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The only capitalism we have ever known is the one built on violent, racist dispossession and is reliant on the remaking of racialized divisions between people. Perhaps we can conceptualize a capitalism that is not intertwined in these histories and presents of violence, but any analysis of actual, existing capitalism must engage with this aspect of capitalist practice. The term ‘racial capitalism’ - coined by Black radical intellectual, Cedric Robinson - helps us to think about the centrality of racist dispossession to the development of capitalism. Racism, Robinson argues, is not an unfortunate but incidental by-product of this process. The very process of disciplining human life to become subordinate to the needs of capital already involves the process of constructing racial hierarchies. In this process, ethnicized differentiation enables the demarcation of segments of labour, instituting degrees of exploitation, exclusion from work and coercion into unfree labour. Versions of this differentiating process continue in the present.
The only capitalism we have ever known is the one built on violent, racist dispossession and is reliant on the remaking of racialized divisions between people. Perhaps we can conceptualize a capitalism that is not intertwined in these histories and presents of violence, but any analysis of actual, existing capitalism must engage with this aspect of capitalist practice. The term ‘racial capitalism’ - coined by Black radical intellectual, Cedric Robinson - helps us to think about the centrality of racist dispossession to the development of capitalism. Racism, Robinson argues, is not an unfortunate but incidental by-product of this process. The very process of disciplining human life to become subordinate to the needs of capital already involves the process of constructing racial hierarchies. In this process, ethnicized differentiation enables the demarcation of segments of labour, instituting degrees of exploitation, exclusion from work and coercion into unfree labour. Versions of this differentiating process continue in the present.
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