Racism – even in its most elementary and primitive form – is not only a thing of the past. It is unfortunately also a part of our future. That said, the Black of today is not solely a person of African origin characterized by his physical appearances – let us call this figure le Nègre de surface; today “the fundamental Black” (le Nègre de fond) is a subcategory of humanity that has become superfluous, almost a residue no one needs – and is apparently doomed to destruction. This Nègre de fond appears at a time when capitalism is more than ever assuming forms that recall an animistic religion. The human being of flesh and blood of former times is being replaced by the new, fluid, digital human being, infiltrated throughout by synthetic organs and prostheses. This new species is manifested in the noman’s land between the human and all sorts of software. The accelerated development of techniques for the massive exploitation of natural resources is still engaged in the old project of mathematizing the world. Ultimately this project itself has one single goal, the management of the living. In this technetronic age of ours, calculative reason is being pushed towards its point of maximum abstraction. We are to a greater and greater extent being written down into codes. In a world increasingly based on the belief that everything, including the living, can be manufactured, that existence is capital to be managed, and that salvation is to be found in pleasure and play, the individual is no To account for this gene ral universalization of the conditions yesterday reserved to the black slave, we must also consider recent developments in genetics and biotechnology. On the one hand these advances confirm the idea that the concept of race is devoid of meaning. But paradoxically, far from giving new impulses to the idea of a world without races – they have given a new impetus to the old project of classification and differentiation that was so characteristic of the preceding centuries. Crucial to this, however, is the process leading to a kind of capitalism of acceleration which, while following an extreme logic in raw material extraction, financialization and abstraction on the one hand, is sinking deeper into debt even though its goal is self-sufficiency. THE BLACKENING OF THE WORLD With the declassing of Europe we are thus witnessing a disjunctive unification of the world within the framework of a fragmented capitalism without borders. This process goes hand in hand with the reinvention of difference, a re-Balkanization of that same world, and its partitioning along a multitude of dividinglines internal to societies and states, but also vertically, in the sense that they form new rungs on the global ladder of domination. While most of the population of the world is forced to bow to the logic of the market and submit to the grip of the capitalist economy, the production of racialized subjects continues unabated. this tendency was accompanied by the other historical process typical of modern times, the understanding of the spatial units of the world in the perspective of capitalism. Since the sixteenth century the western hemisphere has acted as the prime mover in the constitution of these spatial relationships. For our purposes, this has notably been the case with the colonial empires so typical of the nineteenth century. But it is also true of the mercantilist system of slavery, which on the basis of the ‘triangular trade’ restructured the whole Atlantic area from the sixteenth century on. 259 Two emblematic figures were indispensable to the rise of capitalism – first the shadowy figure of the black slave (from the inception of the mercantilist period, which we will call ‘the first capitalism’); then the ‘solar figure’ of the worker, and by extension the proletariat (since the advent of industrialism, whose birth we must situate between 1750 and 1820). Originally ‘le Nègre’ is a person of African descent, marked by an appearance – the colour of his epidermis – determined by the sun. The history of this figure is closely associated with the expansion of capitalism from the fifteenth century on, and with its corollary, the Transatlantic trade. But it is not limited to this. As I have shown in my Critique de la raison nègre, we have since witnessed a tendency towards the universalization of the conditions formerly reserved for le Nègre. Are these conditions not in fact characterized by the reduction of a human being to a thing, an object, a commodity that can be sold, bought or owned? The circumstances in which we live today are typified by the reduction of human beings to interchangeable mass products that make us a commodity or an abstract code. The dynamic behind this universalization is not exclusively limited to new versions of racism which see no need to refer to biology to legitimize themselves. In most instances, it is sufficient for example to encourage the persecution of foreigners, to claim that ‘civilizations’ are incompatible; that we do not belong to the same humanity; that cultures are incommensurable; or that any God that is not our own is a false god. In the current crisis of the West, this kind of racism goes hand in hand with nationalism; at a time, furthermore, when neoliberal globalization is emptying nationhood – in fact democracy – of any true content and relocating the centres of decision-making far away.
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