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But despite the ferocity of this struggle it was not a racial struggle.

Conversions from one faith to the other sometimes occurred. During the Crusades Christian and Muslim rulers often struck alliances, and at the height of the Ottoman threat to Christendom in the 16th century the King of France tended to support the Turkish Sultan in his struggle with the Habsburg rulers of Spain as a way of weakening a dangerous European rival. Adherents to faiths other than the dominant one were often discriminated against or persecuted in various ways: the most notable instances in the case of mediaeval Christendom were perhaps the widespread massacres of Jews at the time of the First Crusade at the end of the 11th century and the extermination of the Cathars of Languedoc at the beginning of the 13th century.

Nevertheless religious persecution of this kind was not the same as racial oppression. This is perhaps best brought out by the case of the Jews. In a society divided into estates or castes the Jews were just one estate or caste among many. The individual Jew was defined by the caste to which he belonged, and by the specific privileges or burdens the caste enjoyed or bore. But the same applied to every other member of the same society. Now this form of oppression is peculiar to capitalist societies. Most people before the advent of industrial capitalism were peasants living in small rural communities.

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Poor communications meant that contact with anywhere outside an extremely narrow radius was rare. What is striking about the slave and feudal societies of pre-capitalist Europe is, contrary to the claims of Robinson and Marable, the absence of ideologies and practices which excluded and subordinated a particular group on the grounds of their inherent inferiority.

We have already seen that mediaeval Europe conceived of itself as Christendom, from which Jews, Muslims and pagans were excluded by their religious beliefs, not their race. Similarly, the slave societies of classical antiquity do not seem to have relied on racism to justify the wholesale use of chattel slaves to provide the ruling class with its surplus product. The black American historian Frank M. Snowden Jnr. The Greeks and Romans developed no theories of white superiority.

One of the main characteristics of Roman rule was the effort to incorporate local aristocracies into an imperial ruling class sharing a culture which fused the Greek and Roman traditions. Greek civilisation is seen as the result of the mixture of the Indo-European speaking Hellenes and their indigenous subjects. For 18th and 19th century Romantics and racists it was simply intolerable for Greece, which was seen not merely as the epitome of Europe but also as its pure childhood, to have been the result of the mixture of native Europeans and colonising Africans and Semites.

Trends Transforming the Global Landscape

Therefore the Ancient Model had to be overthrown and replaced by something more acceptable. The political significance of Black Athena is obvious enough. It would be a powerful blow against Western racism if it could indeed be shown that classical Greece, which still occupies a sanctified position as the origin of European civilisation, was an offshoot of more advanced societies in Africa and Asia. There is indeed much evidence especially of Asian influence during the archaic period — BC , which preceded the full flowering of classical Greece after the defeat of the Persian invasions at the beginning of the 5th century BC.

What this misses out is the distinctive nature of classical Greek society as a totality , characterised by reliance on slave labour as the main source of ruling class income and the political institution of the city state based on citizen armies of heavy infantry. For example, he argues that Greek religion had its origins in Egypt: his respect for this far more ancient civilisation is evident. Racism as we know it today developed during a key phase in the development of capitalism as the dominant mode of production on a global scale — the establishment during the 17th and 18th centuries of colonial plantations in the New World using slave labour imported from Africa to produce consumer goods such as tobacco and sugar and industrial inputs such as cotton for the world market.

Unfree labour in the New World was brown, white, black, and yellow; Catholic, Protestant and pagan. According to Blackburn:.

1. Introduction

Altogether some , servants were shipped to the British colonies up to the s. Indentured servants served longer terms in Virginia than their English counterparts and enjoyed less dignity and less protection in law and custom. They could be bought and sold like livestock, kidnapped, stolen, put up as stakes in card games, and awarded — even before their arrival in America — to the victors in lawsuits.

Servants were beaten, maimed, and even killed with impunity. This was their chief disadvantage to plantation owners concerned to secure a stable, long term labour supply to meet the growing demand for colonial products. To have degraded the servants into slaves en masse would have driven the continuing struggle up several notches, a dangerous undertaking considering that the servants were well-armed, that they outnumbered their masters, and that the Indians could easily take advantage of the inevitably resulting warfare among the enemy.

Moreover, the enslavement of already arrived immigrants, once news of it reached England, would have threatened the sources of future immigration. Even the greediest and most short-sighted profiteer could foresee disaster in any such policy. But this raises another question. Why was it necessary to justify slavery in the first place? This may seem like an odd question, until we consider the other main historical example of a society based on slave labour, classical antiquity.

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Ellen Wood observes:. Some people may be surprised to learn that in ancient Greece and Rome, despite the almost universal acceptance of slavery, the idea that slavery was justified by natural inequalities among human beings never caught on. The more common view seems to have been that slavery is a convention, though a useful one, which was justifiable simply on the grounds of its usefulness. In fact, it was even conceded that this useful institution was contrary to nature. Such a view appears not only in Greek philosophy but was even recognised in Roman law.

It has even been suggested that slavery was the only case in Roman law where there was an acknowledged conflict between the ius gentium , the conventional law of nations, and the ius naturale , the law of nature. Inequality of a visible, systematic, legally entrenched kind was the norm in pre-capitalist societies. Their ideologues took it for granted, and tended to depict society as based on a division of labour in which even the most humble had their allocated role.

