Race and Reification

Matthew Dimick
This article uses Marx’s idea of commodity fetishism and subsequent theories of reification to understand the social-construction of race. Race is typically defined as a socially-constituted category that is misattributed as a natural one. The goal of this article, in contrast, is to explain how this misattribution arises. In addition to this main objective, the article uses this explanation of race to contest recent attempts that locate the ‘persistent entanglement’ of race and capital in their functional relationship. Finally, the article engages with related, commodity-based theories of race and racism and concludes with thoughts on what the socially-constructed category of race can teach us about the nature of value and capitalism.

Racism and Capitalism

A Contingent or Necessary Relationship

Charlie Post
Anti-racist debate today remains polarized between “class reductionist” (any attempt to address racial disparities reinforces capitalist class relations) and “liberal identity” (disparities in racial representation can be resolved without questioning class inequality) politics. Both positions share a common perspective—racial oppression and class exploitation are the products of distinctive social dynamics whose relationship is historically contingent. This essay is an initial step toward astructurally necessary relationship between capitalism and racial oppression. The essay draws upon on Anwar Shaikh and Howard Botwinick’s elaboration of Marx’s political economy; and Ellen Wood’s analysis of the specificity of capitalism imperialism.