These days we hear about “racial capitalism.” I got interested in this after being nudged by my buddy Tom Walker, a.k.a. The Sandwichman. (Long story.) I was prompted to read a book entitled “Black Marxism” by Cedric Robinson (1940-2016). I think it’s an important book, but after some rethinking I’m not sure we come out in the same place.
Thanks, Max, I appreciate your clarity on this.
Number 7 is crucial, for anyone who's going to be task-oriented. "It will be impossible to unite the working class as long as the subordination of P.O.C. and others is not recognized and addressed." Exactly what this means -- addressed how, programmatically? -- is a discussion still to be had. Does that mean reparations, for instance? And what's more divisive than that?
I also would like to quibble a bit with number 9: free college and M4A can't really be reduced to "nostrums" in an organizing context, can they? since they and most other items on Bernie's socdem agenda would certainly help poor, minority, disadvantaged, marginalized communities proportionally more than anyone else. So for me, it always comes down to, addressed how, exactly.
I’m no expert on economics or economism. This essay is a good start, but: didn’t capitalism in the USA emerge when Northern capitalists and industrialists backed the end of slavery and push for wage-labor? Didn’t the US labor movement build itself at its origin as a whites-only system while fighting capitalism? It seems to me that racism is deeply embedded in the brains of the deplorables (and, often, us) and isn’t part of the essence of capitalism.
Worth considering. https://jacobin.com/2019/04/racism-black-lives-matter-inequality
I’d quibble with your point 4 where you surmise that all past slavery had a racist component. Maybe so, but your analysis is incomplete unless you factor in the importance of CHATTEL slavery where all descendants of slaves were also the property of their owners and all free Black people were often presumed to be runaway slaves. This makes American slavery worse than most other forms I know of.
In my darker moments, I ponder whether the fine words of Jefferson’s Declaration actually made this worse. If you want to believe that “all men are created equal” and yet you also want to enslave people, one way to resolve the contradiction is to decide that the enslaved are in effect subhuman, not men at all, just slightly more intelligent farm animals. We do note that slavery, expected to wither in the days after the Revolution, only became more deeply entrenched.
The importance of chattel slavery cannot be overlooked.
I have no problems with Max's analysis. But the problem isn't analytical: it's ideological, or perhaps rhetorical. Bourgeois identity politics ("BIP") is the opiate of the ruling class: how it salves its conscience. (Some members of the ruling class do have a conscience, y'know.) The DSA is instinctively anti-BIP, and righteously so. Which raises the problem: how to be pro-woke and anti-BIP? As an analytical matter, there is no contradiction. But in terms of peoples' felt ideologies or in rhetorical space, it is damned hard.