affirmative action

Philip L Ferguson PLF13 at
Mon Aug 30 17:47:18 MDT 1999

Charles Brown writes:
>The U.S. ruling class rule on this is that no Black people can hold
>dominant or >controlling positions in the financial oligarchy or the main
>monopoly >capitalist institutions.

Charles, somehow I think this is very unlikely.

For a start capitalism doesn't operate according to ruling class rules.  It
operates by the 'hidden hand of the market' on the basis of the law of
value.  The ruling class has rules as a reaction to the workings of a
system they don't and cannot actually control.

Thirty years ago it would probably have been impossible to imagine someone
black occupying the position Colin Powell has since occupied.  The point is
that the requirements of capital change in different accumulation
processes.  The US ruling class has been happy enough to have black mayors
of pretty much every major US city.  The three biggest cities - New York,
Chicago and LA - have all had black mayors in the past 10-15 years, and
most of the next layer of cities have as well.

Somewhere down the line there will be a black president (although most
likely male).  And even a woman president (although most likely white).
But if American capitalism lasts another century, even a black female
president is very possible.

In NZ we have a female prime minister and a female leader of the
opposition, so we will actually have two females PMs in a row.  The number
of Maori members of parliament is probably higher than the proportion of
Maori in the population.  Also, two of the parliamentary parties are led by
Maori, another has a Moari deputy-leader.  The previous deputy prime
minister was Maori and three or four  current cabinet ministers are Maori.

I think you are vastly underestimating capitalism's elasticity.  The bottom
line for capital is not race or gender: it is the exploitation of
wage-labour.  That is the one thing which cannot be changed.  Most other
stuff can be negotiated.

And the 'negotiations' have gone a long way in countries like New Zealand,
and to some extent Australia and Britain.  This perhaps is part of the
explanation of why  some of us outside the US and those on the list in the
US often disagree and talk at cross purposes on these subjects.  In places
like NZ, it is not some old right (Republican Party-type) outlook which is
dominant, but social liberalism and pc.  So we know how negotiable a lot of
stuff is, whereas much of the left in the US still thinks of this as
impossible for capital to reform.

Philip Ferguson

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