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Educating from Marx

Educating from Marx


Historical Materialism: Research in Critical Marxist Theory

Volume 20, Issue 4, 2012

ISSN : 1465-4466

E-ISSN : 1569-206X



Marx on the Dialectics of Elliptical Motion

Author: Thomas Weston

pp. 3–38 (36)

Profitability and the Roots of the Global Crisis: Marx’s ‘Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall’ and the US Economy, 1950–2007

Authors: Murray E.G. Smith; Jonah Butovsky

pp. 39–74 (36)

A Critique of Localist Political Economy and Urban Agriculture

Author: Greg Sharzer

pp. 75–114 (40)

Islam in Gramsci’s Journalism and Prison Notebooks: The Shifting Patterns of Hegemony*

Author: Derek Boothman

pp. 115–140 (26)

French Absolutism and Agricultural Capitalism: A Comment on Henry Heller’s Essays

Author: Stephen Miller

pp. 141–161 (21)

Human Rights Are the Rights of the Infinite: An Interview with Alain Badiou*

Authors: Max Blechman; Anita Chari; Rafeeq Hasan

pp. 162–186 (25)

Perepiska [Letters], Mikhail Lifschitz and György Lukács, Moscow: Grundrisse, 2011; Pisma V. Dostalu, V. Arslanovu, M. Mikhailovu [Letters to V. Dostal, V. Arslanov, M. Mikhailov], Mikhail Lifschitz, Moscow: Grundrisse, 2011

Author: Evgeni V. Pavlov

pp. 187–198 (12)

The American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights, Robin Blackburn, London: Verso, 2011*

Author: Charles Post

pp. 199–212 (14)

Cosmopolitanism and the Geographies of Freedom, David Harvey, New York: Columbia University Press, 2009

Author: Pete Green

pp. 213–225 (13)

Razzismo di Stato. Stati Uniti, Europa, Italia, edited by Pietro Basso, Milan: Angeli, 2010

Author: Corradi Laura

pp. 226–239 (14)


pp. 241–250 (10)

Notes on Contributors

pp. 251–253 (3)

Back Issues

pp. 255–256 (2)


Brill Books & Journals:

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Marxism Against Postmodernism in Educational Theory

Marxism Against Postmodernism in Educational Theory








International Journal on Strikes and Social Conflicts


Guest Editor of the Special Issue: Christian G. De Vito

Call for Articles


This call for articles for a special issue of the journal Workers of the World  ( on New Perspectives on Global labour history is open to PhD-, young- and senior researchers from all over the world.

The originals may be submitted in Spanish, French, English, Italian and Portuguese. However, the article in its final form will be published in English, so – once approved for publication – the author is responsible for its translation within two months.


On Global Labour History

First conceived at the International Institute of Social History (IISH) at the end of the 1980s as a response to the crisis of labour and social history, Global labour history (GLH) is by now a truly global “area of interest” involving scholars from a broad range of countries all over the world. Debate is open within its ever extending borders on all key-issues in contemporary historiography. However, three fundamental features have marked Global labour history since its inception:

1.    In Global labour history, the field of labour history is stretched beyond institutional and top-down histories. Labour relations and conditions, individual and collective identities and conflicts of all kind of (male and female) workers are taken into account.

2.    In Global labour history, the chronology of labour history is expanded beyond the divide of the First Industrial Revolution, at least so far as to include the origins of merchant capitalism.

3.    Global labour history covers the whole world and refuses any Eurocentric perspective as well as any approach that takes the nation-state as its exclusive point of reference.

Because of this, on the one hand, traditional categories in labour history are questioned, such as proletarianization, peripheral labour, etc., while all forms of labour relations involved in the process of commodification of labour are explored, e.g. slavery, wage labour, serfdom, indentured labour, etc.

On the other hand, new methodologies are used in order to address interconnections exchanges and fluxes between different places and across the global and local levels. Among others: histoire croisée, microhistory, history of the everyday life, the concepts of translocality and teleconnections, the practices of “following the traces” and following the production and consumption chains.


