Race, Surplus Population and the Marxist Theory of Imperialism
Abstract:Abstract: This paper argues that capitalist accumulation requires imperialist expansion, and that this expansion creates a “raced” surplus laboring population. The argument proceeds in seven parts: that Marx's assertion in chapter 25 of Capital that capitalism produces an ever‐increasing relative surplus population is tenable in all but the longest of time frames; that imperial expansion played an important role in the transition to capitalism, though not for the reasons traditionally given; that overinvestment rather than the increasing organic composition of capital best explains imperial expansion in the capitalist era; that the uneven development of capitalism produces at the same time an uneven development of the surplus laboring population; that race has served as a mark of membership in the surplus laboring population; that by intertwining itself with the surplus laboring population, race serves to perpetuate itself despite its contradictions; and that despite this resilience, the contradictions of race also set in process conflicts that make it possible to overcome imperialism.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: International Studies, DePaul University, Chicago, IL, USA;, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Publication date: November 1, 2011