Decolonization is Impossible without Abolishing Capitalism ‘New Humanism’ as Alternative

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Master thesis Political Science

International Relations

By Merle Bos 11828021

Decolonization is Impossible without Abolishing Capitalism

‘New Humanism’ as Alternative

Decolonizing Europe:

Colonialism, Empire and Race June 2022 Supervisor: dr. (Beste) Isleyen Second reader: dr. (Paul) Raekstad



In this Master’s thesis, the relations between race and class, and colonialism and capitalism are explained to conclude that decolonization is not possible without the abolition of capitalism.

The thesis is predominantly based on political theory and the arguments are developed by analyzing and focusing on the ideas of Karl Marx and Frantz Fanon to make a theoretical contribution to the debate of a possible decolonized world. Postcolonial theory is employed in this thesis to contribute to the insufficiencies in Marxist theories, where there was not enough attention payed to the significance of colonialism and race. The thesis argues that capitalism went hand in hand with colonialism, and consequently leads to inequalities, exploitation,

‘unfree’ labor, and sometimes even ‘modern slavery’. Modern abolitionism is therefore relevant and necessary in regards to contemporary capitalism; it needs to focus on the abolition of capitalism in order to completely end all forms of slavery and decolonize the current world. In this thesis, Fanon’s New Humanism is provided as an alternative to capitalism and Western conceptions of the Human. New Humanism provides a way forward and creates new ways of living and being that are founded on equity, diversity, and inclusivity – forever leaving behind colonialism and capitalism and toward the complete Human.


Table of Contents

Introduction... 4

Chapter 1 – Connection between Race and Colonialism, and Class and Capitalism ... 9

1.1. Epistemological Understanding of Marxism ... 9

1.2. Connecting Class and Capitalism ... 13

1.3. Connecting Race and Colonialism ... 14

1.4. Intersecting Race and Class ... 15

Chapter 2 – Capitalist Cooperation with Colonialism and New Forms of Slavery ... 18

2.1. The Collaboration of Colonialism and Capitalism ... 18

2.2. Contemporary Capitalism’s Inequalities and ‘The End of Slavery’ ... 21

2.2.1. A Postcolonial Marxism and Racial Capitalism Perspective ... 22

2.2.2. Modern Abolitionism ... 26

Chapter 3 – Completing the Decolonization Process ... 33

3.1. Colonialism and Who is Human ... 33

3.2. Fanon’s New Humanism as Alternative to Capitalism ... 37

Conclusion ... 42

Bibliography ... 46



This thesis is written around the topic of decolonization and capitalism. “Capitalism first emerged as a world system through the anti-black racism generated by the transatlantic slave trade, and it has depended on racism to ensure its perpetration and reproduction ever since”

(Hudis 2018). The thesis aims to answer the following question: In which ways is the rejection of capitalism a prerequisite for the completion of the decolonization process? This question tries to argue for the rejection of capitalism through establishing the relationship with colonialism. It does so by first presenting the relationship between colonialism and race and the relationship between capitalism and class. Thereafter, it is established that race- and class inequalities are often studied as isolated issues; however, these are intersected and cannot be studied separately. By revealing these relationships, the thesis further argues that capitalism went hand in hand with colonialism and imperialism and therefore racism is integral to the contemporary capitalist system. It argues against the contention that the emergence of capitalism ended slavery, and instead, argues that it established new forms of slavery. It additionally claims that contemporary capitalism creates various inequalities and especially exacerbates race- and class-based inequalities. Therefore, to fully complete the decolonization process, it is necessary to reject capitalism. To effectively oppose capitalism thus means making the fight against racism a priority (Hudis 2018). This argument is developed by analyzing and focusing on the ideas of Frantz Fanon and Karl Marx to make a theoretical contribution to the debate on the possibility of a decolonized world, especially concentrating on how Fanon’s New Humanism can overcome these inequalities.

Marx is often criticized for not paying enough attention to colonialism and race in his argument, which is why the postcolonial perspective of Fanon contributes to Marx’s ideas so that the argument for rejecting capitalism becomes stronger and more coherent. Therefore, this thesis uses postcolonialism and Marxism combined and argues that it is not possible to decolonize without abstaining from capitalism. From Fanon’s perspective, class- and race struggles have a collective purpose: to overcome the dehumanization that describes modern society by constructing new human relations; Fanon calls this New Humanism (Fanon 1967:

1). Marx (1847: 167) states that “without slavery you have no cotton; without cotton you have no modern industry”. “It is slavery that gave the colonies their value; it is the colonies that created world trade, and it is world trade that is the precondition of large-scale industry” (ibid.).

Capitalism is thus grounded on class and racial inequalities, it was the prerequisite for it to thrive and take over the world. Fanon and Marx have significant parallels; since capitalism


dehumanizes the worker according to Marx and according to Fanon (through capitalism’s inherent racism) dehumanizes people of color, the alternative to capitalism might be Fanon’s

‘New Humanism’.

The problem this thesis focuses on is that race- and class inequalities are traditionally not studied intersectionally, therefore making it difficult to argue for the relationship between capitalism and colonialism/racism. Theoretical perspectives on capitalism and postcolonialism are still used and built on today, however, these perspectives remain largely within their own disciplines. This is problematic because it leads to a missing link through which we cannot come up with suitable societal and analytical solutions. Removing the missing link creates a more comprehensive basis for future empirical research and/or creates a foundation for more theoretical research. Subsequently, it provides us with more knowledge about our social reality and how we can overcome inequalities intersectionally. A few postcolonial Marxist authors, such as Stuart Hall, Robbie Shilliam and Lisa Tilley, do recognize the intersections between race and class; however, they identify the problem without sufficiently employing a modern abolitionist-capitalist lens. The originality of my thesis therefore lays in the abolitionist perspective through which I argue for Fanon’s New Humanism as an alternative to the problems with our economic system.

Brief Conceptual Introduction

In this thesis, a postcolonial and modern-abolitionist perspective is used to provide a substantiated argument as to why capitalism should be rejected to complete the decolonization process. These perspectives help to understand that as long as capitalism is alive and well, colonial structures and racial inequalities keep on existing. Therefore, these perspectives reveal that we cannot live in a decolonized world where capitalism exists. In the following chapters, these perspectives are defined more in-depth, however, for clarification purposes I will concisely enlighten what is meant with these terms. Abolitionism (further discussed in Chapter 2) was the movement to end slavery. Currently, abolitionism is often employed in common discourse to depict contemporary social and racial justice movements in several geographic contexts (Debenport et al. 2021). Because the term was used to explain the anti-slavery movement, it might cause confusion putting the term in today’s context. However, as this thesis argues, capitalism is built on slavery and establishes new forms of slavery, which would make a modern abolitionist movement relevant to eradicate injustices linked to our economic system.

