The Origin of Settlers (Part II): J. Sakai, the COINTELPRO Spook of Weather Underground.
Acknowledgement: While I wrote this article on my own, connected many dots to draw the overall picture, and compiled a lot of evidence, there are comrades who made important contributions to this collective project to add more fine-grained details. If it weren’t for their contribution, this article wouldn’t be the same. While I’m the author of this article, I also see this article as a product of a collective effort. I would like to thank my comrades Null Z, Dr. zulways anti-malthusian, and Dr. Andrew Saturn.
A few days ago I published an article on J. Sakai and his connections with Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM), Anarchists, and Kersplebedeb. I made an observation that J. Sakai’s social circles are odd for a Maoist. Sakai is supposedly a Maoist, but a majority of his interactions are with Anarchists. For instance, Sakai officially belongs to the publication company Kersplebedeb, an anarchist publication company that consistently publishes J. Sakai’s works, and his book Settlers is distributed by anarchist organizations AK Press and PM Press. Furthermore, a majority of his interviews are with Anarchists: Ernesto Augilar, Mandy Hiscock, and Gabriel Kuhn. The rest of the interviews are with people who are neither Maoists nor Marxist-Leninists. J. Sakai contributed to a book compilation of essays titled Confronting Fascism where the authors Don Hamerquist and Matt Salotte, neither of whom are Marxist-leninist or Maoists. At best, J. Sakai has an indirect affiliation with Maoist Internationalist Movement by virtue of the fact that his theoretical analysis from his book Settlers is an official part of MIM’s overall theory.
I also advanced a revised version of my hypothesis that J. Sakai’s book Settlers is actually published by a faction of MIM through a front organization Morningstar Press. The original version of my hypothesis was that MIM as a whole established Morningstar Press in order to publish Settlers, but I revised it when someone pointed out to me that MIM wrote a review on Sakai’s Settler where they stated some disagreements with J. Sakai and wrote their own history where they made it clear that they incorporated J. Sakai’s theory into their official theory in 1987. The first piece of evidence against my original hypothesis is the most interesting piece of evidence against my hypothesis. The first piece of evidence is MIM’s review of Sakai’s Settler where they revealed some information about Sakai. Specifically, MIM identifies the origin of Sakai’s Settler. Their revelation was groundbreaking for my research on Sakai’s connections. MIM’s revelation made me doubt my revised version of the hypothesis in favor of a more interesting and compelling hypothesis about J. Sakai. This led me into a series of rabbit holes, a deep dive into an investigation.
MIM’s review led me to research Weather Underground and when I begin reading Weather Underground’s Manifesto I was in for a surprise. When I was reading through the first few paragraphs of the Manifesto “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” I was shocked by the uncanny similarity between Weather Underground’s Manifesto and the main thesis of J. Sakai’s Settlers. They were virtually identical. There are superficial differences between the Manifesto and J. Sakai’s Settlers in terms of the writing style and terminologies, but the substance of both Weather Underground’s Manifesto and Sakai’s Settlers were virtually the same. The only caveat to my claim is that the Manifesto never explicitly states Sakai’s conclusion that white workers aren’t proletariat (and by “proletariat” Sakai means a revolutionary class), but rather labor aristocratic settlers. However, the conclusion is more or less implied and implicit in their manifesto.
My investigation derailed my original intent to add more information to my original article. What I learned recently from my investigation is too big and significant to fit into the original article. What I learn deserves a separate article, this article that you’re reading right now. I’m going to argue in this article that there is a connection between J. Sakai and the Weather Underground. Specifically, J. Sakai, whether J. Sakai is an individual or merely a pseudonym used by a group of people, is a former member of Weather Underground. J. Sakai wasn’t merely influenced by Weather Underground, but rather J. Sakai was part of Weather Underground.
In this article, I’ll begin with MIM’s review of J. Sakai’s Settler where it makes a claim about J. Sakai and Revolutionary Youth Movement. This is the first piece of evidence that prompted me to go venture into a series of rabbit holes. My paper will progress as I show more evidence that sheds light on the connections between J. Sakai and Weather Underground. Eventually, I’ll analyze Weather Underground’s Manifesto to show how its main thesis is virtually identical to J. Sakai’s main thesis. I’ll also show that one of the main sources of influences of Weather Underground’s Manifesto is Weather Underground’s principal theorist Clayton Van Lydegraf. In particular, Lydegraf wrote “About Privilege” where his argument is very similar to J. Sakai’s main thesis. I’ll provide some independent sources confirming the similarity between J. Sakai’s Settlers and Weather Underground’s Manifesto as well as evidence that J. Sakai further developed Weather Underground’s theory in its manifesto.
After I establish a connection between J. Sakai and Weather Underground, I’ll argue that Weather Underground has a very suspicious history which suggests that Weather Underground was largely co-opted by COINTELPRO. In particular, Weather Underground’s origin is part of a COINTELPRO operation and has since engaged in activities supported by informants. I make this argument in order to advance a further claim that J. Sakai’s Settlers is essentially a COINTELPRO-style project designed to redirect Western Leftists away from organizing and mobilizing the working class in America as a whole.
MIM and Sakai’s Connections with Weather Underground.
Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) was founded on 1983, the same year J. Sakai’s Settlers was published by Morningstar Press. While MIM initially struggled to put together an official Marxist theory, they eventually synthesized J. Sakai’s Settlers and H.W. Edwards’ Labor Aristocracy: Mass Base for Social Democracy into their overall official theory (use search feature to find “J. Sakai.”). In MIM’s founding document, MIM emphasized that its class analysis heavily relies in J. Sakai’s Settlers (read page 9). So it’s no surprise that MIM also wrote a book review of J. Sakai’s Settlers. The book review, published on August 1990, was written by an author who goes by the codename MC5. While the MIM reviewer praises J. Sakai’s work, MC5 was also respectfully critical of J. Sakai. MC5 identifies a few differences between J. Sakai’s positions and MIM’s positions. One interesting difference MC5 notes between J. Sakai and MIM is that they identify with different factions of Student for Democratic Society (SDS), a historic New Leftist organization that was eventually dissolved by Weather Underground. Let me briefly discuss SDS’s factionalism and then return back to MIM’s review.
SDS suffered from internal factionalism. Ultimately, the main struggle was between Progressive Labor Party (PLP) and Revolutionary Youth Movement. One of the disputes between them was on the national question for black people. To keep the story short, Revolutionary Youth Movement felt that PLP wasn’t sufficiently supportive of national liberation struggles of Black, Indigenous, Latino peoples, Vietnamese People, and so on. The Revolutionary Youth movement ousted PLP from the SDS national, but it splits into two factions: Revolutionary Youth Movement 1 (RYM1), also known as the “Weatherman” (the same faction that is known as Weather Underground) and Revolutionary Youth Movement 2 (RYM2). RYM1 or Weatherman was in favor of armed struggle whereas RYM2 was more in favor of a tactical approach. Weatherman was in favor of an unconditional support for national self-determination for black people as a colonized nation. RYM2 agrees that black people have the right to national self-determination as a colonized nation, but insists that black workers occupy a dual position of being oppressed as black people and being super-exploited as workers. RYM 2 uses its position as a springboard for its conclusion that proletarian unity is possible within the United States because black workers and other workers share a class interest as proletariats. In this respect, RYM 2 still sees the proletariat in the United States as the revolutionary agent. In contrast, Weatherman denies that black people occupies a dual position of oppressed nation and super-exploited workers, but rather black people are oppressed and super-exploited by virtue of being colonized nation. Weatherman’s position predisposes RYM1 to deny a role of the proletariat, in particular the white proletariat, in the United States. (What I have written is a rough summary of an article that sums up SDS’s factionalism. Here’s the source).
In the light of history of SDS’s factionalism, MC5 claims that MIM has sympathies with RYM 2 whereas J. Sakai would have supported Weatherman (RYM 1). MC5 writes the following passage:
Sakai has a dim view of groups like MIM, since Sakai supports armed struggle now. After a simplistic reading of Mao’s work, Sakai even finds justification for this position in Mao’s writings. [The issue of launching armed struggle in the imperialist countries now is handled in MIM Theory 5, Chapter 5 “Armed Struggle Now: An Ultraleft Deviation.”]
Sakai’s political economy is derived from the Revolutionary Youth Movement I (RYM I). For a history of RYM I, MIM recommends SDS by Alan Adelson, or Weatherman, edited by Harold Jacobs. RYM I was a faction of SDS that took the strongest pro-nationalist line and favored immediate urban guerrilla warfare.
RYM II, which is where MIM has greater sympathies for the most part, was more cautious about armed struggle, opposed Trotskyism without cheerleading for every nationalist struggle and generally had a more analytical approach compared with the feel-good armed struggle crowd.
Sakai supports nationalist struggles and opposes white nation chauvinism. So even though Sakai does not explicitly identify him/herself as a descendant of RYM I, that is in fact where Sakai’s ideas come from. And Sakai’s work represents the best that this trend has to offer. (My Emphases).
Notice that MIM differentiates itself from J. Sakai based on the division between RYM 1 (Weatherman) and RYM 2. MIM has sympathies with RYM 2 whereas MC5 associates J. Sakai with RYM 1 because he’s influenced by RYM 1. In the above passage MC5 says two things that are striking with regards to the relationship between J. Sakai and RYM 1. First, MC5 claims that J. Sakai acquired his political economy, which he laid out in Settlers, from RYM 1. How does MC5 know this? Where does MC5 get this information? Second, MC5 claims that while J. Sakai doesn’t explicitly identify himself as a descendant of RYM 1, his ideas do “in fact” come from RYM1. MC5 uses the phrase “in fact” to express confidence and certainty that J. Sakai’s ideas come from RYM 1. Why is MC5 so confident or certain that J. Sakai’s ideas come from RYM1? Furthermore, MC5 claims that Sakai’s work represents the BEST that the RYM 1 school of thought (or tradition) has to offer. In other words, J. Sakai’s ideas aren’t merely derivative, but the way he articulates and elaborates on the ideas of RYM 1 represents the best version of RYM 1’s ideas.