Another example is quoted by the great mediaeval Arab philosopher, Ibn Khaldun:. The world is a garden the fence of which is the dynasty. The dynasty is an authority through which life is given to proper behaviour.


Catalog Record: Before the state : systemic political change | HathiTrust Digital Library

Proper behaviour is a policy directed by the ruler. The ruler is an institution supported by the soldiers. The soldiers are helpers, who are maintained by money. Money is sustenance brought together by the subjects. The subjects are servants protected by justice.

The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution

Justice is something familiar, and, through it, the world persists. The world is a garden In such hierarchical societies slavery was merely one of a spectrum of unequal statuses, requiring no special explanation. Not so in capitalist society.

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For the capitalist mode of production rests on the exploitation of free wage labour. The worker and capitalist confront each other in the labour market as legal equals. Workers are perfectly free not to sell their labour power: it is only the fact that the alternative is starvation or the dole which leads them to do so. This contrast between the formal equality and the real inequality of capitalist and worker is a fundamental feature of bourgeois society, reflected in many aspects of its development.

The great bourgeois revolutions, which swept away the obstacles to the dominance of the capitalist mode of production, mobilised the masses under the banner of freedom and equality. And yet the paradox was that capitalism, whose domination involves the exploitation of free wage labour, benefited enormously during a critical phase in its development from colonial slavery.

This relationship continued well into the era of the Industrial Revolution, the textile factories of whose heartland in northern England imported their main raw material from the slave plantations of the American South. It was in this context that the idea that blacks were subhuman and therefore did not demand the equal respect increasingly acknowledged as the right of human beings, began to take hold.

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Racial ideology supplied the means of explaining slavery to people whose terrain was a republic founded on radical doctrines of liberty and natural rights; and, more important, a republic in which those doctrines seemed to represent accurately the world in which all but a minority lived. Only when the denial of liberty became an anomaly apparent even to the least observant and reflective members of Euro-American society did ideology systematically explain the anomaly.

This reflected that the anomaly which had given rise to racism in the first place continued to exist in another form, the domination of the world by a handful of European or, in the case of the US and Russia, Europeanised powers. Racism is thus a creature of slavery and empire, which developed in order to justify the denial to the colonial oppressed of the equal rights that capitalism tended to promise all of humankind.

The argument so far therefore establishes a historical connection between racism and capitalism. But what about racism today? Simply to halt the analysis at this point would leave contemporary racism as some sort of hangover from the past which had somehow managed to survive the abolition of slavery and the collapse of the colonial empires. They led to various kinds of racist behaviour on the part of many white people in Britain, including white people in authority.

It is mistaken, however: the material conditions of modern capitalism continue to give rise to racism. To start with the latter question, as we have seen, the idea that humankind is divided into races with different biological constitutions is no longer scientifically respectable. It is, moreover, positively disreputable morally and politically because of the use the Nazis made of it.

The Holocaust made biological racism in its 19th century form stink — hence the shift from biology to culture, and from race to ethnicity. The change must not, however, be overstated. Often certain apparently innocent words used in public pronouncements represent a tacit coded appeal to cruder racist attitudes. Although acknowledged as a product of usually caricatured history, it is no longer amenable to further change by human action: it has become effectively part of nature.

Modern racism, with its rhetoric of cultural difference and usually tacit appeal to older notions of natural inferiority, in any case arises in the conditions of industrial capitalism. Capitalism in its fully developed form rests on the exploitation of free wage labour. But the working class which sells its labour power to capital is internally composite in two ways.

First of all, the technical division of labour requires a workforce with different kinds of skill; one of the functions of the labour market is to meet this requirement, variations in wage rates serving as a means of allocating different kinds of labour power. Secondly, to secure an adequate supply of labour capitalists are often forced to reach beyond the borders of the state in question, drawing towards them workers of different national origin. But there are many other cases, ranging from the role of Irish migrant labour in Victorian Britain to the large scale use of Polish labourers by Prussian landowners in the late 19th century.

Reliance on immigrant labour has proved to be a structural feature of advanced capitalism in the second half of the 20th century. By the early s there were nearly 11 million immigrants in Western Europe, who had come from southern Europe or former colonies during the boom of the s and s.

Index of ISMS – Philosophy Words That End in ISM, with Meanings

Here Marx seeks to explain why the Irish struggle for self determination was a vital issue for the British working class:. And most important of all! Every industrial and commercial centre in England possesses a working class divided into two hostile camps, English proletarians and Irish proletarians. The ordinary English worker hates the Irish worker as a competitor who lowers his standard of life.

In relation to the Irish worker he feels himself a member of the ruling nation and so turns himself into a tool of the aristocrats and capitalists of his country against Ireland , thus strengthening their domination over himself. He cherishes religious, social, and national prejudices against the Irish worker. The Irishman pays him back with interest in his own money.

He sees in the English worker at once the accomplice and stupid tool of the English rule in Ireland. This antagonism is artificially kept alive and intensified by the press, the pulpit, the comic papers, in short by all the means at the disposal of the ruling classes.