The Role We Play, by Shine White

There is nothing superior about the “white race”, in fact, there is no such thing. There is only one human race, and we are all descended from the same original ancestors in Afrika. Dispersal across the planet, and isolation from each other for many centuries, caused people to evolve different characteristics that were adaptations to different climates and conditions. White people have less melanin in their pigmentation that others, most particularly those who remained in Afrika until modern times. But there are other “Black people” in the world who retained their ancestral characteristics, such as the aboriginal people in Australia.

Europe was one of the last places for civilization to develop. China, for example, was highly civilized, while Europeans were quite barbaric. Things like paper, printing, gun powder, cast iron and mechanical clocks were in use in China while Western Europeans were still dressing in animal skins and hunting with spears. Late bloomers that our white ancestors were, they emerged onto the global stage in the early modern period by adopting the inventions of others, and becoming dominant in world trade. In part, this was spurred by the Great Plague known as the “Black Death” which wiped out a third of the population of Europe and sparked an enthusiasm for labor-saving devices. By the late 1400s, Europeans were sailing the globe and had discovered the “New World”.

They navigated using instruments like the compass, invented by the Chinese, steered by use of lateen sails, invented by the Arabs, and were armed with cannons and guns, also inventions of the Chinese. Centuries of feuding under feudalism had created the professional soldier, and now they were employed by merchants to establish colonies and conquer peoples. Though slavery had long been abolished in Europe, it was employed against other peoples to meet the labor needs of colonists to grow cash crops like sugar, tobacco, indigo and cotton for export. In the words of Marx and Engels:

“The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development.

The feudal system of industry, in which industrial production was monopolised by closed guilds, now no longer sufficed for the growing wants of the new markets. The manufacturing system took its place. The guild-masters were pushed on one side by the manufacturing middle class; division of labour between the different corporate guilds vanished in the face of division of labour in each single workshop.

Meantime the markets kept ever growing, the demand ever rising. Even manufacture no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and machinery revolutionised industrial production. The place of manufacture was taken by the giant, Modern Industry; the place of the industrial middle class by industrial millionaires, the leaders of the whole industrial armies, the modern bourgeois.

Modern industry has established the world market, for which the discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land. This development has, in its turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.”

The Communist Manifesto, 1848

In the wake of this transformation, the bourgeois philosophers invented the doctrine of White Supremacy to justify the great crimes of slavery and colonialism by asserting them to be a product of destiny and divine order, claiming it was the “white man’s burden” to assume dominance over the many peoples of the earth, to spread civilization and spiritual salvation. Never mind that there were great civilizations long before the Europeans had an inkling of the word, or that even the white man’s religion was invented by Arabs and Jews in a place now considered “barbaric” or that there were many other spiritual traditions, far older, from which theirs was derived.

The false doctrine of white supremacy is founded upon ignorance and arrogance, lies and alibis. The powers of capitalism and imperialism were reshaping the world, not divine providence, and melanin had nothing to do with it.

Again, in the words of Marx and Engels:

“The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.

The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature. The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation. The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.”

We have two evils to defeat: racism and capitalism

In order to set the world “right side up”, we have two great evils to overcome, racism – the false idea that people can be divided into separate races that are “superior and inferior” and capitalism – the economic-political system of exploitation based upon private ownership of the means of production. As Mao Tse-tung pointed out: “The evil system of colonialism and imperialism arose and throve with the enslavement of Negroes and the trade in Negroes, and it will surely come to its end with the complete emancipation of the black people.” (Statement Supporting the American Negroes In Their Just Struggle Against Racial Discrimination by U.S. Imperialism, August 8, 1963)

As Malcolm X pointed out: “You can’t have capitalism without racism. The two things are indivisible.” Dr Martin Luther King came to the same conclusion: “We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together… you can’t really get rid of one without getting rid of the others… The whole structure of American life must be changed.”

Both the RIBPP and the RIWPO are quite conscious of the necessity of taking these struggles on in a unified way. Racial or national oppression is a class question. It is a contradiction between the oppressed group and the ruling class of society.

New Afrikans and other peoples of color face dual oppression, but no white people are oppressed because they are white. In fact, whites receive the benefit of “white skin privilege.” Now, admittedly, this may be very slight if you’re homeless or if you’re in prison. “White skin privilege” doesn’t mean that you receive the privileges of the ruling class, but it does mean that you’re half as likely to suffer some of the oppressions felt by New Afrikans and other peoples of color. It could mean the difference in whether you are pulled over by the cops or not, whether you’re hired or let go, if in prison, whether you get extra food on your tray or whether you are given a job or not. It is an effective factor in the quality of education you and your family will receive, and in many ways you aren’t aware of, it affects the quality of your life.