There are of course other rejections to capitalism, such as anarchism (a system that rejects,


removed from capitalist control first, because those who have power will do anything they can to remove all threats to capitalism (Raekstad and Gradin 2020: 115). Therefore, anarchism might be a too large of a step to begin with, because transforming society is not something that happens overnight. Modern-abolitionism, which emphasizes the rejection of all forms of slavery, is therefore a beneficial perspective, as it is not a too far-fetched perspective to begin capitalism’s rejection process with. The other lens that is employed in this thesis – postcolonialism (further discussed in Chapter 1) – studies the legacy of colonialism, while concentrating on the experiences of societies, governments and peoples in the formerly colonized regions of the world (Nair 2017). Its emphasis is on understanding the effects of colonialism on the modern world and the way Western/Eurocentric forms of knowledge and power disregard the non-Western world (ibid.). Its concerns lay with global power inequalities and how the world ought to be (ibid.). It is critical of previous theories that ignore important intersections of empire, race, gender, and class in the mechanisms of global power (ibid.). It furthermore critiques Marxism for stating that class inequality is at the root of historical change, instead postcolonial theory expresses that race shapes history (ibid.).

Other concepts that are built on in this thesis are: Marxism, racial capitalism, and New Humanism. Marxism (further discussed in Chapter 1) is a social, political and economic philosophy in which capitalism is critiqued (Prychitko n.d.). Marx stated that people are free and creative individuals who can possibly change the world (start a revolution) (ibid.).

However, capitalism alienates the people because labor becomes degrading and appropriate for machines rather than for free individuals (ibid.). Capitalism therefore blockades our capability to construct our own civil society (ibid.). The class conflict between the working-class and the capitalists would inevitably result into a revolution wherein the working-class would conquer the capitalists and take control of the economic system, creating equality and justice for all classes (ibid.). Racial capitalism (further discussed in Chapter 2) is a term first coined by Cedric J. Robinson in 1983 (Global Social Theory n.d.). Robinson notes that Marxism fails to pay attention to the racial nature of capitalism, whereas Robinson demonstrates that race is a significant component of how the class structure was imagined (ibid.). This is a key part of Robinson’s racial capitalism. According to him, capitalism is racial because racialization was already inherent to Western feudalism; it was a colonial activity that entailed conquest, settlement, expropriation, and racial hierarchy (ibid.). New Humanism (further discussed in Chapter 3) is a term used by Fanon, which is about giving voice to ‘the other’ instead of those dominating the rest (Sharifi and Chabot 2019: 263). The reason for not collaborating with the


and political principles that have set the rules of the game, and those who do not fit their view of ‘Human’ are othered or seen as objects. New Humanism resists the Eurocentric concept of humanism that is continually normalizing and defending colonial violence in the contemporary world system (Sharifi and Chabot 2019: 263). Rather than copying the West, New Humanism is an initiative to construct a new world order (Sharifi and Chabot 2019: 263). It wants to go in new directions and establish different ways of thinking, living and being (ibid.). Fanon suggests a New Humanism that is participatory and revolutionary, which is created by people who do not desire to obliterate others in the name of national, racial, or economic domination (ibid.).

Fanon draws attention to the significance of plantations, colonization, nationalism, independence, gender, and the state in relation to what it means to be human (Mignolo 2015:

110). Fanon noted that people of color were not perceived to be fully human and thus excluded from Western humanism; to acknowledge the human dignity and worth of the oppressed, a restructuring of the world is necessary (Hudis 2020). Through his New Humanism, he therefore challenges the Western and capitalist logics of liberal humanism.

These concepts relate to each other in various ways. Marxism is the foundation for my thesis and through a postcolonial and contemporary abolitionist lens it is possible to come to a more comprehensive theory. Marxism and postcolonialism are related through the critiques postcolonial theory has on the Eurocentric perspectives inherent in Marxist theory. Frantz Fanon is a postcolonial thinker and came up with his version of New Humanism, which relates to postcolonial theory and also to Marxism through its different views on the creation of a new world order. Marxist theory opted for a working-class revolution leading to societal transformation, New Humanism, however, concentrates its efforts on choosing to change our thinking, living, and being in order to create a whole new world order. Racial capitalism relates to both Marxism and postcolonialism, because it rejects the Western perspectives in Marxist theory and rather accounts for a perspective that pays attention to the category of race, which is something postcolonial theory focuses on. Therefore, all concepts have a relation to one another, through the use of these concepts the thesis establishes the relationships between colonialism and race, capitalism and class, and the intersection of race and class.


This Master’s thesis follows the guidelines of a theoretical thesis, in which the purpose is to provide explicit arguments for what I am defending. The perspectives of Marx and Fanon can build on each other and, in that way, fill a theoretical gap through the addition of a postcolonial


employed in this thesis. In Chapter 2, a few empirical examples for how race is constitutive in capitalism are provided to make the argument clearer and hence stronger. However, it will principally remain a theoretical thesis, defining important concepts and theories and in which is elaborated on the different positions and arguments by the authors and other relevant positions in the debate on postcolonialism and capitalism. For the purposes of keeping a focus on race and class and limiting the scope, the important social category of gender is primarily left out of this thesis. I recognize that gender is an important social category which intersects with race and class, and therefore influences knowledge, power distribution, and individual experiences. This Master’s thesis is therefore limited, however, adding the social category of gender would complicate the complexity of the problem even further and would therefore be hardly possible to analyze comprehensively in this thesis. In this thesis, concepts such as

‘black’, ‘South’, and ‘East’ are employed to represent the existing global power imbalance;

they therefore represent the ‘other’. The thesis provides the reader with examples and hence these concepts are sometimes used interchangeably, however, address the same problem of their unequal relationship with the ‘white’, ‘European’, ‘West’, and ‘North’.

This Master’s thesis proceeds as follows. In Chapter 1, the epistemological grounds for leaving out ‘race’ in Marxism is discussed, and the connection between class and capitalism, and race and colonialism is made. This chapter is meant to establish these relationships by using perspectives from authors such as Hall, Tilley, and Shilliam. These authors have already written on the intersection of race and capitalism and their perspectives are therefore insightful to use in this thesis. Thereafter follows Chapter 2, in which it is argued through postcolonial Marxism and racial capitalism perspectives how the collaboration between colonialism/racism and (contemporary) capitalism led to the creation and exacerbation of inequalities. The argument for capitalism as leading to new forms of slavery is made and the chapter subsequently dives into the concept of modern abolitionism to reveal how the abolishment of capitalism is necessary to decolonize, reject racism, and end all forms of slavery. Chapter 3 then finishes off with the argument for ‘no decolonization without rejecting capitalism’. In this chapter the future of human reality is discussed and a suggestion for Fanon’s New Humanism as an alternative to capitalism is made. Finally, the conclusion contains a summary of the thesis, limitations, and recommendations for further research.


