Alabama and Tibet (?)

Mathew Forstater forstate at
Wed Jul 8 20:35:37 PDT 1998

On Wed, 8 Jul 1998, Doyle Saylor wrote:

> How would you end racism in the U.S.? I thought Wojtek had a great
> reply to me. He said when I said we need to end capitalism to end
> racism, (to paraphrase the exchange) Wojtek calmly replied ‘NO
> capitalism doesn’t need racism, racism could be eliminated in a
> particular capitalist state (if the conditions Wojtek outlined applied)
> and capitalism would just move on’ (I’m oversimplifying).

Could you imagine a post-capitalist system that was still racist, patriarchal, etc.? Or does socialism automatically eliminate racism and sexism? And I do not mean by definition, but because you believe that racism and sexism are mechanically reducible to class, rather than mutually reinforcing but not parallel forms of oppression?

> In any case the thing that determines things is capitalism. Racists did
> not "create" capitalism, and capitalism can do whatever it needs to
> without racist projects and experiments.

My argument is that historically racism has played a crucial structural role in the rise and reproduction of capitalism, and that theoretically capitalism does require mutually reinforcing modes of oppression such as racism and patriarchy that mediate the hierarchies necessary for capitalism.

> a lot to the imagination. But I like the manner in which when we
> examine the facts of world history Wojtek’s idea could be tested

There has never been a capitalist world system in which racism did not play an indispensible structural role, in both its rise and reproduction. These are the "facts of world history" and the empirical record with which we are faced.



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