This special issue responds to ongoing debates around what has been termed ‘identity politics’. We aim to intervene in what are make-or-break questions for the Left today. Specifically, we wish to provoke further interrogative but comradely conversation that works towards breaking-down the wedge between vulgar economism and vulgar culturalism. Critically, we maintain that just as all identity categories are spatially and temporally contingent – socially constructed, yet naturalised – so too is this current bifurcation between ‘class politics’ and ‘identity politics’. Ultimately, we call for an intellectual and organisational embracing of the complexity of identity as it figures in contemporary conditions; being a core organising-principle of capitalism as it functions today, a paradigm that Leftist struggle can be organised through and around – and yet all with a recognition of the necessity of historicising, and ultimately abolishing, these categories along with capitalism itself.
The New World Group and the Critique of Capitalism
This paper examines the critique of capitalism provided by the New World Group. Emerging from the West Indian Society for the Study of Social Issues at The University of The West Indies, Mona, the Group was formed in 1963 specifically to address the reformation of social and political forces in the wake of Caribbean territories gaining formal independence from European colonial powers.
This paper asks how whether and how caste fits into a global history of racial capitalism? The misidentification of caste as custom has long misled analysts and thwarted solidarities. Drawing on the insights of two important literatures, this paper seeks to remedy that misdiagnosis and show that 1) caste abolition must be central to any effective anti-capitalist politics in South Asia, 2) a focus on ‘local’ systems of racialization like caste is necessary in any history of global racial capitalism.
A Contingent or Necessary Relationship
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.
A Marxist Humanist Perspective
The emergence of a new generation of antiracist activists and theorists seeking to advance an anticapitalist agenda creates a new vantage point of reexamining how racism relates to the logic of capital. This essay explores sources in the work of Marx, twentieth century Marxists, and Frantz Fanon that can provide direction for overcoming the binary of class and race.
This introduction cannot encapsulate the diversity and breadth of Marxist writing about race and racism. Yet it does attempt, at the very least, to give an idea of the seriousness with which Marxists have historically taken these issues. Far from just an ‘epiphenomenon’, many in the Marxist tradition have sought to significantly extend historical materialist theory in order to specifically understand race and racism.