Imperialism and racial oppression in the metropolis. A sociological interpretation essay

Come citare

Matos Coitinho, R. (2022). Imperialism and racial oppression in the metropolis. A sociological interpretation essay. ——— Materialismo Storico ——— Rivista Di Filosofia, Storia E Scienze Umane, 12(1), 102–133.


This essay analyzes the relationship between the processes of exclusion in the United States of America that motivated the recent massive protests under the banner of Black Lives Matter and the US’s international role in maintaining the unipolar social order. Losurdian analyses of colonialism and racial despecification are tied to the formulation produced on race relations and social stratification by the Brazilian sociologists Octavio Ianni and Florestan Fernandes. The study also presents some possible interpretative parallels between class structures and their connections with racism in Brazil and the United States.

As we will show, there is a significant approximation between the authors in their approach to the issue of racism. For Ianni, imperialism extends internally to the dominant nation so that the same fundamentals which govern external economic and political relations also manage internal political and economic ties. Therefore, economic-social and political development within the metropolis is also unequal. This process, which he called “internal colonialism”, is based on racist conceptions against part of the population, as Togliatti pointed out when he wrote that «the Liberal doctrine is based on a barbaric discrimination between human creatures».

According to Losurdo, «beyond the colonies, such discrimination also spreads in the capitalist metropolis itself, as shown by the case of Black Americans, largely deprived of fundamental rights, discriminated against and persecuted» We start from the observation that the difficulties currently experienced by the United States, whose world hegemony is in decline, are also expressed at the national level by the deepening of internal colonialism and the re-emergence of racist movements on the American political scene. Based on this research, we highlight the strength of Losurdo’s interpretation concerning the centrality of the fight for recognition as a real and effective manifestation of the class struggle in contemporary times.


Racism; Class Struggle; Racial Despecification.

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