For more detailed information on Global labour history, you might want to see:

·       Marcel van der Linden, Jan Lucassen, Prolegomena for a Global Labour History, IISH, Amsterdam, 1999 (See also:

·       Jan Lucassen (ed.), Global Labour History. A State of the Art, Peter Lang, Bern, 2006.

·       Marcel van der Linden, Workers of the World. Essays Toward a Global Labour History, Brill, Leiden, 2008.

·       Christian G. De Vito (ed.), Global Labour History. La storia del lavoro al tempo della “globalizzazione”, Ombre Corte, Verona, 2012.


On the  Special Issue on Global Labour History

The special issue of the journal Workers of the World seeks to explore the potentialities of Global labour history further, both applying new methodological approaches to themes that have been already investigated and proceeding along new thematic and methodological directions.

In the selection of articles, therefore, priority will be given to contributions presenting one or more among the following features:

a.    A particular focus on methods and concepts that stress connections, exchanges, fluxes and jeux d’échelles between places and between the local and global (or micro and macro) scales.

This approach will transcend nationally-based and Eurocentric perspectives and also mere trans-national comparisons. The consequences – advantages and disadvantages – of this methodological shift on the analysis of concepts and issues will be explicitly addressed.


b.    A particular focus on long-term approach.

Various periods (e.g. early modern and modern; medieval and early modern; ancient, medieval and early modern) will be integrated and the consequences produced by the long-term perspective in the observation of specific phenomena, in the use of concepts and sources, etc. will be explicitly addressed.


c.     A particular focus on the historicization of the concept of “work” (and related terms).

What did “work” mean within specific historical contexts? And what was the (individual and/or collective) perception of work by workers, non-workers and employers?


d.    A particular focus on one or more among the following issues:

·      The relationship between “free” and “unfree” labour, with further focus on intermediate forms of labour relations and on the use of the categories of “free” and “unfree” labour as such.

·      The relationship between workers, non-workers, household and communities.

·      The social world of the (individual and organized) employers, in relationship to the social world of the (individual and organized) workers.

·      The relationship between gender and work.

·      The relationship between labour and politics, in the double sense of the relationships between work and political regime and political and union organizations and political regime.

·      The relationship between the everyday experience of work and the organization of socio-political conflicts.


Rather than addressing the methodological and theoretical issues in Global labour history in an abstract way, articles will present the results of empirical research on work and social conflicts and then, building on these, they will address the meaning of “doing” Global labour history, the advantages and disadvantages of taking such a perspective and the differences with other approaches.



·      Article submission by the author: 1st September – 10th December 2012

·      Selection of the articles by the editor: 10th December 2012 – 1st January 2013

·      Peer-review process: 1st January – 15th February 2013

·      Notification of acceptance by the reviewers: 15th February 2013

·      Definitive article submission by the author: 15th February – 15th April 2013

·      Final revision by the editor: 15th April – 15th May 2013

·      Publication on line: 15th May 2013

Please note: No articles sent by the authors after the above mentioned deadlines will be accepted.


Submission of Articles

All articles should be sent to this email address: (Christian G. De Vito) with cc to

The originals may be submitted in Spanish, French, English, Italian and Portuguese. However, the article in its final form will be published in English, so – once approved for publication – the author is responsible for its translation within two months.

Articles should be no longer than 5,000 words (including spaces and footnotes) in Times new roman, 12, line space 1,5.

Rules for submission of contributions can be found at the following link:


Selection and Peer-review of the Articles

Articles are first selected by the editor of the special issue on the basis of the requirements indicated in this call for articles.

A total of twenty articles are anonymously submitted to the referees. Each article is submitted to two referees.

On the basis of the feedbacks provided by the referees, the editor further selects the ten

articles that will be published.

For any further information, please contact the editor of the special issue at:


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Workers of the World – International Journal of Strikes and Social Conflict is a peer-reviewed academic journal in the English language, for which manuscripts may be submitted in Spanish, French, English, Italian and Portuguese. Workers of the World publishes original articles, interviews and book reviews in the field of labour history and social conflicts in an interdisciplinary, global, long term historical and non Eurocentric perspective.

It publishes articles about crisis, working classes, internationalism, unions, organization, peasants, women, memory, propaganda and media, methodology, theory, protest, strikes, slavery, comparative studies, statistics, revolutions, cultures of resistance, race, among other subjects.


