Carceral Capitalism: A Conversation with Jackie Wang

M. Buna in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

M. BUNA: In the introduction to Carceral Capitalism, you advance race and anti-blackness as the main foci of your analysis, which you say is necessary, given the current realities of the Prison Industrial Complex. Could you expand on this particular stance of choosing to focus primarily on the anti-blackness of the PIC, at the risk of minimizing other structural forces, such as global capitalism/neoliberalism, that enable and buttress the carceral state?

JACKIE WANG: This book, in part, comes out of my engagement with the literature on financialization and the debt economy. The idea to assemble this collection of essays into a book came to me when I read Maurizio Lazzarato’s The Making of the Indebted Man. From Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Empireto Costas Lapavitsas’s Profiting Without Producing, post-Marxists have analyzed the changing nature of value and work within the context of globalization. What I felt was missing from these analyses (of late capitalism, financialization, and neoliberalism) was an analysis of racializing processes — an examination of how logics of differentiation mediate capitalist accumulation. The United States has a very particular history of racism. The various techniques of socially managing nonwhite populations that have been deployed in the United States are inextricably linked to slavery, expropriation of native lands, immigration policy, and so forth. What I feel that some of these post-Marxist analyses get wrong is the assumption that the dynamics of late capitalism tend to homogenize subjects, rather than producing difference as a way to enable extraction. Capitalism has no fixed morality — it can absorb anti-racist, even anti-capitalist, critique. But even though capitalism is somewhat indifferent to our identities so long as they can be commodified, late capitalism produces difference, insofar as the most extreme methods of dispossession and extraction first require the subject to be rendered lootable (devalued on the level of subjectivity).

More here.