Cap Against Race Affs—UMich 2013

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AT: Class is an excuse

  1. Class is not an excuse—rest of the debate proves black scholars agree that racism is perpetuated through capitalism—it’s not just a white focus

  2. We’re not avoiding race—we are engaging the subject and want to solve race, we just think there’s a better way to do it

  3. Marxist theory does not reduce other forms of oppression but explains them—experiential politics alone are suspect and fail to create real change

Scatamburlo-D’Annibale and McLaren 04 (Valerie and Peter, associate professor in the Department of Communication, Media and Film at the University of Windsor and Professor in the Division of Urban Schooling, the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA, “Class Dismissed? Historical materialism and the politics of ‘difference’”, Educational Philosophy and Theory 36:2, April 2004, Wiley)//AS

Contrary to what many have claimed, Marxist theory does not relegate categories of ‘difference’ to the conceptual mausoleum; rather, it has sought to reanimate these categories by interrogating how they are refracted through material relations of power and privilege and linked to relations of production. Moreover, it has emphasized and insisted that the wider political and economic system in which they are embedded needs to be thoroughly understood in all its complexity. Indeed, Marx made clear how constructions of race and ethnicity ‘are implicated in the circulation process of variable capital.’ To the extent that ‘gender, race, and ethnicity are all understood as social constructions rather than as essentialist categories’ the effect of exploring their insertion into the ‘circulation of variable capital (including positioning within the internal heterogeneity of collective labor and hence, within the division of labor and the class system)’ must be interpreted as a ‘powerful force reconstructing them in distinctly capitalist ways’ (Harvey, 2000, p. 106). Unlike contemporary narratives which tend to focus on one or another form of oppression, the irrefragable power of historical materialism resides in its ability to reveal (1) how forms of oppression based on categories of difference do not possess relative autonomy from class relations but rather constitute the ways in which oppression is lived/experienced within a class-based system; and (2) how all forms of social oppression function within an overarching capitalist system. This framework must be further distinguished from those that invoke the terms ‘classism’ and/or ‘class elitism’ to (ostensibly) foreground the idea that ‘class matters’ (cf. hooks, 2000) since we agree with Gimenez (2001, p. 24) that ‘class is not simply another ideology legitimating oppression.’ Rather, class denotes ‘exploitative relations between people mediated by their relations to the means of production.’ To marginalize such a conceptualization of class is to conflate an individual's objective location in the intersection of structures of inequality with people's subjective understandings of who they really are based on their ‘experiences.’ Another caveat. In making such a claim, we are not renouncing the concept of experience. On the contrary, we believe it is imperative to retain the category of lived experience as a reference point in light of misguided post-Marxist critiques which imply that all forms of Marxian class analysis are dismissive of subjectivity. We are not, however, advocating the uncritical fetishization of ‘experience’ that tends to assume that experience somehow guarantees the authenticity of knowledge and which often treats experience as self-explanatory, transparent, and solely individual. Rather, we advance a framework that seeks to make connections between seemingly isolated situations and/or particular experiences by exploring how they are constituted in, and circumscribed by, broader historical and social circumstances. Experiential understandings, in and of themselves, are suspect because, dialectically, they constitute a unity of opposites—they are at once unique, specific, and personal, but also thoroughly partial, social, and the products of historical forces about which individuals may know little or nothing (Gimenez, 2001). In this sense, a rich description of immediate experience in terms of consciousness of a particular form of oppression (racial or otherwise) can be an appropriate and indispensable point of departure. Such an understanding, however, can easily become an isolated ‘difference’ prison unless it transcends the immediate perceived point of oppression, confronts the social system in which it is rooted, and expands into a complex and multifaceted analysis (of forms of social mediation) that is capable of mapping out the general organization of social relations. That, however, requires a broad class-based approach.
  1. Class analysis doesn’t neglect race but explains it—class defines social interaction

San Juan 05 (Epifanio, Filipino American literary academic, mentor, cultural reviewer, civic intellectual, activist, writer, essayist “From Race to Class Struggle: Marxism and Critical Race Theory”, Nature, Society and Thought 18:3, 2005,

Our key heuristic axiom is this: the extraction of surplus labor always involves conflict and struggle. In this process of class conflict, identities are articulated with group formation, and race, gender, and ethnicity enter into the totality of contradictions that define a specific conjuncture, in particular the contradictions between the social relations dominated by private property and the productive forces. Reformulated, this proposition translates into a principle of causality: the organization of work influences the way in which race and gender are mediated within the hegemony of a social bloc. Class consciousness as a “state of social cohesion” (Braverman 1974, 29) involves layers that have varying duration and intensities expressed in popular and mass culture. A historical-materialist understanding of race relations and racism embedded in the process of class formation and class struggles, in the labor process and cultural expression, distinguishes the research projects of cultural studies scholars like Michael Denning, Peter McLaren, Paul Buhle, Gregory Meyerson, and Teresa Ebert. Given this emphasis on class struggle and class formation, on the totality of social relations that define the position of interacting collectivities in society, materialist critique locates the ground of institutional racism and racially based inequality in the capitalist division of labor—primarily between the seller of labor-power as prime commodity and the employer who maximizes surplus value (unpaid labor) from the workers. What will maximize accumulation of profi t and also maintain the condition for such stable and efficient maximization? The answer to this question would explain the ideology and practice of racial segregation, subordination, exclusion, and variegated tactics of violence. This is not to reduce race to class, but rather to assign import or intelligible meaning to the way in which racialization (the valorization of somatic or “natural” properties) operates. While social subjects indeed serve as sites of variegated differences—that is, individuals undergo multiple inscriptions and occupy shifting positionalities on the level of everyday experience—the patterns of their actions or “forms of life” are not permanently indeterminate or undecidable when analyzed from the perspective of the totality of production relations. The capitalist labor process and its conditions overdetermine the location of groups whose ethnic, racial, gender, and other characteristics acquire value within that context. I think this is the sense in which Barbara Jeanne Fields argues for a materialist reading of slavery in U.S. history: “A majority of historians think of slavery as primarily a system of race relations—as though the chief business of slavery were the production of white supremacy rather than the production of cotton, sugar, rice and tobacco” (1990, 99). This one-sided, indeed mechanistic, explanation needs to be corrected with the observation that the production of cotton, etc. reproduces in itself the whole complex of social and political relations of that fi eld—in fact, production of commodities for exchange and profi t would not be possible if the reproduction of class relations did not accompany it. Which came first, the actual exploitation or its rationalization, is a trick question posed by disingenuous ideologues whose vulgar materialism can easily consort with the hallucinatory narcotics of superstition and the fetishism of goods and spectacles (Guillaumin 1995). Culture, ideology, politics, and economics are all inextricably intertwined; but their “law of motion” can be clarifi ed through the mediation of a historical-materialist optic.
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