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In order to overcome racism we need to address its roots

THE tragic events of today have shocked the people across the world and, notwithstanding the disgusting attempt by one senator from Queensland to blame the attack on the victims, messages of sympathy and solidarity have been issued by governments and politicians, presidents and prime ministers. 

There is a tendency with events like these to speak about them almost as if they were some terrible natural disaster or adversity that we all need to pull together to overcome.

They are not. This horrific attack was the result of a conscious decision, made by human beings, to carry out a massacre. 

In order to “overcome” it, in order to prevent attacks like this in the future, we need to address its roots — to understand the thinking, the ideology, which justifies such an act.

This was fundamentally a racist attack. Whether dressed up as Islamophobic or anti-immigrant, at root, this is about racism, an ideology as old as class society itself.

Racism, as an ideology, is fundamental to sustaining racial oppression — the oppression of people based on their perceived racial or ethnic origin. 

Just like the oppression of women, sustained by sexist ideology, racial oppression is a structurally integral part of class society. 

The oppression of women and of black people has enabled the economic super-exploitation on the back of which capitalism developed and on which it still rests today, while the ideologies of racism and sexism are used to divide the working class and ensure its continued subjugation to capital.

Just think of the continued gender pay gap, or the effects of institutional racism on the wages of black workers. Class, race and sex are fundamentally intertwined.

Of course, the ideology of racism comes in many forms, from the violent words and actions of the far right, through the “populist” Islamophobia of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon to the racist jokes of politicians like Boris Johnson. 

But it is all part of the same ideology, an ideology whose purpose is to sustain oppression and to put people in their place.

And so we must fight racism in all its forms. We must fight for legal action to tackle hate speech, institutional racism and the activities of the far right. 

We must mobilise on the streets to confront the far right when they try to march through our communities. We must work and build in those communities to unite people in opposition to racism. And we must confront racism ideologically, challenging the lies about immigration, exposing the racism behind policies like the “hostile environment” and the serious problems with initiatives like the Prevent strategy, and calling out casual racism by politicians and workmates alike.

But we must also go further. We need to build a positive sense of solidarity. The opposite to the ideology of racism and sexism is not simply the absence of racism and sexism, it is class ideology. 

We must replace the politics of racism and sexism with class politics, and heal our divided communities by uniting the working class in the struggle for our rights.

If racism and sexism are systemic features of capitalism, essential to sustaining it in its current form, then the fight to overcome them, and to overcome the oppression of women and black people, is integrally intertwined with the fight to dismantle class society.

As we march tomorrow, and as we remember the victims of today’s atrocities, we must commit ourselves to challenging racism and oppression in all its forms, and to the struggle for a better society.


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