The birth of the racial subject— and therefore of Blackness—is linked to
the history of capitalism. Capitalism emerged as a double impulse toward,
on the one hand, the unlimited violation of all forms of prohibition and, on
the other, the abolition of any distinction between ends and means. The
Black slave, in his dark splendor, was the first racial subject: the product
of the two impulses, the most vis i ble symbol of the possibility of vio lence
without limits and of vulnerability without a safety net.
Capitalism is the power of capture, influence, and polarization, and it has
always depended on racial subsidies to exploit the planet’s resources. Such
was the case yesterday. It is the case today, even as capitalism sets about
recolonizing its own center. Never has the perspective of a Becoming Black
of the world loomed more clearly.
No region of the world is spared from the logics of the distribution of
vio lence on a planetary scale, or from the vast operation under way to de-
value the forces of production.
But as long as the retreat from humanity is incomplete, there is a still a
possibility of restitution, reparation, and justice. These are the conditions
for the collective resurgence of humanity. Thinking through what must
come will of necessity be a thinking through of life, of the reserves of life,
of what must escape sacrifice. It will of necessity be a thinking in circulation,
a thinking of crossings, a world- thinking.
The question of the world— what it is, what the relationship is between
its vari ous parts, what the extent of its resources is and to whom they
belong, how to live in it, what moves and threatens it, where it is going,
what its borders and limits, and its pos si ble end, are— has been within us
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