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Jeffrey B. Perry Blog

Insights From Theodore W. Allen on the “five-stage cycle”


Insights From Theodore W. Allen on the “five-stage cycle”


In recent articles, including pieces in “Counterpunch” and “Black Star News,” the author David Rosen addresses the themes of a “deepening social crisis gripping the U.S” and “that white skin privilege is being eroded.”

Theodore W. Allen, whose anti-white supremacist, class struggle-based, theoretical approach pioneered “white skin privilege” analysis in the mid-1960s offered important insights relevant to the currently developing conjuncture. In an instructive 1974 talk on the economic situation, and in a 1997 update that he presented before the Union of Radical Political Economists, Allen suggested that “the history of class struggle in the U.S. could be interpreted as a five-stage cycle in which:

1) The normal course of capitalist events brings on a deterioration of the conditions of the laboring classes.
2) The substance of the white-skin privileges becomes somewhat drained away by increased insecurity and exploitation.
3) The laboring-class “whites” manifest, to a greater or lesser extent, a tendency to make common cause with laboring-class Blacks against capital.
4) The ruling class moves to re-substantiate the racial privileges of the white workers vis-à-vis the Blacks.
5) The white workers take the bait, repudiate solidarity with Black laboring people and submit themselves without radical protest to exploitation by the privilege-givers.”

Allen emphasized the crucial importance of anti-white supremacist, working class struggle at all stages, but particularly between phases 3 and 5. For Allen, this was an especially key period to challenge the re-substantiation of “white race” privileges and to heighten anti-white supremacist struggle.

For more on Allen’s discussion of the 5-stage cycle and the fullest IN-DEPTH TREATMENT of his forty-plus years of writings on “white skin privilege” and class struggle 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 Here
or at “Cultural Logic” HERE
For writings by and about Theodore W. Allen see HERE

For a video of a slide presentation/talk on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” see 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 and Table of Contents) see HERE

For information on “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. I: “Racial Oppression and Social Control" (including comments from scholars and activists and Table of Contents) see 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 a video of a Slide Presentation/Talk on Hubert Harrison see HERE

For comments from scholars and activists on "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918" (Columbia University Press) see HERE

For articles, audios, and videos by and about Hubert Harrison see HERE

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“Theodore W. Allen on “whiteness”


In a 2004 interview, Theodore W. Allen, who put the word "white" in quotes, explained why he shied away from the term --

"it's an abstract noun, it's an abstraction, it's an attribute of some people, it's not the role they play. And the white race is an actual objective thing. It's not anthropologic, it's a historically developed identity of European Americans and Anglo-Americans and so it has to be dealt with. It functions . . . in this history of ours and it has to be recognized as such . . . to slough it off under the heading of 'whiteness,' to me seems to get away from the basic white race identity problem."

For more on this topic see p. 78 n. 187 of “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy,” which is available in PDF format at the top left HERE

For more on Allen’s precision with words (including “whiteness”) see this video of a slide presentation/talk on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race”
HERE at minutes 36:49 to 39:10

For a Counterpunch article on "The Invention of the White Race" by Theodore W. Allen (2 vols., Verso Books), new expanded edition with internal study guides, Vol. 1: "Racial Oppression and Social Control" and Vol. 2: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America" CLICK HERE

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Theodore W. Allen on use of the word “Origin” in the subtitle of “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. 2: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America"


In 1997 Theodore W. Allen commented on his use of “Origin” in the sub-title of “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. 2: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America."

He wrote: “Here is an instance where less is more. ‘Origin’ has the desired specificity, as in Darwin's title “The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection,” and Engels' “The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State.” In choosing this sub-title, I meant it to be consistent with the argument of the book, which shows class struggle to have been the origin of racial oppression, rather than ascribing racial oppression to ‘natural’ and/or pre-American ‘prejudices’ as proposed by Carl Degler and Winthrop Jordan, for example.”

For information on “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. 2: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America" HERE

For a video of a slide presentation/talk on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race” CLICK HERE

For an in-depth treatment of the development of Allen’s work see “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” at the top left CLICK HERE

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Hubert Harrison founded the first organization and the first newspaper of the militant “New Negro Movement” in 1917 (years before Alain Locke’s “New Negro”)



Anyone reading about, discussing, or teaching “The New Negro” is encouraged to include in that effort the new, Diasporic Africa Press expanded edition of Hubert H. Harrison's “When Africa Awakes: The 'Inside Story’ of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World.”
Hubert Harrison founded the first organization and the first newspaper of the militant “New Negro Movement” in 1917 (years before Alain Locke’s “New Negro” publication) and this book includes over 50 Harrison articles (with introductions and notes) covering the period from 1917 into 1920 (when he edited Marcus Garvey’s “Negro World"). See HERE

You can also see the book at the Diasporic Africa Press website HERE

See the E-book HERE

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