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 'RACES' et rapports de CLASSES, racisme structurel ou systémique, racisme d'État... (Black Lives Matter...)

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MessageSujet: Re: 'RACES' et rapports de CLASSES, racisme structurel ou systémique, racisme d'État... (Black Lives Matter...)   Mer 21 Sep - 14:14

What About Racism?

by Keeanga-Yamahtta Jacobin Magazine

Socialists think that the struggle against racism is central to undoing the ruling class’s power

Illustration by Phil Wrigglesworth / Jacobin

This essay appears in The ABCs of Socialism. View the release page for the book and buy a print copy today.

Citation :
For more than a year, the Black Lives Matter movement has gripped the United States. The movement’s central slogan is a simple, declarative recognition of black humanity in a society that is wracked by economic and social inequality disproportionately experienced by African Americans.

The movement is relatively new, but the racism that spawned it is not. By every barometer in American society — health care, education, employment, poverty — African Americans are worse off.

Elected officials from across the political spectrum often blame these disparities on an absence of “personal responsibility” or view them as a cultural phenomenon particular to African Americans.

In reality, racial inequality has been largely produced by government policy and private institutions that not only impoverish African Americans but also demonize and criminalize them.

Yet racism is not simply a product of errant public policy or even the individual attitudes of racist white people — and understanding the roots of racism in American society is critical for eradicating it.

Crafting better public policy and banning discriminatory behavior by individuals or institutions won’t do the job. And while there is a serious need for government action barring practices that harm entire groups of people, these strategies fail to grasp the scale and depth of racial inequality in the United States.

To understand why the United States seems so resistant to racial equality, we have to look beyond the actions of elected officials or even those who prosper from racial discrimination in the private sector. We have to look at the way American society is organized under capitalism.

The Basic Division

Capitalism is an economic system based on the exploitation of the many by the few. Because of the gross inequality it produces, capitalism relies on various political, social, and ideological tools to rationalize that inequality while simultaneously dividing the majority, who have every interest in uniting to resist it.

How does the one percent maintain its disproportionate control of the wealth and resources in American society? By a process of divide and rule.

Racism is only one among many oppressions intended to serve this purpose. For example, American racism developed as a justification for the enslavement of Africans at a time when the world was celebrating the concepts of liberty, freedom, and self-determination.

The dehumanization and subjection of black people had to be rationalized in this moment of new political possibilities. But the central objective was preserving the institution of slavery and the enormous riches that it produced.

As Marx recognized:

Citation :
Direct slavery is just as much the pivot of bourgeois industry as machinery, credits, etc. Without slavery you have no cotton; without cotton you have no modern industry. It is slavery that has given the colonies their value; it is the colonies that have created world trade, and it is world trade that is the pre-condition of large-scale industry. Thus slavery is an economic category of the greatest importance.

Marx also identified the centrality of African slave labor to the genesis of capitalism when he wrote that

Citation :
the discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of Black skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production.

The labor needs of capital alone could explain how racism functioned under capitalism. The literal dehumanization of Africans for the sake of labor was used to justify their harsh treatment and their debased status in the United States.

This dehumanization did not simply end when slavery was abolished; instead, the mark of inferiority branded onto black skin carried over into Emancipation and laid the basis for the second-class citizenship African Americans experienced for close to a hundred years after slavery.

The debasement of blacks also made African Americans more vulnerable to economic coercion and manipulation — not just “anti-blackness.” Coercion and manipulation were rooted in the evolving economic demands of capital, but their impact rippled far beyond the economic realm. Black people were stripped of their right to vote, subjected to wanton violence, and locked into menial and poorly paid labor. This was the political economy of American racism.

There was another consequence of racism and the marking of blacks. African Americans were so thoroughly banished from political, civil, and social life that it was virtually impossible for the vast majority of poor and working-class whites to even conceive of uniting with blacks to challenge the rule and authority of the ruling white clique.

Marx recognized this basic division within the working class when he observed, “In the United States of America, every independent movement of the workers was paralyzed as long as slavery disfigured a part of the Republic. Labor cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the Black it is branded.”

Marx grasped the modern dynamics of racism as the means by which workers who had common objective interests could also become mortal enemies because of subjective — but nevertheless real — racist and nationalist ideas. Looking at the tensions between Irish and English workers, Marx wrote:

Citation :
Every industrial and commercial center in England possesses a working class divided into two hostile camps, English proletarians and Irish proletarians.

The ordinary English worker hates the Irish worker as a competitor who lowers his standard of life. In relation to the Irish worker he feels himself a member of the ruling nation and so turns himself into a tool of the aristocrats and capitalists of his country against Ireland.

This antagonism is artificially kept alive and intensified by the press, the pulpit, the comic papers, in short by all the means at the disposal of the ruling classes. This antagonism is the secret of the impotence of the English working class, despite its organization. It is the secret by which the capitalist maintains its power. And that class is fully aware of it.

For socialists in the United States, recognizing the centrality of racism in dividing the class that has the actual power to undo capitalism has typically meant that socialists have been heavily involved in campaigns and social movements to end racism.

But within the socialist tradition, many have also argued that because African Americans and most other nonwhites are disproportionately poor and working class, campaigns aimed at ending economic inequality alone would stop their oppression.

This stance ignores how racism constitutes its own basis for oppression for nonwhite people. Ordinary blacks and other nonwhite minorities are oppressed not only because of their poverty, but also because of their racial or ethnic identities.

There is also no direct correlation between economic expansion or improved economic conditions and a decrease in racial inequality. In reality, racial discrimination often prevents African Americans and others from fully accessing the fruits of economic expansion.

After all, the black insurgency of the 1960s coincided with the robust and thriving economy of the 1960s — black people were rebelling because they were locked out of American affluence.

Looking at racism as only a byproduct of economic inequality ignores the ways that racism exists as an independent force that wreaks havoc in the lives of all African Americans.

The struggle against racism regularly intersects with struggles for economic equality, but racism does not only express itself over economic questions. Antiracist struggles also take place in response to the social crises black communities experience, including struggles against racial profiling, police brutality, housing, health care, educational inequality, and mass incarceration and other aspects of the “criminal justice” system.

These fights against racial inequality are critical, both for improving the lives of African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities in the here-and-now; and for demonstrating to ordinary white people the destructive impact of racism in the lives of nonwhite people.

Winning ordinary whites to an antiracist program is a key component in building a genuine, unified mass movement capable of challenging capital. Unity cannot be achieved by suggesting that black people should downplay the role of racism in our society so as not to alienate whites — while only focusing on the “more important” struggle against economic inequality.

