Conservatives have attacked The New York Times’s 1619 Project as a radical falsification of American history. The project claims that America’s real founding was in 1619 when the first slaves were brought to the colonies. Historians have contested the project’s facts, perspectives and ideology. Many have declared it to be “fake history.”
However, it is strange to see that those on the right are not the only critics of the project. The more classical economic Marxists and Socialists are condemning the project since it fails to fit into their antiquated narrative. The new social radicals care more about race than they do about the means of production. A new revolution has supplanted the old. And these Marxists are left behind.
When are “The Oppressed” No Longer Oppressed?
Thus, the economic Marxists are going after the social Marxists. Under the title, “The New York Times’s 1619 Project: A Racialist Falsification of American and World History,” the World Socialist Web Site has gone after those whose goal is to make the classroom safe for radicalism.
Marxists have always specialized in creating artificial divisions between “oppressors” and “the oppressed.” More “traditional” Marxists assign oppressor status to the “bourgeoisie.” The oppressed are the “proletariat,” their favored term to describe all laborers. At the same time, the new Marxists consider all white people oppressors of all “people of color,” minorities and women.
One group considers white factory laborers to be abused; the other invests them with “white privilege.” On the other hand, African-Americans and Hispanics who own businesses are considered elite by one group and downtrodden by the other.
It is all very confusing.
Dismissing Critical Race Theory
Consider The 1619 Project’s claim that racism is in the “DNA” of American society. This basic tenet of “Critical Race Theory” is a cornerstone of the rioters’ claims of “systemic racism.” It provides those with tenured positions in America’s ivory towers a chance to claim “solidarity” with the disadvantaged. Members of Congress, big-city mayors, and state legislators use it to claim that the paths to power are closed to them.
The DNA argument enrages economic Marxists. “Countries do not have DNA,” claim the World Socialists. According to Marx, “they have historically formed economic structures, antagonistic classes and complex political relationships.”
Arguing About 1776 and 1865
Another disagreement between the World Marxists and The 1619 Project is in presenting the American War for Independence. Marx and Lenin placed great importance on the events of 1776. In their fevered imaginations, the Declaration of Independence started a revolution of the middle class (bourgeoisie) against the British aristocracy. In turn, this would become an essential element in the eventual uprising of the workers against the bourgeoisie.
Economic Marxists tie the War for Independence directly to the Civil War. “The founding of the United States set into motion a crisis which resulted in the Civil War…. In the end, the war resulted in the greatest expropriation of private property in world history, not equaled until the Russian Revolution in 1917.” In their minds, confiscating one form of private property is a prelude to eliminating it all.
The 1619 folks see both events very differently. Perhaps the most quoted portion of 1619 is its highly inaccurate summary of the American motivation in declaring independence. “[O]ne of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect slavery.” It asserts that the British government was moving in the direction of abolition. Supposedly, this move would “have upended the economy of the colonies.”
The 1619 Project is even more dismissive of the effects of the Civil War. It briefly mentions The Emancipation Proclamation but does so in the context of a fictional narrative. The 1619‘s authors deny any significance to the Civil War – seeing it merely as a movement from chattel status to the slavery of “Jim Crow.”
A Satanic House Divided
The World Socialists see 1619 is an attempt to prevent revolution. For them, the New York Times is “the mouthpiece of the Democratic Party and the privileged upper-middle-class layers it represents…. They are joining with their ruling class counterparts around the world in deploying sectarian politics, be it based on race, religion, nationality, ethnicity or language to block this development.”
Neither clique has the truth on their side. Readers might argue about which position is preferable to the other. Such speculation is pointless. Their shared atheistic and materialistic outlook blinds both groups. Neither can approach truth because each rejects the Author of All Truth.
However, this disagreement is significant. The economic communists look at everything in terms of economic structures. Beyond that point, they are blind. The 1619 Project doesn’t fit their narrative; therefore, it must be part of the “bourgeois” resistance to their revolution.
The Critical Race Theory behind 1619 is part of a cultural revolution that sees only the need to overturn social structures. The evil of racism is woven into the social fabric and cannot be eliminated without destroying all vestiges of traditional culture. For them, economic life is only one set of threads in a rotten fabric.
This struggle displays the faults within each narrative. Both must be rejected. The new revolution is more dangerous because its scope is broader. Every aspect of life is at risk. Economic Communists want to overthrow the structures of life; the social Marxists want to destroy all structures.
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