellion when "foure hundred English and Negroes in Arms" fought together demanding freedom from bondage.

It was in the period after Bacon's Rebellion that the “white race” was invented as a ruling-class social control formation. Allen describes systematic ruling-class policies, which conferred “white race” privileges on European-Americans while imposing harsher disabilities on African-Americans resulting in a system of racial slavery, a form of racial oppression that also imposed severe racial proscriptions on free African-Americans. He emphasizes that when African-Americans were deprived of their long-held right to vote in Virginia and Governor William Gooch explained in 1735 that the Virginia Assembly had decided upon this curtailment of the franchise in order "to fix a perpetual Brand upon Free Negros & Mulattos," it was not an "unthinking decision." Rather, it was a deliberate act by the plantation bourgeoisie and was a conscious decision in the process of establishing a system of racial oppression, even though it entailed repealing an electoral principle that had existed in Virginia for more than a century.

The key to understanding racial oppression, Allen argues, is in the formation of the intermediate social control buffer stratum, which serves the interests of the ruling class. In the case of racial oppression in Virginia, any persons of discernible non-European ancestry after Bacon's Rebellion were denied a role in the social control buffer group, the bulk of which was made up of laboring-class "whites." In the Anglo-Caribbean, by contrast, under a similar Anglo- ruling elite, "mulattos" were included in the social control stratum and were promoted into middle-class status. For Allen, this was the key to understanding the difference between Virginia’s ruling-class policy of “fixing a perpetual brand” on African-Americans, and the policy of the West Indian planters of formally recognizing the middle-class status “colored” descendant and other Afro-Caribbeans who earned special merit by their service to the regime. This difference, between racial oppression and national oppression, was rooted in a number of social control-related factors, one of the most important of which was that in the West Indies there were “too few” poor and laboring-class Europeans to embody an adequate petit bourgeoisie, while in the continental colonies there were '’too many’' to be accommodated in the ranks of that class.

The references to an “unthinking decision” and “too few” poor and laboring class Europeans are consistent with Allen's repeated efforts to challenge what he considered to be the two main arguments that undermine and disarm the struggle against white supremacy in the working class: (1) the argument that white supremacism is innate, and (2) the argument that European-American workers “benefit” from “white race” privileges and that it is in their interest not to oppose them and not to oppose white supremacy. These two arguments, opposed by Allen, are related to two master historical narratives rooted in writings on the colonial period. The first argument is associated with the “unthinking decision” explanation for the development of racial slavery offered by historian Winthrop D. Jordan in his influential, White Over Black. The second argument is associated with historian Edmund S. Morgan’s similarly influential, American Slavery, American Freedom, which maintains that, as racial slavery developed, “there were too few free poor [European-Americans] on hand to matter.” Allen’s work directly challenges both the “unthinking decision” contention of Jordan and the “too few free poor” contention of Morgan.

Allen convincingly argues that the “white race” privileges conferred by the ruling class on European-Americans were not only ruinous to the interests of African-Americans; they were also against the class interest of European-American workers. He further argues that these “white-skin privileges” are “the incubus that for three centuries has paralyzed” the will of European-American workers “in defense of their class interests vis-à-vis those of the ruling class.”

With its meticulous primary research, equalitarian motif, emphasis on the class struggle dimension of history, and groundbreaking analysis The Invention of the White Race is a recognized classic. Allen felt that its theory on the origin and nature of the “white race” contains the root of a new and radical approach to United States history. Readers will find that it has profound implications for American History, African-American History, Labor History, American Studies, and “Whiteness” Studies and that it offers important insights in the areas of Caribbean History, Irish History, and African Diaspora Studies. Its influence will continue to grow in the twenty-first century.

