Cap Against Race Affs—UMich 2013



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AT: Reductionist

We’re not reductionist—analyzing race through an economic view doesn’t preclude the existence of race

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.

Marxist analysis does not reduce or marginalize racial and gender oppression—economic and political critique of capitalism is the only way to solve the multiplicity of oppression


Meyerson 01 (Gregory, Associate Professor of English at North Carolina A&T University, “Rethinking Black Marxism: ¶ Reflections on Cedric Robinson and Others”, Cultural Logic 3:2, Spring 2000, http://clogic.eserver.org/3-1&2/meyerson.html)//AS

The "relative autonomy" of "race" has been enabled by a reduction and distortion of class analysis. The essence of the reduction and distortion involves equating class analysis with some version of economic determinism. The key move in the critique of economic determinist Marxism depends upon the view that the economic is the base, the cultural/political/ideological the superstructure. It is then relatively easy to show that the (presumably non-political) economic base does not cause the political/cultural/ideological superstructure, that the latter is/are not epiphenomenal but relatively autonomous or autonomous causal categories in their own right--though such causal pluralism often results in the deconstruction of the category of cause. It might be said, at least with regard to the "class struggle in theory," that most critics of Marxism zero in on the perceived conceptual inadequacies of base and superstructure. So I'd like to state my position on this at some length before turning to Robinson.¶ 4. Marxism properly interpreted emphasizes the primacy of class in a number of senses. One, of course, is the primacy of the working class as a revolutionary agent--a primacy which does not, as often thought, render women and people of color "secondary." Such an equation of white male and working class, as well as a corresponding division between a "white" male working class identity and all the others, whose identity is thereby viewed as either primarily one of gender and race or hybrid, is a view this essay contests all along the way. The primacy of class means that building a multiracial, multi-gendered international working-class organization or organizations should be the goal of any revolutionary movement: the primacy of class puts the fight against racism and sexism at the center. The intelligibility of this position is rooted in the explanatory primacy of class analysis for understanding the structural determinants of race, gender and class oppression. Oppression is multiple and intersecting but its causes are not.¶ 5. As I will show, the incorrect understanding of the primacy of class does carry with it for critics of historical materialism both the devaluation of "race" and "gender" as explanatory categories and their devaluation as real people, women and people of color. So when the charge is made against Marxism that it makes race and gender secondary, there is always the sense that race and gender are being treated at once as analytical categories and citizens--with the implication that Marxism in theory is the corollary of a deprivation of rights in practice. On this view, race, gender, class are co-primary, interacting, intersecting and, to reiterate the confusion I see between the triad as analytical category and person, in dialogue.¶ 6. In my view, and this is surely controversial, but it also puts Marxism on its strongest footing, the primacy of class means not only that class is the primary determinant of oppression and exploitation but the only structural determinant. "Race" and gender (this essay focuses on racism but has implications for gender) are not structural determinants. There is racist and sexist ideology. And there is a racial and gendered division of labor, whose severity and function vary depending on where one works in the capitalist global economy. Both ideology and the division of labor are understood here to be functional for class rule--facilitating profit making and social control. Class rule is itself a form of class struggle. This latter point is crucial. Class rule is never automatic or easy, and there is constant resistance, both to class rule itself and its symptoms. This essay thus strongly rejects that part of the Althusserian thesis on social reproduction that explains class rule as a function of interpellation.3¶ 7. So class does not mean the economic in contradistinction to the political or the material in contradistinction to the mental. And class struggle should itself not be seen as a reflex of the primacy of the productive forces over the social relations of production--in this scenario, the working class is not really struggling to emancipate itself but to emancipate "the productive forces." Such a view also legitimates nationalism as a stepping stone to internationalism--insofar as nationalism (through, say, import-substitution) helps develop capitalism enough so that it becomes ripe for the next stage. Finally, class does not mean "objective," defined in turn as "impersonal forces." All agents must face the constraints of a given mode of production--capitalists must obey capital's laws of motion. They must be motivated to maximize profit in order to survive, though the strongest profit making motives in the world cannot prevent the destruction of capital, which is a property of the system. In this sense, the mode of production is objective, not reducible to the wills of individual agents. But processes of class rule always involve subjects (embodied to be sure) who do make choices about how to rule and how to resist.¶ 8. The primacy of class means that "the economic" and "the political" are inseparable--we must not divide them into the economic base (equated with "class" and "impersonal forces," the two in turn synonymous with "structure") and the political superstructure (just about everything else from law and custom to the agency of ruling and resisting subjects), separate realms that "mutually determine one another." As I've argued elsewhere and will argue below, when you split the economic and the political and then recombine them, you do not have dialectics but an incoherent amalgam of incommensurable categories, or, in E. P. Thompson's words, "barren oscillation."4 Finally, class does not mean capitalism. The tacit equation of the two facilitates the mistaken view, central to Robinson et al., that pre-capitalist sexism and racism pose insoluble problems for Marxism.