This is why multiracial groupings of socialists have always participated in struggles against racism. This was particularly true throughout the twentieth century, as African Americans became a more urban population in constant conflict and competition with native-born and immigrant whites over jobs, housing, and schools.

Violent conflict between working-class blacks and whites underlined the extent to which racial division destroyed the bonds of solidarity necessary to collectively challenge employers, landlords, and elected officials.

Socialists played key roles in campaigns against lynching and racism in the criminal justice system, like the Scottsboro Boys campaign in the 1930s, when nine African-American youths were accused of raping two white women in Scottsboro, Alabama.

The liberal National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had been reluctant to take the case, but the Scottsboro trials became a priority for the Communist Party and its affiliated International Legal Defense.

One part of the campaign involved touring the mothers of the boys around the country and then around the world to draw attention and support to their case. Ada Wright — mother to two of the boys — traveled to sixteen countries in six months in 1932 to tell her son’s story.

Because she was traveling with known Communists, she was often barred from speaking. In Czechoslovakia she was accused of being a Communist and jailed for three days before being expelled from the country.

Socialists were also involved in unionization drives among African Americans and were central to civil rights campaigns in the North, South, and West for African Americans and other oppressed minorities.

This engagement explains why many African Americans gravitated toward socialist politics over the course of their lives — socialists had always articulated a vision of society that could guarantee genuine black freedom.

By the late 1960s, even figures like Martin Luther King Jr were describing a kind of socialist vision of the future. In a 1966 presentation to a gathering of his organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King commented:

Citation :
We must honestly face the fact that the movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. There are forty million poor people here. And one day we must ask the question, “Why are there forty million poor people in America?” And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy . . .

“Who owns the oil?” You begin to ask the question, “Who owns the iron ore?” You begin to ask the question, “Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds water?” These are questions that must be asked.

As movements continued to radicalize, groups like the Black Panthers and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers followed in the tradition of Malcolm X when they linked black oppression directly to capitalism.

The Panthers and the League went further than Malcolm by attempting to build socialist organizations for the specific purpose of organizing working-class blacks to fight for a socialist future.

Today the challenge for socialists is no different: being centrally involved in the struggles against racism while also fighting for a better world based on human need, not profit.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is an assistant professor in Princeton University's Center for African American Studies and the author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation

mars 2016

Citation :
The eruption of mass protests in the wake of the police murders of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City have challenged the impunity with which officers of the law carry out violence against Black people and punctured the illusion of a postracial America. The Black Lives Matter movement has awakened a new generation of activists.

In this stirring and insightful analysis, activist and scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor surveys the historical and contemporary ravages of racism and persistence of structural inequality such as mass incarceration and Black unemployment. In this context, she argues that this new struggle against police violence holds the potential to reignite a broader push for Black liberation.

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MessageSujet: Re: 'RACES' et rapports de CLASSES, racisme structurel ou systémique, racisme d'État... (Black Lives Matter...)   Dim 13 Nov - 21:11

un texte qui me paraît excellent et dont il serait bien d'avoir la traduction

Black representation after Ferguson

John Clegg 'The Brooklyn Rail', May 3rd, 2016

Photo: A Jones. Used under (CC BY-ND 2.0). Desaturated from the original.

John Clegg, of the 'Endnotes' collevtive, examines the state of black politics in the US.

Citation :
Up until the crisis of 2008, racial inequality in the United States was showing signs of improvement. Poverty and unemployment among blacks had fallen sharply in the 1990s, and the wages of black and white workers had begun to converge. These improvements were stopped short by the recession of the early 2000s, but thereafter a boom in subprime lending led to a significant reduction in the wealth gap between black and white households. The popping of the housing bubble threw all these measures into reverse. While most Americans suffered, black Americans were particularly badly affected. In the eight years since the crisis, racial disparities in wealth, poverty, and unemployment returned to or exceeded their pre-1990s levels. It should thus come as no surprise that riots have also made a comeback in recent years.

The triggers were a series of police killings of young black men: Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Freddie Gray. Such events have not become more frequent. Rather, an already existing reign of police terror was the American state’s only means of managing a rapidly deteriorating set of conditions in poor black neighborhoods. Ferguson was a revolt not only against the police, but also against a society which has nothing but police to offer.1

When black proletarians riot, white Americans tend to cast around for an eloquent spokesperson who can either assuage their fear or indulge their guilt. The old Civil Rights leaders were too out of touch in this case, so journalists combed the twitter feeds of protesters for substitutes. Those willing to play the role of spokespersons have been fêted by the media, with cover stories in Ebony, Time and the New York Times Magazine. Some were even featured in Fortune’s 2016 “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” list. They have received regular invitations to the White House, and Democratic presidential candidates have coveted their endorsement. Yet journalists have also shown a prurient interest in the periodic clashes, both personal and political, among the newly celebrated activists.

All this media attention, however, both positive and negative, owes its existence not to the activists themselves, but to the fact that thousands took to the streets and attacked police and property in Ferguson and Baltimore. Though some activists began organizing prior to Ferguson—in response to the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and Renisha McBride—their actions had met with the same lip-service that typically greets protests against police brutality in this country. Officer Wilson’s murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, following quickly on Eric Garner’s live-action death at the hands of the NYPD, was a watershed, sparking a week-long uprising in a suburban town far from the bi-coastal activist hubs. Baltimore, with protests closer in form to the “inner city riots” of the 1960s, consolidated this newfound vigor, demonstrating the willingness of poor blacks to rise up against a local black elite. The question partisans of this movement must ask is to what extent the new activists can help or hinder the black proletarian insurgency that threw them into the spotlight.

Racism and capitalism

One reason to pose this question is that the activists in the media spotlight often don’t seem to come from the same demographic as the victims of police violence and incarceration they claim to represent. Several apparently grew up in predominantly white middle-class suburbs, and most are either students or university graduates. This, of course, doesn’t mean they aren’t subject to the humiliations at the hand of law enforcement that all black people suffer, or that they aren’t worse off in many respects than white people from comparable backgrounds. But it does mean that there are some marked differences between them and the average resident of South Ferguson or West Baltimore. For instance, over the past decades the chances of incarceration have fallen for blacks with a college education, while they have rapidly risen for the poor, both black and white.2

Black people make up a massively disproportionate share of America’s prisoners: they are 13% of the population and 37.6% of those in prison. Yet since almost all prisoners come from poor backgrounds, the disproportionate representation of poverty in prisons is even greater than that of race.3 There is no contradiction here, nor should this come as a surprise to anyone paying attention, for blackness and poverty have always been overlapping categories in America, and they remain so despite the emergence of a black middle class in recent decades. Today, over a quarter of those in the bottom quintile of the income distribution are black, and almost half of all black households are located in that bottom quintile. It would be just as absurd to think that specifically black struggles are a distraction from the more pressing issue of poverty as to think that alleviating poverty would be of little concern to “the black community.”