The editors of the journal are:

– Alvaro Bianchi – Arquivo Edgard Leuenroth, UNICAMP (Brazil),

– Andreia Galvão – Arquivo Edgard Leuenroth, UNICAMP (Brazil),

– Marcel van der Linden* – International Institute of Social History,Amsterdam, (The Netherlands),

– Raquel Varela – Instituto de História Contemporânea, Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Portugal),

– Serge Wolikow – Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Université de Bourgogne,Dijon, (France),

– Sjaak van der Velden – Independent researcher,Rotterdam, (The Netherlands),  

– Xavier Domènech Sampere – Centre d’Estudis sobre les Èpoques Franquista i Democràtica, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain),



Articles should be sent, according to the instructions for authors, to the executive editor António Simões do Paço at


Editorial statement

The first issue of Workers of the World. International Journal on Strikes and Social Conflict will appear online at the end of June 2012. The journal is an important step to consolidate the initiative, decided on at the Lisbon Labour Conference in March 2011, of creating an international association of researchers and institutions involved in the study of this subject.

The working class repeatedly continues to make its presence known and by doing so refutes the pessimistic predictions about the end of social conflicts that were popular in past decades. Different forms of popular struggle emerged in response to deteriorating living conditions, precarious employment of labour, and the change or elimination of social and labour protection legislation. In addition to the renewed labour movement in its classical forms of collective action and organization through strikes and unions, we saw the emergence or re-creation of movements of the unemployed or underemployed, of the landless and the homeless, just to mention some of the most widely known.

Despite numerous attempts to theoretically declare the end of social classes, strikes, and social movements, the inherent social contradictions in society and workers’ own actions constitute imposing evidence to the contrary. Industrial conflicts repeatedly have intersected with other social conflicts and ethnic, gender and generational issues complexity and renew interest in collective action, bringing in new theoretical and analytical challenges to researchers.

Workers of the World: International Journal on Strikes and Social Conflict aims to be innovative. This journal aims to stimulate global studies on labour and social conflicts in an interdisciplinary, global, long term historical and non Eurocentric perspective. It intends to move away from traditional forms of methodological nationalism and conjectural studies, adopting an explicitly critical and interdisciplinary perspective. Therefore, it will publish empirical research and theoretical discussions that address strikes and social conflicts in an innovative and rigorous manner. It will also promote dialogue between scholars from different fields and different countries and disseminate analyzes on different socio-cultural realities, to give visibility and centrality to this theme.




‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Human Herbs’ at: (recording) and (live)


‘Maximum levels of boredom

Disguised as maximum fun’

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Domenico Losurdo


March 19, 2012
CUNY Graduate Center, Room C198
A Talk on Liberalism by Domenico Losurdo

The author of Liberalism: A Counter History discusses the dark side of Liberalism
On March 19, Domenico Losurdo will speak at the Graduate Center at CUNY about his latest book, Liberalism: A Counter-History, examining the ways in which liberalism, as a philosophical position and ideology, has historically been bound up with the most illiberal of policies: slavery, colonialism, genocide, racism and snobbery.

6.30pm – 7.30pm
CUNY Graduate Center, Room C198
365 Fifth Avenue
New York,NY10016


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Abraham Lincoln




October 12, 2011
Bishopsgate Institute
Empire and Resistance: A special meeting with two leading socialist historians of imperialism, Robin Blackburn & Richard Gott

Socialist History Society Public Meeting, supported by the London Socialist Historians Group

For more information and to book:
“A meditation on a world that could have been.”—GREG GRANDIN, GUARDIAN,
Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln exchanged letters at the end of the Civil War. Although they were divided by far more than the Atlantic Ocean, they agreed on the cause of “free labor” and the urgent need to end slavery. In his introduction, Robin Blackburn argues that Lincoln’s response signaled the importance of the German American community and the role of the international communists in opposing European recognition of the Confederacy.