Chapter 1 – Connection between Race and Colonialism, and Class and Capitalism

The first chapter is concerned with the relationships between race and colonialism, and class and capitalism. It is important to establish these relations because it can then be determined that race and class are often studied as isolated issues and this missing link therefore creates an analytical gap in traditional studies. Through establishing these relationships using postcolonial Marxist literature, it is possible to argue in Chapter 2 how capitalism and colonialism/racism went hand in hand. Both race, class, capitalism, and colonialism are analyzed and researched in different ways. Where for example Marx has looked at class and capitalism and how capitalism is a system that creates class inequalities (Heinrich 2012); Fanon (1967) has looked at race and postcolonialism and how it is dehumanizing in modern society. Sara Salem (2019:

4) notes that while it seems like Marxism and postcolonial studies are polarized, there is room for collaboration. Before arguing for the collaboration between Marxism and postcolonial theory, the chapter starts with arguing how Marxist theory defines capitalism and why it traditionally neglects the category of race in its analysis of capitalism.

1.1. Epistemological Understanding of Marxism

Before arguing for the abolishment of capitalism, it is first important to define what is meant by capitalism. To start with, capitalism is many things and therefore there is not a single-line explanation (Anievas and Nişancioğlu 2015: 8). In this thesis, a narrow definition of capitalism is rejected and it is argued that capitalism goes beyond just ‘market dependence’ or ‘commodity production’ (ibid.). The problem with using a narrow definition is that it implies that social factors are rationally independent of other factors to which it is connected; for example, capital can then be merely understood as profit which is independent of broader social relations (ibid.).

Therefore, reducing capitalism to capital accumulation makes us ignorant to societal problems connected to this economic system, such as exploitation and inequalities. We are then blinded by money and risk becoming indifferent to the suffering of others. Therefore, in this thesis, a broader definition of capitalism is employed.

Marx himself never offered a systematic treatment of the central principles of his theory of capitalism’s history, leading to a manifold of studies interpreting Marx’s historical writings (Katz 1993: 363). Therefore, in this part, several interpretations of scholars, together with a few paraphrases and quotes of Marx himself, are used to make sense of his complicated theory.

According to Marx, capitalism is essentially a class system differentiated by the economic


system in which surplus value (the difference between the selling price of a product and the product’s cost of production, in other words: unpaid labor) is claimed by the capitalists (idem:

365). Therefore, according to Marx, there is a prerequisite of an established capitalist class relationship – the bourgeoisie (capitalists) versus the exploited proletariat (laborers) (ibid.).

“These laborers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market” (Marx and Engels 1848). These unequal relations are important for capitalism to exist according to Marx: “Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed…” (ibid.). Marx’s study of alienation in capitalism reveals that when capital is accumulated (and the capitalists become richer), the laborer becomes more impoverished – presenting the unequal relationship between oppressor and oppressed (Marx 1867: 353). Marx’s thoughts on capitalism and the relation between capital and wage-labor allowed him to analyze and criticize the conditions of exploitation and power that reproduce the capitalist mode of production (Anievas and Nişancioğlu 2015: 8). His focus on process and his conception of capitalism reveals that social relations are historically constructed and therefore these relations can be altered, abolished and restructured just the same (ibid.). Capitalism, just like other social relations, is constantly adapting and does not show linear progression (ibid.). Marx emphasizes that the development of a trade economy is the result of a historical process, and that capitalism is thus a historically specific production system, and therefore: “…[I]t is no more the final form than the others which went before it” (Giddens 1971: 10). Therefore, capitalism is more than just an economic system, it is socially relational and processual. Only through employing the broader definition, is it possible to trace the ways in which under capitalism several relationships of power, subordination and exploitation overlap and reproduce each other (Anievas and Nişancioğlu 2015: 9). Anievas and Nişancioğlu (ibid.) offer an insightful example of how other social relations, like non-waged forms of production (such as cooking, housekeeping, and childbearing) are vital to the capitalist mode of production and to the production of subordination and exploitation. This example again reveals that these social relations are part of the complexity of capitalism and cannot be ignored, therefore making a narrow definition of capitalism unfeasible.

However insightful and revolutionary Marx’s theory is, his theory is mainly focused on Europe and therefore has a certain Eurocentrism to it. It is therefore crucial to present what is problematic about Eurocentrism before explaining what exactly was Eurocentric about


reveal that Eurocentrism is composed of three interconnected assumptions about the nature of modern development: methodological internalism, historical priority, and linear developmentalism. Methodological internalism is based on the assumption that capitalist modernity is a result of developments predominantly internal to Europe (idem: 4). The rise of capitalism is thus often placed in the geographical confines of Western Europe, whereas non- Europe is downgraded as a passive ‘periphery’ (idem: 5). This promotes the story of the West being endogenously self-made and presented as the ‘core’ which is superior to the rest of the world (ibid.). This can furthermore lead to an understanding of European society and culture as superior; this assumption can be labeled historical priority (ibid.). Historical priority expresses the historical division between tradition and modernity through separating the ‘West’ from the

‘East’ (ibid.). This leads to the ‘othering’ of non-European societies: opposing non-European societies to Europe and defining the ‘self’ (Europe) through this social and epistemological distinction (ibid.). Eurocentrism neglects the interactive features of social development, which turns the analysis of the rise of capitalism into an exclusionary practice that eradicates non- European agency (ibid.). The third assumption, linear developmentalism, is based on modernization theory, which assumes that the European road to ‘modernity’ represents the universal stages of development that all societies must and can pass through (ibid.). Social change is then conceived as something that is universally identical, which embodies all societies, while neglecting history and geography (ibid.). Therefore, the problem with Eurocentrism is that it presents a self-made ‘rise of the West’, glorifying the “internally generated ‘European miracle’”, while neglecting non-European agency and interactive dynamics (idem: 6). Thereafter, it maintains problematic power discourses of ‘self’ versus

‘other’, ‘developed’ versus ‘underdeveloped’, ‘core’ versus ‘periphery’, etc. These discourses reveal power dynamics in which the West is presented as the dominant player whereas the

‘other’ is having to follow in its footsteps and be held to a certain standard. Western Europe has set the rules of the game and constructed a finish line, this is the path to development that the

‘underdeveloped’ countries have to follow, which is like setting them up for a trap. It completely ignores the fact that ‘the rise of the West’ could not have happened without exploitation, domination, power dynamics, and as argued in this thesis: colonialism.

