03 August 2015

Yes, Racism Is Rooted in Economic Inequality

This is the title of a a thought provoking article in Jacobin that needs to be read in its entirety.

A snippet to present their basic thesis:
Here’s my question to the angry commenters: if racial inequality isn’t merely a symptom of economic inequality, what is it a symptom of?

I already feel like I can hear the answer: it’s a symptom of hundreds of years of slavery, colonialism, Jim Crow, and urban apartheid.

Yes. But what were slavery, colonialism, Jim Crow, and urban apartheid if not extreme forms of economic inequality?

What was the point of England’s colonization of Ireland if not to impose a lucrative “economic inequality” on its victims? Was the urban apartheid of Haussmann’s Paris not the “symptom” of nineteenth-century economic inequality?
It provides a very good historical perspective (as one would expect with the author invoking Georges-Eugène Haussmann's rebuilding of Paris under Napoleon III) on how bigotry is very much the product of exploitative economics.

It should be noted that Jacobin is an explicitly Socialist publication, and socialism has a long history of viewing pretty much everything in society through the prism of economics,* so this focus is unsurprising.

Still, it is a good read, and very thought provoking.

*In fact, I would argue that the lasting contribution of Marx to the study of society was his focus on the economic. Certainly, the degree to which all aspects of society, whether they be government, judicial, or social are viewed largely through the lens of economics has expanded enormously since Marx published Das Kapital almost 150 years ago.


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