Charles Mills’s Effort To Save Liberal Political Philosophy From Itself

Christopher Lebron at The Nation:

Charles Mills’s Black Rights/White Wrongs represents the culmination of more than two decades of work on the philosophy of race and social justice. Mills received his PhD from the University of Toronto in 1985, working with the left-wing philosophers Frank Cunningham and Daniel Goldstick on the concept of ideology in Marx and Engels. In the following years, liberal political philosophy would be strongly challenged. A growing number of feminists argued that liberal normative theorists were engaged in a form of selective historical imagination, erasing everyone but white males from the story of political society’s origins.

Already fluent in Marxist thought and politics, Mills was strongly influenced by these arguments, particularly as they were delivered in Carole Pateman’s The Sexual Contract; and in his first book, The Racial Contract, Mills initiated a searing critique of modern liberal theory. Despite its progressive intonations, he argued, the tradition had consistently obscured the history of racism and white supremacy in liberal societies, thereby turning a blind eye to racial inequality while embracing Enlightenment values without qualification.

more here.