So when the Christian theologian Hippolytus, summarizing the views of those who believe in the pagan system of astrology, talks about those born under Taurus as being white men, he is talking about an observable complexion, not a system of oppression: "Those, however, who are born in Taurus will be of the following description: round head, thick hair, broad orehead, square eyes, and large black eyebrows; in a white man, thin veins, sanguine, long eyelids, coarse huge ears, round mouths, thick nose, round nostrils, thick lips, strong in the upper parts, formed straight from the legs." (Hippolytus, Refutation of all Heresies, Book 4, Chapter 16, pp. 64-65). Hippolytus found this risible, because, taken literally, it would mean no Ethiopian could be born during certain months of the year: "These statements, however, and others similar to them, are rather deserving of laughter than serious consideration. For, according to them, it is possible for no Aethiopian to be born in Virgo; otherwise he would allow that such a one is white, with long straight hair and the rest." (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, Book IV, Chapter 6, p. 53).
There is a valid insight at the bottom of all this, namely that the scientific racism which developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was something new in the world. It was not a carry-over from the classical period, nor can any such mentality be found in the Bible. The idea the scientific racists formulated, of a 'white race' superior to all the rest of humanity, because more highly evolved, never entered their minds. But this kernel of truth has been so hyped, exaggerated, and over-inflated, that proficients in this field are by this point making patently false claims. 'Whiteness' was not invented by the colonial Virginia legislature: human beings, individually or in groups, have been tagged as 'black' and 'white' from the start. Unfortunately self-criticism is not expected in this scholarly discipline, safe spaces are preferred.
The Proletarian Revolution
Has it been proven, by our "proletarian intellectual," that the 'white race' was invented in seventeenth century Virginia? How was it proven? First, we must define what the 'white race' is, thus acquiring the means whereby we might determine whether it exists at a given moment or not:
“Two fair conclusions would seem to follow: First, 'the white race' – supra-class unity of European-Americans in opposition to African-Americans – did not and could not have then existed. Second, the invention of the white race at the beginning of the eighteenth century can in no part be ascribed to demands by European-American laboring people for privileges vis-à-vis African-Americans.”
(Allen, Theodore W. (2014-06-03). The Invention of the White Race, Volume 2 (Kindle Locations 4138-4141). Verso Books.)
The "white race" means "supra-class unity of European-Americans in opposition to African-Americans." You didn't know that's what it meant, did you? I'll bet not one person in a thousand would spontaneously offer such a definition. And what does that mean? First, those of you who need to polish up your Marxist-Leninist vocabulary, grown rusty since the Berlin Wall came down, should recall that Marxism is premised on class warfare: "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." (Marx, Karl.
Communist Manifesto, I. The Capital (Vol. 1-3): Including The Communist Manifesto, Wage-Labour and Capital, & Wages, Price and Profit (Kindle Locations 43062-43063). Madison & Adams Press.)
Our current stage of history is marked by the contest between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Who comprise the proletariat? Free laborers, who bring only their strong arms and willingness to work to the market-place. Marx's category by defintion excludes serfs and slaves:
"In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed; a class of laborers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labor increases capital. These laborers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market."
(Marx, Karl. Communist Manifesto, I. The Capital (Vol. 1-3): Including The Communist Manifesto, Wage-Labour and Capital, & Wages, Price and Profit (Kindle Locations 43163-43166). Madison & Adams Press.)
At the time of Marx's trail-blazing writings, both the proletariat and their nemesis, the bourgeoisie, were understood to be essentially new classes brought to birth by the large-scale factory manufacturing created by the industrial revolution. But reading our author, we discover that a new thing has indeed come into the world: the "unfree proletariat:" "The peculiarity of the “peculiar institution” derived, rather, from the control aspect; yet not merely in its reliance upon the support of the free non-owners of bond-labor, as buffer and enforcer against the unfree proletariat; for that again was a general characteristic of plantation societies in America." (Allen, Theodore W. (2014-06-03). The Invention of the White Race, Volume 2 (Kindle Locations 450-453). Verso Books.)
Free or unfree, take your pick: "The capitalistic form, on the contrary, pre-supposes from first to last, the free wage-labourer, who sells his labour-power to capital." (Marx, Karl.