Such absurdities were recently, however, on full display in the heavily mediatized tensions between some Black Lives Matter activists and the Sanders campaign, conventionally interpreted as a conflict between “race-first” and “class-first” leftisms. The activists are right to be suspicious of Sanders. After all, he identifies with a tradition of the white left—Debs’s Socialist Party—that really was blind to racism. He’s also operating within a political party whose last two presidents have presided over generalized immiseration and incarceration of black people. But in promoting “black issues” as a Democratic talking-point, distinct from or even opposed to concerns about rising inequality, many activists are supporting a liberal version of anti-racism that is incapable of addressing the root causes of either racial or class inequality, but is readily compatible with the kind of neoliberal politics epitomized by Hillary Clinton.

Mais en promouvant « les questions noires » comme point focal de la démocratie, distinct ou même opposé aux préoccupations concernant la montée des inégalités, de nombreux militants soutiennent une version libérale de l’antiracisme, qui est incapable de s’attaquer aux causes profondes des inégalités qu'elles soient raciales ou de classe, mais est facilement compatible avec le genre de politiques néolibérales incarnées par Hillary Clinton

In the so-called scholarly literature, racial inequality is typically explained as the result of two forms of racism: present-day racial discrimination, and racial discrimination in the past. Examples of present day discrimination include employers who ignore job applications from people with “black-sounding names,” and cops who stop and search black people without cause, while letting others walk by. Academics debate whether these forms of discrimination are due to conscious racist beliefs on the part of cops and employers or unconscious racial bias due to distorted stereotypes, or based on so-called “statistical discrimination,” rooted in reported correlations between average levels of education, wealth, and criminality. For victims of discrimination, it doesn’t really matter what the reasons are, but there is no question that these forms of discrimination exist and contribute to racial inequality.

However, although racial discrimination undoubtedly exists today, its contribution to overall racial inequality is dwarfed by that of baked-in material inequalities established over many generations, the result of much more stringent forms of racism in the past. While present-day racism increases the risk of incarceration and makes it harder for some people to find and retain better jobs, slavery denied wealth and education to almost all black people for more than two hundred years, and Jim Crow denied them civil rights for almost another century. In the post-war period, redlining by federal and local officials further denied black people access to private housing wealth throughout the U.S. As a result, a massively disproportionate share of the black population are born into neighborhoods of concentrated poverty where the risk of ending up poor, unemployed, and incarcerated would be extremely high even if police and employers were blind to race—which of course they are not.

Most scholars and many activists would concede that historical racism is the main cause of present day racial inequality. However, in discussion of this fact the mechanism linking cause and effect is rarely specified. Concepts like “institutional racism” and “white supremacy” tend, at best, to obscure this mechanism by confusing cause and effect. At worst they imply that the only thing that could connect past racism to present racial inequality is either an illicit perpetuation of Jim Crow institutions, or a hidden conspiracy of white people. In fact, the main thing that connects past racism to present racial inequality is simply the normal functioning of capitalism.

Generally speaking, markets allocate resources not to those who need or deserve them, but to those who have them already. As a result, those who are born to poor parents tend themselves be poor. They can expect to have a worse education at every level, be less healthy, have less advantageous social connections, and be less able to draw on their parents’ money to access universities, unpaid internships, and housing wealth. These factors are exacerbated by the concentration of poverty in the neighborhoods where most black people live. Since under capitalism poverty is a heritable condition, even if racial discrimination were completely eradicated, racial inequality would persist. The common notion that in the absence of active discrimination existing inequalities (due to past racism) would be wiped out in the long run is simply false. For the last forty years, inequality in America has been rising and inter-class mobility has been falling. Under these conditions it is plausible to assume the opposite: that initial inequalities will be exacerbated over time.

Of course, to say that racial inequality would continue or worsen even if there were no present-day racism is not to deny the existence of that racism. Even if biological theories of racial inferiority are rarer than in the past, racial discrimination is still ubiquitous. But the causal relationship between racial inequality and racism may today be reversed: whereas in the past it was racism—embodied in state policy and informal codes—that drove racial inequality, it may now be that racial inequality is itself one of the primary causes of racism. That is, racism today may in large part be a post hoc justification for observed racial inequalities, and one that has the potential to reinforce them.

Americans have long been enthralled by the myth of class mobility, what Du Bois called “the American assumption of equal economic opportunity for all, which persisted in the face of facts.”4 Given the widespread belief that anyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps, Americans are particularly prone to pathologize groups who are disproportionately poor: since free markets are supposed to reward hard work, those who fail to accumulate wealth have no one but themselves to blame. In the past, Americans have reached for biological explanations for this failure, but now it is more common to appeal to a cultural aversion to work and saving, or a lack of family values. These explanations can become grounds for additional discrimination in so far as employers and cops not only treat people who come from poor, crime-ridden neighborhoods differently, but also in so far as the myth of class mobility leads those same employers and cops to expect to find irremediable characteristics among individuals in these groups.

While this feedback effect between racial inequality and racial discrimination is undoubtedly real, the impact of the resulting discrimination is most likely small when compared to the sheer weight of inherited disadvantage. Thus, while anti-discrimination and affirmative action policies may have some effect on overall disparities, and come with other benefits such as reducing the additional psychic stigma associated with race, the underlying disadvantage cannot be substantially reversed merely through policies aimed at removing or reversing discrimination. The existing wealth disparities, in a context where intergenerational wealth transfers dominate all other drivers of inequality, are simply too great. Inherited black disadvantage could only be overcome by challenging the basic workings of capitalist markets, which systematically allocate wealth to the wealthy.

In the 1960s and ’70s, many black radicals recognized capitalism’s role in reproducing black immiseration. Their anti-racism thus went hand in hand with a critique of capitalism. In some cases they sought to temper the power of markets through a program of massive redistribution—the “Marshall Plan for the ghetto” that seemed briefly on the table in the 1960s. In other cases they hoped to overthrow capitalism with a socialist or communist revolution (which they often imagined themselves leading). Yet today, when capitalism plays an even greater role in reproducing racial inequality, the most visible activists in Black Lives Matter rarely adopt an anti-capitalist stance. Even social-democratic redistribution, of the universalist kind proposed by Sanders, is sometimes criticized as a distraction from the crucial task of “changing hearts and minds” about racial bias. Why is this?

