[Marxism] Slavery and Race

Rakesh Bhandari bhandari at berkeley.edu
Sat Nov 4 09:57:11 MST 2006

Mark wrote:

"And this had a tremendous impact on the early workers movement.  It was,
after all, these "radical abolitionists" who made the most solid connection
between "chattel slavery" and "wage slavery."  Workers and their
organizations responded.  All of that is almost always ignored by radical
scholars who will, in quite liberal fashion, cast the white workers as the
real villains in the case of slavery or even Indian Removal, without even
the figleaf of pretending to unearth, analyze and present evidence--and
ignoring entirely massive amounts of information confirming the arguments of
Marx and other contemporaries that the working class was, by virtue of its
position, innately antislavery...or the kind of evidence that's finally
emerging in the last twenty or thirty years that the base of the
abolitionist movement was, in fact, working people."

The most solid connection between chattel and wage slavery was made 
by Marx; two forthcoming papers on that.

What did it mean for the white working class to be anti-slavery? It 
meant in part that American white workers were much less tolerant 
than English workers of Master-Servant laws and unfreedoms which 
closely resembled the visible features of chattel slavery. Hence, 
white American workers win before English workers regulations against 
non pecuniary sanctions for voiding contracts, the with-holding of 
wages, and corporal punishment. See Robert J. Steinfeld. Anti slavery 
sentiment did not imply for the most part solidarity with black labor 
(or Chinese labor). And colored labor did not participate in the 
widening of these freedoms. See Evelyn Nakano Glenn's Unequal Freedom.


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