Capitalism and Race Redux

Race is among the more tortured axes of American social relations. The nation was formed from slavery and genocide and no redistribution of political and economic power has been made to rectify the imbalance that resulted. And less formalized types of violence and exploitation have persisted into the present. The same is true of treatment of the indigenous population— as late as the 1970s indigenous women of childbearing age were still being forcibly sterilized.

This history creates a paradox. Three and one-half centuries after the Anglo-American incarnation of slavery was brought to American shores and one-hundred and fifty years after it was formally ended, racial injustice persists. The economic basis of the injustice was well understood during slavery. Subsequent framing in terms of race misstates the economic motives that have persisted into the present.

The strategy of placing slavery and genocide in a nebulous past ignores that genocide against the indigenous population was still underway when the Nazis began their political ascent in Germany. The relationship between ‘clearing the land’ through genocide in the Americas and the rise of American industrial and military hegemony hardly required an analytical leap. Neither did the contribution of ‘capital accumulation’ that resulted from slavery.

“Avoiding links to the Nazi genocides and German eugenics program may be the foremost contributor to this deliberate secrecy regarding American eugenics.”…

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