What’s interesting about MC5’s claims is that MC5 makes their assertion about J. Sakai with authority and confidence. But why is MC5 so certain that J. Sakai acquire his ideas from RYM 1? What makes MC5 think they’re in a position to make such a claim with near absolute certainty or such a high level of confidence? How does MC5 know that J. Sakai got his ideas from RYM 1 rather than Black Liberation Army or Republic of New Afrika?
MC5, and MIM more broadly, knows that J. Sakai’s ideas come from RYM 1 because it is likely that many members of MIM are former members of SDS. There are some “coincidences” one should take into consideration in order to see the plausibility of my claim: First, SDS was founded at Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1960 and dissolved in 1974 (check the date in the wiki article). When MIM was founded in 1983, its PO BOX was first located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There is only a nine year difference between the year of SDS’s dissolution and the year of MIM’s founding. Second, RYM 1, which officially became Weathermen (which in turn later become Weather Underground), was founded in 1969 but it officially dissolved as Weather Underground in 1977. The time gap between the year of MIM’s birth (1983) and Weather Underground’s demise (1977) is only six years. Third, Ann Arbor is a relatively small college city where many students, including SDS members, are likely to know each other. Fourth, before MIM was officially MIM, it was originally an informal organization known RADICADs (Radical Academics). According to MIM’s history:
“The RADACADS had openly worked with various organizations claiming vanguard status - but principally with the RCP. The RADACADS had consciously worked with parties that descended from the Maoist or Maoist-influenced elements of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).”
Why would RADACADS consciously work with parties that descend from the Maoist or Maoist influenced elements of SDS? What explains the “coincidences” I just pointed out so far? I suspect the explanation for these coincidences, including RADICADS consciously working with Maoist descendants of the SDS, is that many members of MIM were former members of SDS. In fact, there is at least one important member who was a former member of SDS. In MIM’s archive, specifically a section where MIM has its own historical accounting of SDS, an anonymous MIM member writes that they were once active in SDS. They wrote:
This is the first of several testimonial-commentary documents that I want to offer for MIM’s SDS archives. I was active in SDS in its zenith year of 1969; I spent some years as well as a member of one of the SDS-derived RYM II parties. I intend my personal reflections on these years as a contribution to MIM’s summing up of what went right and what went wrong during that time of rapid advancement of the revolutionary forces in amerika. But I particularly offer these few articles as an express challenge to former comrades of that time to come forward with their own recollections and interpretations of those historical events as a service that they are uniquely positioned to render to the international proletariat.
Now, revolutionary justice requires me to begin at the end. That’s because the end of my SDS/RYM II involvement was political degeneration and many long years of turning my back on the revolutionary struggle.
So we now have evidence that an important member of MIM (and we know this member is important enough to write a history on SDS for MIM) was an active member of SDS in 1969. The person who wrote a personal testimony also has connections with RYM 2. So, it seems that MIM’s heritage extends all the way back to SDS, in particular the RYM 2 faction of SDS. This explains why MC5, who wrote a review of Settlers, writes that MIM has great sympathies with RYM 2. One of MIM’s important members who writes the history of SDS was a member of RYM 2! Why is this important? Because MC5, and MIM in general, is in GOOD AUTHORITY to know that J. Sakai got his ideas from RYM 1 because at least one of its members, who is important enough to write a history of SDS for MIM, was actually in SDS when RYM 1 and RYM 2 split!
The member of MIM who was present in the SDS also created a chart to compare and contrast a position of each faction of SDS: Progressive Labor Party (PLP), Revolutionary Youth Movement 1 (RYM 1), and Revolutionary Youth Movement 2. PLP is in the first row, RYM 1 is in the second row, and RYM 2 is in the last row. If one looks at the fourth column “Analysis of imperialist country economic conditions” and proceeds down to the second row occupied by RYM 1, one will see that RYM 1 holds the position that “White workers bought off.” Here’s the picture:
One can see that RYM 1 holds the view that “white workers bought off.” What this means is that white workers, members of an oppressor nation, benefit from imperialism. This is very similar to Sakai’s view. Later in the article we’ll see more in detail how similar Sakai’s views are compared to Weather Underground’s Manifesto.
Overall, the reason why MC5 seems to know that J. Sakai got his ideas from RYM 1 is because at least one of its members is a former member of SDS. Hence, MIM members like MC5 are in a position to know where J. Sakai’s ideas come from because one of its members is intimately familiar with SDS and Revolutionary Youth Movement. Hence, J. Sakai’s ideas do in fact come from RYM 1, a faction that became Weather Underground.
So far I’ve established that MIM is in good authority to know that J. Sakai’s ideas come from RYM 1. But this doesn’t necessarily entail that J. Sakai was personally involved in Weather Underground. So, I’ll begin with this piece of evidence that J. Sakai belongs to the Weather Underground. J. Sakai co-authored with David Gilbert in the book (you can check Amazon book preview to find J. Sakai’s comment) where J. Sakai’s comments on Gilbert’s a arguments an be found towards the end of the book. But who is David Gilbert? David Gilbert was one of the members of RYM 1 and continues to be the member when RYM 1 became known as the Weather Underground until he was arrested and sentenced to prison for bank robbery and bombing. This fact is well known by scholars and laypeople who are familiar with the history of Weather Underground. In Gilbert’s book, he confirms that he contacted J. Sakai. Gilbert writes:
When Cooperative Distribution Service proposed re-issuing the pamphlet in 1991, J. Sakai urged me to write what became the fourth section, “Some Lessons From the Sixties.” We also included J. Sakai’s response to how I defined the position of the white workers somewhat differently from Settlers. Of course, by 1991, we were already well past the 1960s and into a new stage. (page 4 to page 5).
How does David Gilbert contact J. Sakai (and vie versa)? Wouldn’t this require each to have prior knowledge of each other’s contact information? If so, how do they acquire each other’s contact information? One plausible explanation is that both of them know each other personally because they’re from the same social circle. David Gilbert is a member of RYM 1 and by extension Weather Underground. J. Sakai got his ideas from RYM 1 and by extension Weather Underground. Both of them contacted one another and they subsequently co-authored together. What could explain these coincidences? Both J. Sakai and David Gilbert belonged to the same social circle: Weather Underground.
In case my reader isn’t convinced by the evidence I provided so far, consider a further piece of evidence. J. Sakai supposedly knows Butch Lee and Red Rover, authors of the book Night Vision which was heavily influenced by J. Sakai. A Maoist reviewer who is familiar with J. Sakai’s works wrote a review on But Lee and Red Rover’s book where the reviewer writes:
Night-Vision's absence from the academic dialogue of established radical theory is not surprising. Written in 1993 and published by an activist press, this book belongs to that subterranean historical materialist tradition that has little tolerance for hallowed academic spaces. One of its core theoretical foundations is J. Sakai's Settlers, and it is clearly influenced by that controversial book's tone and style. There has been more silence around Night-Vision than Settlers; aside from bell hooks' excited endorsement, it is not read in those classrooms that would make selections from Imperial Leather mandatory (my emphasis).
So Butch Lee and Red Rover’s ideas are deeply influenced by J. Sakai. However, Butch Lee’s work was not merely influenced by J. Sakai’s Settlers, but she also supposedly interviewed J. Sakai in an interview titled Know Your Enemy? Furthermore, Butch Lee and J. Sakai co-authored together in the pamphlet titled The Ideas of Black Genocide in the Amerikkan Mind. Additionally, both Butch Lee and J. Sakai are formal members of the publication company Kersplebedeb Publishing (check the “Author” tab in the website). So, Butch Lee and J. Sakai know each other. Furthermore, there are two more sources which indicate that Butch Lee and Red Rover are members and associates of the Weather Underground. According to Bobby Sullivan, the author of Revolutionary Thread, he writes:
“Under the pseudonym Butch Lee and Red Rover, members and associates of the Weather Underground wrote Night Vision: Illuminating War and Class on the Neocolonial Terrain, a nineties manifesto on a non-racist, non-sexist, non-homophobic future. Given the Weather Underground’s extensive experience confronting oppressive powers from the late sixties onward, their take on such cultural and societal ills was a welcome to the activist literary canon.” (my emphasis)
The above passage is an expert testimonial evidence from Bobby Sullivan that Butch Lee and Red Rover are members and associates of Weather Underground. J. Sakai interacts with not only one Weather Underground Member (Gilbert), but a couple more. But the author with the pseudonym “Red Rover” is not a single author, but rather the term “Red Rover” refers to a network of radical writers. Dan Berger, a scholar on Weather Underground who is deeply influenced by J. Sakai’s work, writes in his chapter titled Subjugated Knowledges, published in a book Critical Ethnic Studies: A Reader (the book is unavailable online, so I can only quote it from an actual physical copy from a university library), that:
“The books I am referring to are Settlers: The Mythology of the white Proletariat, written by J. Sakai and published in 1983, and Night Vision: Illuminating War and Class on Neocolonial Terrain, written by Butch Lee and Red Rover and published in 1993. “Red Rover” is a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment of a wider research and writing group largely of women but also included Sakai (Using the names E. Tani and Kae Sera, this same group also coauthored a fascinating by challenging book in 1985 called False Nationalism, False Internationalism: Class Contradictions in the Armed Struggle) (my emphasis).”
So J. Sakai belongs to a group of radical writers, who are predominantly women, called “Red Rover” who use various pseudonyms. So, given the expert testimonial evidence from Dan Berger and Bobby Sullivan, if it’s the case that (1) Butch Lee and Red Rover are members and associates of Weather Underground, (2) Red Rover is actually a group of radical writers, and (3) J. Sakai belongs to Red Rover, then it follows that J. Sakai belongs to Weather Underground. If Red Rover is a group of writers, which includes J. Sakai as a member, and they’re associates or members of Weather Underground, J. Sakai is a member or associate of Weather Underground. So far I’ve established that J. Sakai’s connections with members and associates of Weather Underground are numerous: David Gilbert, Butch Lee, and the group Red Rover. Moreover, since J. Sakai belongs to the group Red Rover and Red Rover consist of associates or members of Weather Underground, we can deduce that J. Sakai is a member (or former member) of Weather Underground. Furthermore, when we take into consideration that J. Sakai’s ideas derive from Weather Underground (formerly known as RYM 1), it becomes more convincing that J. Sakai belongs to Weather Underground.