Marx’s analysis of capitalism was insightful and important, as it presented the world with a critique and way of understanding capitalism that is extensive and fundamental for future criticisms of capitalism. However, in his analysis and other Marxist theories it is often found that the category of race is partially or completely left out. In Chapter 1.4. it is argued why


understand why racial and non-European perspectives were left out, because we can then begin to recognize how easy it can be to forget important intersections (such as class, race, gender, ethnicity, etc.), while forgetting these intersections has significant implications for further analyses and conclusions. Therefore, it is now argued on which epistemological grounds race was left out of Marxism. Epistemology is concerned with the principles and rules of knowing and the relation to humanity and reality; it deals with the nature of knowledge and the different methods of acquiring that knowledge (Mignolo 2015: 107). Did Marxist epistemology therefore focus on class which might have resulted in the neglect of race, or was it an issue with the methodological approach that was geographically focused on Europe and therefore leading to a spatial form of limiting? Marxist theories often disregard cultural and social-relational changes that originate outside of Europe and that have been appropriated by Europe in the development of capitalism (Anievas and Nişancioğlu 2015: 25). It often subordinates ‘political community’ to ‘class’, while at the same time conceptualizing class within the spatial boundaries of the political community itself (ibid.). This spatial tunneling leads to a methodologically internalist analysis, i.e. a Eurocentric analysis (ibid.). The theoretical constructs of Marxism are therefore also often Eurocentric and neglect the category of race and non-European perspectives. Marxist theories often argue that capitalism could only have risen when direct producers have become completely reliant on the market for their self-reproduction (idem: 30). Additionally, they often distinguish between non-capitalist practices of profit- making (forced labor) and capitalist noncoercive practices of profit-making that are absorbed through market intervention (ibid.). This distinction results in the exclusion of geopolitical forms of accumulation and removes the links between ‘free’ and ‘forced’ labor that typify existing capitalist social- and labor relations, resulting in the neglect of slavery as an important capitalist catalyzer (ibid). Therefore, the externalization of ‘non-capitalist’ forms of exploitation from capitalism eventually leads to the exclusion of the histories of colonialism and slavery, instead Marxist theories often argue these practices were rooted in feudal accumulation (idem: 31). This thesis, however, argues that colonialism and slavery are in collaboration with capitalism and therefore contemporary capitalism still contains colonial and racist traits, continuing to create and reproduce inequalities. The reason for neglecting the category of race thus has to do with its dominant focus on class which is simultaneously defined within the geographical space of Europe. Therefore, its theoretical constructs and methods have an unconsciously Eurocentric tendency because the analysis is Europe-based. This thesis does not disregard Marxist theories, it does however seek to build on Marx and close the gap between


class and race, illustrating how these categories intersect and cannot be studied separately, especially regarding capitalism.

In short, postcolonial theory tries to correct for the Eurocentric bias in Marxism (among other social theories). It tries to contribute to Marxist theories and critique it in such a way that these theories can have a more comprehensive function regarding the historical, sociological, and political analyses of countries in the ‘South’ and ‘East’. Postcolonial scholars have studied capitalism as a form of oppression and have contributed to the analysis of the origins of capitalism. Postcolonial theory has sought to decentralize the Eurocentric claim that Western social practices and discourses are universally homogenous (idem: 32). These scholars stress how European ‘modernity’ has been constituted against- and by subordination to a non-Western

‘other’; therefore, postcolonial theory emphasizes how colonial structures are deeply entrenched in the organization of European power and the creation of their own identity (the

‘self’) (idem: 33). Postcolonial theory thus focuses on giving a voice and agency to the ‘other’, thereby reaffirming the importance of non-Western agency in world history (ibid.). Postcolonial scholars also emphasize the heterogeneity of social development and thus argue against the assumption of linear developmentalism; history is therefore marked by difference and hybridity (ibid.). In the remainder of this chapter, the connections between class and capitalism, race and colonialism, and the intersections between race and class are presented, hoping to further reveal the relations between Marxism and postcolonialism.

1.2. Connecting Class and Capitalism

After having revealed how Marxist theories are Eurocentric in their methodological and theoretical approaches, it is now important to reveal the connection between class and capitalism to be able to further build on in the remainder of the thesis. Marx’s work, among others, focuses on the connection between capitalism and class, and specifically the class inequalities it creates and exacerbates. Marxism is a social, political and economic philosophy in which capitalism is critiqued (Prychitko n.d.). Marx stated that people are free and creative individuals who can possibly change the world (start a revolution) (ibid.). However, capitalism distances the people because labor becomes degrading and appropriate for machines rather than for free individuals (ibid.). Capitalism therefore blockades our capability to construct our own civil society (ibid.). The class conflict between the working-class and the capitalists would inevitably result into a revolution wherein the working-class would conquer the capitalists and take control of the economic system, creating equality and justice for all classes (ibid.).


According to Marx, the study of social class and class structures are crucial to understanding our economic system (Uregina 1999). Marx characterized classes by the relations regarding labor and ownership of property and the means of production; these factors control social relations in our economic system (ibid.). He defined the main classes in capitalism to be the bourgeoisie and the proletariat; these are primary in the dynamics of capitalism (as mentioned before in Chapter 1.1.) (ibid.). The bourgeoisie are the capitalists and the owners of capital, they exploit labor power, and use the profit acquired from exploitation for the expansion of their capital (ibid.). The proletariat are the laborers, they have no property and no other resources than the ability to work; they must find employment work in order to survive and feed their families (ibid.). The capitalist-laborer relationship is thus unequal, because for the laborer to work is not out of free will, but out of the sheer necessity to survive in society; it is an exploitative relationship. Capitalism inherently creates and exacerbates class inequalities, it is inherent to the system that these class relations are unequal; there always is an exploiter and an exploited one. The relationship might seem like an economic relationship of equals gathering in the labor market, however, Marx reveals the exploitative character of this relationship (ibid.). According to Marx, class conflict is inherent to capitalism and continually leads to strikes, crises, political struggles and eventually to a laborer revolution overthrowing the capitalists (ibid.). Especially in capitalism, power comes from control of the economy or material factors; the capitalists are thus those who hold the power as they are able to control the means of production/property (ibid.). Marx’s theory about class relations in capitalism is the foundation for this thesis, however, the thesis goes further and makes a connection to race and colonialism. The thesis acknowledges his work and employs some of his perspectives, however, adds a postcolonial perspective to build a more comprehensive argumentation.

1.3. Connecting Race and Colonialism

After having presented how class and capitalism are connected, it is now crucial to argue how race and colonialism are connected to be able to argue in Chapter 2 how racism and colonial structures are integral to capitalism. Postcolonialism studies the legacy of colonialism, while concentrating on the experiences of societies, governments and peoples in the formerly colonized regions of the world (Nair 2017). It emphasizes on the effects of colonialism on the modern way of understanding the world and the way Western/Eurocentric forms of knowledge and power disregard the non-Western world (ibid.). Its concerns lay with global power inequalities and how the world ought to be (ibid.). It is critical of previous theories that ignore


important intersections of empire, race, gender and class in the mechanisms of global power (ibid.). Discourses constructed non-Western states as the ‘other’ in a way that made them appear to be inferior (ibid.). Through these discourses, they justified the domination of European/Western powers over other communities in the name of bringing development (ibid.).

