FUTURE: DECOLONIZING THE WHITE MATRIX OF POWER
Responding to the violence of the occidental time.
These days, the occident’s preoccupation is fatigue: tired of decolonizing universities, monuments, histories, and knowledge. But the white matrix of power is essentially working as a parasitic system: constantly sucking the lives, politics, and future from the “others.” White racism identifies with denial, and this is a key strategy towards racial discrimination and the maintenance of privilege to diminishing responsibility.
Contemporary occidental global politics is a continuation of the modern/colonial capitalist matrix from which it has developed. Entangled in the occidental modern/colonial system, whiteness was produced over the last five centuries by conquests and colonization, through which a set of colonial capitalist values and a system of knowledge were made universal by erasing, silencing, dehumanizing, and disqualifying all the rest labeled as "others". To introduce a critical condition and push for a radical change, a protest movement Rhodes Must Fall began on March 9th 2015 and spread across South Africa. Initially directed against the statue at the University of Cape Town (UCT) that commemorates Cecil Rhodes, it became an international movement for the university's decolonization. The colonizer had to be removed. The colonizers have to fall once and forever.
Nomusa Makhubu and Khanyisile Mbongwa return to this historical event in 2019, in a conversation published under the title “Radical love as decolonial philosophy” in the Journal of Decolonising Disciplines. As explained by Makhubu, who leads the talk with Mbongware, “The injustice of racism and separatism in its historical and contemporary guises has diminished the sense of being fully human in the world. Racial and consumerist economic categories have become ways of determining the right and access to life. Such a dehumanising history, founded on hatred, can only be confronted through understanding the significance of justice.” (1)
In this respect the last published work by us is the recently edited special number of the Journal for the Critique of Science, Imagination, and New Anthropology, entitled “Racial Capitalism. Intersectionality of Sexuality, Struggles and Bodies as Borders” (ČKZ, no.281, 2020, Ljubljana). (2)
Although socialism/communism has historically been a revolutionary attempt to break with society’s capitalist colonial political and economic organization, the class divisions, patriarchy, gender binary, and heteronormativity have persisted within fraternity and unity. For these reasons, this issue simultaneously focuses on questions about the relations between socialism, feminism, and decolonial struggles, between post-socialism of the 1990s and postcolonialism after World War II, the state of the new fast-growing turbo-capitalism, and decolonization. The origins of today’s political and economic situation in the Balkans can be traced to colonial/imperial history’s imprints, which permeates the entire space. Today, through continuously changing logics, it organizes capitalist differentiation, dehumanization, and plunder. Processes that have taken place, and continue to do so under the auspices of the European Union and its directives, are implemented together with local collaborationists to ensure the racial configuration and reproduction of Europe as white, Christian, and “European.” Simultaneously, racism also works in the direction of the division between migrants and local racialized groups, which, through these processes, stand with whiteness against migrants.
Thus, we must not forget that the most illegal is the state itself, its repressive apparatuses and collaborationists, which in independent Slovenia is exposed as paradigmatic, through the erasure, expulsion, and discrimination of migrants, refugees, LGBTIQ+ and sex workers. Slovenia was constituted as a sovereign state on the erasure of more than 30,000 citizens of Yugoslavia, erased from permanent residents’ register. In Slovenia and its current state of things, the new state’s constitution was based on organised administrative genocide, followed by the history and present of racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sexism, and homo-transphobia, which must be placed at the center of the analysis.
"Processes that continue to take place under the auspices of the European Union and its directives, are implemented together with local collaborationists to ensure the racial configuration and reproduction of Europe as white, Christian, and “European.”"
Recent and current wars have completely changed the geopolitics of the world. After that, the capitalist imperial powers of the United States, its NATO allies, and other regional powers with colonial appetites destroyed Africa (Libya), the Middle East (Syria), the Far East (Iraq, Afghanistan), while these, in turn, become part of the new politics of the West, that changes its strategies toward refugees almost daily. The result is that millions of people are on the run, and racist rhetoric is intensifying. The EU is paying Turkey to defend the EU from refugees, and paying Libya, which is suddenly becoming a safe country, like Afghanistan. Refugees who are suddenly seen as no longer being in danger are presented as a threat to the labor market and are forcibly deported. All this is in full swing in former Eastern Europe, where nationalist ideology, accelerated privatization, and deregulation are spreading, as neoliberalism must be introduced in a few decades, while capitalism in the West took several centuries of exploitation, robbery, colonialism, slavery, impoverishment of the workers, etc.
How we understand the logic of racial capitalism depends on the questions posed, situated perspectives, and methods of analysis. This is crucial to articulate the politics of positioning and search for radical tactics to dismantle this system and claim re-existence.
As Eva Hayward and Che Gossett (2017) state: “Modernity/coloniality has been an anti-trans project in its foundational violence of colonization and racial slavery – “ungendering” through the violent reduction of the body to the “flesh” as Spillers illustrates and the genocidal violence by settlers specifically targeting indigenous people as violating white gender normativity.” (3)
Our position is that through the analysis of colonial logics of global capitalism, and the organization of solidarity between racialized, migrants, disabled, lesbians, trans* and sex workers, we are breaking the silence and talk about the histories of workers’ struggles. This allows us to think about the experiences, theories, and practices of resistance, those that point to the possibilities for a different future, and urge us to respond critically to what seems to be the only possible time, that is, the white straight occidental time. As the Black Lives Matter protests show very clearly: we have to end racism, discrimination, robbery, and exploitation, as well as the academic, intellectual, and theoretical explanation that justifies all this over and over again.
Below are some critical interventions from recent years which, together with historical references, have raised a multitude of issues around racial capitalism with white anthropocentrism at its core, that require our attention in ways exposed and discussed in some key publications that we want to mention further, in relation to the future paths of smashing capitalism, and decolonization as a radical political turn.
Fanon, Frantz (1963), The Wretched of the Earth, New York, Grove Press.
Gilmore Wilson, Ruth, Change Everything. Racial Capitalism and the Case for Abolition (to be published in April 2021).
Gurminder K. Bhambra, Dalia Gebrial and Kerem Nişancioğlu (eds.) (2018), Decolonising the University, London, Pluto Press.
Gržinić, Marina, Tatlić, Šefik (eds.) (2020), Dialogues for the Future: Countering the Genealogy of Amnesia, Belgrade, CZKD.
Mbembe, Achille (2019), Necropolitics, Durham, Duke University Press.
Robinson, Cedric (2000), Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press (first published Zed Press, 1983).
Snorton, Riley C. (2017), Black on both sides. A racial history of trans identity, University of Minnesota Press.
Spillers, Hortense J. (1987) Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book. Diacritics, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 65–81.
This contribution is part of Issue 15: DECOLOMANIA, on art history, the history of politics, and the history of theory: all of them colonized and colonizing, much like our very selves.