Anti-reductionist analyses are trapped in tautology and can never explain the root of racism


Young 06 (Robert, Julius Silver Professor of English and Comparative Literature. At New York University, “Putting Materialism back into Race Theory: Toward a Transformative Theory of Race”, The Red Critique 11, Winter/Spring 2006, http://www.redcritique.org/WinterSpring2006/puttingmaterialismbackintoracetheory.htm)//AS

The logic of autonomy moves away from transcendental subject, but it gives way to reification of discourse. For instance, Goldberg theorizes race and class as autonomous "fields of discourse" ("Racist Discourse" 87). After de-totalizing the social, Goldberg introduces a very problematic split between racism, which deals with the issue of "exclusion", and class theory, which deals with the issue of "exploitation" (97). Goldberg's text raises an important question concerning the relationship between exclusion and exploitation. However, he is unable to provide an effective response because of his commitment to a non-reductive analysis of race and this leaves him without an historical explanation of the constitution of (racist) discourse. Goldberg examines racist discourse "in own terms", but he has very difficult time accounting for the "persuasiveness" of racist discourse. In its own terms, racist discourse is very compelling for racists, but this begs the questions: why is racist discourse so persuasive in the first place? Why does the social formation make available such a subject position? This is an urgent question because of the nature of Goldberg's project, which attempts to identify "racists on the basis of the kinds of beliefs they hold" (87). The identification of racists based on their beliefs does not explain the origin of such beliefs in the first place. Thus, the question remains: why do racists hold such (racist) beliefs? For Goldberg, it appears that racists hold racist beliefs because of Racist discourse! Goldberg can not offer an explanation of these beliefs because this would take him outside of the formal grammar of racist discourse. In Goldberg, the obsession with autonomy engenders a reification of discourse and the political implications of this are quite revealing. For Goldberg, discourse—not class struggle—becomes the motor of history: "it is in virtue of racist discourse and not merely rationalized by it that such forced manipulations of individual subjects and whole populations could have been affected" (95). He continues: "[i]nstruments of exclusion—legal, cultural, political, or economic—are forged by subjects as they mould criteria for establishing racial otherness" (95). Racial alterity makes sense not on its own terms but in relation to "instruments of exclusion". However, to move beyond Goldberg, I suggest that these instruments, in turn, must be related to existing property relationships. In short, the logic of alterity justifies and hence assists in the maintenance of class generated social inequality. The preoccupation with "autonomy" and "racial discourse formation" makes it seem as if social life is a matter of "contingency". This view blocks our understanding of the one constant feature of daily life under capitalism: exploitation. Under capitalism, exploitation is a not a discursive contingency but a structural articulation, and this structure of exploitation underpins (post)modern social life.