Postcolonialism notes that traditional solutions frequently pay attention merely to intervention strategies to ‘help’ a seemingly ‘less developed’ state, instead of tackling the fundamental origins of global inequality (ibid.). It also critiques Marxism for stating that class inequality is at the root of historical change, postcolonial theory instead expresses that race shapes history (ibid.). In Chapter 2, the thesis proceeds to go in-depth about what is colonial and racial about (modern) capitalism and how it exacerbates these race- and class inequalities.

Colonialism is a social system commonly exemplified as a state having political control over foreign land and citizens of the state settling in that foreign land (Staples 1976: 37). It has existed for centuries, however, in the 19th century, European states established control over numerous countries in Asia and Africa: non-white people became politically subordinated to the white European community (idem: 38). The most significant writer on colonialism was the psychiatrist and activist: Frantz Fanon (ibid.). Fanon developed a theory of colonialism and race that highlighted the necessity of struggle, cultural and national autonomy among people of color (ibid.). During colonial times, there was structural inequality between racial groups and the workings of social institutions maintained racial disparities regarding societal participation (idem: 39). Institutions have racism built in, and therefore racial minorities are fundamentally discriminated against (ibid.). Postcolonial authors like Fanon have presented how race, racism and colonialism are connected, this connection is important to reveal in Chapter 2 how capitalism came to be and how it thrived on racism and colonial structures. To be able to do so, it is now crucial to argue how race and class are intersected and how we cannot study race and class separately.

1.4. Intersecting Race and Class

After having argued how class and capitalism, and race and colonialism are connected, it is important to present how race and class are intersected. To do so, it is essential to first argue why intersectionality is important and how it became an important concept in social science and in ‘the real world’. The term intersectionality was first coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989) in 1989. The concept came to exist out of critique of traditional feminist theories ignoring how one’s lived experience shapes their identity. It reveals how socially constructed


categories, such as race, class, gender, and sexual orientation among other categories overlap and collectively structure social identities. It started from a position where black women were often forgotten in traditional feminist movements and therefore black women’s experiences were similarly disregarded in the one-dimensional approach of ‘white feminism’ (idem: 139- 140). Crenshaw mainly focuses on the experiences of black women; however, an intersectional approach does not merely focus on the intersection of race and gender. In this thesis, the focus will be on the intersection of race and class, it was however important to present the history of the concept and how intersecting identities create different experiences. In this case, and what is revealed in the remainder of the thesis, someone who is black and from a lower class might have a more difficult time in society than someone who is white and from a lower class, or someone who is black and from a higher class. This intersection between race and class creates different experiences and might even influence who is seen as ‘Human’ in society and who is not, something that is further discussed in Chapter 3. Intersectional approaches analyze the experiences through the connection and combination of both social categories and not just one or the other.

Power creates knowledge and the other way around, and in a capitalist society a rich white man holds the power to create knowledge. Donna Haraway (1988: 590) contended that knowledge is situated: it is placed within and is therefore influenced by specific contexts.

Therefore, all knowledge is gazed upon from the position of the rich white man (idem: 581).

The intersection of race and class is therefore important because it creates a situation where the knowledge seeker can never have primary access to the knowledge that they might want, the only knowledge they can acquire is that of the interpretation and judgement of the rich white man (ibid.). It is therefore crucial to be aware of the intersections of race and class and how this creates unequal power distributions and unequal access to knowledge, these categories should thus never be studied separately if we want the full picture.

Various authors have researched the categories of race and class in different ways.

Authors such as Stuart Hall, Lisa Tilley, and Robbie Shilliam have contended that race and class should be studied together. For example, Stuart Hall, a Jamaican-British academic writer, contends that race is always positioned in everyday social and economic relations (Solomos 2014: 1670.). “This explains the detailed way in which Hall seeks to show both that race cannot be reduced to other sets of social relations and at the same cannot be fully understood outside of these very same relations” (ibid.). He states that one either stresses underlying class relationships, accentuating that all racially distinguished labor powers are subject to similar


separations at the expense of the foundational societal class structuring (Hall 1986: 24).

Therefore, he makes a claim for approaching race and class intersectionally, something that is also argued for in this thesis. Robbie Shilliam (2018: 180) argues in Race and the Undeserving Poor: “there is not a politics of class that is not already racialized”. Shilliam argues that after the financial crisis of 2008 the language of class changed to a racialized language of class (Scrase 2020: 14). Shilliam therefore argues that race and class work together politically and culturally, which produce the contemporary political and economic society (Scrase 2020: 14).

Thus, similarly to Hall, we have to study race and class together to be able to broaden the scope and come up with complete analyses. Lisa Tilley and Robbie Shilliam (2017) criticize Hall for condemning race to the ideological dimension of the capitalist crisis, instead they argue that race must be seen as “a mode of classifying, ordering, creating and destroying people, labor power, land, environment and capital” (idem: 537). When analyzing the crises of neoliberal capitalism, we should engage with a discussion on race (idem: 535).

Michael Apple (2017: 404-405) also contends that analyzing the intersections of race and class exposes a more detailed understanding of the innerworkings of racialization processes. Apple repeats Hall’s argument that there is not one kind of racism, it is always plural;

“one cannot explain racism in abstraction from other social relations” (idem: 406). It is presented that race and class collectively shape the experiences of the black middle class (in his analysis in relation to education) (idem: 407). This again reveals the importance of the concept of intersectionality and how it cannot be neglected in studies analyzing social injustices, or other similar issues. It should however be noted, which is something Apple also contends, that ‘the’ black middle-class experience does not exist and cannot be reduced to something simple; it is not homogenous (ibid.). However, class and race experiences are characterized as complex and therefore already imply that there is no such thing as one experience.

These authors all illustrate the importance of studying race and class intersectionally, it is however often neglected to do so in relation to our economic system. Therefore, this thesis proceeds to study the inequalities arising from capitalism intersectionally.


Chapter 2 – Capitalist Cooperation with Colonialism and New Forms of Slavery

After having established how the categories of race, class, colonialism, and capitalism are inherently connected, Chapter 2 continues to argue how the collaboration between colonialism and (contemporary) capitalism led to the creation of new- and the exacerbation of inequalities, and especially how contemporary capitalism exacerbates race- and class-based inequalities intersectionally. The argument that is presented in this chapter therefore builds on the previous argument presented in Chapter 1. This chapter uses the perspectives of postcolonial Marxism and racial capitalism to argue what is racial and colonial about modern capitalism and how it has created new forms of slavery. The chapter also argues for a modern abolitionist perspective to analyze capitalism and it is therefore demonstrated how it is necessary to reject capitalism in order to abolish all forms of slavery that arise from our economic system. First, a historical overview is presented in which the collaboration between colonialism and capitalism is presented. Subsequently, it is revealed how modern capitalism creates inequalities and new forms of slavery. Finally, it is argued that the abolishment of capitalism is a prerequisite for an equal and slave-free society.