In the next section, I’ll show that J. Sakai’s ideas do in fact come from Weather Underground by showing an uncanny similarity between his ideas and the ideas of Weather Underground.
The Origin of Settlers: Weather Underground’s Manifesto
MIM, in particular MC5, claims that J. Sakai’s ideas are from RYM 1. Recall that MC5 writes:
So even though Sakai does not explicitly identify him/herself as a descendant of RYM I, that is in fact where Sakai’s ideas come from. And Sakai’s work represents the best that this trend has to offer.
Notice that MC5 writes “that is in fact” where Sakai’s ideas come from. The phrase “in fact” in its context expresses MC5’s pretty high certainty and confidence that Sakai’s ideas do come from RYM 1. In this section, I’ll show that MC5 is in fact correct. J. Sakai’s ideas do in fact come from RYM 1 and his work Settlers represents the height of RYM’s ideas. How I shall I support my claim? I’ll analyze Weather Underground’s Manifesto from 1969 back when it was a faction of SDS also known as RYM 1. I won’t go through the entire manifesto, but parts of it that are relevant for the purpose of my analysis. In case my readers wish to read the entire document for themselves, here is the link. Before I begin, it’s important that I summarize the basics of J. Sakai’s Settlers. I won’t go exactly into Sakai’s historiography and his account of history, but rather I’ll articulate Sakai’s theory. The reason why I need to summarize Saka’s theory is to allow my readers to compare Sakai’s theory to Weather Underground’s Manifesto.
J. Sakai argues that there are no white proletariat in the United States. In one respect, this is intentionally hyperbolic. In Sakai’s comments on Gilbert’s book, he writes that people misunderstood his book for denying that there is a white working class. Sakai writes: “Settlers is often misread to the effect that there’s no white working class. Probably because it wasn’t written more clearly.” There is an element of truth to Sakai’s claim. The misunderstanding from readers stems from Sakai’s eccentric and broad definition of the term “proletariat” which can be found in the introduction to Sakai’s first edition of Settlers which was originally titled “The Mythology of the White Proletariat: A Short Course in Understanding Babylon.” Sakai gives a broad definition of the proletariat:
For us the proletariat is the lowest, most oppressed and most exploited working class. It is a revolutionary class, a class in the epoch of imperialism whose interests are tied to socialism. We must recognize that imperialism has created, particularly in the oppressor nations, many wage workers who are in no way proletarian. A Euro-Amerikan “A” inspector at a tractor factory, who does no labor and little work of any kind, who takes home $20-25,000 per year to his white suburb, has the deeply ingrained consciousness of the middle classes and is in no way proletarian. Marx himself, we should recall, pointed out that a “class” that shows no class consciousness, that doesn’t exert itself for independent power, doesn’t exist as a class – no more than a sea without water can be said to be a sea (though persons may call it such) (my emphases).
J. Sakai defines the proletariat as the “lowest, most oppressed, and most exploited working class,” but this definition is too broad. From a dialectical materialist and by extension historical materialist standpoint, a proletariat is defined by its specific social relations to productive forces privately owned by capitalists. In particular, a proletariat is one who must sell its labor power to capitalists because a proletariat lacks any productive force whereas the capitalist as a class owns almost all the productive forces. A proletariat can’t be understood independently from the capitalist because a proletariat’s class position is understood in terms of its relationship with the capitalist. In particular, the capitalist buys the proletariat’s labor power for the purpose of using said labor power to create commodities with surplus value and expropriate surplus value embodied in commodities in the form of profit. However, in contrast, Sakai’s definition is too broad because it can potentially include chattel slaves. In fact, in my previous article (towards the end of the article), I gave textual evidence that he did include chattel slaves in Afrikan Colony (a term he uses to refer to Black people enslaved by plantation owners). While Sakai’s definition is too broad, it’s also paradoxically too narrow because he excludes white wage workers. Why? Because Sakai believes that virtually all white wage workers are basically a class of labor aristocracy.
What makes white wage workers a class of labor aristocracy? White workers belong to an oppressor nation, a white nation, that colonizes and exploits oppressed nations within the border of the United States as well as outside the border of the United States. By virtue of white worker’s position inside an oppressor nation, which exploits oppressed nations in the form of colonialism and imperialism, white workers benefit from imperialism and colonialism. The a surplus of wealth created from colonized and oppressed nations are expropriated by an oppressor nation and a significant portion of that surplus of wealth goes to white workers in the form of super-profit. This super-profit is used by the ruling class of an oppressor nation to bribe white wage workers from enacting any social revolution against the ruling class. In this sense, white workers belong to a class of labor aristocracy. But why aren’t non-white workers within an oppressor country considered labor aristocrats as well? Because an oppressor nation isn’t just subjugating and super-exploiting an oppressed nation outside its borders, but it’s also subjugating and super-exploiting oppressed nations inside its borders. In particular, oppressed nations within the United States are Black people (who are referred as “New Afrikan people” by J. Sakai), indigenous people, Chicano people, Puerto Rican people, and so on.
White workers who belong to an oppressor nation, a white nation, that subjugates and super-exploits racialized oppressed nations within the border of the United States, benefit from the surplus of wealth created by racialized oppressed nations. White workers benefit from their whiteness in this sense. The material basis for their whiteness is that they’re a class of labor aristocracy who benefit from a settler-colonial relationship of a white oppressor nation against racialized oppressed nations, which function as internal colonies within an oppressor nation’s own borders. However, the white wager worker’s status as labor aristocracy is also a much more specific kind of labor aristocracy: white workers are settlers. A settler is a specific kind of labor aristocracy who benefit from belonging to an oppressor nation that subjugates oppressed nations into a settler-colonial relation in order to super-exploit them. In the context of the U.S., settler-colonialism is imperialism within the border of the United States where oppressor white nation extracts wealth from the stolen land and labor of oppressed nations. These oppressed nations are internal colonies of the U.S. The lands and resources of oppressed nations are looted by an oppressor white nation to be shared amongst the white ruling class and white wage workers. In this respect, white workers are settlers by virtue of receiving a portion of the wealth in the form of super-profit that derive from stolen land and resources of various internal colonies.
According to Sakai, this imperialistic and colonial system that takes place within the borders of the United States is Settler-Colonialism and White workers are settlers by virtue of being labor aristocrats who benefit from Settler Colonialism at the expense of colonized workers. In effect, it is in the material interest of white wage workers to preserve the system of Settler-Colonialism. If this is the case, the material interests of white workers and the ruling class of a settler-colonial system are for all practical purposes one and the same. Sakai’s theory applies the logic of Maoist Third Worldism to Settler Colonialism by explaining how white workers benefit as members of a Euro-American oppressor nation exploiting nations within the border of the United States.
However, white workers not only benefit from settler-colonialism, but they also benefit from imperialism in general. They benefit from imperialism against oppressed nations within their own borders (which is basically Settler Colonialism) and imperialism against oppressed nations outside their borders (Imperialism in general). They’re both settlers within a prison house of colonized nations (which is how Sakaiists see the United States, a prison house of colonized nations) and labor aristocrats in context of global imperialism. In this respect, white workers are not genuinely proletariat in the Sakaiist sense, but rather they’re thoroughly a labor aristocrat in every respect in relation to their position within the prison house of nations and their position in the context of global imperialism.
So far I’ve summarized the basics of J. Sakai’s theory behind Settlers. I hope I explained it just enough to help my readers later see how similar J. Sakai’s theory is to Weather Underground’s theory in their Manifesto. I’ll start looking at Weather Underground’s Manifesto now.
The title of Weather Underground’s Manifesto is “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” published in New Left Notes (one could also read a transcript version, which is more readable than the old newspaper copy, here). It was published on June 18, 1969 when Weather Underground was still part of SDS. The Manifesto is co-authored by multiple people: Karin Ashley, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, John Jacobs, Jeff Jones, Gerry Long, Howie Machtinger, Jim Mellen, Terry Robbins, Mark Rudd and Steve Tappis. However, John Jacobs is the principal or main author. While John Jacobs is the principal author, he drew influences from two main sources: Clayton Van Lydegraf and people in the Black Power movement. In the book Hard Rain Fell: SDS and Why it Failed by David Barber, the author writes in his footnote #23 (page 249):
“It is generally acknowledged that John Jacobs was the paper’s principal author. In addition to its failure to credit the black movement’s analysis, the paper also failed to credit Van Lydegraf’s ‘About Privilege’ and The Movement and Workers, both of which explicitly formulated arguments in terms that strongly echoed in ‘You Don’t Need a Weathermen.’
So Weather Underground’s Manifesto was heavily influenced (but not exclusively influenced) by Clayton Van Lydegraf. Who is Van Lydegraf? Van Lydegraf was a theorist, mentor, and a foot-soldier for the Weather Underground. He was a member of the Communist Party of USA until he became a Maoist who eventually joined the Weather Underground. It’s important that my readers remember Van Lydegraf’s name because after I analyze Weather Underground’s Manifesto, I’ll return back to Van Lydegraf to discuss his article “About Privilege,” published in an SDS newspaper New Left Note, in order to show its core argument influenced Weather Underground’s Manifesto.