Das Kapital, Volume I, Part 4. The Capital (Vol. 1-3): Including The Communist Manifesto, Wage-Labour and Capital, & Wages, Price and Profit (Kindle Locations 5084-5085). Madison & Adams Press.)
Do all possibilities remain open to humanity that ever once were open? The premise of Marxist historiography, as indeed of the Hegelianism that lay behind it, is that the answer is 'no.' Is slavery possible? Certainly, at one time it was a nearly-universal human institution. So let's revive it! The Marxist sputters, 'You can't do that!' No more than the shards of a glass vase shattered on the floor can reconstitute themselves, can a former state of class struggle be brought back, like a retro fashion. Except they did revive slavery, in the seventeenth century. It had never even gone out of fashion, in Africa and the Middle East.
A significant minority of the slaves brought to America were Muslims. If there was any single group of the population who would have had difficulty formulating a principled opposition to the institution in and of itself, it was these folk, because the founder of their religion was a slave-owner. Consequently, it was not until the 1960's that slavery was outlawed in Saudi Arabia, and then only nominally. Once here, though, they developed class consciousness and shouldered their way into solidarity with the industrial workforce, the proletariat, of factory capitalism, at that time practically non-existent in the South. Or so our author says.
The "white race" came into existence, according to our author, in order to disguise the otherwise inescapable identity of class interest between the free white laborers of the United States,— plus tenant and yeoman farmers, plus indentured servants,— and the black chattel slaves, held in life-time, hereditary bondage in the American South prior to the Civil War. In what does this identity consist? The economic function of these three classes could not be more different,
nor could they stand in more varied relation to the means of
production. If there is, after all, no point in doing class-based analysis of society, why not just abandon the Communist project? It will not be missed.
Our author has greatly simplified the field, leaving only two classes, Oppressor and Oppressed. People are sorted in one group or the other, depending on whether he sympathizes with their plight. We might name his school of thought, Sentimental Communism. Out of Communist class analysis, he has made something timeless. . .what it was never intended to be. Things have to be compacted down, complexity simplified, because our author hopes to see class solidarity between two groups, slaves and free laborers, that even Karl Marx realized were, historically, in no way class-mates.
Thus the proletariat is redefined to mean free labor (which is what the proletariat originally meant) plus bond-servants of all terms and conditions, plus tenant farmers (maybe), plus family farmers (maybe), residing in the state of Virginia,— although actually the whole world if you are a Trotskyite. It's Us versus Them. The proletariat is locked in an eternal death struggle with the "Plantation Bourgeoisie:" yes, the "Plantation Bourgeoisie,"— not a phrase you encounter every day, but presumably meaning plantation owners.
To find an Old World equivalent, look for Lord of the Manor, because in his original definition, the capitalist is not a man who owns slaves. Under Allen's manipulation, the category expands, he is sure with Marx and Engels' blessing: “The capitalist exploiters of bond-labor seemed to sense their dilemma before Marx and Engels made it manifest: 'The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production and thereby the relations of production …'” (Allen, Theodore W. (2014-06-03). The Invention of the White Race, Volume 2 (Kindle Locations 9865-9866). Verso Books.)
It is remarkable that the English, who had been in the forefront of the European peoples in casting off feudalism, regressed so dramatically in the New World, to the point of reviving slavery, a dead letter in their native land. And these grandees did it with such gusto and conviction as to revive the idea of harem rights. So much for economic determinism of history. The "plantation bourgeoisie" sold to a world market, just as did the big slave estates of Roman imperial Italy in antiquity.
This might seem a situation which defeats Marxist class analysis,
which perceives, in European history, a natural and indeed inevitable
progression from slavery to feudalism to free markets. . .and onward
to the inevitable triumph of communism. But maybe this conception of a
time arrow pointing in only one direction is just wrong. Maybe what
enabled the Europeans to rid themselves of forms of oppression like
slavery and feudalism was Christianity, not history, which lacks the
creative force Hegal assigns to it.
