Proving Ground for Racialized Capitalism

Photo by Gustavo La Rotta Amaya | CC BY 2.0

The Civil War ended and Edward A. Pollard “of Virginia” immediately wrote a history of Confederate military operations. (1) There he insists that slavery is immune from moral blame. That’s because it “bestowed upon the world’s commerce in a half century a single product whose annual value was two hundred millions of dollars. It founded a system of industry by which labor and capital were identified (sic) in interest. [And] many fertile regions accessible only to the labor of the African were brought into usefulness, and blessed the world with their productions.”

And more: slavery “elevated the African and was in the interest of human improvement.” He quotes Senator Robert Toombs of Georgia speaking in 1856: “The white is the superior race, and the black is the inferior; and subordination, with or without law, will be the status of the African in this mixed society.”

Pollard introduces the theme to be explored here:  capitalist purpose – which Pollard alludes to – was and is married to white supremacy, which he proclaims. Both were essential for making productive a section of fertile land in Louisiana now referred to as Angola. Analysis based on Marxist thinking sheds light on what moved that process.

Angola has been plantation and prison for almost 200 years.  Enslaved people produced cotton to enrich an owner.  Later, prisoners would be producing saleable crops. The slaves were African or of African…

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