The ideals of communism, voiced through the International Working Men’s Association, attracted many thousands of supporters throughout the US, and helped spread the demand for an eight-hour day. Blackburn shows how the IWA in America—born out of the Civil War—sought to radicalize Lincoln’s unfinished revolution and to advance the rights of labor, uniting black and white, men and women, native and foreign-born. The International contributed to a profound critique of the capitalist robber barons who enriched themselves during and after the war, and it inspired an extraordinary series of strikes and class struggles in the postwar decades.

In addition to a range of key texts and letters by both Lincoln and Marx, this book includes articles from the radical New York-based journal WOODHULL AND CLAFLIN’S WEEKLY, an extract from Thomas Fortune’s classic work on racism BLACK AND WHITE, Frederick Engels on the progress of US labor in the 1880s, and Lucy Parson’s speech at the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World.
ALSO OUT NOW, a landmark history of the rise, abolition, and legacy of slavery in the New World:


This book furnishes a panoramic view of slavery and emancipation in the Americas from the conquests and colonization of the sixteenth century to the ‘century of abolition’ that stretched from 1780 to 1888. Tracing the diverse responses of African captives, THE AMERICAN CRUCIBLE argues that while slave rebels and abolitionists made real gains, they also suffered cruel setbacks and disappointments, leading to a momentous radicalization of the discourse of human rights.   In it, Robin Blackburn explains the emergence of ferocious systems of racial exploitation while rejecting the comforting myths that portray emancipation as somehow already inscribed in the institutions and ideas that allowed for, or even fostered, racial slavery in the first place, whether the logic of the market, the teachings of religion, or the spirit of nationalism. Rather, Blackburn stresses, American slavery was novel—and so too were the originality and achievement of the anti-slavery alliances which eventually destroyed it.

The Americas became the crucible for a succession of fateful experiments in colonization, silver mining, plantation agriculture, racial enslavement and emancipation. The exotic commodities produced by the slave plantations helped to transform Europe and North America, raising up empires and stimulating industrial revolution and ‘market revolution’ to bring about the pervasive commodification of polite society, work and everyday life in parts of Europe and North America. Fees, salaries and wages fostered consuming habits so that capitalism, based on free wage labor in the metropolis, became intimately dependent on racial slavery in the New World.

But by the late eighteenth century the Atlantic boom had sown far and wide the seeds of subversion, provoking colonial rebellion, slave conspiracy and popular revolt, the aspirations of a new black peasantry and ‘picaresque proletariat’, and the emergence of a revolutionary doctrine: the ‘rights of man’. The result was a radicalization of the principles of the Enlightenment, with the Haitian Revolution rescuing and reshaping the ideals memorably proclaimed by the American and French revolutions.

Blackburn charts the gradual emergence of an ability and willingness to see the human cost of the heedless consumerism and to challenge it. The anti-slavery idea, he argues, brought together diverse impulses—the ‘free air’ doctrine maintained by the common people of Europe, the critique of the philosophes and the urgency of slave resistance and black witness. The anti-slavery idea made gains thanks to a succession of historic upheavals. But the remaining slave systems—in the US South, Cuba and Brazil—were in many ways as strong as ever.


ISBN: 978 1 84467 722 1 / $19.95 / £12.99 / $25.00CAN / Paperback / 272 pages

For more information about AN UNFINISHED REVOLUTION or to buy the book visit:


ISBN: 978 1 84467 569 2 / $34.95 / £20.00/ Hardcover / 512 pages

For more information about THE AMERICAN CRUCIBLE or to buy the book visit:


“It leaves a string of other academics licking their scholarly wounds.”—JAMES WALVIN

“The American Crucible poses a challenge for the political future as well as a bold reappraisal of the historical past.”—STEPHEN HOWE, INDEPENDENT:


“A magnificent work of contemporary scholarship.”—ERIC FONER, NATION

“Blackburn’s book has finally drawn the veil which concealed or made mysterious the history and development of modern society.” —DARCUS HOWE, GUARDIAN

“Sombre, dark and masterly.” —LINDA COLLEY, INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY

“An exhaustive, powerfully written and compelling book.” —ANTHONY PAGDEN, TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

“Fascinating … Blackburn has brought together diverse strands of historical research and woven them into a compelling story.” —LOS ANGELES TIMES


“An incisive synthesis of developments in North America, the Caribbean and Latin America. Blackburn’s book is bold and original.” —RICHARD DUNN, TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