2.1. The Collaboration of Colonialism and Capitalism

Capitalism was able to thrive due to the profitable global market system that was created during colonial periods, and especially via the trading of slaves. The Dutch context, for example, illustrates how a massive involvement in slave trade and colonialism was fully compatible with a record of early capitalism and ‘modernity’ (Oostindie 1995: 3). The Netherlands, due to its slave trade, was established as a pioneer capitalist state; Immanuel Wallerstein, for example, recognized the Netherlands as the initial hegemonic influence in the capitalist world-economy (ibid.). Colonial expansion (in which slavery was prominent) was important to the global profile of the Dutch economy, and to other similar economies (such as the British) (ibid.). Capitalism thus emerged and could thrive due to the economic successes of colonialism and slavery.

For dependency theorist Immanuel Wallerstein, the collapse of world empires was a prerequisite for the rise of capitalism (Anievas and Nişancioğlu 2015: 15). According to Wallerstein, economic development was restricted by world empires because these empires absorbed the profits gained from agrarian production, which hindered the accumulation of capital (ibid.). With the collapse of world empires, production would be constantly enlarged and capitalists would continuously invent new techniques of producing to gain profit (ibid.).


Non-capitalist zones were incorporated into the capitalist system through colonization, conquest, or economic and political domination (ibid.). According to Wallerstein the emergence of the trade system via overseas expansion is separated from the ‘freeing of labor’; capitalism exists not because of the exploitation of free wage-labor, but rather because of the incorporation of societies into a transnational trading network (ibid.). Wallerstein rather argued that free labor defines labor in the core countries, however coerced labor defines peripheral areas; this unequal relationship is the characterization of capitalism (ibid.). However useful Wallerstein’s theory is to describe international relations, his description of the West as the capitalistic core has a typical Eurocentric approach to it. While trying to describe global relations, he comes rather close to discursively suppressing the ‘periphery’, where the West/North is leading the ‘modern developed’ world, whereas the East/South is dependent and underdeveloped. This Eurocentric perspective leads to a dichotomy between the West versus the rest, independent versus dependent, developed versus underdeveloped, human versus other, etc. These dichotomies maintain power relations and reject the agency of countries in the East/South.

Political Marxists see the origins and the explanation of capitalism manifested in one conceptual moment, namely the emergence of the wage-labor market (idem: 24). This explanation however neglects the histories of colonialism, slavery, and imperialism (ibid.).

Marx (1867: 525) himself did briefly acknowledge these histories with the following quote:

“The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief momenta of primitive accumulation.”. It is important to acknowledge the impact of these histories as they were inherently violent and racist, and today’s wealth and the current state of inequality are built on the violence of these histories. Ignoring its significance has disastrous political consequences: it threatens democracy, it leads to new kinds of violence, and it therefore may lead to indifferent attitudes regarding race-based inequalities in contemporary capitalism – something Henry Giroux also calls ‘The Violence of Forgetting’ (Evans and Giroux 2016).

Where Wallerstein and Political Marxists fall short in explaining the rise of capitalism, the year 1492 is an important starting point for the emergence of capitalism. The New World

‘discoveries’ of 1492 led to the establishment of the modern world order and the emergence of a global market system (Anievas and Nişancioğlu 2015: 121). Recognizing the transformative interactions between Europe and the Americas is necessary to explain their ensuing


notions of the European self and the non-European ‘other’ arose (idem: 123). This in turn led to Eurocentrism and racism, which served to both legitimize the horrors of colonialism and stimulate the rise of capitalism (ibid.). This hierarchy that was founded in the Atlantic encounter established the moral duty for the ‘civilized’ (Europeans) to take control of the ‘uncivilized’

(Native Americans) (idem: 127). Native Americans were declared racially inferior and incapable of productive uses of land by white Europeans; through this racist subordination along with Europe’s colonization of America, capitalism evolved into a world system of imperialist domination along those same global color lines (idem: 128). The year 1492 is thus an important starting point for today’s capitalistic world system and its racist traits. The Spanish

‘discoveries’ of the New World had substantial domino effects, resulting in the emergence of Dutch capitalism (idem: 142). Due to the inflow of precious metal from the New World, it undermined and halted domestic manufacturers in Spain; which then led to a deindustrialization of the Spanish economy and later a public debt which opened the doors for Dutch capital (ibid.).

Almost half of the gold and silver ended up in the Netherlands, building Dutch economic power on American precious metal (idem: 143). New World silver served the capitalist progress of Northwestern Europe (especially the Dutch and English), and it evened out the imports of Indonesian pepper, cloves and nutmeg, Indian cotton, and Chinese silk and porcelain for lucrative re-export to European buyers (ibid.). The New World gold and silver thus enabled the expansion of the profitable East India trade, which made Europeans penetrate Asian markets and dominate them (idem: 145). Subsequently, the re-export of Asian goods contributed to the development of European, American, and African markets, leading to a global capitalist market dominated by European interests (ibid.).

Having made clear how the ‘discoveries’ in 1492 had a clear association with the rise of capitalism, it is now important to emphasize the impact of the slave trade during these colonial and imperial times on colonial capitalism. Marxist perspectives and Wallerstein unfortunately deny the significant role merchants have played in capitalist relations (idem: 170).

However, the role that merchants played in amassing slave labor for lucrative purposes was substantial and cannot be ignored. The plantation system assembled the unequal productive forces through accumulated capital, American land and African slavery, which aimed towards capitalistic production (idem: 158). A class relationship centered on racism was constructed which shaped and reproduced the colonial economy in the New World (idem: 160). Plantations responded to the market as a foundation for production and functioned under capitalist rules of reproduction; slaves were obliged to work for the purposes of making profit or otherwise sold


where they were extensively exploited; therefore: “the plantations showed all those features we would expect from a capitalist enterprise” (ibid.). Slavery, racism, colonial conquest, and exploitation were therefore essential and integral to the non-linear development of contemporary capitalism (idem: 162).

Nevertheless, it is also contended that capitalism emerged and ended slavery, which would provide capitalism with a positive connotation (Getz n.d.). Abolitionism was the movement to end slavery; it underlined the non-viability of slave labor and the greater efficiency of free labor and the industrial capitalist order at the same time (Oostindie 1995: 7).

