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*The terms “intersectionality” and “class reductionism” are being debated
among socialists nowadays. As with any ideas, to really understand their
meaning we have to understand how they developed.*

Martin Luther King, jr.
“We are engaged in the class struggle.”

*MLK and Revolt of Black People in US*The revolt of black people of the
1960s and early ’70’s convulsed all of US society. But that revolt also
changed as it developed, and we can see that through some of its great
leaders. As it developed, it tended to link up the issue of racism/white
supremacy with the class question. Martin Luther King was one of the
clearest examples of this. As the so-called “Civil Rights” movement
developed, King became increasingly aware of how the issue of racism was
interlinked with that of poverty. As early as 1964, when he accepted the
Nobel Prize, he commented on the “second evil which plagues the modern
world is that of poverty. Like a monstrous octopus, it projects its
nagging, prehensile tentacles in lands and villages all over the world.”
And he started to question how much further the Civil Rights Movement must
go. “What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter if you can’t
afford to buy a hamburger?” he asked

*Murdered*It is no accident that they were all murdered in the space of
four years, first Malcolm X in 1965, then Martin Luther King in 1968, then
Fred Hampton in 1969. It was not just the murder of three individual
leaders. At the time of their murder – and that of others – the revolt was
running into a headwinds. “Where do we go from here?” asked King in his
last book.

*US capitalism restabilizes*By the mid 1970s, US capitalism was starting to
restabilize its rule. It ended the Vietnam War in 1975. It embarked on an
attack on the working class through its attack on the unions, starting with
the building trades unions (see this pamphlet
<https://oaklandsocialist.com/2013/06/06/what-happened-to-our-unions/> for
more in depth). And it started to draw in a whole layer of previous and
would-be rebels with its propaganda campaign that the way to fight
oppression was to advance oneself personally. Become a “role model” they
and their supporters said. Become an entrepreneur. Reagan, first elected
president in 1980, was the outstanding spokesperson for this propaganda.

This writer remembers a particularly outstanding example of that effect
when he was trying to sell a socialist newspaper to a young black man in
the later ‘80s. “I ain’t interested in that shit,” the young man said. “I
sell drugs. I’m an entrepreneur.”

This was the basis for the rise of “identity politics”, which said that all
people of a particular “identity” should unite together. The “identities”
were those of the oppressed – women, black people, Latino people, for
example. It was and remains based on the idea of individual advancement
within capitalism. One “identity” that isn’t mentioned in this approach is
the “identity” of worker, and that’s the tip off: How can a worker
“advance” and remain a worker? The thinking is based on a retreat away from
the radical, anti-capitalist ideas of the great leaders like King, Malcolm
X, Fred Hampton and others. Hillary Clinton is the foremost example of the
dangers of that sort of thinking.

Read entire article:

"No one is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them."
Assata Shakur
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