“A challenge to those who fondly suppose that slavery declined as ideas of Western ‘enlightenment’ spread. Blackburn deserves praise for undermining complacency about the past — and the present.” —CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, NEW YORK NEWSDAY

“The first historian since Eric Williams to present a comprehensive interpretation.” —NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS

“One of the finest studies of slavery and abolition.” —ERIC FONER, DISSENT

“Blackburn’s highly intelligent and well-written book is a substantial contribution.” —VICTOR KIERNEN, LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS

Praise for AGE SHOCK

“Blackburn’s book is a serious and finely argued attack on contemporary market fundamentalism in a vivid phrasemaking style.” STEVEN POOLE, GUARDIAN


“One of the best books I have read on pension funds.” INDEPENDENT

“Blackburn is particularly good at disentangling the different dynamics that make the pension’s problem so intractable for mature, ageing economies.” SIR HOWARD DAVIS, DIRECTOR, FSA, GUARDIAN

“Blackburn’s views seem to me refreshing … [He] acknowledges that there are real strains on the old welfare state and proposes interesting ways to handle them that do not resort to simplistic formulas of privatization.” JEFF MADRICK, NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS

ROBIN BLACKBURN teaches at the New School in New York and the University of Essex in the UK. He is the author of many books, including THE MAKING OF NEW WORLD SLAVERY, THE OVERTHROW OF COLONIAL SLAVERY, AGE SHOCK, BANKING ON DEATH, and THE AMERICAN CRUCIBLE.
Academics can request an inspection copy. For further information please go to:
Visit Verso’s website for information on our upcoming events, new reviews and publications and special offers:

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Kevin Anderson


Kevin Anderson to speak in Chicagoand New Yorkon:

Race, Class & Slavery: Marx’s Civil War Writings, 150 Years Later

Marx’s Civil War writings show an incomparable grasp of the dialectics of race and class and still speak to us today.  In these writings, which included journalism, letters, and passages in Capital, he took up several issues, among them:

(1) how the revolutionary subjectivity of African-Americans was a driving force in American society;

(2) how racism had held back the development of a labor movement in the industrial North;

(3) how race had distorted the consciousness of the poor whites of the South;

(4) how slavery and capitalism were intertwined;

(5) how the struggle against slavery and racism in Americawas a global cause for labor.

Kevin Anderson teaches Sociology, Political Science and Feminist Studies at UC-Santa Barbara and is the author of the recently published Marx at the Margins: On Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Non-Western Societies.

CHICAGO: October 10, 6:30 PM, Loyola University Chicago, Water Tower Campus, 26 East Pearson, Rm 303-04 (1 block N of Chicago Ave., 1/2 block E of State St.), sponsored by Departments of Sociology and Philosophy, free admission

NEW YORK:  October 12, 7:30 PM, Brecht Forum, 451 West Street (that’s the West Side Highway) between Bank & Bethune Streets– Sliding scale: $6/$10/$15


Free for Brecht Forum Subscribers


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Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker’s The Many Headed Hydra (2000) argued that during the colonial and commercial expansion in the Atlantic Ocean between c. 1640 and 1830 a revolutionary proletariat emerged. Waves of commodification in the Atlantic system – of land, goods and people – created a mobile, multi-ethnic workforce. Authorities attempted to control them, only to provoke new forms of resistance. Atlantic proletarians played their own distinct part in the Age of Revolutions and the abolition of slavery; they created their own forms of equality and freedom. A decade after the publication of that highly suggestive study, how does the thesis stand up?

At this conference to be held at Birkbeck, University of London in Thursday 12 April 2012, we will hope to explore the book’s central themes in the light of new research, as well as taking it into new areas. The book concentrated on the English-speaking Atlantic and we would particularly encourage papers dealing with the non-English Atlantic or similar developments in the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Pacific. We would hope papers pay attention to the intersections between class, gender and race. All sub-disciplinary perspectives – economic, social, cultural, political – are welcome.