Capitalism therefore ‘emerged’ because ‘free labor’ would be more efficient in relation to forced labor. However, as is argued above, capitalist relations were established long before the

‘freeing of labor’ and went hand-in-hand with slavery, violence, and exploitation. It is therefore unfair to provide contemporary capitalism with the credentials of ending slavery as it was built on the economic structures created during these colonial periods. Additionally, the ‘freeing of labor’ only occurred because it was found to be non-viable and less efficient, which makes me wonder if slavery would have ended if it was more profitable than ‘free labor’. Thereafter, countering the argument of capitalism ending slavery leads to the question: did capitalism really end slavery? This chapter further argues that slavery was never actually abolished, it has rather emerged in new forms of slavery, therefore challenging the argument that capitalism supposedly ended slavery (Sogani 2019). As is argued in Chapter 2.2.1., capitalism has led to severe inequalities and exploitation of workers, where they are almost working as slaves (ibid.).

Therefore, as is argued in Chapter 2.2.2., modern abolitionism should fight for the rejection of capitalism and, as such, all forms of slavery.

2.2. Contemporary Capitalism’s Inequalities and ‘The End of Slavery’

This argument builds on the argument above, in which it was argued that capitalism is inherently built on racism, colonialism and imperialism and therefore creates and exacerbates new inequalities. In this subchapter, it is also contended that capitalism creates new forms of slavery, it exploits workers for the luxuries of the rich-income class (the capitalists), and it does so intersecting race and class (Hall 1986; Shilliam 2018). As Marx noted, to make more profit, the capitalists are prepared to go as far as enslaving and exploiting others (Sogani 2019).

Equality does not exist in modern society, because capitalism persistently reproduces poverty of the proletariat (Bakunin 1882: 2). As Michail Bakunin states, the capitalist and the worker are not equal; the capitalist comes to the market to expand his profit, while the worker is brought


to the market because of hunger (idem: 6). The argument in this chapter builds on Marxist notions; however, it adds a postcolonial perspective which intersects race and class.

Postcolonial Marxism and racial capitalism are therefore the foundation for this argument. After having argued for the unfairness of contemporary capitalism through these perspectives, the subchapter continues to argue for a modern abolitionist perspective where the abolishment of capitalism is necessary to put an end to its race- and class-based inequalities and capitalism’s slave-like circumstances.

2.2.1. A Postcolonial Marxism and Racial Capitalism Perspective

There is “little consensus about whether it is Marxism or postcolonial theory that is dominant in the critical quarters of the academy today” (Sinha and Varma 2017: 546). Both theories have had critical insights about one another, however, the intersection of both postcolonialism and Marxism provides a more comprehensive understanding of capitalism’s race- and class-based inequalities. In this thesis it is argued that postcolonial theory has the ability to enrich Marxism, especially regarding its Eurocentric parts. Postcolonial theory analyzed imperialism and colonialism and its goal has been to take down the narratives of colonialism, cultural essence, and capitalism (idem: 547). The theorization of intersectionality (discussed in Chapter 1.4.) has made room for thinking about forms of injustices (like race- and class-based inequalities) together, and hence a combination between postcolonialism and Marxism is possible.

Fanon flirted with Marxist ideas, however, he never described himself as a Marxist, which was due to his disgust with the French left not supporting the resistance in Algeria for self-determination. Nevertheless, in this thesis and because of his clear Marxist and postcolonial affiliations, Fanon is defined as part of postcolonial Marxist theory; Fanon is therefore seen as a Marxist in disguise (Olende 2019). Where Marx emphasizes class inequalities rooted in capitalist society, Fanon emphasizes that anti-black racism is deeply rooted in the capitalist class structure and cannot be understood separate from it (ibid.). Fanon treated race and class problems with a Marxist perspective, and understood that race and class conflicts were part of the same problem (Forsythe 1973: 163). There is some overlap between Marx and Fanon, however, where Marx stressed the rise of private property as historically evil, Fanon emphasized the evils of slavery and colonialism (idem: 165). Colonialism, as argued for in Chapter 2.1., has led to an unequal relationship between black and white people (ibid.). Fanon, rather than Marx’s focus on Europe, focused on the “Third World” in his analyses, and therefore

‘stretches’ Marxism in a colonial context (ibid.). Fanon, like other postcolonial Marxists, offers


a way of thinking about class and race (among other forms of inequality) that is not ignored in contemporary discourses combining postcolonial thought and Marxism (Rao 2017: 595).

Racial capitalism can be understood as part of- or as affiliated to postcolonial Marxist thought and recognizes the important intersection of race and class (as discussed in Chapter 1.4.). It is a term first coined by Cedric J. Robinson in 1983 (Global Social Theory n.d.).

Robinson notes that Marxism fails to pay attention to the racial nature of capitalism, whereas Robinson demonstrates that race is a significant component of how the class structure was imagined (ibid.). This is a key part of Robinson’s racial capitalism. According to him, capitalism is racial because racialization was already inherent to Western feudalism; it was a colonial activity that entailed conquest, settlement, expropriation, and racial hierarchy (ibid.).

According to Robinson, Marx treated slavery as a mode of accumulation which was prior to capitalism (Ralph and Singhal 2019: 857). Robinson, however, resumes Marx’s term of

‘primitive accumulation’ as ‘racial capitalism’ to emphasize the significant role violence played in shaping economic growth in capitalism (ibid.). Robinson argues that the development of capitalism followed racial directions (which is also argued in Chapter 2.1.), which would then lead to racism infiltrating the social structures emerging from capitalism (Melamed 2015: 77).

The term therefore recognizes that capitalism is inherently racial capitalism (ibid.). Capital can only be accumulated when it is produced in relations of significant inequality among human groups; capitalists versus workers for example (ibid.). These capitalist relations require the uneven separation of human worth, and in addition, racism enshrines the inequalities that our economic system demands (ibid.). Racial capitalism is often affiliated with white supremacist capitalist expansion, such as slavery, colonialism, genocide, incarceration regimes, migrant exploitation, and contemporary racial warfare (ibid.). Additionally, contemporary racial capitalism adopts liberal conditions of inclusion and exclusion in order to differentiate forms of humanity in terms of their value in order to meet the needs of leading state-capitalist orders (ibid.). Racial capitalism emphasizes the construction of social separateness that is needed for capitalist expropriation to succeed (idem: 78). People are distinguished between valued and devalued, and all for the possibility of profit (idem: 79).

