Socialist Worker

There’s no capitalism without racism

Issue No. 2576

A Black Lives Matter protest. Capitalism treats black people as disposable

A Black Lives Matter protest. Capitalism treats black people as disposable (Pic: Guy Smallman)


There was a dire warning from Austria last Sunday. The right wing conservative OVP party won the election after a viciously racist campaign against Muslims and refugees.

And the fascist Freedom Party took 26 percent of the vote and could be part of the government.

Across much of Europe fascists and the racist right are on the rise.

The economic crisis which began in 2007 means the people who rule society needed to find an excuse to make ordinary people pay for it.

They settled on the oldest trick in their playbook—racist divisions.

Demonising migrants became routine for nearly all political parties and most of the media.

Scapegoating like this led to the growth of racist parties such as Ukip—and worse. It gives oxygen to the likes of dangerous new racist movement the Football Lads Alliance.

The treatment of refugees throughout Europe stands as a mark of shame against our rulers.

Their racism isn’t a reluctant concession to racism from ordinary people. Racism is driven from the top.

We can’t rely on the people at the top of society to challenge racism because they’re the ones that push it.

We need a movement capable of organising against it.

Our rulers will push racism harder and seek to divide us to stop us from fighting back together

That makes the Stand Up To Racism conference in central London this weekend vitally important.

We have to fight together against Islamophobia, antisemitism and racism. But we also need to confront the capitalist system that produces racism.

As the revolutionary Malcolm X said towards the end of his life, “You can’t have capitalism without racism.”

Karl Marx wrote that capitalism came into the world “dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.”

Capitalism—a system born of slavery
Capitalism—a system born of slavery
  Read More

The transatlantic slave trade provided industrial capitalism with the kick start it needed to rapidly become a world system.

Capitalists needed a justification for the degradation of slavery, and this produced the idea that black people were less than human.

Today racism has changed. Islamophobia is at the cutting edge in order to justify the “war on terror” and attacks on refugees from that war. But it has not changed that much.

The system still treats black people as disposable. Just look at the deaths of Rashan Charles, Edson Da Costa, Darren Cumberbatch and many others after contact with the police.

As the system becomes increasingly unstable our rulers will push racism harder and seek to divide us to stop us from fighting back together.

We need to make the fight against racism part of all the other battles against austerity, against catastrophic climate change and against all forms of oppression.

But only socialist revolution can tear out the roots of racism.


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