Themes for papers could include:

·         The politics and ideology of the proletariat: abolitionism, revolutions and revolts, popular egalitarianism and democracy, radical religion.
·         Types of work and workers; changing work processes; migration and labour markets; industrial relations; work cultures.
·         Sites of struggle: the commons, the plantation, ships, factories. How did they structure workers’ experiences? Are particular types of resistance associated with them? Were there others?
·         Material and economic pathways: the role of oceanic trade routes, commodities, natural resources, technologies etc
·         Role of institutions (e.g. trading companies, guilds), States and Empires in creating and regulating the workforce; criminal justice and law; army and naval recruitment; taxation.
·         Comparative perspectives between different Atlantic Empires or with the Mediterranean, Indian and Pacific Oceans.
·         Long-term perspectives; sources & methodology; theory.

Call for papers deadline: January 1st 2012


William Farrell, Schoolof History, Birkbeck, Universityof London: Email:

Stephen Duane Dean Jr, Department of History, Kings College London: Email:


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Socialist History Society Public Meeting
Empire and Resistance
A special meeting with two leading socialist historians of imperialism, Robin Blackburn and Richard Gott, who will be speaking about their new books

Hosted in co-operation with publisher Verso and supported by the London Socialist Historians Group

7pm, 12th October 2011
Venue: Bishopsgate Institute, Liverpool Street
The event is free.

Richard Gott, former editor and journalist, is the author of numerous books mainly on Latin America, including a history of Cuba and the new Venezuela of Hugo Chavez. His latest book is “Britain’s Empire: Resistance, Repression and Revolt”, which will be published in September.

Robin Blackburn, former editor of New Left Review, and author of a trilogy of books on the history of slavery in the New World, the latest of which is “The American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights”, as well as “An Unfinished Revolution: Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln”.

Stefan Dickers (Chair, SHS):
David Morgan (Secretary, SHS):

Further information on the website:


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Hubert Harrison


Karia Press
Presents An “In Tribute” Event
Featuring A Presentation
By Dr. Jeffrey B. Perry
Based on his Biography
Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918

During Discussion he will be able to refer to:
Theodore W. Allen’s works:
The Invention of the White Race …

@ Centerprise
136-138 Kingsland Road
Dalston, London, E8 2NS
Friday, 20th May, 2011
7:30 – 10:00PM
Donations: £3.00

Restaurant on site

Bookings, and other information from: Karia Press:, Tel. 0750 4661 785

Books will be available for sale at the event.

If you wish to order a copy(ies) of the book(s) in advance, please email or call for availability and prices.

To get to the venue:
London Overground: Dalston Kingsland or Dalston Junction.
Buses: 149, 76, 243, 67, 236.

Background Information on Hubert Harrison

Hubert Harrison, (1883-1927) was an immensely skilled writer, orator, educator, critic, and political activist who, more than any other political leader of his era, combined class consciousness and anti-white-supremacist race consciousness into a coherent political radicalism. Harrison profoundly influenced “New Negro” militants, including A. Philip Randolph and Marcus Garvey, and his synthesis of class and race issues is a key unifying link between the two great trends of the Black Liberation Movement: the labour and civil-rights-based work of Martin Luther King Jr. and the race and nationalist work associated with Malcolm X.

Harrison played unique, signal roles in the largest class radical movement (socialism) and the largest race radical movement (the New Negro/Garvey) movement of his era. He was the foremost Black organizer, agitator, and theoretician of the Socialist Party of New York, the founder of the “New Negro” movement, the editor of the “Negro World,” and the principal radical influence on the Garvey movement.

He also helped transform the 135th Street Public Library into an international center for research in Black culture (known today as the world-famous Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture). His biography offers profound insights on race, class, religion, immigration, war, democracy, and social change in America.

About the Author

Jeffrey B. Perry is an independent, working class scholar who was formally educated at Princeton, Harvard, Rutgers, and Columbia Universities. He was a long-time (33 years) activist, elected union officer with Local 300, and editor for the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (Division of LIUNA, AFL-CIO, CTW).

Dr. Perry preserved and inventoried the Hubert H. Harrison Papers (now at Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library) and is the editor of A Hubert Harrison Reader (Wesleyan University Press, 2001). He is also literary executor for Theodore W. Allen, author of The Invention of the White Race [2 Vols., Verso, 1994 and 1997), and edited and introduced Allen’s Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race.