Currently, our economic system creates and reproduces class- and race-based inequalities on micro- and macro levels. It does so, for example, regarding the exploitation of indigenous peoples, how COVID-19 impacted black and minority ethnic groups, climate change effects on people in the South, and fast fashion that is built on the exploitation of people (especially women) in the South/East. Neoliberal capitalism is greedy for natural resources,


over indigenous peoples (Melamed 2015: 83). New appropriations of lands and waters (also called land- or water-grabbing) in the United States (US) and Canada have violated Indigenous treaty rights and environmental protection laws likewise (ibid). Corporations are ‘given the right’ to exploit these indigenous lands and bypass indigenous communities, all in the interest of accumulating capital (ibid.). As a result, modern decolonization movements in the US and Canada have risen to protect these indigenous people, and the environment correspondingly (ibid.). Capitalism, therefore, reveals itself from a postcolonial Marxist and racial capitalist perspective as a system of expropriation, where it steals land from indigenous peoples and neglects their human rights for the sole purpose of making profit (ibid.).

Another example is how COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted black and minority groups in, for example, the United Kingdom (UK) and the US (Gore 2020; Laster Pirtle 2020).

COVID-19 itself might not discriminate, however, infection and mortality rates in the UK and the US tell a contrasting story (ibid.). In May 2020, data in the UK revealed a significant high number of COVID-19 patients with a black and minority background, in which especially black people were overrepresented in terms of mortality rates (Gore 2020). The intersections between race and class inequalities in health are important, in which fundamental drivers of poor health outcomes are: poverty, food insecurity, unemployment, poor housing, and barriers to healthcare access (ibid.). The effects of COVID-19 are therefore not only explainable through biomedical research, but are important issues of political economy (ibid.). Racial capitalism offers an insightful lens for analyzing these uneven impacts. Racial capitalism reveals the underlying processes of the overrepresentation of black and minority groups working in precarious jobs (often both racialized and gendered); this overrepresentation in turn has knock-on effects for the high exposure risk regarding COVID-19 (ibid.). People working these jobs, such as health and social care, have been referred to as ‘key workers’ during the pandemic, and these sectors involve some of the most low-paid workers (ibid.). They experience already existing health inequalities, precarity, low wages and structural racism on top off a heightened risk of exposure to the virus (ibid.). The intersection of race and class is therefore central to understanding the uneven implications of COVID-19 for different types and locations of labor (ibid.). Racism and capitalism jointly create dangerous conditions that essentially structure inequities regarding COVID-19 infections (Laster Pirtle 2020: 504). This is for example the case with racial residential segregation in places such as Detroit, which has been imposed by legislation (idem:

505). Racial residential segregation has accordingly led to less access to green spaces and healthy affordable food, and racialized communities additionally are forced to live near


access to resources for protection against COVID-19, where for example the wealthy can pay grocery shopping online while Amazon workers have no paid time off (idem: 506). These several risk factors shape their health and their vulnerability to COVID-19 (ibid.). Racial capitalism uncovers the difference between white men and women working on their laptops from home while an overrepresentation of black and minority groups is risking their lives and fulfilling their ‘key worker’-title. A better understanding of the racialized hierarchies crucial to the global economy explains that racial capitalism evaluates whose body and whose labor matters (Gore 2020); it is racial capitalism that determines divisions of ‘human’ versus ‘non- human’.

A third example reveals how climate change effects are unequally affecting people in the South. “Climate change has a greater impact on those sections of the population, in all countries, that are most reliant on natural resources for their livelihoods and/or who have the least capacity to respond to natural hazards, such as droughts, landslides, floods and hurricanes.” (UNFCCC, n.d.). Climate change is therefore a political issue regarding rich-poor and North-South divides. Racialized societies have had to deal with the burdens of the carbon- based capitalist economy from colonialism through today’s climate crisis (Gonzalez 2020).

Racially subordinated people living in areas with oil drilling, coal mining, oil and gas pipelines are being poisoned by toxic substances (ibid.). Capitalism has used racism to produce the conditions for the uncontrolled extraction of resources that has initiated global climate change and to shift the weight of climate change onto the most vulnerable and least responsible (ibid.).

Climate change is caused by those who are wealthy, however, it threatens the people who contributed least to the problem; those who are most vulnerable to climate disasters are predominantly non-white people (ibid.). A racial capitalism perspective is again important regarding this example; it explicitly reveals how the struggles for racial, economic, and climate justice are interrelated and interdependent (ibid.). Through this framework, it becomes clear that racial hierarchies centered in capitalism need to be destroyed to counter the uneven distribution of climate change impacts.

The last example reveals how the fast fashion industry is built on the exploitation of people (especially women) from the South/East. The fashion industry is worth around $1.5 trillion dollars, whereas garment workers earn around $94 US dollars a month in Bangladesh (Ly 2021). The link between capitalism and exploitation of the workers, like Marx contended in his works, is clear regarding the fashion industry. However, it has become even more extreme in contemporary capitalism with online retailers, the change from four clothing seasons to more


consumerism is encouraged and has changed the industry rapidly (ibid.). In order to keep up with this extreme case of consumerism, the fashion industry is completely dependent on the underpaying of primarily poor women of color in the South/East (ibid.). Women with little choice are forced to accept dangerous working conditions in order to survive, solely so that fashion companies can benefit from lower production costs (ibid.). Racial capitalism regarding the fashion industry thus commodifies non-white people for economic gain; 80 per cent of garment workers are women of color and without them the current industry would not be able to function (ibid.). It is a production model that keeps women of color who work in fashion poor and in unsafe conditions, just for the purpose of maximizing profits (Legesse 2020). They often have to work under illegal subcontractors and have to work forced and unpaid overtime (ibid.). The economic exploitation on which the fashion industry depends is a legacy of colonialism, in which European imperialism has been (and still lives on to be) a means for creating extractive countries and subjugating non-white people for centuries (ibid.).

Postcolonial Marxist and racial capitalist perspectives are relevant to these examples (among others), because through these lenses it is possible to observe how unjust and unequal our economic system is. Capitalism is colonial and racial because the global economy depends on the oppression, exploitation, and sometimes forced labor of those who have been subjugated and racialized for centuries during colonial and modern times. The rich become richer through the domination of- and violence against poor people of color, both on a micro- as well as macro level. The problem, therefore, does not lie with a few inconvenient random accidents, but with a longstanding pattern of injustice, inequality, and exploitation that is inherently linked to a higher evil, our global economic order: capitalism.

2.2.2. Modern Abolitionism

Abolitionism was the movement to end slavery. Slavery occurs when an individual is forced to work against their will for the benefit of another (End Slavery Now n.d.). The abolitionist movement was organized around 1830 to abolish the practice of slavery in the US and became a controversial political issue that divided the country ( 2019). The intense and violent debates surrounding abolitionism and slavery led to the Civil War and eventually the abolishment of slavery in the US (ibid.). Abolitionists aspired to completely liberate all enslaved people; they saw slavery as a disgrace for the US and ‘radically’ fought to equalize all people (ibid.). With the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment, slavery was made a crime, it however did not disappear (The Abolition Seminar n.d. a). The activism of black Americans




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