Weather Underground’s Manifesto begins by quoting Lin Biao:
“The contradiction between the revolutionary peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America and the imperialists headed by the United States is the principal contradiction in the contemporary world. The development of this contradiction is promoting the struggle of the people of the whole world against US imperialism and its lackeys." (my emphasis)
The significance of beginning the Manifesto with Lin Biao’s quote is twofold. First, Lin Biao is an early proponent and pioneer of Maoist-Third Worldism (MTW). Second, Lin Biao’s quote alludes to MTW. The basic premise of MTW is that workers of oppressed nations of the third world have the most revolutionary potential because they’re the most oppressed and exploited working class in the system of imperialism whereas workers in first world oppressor nations are largely a labor aristocracy. One clue for Lin Biao's allusion to MTW is the phrase “Principal Contradiction.” The phrase means that there is one main struggle that underpins and dominates all other struggles. Principal contradiction between U.S. imperialism and third world nations implies that the contradiction is antagonistic or irreconcilable. Lin Biao’s quote, however, falls short of arguing that workers in the imperial core are a labor aristocracy. Nonetheless, it’s interesting that Weathermen begins the manifesto with Lin Biao’s quote and then proceeds to make the case that workers benefit from imperialism.
The Weatherman’s manifesto begins by echoing the argument of Lin Biao’s quote:
“The overriding consideration in answering these questions is that the main struggle going on in the world today is between US imperialism and the national liberation struggles against it. This is essential in defining political matters in the whole world: because it is by far the most powerful, every other empire and petty dictator is in the long run dependent on US imperialism, which has unified, allied with, and defended all of the reactionary forces of the whole world. Thus, in considering every other force or phenomenon, from Soviet imperialism or Israeli imperialism to "workers struggle" in France or Czechoslovakia, we determine who are our friends and who are our enemies according to whether they help US imperialism or fight to defeat it.”
Weather Underground basically reiterates Lin Biao’s argument that the principal contradiction is between U.S. Imperialism, including its allies, and “national libration struggles,” or third world nations. But Weather Underground continues to ask where the people (e.g. the proletariat) of this country stand in relation to U.S. Imperialism and where they stand in relation to third world nations as oppressed nations.
So the very first question people in this country must ask in considering the question of revolution is where they stand in relation to the United States as an oppressor nation, and where they stand in relation to the masses of people throughout the world whom US imperialism is oppressing.
Weather Underground subsequently answers the question it poses. The answer is basically a Maoist-Third Worldist answer:
The primary task of revolutionary struggle is to solve this principal contradiction on the side of the people of the world. It is the oppressed peoples of the world who have created the wealth of this empire and it is to them that it belongs; the goal of the revolutionary struggle must be the control and use of this wealth in the interests of the oppressed peoples of the world.
The answer begins by arguing that revolutionaries in the United States should side with oppressed nations of the world. Weather Underground considers third world oppressed nations as “the people of the world” because they constitute the vast majority of an entire world’s population whereas a significant section of the population in the imperial core (e.g. North America, Western Europe, Australia, and so on) constitute a privileged minority. The answer continues that it is the oppressed peoples of the world, the third world nations, who have created the wealth for the U.S. Empire. The answer argues that the solution is since the stolen wealth belongs to third world nations, a revolutionary struggle involves seizing back the wealth for oppressed nations of the world.
One could argue that the quoted passage doesn’t entail Maoist-Third Worldism because the wealth was created by oppressed peoples in third world nations only to be expropriated by the capitalist class for the capitalist class in the imperial core (e.g. first world countries) rather than for the entire people in the imperial core (e.g. first world countries). But the next paragraph begins by arguing that:
“It is in this context that we must examine the revolutionary struggles in the United States. We are within the heartland of a worldwide monster, a country so rich from its worldwide plunder that even the crumbs doled out to the enslaved masses within its borders provide for material existence very much above the conditions of the masses of people of the world.”
The above quoted sentences of the paragraph explicitly argues that even the most exploited workers in the United States have a share of the plundering against oppressed peoples of third world countries and this share provides a living standard (e.g. “material existence”) that is “very much above” the condition of oppressed nations of the world. The paragraph continues to complete its Maoist-Third Worldist argument:
“The US empire, as a worldwide system, channels wealth, based upon the labor and resources of the rest of the world, into the United States. The relative affluence existing in the United States is directly dependent upon the labor and natural resources of the Vietnamese, the Angolans, the Bolivians and the rest of the peoples of the Third World. All of the United Airlines Astrojets, all of the Holiday Inns, all of Hertz's automobiles, your television set, car and wardrobe already belong, to a large degree to the people of the rest of the world.” (my emphases)
Notice that the above quoted passage gives examples of “relative affluence,” one which exist in the United States, that is directly, not indirectly, dependent upon the labor and natural resources of people in third world countries. The examples are all luxurious commodities and services such as United airline Astrojets, Holiday Inns, Hertz’s automobiles, television set, cars, wardrobe, and so on. Weather Underground claims that all of these relatively opulent commodities and services that we in the United States enjoy today are directly dependent on the labor and natural resources of people in third world countries.
In the next paragraph, Weather Underground’s manifesto begins by making an argument that comes fairly close to prohibiting against or discouraging a socialist revolution in the United States. It states:
Therefore, any conception of "socialist revolution" simply in terms of the working people of the United States, failing to recognize the full scope of interests of the most oppressed peoples of the world, is a conception of a fight for a particular privileged interest, and is a very dangerous ideology.
A nuanced and charitable interpretation is that a socialist revolution in the United States should include reparations and emancipation for people in third world countries. Any conception of a socialist revolution that doesn’t consider reparations and emancipation for people in third world countries is a very “dangerous ideology.” Furthermore, it is an ideology is a fight for a “particular privileged interest.” What is this particular privileged interest? The context suggests that if workers of the United States carry out a socialist revolution in their own country without taking into consideration the reparation and emancipation for people in third world countries, they’re fighting for their own particular privileged interest because they benefit from an imperialist system in which their nation, the U.S. Empire, is oppressing and exploiting people in third world countries. Their privileged interest involves all the relatively opulent commodities created by the labor and natural resources in third world countries.
But the writers of Weather Underground’s manifesto are trapping themselves in a quandary. On the one hand, workers, including the most exploited workers, in the United States benefit from imperialism. All the relatively opulent commodities and services they enjoy are directly dependent on the labor and natural resources of people in third world countries. On the other hand, Weather Underground’s manifesto argues that it’s possible for workers to have a socialist revolution, but it must involve or include the interest of oppressed peoples in third world nations. In practice, this means reparations of some sort. But if Weather Underground’s claim that workers benefit from imperialism is correct, then it would go against the material interest of workers to carry out a socialist revolution in the United States. So what reason does Weather Underground have in believing that workers can carry out a socialist revolution in the United States? Workers have no material interest to carry out a socialist revolution in the United States because doing so means that they would have to sacrifice all the relatively opulent commodities and services directly dependent on the labor and natural resources of third world nations. Yet Weather Underground insists that having a socialist revolution which would include the interest of people in third world nations would somehow benefit workers in the Imperial core. Weather Underground fails to explain how siding with people in third world countries in a revolutionary struggle would materially benefit workers. Weather Underground wants to have its cake and eat it too.
In the next paragraph Weather Underground makes an interesting argument:
The goal is the destruction of US imperialism and the achievement of a classless world: world communism. Winning state power in the US will occur as a result of the military forces of the US overextending themselves around the world and being defeated piecemeal; struggle within the US will be a vital part of this process, but when the revolution triumphs in the US it will have been made by the people of the whole world. For socialism to be defined in national terms within so extreme and historical an oppressor nation as this is only imperialist national chauvinism on the part of the "movement."
Weather Underground briefly and vaguely describes what a socialist revolution in the United States would mean. “Winning state power in the US” means the proletariat seizes state power. But what will contribute to the victory of a socialist revolution in the United States is the effort made by “people of the world world” or people of oppressed third world nations. A socialist revolution here has to be defined by oppressed third world nations rather than being defined by the proletariat in the United States. Weather Underground argues that “For socialism to be defined in national terms within so extreme and historical an oppressor nation as this is only imperialist national chauvinism on the part of the ‘movement.’” What they mean is that a socialist revolution done primarily by white workers in the United States is national chauvinism since they belong to an oppressor and imperialist nation. Furthermore, what’s interesting is w hen Weather Underground says “struggle within the US will be a vital part of this process, but when the revolution triumphs in the US it will have been made by the people of the whole world.” A natural question a reader might ask is how would a revolutionary triumph in the U.S. (and this triumph involves winning state power in the U.S.) be contributed primarily by third world nations? They’re so far from the United States and can’t possibly penetrate through U.S. borders with military might. The question and objection make sense only if one assumes that Weather Underground is only referring to third world nations OUTSIDE the United States. But in the next section, Weather Underground clarifies that “third world nations,” “oppressed nations,” or “colony of people,” don’t just refer third world nations OUTSIDE the United States, but also includes third world nations INSIDE the United States’ borders.
What is the next section exactly? Weather Underground’s Manifesto titles the next section “What is the Black Colony?” The Manifesto clarifies that there can be colonies of people within the United States’ borders and in fact there is an example of a colony of people within the United States: Black colony. The Manifesto writes:
“Not every colony of people oppressed by imperialism lies outside the boundaries of the US. Black people within North America, brought here 400 years ago as slaves and whose labor, as slaves, built this country, are an internal colony within the confines of the oppressor nation. What this means is that black people are oppressed as a whole people, in the institutions and social relations of the country, apart from simply the consideration of their class position, income, skill, etc., as individuals- What does this colony look like- What is the basis for its common oppression and why is it important.”
Black people can only constitute a colony within the United States borders if one assumes that they constitute an oppressed nation. Black people are oppressed as “a whole people,” a nation. Weather Underground continues to address the Black Belt Thesis, which states that Black people constitute a nation because they have a shared territory (among other things specified by Joseph Stalin such as a shared economic life, a shared language, a shared national character and so on) located in the Deep South. Weather Underground identifies an implication of the Black Belt Thesis:
“The corollary of this position is that black people in the rest of the country are a national minority but not actually part of the colony themselves; so the struggle for national liberation is for the black belt, and not all blacks; black people in the north, not actually part of the colony, are part of the working class of the white oppressor nation.” (my emphases).