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The Black Rock


The American Road to Capitalism: Studies in Class-Structure, Economic Development and Political Conflict, 1620–1877

By Charles Post
Publication year: 2011

Historical Materialism Book Series, 28
ISBN-13 (i):
978 90 04 20104 0
90 04 20104 1
Number of pages:
xvii, 300 pp.
List price: € 99.00 / US$ 141.00

Most US historians assume that capitalism either “came in the first ships” or was the inevitable result of the expansion of the market. Unable to analyze the dynamics of specific forms of social labour in the antebellum US, most historians of the US Civil War have privileged autonomous political and ideological factors, ignoring the deep social roots of the conflict. This book applies theoretical insights derived from the debates on the transition to capitalism in Europe to the historical literature on the US to produce a new analysis of the origins of capitalism in the US, and the social roots of the Civil War.

Charles Post, Ph. D. (1983) in Sociology, SUNY-Binghamton, is Associate Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College-CUNY. He has published in New Left Review, Journal of Peasant Studies, Journal of Agrarian Change, Against the Current and Historical Materialism.

“Explaining the origin and early development of American capitalism is a particularly challenging task. It is in some ways even more difficult than in other cases to strike the right historical balance, capturing the systemic imperatives of capitalism, and explaining how they emerged, while doing justice to historical particularities… To confront these historical complexities requires both a command of historical detail and a clear theoretical grasp of capitalism’s systemic imperatives, a combination that is all too rare. Charles Post succeeds in striking that difficult balance, which makes his book a major contribution to truly historical scholarship.” — Ellen Meiksins-Wood, York University, author of The Origins of Capitalism: A Long View.

“In The American Road to Capitalism, Charles Post offers a brilliant reinterpretation of the origins and diverging paths of economic evolution in the American north and south. The first systematic historical materialist account of US development from the colonial period through the civil war in a very long time, it is sure to be received as a landmark contribution.” — Robert P. Brenner, University of California-Los Angeles, author of Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Early Modern Europe and Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict, and London’s Overseas Traders, 1550-1653.

“Charles Post has written an excellent book on the origins of American capitalism in the antebellum North, on plantation slavery in the Old South and on the cataclysmic conflict between them. His interpretation is bold and controversial; it will have to be considered by all scholars in the field.” — John Ashworth, University of Nottingham, author of Slavery, Capitalism and the Antebellum Republic

“This is the most original and provocative materialist interpretation of the origins and dynamics of US capitalism for a long time. Post combines impressive command of the historical sources with a sharp analytical understanding, not least of the centrality of agrarian questions to the development of capitalism.” — Henry Bernstein, University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies and China Agricultural University, Beijing, emeritus editor Journal of Agrarian Change.

“Over the past three decades, Charles Post has been developing an original and powerful interpretation of the American road to capitalism. This volume brings together his most important essays in what is sure to be a landmark volume. Post brilliantly analyzes the structural basis of economic development in both the North and the South, culminating in a powerful interpretation of the social basis of the Civil War. The book is one of the best examples of historical sociology that I have seen in recent years, effortlessly melding theory and historical research. This is engaged scholarship of the highest order.” — Vivek Chibber, New York University, author of Locked In Place: State Building and Late Industrialization in India.

Table of contents:

Foreword by Ellen Meiksins Wood

1. The American Road to Capitalism
i. Plantation-slavery
ii. Agrarian petty-commodity production
iii. Capitalist manufacture and industry
iv. Conclusion: the Civil War

2. The Agrarian Origins of US Capitalism: The Transformation of the Northern Countryside before the Civil War
i. Rural class-structure in the North before the Civil War
ii. Debating the transformation of northern agriculture
iii. The transformation of the northern countryside, c. 1776–1861

3. Plantation-Slavery and Economic Development in the Antebellum Southern United States
i. The ‘planter-capitalism’ model
ii. The ‘non-bourgeois civilisation’ model
iii. Class-structure and economic development in the antebellum-South

4. Agrarian Class-Structure and Economic Development in Colonial British North America: The Place of the American Revolution in the Origins of US Capitalism
i. The commercialisation-staples model
ii. The demographic-frontier model
iii. Agrarian social-property relations in colonial British North America
iv. Colonial economic development, the American Revolution, and the development of capitalism in the US, 1776–1861

