Given that it’s someone in The Guardian trying to tell us something about matters economic of course this is wrong. It’s still something that is being said of course and it’s also something that is widely believed – that capitalism is racist. It’s also something that, along with being said and believed, something that is drivellingly stupid.
But here it is:
For these reasons, nearly all anti-racist mass movements worth their salt have recited tirelessly: ending racism, root and branch, would mean ending a global economic order predicated upon it. Anti-racism is anti-capitalist, and vice versa. There are no two ways around it. To be an anti-racist must demand a complete rejection of business as usual. An end to racism demands transformation of the global political-economic setup. This would mean paying workers fair wages across supply chains and ending the ethnicity pay gap, which flies in the face of the primary corporate objective of profit.
It’s entirely true that some capitalists will be racists – some people are. Also that some capitalists won’t be racists – some people aren’t. But to call the system itself racist is to miss the features and points of the system itself.
Let us take our view from those mouthbreathers who’ve overdosed on too much Trotsky. The aim of capitalism is so that the plutocrats can overdose on the gold they’ve piled in their cellars.
OK, fair enough, that’s what the system is about, that’s the aim. Note that there’s nothing there that details to skin colour of those whose sweat is abstracted to be stored in said cellars. Heck, there’s nothing in it about the skin colour of those who get to go skiing on the gold.
As of 2019, for example, the richest bloke in the UK were the Hinduja Brothers. Who, one might note, are not lacking in melanin, not pale of feature. If capitalism is putting Sindhis at the top of the gold collecting class then it’s doing a pretty poor job of being racist.
And to back away from the Trots a little bit. The aim of the system is that capitalists make money. Get to expropriate from labour if we’re to be merely Marxist. And the individuals and the system care not one whit the colour of the skin of those being expropriated as long as the cash rolls in.
We could even move on to being sensible about it all, as Gary Becker was. Those who irrationally discriminate – use taste discrimination that is – lose out. Because they don’t get to deal with, or employ, profit from, skills, talents and labour because they’re stupid enough to worry about the colour of skin being employed and expropriated from.
It’s the very insistence of that concentration upon cash that makes capitalism non-racist. For if we substitute those mere numbers for something else – community, perceived merit, feelz – then the something else is going tom because humans are like this, include considerations of ingroup and outgroup or, as modern parlance has this, racism.
We also have an interesting proof running the other way:
A large unit within the NHS’s blood and organ transplant division has been found to be “systematically racist” and “psychologically unsafe”, according to an internal investigation into working conditions that was leaked to the Guardian.
The report will raise renewed concern about discriminatory practices across the NHS, following allegations last week from the Royal College of Nursing that nurses routinely faced “structural racism”.
The investigation’s conclusions were damning, finding that the atmosphere in the department was “toxic” and “dysfunctional”. The study backed up claims from black, Asian and minority ethnic employees that for years they had been subject to discrimination in the awarding of jobs, amid numerous complaints that white candidates were given posts ahead of black applicants who were better qualified.
The NHS is a particularly – determinedly – non-capitalist organisation and yet we observe racism within it. It therefore cannot be true that racism is a sole, single nor necessary alignment with capitalism. Further, that killing capitalism will kill racism turns out not to be true.
Joshua Virasami is an organiser and artist whose book How To Change It is published on 3 September
Joshua is the owner of the property, the capital, of that book. Which he is now selling using the labour of others, the printers, PR people, distributors, bookshop workers. His expectation is that there will be some profit from this, those royalties, which must, by definition, come from expropriating the labour of all those others involved in the process. Joshua is a capitalist. Joshua is also, obviously, not a racist. Capitalism and racism are therefore not the same thing, are they?
But then we knew that anyway, the original contention, that capitalism is by definition racist is drivel of the worst mouthbreathing, slobbery, type. One of the things wrong with our current world being that all too many people are stupid enough to believe it.