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By A. Sivanandan
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Extra resources for Catching History on the Wing: Race, Culture and Globalisation
Could it abandon its traditional class perspective and accept that a social bloc has to be ‘constructed out of groups which are very different in terms of their material interests and social positions’? And could these ‘diverse identities’ be welded together into a ‘collective will’? Thatcherism in its second term ‘did not make a single move which was not also carefully calculated in terms of this hegemonic strategy. It stepped up the pace of privatisation. ’ Could Labour relate to the fact that ‘increasingly, the electorate is thinking politically, not in terms of policies, but of images – not that policies don’t matter but that they don’t “capture people’s imaginations unless constructed into an image with which they can identify”’.
White radicals continue to maintain that colour oppression is no more than an aspect of class oppression, that colour discrimination is only another aspect of working-class exploitation, that the capitalist system is the common enemy of the white worker and black alike. Hence they require that the colour line be subsumed to the class line and are satisfied that the strategies worked out for the white proletariat serve equally the interests of the black. The black struggle, therefore, should merge with and find direction from the larger struggle of the working class as a whole.
That’s fine as a description of what’s going on, but where’s the analysis? ‘In the process our own identities, our sense of self, our own subjectivities are being transformed. ’ Of course ‘we are in transition to a new era’. Of course things are changing radically. And of course these changes are not just at the economic level. But the changes in society, culture, politics cannot just be juxtaposed with the economic; the economic cannot just be ‘read off’ from them any more than they could be read off from the economic.
Catching History on the Wing: Race, Culture and Globalisation by A. Sivanandan