Race serves to divide the working class by bribing one group with privilege over the other. Membership in racial groups varies across history, widening and narrowing to serve the needs of the privileged group. Irish and Italian immigrants were granted membership into whiteness to maintain alignment against Black people during the Jim Crow era. Race is a condition inflicted on a people to make them vulnerable to the imperialist machinations of the owner class. Once one accepts that race is socially constructed, one must also accept that whiteness, the privileged identity group, is also socially constructed.

Even though whiteness is the privileged group, individuals who identify as white remain vulnerable to being denied whiteness. Just as previously distinct identity groups were admitted to whiteness, any identity group can be made into an Other and ejected from the privileged group. Any immutable characteristic can be totalized to define an identity group distinguished from the “default” whiteness. Even mutable characteristics can be leveraged as markers of degeneracy that disqualify one for the full privileges of whiteness. Any person born “white” might find themselves on the wrong side of privilege by choice or circumstance.

Across the diversity of identity groups and intersecting identities, the pattern of vulnerability remains. Conforming to the privileged group’s values and expectations may grant some share of advantage, perhaps limited by one’s ability to “pass” as the privileged identity. Such grants remain contingent on the perfection of one’s conformity and the convenience of the privileged group.

The only social grouping not vulnerable to being divested of privilege are the owner class. The owner class utilize whiteness and other divisive tools to maintain control over people and resources. Ultimately, as long as an individual retains enough wealth and influence to remain in the owner class, they are able to purchase any privilege. To align with the interests of the owner class is to abandon other identities for exploitation. Individuals who ascend to the owner class from a low-status identity group may face residual discrimination, but they leave behind fears of the martial class as long as they have wealth and its signifiers.

If one accepts these arguments, the working class vulnerability to discrimination becomes evident. While members of privileged identity groups may benefit temporarily by supporting the exploitative hierarchy, their own interests will be abandoned when they no longer intersect with the owner class. At such a time the owner class may redefine the social constructs that uphold privileged groups, and the workers now branded as degenerate take their place alongside the oppressed.

Even if the owner class extends privilege on a limited basis, workers who are so “elevated” do not share the long term interest of the owner class. As long as one can be deprived of those privileges, a worker’s interest is best aligned with their fellows, even across the boundaries of identity groups. Solidarity does not require forsaking identity, only recognizing that class conditions provide an avenue for trust across identities. Shared vulnerability to the owner class provides a basis for trust as long as one guards against the short term temptation to embrace the bribes of fragile privilege. The owner class relies on the success of those temptations to keep the workers divided against themselves.