Weather Underground continues to articulate its nemesis Revolutionary Youth Movement II’s dual position theory of Black people (this article confirms that Revolutionary Youth Movement II does have a theory that maintains the dual positions of black people. The article writes: “Blacks in the U.S. are seen by RYM 2 as a separate nation, but because of the dual position of black workers – oppressed as blacks, superexploited as workers – “their fight for the right of self-determination is a precondition for any kind of socialism in this country.” This struggle for liberation, along with women’s struggle for liberation from male supremacy and the struggles of youth, is seen as a means of developing proletarian unity and revolution.”). Weather Underground summarizes Revolutionary Youth Movement II’s theory:
In this formulation northern black workers have a "dual role"—one an interest in supporting the struggle in the South, and opposing racism, as members of the national minority; and as northern "white nation" workers whose class interest is in integrated socialism in the north. The consistent version of this line actually calls for integrated organizing of black and white workers in the north along what it calls "class" lines.
RYM 2’s position is that Black people who exist outside the Black Belt are national minorities whose struggle is mostly a class struggle for racial integration as workers of a northern white nation whereas Black people’s struggle within the Black Belt is a national liberation struggle. Black and white workers in the northern states can achieve proletarian unity whereas Black people in the Black Belt have the right to national self-determination. Weather Underground rejects this position.
“This position is wrong; in reality, the black colony does not exist simply as the "black belt nation," but exists in the country as a whole. The common oppression of black people and the common culture growing out of that history are not based historically or currently on their relation to the territory of the black belt, even though that has been a place of population concentration and has some very different characteristics than the north, particularly around the land question.”
Weather Underground argues that the Black colony doesn’t exist simply as a “black belt nation,” but exists in the country as a whole. It argues what characterizes a Black colony isn’t shared territory in the black belt, but rather:
“...the common features of oppression, history and culture which unify black people as a colony (although originating historically in a common territory apart from the colonizers, i.e., Africa, not the South) have been based historically on their common position as slaves, which since the nominal abolition of slavery has taken the form of caste oppression, and oppression of black people as a people everywhere that they exist. A new black nation, different from the nations of Africa from which it came, has been forged by the common historical experience of importation and slavery and caste oppression; to claim that to be a nation it must of necessity now be based on a common national territory apart from the colonizing nation is a mechanical application of criteria which were and are applicable to different situations.”
So, Weather Underground rejects that a Black nation requires a shared territory, but rather in the context of the United States a Black nation is forged out of a common historical experience of kidnapping from Africa, slavery, and racial caste oppression. Hence, Black people constitute an oppressed nation, in particular a colony, inside the United States’ borders. Weather Underground also argues that a revolutionary struggle in the United States will involve a Black proletarian colony fighting for its right to national self-determination and it will involve their fight for socialism. Moreover, Black liberation struggle in the United States is also tied to the victory of third world nations against Imperialism rather than being dependent on white working masses to save them. In this sense, what Weather Underground actually has in mind when it writes that “struggle within the US will be a vital part of this process, but when the revolution triumphs in the US it will have been made by the people of the whole world,” they’re actually saying that the revolutionary triumphs in the United States have to be determined by internal colonies such as the the Black proletarian colony and external third world colonies. This is why earlier the Manifesto discourages the idea of a socialist revolution being defined in “national terms” of a imperialist oppressor nation (e.g. “white oppressor nation”). A revolutionary triumph in the United States must be primarily characterized by a victory of internal third world colonies (e.g. Black Colony) and external third world colonies (e.g. Vietnam, China, Bolivia, and so on).
So if there exists an internal third world colony within the borders of the United States as well as external third world colonies beyond the borders of the United States, who constitutes an oppressor nation within the United States? According to Weather Underground’s Manifesto, the oppressor nation within the United States is the white oppressor nation. In fact, earlier, Weather Underground does refer to White workers as being part of the “white oppressor nation.” Let’s recall the passage I quoted before:
“The corollary of this position is that black people in the rest of the country are a national minority but not actually part of the colony themselves; so the struggle for national liberation is for the black belt, and not all blacks; black people in the north, not actually part of the colony, are part of the working class of the white oppressor nation.” (my emphases).
So if the white oppressor nation exists, then who are they oppressing exactly? In the context of the United States, the white oppressor nation oppresses internal third world colonies like the Black colony. This form of oppression isn’t merely violence (though it is very violent), but it’s also economically exploitative. If Weather Underground accepts the following propositions (which it in fact accepts) that (1) Black people constitute an internal colony, an oppressed third world colony, within the United States, (2) white workers are part of an oppressor white nation, and (3) white workers within the United States benefit from the plunder of third world nations done by the U.S. Empire, then it follows that white workers of an oppressor white nation benefit from the plunder of an internal Black colony and other internal third world colonies (e.g. indigenous nations, Chicano nation, Puerto Rican nation, and so on). All the relatively opulent commodities and services that white workers enjoy are directly dependent on the labor and natural resources of Black colony and other internal third world colonies. Furthermore, virtually every luxury white workers enjoy is ultimately a result of chattel slavery of the Black colony from the past.
While Weather Underground never explicitly labels white workers of the white oppressor nation as a “labor aristocracy,” the underlying logic of Weather Underground’s Manifesto entails that white workers are a labor aristocracy because they benefit from imperialism against internal third world colonies such as the Black colony. When Weather Underground stated earlier that:
We are within the heartland of a worldwide monster, a country so rich from its worldwide plunder that even the crumbs doled out to the enslaved masses within its borders provide for material existence very much above the conditions of the masses of people of the world.
In the context of the above passage, Weather Underground’s use of the term “enslaved masses” isn’t referring to Black. The reason why Weather Underground’s use of the term “enslaved masses” isn’t referring to Black workers is because Black people are an oppressed nation or "Black colony.” Black people are basically a third world colony within the U.S. borders according to Weather Underground. If Black people are a third world colony within the United States, the wealth they create with their labor and resources are being stolen by an oppressor nation: the white oppressor nation. So the “enslaved masses” in the context of the above quoted passage must refer to the enslaved white masses. The enslaved white masses receive crumbs of the wealth created by the labor and resources of a Black colony and other internal third world colonies of the United States. So even the poorest white worker benefits from the colonial oppression of the Black colony.
When Weather Underground’s Manifesto is understood this way, its theory is essentially identical to J. Sakai’s theory. J. Sakai also sees many non-white people in the United States as oppressed nations super-exploited by the oppressor white nation. The wealth created by oppressed nations with their labor and resources is expropriated by the white oppressor nation. White workers who belong to the white oppressor nation benefit from this arrangement by receiving crumbs or super-profits extracted from oppressed nations. The main difference between Weather Underground’s Manifesto and J. Sakai’s Settlers in terms of their theoretical outlook is that J. Sakai’s theory was more consistent. J. Saka followed the logic of Maoist-Third Worldism applied to the United States so consistently that he arrives at the conclusion that white workers in the Untied States constitute an oppressor class, a labor aristocracy. In contrast, Weather Underground wants to have it both ways. It wants to argue that white workers benefit from imperialism within U.S. borders and outside U.S. borders, but white workers can also benefit from a socialist revolution spearheaded by third world colonies. J. Sakai knows that this is inconsistent because if white workers benefit materially from imperialism, it’s not in their material and class interest to oppose imperialism.
In case my readers doubts my analysis of Weather Underground’s Manifesto, my readers should check out Dan Berger’s analysis of Weather Underground’s colonial theory of whiteness in his book Outlaws of America (Dan Berger is both a scholar of the Weather Underground and J. Sakai’s works). In Chapter 12, in particular the section titled “Race, Class, and Colonialism: Weather’s Class Analysis,” Berger gives an analysis of Weather Underground’s class analysis of whiteness (two pictures):
Dan Berger’s analysis agrees with my analysis that white workers have a certain class privilege which is predicated on the colonial exploitation of third world nations in the United States as well as outside of it. Berger talks extensively about internal third world colonies oppressed by the U.S. Empire and how white workers are complicit in the oppression of such colonies. Towards the end of the first page to the beginning of the second page, Berger also agrees that white workers are a privileged section of the global proletariat because they belong to an oppressor nation. Berger writes:
“Marx's class working class, white industrial workers, formed a small and privileged sector of the proeltariat, ‘racially and politically...members of the oppressor nation.’ It seems foolish to expect them to take the lead in defeating a system that gave them relative benefits.” (my emphasis)
Berger also writes the following footnote which confirms that J. Sakai was influenced by Weather Underground. He first wrote this sentence that I highlighted:
Notice the footnote number I circled in red. Now look at what the footnote says:
Berger writes that Weather Underground’s theory has been further developed by theorists: David Roediger, Ted Allen, and J. Sakai.
I’ll allow my readers to decide for themselves whether or not my overall analysis holds.
Miscellaneous Note: Maoist-Third Worldism wasn’t just an abstract theory confined within the manifesto for members of Weather Underground. Members of Weather Underground openly express Maoist-Third Worldist opinions. Here are a couple examples from Dan Berger’s book Outlaws of America:
The Origin of Weather Underground’s Manifesto: Clayton Van Lydegraf.
In the previous section I analyzed relevant parts of Weather Underground’s Manifesto as thoroughly as possible in order to show that its theory is virtually or almost identical to J. Sakai’s theory. In this section, I’ll examine one of the biggest influences of Weather Underground’s theory: Clayton Van Lydegraf.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I should add that the Black movement is one of the chief influences on Weather Underground’s Manifesto. Most likely the idea that the Black nation, an internal third world colony of the United States, isn’t defined by a common territory in the Black Belt area, but rather it’s defined by its common history and oppression, should be attributed to the Black movement. I suspect that Black Liberation Army and Republik of New Afrika in particular influence the Weather Underground Manifesto. While this subject is both a fascinating and important one, this is for a separate article since it’s, unfortunately, under researched. I simply don’t know what sources to look for at the moment. So while the Black movement most certainly influenced J. Sakai’s theory (J. Sakai indicates that he had some involvement in the Black Liberation Army), what’s often overlooked is Clayton Van Lydegraff’s influence on J. Sakai. So the value of this section is to trace one of the influences on J. Sakai’s theory to an unsuspected and unexpected source. (END OF AUTHOR’S NOTE).
