Klass reduktionist twitter loves to talk about Bacon's Rebellion and this idea that white workers & black slaves were buddy buddy before the capitalists made them racist, as though the entirety of the working class wasn't already based in indigenous dispossession.
This is why they hate Sakai's 'Settlers' so much and as much as I make fun of the affectations & tropes of those who stan it (i.e. white Americans calling other ones 'settlers' as an insult), I actually almost entirely agree with the book's argument.
It's also why they, for the most part, either ignore, dismiss, or react negatively to Angela Davis, Gayatri Spivak, Frank Wilderson, Fred Moten, Achille Mbembe, Saidiya Hartman, and, humorously enough, Ta Nehisi Coates (who they lump in with this crowd). jacobinmag.com/2017/05/ta-neh…
But, it just isn't true. FIRST of all, xenophobia, ethnic, religious & cultural prejudices existed LONG before the rise of capitalism, and, although they are not sufficient for racism, they definitely prefigure it in European history.
Aside from anti-Semitism, which was a constitutive conspiratorial ideology & comfort blanket for basically every European society going back almost 2000 years, there was also intense anti-Islamic sentiment, cultural chauvinism, xenophobia, Orientalism, and other similar ideas.
What's more, the civilized/barbarian distinction, the citizen/other distinction, and various geographic/ethnic descriptions of other areas (of Persians, of Nubians, of Egyptians, of Africans generally, of Jews, of any number of other groups) go back to Ancient Rome, even Greece.
These societies weren't 'racist', per se, inasmuch as their distinctions were based in caste, class, culture, geography & religion, as opposed to fantasies about skin color, biology, genetics, anatomy, brains, sinful natures, 'characters', descent, kinship, etc.
But they definitely laid the foundation for later racial prejudice. Thus we can say Ancient Greece & Rome weren't 'racist'--although they were xenophobic, elitist, chauvinistic, imperial, etc--but they were *prejudiced*, and this did end up influencing economic & political acts.
How the klass reduktionists deal with the fact that anti-Semitism, anti-Zhiganism, anti-Islamic ideology, xenophobia, chauvinism, nationalism, religious/ethnic/geographic/cultural prejudice, is confusing to me--these all had material consequences.
But, anyway, as I am wont to do, I digress, because my concern is more the Americas, Africa, and the age of Mercantilism, Imperialism, Colonialism, Settlement, Slavery, and eventually capitalism, the modern state, industrialization, and so on.
If the Klass Reduktionists were smart, or, like, ever read books, they would emphasize enclosure, and how it occurred endogenously to peasants, workers, serfs, and others *within* Europe, in very similar ways that it was or was going to be carried out elsewhere.
THAT enclosure--thru financial, monopoly, military, coercive, dispossessive, economic, infrastructural & ecological means--proceeded very similarly in Europe to its peasants, lumpen & workers as it did in the imperial & colonial process, is FAR more convincing an argument.
Of course, this would be a 'congratulations, you played yourself' move, because enclosure did not proceed equally along gender, religious (especially Jewish, Roma & Muslim), ethnic & geographic lines.
AND, what's more important, colonialism--especially of the settler & extractive variety--was *itself* accelerated & driven precisely by the social, cultural, economic & military costs of imposing enclosure on the (Christian, male) population of Eurasia.
Now, the Klass Reduktionist may say 'well, see, this proves the point bc the enclosure -> colonialism move was economic'--&, firstly, this is nonsense, historical genesis does not exhaust social structure--but, secondly, it's also just plainly historically & conceptually wrong
Enclosure began in the 1100s, concomitant with the beginning of the Commercial Revolution, itself a spur to the 'age of expansion & exploration'. So, in a very strict sense, yes, the advent of enclosure preceded that of imperialism & colonialism by a couple centuries.
Well, let's be clear, if we include the Crusades in imperialism, and anti-Semitic policy & pogroms in racism, then they preceded or were contemporaneous with Enclosure, but let's put that aside for now.
But it misses that much of enclosure wasn't economic at all--indeed, it was often incredibly economically costly and substantially less productive to enclose common resources, dispossess peasants, undercut traditional ties, yet it proceeded apace nonetheless.