This is not to say that every white person is consciously discriminating against people of color or that New Afrikans never get a break. Sometimes, they may even get preferential treatment because of their color, but in the overall scheme of things, they are discriminated against. The system is built to work this way. We can look at the statistics for everything from childhood suicides to overall life expectancy and see that New Afrikans suffer greatly and are generally at twice the risk of bad things happening to them.

As pointed out in some of our founding documents, “Racism is not complicated. It is a social construct of capitalism to divide the masses and justify the oppression and super-exploitation of Blacks and other people of color for the benefit of the monopoly-capitalist ruling class. People were not always racist, nor will they always be racist. Racism, like nationalism, belongs to a specific historical period that is coming to an end. Capitalist-Imperialism is the final stage of the Epoch of Exploitation that began long ago when society divided into classes. After millennia of gradual development under the Epoch of Primitive Communalism, human society came to a stage where human labor was producing a surplus of wealth. The expropriation of community-produced wealth and its conversion to private property, and the division of society into exploiting and exploited classes led to the beginning of the long Epoch of Exploitation.”


Colonial-settler states can be transformed into bases of revolutionary intercommunal solidarity

The United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Afrika, etc, are all examples of colonial-settler states, where great injury was done to the indigenous people as they were populated by White European colonists.

They are all English-speaking countries, with certain bourgeois-democratic traditions and constitutions. Dialectical Materialism teaches us that everything exists as a unity of opposites, and things can be transformed into their opposites due to internal struggle between their contradictory aspects. As Marx explained: “Men make their own history, but they do not do it as they please, they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.”

The circumstances that exist are not that all whites are riding “high on the hog.” As pointed out in some of our founding documents, poor whites are being hit hard by cutbacks in government programs like welfare, food stamps, and so on, along with poor Black and Brown people. Many have been made homeless and have suffered police repression and brutality on the mean streets of Amerika. Many are pissed off but don’t know what they can do about it or who to look to for answers. White Panthers should be working alongside Black and Brown Panthers to build “serve the people” survival programs in the oppressed communities, and particularly where poor whites are concentrated. Revolution is about problem-solving and through community self-reliance and cooperation, we build community-based people’s power. We build the consciousness of the people about the value of class solidarity and socialist cooperation. And we link the vanguard with the masses of oppressed people to build the United Front.

Every Amerikan, Australian, Canadian, New Zealander, and white South Afrikan knows that racism is morally wrong. Even the KKK types claim they are not “racists”. The trouble is that such denials are usually followed by a “but…”

Even most capitalists will at least acknowledge that “pure capitalism” has no social conscience and is fundamentally not only undemocratic but anti-democratic. The usual argument against socialism is not that it is wrong but that it “goes against human nature”, but even if we are to concede that humans are by nature selfish, violent, and greedy, should we on that account legalize robbery and murder? How is a system based on selfishness, violence and greed a good thing? Isn’t it progressive to encourage people to be egalitarian, peaceful and altruistic?

People talk a lot of shit in church, knowing they are being hypocritical. When you express these ideas politically, for practical application, they want to lock you up as a “subversive”. Scientific socialism is not based upon “pie in the sky” idealism, but changing the real world to serve the highest interests of humanity. If we are serious about “democracy” then we must demand social justice for all and gain control over the decisions that affect our lives. John Maynard Keynes is quoted as saying: “Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of motives, will somehow work together for the benefit of all.”

We need to build the RIWPO wherever poor and working class white people are concentrated, there is an adage that says “worry about your own house being clean before you call someone else’s dirty.” I say that to say, when building the RIWPO, we should put a particular emphasis on our own communities.

We must go toe to toe with the legacy of colonialism and white supremacy, and win the masses of poor and working class whites to end it and write a new page in history, based upon equality and social justice for all. We need to follow the “but” after “I am not a racist” with “I am committed to ending racism and capitalism in my lifetime.”

Dare to struggle, dare to win

Joseph “Shine White” Stewart
National Spokesperson, Revolutionary Intercommunal White Panther Organization



All power to the people,

To those of you who wrote to the RIWPO prison correspondence committee, your letters were well received. I entreat that you have patience, all letters will be responded to. We are currently in the process of preparing zines to be sent to you all. Until then, study the writings you have received via the Bayview. Seek education from the conscious New Afrikan prisoners, and dare to struggle, dare to win.

Contact: For Prisoners who are interested in joining the ranks of the RIWPO, you should write to the RIWPO Prison Correspondence Committee at 1625 S. Alston Street, Durham, NC 27007 Shine White can be contacted at: Joseph Stewart, 0802041, Bertie Correctional Institution, P.O. Box 129, Windsor NC 279893.


Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *