Racial Capitalism

Definition: Neoliberal Multiculturalism

Definition: Neoliberal Multiculturalism can be seen as arising from the process of Neoliberal policies that were predominantly advocated by the governments of Theresa May and Ronald Reagen in the 70s. The goal of these policies was to privatize public sectors of society, and encourage the rise of ‘free market’ capitalism, rendering leadership of newly independent states from the Global South as neoliberal market actors. Through those actions, Post Colonial states would remain under the realm of Colonial Empires. Institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, created in the aftermath of World War II, increased the dependency of the Global South on the west through Structural Adjustment Loans amongst other means of subjugation, facilitating the transition of these states into a Neoliberal globalized market and further enforcing state and corporate facilitation of Racial Capitalist hierarchies. 

Neoliberal orders emerging during the 70s were accompanied by a process of multiculturalism seen in the US mostly as a result of  the Civil Rights movement and further protests against the Vietnam war during the 60s. Through securing abstract recognition before the law, the Civil Rights movement assisted the US government in disseminating an ideology of multiculturalism through a liberal understanding of ‘otherness’ whereby one is ‘recognized’ as an abstract racialized ‘other’ and taken out of power hierarchies as they form their socio-historical and material conditions. This ideology of multiculturalism which reified categories of abstracted racial difference to be appropriated and controlled by the state, came to be instrumentalized by the ideology of Neoliberalism. The emergence of Neoliberal Multiculturalism understood the discourse and marketing of difference as one that can be of benefit to the valuing and devaluing of lives across borders, in correspondence with the priorities of corporations and States in their facilitation of capital across the world. Racial Capitalism in this instance, utilizes the discourse of multiculturalism as an otherness that one must consume to be a global neoliberal market actor. Such manifestations could be seen through an emphasis on a ‘globalized’ perspective meant to prepare and push towards marketing to global economies and further enshrining the racialized hierarchies upon which capitalism depends. 

Further reading: 

Melamed, Jodi. Represent and Destroy: Rationalizing Violence in the New Racial Capitalism. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2011. 

Jodi Melamed. “Racial Capitalism.” Critical Ethnic Studies, Vol.1, No. 1, Spring 2015, 76-85.

Povinelli, Elizabeth. The Cunning of Recognition: Indigenous Alterities and the Making of Multiculturalism in Australia. Duke University Press, Durham, 2002. 

Simpson, Audra. Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States. Duke University Press, Durham, 2014. 

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