First, one of the main drivers of racism today—the myth of class mobility and the pathologization of the poor that results from it—makes it hard to see that capitalism reproduces racial inequality all by itself. Many activists may be influenced by the standard American assumption that the normal functioning of markets is to reward the industrious. Since they are anti-racist, they assume that qualities like industriousness are not disproportionately possessed by one race rather than another. They thus conclude that if it were not for racial discrimination, racial inequality would disappear. Since this thinking involves an implicit assumption that the intergenerational reproduction of class status is a peculiar condition of racialized minorities, we might call it “the myth of white mobility.”

There is some historical justification for this myth. Contemporary anti-racist thinking emerged in the 1960s and ’70s, at the tail end of a period when white mobility really was quite high. New Deal-era redistribution, the hegemony of U.S. manufacturing, and the successive Korean and Vietnam war booms all conspired to allow a large percentage of white Americans to accumulate the housing wealth that blacks were denied due to redlining. Average black incomes also began to rise towards the end of this period, but the social elevator was shut down in the 1970s, just after blacks had successfully fought to get on board. The current populist insurgencies within both parties are indicators that the dream of American uplift is now largely dead.5 Yet in retrospect, as Thomas Piketty has shown, it is the post-war mobility of white Americans that appears exceptional: the historical norm within capitalism has been for class status to be inherited.

A second reason for the limited ambitions of anti-racist activists may be more strategic: focusing on racial discrimination allows for an alliance between poor, middle class, and wealthy blacks, whereas focusing on the main cause of black poverty—lack of income mobility—threatens to divide them. To put it crudely: while wealthy people may want less income mobility, because they are afraid that they or their children will fall down, poorer people want more, because the only way is up. Middle-class activists are rarely willing to face up to such contradictions, and to gloss over them is the sine qua non of liberal anti-racism.

This is evident even in as astute an observer of the interlocking dynamics of race and class as Ta-Nehisi Coates. When he laments, for example, the inability of wealthy blacks to preserve their class status across generations, he ignores the fact that it is precisely the broader tendency towards preservation of wealth that ensures most black people stay poor in the long run.6 Coates recognizes that the principle driver of black disadvantage today is the inheritance of past racism, yet in focusing on the historical origins of racial inequality—something that can’t be changed—he passes over something which can: the market mediations that reproduce it. By restricting his critique to those forms of inherited poverty that can be traced to past racism, and by advocating inheritance of wealth for the black elite, Coates tacitly accepts the broader market forces that condemn the children of the poor to a miserable fate.

Class, Race, and Representation

In the fight for black freedom in America, it has often been necessary to forge strategic alliances across class lines, and leaders of that movement have always disproportionately come from the black elite. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this. Contrary to a myth sometimes propagated on the campus-based left, one doesn’t need to share the fate of a group in order to understand their plight and act in solidarity with them. There are also many aspects of black life that are shared across class divides, most notably the experience of racism.

It has, however, always been a mistake to view the black population as a homogenous entity or “community,” capable of singular representation. It is possible to tell the history of “racial representation” in America as one of continual misrepresentation, a story in which often self-elected—or white-delegated—“leaders,” mostly emanating from the black elite, repeatedly betray their predominantly working-class followers. Among early figures, one could cite Booker T. Washington’s active support for segregation, W.E.B. Du Bois’s elitist pathologizing of black criminality, and Marcus Garvey’s attempted alliance with the Ku Klux Klan. But such an account would overlook the real gains of the movements these people led, and the brutal constraints they often faced. It would also seem merely to invert the “great man” theory of history so often told of these figures. If people like Du Bois and Martin Luther King, Jr. were able to overcome some of their own elitist prejudices and align themselves with an increasingly mobilized black proletariat, this was due not to any particular genius on their part, but to the fact that had they failed to adapt, they would have lost their status as leaders.

This, of course, is not the case today. It’s all very well for some in the Congressional Black Caucus to apologize for their support for Clinton’s 1994 crime bill—or in Kweisi Mfume’s case, to pretend that they didn’t support it—but it is a distortion to present their support as a mistake or aberration. The majority of CBC members have voted in favor of every major federal crime bill that contributed to mass incarceration, including the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 that introduced the 100-to-1 crack/cocaine sentencing disparity. If they had been accountable to the predominantly black victims of these policies, they would have been thrown out of office. The fact that they weren’t is partly a symptom of the decline of grassroots black activism, but it also reflects a profound transformation in the political and class composition of the black population, a result of the limited successes of the civil rights movement.

Cedric Johnson’s crucial study of black leadership, Revolutionaries to Race Leaders, shows that entry into federal, state, and local legislatures in the 1970s—largely an effect of civil rights victories—coincided with a shift in strategic outlook across the spectrum of black politics.7 On the “black power” left, those leaders who were not eliminated by FBI repression increasingly abandoned anti-capitalism in return for a promise of local political autonomy that satisfied their nationalist ambitions. Meanwhile, the civil rights center shifted towards anti-racist liberalism, gradually exchanging demands for social-democratic redistribution in favor of the black poor for affirmative action programs that focused on middle-class professionals, ensuring “black faces in high places.” Johnson understands this rallying of black political leaders around a politics of “elite brokerage” and “race management” as an effect of several factors: the pre-existing limits of ethnic politics (in both its nationalist and liberal varieties); the rightward turn of American politics in general; the incorporation of radicals into the institutions of the American state, initially via Great Society programs, and later via Democratic political machines. But the neoliberal drift of black politics also corresponded to shifts in the population that these leaders claimed to represent.

Possibly the most durable impact of civil rights legislation was the opportunity to move out of the ghetto that laws against residential discrimination gave to those blacks who could afford it. The black elite had previously been forced to live alongside the poor, and in this and other respects was forced to share their fate. Now they could leave, and they did so in great numbers. In 1970, roughly two thirds of the black middle class lived in predominantly poor inner city neighborhoods. Today the same share lives in predominantly white suburbs. They constitute a professional and managerial class: senior civil servants, doctors, and lawyers; a few managers and entrepreneurs. While relatively small, this new suburban black elite quickly became a vocal political constituency, often entering legislatures on the back of voting-rights victories. It also increasingly distinguished itself—culturally, politically, and economically—from the black poor.