Van Lydegraf’s work “About Privilege” certainly influenced Weather Underground’s 1969 Manifesto. I’ll analyze Van Lydegraf’s “About Privilege” in order to show how it’s not only Maoist Third-Worldism, but also how similar it is to J. Sakai’s theory. The purpose of this analysis is to show that one of influences on J. Sakai’s theory can be traced back to Van Lydegraf, the principal theorist whose work “About Privilege” influenced Weather Underground’s Manifesto.
On August 24, 1969, Van Lydegraf’s article was published in the SDS newspaper New Left Notes. In Van Lydegraf’s article, he argues against the argument made in the May Day proposal, published in SDS newspaper, and to some extent Equality for Working Women, published in the Guardian. The main argument that both papers share is that the material or economic basis for white privilege, especially white male privilege, is that white male workers are given better jobs that provide them better wages. Black and brown workers are excluding from those jobs. While white workers are exploited by the capitalists, they only benefit from having a slightly larger wage than their non-white counterparts. However, this benefit doesn’t mean white workers are making higher wages off of the wealth of black and brown workers. Here is the argument from the May Day proposal:
“There is of course a material basis for white-skin privilege and national chauvinism; for instance, white workers are given access to jobs black and brown workers don’t have and on the whole make more. But they don’t make it off of the wealth black and brown workers produce, they just get a somewhat larger share of the wealth they produce.”
Here is the argument from Equality for Working Women
“…The practice of male supremacy provides few material gains for the male working class….that is, the white male worker does not get any higher pay because women and blacks get less. In fact, he has to fight harder for what he does get, since management can threaten to hire lower paid women and blacks.”
In both excerpts, there is the same logic: white male workers do make higher wages than their unprivileged counterparts, but their higher wages aren’t made off of the wealth women and black workers create. Van Lydegraff identifies the main motive of this kind of argument. The main motive is to convince white male workers to give up their white male privilege by convincing them that they’re not really giving anything up materially. Rather, white male workers simply have to give up the racist and sexist ideas inside their head. But Van Lydegraff thinks this argument is problematic. Why? According to Van Lydegraff, the argument only focuses on what’s inside people’s minds (e.g. prejudices) while ignoring the actual reality. What is this reality?
According to Van Lydegraff, the actual reality being ignored is:
“In fact, white workers (the male first, but also the female and the young to an important degree) possess immediate selfish advantage automatically accorded to white persons. This advantage exists as an indispensable prop of the super-exploitation and colonial oppression practiced by imperialism at home and abroad; all economic activity of the U.S. rests upon this foundation and proceeds upon directly and indirectly at the expense of oppressed peoples.
Some white workers actively oppose this, but most tolerate it and many support the system, or it could not continue.”
In the above quoted passage, Van Lydegraff makes a quintessential third wordlist analysis of white-skin privilege. White workers benefit from imperialism in which colonized and oppressed peoples are super-exploited. While some white workers may oppose this, a vast majority support it because it is in their selfish interest. If many stop supporting it, the system of imperialism could not continue.
Van Lydegraff continues to argue against the argument made by the May Day proposal. He writes:
“This mechanical finding that the worker is exploited and therefore he does not and cannot share in the exploitation of another is not new. It is a survival of a distortion of Marx’s scientific discovery of the source of surplus value, and hence of profit.”
But what is this distortion exactly? Van Lydegraff identifies what he perceives to be a distortion of Marx’s theory of exploitation:
“According to this popular fable, the white worker produces something like a pie. He gets only a piece of it in wages, so he cannot buy it all back— therefore there are crises. The boss gets a big cut —for nothing— and that is exploitation. The worker should keep it all. Now ‘May Day’ and so forth holds that white (male) workers have their own pie, the black workers have theirs also, and so long as white worker eats less than the entire pie which he has produced, he is surely innocent of flinching bites from the black worker’s pie.”
Van Lydegraff proceeds with a rebuttal against the above “distorted” picture of exploitation with his picture of exploitation:
“In reality, the workers own no share at all of this ‘pie’ which he has produced. What he gets is wages which are advanced as part of capital [variable capital]. He has nothing to do with ownership of the product. The worker sells labor power, that is he sells himself an hour or a day at a time. If his union boss and his ownership boss con him into petty deals at the expense of competing black and female labor power as to the terms of the sale, this is no less a fact just because it is contrary to his own fundamental class and long-term interest.”
Van Lydegraff correctly points out that workers don’t own any value of the product they create, but rather they’re only paid wages already advanced as part of capital (in particular variable capital). They sell their labor power for wages, but they’re also competing with one another. Union bosses and capitalists take advantage of the racial division among workers by conning white workers. Specifically, union bosses and capitalists provide white workers petty deals or wages that are higher than those of black workers.
Van Lydegraff attempts to paint a more accurate picture. The “pie” is not a product of each individual worker or the working class as a whole, but rather the “pie” should be seen as an entire national product (or “national pie”). But this entire “national pie” or national product can’t be consumed all at once by workers, since there are slices of the “pie” that go to the capitalists, go into the replacement of capital expended on wages, go to repairing and maintaining productive forces, and become unproductive expenses of production and circulation, government, research, education, social welfare programs, and so on A large portion of this national product isn’t exclusively contributed by workers in the United States, but rather a huge chunk of it was from the labor of colonized workers.
After Lydegraff outlines the above picture, he argues that the super-profits created by colonized workers are integrated into the “national pie,” owned by capital, a portion of the super-profits become a significant portion of wages of white workers:
“Super-profits from abroad are integrated into the total national pie owned by capital and from which all wages are paid. The biggest corporations take maximum profits from super-exploitation; skin-color is not posted in the books, all appear as pure gold. The U.S. white workers employed in these monster-sized sub-empires are the most organized and their wages and conditions are relatively the best. Not ideal or necessarily even good, relatively the best.”
Here Van Lydegraff argues that the material basis of white-skin privilege for white workers is that a significant portion of their wages derives from the super-profit extracted from the super-exploitation of oppressed third world nations. If one merely looks at the official records, it isn’t apparent that super-profits go into wages on the basis of skin-color, but it’s apparent by looking at the result: the conditions and wages of white workers in the U.S. are “relatively the best” compared to non-white workers.
In the next section “Surplus Value,” Van Lydegraff argues that May Day’s theory that only derive their wages from the product they create is a self-serving view that refuses to challenge the “class purity” of white workers by investigating into the true origin of their “relatively best” wages: super-profits. Van Lydegraff writes:
“It is self-serving and artificial to invent a separate stock of pure-bred white male surplus value from which alone white males derive their wages and conditions and privileges, without their class purity put into question by their sharing crumbs of imperialist loot originating in the special preserves of super-exploitation, especially the colonial.”
Van Lydegraff continues to criticize the view that the surplus value turned into maximum profit by a firm should be attributed exclusively to U.S. white workers when a significant chunk of that surplus value was created by colonized workers. He writes:
“Monopoly extracts much of this super and maximum profit by selling things above their value. This is one of the universal practices. Every Cadillac contains not only sweat of the autoworkers, it has ingredients like 20 years subtracted from a Chilean worker’s life and runs of Arabian blood, called black gold. It is supremely arrogant to ascribe General Motor’s maximum profits solely or mainly to surplus value created by U.S. workers.”
Hence, Van Lydegraff argues that if U.S. workers of all backgrounds united against the capitalists simply to improve their share without fighting imperialist oppression of colonized workers around the world. it would be a crime:
“Consequently, if white and black workers, male and female, old and young, here were to unite merely to improve their own shares, and failed to fight to do away with imperialist oppression of colored people abroad — this would not be a victory, it would be a crime.”
Since so much of the wealth was created by workers in third world nations, it would be unethical for workers here to unite against the capitalists to increase their share without fighting against imperialism.
There is a lot of similarity between the theory behind J. Sakai’s Settlers and Van Lydegraff’s theory. J. Sakai believes that white workers are a labor aristocracy. Van Lydegraff also believes that white workers are a labor aristocracy even though he never uses that label for white workers. A labor aristocracy is a group of workers who benefit from imperialism by virtue of their wages deriving from super-profits created by colonized workers. In this sense, Van Lydegraff does believe that white workers are a labor aristocracy. While Van Lydegraff never really specifies the Black colony in his article, it’s implied that he believes there are oppressed nations in the United States. For instance, Lydegraff wrote
“This advantage [white-skin privilege] exists as an indispensable prop of the super-exploitation and colonial oppression by imperialism at home and abroad.” (my emphasis)
Why would Van Lydegraff write of super-exploitation and colonial oppression by imperialism at home? Imperialism is a global capitalist system in which advanced monopoly capitalist countries, spearheaded by finance capitalist oligarchs, extract wealth from labor and resources of people in developing countries (or neo-colonies). So why would Van Lydegraff talk about super-exploitation and colonial oppression by imperialism “at home,” here in the United States? Because Van Lydegraff is alluding to colonized nations within the United States.
The main difference between Van Lydegraff and J. Sakai is that J. Sakai characterizes white workers as settlers, a specific kind of labor aristocracy. In particular, in the context of the United States, settler workers are a labor aristocracy of an oppressor nation who benefit from wealth that originated from stolen lands and slavery. A settler worker’s wages derive from the wealth expropriated from indigenous nations in the form of stolen land and chattel slavery of the Black colony. Van Lydegraff basically says white workers are a labor aristocracy, but J. Sakai further elaborates upon the specific nature of labor aristocracy of white workers.
