ontology of class and race? (was Alabama and Tibet (?))

Jim heartfield Jim at heartfield.demon.co.uk
Thu Jul 9 03:28:42 PDT 1998

In message <35A409D5.1B93332B at pitt.edu>, Mike Yates <mikey+ at pitt.edu> writes
>I would not want to underestimate the impact of WWII on the assimilation of
>white ethnics and the hardening of racism. It seems to me that after the war,
>Italian Americans, for example, were far more conservative than they had been
>before it.

I agree with that. I see the war as consolidating the identification with the US. I read somewhere that in NY before the war there wre literally hundreds of foreign language papers, but that after it they all quickly died out.

I suppose my only rider would be that there had to be a positive gain for people to so readily identify with the US war aims. I think people saw the struggle against fascism as part and parcel of the opening up of 'democratic' America (at least to whites, that is). I think many of the welfare reforms started in the US as help for veterans (to go to college, as Joe Heller did, or to buy a House with a veteran adminstration mortgage in a Levittown).

In message <35A40F61.BE46C473 at ecst.csuchico.edu>, michael <michael at ecst.csuchico.edu> writes
>Much of Jim Heartfield's note made sense to me. Just what did Roosevelt do to
>win the enthusiastic affection of so many Blacks, who previously voted with the
>party of Lincoln?

I think you have to look at Eleanor Roosevelt's kitchen cabinet to understand that.

There was always a liberal wing of the New Deal that saw the race question as essentially resolvable on the model that the ethnic problem had been, ie that blacks could be welcomed into the mainstream in the same way that Italians, Jews and East Europeans had. The CIO, I think played a big role in mediating between blacks and the New Deal (in its early days, many in the New Deal favoured the CIO over the AF of L).

The collapse of the Democratic coalition came about because the pols thought that they could court the black vote on the same terms as they had the ethnic vote, not understanding that the newly-minted white Americans would resent welfare for blacks. Those white welfare recipients saw that as a once in a lifetime deal, to help them into the mainstream, not a permanent license for every hand out (excuse my adopting the idiom).

If you listen carefully to the rhetorical phrases of anti-racism in the mid century you can hear the extent to which black advocacy was modelled upon the success of Jews and other outsiders. Blacks saw a ladder of oportunity on which different races had climbed, but it was pulled away from them just as they were following the immigrants into the cities.

That's how I see it anyway. I read all this up a long time ago, so I don't have any references. Sorry. -- Jim heartfield

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