Two important and somewhat contrary facts must be kept in mind when discussing this new black elite. Firstly, they constitute an elite only relative to the extreme and concentrated poverty of the black inner city. They tend to do significantly worse than their white neighbors, especially with respect to wealth, and like all black people they experience racism. Secondly, and despite this, they are in a relative sense more of an elite than the white equivalent, since black wealth in America is far more concentrated than white, and the income gap between top and bottom far greater.8 Thus while it is true, as Coates emphasizes, that downward movements along the income spectrum are more common among black than white elites, it is also true that they have more to lose. It is the growing tension between racial unity and class divergence that besets black political representation today.

The rise of the new black middle class over the last four decades, and its disproportionate impact on black politics, is inseparable from the shifts analyzed by Johnson. Support by black elected officials for punitive carceral policy, for example, is not only an effect of the incorporation and decline of grassroots black activism; it also reflects an increasing divergence of material interests. Although he downplays it in his recent memoir, this was something Coates was acutely aware of when he first wrote about the murder of his friend Prince Jones by a black police officer. At the time, Coates described the officer’s employer, Prince George’s County, Maryland, as “black America’s power base, the largest concentration of the black middle class in the country.” According to Coates:

“Usually, police brutality is framed as a racial issue: Rodney King suffering at the hands of a racist white Los Angeles Police Department or more recently, an unarmed Timothy Thomas, gunned down by a white Cincinnati cop. But in more and more communities, the police doing the brutalizing are African Americans, supervised by African-American police chiefs, and answerable to African-American mayors and city councils.”9

In trying to explain why so few people in P.G. County showed up to a Sharpton-led march in the wake of the Jones shooting, Coates pointed out that “affluent black residents are just as likely as white ones to think the victims of police brutality have it coming.”10

We might add that their political representatives are apt to combine neoliberal politics—Cory Booker of Newark is the outstanding example—with what Johnson calls “race management.” To see how the politics of “race management” play out at the local level we need only compare Ferguson with Baltimore. In Baltimore, where an existing black political elite dominated most aspects of local government, the uprising was quelled in a matter of days, leaving nothing but an eerie silence in its wake (interrupted only by moral panics about rising crime rates). In Ferguson, where there was only a minimal infrastructure of black political representation, the initial week-long uprising was repeated several times, each time politicizing new swaths of black youth, turning the small and hitherto obscure town into a national center for the new activism. Because of Ferguson’s distance from the black political establishment, younger activists there were able to directly challenge the old guard, many of them veterans of the civil rights movement, and prevent them from claiming leadership. Jesse Jackson was booed in Ferguson when he took the opportunity to ask for donations ​to​ his church, and Al Sharpton was condemned for using his speech at Michael Brown’s funeral to excoriate black youth and their “sagging pants.”

But what was being displaced was not merely a generation. Unlike the Civil Rights old guard, who were often brought up with expectations of “race leadership,” for the children of the new black middle class activism has become a professional option. Traditional civil service jobs and voluntary work have been replaced by career opportunities in a non-profit sector. Before he became the face of the new activism, DeRay McKesson, for example, had been an ambassador for Teach for America (TFA), an organization that recruits elite college graduates to spend two years teaching in poor inner-city schools, often as part of a strategy to promote charter schools and bust teachers’ unions. In general, “community organizing” nonprofits are often funded by large foundations such as Ford, Rockefeller, and Open Society. An integral aspect of the privatization of the American welfare state, they can also function as “astroturf” for Democratic politicians and lobbying groups like TFA. Thus, as activists from around the country flooded into Ferguson, so too did non-profit dollars to recruit them.

White Allies and Black Cops

“White people,” DeRay McKesson recently joked to a New York Times journalist, “like hearing about black people in pain.” McKesson, who is currently running for mayor of Baltimore, was explaining one of his campaign slogans—“Baltimore is a city in recovery”—in which he linked the city’s fate to his own story as a child of drug addicts. Given his background in the charter school movement, and the Wall Street money behind his campaign, the “recovery” that DeRay envisages is likely to have something in common with the one neoliberal mayor Nagin offered New Orleans after Katrina: closure or privatization of most public schools and public housing. As his critics point out, DeRay is not really a movement leader; he represents no-one but himself; and—as the Times emphasizes—there is no way he’s going to become mayor of Baltimore. But his joke rings true, and it evokes some of the perils of the new activism.

In 2015 the new activists presented a formidable challenge to the existing black political elite in this country. They have perhaps been given another opening by that elite’s recent kowtowing to Hillary Clinton, in whose victories we witness a perverse alliance of “black power” and the power of capital. The activists who have come together under the heading “Black Lives Matter” form a diverse eco-system, and many are highly critical of self- or media-designated leaders. For instance, Black Youth Project 100 and Project South represent an anti-capitalist wing of the movement that has rejected McKesson’s neoliberal politics. But, with few exceptions, the activists that have received media attention have restricted themselves to a liberal anti-racism that remains popular among students and Democratic politicians, but has seemingly little to offer to an increasingly immiserated black working class.

Take, for example, the Black Lives Matter Network, founded by Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Khan-Cullors. Garza’s oft-quoted claim to have invented the slogan “black lives matter” in August 2013 is almost certainly false, for the hashtag can be found on Twitter over a year earlier.11 Despite the conflicts that such proprietary claims have sometimes generated, the network has succeeded in expanding, and has managed to successfully rebuff the predatory advances of the Democratic machine. However, their often vague press releases manage to combine the touchy-feely language of campus-based identity politics with the arid prose of non-profit grant applications. They seek to “change the conversation” and “build and nurture a beloved community,” but to do this by “creat[ing] the infrastructure for this movement project—moving the hashtag from social media to the streets.”12

Specific goals are rarely identified, but given Garza’s professed skepticism of official party politics, her summary of the movement’s successes reveals a surprising degree of faith in these institutions:

If it wasn’t for this movement, we wouldn’t have presidential candidates talking about whether black lives matter. We wouldn’t talk about presidential candidates having platforms on racial justice and criminal justice. We wouldn’t have 40 new laws passed in 26 states in a period of one year around criminal justice. We wouldn’t even have bipartisan criminal justice reform happening at the federal government. We wouldn’t have the Congressional Black Caucus taking on, as a priority, criminal justice reform.13

Garza doesn’t give us any details about these reforms, but the other main group to receive media attention—Campaign Zero, founded by (among others) Johnetta Elzie, DeRay McKesson, and Brittany Packnett—are less shy about specifying their “victories.” The reforms that have passed are typically technical or procedural: body cams, racial bias awareness trainings, limitations on acquisitions of surplus military hardware, and independent (non-criminal) investigations into police shootings. Such policies are unlikely to have any effect on the extent of police brutality or incarceration. The more ambitious proposals, backed by the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP, include revising police guidelines to restrict use of force and racial profiling. These may turn out to be more effective (though they depend on the willingness of police, prosecutors, and judges to implement them), but an online policy platform backed by a twitter celebrity is unlikely to convince politicians to pass such laws over the staunch opposition of police unions, at least without more riots.

