July 12, 2008

Valerie Scatamburlo-D’Annibale and Peter McLaren, "The Strategic Centrality of Class in the Politics of “Race” and “Difference” Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies, Volume 3 Number 2, 2003 148-175

We do not seek to subsume race into class for such a gesture would be antithetical to the animating principles of historical materialism (San Juan, 2002, p. 57). Rather, we advocate a position that strives to contextualize an understanding of racisms within a broader framework of capitalist class relations—one that is similar to what Meyerson (2000) has called a “class rule social control explanation.” Callinicos (1993) has argued that racism as we witness it today is related to the development of capitalism as the dominant mode of production on a global scale. He noted that in hierarchical (precapitalist) societies that relied on extraeconomic force, slavery was “merely one of a spectrum of unequal statuses, requiring no special explanation” (p. 27). This changed with the advent of capitalist society. As Callinicos has explained, the capitalist mode of production is premised on the exploitation of free wage labor and the workers’ separation from the means of production and their compulsion to sell their labor power (the only productive resource available to them). Capitalism relied on slave labor and needed an ideological legitimization—that Black people were subhuman—to proceed apace. p. 160-161

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