“It’s not envy, it’s war, it is a class war, it’s a war that’s been perpetrated by the rich on to everyone else. The class war is one they started. The mistake they made to deal with the racial part of this is, um, their boots have been on the necks of people of color since we began. This is a nation founded on genocide and built on the backs of slaves, alright, so we started with a racial problem.” –Michael Moore

Why they consult Michael Moore on any social and political issue is beyond my comprehension, but that is the way it is. Moore is a Marxist. For him, race is an epiphenomenon of class. Yes, he delves on the issue of race as it is useful, it serves his purpose of attacking the institutions of our economy.  The simplistic examination of race in America is an excuse, nothing more.

For such men, race as a social construct is immersed in the dialectics of history moved primarily by economic forces more than it is about our skins. After all, the most fundamental truths about human existence are founded on the theoretical understanding of human consciousness developed by Marx. Yes, we have a “race problem” but the war is about economics. In A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy Marx lays down the deterministic view:[1]

The mode of production in material life determines the general character of the social, political and spiritual processes of life. It is not the consciousness of man that determines their existence, but, on the contrary, their social existence determines their consciousness.

Marxist German poet Bertolt Brecht once wrote that ‘art is a hammer with which to shape reality.’ Art has only blunt instrumental value and cannot be spoken of as an expression of a basic human good. In a class society, all aspects of culture are partisan and instrumental, as they bare, as all of reality does, the indelible mark of class struggle. Similarly, race and ethnicity become hammers with which we shape reality [or deny it]. They are means toward the ultimate end of a classless society, the only true end.  Race, ethnicity and culture are scenes in an ‘epic form’ drama, as Brecht would say.[2] Race is the ‘dialectical theatre’ of class warfare enabling the characters in the play to stage humanity in interaction with the ‘supra-personal dynamics at work in history.’ Simply put, race is a weapon. Those who believe in the irreducibility of race are welcomed on the path of ‘the struggle’ as useful idiots

Similarly, Gus Hall, former head of the Communist Party USA, held that culture must be utilized for ideological purposes: ‘Some have indicated that we should not try to use our ideology to influence cultural developments. However, this is an integral part of the ideological struggle–to influence thought patterns…The ideological struggle in the field of culture is very sharp. It takes place on the stage, the screen, in music, art and poetry. It pervades fiction and non-fiction, especially history.’[3] Especially history, that is just right up the alley of Michael Moore’s myopic understanding of the building of our nation.

The use of ideology to shape historiography is evident also in the rejection of integration embraced by some in the black leadership immersed in the politics of the left and the cultural transformations affecting America during the Great Disruption of the 60s.  In typical dialectical thought, the opening of opportunities for progress and integration was seen as just another skirmish in the war of class struggle, a plot in the great scheme of “The Plan.” As the immediate effects of the conferring of formal rights did not produce the expected rise in black achievement, the dialectic was confirmed: the structures of a capitalist and “white supremacist” system are designed for oppression and integration must be rejected as part of the evil scheme to control the means of production and labor. Now they could confidently preach how structural racism is embedded in the fabric of the very culture we are supposedly invited to join.  The only valid responses to such a shift in the dialectic is “resistance.” The “racial part of this” is very useful and those insisting on race serve a purpose in the revolution.  You are being used…

[1] Karl Marx, Selected Writings in Sociology and Social Philosophy, Eng. Trans. (Chicago: Charles Kerr & Co., 1913) pp. 11-12.

[2] Interestingly termed by Brecht as non-Aristotelian drama.

[3] Gus Hall, Power of Ideology (New York: New Outlook Publishers, 1989) [emphasis mine]. See also http://gushallactionclub.blogspot.com/2008/08/brothers-and-sisters-i-warmly-point-out.html.