Framing The Underdevelopment of Black America Review by Cl@re
"How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America is one of those paradigm-shifting, life-changing texts that has not lost its currency or relevance—even after three decades. Its provocative treatise on the ravages of late capitalism, state violence, incarceration, and patriarchy on the life chances and struggles of black working-class men and women shaped an entire generation, directing our energies to the terrain of the prison-industrial complex, anti-racist work, labor organizing, alternatives to racial capitalism, and challenging patriarchy—personally and politically." —Robin D. G. Kelley
"Marxism is the doctrine which believes that freedom, equality and democracy are today possible for all mankind. If this (book) has stimulated you to pursue the further study of Marxism, we will have struck a blow for the emergence of mankind from the darkness into which capitalism has plunged the world."—C. L. R. James
A picture is worth a thousand words. A cliche statement that if taken seriously could reveal the latent image made visible through the acidic stop bath of the under and arrested development of Black America. Manning Marable reveals the unexposed nuances of a story and with How Capitalism Underdeveloped America goes through the myriad of human institutions backing these facts of life for Black America as they live it, with numbers and data. In essence, he develops the negative picture advancing the idea that a section of the American populace through the different social institutions in society have been intentionally stifled through disinvestment.
He begins with giving a background on the crisis of the black worker in the labor struggle of the mid 20th century and follows up with the result of this struggle, the prevention of most of Black America to surpass a class position of the lowest form. He chooses the following chapters to ground his assessment by writing about the exploitation of Black Women as another pillar on which capitalism is held up. Being poor and black and a women in America readily affords you death but a prison sentence is a cooling secondary concession to what many experts including Manning Marable himself, would call a holocaust. Plotting out how in a racist/capitalist state those who were put in the position of providing free labor, following the industrial revolution coupled with slave labor rebellions catapulting a young America into a Civil War, are now in a new kind of slavery as amended in the constitution, the convict leasing system, giving a basis for the current system of imprisonment. These kinds of death sentences can only be economically efficient when administered by those he calls the domestic elite, that select portion of Black America that ever since chattel slavery have been benefactors of capitalism and have administered the necessary death and destruction to their own community. The church in its ambiguity, self serving politicians, and so-called black leadership are the intermediary middlemen that serve as cogs in the capitalist machine and readily administer this concert of genocide. The violence of capitalism is enacted not only through killing and imprisonment but through an inequitable distribution of wealth and stifling of progress for anyone who tries. These technologies are the condenser enlargers on the bigger picture being developed that shows a sharp contrast of an America divided based on race and class distinctions within Black America. This manichean wedge keeps the rich rich and the poor poor but in particular advances the necropolitics of American culture and provides the necessary pool of human resources that keeps capitalism advancing in its own development.
Some may ask, "Why read a book that came out in the eighties?" My answer would be there is another cliche that gets thrown around “History repeats itself.” There are several examples in the book Marable gives that shows this has always been the modus operandi of institutions and individuals towards the appearance of "blacks" in America. With the current wave of civil and human rights organizing comes the spectre of history here to haunt again. Shortly after the late 60’s decline of the Civil Rights movement followed by the Black Power movement and various scurries into reformists and placated positions the leading voices proclaimed to be by default the “leadership of Black America” has the potential to repeat history but in a contemporary way. The contemporary numbers prove the ever increasing decline of Black America is in full swing that amounts to a continuing holocaust. What has always been the foundation of this country as the necessity of poor, under-paid, incarcerated, under-educated, patriarchal, disinvested, individuals and general disorganization of anything that could be considered Black America or the leadership exemplified by the Church and individual leadership cults, all act as the well maintained working mechanisms in the machinery of capitalism. All the preceding serve to underdevelop and malform the bigger picture of a people united and well organized.