5. Social-Property Relations, Class-Conflict and the Origins of the US Civil War: Toward a New Social Interpretation
i. Ashworth’s social interpretation of the US Civil War
ii. A critique of slavery, capitalism and politics in the antebellum-republic
iii. Toward a new social interpretation of the US Civil War

Conclusion: Democracy against Capitalism in the Post-Civil-War United States
i. Democracy against capitalism in the North: radicalism, class-struggle and the rise of liberal democracy, 1863–77
ii. Democracy against capitalism in the South: the rise and fall of peasant-citizenship, 1865–77
iii. The defeat of populism, ‘Jim Crow’ and the establishment of capitalist plantation-agriculture in the South, 1877–1900


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Brown-Harvard Conference on Slavery and Capitalism, April 7-9, 2011

This conference is intended to explore the centrality of slavery to national economic development in the decades between the American Revolution and the Civil War. Presentations will explore New England investment in the plantation economies of the Caribbean; the technological and managerial innovations in plantation management that coincided with northern industrialization; and the origins of modern finance and credit in the buying and selling of enslaved men and women and the crops they produced.

This new research suggests that the hotbeds of American entrepreneurship, speculation, and innovation might as readily be found in Mississippi or Virginia as in New York or Massachusetts. The issue is not whether slavery was or was not capitalist (an older debate), but rather the impossibility of understanding the nation’s spectacular pattern of economic development without situating slavery front and center.

The conference begins on Thursday, April 7th, with a keynote address by President Ruth Simmons of Brown University. Paper presentations will follow on Friday the 8th at Brown University. The conference then moves to Harvard for additional papers on Saturday, April 9th. This event is free and open to the public.

All the information (including the program and registration form) is here:

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Rethinking the Modern: Colonialism, Empire, and Slavery
11-12 July, 2011, Birmingham Midland Institute

The deadline for submission of abstracts is 25th February 2011.
See website for abstract submission details.

For more information on the conference, details on the streams, and contact details for stream co-ordinators see:

For general queries, email Gurminder K Bhambra ( or Lucy Mayblin (

In recent times, a number of academics and commentators have sought to offer a revisionist history of colonialism. This history presents colonialism as either something that was not as bad as some others make out, something that actually made the modern world and so was essentially a good thing from which the current search for a new global order should have much to learn; or as something to be understood simply in terms of networks of circulation and distribution. The sense of colonialism as a wretched episode of human history that continues to distort the life chances of those unfortunate enough to live under its legacies is slowly being eroded. Similar attempted revisions seek to alter public understandings of modern transatlantic slavery and its continuing legacies. We believe that the historical processes of imperialism, colonialism and slavery shaped, and continue to shape, our common world in ways which have been and continue to be problematic. This conference seeks to confront head-on these new revisionist histories and provide the space for a more adequate understanding of these processes and their legacies as they continue into today. The key questions and topic that this conference seeks to address include the following:

*   In what ways do the standard forms of knowledge production in the academy undermine the lived thought and experience of the colonized and their descendents and, by extension, impoverish our understandings of the human condition?
*   Can there be a ‘global history’ outside of a history of colonialism, imperialism, and slavery?
*   How are minorities identified, constructed, and governed within modernity and colonialism?
*   How do we address the current fashion for regarding colonialism as simply a network of practices?
*   To what extent is the rehabilitation of (old) empire associated with the legitimisation of new forms of imperialism?
There will be 12 key streams in the conference and abstracts should be submitted under these

  • Imperial Enlightenment and Critical Thought
  • Coloniality / Modernity
  • The Place of Minorities in Modernity and Coloniality
  • Recovering Forgotten Histories
  • Decolonial Thought and Other Philosophies
  • Slavery and its Legacies
  • Migration and Empire: Voluntary and Forced
  • Colonial Desires and Eastern Empires
  • Is Global History / Sociology Possible?
  • From Empire to Neo-Imperialism
  • Reassessing Anti-Colonial and Liberation Movements
  • The Colonial Context of the European Integration Project, Past and Present


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