Marxism and functionalism are similar in that they see that the way society is structured as an important part in determining the way people have relationships and behave between themselves....
perspective views education as a part of society that is vital for the
ruling class, because it reproduces the unequal distribution of wealth
and power, by turning working class pupils into conformist workers.
57. The multiracial, international New York conspiracy of 1741 is notable in part because the invention of the white race was well underway. Contra Robinson's metaphor of "imprinting," the white race mode of social control was never entirely successful, its hegemony never guaranteed, always in need of reimposition. (I should note, to distinguish my account from any post-Marxian appropriation, that the fact that hegemony is hard work, never entirely successful, while testimony to the hydra-like fighting spirit of the revolutionary proletariat, does not gainsay the fact of this hegemony rooted in the structural domination of ruling class over working classes, capital over labor.) Describing the life in Hughson's tavern, central to the plot, Linebaugh and Rediker note that "here was a world turned upside down, a place where Africans and Irish were Kings, as they would be in the larger society after the uprising. In New York, they believed, 'there should be a motley government as well as motley subjects.'" The social relatons underlying this conspiracy were rooted primarily (though not completely as you can see) in the life of the maritime proletariat:
60. Yet another example: According to Ted Allen, the division between Protestant and Catholic in Ireland was the local stand-in for English racism against the Irish, a racism that Allen terms appropriately, given the racializing function of religion in this particular case, religio-racial oppression. The United Irishman were strong enough in the midst of furious divide-and-conquer policies among the ruling classes as to require 76,000 troops to put them down. Ironically, an irony that is nevertheless understandable on a Marxian class struggle account, in the aftermath of the rebellion, national oppression, involving the recruitment of the Catholic bourgeoisie into the intermediate social control stratum, began to replace racial oppression, "a change in the British system of colonial rule" in order to circumvent "the United Irishmen phenomenon." (See Volume One, pp. 91-6.) Except, Allen notes, in Ulster, where racial oppression was maintained as a necessity of social control--based on "the exclusion of Catholics from social mobility," with all this entails. What the two significantly different arrangements, existing side by side, had in common was the imperative of class rule. In both cases, the arrangements had similar functions. Allen sums up these uneven developments of class and colonial rule:
41. In a December 14, 1998, article ("Integration: What's Left?"), Kelley refers to the divide and conquer thesis as "capitalist trickery" before asserting that segregation, therefore racism, is rooted in the fact that whites benefit from it and "people of color pay the price"--thus in my view confusing differential with benefit, a confusion on which I will elaborate momentarily . The Marxian divide and conquer hypothesis does not require, as Kelley seems to imply with his magic (trickery) metaphor, a pristine homogenized (purely class conscious) working class divided like the red sea with a stroke of the wand by a demiurge ruling class.
118. Baker reads Marxism as a technological determinism that not only marginalizes black women but murders them, eliminating their reproductive function, thus performing a kind of hysterectomy. In the narrative of historical materialism, women are superfluous even for reproduction since "if the way of class consciousness implied by a Marxian critique is pursued then the future will produce an afroamerican modern man birthed in mechanical glory from the womb of the machine." The machine is the "sign of the possibility of male proletarian bonding across racial lines." A bond that necessitates "a violent repudiation of the domestic black woman" and all women for "a Marxian problematic forces the writer to devalue women." Conversely, "if a nationalist history is privileged, black men of the future, as well as those of the folk past, will continue to be of woman born" (Appiah and Gates, p. 218).
See Stanley Aronowitz, (New York: Praeger, 1981) pp. 94-8. For relevant works by West, see his essay "Marxist Theory and the Specificity of Afro-American Oppression," in Nelson and Grossberg, eds., (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988) and (Philadelphia: Westminister Press, 1982).
Many of the particulars concerning the politics of the Congo from a U.S. standpoint can be found in Barbara Kingsolver's novel, which is historically accurate in many particulars. What's interesting though is that despite a fairly nuanced account of social forces involved in the making of Mobutu and the unmaking of Lumumba and in spite of her intertextual polemic against that great essentialist text , the novel seems to valorize an essential African spirit that renders "it" unconquerable, a spirit that seems more an emanation of the land than of human beings. For an excellent Marxian analysis of the role of imperialism in the Congo, especially for its comparative scope in showing how Marxism accounts for the particularities of imperialist rule and interimperialist rivalry, see David Gibbs, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991). The Kingsolver novel is (New York: Harper Flamingo, 1998).
The experiential versus the systemic is a false dichotomy that some of the best Marxian work soundly deconstructs--Thompson being a notable example. It is a close relative of the culture/class split this essay critiques. Plus, the whole point of politics as I see it is to achieve or realize common interests that are nevertheless rooted in somewhat disparate experience.
I have already implied that there is a degree of convergence here with other projects towards a critical theory of society, particularly Marxism. However, where lived crisis and systemic crisis come together, Marxism allocates priority to the latter while the memory of slavery insists on the priority of the former. Their convergence is also undercut by the simple fact that in the critical thought of blacks in the West, social self-creation through labour is not the centre-piece of emancipatory hopes. For the descendants of slaves, work signifieds only servitude, misery, and subordination. Artistic expression, expanded beyond recognition from the grudging gifts offered by the masters as a token substitute for freedom from bondage, therefore becomes the means towards both individual self-fashioning and communal liberation. Poesies and poetics begin to coexist in novel forms--autobiographical writing, special and uniquely creative ways of manipulating spoken language, and, above all, the music. All three have overflowed from the containers that the modern nation state provides for them. (pp. 39-40)
I am assuming that the three authors basically endorse this position. As stated, the position is contradictory, with racism hurting white workers yet benefiting them. A couple of questions could be raised. For the interest point to hold (white workers benefit), the higher wages and safer jobs need to be more precisely defined. Higher and safer in relation to what? Superexploited black workers? a united working class that made the fight against racism central? An egalitarian society without exploitation that could only come about through multiracial unity? If interest is defined as differential, then white workers "benefit" from black superexploitation--in which case I'm not sure what the meaning of "hurt" would be. More importantly, if differential is benefit and the capitalist international division of labor is constituted by uneven development and differential exploitation, than those higher up in the pecking order benefit from those below them. Blacks in America benefit from the exploitation of Guatemalan Indians or black Africans and should thus be pro-imperialist and nationalist just as white workers should want something like a caste system. I think this position is not only false--this division of labor benefits capitalists and hurts workers--but, for what this point is worth, non-Marxist, suggesting a Weberian instead of a Marxian understanding of class.
The Trudier Harris quotes come from "White Men as Performers in the Lynching Ritual," quoted in David R. Roediger, ed., (New York: Schocken Books, 1998), pp. 299-304. On populism, farmers' alliances and the knights, see Mike Davis, (New York: Verso, 1986) and Michael Reich, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981). "Marxism, Psychoanalysis and Labor Competition" can be found in the first volume of >.