Feudalism, the concentration of ownership of land, the major productive resource in an agriculural society, in a few hands, had never been permitted under Biblical law, which forbids joining field to field: "Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!" (Isaiah 5:8). Since it did not come from the Bible, which criminalizes it, where did feudalism come from? The old tribal cultures of the heathen nations of Europe were already characterized by this mode of thought: "The greater part, when they are pressed either by debt, or the large amount of their tributes, or the oppression of the more powerful, give themselves up in vassalage to the nobles, who possess over them the same rights without exception as masters over their slaves." (Julius Caesar, Gallic Wars, Book VI, Chapter XIII.) The large slave estates which had, like a growing cancerous tumor, forced the old peasant proprietors out of Italy, may have been developing in that direction; feudalism is slavery, lightly reformed. Plus warlordism commonly crops up in low security environements, like Europe after the collapse of the Western Empire. However it happened, it happened. Whichever barbarian chieftain had most recently conquered the land with its helpless peasants held hostage, divvied the acreage into gigantic estates and gave them as gifts to his
principal henchmen. The people living on that acreage came with it,
like sheds or other out-buildings.
According to Marx and Engels, feudalism had to depart for capitalism to arise. This makes sense, because saving labor cannot mean saving money if the labor pool is fixed and unalterable. But evidently history's arrow runs in opposite directions, forward and backward, just fine, by our author's lights.
By 'capitalist,' Allen means to point to no economic function in particular, no new class, only more or less what the contemporary Tea Party means by 'elite.' In Allen's portrayal of the world, these overlords sit in council like gods. They never mistake their own interest, which marks them off as a different race of beings from ourselves, never mind white vs. black.
Manumission, granting freedom to individual slaves, was always part of the 'social control' mechanism of the ancient world. They liberated slaves that citizens might abound: "It is neither pleasing to Heaven nor creditable that our race should cease and the name of Romans meet extinguishment in us, and the city be given up to foreigners, — Greek or even barbarians. We liberate slaves chiefly for the purpose of making out of them as many citizens as possible; we give our allies a share in the government that our numbers may increase:. . ." (Caesar Augustus, quoted in Dio, Cassius. Complete Works of Cassius Dio (Delphi Classics) (Delphi Ancient Classics Book 36) (Kindle Locations 15394-15396). Roman History, Book 56, Chapter 7). The Roman empire abounded in freedmen; the inexhaustible hope of freedom, even if never actually acquired, acted as a steam pressure release valve, giving the slave reason to go on. A slave who had lost that hope could petition for redress: "There is a law even for slaves who have given up all hope of freedom, that they may demand a sale, and thus exchange their present master for one more mild." (Plutarch, Superstition, 4.1).
This invaluable 'social control' function of manumission was all but abandoned by the cruel, and myopic, Southern slave-masters. In some cases they made manumission illegal, purportedly out of concern that some freed slaves entered into perennial unemployment. Was this short-sighted? Not in his mind; it was a vital step in the creation of the 'white race.' These masters of the universe can make no mistake. Exactly what happened, whatever it was, is what was planned, intended, and engineered down to the last detail. This is the conspiracy mind-set. Once the avenue to freedom was blocked off for African-Americans (although about a tenth of African-Americans were in fact free on the eve of the Civil War), then the fundamental Rights of Man, always described as such in contemporary literature, could be re-gifted back to the white folk, who already possessed them, as 'white privilege,' and they would presumably be none the wiser, never noticing the ripped wrapping and askew bow. The fools! Presumably our author shares the normal Communist contempt for 'bourgeois liberties' in any case.
Thus far the masters of the universe, the "ruling class." But is even our proletariat complete and well-defined? What about small-scale family farmers? New England developed on this basis. They were not absent altogether in Virginia. Sometimes they're in, sometimes they're out. We discover that the "laboring classes" include: "...non-slaveholders, self-employed smallholders, tenants, and laborers." (Allen, Theodore W. (2014-06-03). The Invention of the White Race, Volume 2 (Kindle Locations 6392-6393). Marx himself was ambivalent: ".
. .the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class. . .The lower middle classes, the small manufacturers, the shopkeepers, the artisan, the peasant, all these fight against the bourgeoisie, to save from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class...they are reactionary, for they try to roll back the wheel of history." Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei,” London, 1848, pp. 9, 11." (Marx, Karl.