For a Table of Contents and comments by scholars and activists see HERE

For a slide presentation/talk viewed by over 103,000 people on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race,” at the Brecht Forum in New York see HERE

For a recent presentation on “Theodore W. Allen and ‘The Invention of the White Race’” at a “Multiracial Organizing Conference” in Greensboro, NC see HERE

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“The Invention of the White Race” Volume 1: “Racial Oppression and Social Control” by Theodore W. Allen Special Sale for 50% Off

“The Invention of the White Race,” Volume 1: “Racial Oppression and Social Control” by Theodore W. Allen is available in a Special Sale for 50% off, with bundled e-book and free shipping from Verso Books till January 1, 2017. This new expanded edition has an internal study guide, a new editor’s introduction, and supplemental notes that are ideal for classroom and/or study group use. See HERE

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, first published in 1994 and 1997, 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 equalitarian motif and emphasis on class struggle it speaks to people today who strive for change worldwide. Its influence on our understanding of American, African American, and labor history 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 2) the consequences were not only ruinous to the interests of African-Americans, they were also “disastrous” for European-American workers, whose class interests differed fundamentally from those of the ruling elite.

In developing these theses Allen challenges the two main ideological props of white supremacy – the notion that “racism” is innate, and it is therefore useless to struggle against it, and the argument that European-American workers benefit from “white race” privileges and that it is in their interest not to oppose them and not to oppose white supremacy.

His challenge to these ideological props of white supremacy is both historical and theoretical. Allen offers meticulous use of sources, probing analysis of “Racial Oppression and Social Control” (the sub-title of this volume), and important comparative study that includes analogies, parallels, and differences between the Anglo-American plantation colonies, Ireland, and the Anglo-Caribbean colonies. He chooses these examples, all subjected to domination by Anglo ruling elites, in order to show that racial oppression is a system of social control not based on phenotype (skin color, etc.) and to show that social control factors impact how racial oppression begins, is maintained, and can be transformed.

A major purpose for his writing Volume I was to lay the conceptual groundwork for Volume II free of what he refers to as the “White Blindspot” -- the hindered vision caused by the “historically omnipresent factor of white supremacism in United States history” that W. E. B. Du Bois “warned us about in Black Reconstruction.” To work free of that blindspot Allen uses the approach in Volume I of “looking into an Irish mirror for insights into the nature of racial oppression and its implication for ruling-class social control in the United States.”

Allen begins his wide-ranging first volume by offering a critical examination of the two main historiographical positions on the slavery and racism debate. He addresses and strongly criticizes the psycho-cultural approach, and he seeks to free the socio-economic approach from certain weaknesses. He then proceeds, using that “mirror of Irish history,” to develop a definition of racial oppression in terms of social control; a definition that is “free of the howling absurdities of ‘phenotype,’ or classification by complexion.” In the process Allen offers compelling analogies between the oppression of the Irish in Ireland (under Anglo-Norman rule and under “Protestant Ascendancy”) and white supremacist oppression of African Americans and Indians. He also shows the relativity of race by examining the sea-change in which Irish haters of racial oppression in Ireland were transformed into “white American” defenders of racial slavery and racial oppression.

In the course of his treatment Allen emphasizes that maximizing profit and maintaining social control are two priority tasks of the ruling class. He also offers a comparison of the different outcomes of “Catholic Emancipation” (outside of Ulster) in Ireland and “Negro Emancipation” in America. The difference centers upon what group is the key component incorporated into the ruling class’s intermediate social control stratum to serve its interests. In Ireland (outside of Ulster) it was the Catholic bourgeoisie, in the United States it was the “white race,” composed primarily of laboring people who were not promoted out of their class. The first outcome, in which members of the oppressed group are incorporated into the social control stratum, he describes as national oppression. The second outcome, in which members of the oppressed group are excluded from the social control stratum and denied normal class mobility, he describes as racial oppression.

In discussing the topics of this volume’s subtitle, Racial Oppression and Social Control, Allen emphasizes that racial oppression is one form of ruling class response to the problem of social control; national oppression is another. . . .

With stunning international and domestic examples Allen shows how racial oppression (particularly in the form of religio-racial oppression) was developed and maintained by the phenotypically-similar British against the Irish Catholics in Ireland; how the phenotypically-similar Anglo bourgeoisie established national oppression in the Anglo-Caribbean and racial oppression in the continental Anglo-American plantation colonies; how racial oppression was transformed into national oppression due to ruling class social control needs in Ireland (while racial oppression was maintained in Ulster); how the same people who were victims of racial oppression in Ireland became “white American” defenders of racial oppression; and how in America racial oppression took the form of racial slavery, yet when racial slavery ended racial oppression remained and was re-constituted in new form.