Given the significant overlap or similarity between Van Lydegraff’s theory and J. Sakai’s theory as well as the fact that J. Sakai’s theory was heavily influenced by Weather Underground’s Manifesto, it follows that J. Sakai was in fact influenced by Van Lydegraff. This doesn’t mean that J. Sakai was completely unoriginal. J. Sakai’s originality is specifying the exact nature of labor aristocracy of white workers as settlers.
Weather Underground and COINTELPRO
In this section, I’ll argue that Weather Underground is basically a COINTELPRO-controlled leftist organization. Many will find this claim extremely implausible, but it’s important to remember that the FBI has propped up COINTELPRO front organizations and newspapers masquerading as leftist ones, including anarchist and Maoist organizations. The ultimate purpose of this argument is to show that If J. Sakai’s Settler is influenced by Weather Underground, then it has a disturbing origin in COINTELPRO.
What is the exact origin of Weatherman? We know that it is formally known as RYM 1, which results from splinter within Revolutionary Youth Movement. We know that when RYM 1 ousted PLP and RYM 2, RYM 1 took over the entire SDS and eventually dissolved it. The result is that the organized student-wing of the radical New Left is destroyed through factionalism. But what actually happened is that the FBI sent civilian informants to infiltrate SDS in order to not only exacerbate the factionalism within SDS, but also to support the Weatherman faction. An article form Time Magazine writes:
“Newly released FBI documents show that in the spring of 1969, Washington ordered its civilian informants in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) to support the “National Office” faction (that is, Weatherman) against other factions in the organization. At that time, the FBI believed—wrongly—that Weatherman, because it was countercultural and anarchic, was the least dangerous group in SDS. When the 600-strong Weatherman faction walked out at the SDS national convention in June 1969 and formed the “true” SDS, among those 600 people were dozens of FBI civilian informants.”
Here’s the piece of document that the Time magazine article was referring to:
The FBI admits that it instructed its informants to support the Weatherman (referred to as the “National Office” faction) in order to prevent the PLP from taking over the SDS. Why? Because the PLP was seen by the FBI as a more serious threat due to its competence. If the PLP took over the SDS, it would transformed the SDS into a militant and disciplined organization. The FBI admits that it can’t know how much effect the informant’s support has on the result, but they observed the desired result. In contrast to the PLP, the Weatherman was not disciplined and militant enough. The FBI intends that Weatherman engages in militant extremism in order to not only isolate it from the “liberation community,” but also discrediting the SDS in the eyes of the American Public. Ultimately, the Weatherman’s purpose is to discredit the New Left.
How do we know that the Weatherman’s purpose is to discredit the New Left? It’s because FBI informants like Larry Grathwohl, who infiltrated Weather Underground, encouraged the Weather Underground to plant bombs in schools, start fights in protests, breaking Timothy Leary out of jail, setting fires, and changing their anti-Drug position to being increasingly pro-LSD. We can’t know the full extent of an informant’s influence on Weather Underground, but we can’t rule out the possibility that informants play a significant role steering the direction of Weather Underground into terrorism and adventurism in order to discredit the Left as a whole.
If J. Sakai’s Settlers was largely influenced by Weather Underground’s Manifesto, which it likely is given the sum total of evidence I’ve provided, what makes us so certain that J. Sakai’s Settlers isn’t connected to COINTELPRO in any shape or form? Settlers has created division within the Left, thereby paralyzing it, and gave an ideological rationale for not organizing the proletariat in the United states a whole since white workers, who make up a huge bulk of the proletariat in the U.S., are just a “labor aristocracy” or more specifically “settlers.” The ultimate result is that the Left, especially the Left that identifies itself as Marxist, in the United States is passive, apathetic, and paralyzed by its own cynicism from doing anything. The ultimate result is a largely pseudo-Left characterized by its Petty-Bourgeois Radicalism that it inherited from Weather Underground. The ultimate result is a synthetically-engineered COINTELPRO Left that abandoned Marxism for an ultra-leftist perversion of it.
Addendum: Class Analysis of J. Sakai’s Theory
I’m adding this very last section, after the publication of my article, because I think a Marxist article is incomplete without some class analysis. What exactly consists of this class analysis? I won’t engage in a materialist/class critique of J. Sakai’s theory itself. This has been done many times before. What I shall do is apply my class analysis to the development and origin of J. Sakai’s theory.
I argued that J. Sakai’s theory originated and developed from the tradition of RYM 1 also known as the Weather Underground. The significance of this finding can’t be overstated from a Marxist perspective, in particular from the standpoint of class and materialist analysis. The Weatherman faction (RYM 1) of the SDS, and the SDS on the whole, consists primarily of white college students from a bourgeois background. As Marxists, it’s important that we don’t underestimate the importance of social consciousness in relation to one’s class position. Marx said “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but, on the contrary, their social existence determines their consciousness.” Our social existences is circumscribed and tethered to our social relations to the productive forces. The consequence is that our social consciousness more or less roughly influenced and shape our social relations to productive forces. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that our class position predetermines our thoughts, opinions, attitudes, sentiments, and so on. But rather, our social relations influences how we think, feel, and perceive reality.
If we accept the above basic Marxist insight, it should follow that we accept that the bourgeois background of white college students influences (though not necessarily determine) their outlook. One common outcome is that someone from a bourgeois background, raised by a bourgeois family, albeit without personally owning a piece of capital yet benefiting from one’s parent’s private ownership of capital, is Petty Bourgeois Radicalism. An essential characteristic of petty bourgeois radicalism is when people develop theories or concepts that don’t correspond to the overall motion of class struggle, but nonetheless they stubbornly persist to apply their theories or concepts through adventurist means that don’t involve organizing the working class. Such “adventurism” can range from something benign yet ineffective (e.g. protesting that doesn’t involve mobilizing proletarian communities) to mildly violent (e.g. instigating a riot) to outright terrorism. What all forms of adventurism have in common is that they involve pseudo-revolutionary action from a relatively small group of people without organizing, mobilizing, and winning support from proletarian communities.
Many in the SDS produced petty-bourgeois radical theories primarily due to their bourgeois background. Gus Hall provides a poignant analysis (whether intentionally or not) of how the bourgeois background of SDS members influence their overall outlook:
“The SDS had its birth in the ideological chambers of the Socialist Party. Its present crisis can be clearly traced to the petty-bourgeois radical views that it inherited from the parent body. This is not to negate in any way or detract from the positive contributions of the tens of thousands of young people who have come into the struggle and into the Communist Party through the activities of the SDS. This organization went through many stages of development. It moved from its open anti-working class position to accepting the role of the workers. But even then it saw that role only in relation to the SDS being the ‘missionary’ enlightening the people called ‘workers.’ The SDS never did understand the role of masses as the key factor in struggle.
Because they did not understand the class struggle they tended to reject all concepts of unity, including a unified front of the forces opposing capitalism. This comes from the very nature of petty-bourgeois existence. These sectors do not see themselves as being exploited or oppressed as a class. They do not react to oppression as a class. Unity, a unified front are class-mass concepts. The SDS, even in its best days, rejected these concepts and tended to organize their own actions, asking others to ‘join them’ or ‘support them.’ When they could not have their way they very often boycotted many important mas actions against the U.S. aggression in Vietnam.
Underpressure they constantly slipped into anti-Communist positions. Petty-bourgeois radicalism by its very nature–its class essence being, as it is, that of a group between two basic classes–cannot for long sustain a united organization. Its concept of “participatory democracy” was, in a way, a recognition of this fact. As the working-class upsurge has developed and the class concepts of the struggle have moved into the forefront, petty-bourgeois radicalism has also been evident in the policies of accepting racism. This has been justified by statements like, ‘We will fight for black-white unity when we have socialism.’ For white Americans not to fight racism at all times is racism.”
Gus Hall’s class analysis applies to many members of the Weather Underground. The Weather Underground has little to no consideration of the working class in general, especially the white working class. While Weather Underground claims it believes that workers of oppressed nations within the United States as well as outside of it have real revolutionary potential, in contrast to the “bought off” white working class whose revolutionary potential is compromised, their action indicates that they have little to no regard for the working class in general. Their attempt to plant a bomb in a high school, engage in bank robberies, and freeing Timothy Leary from jail, none of which remotely pertains to the interest of any proletarian community in the United States, reflects their disregard for the proletariat (of all races) in the Untied States. This disregard reflects their bourgeois outlook because they don’t see themselves as exploited or oppressed on the basis of their class (and race).
Weather Underground’s adventurism doesn’t simply contradict their theory inscribed in their Manifesto and Prairie Fire. On the contrary, Weather Underground’s terroristic adventurism makes sense in the light of their own theory. Why? Because Weather Underground implicitly accepts that the principal (or main) contradiction is between oppressor nation, deeply embedded at the center of U.S. Imperialism, and oppressed third world nations, including third world nations within the border of the U.S. Empire. The fundamental contradiction isn’t between proletariat and capitalists, but rather it’s between oppressor nations and oppressed nations. Workers of an oppressor nation are a privileged sector of laborers, a labor aristocracy, because their wages derive from the super-profits created by the labor and resources of third world nations inside and outside U.S. borders. Since members of Weather Underground see themselves as situated within the oppressor nation, they’re inclined to not place any priority in organizing and mobilizing the working class in their own country. Furthermore, many people of the Weather Underground see themselves as people coming from a bourgeois background and enjoying white-skin privilege, the underlying material basis which consists of them benefiting from the wealth of third world nations expropriated by their white oppressor nation, they don’t see themselves as oppressed and exploited. The result is that the interests of people in Weather Underground aren’t naturally tied to the interests of workers. They didn’t even attempt to develop such a tie. The result is adventurism.