Absent economic analysis racial politics are ahistorical—class focus is key


Leonardo 04 (Zeus, Professor of Education at UC Berkeley, “The Unhappy Marriage between Marxism and Race Critique: political economy and the production of racialized knowledge”, Policy Futures in Education 2:3-4, 2004, http://www.wwwords.co.uk/pdf/validate.asp?j=pfie&vol=2&issue=3&year=2004&article=4_Leonardo_PFIE_2_3-4_web)//AS

Without a critical language of identity politics, policy educators cannot answer convincingly the question of: ‘Who will fill the empty places of the economy?’ With it, they can expose the contradictions in the ‘beyond identity politics’ thesis, which is dependent on the concept of identity in its reassertion of the Euro-white, patriarchal imagination. However, without economic principles, educators also forsake an apprehension of history that maps the genealogy of the race concept. It is not uncommon that students of education project race into the past and equate it with the descriptor ‘group’ rather than a particular way of constructing group membership. For that matter, the Greeks of antiquity, the Trojans of Troy, and the Mesopotamians each constitute a race, much like today’s African-Americans or the African diaspora. There is enough consensus between social scientists about the periodization of race to disprove this common-sense belief (see Goldberg, 1990; Mills, 1997, 2003). A progressive union between Marxist concepts and race analysis allows critical teachers to explain that race is a relatively recent phenomenon, traceable to the beginnings of European colonization and capitalist expansion. As a concept, race is coextensive with the process of world- making. Edward Said (1979) has explicated the process of orientalism, or how the Occident constructed the idea of the Orient (or Near East) through discursive strategies in order to define, control, and manipulate it. This does not mean that the Orient did not exist in a material sense, but that it was spatially demarcated and then written into a particular relationship with the West through scholarship and industries invested with economic resources. Cedric Robinson (1983) has mobilized a parallel œuvre in what Robin Kelley (1983), in the foreword to Black Marxism, characterizes as a version of black orientalism, or how Europe constructed the idea of the black Mediterranean. In this sense, race is a process of co-creation – it creates an external group at the same time as it defines its creator.

Critics of reductionism fail to see that class is the determining factor in modern oppression—it’s the most important for explaining racial and other oppression


Mann and Grimes 01 (Susan Archer and Michael D., Professors of Sociology at the University of New Orleans and Louisiana State University respectively, “Common and Contested Ground: Marxism and Race, Gender & Class Analysis”, Race, Gender, and Class 8:2, April 2001, ProQuest)//AS

Of all of the articles in this special issue, [Martha Gimenez]'s "Marxism and Class, Gender, and Race: Rethinking the Trilogy" best represents a Neo-Marxist position in that it takes the strongest position in support of Marxism and against RGC analyses. Gimenez defends Marxism against its ostensible neglect of race and gender and points to a number of limitations of RGC analyses. As we noted above, she criticizes RGC analysts for conflating objective social locations and subjective identities and for moving to a gradational, individual-level analysis of oppression that undermines relational or social structural analysis. Gimenez is also quite clear that she views class as the most fundamental form of oppression and is unapologetic about hierarchicalizing oppressions in this manner. For Gimenez, the call for race, gender and class analysis has become simply a descriptive "mantra" devoid of explanatory power. She argues that the "nameless power" underlying all raced, gendered, and classed interactions is none other than class power



Accusations of reductionism mask the fact that identity-based approaches fail—they ignore reproduction of social norms and reify difference


Mann and Grimes 01 (Susan Archer and Michael D., Professors of Sociology at the University of New Orleans and Louisiana State University respectively, “Common and Contested Ground: Marxism and Race, Gender & Class Analysis”, Race, Gender, and Class 8:2, April 2001, ProQuest)//AS

