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Publisher's Summary

The Racial Contract puts classic Western social contract theory to extraordinary radical use. With a sweeping look at the European expansionism and racism of the last 500 years, Charles W. Mills demonstrates how this peculiar and unacknowledged "contract" has shaped a system of global European domination: how it brings into existence "whites" and "non-whites," full persons and sub-persons, how it influences white moral theory and moral psychology; and how this system is imposed on non-whites through ideological conditioning and violence. The Racial Contract argues that the society we live in is a continuing white supremacist state.
Holding up a mirror to mainstream philosophy, this provocative book explains the evolving outline of the racial contract from the time of the New World conquest and subsequent colonialism to the written slavery contract, to the "separate but equal" system of segregation in the twentieth-century United States. According to Mills, the contract has provided the theoretical architecture justifying an entire history of European atrocity against non-whites, from David Hume's and Immanuel Kant's claims that blacks had inferior cognitive power, to the Holocaust, to the kind of imperialism in Asia that was demonstrated by the Vietnam War.
Mills suggests that the ghettoization of philosophical work on race is no accident. This book challenges the assumption that mainstream theory is itself raceless. Just as feminist theory has revealed orthodox political philosophy's invisible white male bias, Mills's explication of the racial contract exposes its racial underpinnings.
©1997 Cornell University (P)2016 Cornell University
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By chelsea richardson on 05-30-17

An incredible book

This book points to fundamental issues in philosophy that explain the ways in which mainstream political theory operates to make invisible the racial structuring of our society. It is a book that every white person and surely every white philosopher should read.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Anne T Chambers on 03-02-18

An important but difficult read

A good thing for us whites to read even though its hard and painful. It pulls back the curtain on our complacency with racialized ideals, philosophy, and world. Its hard to be told point blank how much one is missing when thinking themselves to be the default. please read or listen to this, I know its a bit tricky with the anthropological language, but having it read to me helped a lot. the narrator was very good and clear, but I still want to go in to listen again as well as read along-- I want to take more thorough notes since I KNOW I missed things. its not too long and its a good intro to trying to unfuck your thoughts. I'd write more but just finished at work!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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