In addition, the theory of Weather Underground as spelled out above implies that white workers’ revolutionary potential is compromised by their white privileged position as members of an oppressor nation. White workers are essentially a labor aristocracy whose benefits are twofold: (1) their wage stemming from super-profits created by third world nations and (2) their access to luxurious and desirable commodities created by third world nations. Since the Weather Underground perceives white workers as a labor aristocracy, it’s no surprise that Weather Underground makes barely makes any attempt at organizing and mobilizing white workers (if at all). But their disdain and disregard for workers already existed as children of bourgeois families. Weather Underground’s theory provides rationale and excuse for their pre-existing disdain for the white working class. They don’t have to organize and mobilize the white working class, since they’re labor aristocracy. Instead, they should just engage in adventurism that undermines the oppressor nation. Weather Underground can claim that their actions are for the national liberation struggle in third world countries, but there is no concrete and tangible result to demonstrate that what they’re saying is true.
Weather Underground’s Maoist Third Worldism ultimately implies that a revolution in the United States which includes white workers is unlikely to occur because white workers are a labor aristocracy who benefit from imperialism. In fact, in Paire Fire, Weather Underground explicitly states that waiting for white workers to participate in a revolution is not only wrong, but racist:
“To argue, as some do, that Black liberation must wait upon the industrial proletariat or the socialist revolution of the whole U.S. is both false and racist.” (Prairie Fire, page 122).
But notice how this gives an excuse and rationale for adventurism (whether terroristic or not), masquerading as aiding Black liberation, on the part of Weather Underground. They don’t have to organize and mobilize the entire proletarian, especially the huge bulk of the proletariat, specifically privileged whites workers, in the United States. Why? Because it would be racist! They see their position as aiding the Black Liberation struggle (as well as other national liberation struggles within the United States) without any attempt to organize the entire proletariat in the U.S. But someone might reply “Yes, maybe you can’t organize and mobilize white workers, but why not organize non-white proletariat in the United States?” Weather Underground’s answer would be that “Because as white people, who benefit from imperialism, it would be presumptuous, paternalistic, racist of us to mobilize and organize the colonized proletariat of oppressed nations in the United States. This important and revolutionary task is the job of revolutionaries of oppressed nations. We simply provide auxiliary support.” There is textual evidence to support that this is what they would say. Weather Underground states that:
“Any attempt to predict the role of the U.S. working class must place great emphasis on the leadership that as been given by Black and Third World People.” (Prairie Fire, 115-116).
What this implies is that Weather Underground doesn’t play any leading role as part of the Vanguard of workers. Their position is mostly an auxiliary position. Weather Underground states in their manifesto:
Blacks could do it alone if necessary because of their centralness to the system, economically and geo-militarily, and because of the level of unity, commitment, and initiative which will be developed in waging a people's war for survival and national liberation. However, we do not expect that they will have to do it alone, not only because of the international situation, but also because the real interests of masses of oppressed whites in this country lie with the Black Liberation struggle, and the conditions for understanding and fighting for these interests grow with the deepening of the crises. Already, the black liberation movement has carried with it an upsurge of revolutionary consciousness among white youth; and while there are no guarantees, we can expect that this will extend and deepen among all oppressed whites. To put aside the possibility of blacks winning alone leads to the racist position that blacks should wait for whites and are dependent on whites acting for them to win. Yet the possibility of blacks winning alone cannot in the least be a justification for whites failing to shoulder the burden of developing a revolutionary movement among whites. ”
Weather Underground has caught themselves in a bind. On one hand, Weather Underground believes that white workers benefit from imperialism, but on the other hand they also believe that it’s in the interest of the most oppressed white workers that the Black liberation struggle prevails against U.S. imperialism. But early in their manifesto they wrote that:
“It is in this context that we must examine the revolutionary struggles in the United States. We are within the heartland of a worldwide monster, a country so rich from its worldwide plunder that even the crumbs doled out to the enslaved masses within its borders provide for material existence very much above the conditions of the masses of people of the world.”
If we take into consideration that Weather Underground is actually talking about enslaved masses within an oppressor nation, and not workers in third world nations within the United States, Weather Underground believes the most oppressed white workers somehow benefit from imperialism. So if they benefit from imperialism due to their privileged position as members of an oppressor nation, despite being oppressed themselves due to relative poverty, how would they benefit from the Black liberation struggle? Additionally, while the Black liberation could carry out a successful revolution alone (and putting aside this possibility in order to wait for white workers is be racist according to Weather Underground), they don’t have to do it alone. Letting the Black liberation movement carry out the revolutionary struggle alone would place a burden on them. So the Black liberation movement should be given support. What explains this overly convoluted reasoning with a large gap in its reasoning? It’s obvious that the Black liberation struggle can’t succeed without proletarian unity and solidarity in the U.S. But why is Weather Underground trying to escape this obvious reality? It’s because Weather Underground is providing justification that they alone can provide supplementary aid to Black liberation struggle without ever trying to organize and mobilize the most oppressed sector of an oppressor nation. This is in fact what they attempt to do.
Overall, their theory provides an excuse for their adventurism and this is why their theory is essentially petty bourgeois radicalism. It’s no coincidence that the FBI, an arm of the bourgeois imperialist ruling class, supported the Weather Underground faction through COINTELPRO. The Weather Underground posed no threat to the ruling class because their petty-bourgeois radicalism can be used to by the FBI’s COINTELPRO to undermine any credibility of revolutionary socialists in the United States. Ultimately, Weather Underground’s petty bourgeois radicalism served the interest of the ruling class. Individual members of Weather Underground may not be aware, but the FBI and others involved in COINTELPRO were quite aware that Weather Underground’s petty bourgeois radicalism, both in terms of it s theory and practice, is conducive to the interest of the U.S. Empire.
If we take everything just said into consideration, J. Sakai’s theory begins to look suspicious. J. Sakai’s theory, originated and developed from Weather Underground’s theory, also inherited Weather Underground’s petty bourgeois radicalism. But while Weather Underground at best downplays the role of white workers in a socialist revolution, J. Sakai mostly rejects the revolutionary role of white workers because he believes they develop a petty-bourgeois consciousness from their position as labor aristocracy. Unlike Weather Underground, who can’t always think through their own theory consistently, J. Sakai follows the logic of Weather Underground’s manifesto to its logical conclusion. J. Sakai reasons consistently that white workers have no revolutionary potential due to their position as labor aristocracy and thus proletarian solidarity/unity in this country amongst different races is extremely unlikely.
But it’s an inescapable reality that in order to have a socialist revolution here in the United States, proletarian unity and solidarity amongst workers of all races, workers of oppressed and oppressor nations, is essential. The logic of internationalism that workers in oppressor countries and workers in oppressed countries should work together applies to all workers in the United States. Stalin spells out this logic of internationalism in his book Foundations of Leninism:
“The interests of the proletarian movement in the developed countries and of the national liberation movement in the colonies call for the union of these two forms of the revolutionary movement into a common front against the common enemy, against imperialism;
The victory of the working class in the developed countries and the liberation of the oppressed peoples from the yoke of imperialism are impossible without the formation and the consolidation of a common revolutionary front.”
Stalin also gives an example based on his own experience. He writes:
Without such a struggle the education of the working class of the ruling nations in the spirit of true internationalism, in the spirit of closer relations with the toiling masses of the dependent countries and colonies, in the spirit of real preparation for the proletarian revolution, is inconceivable. The revolution would not have been victorious in Russia and Kolchak and Denikin would not have been crushed, had not the Russian proletariat enjoyed the sympathy and support of the oppressed peoples of the former Russian Empire. But to win the sympathy and support of these peoples it had first of all to break the fetters of Russian imperialism and free these people from the yoke of national oppression.
Without this it would have been impossible to consolidate Soviet power, to implant real internationalism and to create that remarkable organisation for the collaboration of peoples which is called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and which is the living prototype of the future union of peoples in a single world economic system.
Hence the necessity of fighting against the national isolationism, narrowness and aloofness of the Socialist in the oppressed countries, who do not want to rise above their national parochialism and who do not understand the connection between the liberation movement in their own countries and the proletarian movement in the ruling countries.
Workers in both oppressor nations and oppressed nations should form a common revolutionary front in order to be victorious against imperialism. This same logic applies to workers in the United States. Workers of an oppressor nation and workers of oppressed nations should unite against imperialism. Weather Underground’s theory implicitly rejects this. While they claim it’s in the interest of most oppressed white workers that black liberation succeeds, they also said black liberation struggle can succeed without the most oppressed white workers of an oppressor nation. But proletarian unity, or internationalism, is essential for any socialist revolution. In the context of the Untied States, proletarian unity among workers of different backgrounds is an essential component. But Weather Underground rejects that proletarian unity is an essential component because they believe this implies that black liberation movement should wait for white workers, which they believe is racist. J. Sakai believes that proletarian unity between workers in oppressor nation and workers in oppressed nations is practically impossible because workers in an oppressor nation are a labor aristocracy. There is practically no difference between J. Sakai and Weather Underground because they both reject proletarian unity in the United States. They reject the heart of internationalism.
This rejection of the heart of internationalism stems from their petty-bourgeois radicalism as white college kids of bourgeois backgrounds. This petty bourgeois radicalism in turn, in its adventurism and terrorism, was encouraged and supported by COINTELPRO to preserve the interest of the bourgeois imperialists of the United States. Anything that leads to the rejection of the essence of internationalism, proletarian unity and solidarity, serves the ruling class. It’s no coincidence that J. Sakai’s theory, which inherited the petty-bourgeois radicalism of Weather Underground, similarly rejects the heart of internationalism. J. Sakai prioritize the interest of oppressed nations under the faulty assumption that the interest of workers in oppressor nations and interest of workers in oppressed nations are in an antagonistic contradiction with one another. This is a faulty assumption that he inherited from the Weather Underground. The difference between J. Sakai and Weather Underground is that Weather Undergrounds wasn’t fully aware that this assumption is a corollary of their theory, but J. Sakai was able to draw it out from and developed an elaborate Settlers theory of white labor aristocracy. Weather Underground’s theory reached its final stage of development under J. Sakai. It openly and explicitly rejects the heart and essence of internationalism in favor of a petty bourgeois radicalism of Maoist-Third Worldism, which has been historically supported and encouraged by COINTELPRO in the United States.