It also misses that the generalization of enclosure, as well as eventual monetization, urbanization, commercialization & industrialization NEEDED colonialism & imperialism to exist--even Neoliberals admit the gold from the Americas was a necessary condition of possibility.
If their goals were merely economic, they would have waited until industrial wages compensated peasants enough to move (which would provably have been more efficient), and would have merely traded & conducted normal intercourse with those in the Americas, Africa & Asia.
Indeed, for some time, they DID largely do that. But, 1492 marks an interesting year for several reasons, including Columbus' journey, the Reconquista of Spain, the expulsion of the Jews, and other key issues. Meanwhile other '''exploration''' was ongoing.
The Commercial Revolution--a change in the way people used credit, accounting, arbitrage, trade, etc--had occurred, but capitalism provably did not exist, and, indeed, not even Mercantilism could be said to exist yet fully (as it needed bullion & states not yet available!)
Indeed, it was aggressive European '''exploration''', occupation, extraction, imperial militarism, etc., which began to affect the Americas, East, Southeast & South Asia, and Africa, that came first, and this was justified by a mix of ideologies.
These ideologies were:
1. Christian Evangelism
2. Cultural Chauvinism
3. The ideology of 'Civilization'
4. Xenophobia
5. Anti-Semitism
6. Anti-Islam
7. Geographic determinism
8. Historical teleology
9. Divine Providence
10. Expansionism
11. Militarism
Therefore, by ANY reasonable metric, the existence of imperialism & colonialism, indeed settler colonialism, buttressed by religious, ethnic, historical, cultural, geographic & political ideologies of ranking, exclusion, teleology, & domination, PRECEDED mercantilism & capitalism
And, indeed, it was the gold bullion, new trade routes, captive markets, and eventually slaves & stolen land generated by imperialism & colonialism that forced the Commercial Revolution to globalize, massively spurred bullion rushes, lead to massive militarization & more
It also generated massive incentives to industrialize, to commercialize, and to bureaucratize. It provided the resources that buttressed urbanization & eventually industrialization. AND, it culturally, religiously & politically helped to unite nascent European nation states.
Enclosure proceeded apace, and, indeed, if the economistic explanation would predict the end of enclosure, but it continued until the 1800s by a strict definition, to the 1950s by a more general one, and continues to this day when understood as process.
BUT the imperial & settler project was a kind of safety valve for enclosure--now, all of a sudden, a former peasant or worker could engage in a military, economic, political & geographic expansion into the Americas, assisted by Chattel slavery & imperial extracted surplus.
Thus, as Sakai points out, not only were a substantial percentage of settlers in the Americas ALREADY petit bourgeois (or just straight up bourgeois or rentier), MANY *became* that because of land grants, resource grants, capital subsidies, and many other similar things.
The original dispossession of Indigenous persons in the Americas & eventually Oceania was the condition of possibility for total commercialization, for mercantilism, for urbanization, and for industrialization & it catalyzed militarism, statism, and globalization.
This dispossession was ALWAYS imbricated with religious, ethnic, civilization, cultural, geographic, and similar ideologies of exclusion, ranking, historical teleology, and the like. There was no golden age where these didn't exist.
This means, even by the weakest privilege + power formulation, the imperial & colonial project were racist from day one (whiteness did not yet exist, but it emerged very quickly), and these preceded capitalism & did not entirely or even primarily follow economic logics
There may be some truth that white supremacy emerged concomitantly with or after capitalism (although I personally think that's false, but okay), BUT, RACISM, COLONIALISM, IMPERIALISM, PATRIARCHY, CIVILIZATIONISM & ANTI-SEMITISM ALL PRECEDED MERCANTILISM, INDUSTRY & CAPITALISM
The original dispossession, genocide & theft from Indigenous folks (not to mention Chattel Slavery of Africans, and Imperial Extraction of Asia & the Middle East), were necessary conditions of possibility for capital, and were always already justified by prejudicial ideologies
Not to mention that if the average American worker saved 5% of their income a year, assuming average interest rates AND average access of proletarians to the financial system, after 13.5-20 years, a white worker could buy a slave.
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