Socialist Worker

Ending racism means smashing capitalism

Issue No. 2595

On the Stand Up To Racism demonstration in 2017

On the Stand Up To Racism demonstration in 2017 (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Thousands of people will die this year trying to cross borders in an effort to reach safety.

Women at the Yarl’s Wood detention centre are on hunger strike fighting indefinite detention.

And the results of the Italian elections show the threat of racist and fascist parties across Europe is real.

These are just some of the reasons why people will be on the Stand Up To Racism demonstrations this Saturday.

And it’s why we must build an anti-racist movement that is big and confident enough to fight the Tories’ and all those who want to further a racist agenda.

Every new struggle poses questions about the best ways to fight back.

Sometimes racism is presented as though it has always existed—as if discrimination and prejudice are innate features of society.

But the origins of racism are interwoven with the beginnings of capitalism.

The idea that people from Africa were subhuman was developed as justification for the slave trade.

Racism is not a static set of ideas in society, and can change over time.

So now Islamophobic claims about Muslims can centre on their perceived ability to “integrate”.

Under capitalism, racism will not simply wither away over time—it is relentlessly pushed by those at the top of society.


As the revolutionary Malcolm X said towards the end of his life, “You can’t have capitalism without racism.”

Bosses use racism to divide the only group of people with the power to fundamentally change the world—the working class.

Black and white workers need to unite. Struggling together can win better conditions and break down prejudices workers may hold.

This process of fighting back together shows that no one in the working class has an interest in oppression that divides workers.

Racism is experienced across classes, but it is in the interests of those at the top of society to maintain it.

They cannot be relied on to fight racism.

The police don’t take racist attacks seriously, and only last week a black man died in Lewisham after contact with the police.

Because it is possible to look to the past and see how racism developed, it is possible to imagine a future without it.

We have to fight together to challenge every manifestation of racism, but we also need to fight the system that breeds it.

It is not enough to mitigate the worst elements of racism—we have to destroy it completely.

The only way to finish racism off for good is to smash the capitalist system.

This needs socialism—a world where oppression plays no role in society, and where the needs of people are put before the needs of profit.

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