A prolegomenon to a critical race theoretical Marxism

Sean Walton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The critical race theory concept of ‘White supremacy’ continues to be a major locus of disagreement between Critical Race Theorists and Marxists regarding both how it operates as a general descriptor of racial power dynamics in the Western world and for its explanatory power in accounting for the multiple forms in which racism manifests. Criticisms of the concept of ‘White supremacy’ from Marxists often point to racisms that exist beyond the Black/White binary, or racism directed at minoritised White groups as counterexamples to explanations of racism that appeal to ‘White supremacy’. Marxists also often point to alternative theoretical constructs such as ‘institutional racism’ and ‘racialisation’ as better descriptions for, and explanations of, racism and the mechanisms that serve in its creation and perpetuation. However, examples of racisms that exist outside of a Black/White binary, or which appeal to the existence of racism directed at people identified as White, do not discredit ‘White supremacy’ as a descriptor or explanation of racism and can easily be accommodated within a framework for understanding racism that is consistent with both critical race theory and Marxism. Moreover, constructs such as ‘racialisation’ and ‘institutional racism’ do not have the theoretical utility of ‘White supremacy’ as characterised within critical race theory .
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-133
Number of pages18
JournalPower and Education
Issue number3
Early online date6 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


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