Multicultural reference masks the centrality of race and racism to neoliberalism. Race continues to permeate capitalism’s economic and social processes, organizing the hyperextraction of surplus value from racialized bodies and naturalizing a system of capital accumulation that grossly favors the global North over the global South. Yet multiculturalism portrays neoliberal policy as the key to a postracist world of freedom and opportunity. Neoliberal policy engenders new racial subjects, as it creates and distinguishes between newly privileged and stigmatized collectivities, yet multiculturalism codes the wealth, mobility, and political power of neoliberalism’s beneficiaries to be the just desserts of “multicultural world citizens,” while representing those neoliberalism dispossesses to be handicapped by their own “monoculturalism” or other historico-cultural deficiencies. A language of multiculturalism consistently portrays acts of force required for neoliberal restructuring to be humanitarian: a benevolent multicultural invader (the United States, multinational troops, a multinational corporation) intervenes to save life, “give” basic goods or jobs, and promote limited political freedoms.
July 20, 2011