Campaign Zero’s remaining policy proposals come down to the three C’s: “community oversight,” “community representation,” and “community policing.” That is: more black elected officials, more black police, and more black police informants. It’s not hard to see why the black political elite would support such measures. But the new activists should know better. Baltimore, where DeRay is from and where the riots were the fiercest, has long been a testing ground for such policies. Thus the true meaning of these reforms are to be found, not in DeRay’s vision of the future of Baltimore, but rather in its present misery: a “new Jim Crow” with black faces in white places.14 However, the black working class doesn’t need the example of Baltimore to demonstrate that more black cops would mean more of the same. James Baldwin, reflecting on his time growing up in Harlem in the 1930s, demonstrates that it was already common knowledge back then:

The poor, of whatever color, do not trust the law and certainly have no reason to, and God knows we didn’t. “If you must call a cop,” we said in those days, “for God’s sake, make sure it’s a white one.” We did not feel that the cops were protecting us, for we knew too much about the reasons for the kinds of crimes committed in the ghetto; but we feared black cops even more than white cops, because the black cop had to work so much harder—on your head—to prove to himself and his colleagues that he was not like all the other niggers.”

It would be premature to argue that black and white workers should simply “unite and fight.” There are few prospects of a revival of the workers’ movement in America, either within or without the sclerotic unions. Meanwhile, the war that is currently being waged in black neighborhoods, and the rise of an openly racist populism within the Republican party, show that black people don’t have the luxury of waiting for white workers to rebuild such a movement. They are forced to fight today with whatever allies they can find to curb a murderous police force and shut down the prison gulags. Black elites, economic and political, may seem like allies in this fight, but only up to a point: the point at which their own interests in social order, political patronage, and the preservation of wealth come into conflict with demands from the street. At that point the new activists will have some difficult choices to make.

1. For an analysis of Black Lives Matter along these lines, see “Brown v. Ferguson.” Endnotes 4 (October 2015).
2. Western and Pettit show that in 2008 the incarceration rate for college-educated black men was six times lower than the rate for poor whites who failed to graduate high school. Bruce Western & Becky Pettit, “Incarceration and Social Inequality.” Dædalus (Summer 2010), 8-19.
3. Poverty statistics are not readily available for contemporary prison populations, but proxies like education and unemployment are. According to recent surveys, while blacks are overrepresented in the prison population by a factor of three, high school dropouts are over-represented by a factor of five, and the unemployed are over-represented by a factor of six.
4. W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America. (New York: Harcourt. 1935), 585.
5. Clinton’s successes among older black voters suggests that traditional black politics is the one area where the American fantasy of social uplift still has some traction. This may be in part because the Civil Rights movement they lived through appeared actually to offer this. For the rest of the population, and especially for young working class blacks, a Clinton victory will depend not on convincing people that “America is already great”, but that Trump will make it even worse.
6. Ta-Nehisi Coates, “A Rising Tide Lifts All Yachts: Why class-based social policy doesn’t address African Americans’ problems.” The Atlantic (June 14, 2013). See also Coates’ response to Johnson, “The Enduring Solidarity of Whiteness.” The Atlantic (February 8, 2016).
7. Cedric Johnson, Revolutionaries to Race Leaders: Black power and the making of African American Politics (University of Minnesota Press, 2007).
8. In 1966 the richest quintile of blacks had about 8 times the income of the bottom quintile, about the same ratio as whites. By 1996 it had doubled to 17, almost twice the level of whites. In 2013 black people made up 8% of America’s millionaires. Since this is less than 13%, blacks are clearly underrepresented at the top just as they are overrepresented at the bottom. But the striking fact is that there are any black millionaires at all, given both the historical bars to black wealth accumulation, and the fact that today the median black household has only $200 in liquid assets.
9. Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Black and Blue: Why does America’s richest black suburb have some of the country’s most brutal cops?” Washington Monthly (June 2001).
10. Coates concludes: “The truth is, the black middle class is not that much different from the white one. Just as affluent white people aren’t too interested in the plight of poor whites, neither are affluent blacks especially concerned with their brothers in the ghetto.”
11. Alicia Garza, “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement.” The Feminist Wire (October 7, 2014).
 #BlackLifeMatters was more common than #BlackLivesMatters prior to the summer of 2013, but both can be found in speeches, Twitter feeds, and protest banners from early 2012.
12. Ibid.
13. John Riley, “#BlackLivesMatter: Alicia Garza on privilege, justice and founding a movement,” Metroweekly (February 18, 2016).
14. See James Forman Jr., “Racial Critiques of Mass Incarceration: Beyond the New Jim Crow.” New York University Law Review, Vol. 87, 2012.
15. James Baldwin, “Negroes Are Anti-Semitic Because They’re Anti-White.” The New York Times (April 9, 1967).

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MessageSujet: Re: 'RACES' et rapports de CLASSES, racisme structurel ou systémique, racisme d'État... (Black Lives Matter...)   Mar 10 Jan - 10:56


Lynching: A Weapon of National Oppression (1932)

Harry Haywood, Milton Howard and Erin Gray January 9, 2017

A map of the Black Belt territory and its surrounding areas.
From James S. Allen’s book, The Negro Question in the United States (International Publishers, 1936)

Citation :
In the early 1930s, capitalist crisis compelled participants across the political left to face off against a common enemy: extra-legal, ruling-class violence. Anti-black lynchings and summary executions of labor organizers had risen with the onslaught of the worst economic depression since the late nineteenth century. For the first time since radical Reconstruction – when an interracial movement to battle the brutalities of sharecropping and forestall the full implementation of capitalism in the South was brutally halted by the 1876 Tilden-Hayes compromise and the return to political power of the former slave-holding class – large numbers of white labor activists joined black liberationists in opposing lynch law.

