Racial Capitalism or Capitalism Creating Racism

I asked Bing Chat to tell me which was more popular today, “racial capitalism”, that capitalism is inherently racist, or that capitalism creates racism, to divide the working class. I don’t know enough about the variations in ideas by the listed writers, so I cannot evaluate if this article is accurate.

Here’s what the AI wrote:

That’s an interesting question. There is no definitive answer to what the current Marxian thought on race and capitalism is, as different schools of thought may have different perspectives and interpretations. However, some possible approaches are:

Racial Capitalism

This is the idea that capitalism is inherently racialized and that racism is a product and a tool of capitalist exploitation. According to this view, capitalism creates and maintains racial hierarchies and inequalities to divide and rule the working class, extract surplus value from racialized labor, and justify colonialism and imperialism. Some proponents of this approach are Cedric Robinson, Robin D.G. Kelley, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and Angela Davis


Capitalism Creates Racism

This is the idea that racism is not essential to capitalism, but rather a historical outcome of its development and expansion. According to this view, capitalism generates racism as a way of legitimizing the oppression and dispossession of certain groups of people, such as indigenous peoples, enslaved Africans, immigrants, etc. Some proponents of this approach are Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, W.E.B. Du Bois, Eric Williams, and Oliver Cromwell Cox




This is the idea that race and class are not separate or mutually exclusive categories of analysis, but rather intersecting and mutually constitutive systems of oppression. According to this view, capitalism cannot be fully understood without taking into account how it interacts with other forms of domination, such as racism, sexism, heterosexism, etc. Some proponents of this approach are Kimberlé Crenshaw, Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks, Nancy Fraser, and David Harvey


These are not the only possible ways to think about race and capitalism from a Marxian perspective, but they are some of the most influential and debated ones. I hope this helps you explore this topic further.






2 responses to “Racial Capitalism or Capitalism Creating Racism”

  1. admin

    I found the responses Chat made were too general and overlapping, and I’m not sure why, because I don’t know enough detail about the subject. Also, I don’t know why it brought in Intersectionality, nor why different positions were associated with these specific writers.

    It may have helped to tell it to order the explanation to start with “Capitalism Creates Racism”, then “Racial Capitalism”, then “Intersectionality”, because that order would show some historical progression of ideas.

    One critique I’m reading about Intersectionality, from proletarianfeminist, is that Intersectionality, as it’s used, is unmoored from the analysis of capitalism as the main cause of oppression. I was unsure if this was a strawman argument – so I did some searches, and, indeed, Intersectional understanding has become part of the “DEI” industry, and, as it’s used today, has lost its critique of capitalism.

    That’s a surprise to me, because I always thought of the intersectional analysis as emerging as a critique of the limitations of feminism, and was also a critique of capitalism. When people were going to talk about intersectional oppression, they’d use the phrase “race, class, and gender”, to explain how most non-white people experience capitalism.

    Another shift is the definition from “capitalism” to “racial capitalism”. I think the mainstream understanding of capitalism in the US is becoming “racial capitalism”, and the idea of “capitalism without racism” is basically being rejected as ahistorical.

    (To prove this to yourself, make a list of instances of capitalist imperialism where racism was implemented or solidified, and instances where it reduced racism. The former list will be easy to compile, and long. The latter list might be impossible to compile.)

    To this end, it did require the Communist Party in the US to fail in the mid 20th century, to have the Civil Rights Movement be relatively successful, the US to go into this current period of rising fascism, and to see the emergence of the race-minimizing left in organizations like DSA, on shows like Jimmy Dore, and the comical “MAGA Communists”.

  2. admin

    Regarding https://marxistsociology.org/2019/01/marxism-and-the-race-problem/

    “Rooting race in the reproduction of capitalism allows us to understand that multi-racial working-class unity will not be produced spontaneously. Not only will it require struggles for universal, class-wide demands for higher wages, greater job security, universal health care, etc., but it will also require race specific struggles for plant and industry-wide seniority, affirmative action in hiring and promotion, legalization and a path to citizenship for undocumented workers, an end to racial discrimination and harassment and the like.”


    The article, however, doesn’t get into the complex question about the condition of Asian Americans.

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