Das Kapital, Volume 1, Footnote 1094. The Capital (Vol. 1-3): Including The Communist Manifesto, Wage-Labour and Capital, & Wages, Price and Profit (Kindle Locations 17814-17817). Madison & Adams Press.) If not on opposite sides of the class divide, workers and peasants at
any rate were not on the same side, they were different; here
again Marx and Engels differentiate between workers and farmers: "It
might be said that not only capital, but also laborers, in the shape
of emigrants, are annually exported from England. In the text,
however, there is no question of the peculium of the emigrants, who
are in great part not laborers. The sons of farmers make up a great
part of them." (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels,
Das Kapital, Volume I, Footnote 885). Note, farmers are not
laborers. Not that capitalism cannot come to the countryside; but when it
does, the cast of characters there to greet it cannot be serfs,
slaves, peasant proprietors, nor even tenants; they've wandered in
from a different theatrical production. When gigantic agribusiness
establishes factory farms in your neck of the woods, dear reader, the
sign of their presence will not be a sudden a proliferation of serfs.
Marx and Engels' lack of
precision on this point, of who exactly comprise the proletariat,
devolves even further at the hands of our author. An advertised
historical dialectic process spurring economic change becomes a
static, eternal state, in which terms like 'capitalist' and
'proletariat' cease to refer to discrete economic functions, rather,
the good guys are always the proletariat, the bad guys the
capitalists, and 'capitalist' simply means 'bad guy,' 'proletariat'
'good guy.' Slaves thus have to belong to the proletariat,— 'Can't
you see they are victims! How dare you say they are not good guys!' I
didn't say they are not good guys, I said they are not free laborers,
which is what, some of the time, Marx and Engels define the
proletariat to be. Surely they are not any new class. If since their
day self-advertised Marxists have discovered Marx and Engels were
wrong, then glory be, that's a sign of progress. However this self-taught, eccentric
author doesn't seem to realize he's not doing it right. He is, however,
continuing a trend which began before his time and led to a tragic
Generally under Communism the farmer's class status is suspect; recall that the Russian 'kulaks,' family farmers, were class enemies of the deepest dye, because peasant proprietors, it turns out, resist communist expropriation to the death. When the focus falls on their "reactionary" nature, we must eject them from the proletarian class. Our smaller remnant proletariat however remains
an assortment of jacks-of-all-trades: free but landless rural laborers, plus indentured servants, plus chattel slaves, plus share-croppers.
A moment's thought should show there is not necessarily any community of economic interest amongst these
diverse groups: a tenant farmer, as perhaps an occasional employer of free labor, would prefer prevailing wages to be low, which no rural wage-earner would prefer. Besides, an entire industry peddling racial grievance exists in the present day, asserting that these poor whites were being offered, not an illusion, but something tangible and valuable, 'white privilege,' worth so much in actual cash terms that descendants of these recipients ought to pay reparations for their ill-gotten gains! Who is right, Allen or the racialists who promote his findings in the present day? They can't both be right.
This literary project is not the first time the peasantry has been welcomed aboard the glorious proletarian revolution. Both Russia and China, at the time those countries embraced socialism, were peasant societies not far removed from feudalism.
The industrial work-force were, in theory, to be the storm-troopers
leading the world to the revolutionary barricades, but, where they
even existed, they refused the task, having other goals in mind.
Places where capitalism scarcely existed, like semi-feudal China,
proved fertile ground for revolution; the starving, deprived masses
were happy to join shoulders to overthrow the existing system. Mao
Zedong revised Communist thought to make of them a revolutionary
class, never mind that it was a prior revolution, the Peasant's
Revolt Martin Luther tried to stave off.
But a fatal flaw lay hid in this revision, leading to the very
high body counts that always accompanied successful Marxist
take-overs. Like all farming folk, the Russian and Chinese tenant rural dwellers wanted land. Having gotten it, they lost interest in making the revolution. The government was disappointed, having expected them willingly to fork over their land to the newly formed state farms and collectives. Unhappy to discover the farmers were not so revolutionary after all, and maybe even had never
really been proletarians, they killed them in large numbers: