Competition and competitiveness are roundly celebrated as public values and key indicators of a dynamic and forward-thinking society. But the headlong embrace of competitive market principles, increasingly prevalent in our neoliberal age, often obscures the enduring divisiveness of a society set up to produce winners and losers. In this inspired and thoughtfully argued book, Andrew J. Douglas turns to the later writings of W. E. B. Du Bois to reevaluate the very terms of the competitive society.
Situating Du Bois in relation to the Depression-era roots of contemporary neoliberal thinking, Douglas shows that into the 1930s Du Bois ratcheted up a race-conscious indictment of capitalism and liberal democracy and posed unsettling questions about how the compulsory pull of market relations breeds unequal outcomes and underwrites the perpetuation of racial animosities. Blending historical analysis with ethical and political theory, and casting new light on several aspects of Du Bois’s thinking, this book makes a compelling case that Du Bois’s sweeping disillusionment with Western liberalism is as timely now as ever.