Classical Sociological Theory: W.E.B. DuBoi and Marx
How does DuBois’s focus on racial struggles suggest a rethinking of Marx’s analysis of the struggles that shape history?
According to William DuBois, the Black labor was exploited by the American Capitalistic society to benefit the agrarian, industrial and corporate capital owners which concur with the Marxist theory of capitalism as stated by Taylor (1) that “Capitalism is dependent on racism as both a source of profiteering, but more importantly as a means to divide and rule. Racism is necessary to drive a wedge between workers…driven apart to the benefit of the ruling class.” Capitalism is dependent on racial class namely the bourgeoisie and the proletariat for Marx but differentiated into racial classes of the white and colored labor force by Dubois. The white dominant class built national state myths and dispenses ideas using the press to construct the state culture that dictates how people remain defined by racism. Fabricated and seductive national myths and ideologies were spread as truth through the “print and press, their appeals to…dominate… [through racial] class hegemony” 267); thus DuBois asserts that the foundation of the American state, “the national creeds, social ideologies, philosophical tenets, constitutions” (Robinson 267) to manipulate the black race to provide free labor and thus sustain a higher exploitation return as profit. DuBois asserts that the American state’s culture as represented by the state’s constitution, the declaration of independence expresses the interest of the bourgeoisie class which sought to control laborers by using racially differentiated oppressive classes that assigned Negroes slaves the least position in society.
In order to exploit the colored people, the national culture stereotyped black people as “brutish… irrational and criminal” (268) to easily dehumanize his economic identity and make him a free source of unpaid labor. The Marxist idea of oppression tally with DuBois’s argument of bourgeois using racism to profit, “oppression is used to justify and “explain” unequal relationships in society that enrich the minority that lives off the majority’s labor” (Taylor 1). Racial inequality was used by the elite white society to create false consciousness among white laborers to support the exploitation of black labor such that the southern white laborer preferred poverty to the likeness of a black slave’s position in society to eliminate labor movements.
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The value of labor is directly related to the value assigned to the laborer by the bourgeois class who control capital. Taylor (1) says that “Direct slavery is just as much the pivot of bourgeois industry as machinery, credits, etc. Without slavery you have no cotton; without cotton, you have no modern industry. It is slavery that has given the colonies their value”. The value of slave labor is determined by the modern large-scale industry that has developed from the agrarian revolution. Since the establishment of the American society depended on the integrated industrial and agriculture revolution, the bourgeois class who owned the American capital and all the means of production manipulated the value of labor by identifying Black people as brutish and less human thus ascribed his labor to nil by enslaving him to provide free labor. The American society as their preceding English and Irish societies deliberately dehumanized the Negro as “a pathetic sharecropper, unskilled and unambitious—the happy darkies for whom the society possessed a paternalistic obligation” (Robinson 268) to manipulate, therefore, the Negro’s value of labor was reduced to a wage fitting a savagery race. However, Marx is unable to conclude on the value of labor when ascribing value and price to senseless terms, on the contrary, DuBois asserts if the laborers have a consciousness to compete with the bourgeois class, then the oppressed would add value to the value and price of labor. The Russian Proletariat rebelled against their landlords and established small individual-owned farms, but the American Negro’s challenges were peculiar to American history. The Negro in American soil was released on account of his military necessity to aid the north industrial and corporate capital on creating a federal state as opposed to the southern agrarian stance to enslave the black labor (Robinson 269). DuBois identifies the fact that the Confederacy intended to protect slavery but paradoxically it ended black labor slavery when the Feudalists through the Union government moved by the interest to use the slave as military machinery to fight the Confederacy. Unlike Marx and Angel who define revolution as linear and initiated by singular force; revolution is spontaneous according to DuBois because the consciousness of revolutionaries in American was all-encompassing involving both the proletariat and the bourgeois society in both the black and white societies when they negotiated to set a new market price and value to the American labor. The development of the corporate structure from the industrial revolution resulted in a different definition of the value of labor. According to DuBois, the Black was once again degraded by slavery and caged as a violent beast to avoid complicating the relationship between the bourgeois and the working class. The value of the labor of Black man in the corporate society was intentionally rendered useless or redesigned by an inventory of labor disciplines. Exploit of Black labor is designed by the white ruling class and the white intelligentsia who reviews the working structures and create a racially discriminated reward scheme likened to the past slavery agrarian capital society and their northern industrial capital counterparts. The American pyramid of wealth is still supported by a mobilization of the North industrial capital and south agrarian capital following the Civil War in a bid to control the emancipation of the black labor. Marx and Engel state that the market transactions of demand and supply within the labor market can undermine the working class who can be used by the political economy to control the value of labor. Robinson (270) asserts that the political elites as identified by DuBois took hold of American by creating a pool of surplus labor to enhance competition and separate levels of reward amongst the skilled corporate black labor, white labor, Chinese labor, and European Immigrant labor. The process of transforming the Black elites from the former slaves to individuals with political rights was marked with stark mobilization of their society through media and conference press releases that encouraged a proliferation of consciousness that led to the pronounced agitation for equality between the white and black race workers.
The racial differentiation in American society is defined by racial exploitation of the black labor market which is either caged or skilled but delegated to lower-paying corporate social order to facilitate the bourgeois class ideology of control and manipulation. The class struggle in the modern corporate society is controlled by capital owners who use the petit bourgeois like the militia and police to regulate immigration in order to control labor supply. The rise of the common majority who are wage earners is through a capacity to engage in common ownership to eliminate the capitalistic exploitation of the proletariat. The ultimate end to all forms of exploitation through the recognition of white supremacy end to disfranchise the Negroes for free labor or cage them as savage animals. The corporate analysis of America is turning into an exclusive enterprise through mergers, acquisitions, and shareholding power of the white elites who control the political organization and private corporate organization, and through these schemes, the worker is but designated to social stratification. The least connection between the Black skilled workers who earned little to attain class of bourgeois and the working white class whose conditions are similar but earn more is the reason behind racial prejudice in America. The evolution of the better-paid white workers created a petty-bourgeois class whose main claim to identity included stereotypical identity with capital owners and remain antagonistic to the common labor of black and other non-European immigrants. The perception of difference in wages created a superior air of identity among the white workers as Dubois states that white workers gained “psychological wage -as opposed to a material wage–from racism. But the psychological wage was to make the white worker feel superior because he wasn’t Black, even though he would have nothing material to show for it” (Taylor 1). The development of the black bourgeois in West Africa is exclusive since they have an aversion towards white capitalism, but they tend to seek a capital alliance with white capitalism. Therefore, DuBois concludes that there is a vicious cycle of the bourgeois gravitating together to exploit the wages, labor, and economic gains of the worker class. The proposed solution is the acquisition of consciousness and capacity by the proletariat to unite and take over the instruments of production and capital.