post-colonial reading of capitalism needed

Rachel Barrett Martin (
Thu, 25 Apr 1996 08:06:05 -0400

Eide... What dissatisfies me most about this assumption about how "3rd world"
peoples would read Marx is that it completely ignores the literature on formerly
colonized peoples' various efforts to reassert their cultural, political,
spiritual, and social practices in the face of economic bullying, both historic
and current. How can you talk about surplus and scarcity without acknowledging
the legacy of imperialistic "extraction" of resources, including the trade in
human cargo in which capitalism took root? On what basis -- and from what
standpoint -- do you assert the right to appropriate the voice of "3rd world"
peoples? Your analysis of capitalism's historical contribution seems to lack a
serious engagement with the relationship between imperialism, capital, and a
modernist ontology which generated as much from the slave ship as from any bogus
humanist claims to "enlightenment."

> I suggest two things for Ted: go back and read the enlightenment
> philosphers who came to the realization that you could not destroy
> inequality but you could use the 'social arts' to ensure some
> equality.

As far as a reading list on enlightenment thinking, Paul Gilroy's _Black
Atlantic_ has challenged the racist assumptions of enlightenment, the spread of
world capitalism, and the role of slavery in facilitating the "modern" world.
Read Paul Gilroy. Read some subaltern studies. You need a definition of
capitalism and a portrait of its role in global power relations which takes the
post-colonial legacies into account.

Now, how is a woman or person of color going to
> break the glass cieling unless they fully, completely surrender
> to capitalism, the corporation, and the functions that make
> capitalism and corporations successful?

Gotta tell you dude, this sounds like a coercion pretty close to rape to me.

Rachel Barrett Martin
Department of History/Program in Composition
University of Minnesota

.. Once in a while you get shown the light
in the strangest of places if you look at it right ...