Treason to Whiteness Is Loyalty to Humanity


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A new collection of essays from the bomb-throwing intellectual who described the historical origins and evolution of whiteness and white supremacy, and taught us how we might destroy it.

For sixty years Noel Ignatiev provided an unflinching account of 'whiteness'–a social fiction that has for centuries been an unmitigated disaster for all working class people, including the white ones. This new essay collection from the late firebrand covers the breadth of his life and insights as an autodidact steel worker, a groundbreaking theoretician, and a bitter enemy of racists everywhere.

In these essays, Ignatiev confronts the explosive guilt trips of the Weather Underground and recounts which kind of strategies proved most effective to winning white workers in Gary, Indiana to black liberation. He discovers the prescient political insights of the 19th century abolition movement and surveys the wreckage of the revolutionary 20th century with CLR James. And he attends to the thorny and contradictory nature of working-class consciousness that is irreducible to that great political past time of opinion polling or the deceptively simple arithmetic of 'rational choice' theories. Through it all, our attentions are turned to the everyday life of "ordinary people", whose actions seem to anticipate a wholly new future society that they have not yet recognized nor named.

Although the essays collected here were written over sixty years of radical organizing and mischief making, they read as if they were produced yesterday, asking questions that are still on our minds: How can we drive back the forces of racism in our society? How can the so-called 'white working class' be won over to progressive politics? How can we build a new human community?