Out of this context arose an analysis of lynching as a weapon of class warfare. In 1932, Harry Haywood and Milton Howard co-authored a political pamphlet entitled Lynching: A Weapon of National Oppression. Haywood and Howard’s Marxist-Leninist analysis of lynching emerged from their experiences in the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) and from the Party’s nascent movement to organize impoverished sharecroppers in the southern Black Belt – neighboring counties in the South dominated by the plantation economy and with a black demographic majority. The publication was part of a tradition of CPUSA pamphleteering that informed the Party’s organizing. Pamphlets like James S. Allen’s The American Negro were distributed alongside the Party’s newspaper The Daily Worker to party members and other workers, becoming crucial educational tools as the Party shifted its focus in the late 1920s to the historical relationship between race and class.


Citation :
Harry Haywood (1898-1985) was a communist activist and theorist. A leading figure of the Communist Party USA from its founding until the late 1950s, he was the principal architect and proponent of the Black Belt nation thesis. He also was at one time a member of the African Blood Brotherhood and the October League. His major writings include Negro Liberation (1948), For a Revolutionary Position on the Negro Question (1958), and Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro American Communist (1978).

Milton Howard (b. Milton Halpern) was a Communist Party USA activist.

Erin Gray is a PhD Candidate in History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her writing appears in GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art, Open Letter: A Canadian Journal of Writing and Theory, The International Feminist Journal of Politics, Mute, and Upping the Anti: A Journal of Theory and Action.

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MessageSujet: Re: 'RACES' et rapports de CLASSES, racisme structurel ou systémique, racisme d'État... (Black Lives Matter...)   Mar 24 Jan - 17:31

Qu’entend Cedric J. Robinson par « capitalisme racial » ?

PIR 23 janvier 2017 par Robin D.G. Kelley

Ce texte est l’introduction du dernier numéro de la Boston Review, intitulé "Race Capitalism Justice". Bien qu’introductif, ce texte nous semble essentiel en cela que les travaux de Cedric J. Robinson, trop peu connus en France, participent de la discussion autour du caractère structurellement racial du capitalisme. Surtout connu pour son ouvrage Black Marxism, Cedric J. Robinson, décédé cet été, nous lègue quantité d’interrogations sur la base desquelles nous pouvons affiner notre analyse du système racial.

Citation :
La mort de Cedric J. Robinson cet été, à l’âge de 75 ans, est passée quasi-inaperçue. Professeur émérite de science politique et de black studies à l’université de Californie, Santa Barbara, et certainement l’un des théoriciens politiques les plus originaux de sa génération, aucun journal aux États-Unis n’a décidé que la mort de Robinson méritait ne serait-ce qu’un seul paragraphe. Bien qu’il ne soit jamais tombé dans le piège de la célébrité intellectuelle, son influence était sans doute plus importante qu’il ne l’imaginait. Les mouvements noirs qui s’insurgent, aujourd’hui, contre la violence d’État et l’incarcération de masse, appellent à en finir avec le « capitalisme racial » et voient leur travail comme faisant partie de la « tradition radicale noire » – terme associé au travail de Robinson.

Né le 5 Novembre 1940, Robinson a grandi dans un quartier ouvrier noir, à West Oakland. Vrai touche-à-tout, éduqué à l’école publique, il a passé des heures à la bibliothèque publique, absorbant tout, de la philosophie grecque et l’histoire mondiale à la littérature moderne. Discret, mais jamais « silencieux », il est allé à l’université de Californie, Berkeley, où il a été diplômé en anthropologie sociale et s’est fait un nom en tant que militant sur le campus. Il a aidé à faire venir Malcolm X sur le campus et a protesté contre l’invasion de la baie des cochons, raison pour laquelle il fut suspendu un semestre. Après son diplôme, en 1963, et un bref séjour à l’armée, Robinson a brièvement travaillé au département de probation d’Alameda County, rencontrant à la fois un système judiciaire racialement biaisé et des collègues déterminés à changer celui-ci – y compris sa future femme, Elizabeth Peters. En 1967, inspiré par les rebellions urbaines et par le mouvement anti-guerre, le couple se décida à rencontrer ceux qui étaient déterminés à changer le monde, poursuivant ainsi une vie de militantisme et de travail intellectuel.

En 1974, Robinson soutint son doctorat de doctorat en théorie politique, à l’université de Stanford. Sa thèse, « Leadership : A Mythic Paradigm », discutait les prétentions des théories libérales et marxistes du changement politique, arguant que le leadership – l’idée que l’action sociale effective est déterminée par un leader, séparé ou au-dessus de la masse du peuple – et l’ordre politique sont principalement des fictions. Contestant l’idée que « la pensée orthodoxe occidentale n’était ni universelle, ni cohérente », il est finalement arrivé à la conclusion que « le politique est une illusion historique ». Lorsqu’il soumit une ébauche de sa thèse  en 1971,  l’université était mal préparée pour s’engager dans un projet qui questionnait les fondations épistémologiques de toute la discipline. Puisque personne ne pouvait rejeter une thèse qui semblait élégante et érudite, certains membres quittèrent son jury de thèse, justifiant cela par une incapacité à comprendre ce travail. Il fallut trois ans, et la menace de poursuites judiciaires, afin que sa thèse soit acceptée, et six ans de plus avant que celle-ci ne soit publiée sous le titre The Terms of Order : Political Science and the Myth of Leadership (1980).

La critique de l’ordre politique et de l’autorité du leadership a anticipé les courants politiques de mouvements contemporains comme Occupy Wall Street ou Black Lives Matter – des mouvements organisés horizontalement plutôt que verticalement. Son monumental Black Marxism : The Making of the Black Radical Tradition (1983) reproche à Marx de n’avoir pas su comprendre les mouvements radicaux en dehors de l’Europe. Il réécrit alors l’histoire de l’Occident de l’antiquité au milieu du XXe siècle, en interrogeant l’idée que les catégories de Marx, comme la classe, peuvent être appliquées universellement en dehors de l’Europe. Au lieu de cela, il a caractérisé les rebellions noires comme des expressions de ce qu’il a nommé les mouvements de la « la tradition radicale noire » dont les objectifs et les aspirations déconcertaient l’analyse sociale occidentale. Le marxisme a également échoué à prendre en compte le caractère racial du capitalisme. Ayant écrit une grande partie du livre durant une année sabbatique en Angleterre, Robinson y rencontra des intellectuels qui utilisaient le terme de « capitalisme racial » pour se référer à l’économie de l’Afrique du Sud sous l’apartheid. Il développa ce concept pour le faire passer de la description d’un système bien spécifique à une manière de comprendre l’histoire du capitalisme moderne.