Perhaps the major difference between Marxism and RGC analyses concerns the issue of hierarchicalizing oppressions or of viewing one form of oppression as more fundamental than others. In particular, RGC analysts accuse Marxists of treating racial and gender oppressions as either less important than or as simply derivative of class oppression. Feminist writers like Heidi Hartmann likened this problem to an "unhappy marriage of Marxism and feminism"- a union where Marxism's "sex-blind" categories subsumed feminism - much as the doctrine of coverture enabled husbands to subsume wives' rights in marriage (Hartmann, 1981). Similarly, both Marx's own historical writings on slavery in the United States (1937), as well as more recent treatments of race and class by Marxists, like Eric Olin Wright (1997), have been accused of simply reducing racial inequality to class inequality. In contrast, a hallmark of RGC analyses is their focus on simultaneous, multiple, and interlocking oppressions (Lengermann & Neibrugge-Brantley, 2000:338). Barbara Smith captures this distinguishing feature of RGC analyses when she discusses intersectionality theory - a perspective initially pioneered by Black feminist writers that is recognized today as one of the more clearly articulated theories of race, class and gender: The concept of the simultaneity of oppressions is still the crux of a Black feminist understanding of political reality and, I believe, one of the most significant ideological contributions of Black feminist thought (Smith, 1983:xxxii, our emphasis). As the pioneers of intersectionality theory have argued, the simultaneity of oppressions means that different forms of oppression cannot be torn apart from their interactive or multiple impacts on people's lives and experiences. These multiple oppressions are not simply additive in theory (King, 1993; Brewer, 1999) nor can they be singled out in research methodologies, like multivariate regression analysis (Brod, 1999). As Derek Price's article in this special issue argues, these simultaneous oppressions form an integral or interwoven whole that so transforms the theoretical and methodological approaches used to understand oppression that it represents a "radical break" with traditional ways of knowing. To address this simultaneity of oppressions, one strand of RGC analysis embraces an identity politics that envisions a "matrix of oppressions" where every individual has both a "race/gender/class specific identity" and a unique position of penalty and privilege, such that individuals can simultaneously "be oppressed and oppressors" (Collins, 1993:28). Proponents of this type of analysis also tend to elevate the importance of direct experience or "socially lived knowledge" (hooks, 1994). Such recognition of the value of socially lived knowledge has been lauded for providing an important critique of expert knowledge and dominant discourses, since it highlights how everyone can be a knowledge producer. It also includes a politically progressive, consciousness-raising component that can empower oppressed people to view themselves both as valuable players and as active agents in social change (Agger, 1998:70). However as, Martha Gimenez argues in this special issue, this move to embrace identity politics wrongly conflates objective locations in the intersection of structures of oppression with identities. She writes:...structural location "does not necessarily entail awareness of being or the automatic development of identities corresponding to those locations." By ignoring this analytical distinction, such RGC analyses are open to a number of criticisms Marxists might raise. On the one hand, this conflation of objective location and subjective identities ignores the problem of false consciousness or how social relations of oppression are often concealed from the individuals that reproduce them. The very distinctions Marx made between a "class in itself" and a "class for itself" are indicative of this recognition, as is his understanding of the importance of theory for revealing hidden structures of oppression (1844/1962). On the other hand, this conflation also ignores how the costs of oppression can limit people's ability to expand their awareness of the social world. For example, the fact that American slaves were prohibited from learning to read and write exemplifies such costs and limitations. Such a blindness to hidden structures of oppression and to barriers to social awareness is a shortcoming of those RGC analyses that embrace identity politics, privilege socially-lived knowledge, and/or privilege the knowledge of the oppressed. Other writers have highlighted further dangers entailed in embracing identity politics. While identity politics initially arose as a critique of essentialist collective categories, like women, that ignored differences by race and class, ironically identity politics serves to reify rather than redefine difference. That is, identities - even oppositional identities - fix identity whether in a new or an old location. They, therefore, by definition, set themselves in opposition to an "other" and in doing so are exclusive. Thus rather than protecting difference, they simply demean other forms of difference (Phelan, 1989; Hekman, 2000). While postmodernists have been most critical of such reified identities, preferring instead more fluid and open notions of identity (Butler, 1990; Seidman, 1994), Marxist critics have also been critical of this reification as exemplified by Alain Touraine's critique of identity politics as a new form of regressive tribalism (1998:131-132).

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