File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1996/96-11-13.154, message 103


Subject: M-I: History and Analysis of Racism. Beginning Bibliography.
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 1996 20:48:10 -0600 (CST)


    Those writers who have equated the beginning of racism with capitalism
are, I think, in some important sense correct--but the point has so
far been stated too mechanically and, thus stated, won't hold water.

    (The history of sexism and racism are, also, intertwined, and
while male supemacy is as old as or older than class society, "scientific"
sexism is also a child of capitalism, but the relationship must be
analyzed carefully rather than just asserted.)

    Here I wish only to list some works that help toward giving a
historical critique of racism and its origins. (Some bear more
directly on sexism.)

    Barbara Fields, Slavery, Race and Ideology in the United States
of America," NLR 181 (May/June 1990), 95-118. (This is a great essay,
on U.S. history and the concept of ideology as well as on racism.)

    Stephanie Coontz, _The Social Origins of Private Life: A History
of American Families 1600-1900._ Verso, 1988, 1991.

    Steven J. Gould, _The Mismeasure of Man_. New York, 1991.

    Ellwn Meisins Wood, "Capitalism and Human Emancipation," NLR
167 (Jan./Feb. 1988), 1-21. (Important for its analysis of the
*theoretical* possibility of the elimination of racism, sexism,
and homophobia *within* capitalism. It is, incidentally, this
compatibility *in principle* of capitalism and the destruction
of racism and sexism that grounds the potential for struggle
against those evils within the workers' movement.)

    Thomas Laqueur, _Making Sex: Body and Gender from the
Greeks to Freud*, Harvard Univ. Press, 1990. (This book is
marvellous for describing the continuity of male supremacy
within radically different historical grounds, and helps to
show the resemblances between "scientific" sexism and "scientific"
racism.)

    Jan Carew, "Columbus and the origins of racism in the
Americas: part one," *Race and Class: a journal for black and
third world liberation* xxix (Spring 1988), 1-20.

    Jan Carew, "Columbus and the origins of racism in the Americas:
part two," Race and Class, 30 (July/Sept. 1988), 33-58.

    M.I. Finley, *Ancient Slavery and Modern Ideology*. New York,
1980. (He argues for racism being the ideology of ancient slavery,
and I think he is wrong, but the book is still interesting.)

    E.D. Morel, *The black man's burden: the white man in Africa
>from the fifteenth century to world war i*, Monthly Rev. Press,
1969. (First published 1920 in U.K.) (Though I have owned this
book for years I have never read it myself, but I think I remember
reviews of it asserting its importance??)

    Peter Linebaugh, "Gruesome Gertie [electric chair] at the
buckle of the bible belt," NLR 209 (Jan/Feb 1995), 15-33. (Linebaugh
has also written but I don't own yet *The London Hanged*, on the
politics of the death penalty in the building of the English working
class in the 18th c. This article is both on the contemporary use
of the death penalty and on the intertwining of race, class, re-
sistance, and hangings in Louisiana from the 18th c. to the
present. It is a beautiful essay.)

    Karl Marx, *Wages, Price and Profit*. I add this for the
sake of a paraphrase of these sentences from its closing chapter:

    ...is this saying that the working class ought to renounce
    their resistance against the encroachment of capital, and
    abandon their attempts at making the best of the occasional
    chances for their temporary improvement? If they did, they
    would be degraded to one level mass of broken wretches
    past salvation. . .By cowardly giving way in their everyday
    conflict with capital, they would certainly disqualify
    themselves for the initiating of any larger movement.
                (Peking edition, p. 77)
One may only say that the failure to carry on an aggressive
struggle against sexism, racism and homophobia within their
own ranks workers will similarly disqualify themselves for the
initiating of any larger movement.
    Carrol



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