For a Table of Contents and comments by scholars and activists see HERE

For a slide presentation/talk viewed by over 103,000 people on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race,” at the Brecht Forum in New York see HERE

For a recent presentation on “Theodore W. Allen and ‘The Invention of the White Race’” at a “Multiracial Organizing Conference” in Greensboro, NC see HERE

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Super Special Sale -- 50% off free shipping and bundled e-book Theodore W. Allen’s "The Invention of the White Race”

Super Special Sale till January 1 of 50% off (plus free shipping and free bundled e-book) for Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” (2 vols.). The new editions from Verso Books have much supplemental front and back matter including internal study guides. Help to spread the word! The sale is good through September 18, 2016.

For info on “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. I: “Racial Oppression and Social Control" see HERE
and HERE


For information on “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. II: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America" see HERE
and
HERE


For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race” Part 1 see HERE
and for Part 2 see HERE

For an in-depth treatment of the development of the work of 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 in PDF format at the TOP LEFT at HERE

or at “Cultural Logic” at HERE


People may also be interested in the video of a slide presentation/talk on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” (2 vols., Verso Books) at HERE

“You have to work to get through these two volumes, but once you do, it will change your life and outlook forever. You simply can't understand America and who we are without this book.”
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Super Special Sale -- 50% off free shipping and bundled e-book Theodore W. Allen’s "The Invention of the White Race”

Super Special Sale of 50% off (plus free shipping and free bundled e-book) for Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” (2 vols.). The new editions from Verso Books have much supplemental front and back matter including internal study guides. Help to spread the word! The sale is good through September 18, 2016.

For info on “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. I: “Racial Oppression and Social Control" see HERE
and HERE


For information on “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. II: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America" see HERE
and
HERE


For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race” Part 1 see HERE
and for Part 2 see HERE

For an in-depth treatment of the development of the work of 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 in PDF format at the TOP LEFT at HERE

or at “Cultural Logic” at HERE


People may also be interested in the video of a slide presentation/talk on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” (2 vols., Verso Books) at HERE

“You have to work to get through these two volumes, but once you do, it will change your life and outlook forever. You simply can't understand America and who we are without this book.”
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A Response to Connor Kilpatrick "Let Them Eat Privilege" in "Jacobin Magazine," April 2015 by Jeffrey B. Perry

My posted response to Connor Kilpatrick, "Let Them Eat Privilege," in "Jacobin Magazine," April 2015, follows:

I encourage those interested in A CLASS STRUGGLE-BASED analysis of “white privilege” to read the work of Theodore W. Allen.

The fullest treatment of the development of Allen’s thought can be found in the article The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy,” available at the top left at www.jeffreybperry.net or at “Cultural Logic” HERE.

Among other things the article argues:
“Overall, the facts of the current conjuncture indicate that millions of poor and working people are suffering under U.S. capitalism, that millions are suffering under the white supremacist shaping of this system, that these conditions are inter-related, and that these conditions are worsening.”

For information on “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. I: “Racial Oppression and Social Control" (including comments from scholars and activists) published by Verso Books CLICK HERE

For information on “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. II: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America" (including comments from scholars and activists) CLICK HERE

Allen also offers an excellent “Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race” (in 2 parts) CLICK HERE

This video on “The Invention of the White Race” (2 vols., Verso Books) by Theodore W. Allen provides important historic background CLICK HERE

For another video “On Theodore W. Allen, ‘The Invention of the White Race,’ and White Supremacy in U.S. Labor History” – An Interview with Jeffrey B. Perry at the Labor and Working Class History Association Conference in New York City CLICK HERE

For a two-part audio interview by Chad Pearson with Theodore W. Allen conducted on May 13 and May 20, 2004 CLICK HERE
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