Current critiques of neoliberalism rely on the separation of ideological phenomena, such as race, from economic phenomena, such as class. Both liberal and Marxian conceptions of the economy regard neoliberalism as a “difference-blind” response to threats to the power of the capitalist class. James Trafford argues that by taking the question of race out of the equation, these critiques have unwittingly legitimated the racial ordering of Anglo-American society since the 1960s.
Not reducible to ideology, racial hierarchies were reproduced through welfare retrenchment, extractive finance, predatory lending, state authoritarianism, and criminalization. So, race has never been irrelevant to capital accumulation, and inequality and exclusion determine the structure of society as much as class and capitalist exploitation. This book takes the most prominent contemporary analyses of neoliberalism (Mirowski, Harvey, Foucault, Brown among others) and reinserts a discussion of race. The author’s aim is to expose the weakness of an implicit reliance on the racialized structure of society that the theories otherwise ignore. In doing so, neoliberalism emerges less a project for the protection of capital, and more the maintenance and reproduction of racialized power.
James Trafford is Reader in Philosophy and Design at the University for Creative Arts, Epsom. His books include Meaning in Dialogue (2016) and Alien Vectors (2019) (with Pete Wolfendale).