origins and structure of capitalism

Austin, Andrew austina at uwgb.edu
Sun Jun 3 09:58:18 MDT 2001


Louis P: "It might also be obvious that Oliver C. Cox was an
African-American. Isn't it interesting that some of the most original
thinking around these questions have come from Africans, African-Americans
and Latin Americans like Eric Williams, Eduardo Galeano, Mariategui, Walter
Rodney, CLR James, Cesaire, Amin, et al. Do you think it might have
something to do with the harsh reality of capitalism in the 3rd world?"

Although I believe that the view from oppression provides insight, I
strongly disagree with the suggestion that Oliver C. Cox belongs alongside
names like Amin and Rodney. I had one impression of Cox from secondary
sources (some of which are written by scholars I admire, like Feagin). Then
I sought out Cox's work and wasted time studying his theories.

His work is shallow in places and deeply confused elsewhere. Cox uses a
liberal form of class analysis. He alternates between race as an
socio-attitudinal construct, on the one hand, and American society being
composed of two class systems, on the other. This only scratches the surface
of Cox's troubles, but I am under some deadlines here and have to move on.

Suffice it to say, in my opinion, Cox's fame does not come from the cogency
of his scholarship. From where it does derive is an open question. Whatever
the reasons for fame, his place in the circle of important subaltern
scholars is underserved.

Andrew Austin
Green Bay, WI




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