Qu’entendait donc Robinson par « capitalisme racial » ? S’inspirant du travail d’un autre intellectuel noir radical oublié, le sociologue Oliver Cox, Robinson contestait l’idée marxiste selon laquelle le capitalisme était une négation révolutionnaire du féodalisme. Le capitalisme a bien plutôt émergé au sein de l’ordre féodal et fleuri sur le terrain culturel de la civilisation occidentale, déjà profondément imprégnée par le racialisme[1]. En d’autres termes, le capitalisme et le racisme n’ont jamais rompu avec l’ancien système, mais ont bien plutôt évolué avec celui-ci, pour produire un système mondial moderne de « capitalisme racial », dépendant de l’esclavage, de la violence, de l’impérialisme et du génocide. Le capitalisme n’était pas « racial » à cause d’un complot visant à diviser les ouvriers ou à justifier l’esclavage et la spoliation, mais parce que le racialisme avait déjà imprégné la société féodale occidentale. Les premiers prolétaires européens étaient des sujets raciaux (Irlandais, Juifs, Rrom ou Gitans, Slaves, etc.) et ils furent victimes de spoliation (les enclosures), de colonialisme et d’esclavage au sein même de l’Europe. En effet, Robinson suggère que la racialisation au sein de l’Europe était un processus colonial impliquant l’invasion, la mise en place de colonies, l’expropriation et la hiérarchie raciale. Insistant sur le fait que le nationalisme européen moderne était totalement lié aux mythes raciaux, il nous rappelle que l’idéologie du Herrenvolk (le gouvernement par une majorité ethnique) qui a engendré la colonisation allemande de l’Europe centrale et des territoires « slaves », « expliquait l’inéluctabilité et le caractère naturel de la domination de certains Européens sur d’autres Européens ». Reconnaître cela, ce n’est pas atténuer le racisme anti-noir ou l’esclavage des Africains, mais plutôt reconnaître que le capitalisme n’a pas été le super modernisateur qui a donné naissance au prolétariat européen comme un sujet universel, et la « tendance de la civilisation européenne n’était pas d’homogénéiser par le capitalisme, mais de différencier – d’exagérer les différences régionales, sous-culturelles et de dialectes en différences ‘’raciales’’ ».

Black Marxism
est resté assez largement ignoré pendant deux décennies, jusqu’à ce qu’il soit réimprimé en 2000, générant un regain d’intérêt. Et pourtant, alors que Black Marxism et sa discussion autour du capitalisme racial et de la « tradition noire radicale » occupaient le devant de la scène, Robinson a légué un vaste corpus de travaux en tant que théoricien politique et culturel, notamment Black Movements in America (1997), An Anthropology of Marxism (2001) et Forgeries of Memory and Meaning : Blacks and the Regimes of Race in American Theater and Film Before World War II (2007).

Robinson était un penseur complexe qui avait compris que les vérités les plus profondes tendent à déconcerter, rompre avec d’anciens paradigmes et avec le « sens commun ». Lorsqu’on lui demandait de définir son engagement politique, il répondait « Il y a certaines sphères dans lesquelles les noms, les nominations, sont prématurées. Ma seule loyauté est envers un monde moralement juste ; et mon opportunité la plus joyeuse et éblouissante de chahuter la corruption et la tromperie est avec d’autres personnes noires ».

C’est dans cet esprit que les textes suivants centrent leurs discussions autour du rôle que joue l’héritage de l’esclavage racial dans l’œuvre de Robinson,  et mettent ses idées au service d’un monde plus juste. Tout comme l’aurait voulu Robinson, le terrain de leurs investigations est très large, à la fois géographiquement – de St. Louis à l’Afrique du Sud, en passant par l’Amérique du Sud – et conceptuellement, questionnant tous les aspects depuis les interprétations orthodoxes de Marx jusqu’à la généalogie du Black Power. Bien que les contributeurs soient souvent en désaccord (comme l’aurait espéré Robinson), ils ont puisé dans sa vision les ressources intellectuelles et éthiques requises dans la quête contemporaine pour la justice raciale et la lutte globale contre l’exploitation économique.

Traduit de l’anglais par Selim Nadi, membre du PIR

Publié avec l’aimable autorisation de l’auteur.

[1] N.d.T. : il n’est pas inutile, ici, de préciser qu’alors que le terme « racialisme » en France est régulièrement mobilisé pour attaquer les militants de l’antiracisme politique, ce terme a une connotation plus « neutre » en anglais. L’auteur utilise ce terme au sens d’une position philosophique arguant l’existence de différentes races.

1983 Second Edition 2016

Citation :
In this ambitious work, first published in 1983, Cedric Robinson demonstrates that efforts to understand black people's history of resistance solely through the prism of Marxist theory are incomplete and inaccurate. Marxist analyses tend to presuppose European models of history and experience that downplay the significance of black people and black communities as agents of change and resistance. Black radicalism must be linked to the traditions of Africa and the unique experiences of blacks on western continents, Robinson argues, and any analyses of African American history need to acknowledge this.

To illustrate his argument, Robinson traces the emergence of Marxist ideology in Europe, the resistance by blacks in historically oppressive environments, and the influence of both of these traditions on such important twentieth-century black radical thinkers as W. E. B. Du Bois, C. L. R. James, and Richard Wright.

About the Author
Cedric J. Robinson (1940-2016) was professor of black studies and professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His books include The Terms of Order, Black Movements in America, and Anthropology of Marxism.

"I can say, without a trace of hyperbole, that this book changed my life. . . . Combining political theory, history, philosophy, cultural analysis, and biography, among other things, Robinson literally rewrites the history of the rise of the West from ancient times to the mid-twentieth century, tracing the roots of black radical thought to a shared epistemology among diverse African people and providing a withering critique of Western Marxism and its inability to comprehend either the racial character of capitalism and the civilization in which it was born or mass movements outside Europe. . . . Black Marxism remains as fresh and insightful as it was when it was first composed, still productively engaged with the central questions posed by histories of the African Diaspora."
--Robin D. G. Kelley, from the Foreword

"Robinson demonstrates very clearly . . . the ability of the black tradition to transcend national boundaries and accommodate cultural, religious and 'racial' differences. Indeed, he shows that, in a sense, it has emerged out of the transformation of these differences."
--Race and Class

"A towering achievement. There is simply nothing like it in the history of black radical thought."

--Cornel West, Monthly Review

"Reflective and thought-provoking, a welcome contribution to the African/Afro-American studies discipline."

--Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism

"For those interested in pursuing political and ideological alternatives to capitalistic exploitation and underdevelopment of African peoples in the Americas and Africa, Black Marxism provides a well-documented foundation upon which to build ideological and mass social movements."

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