Cap K in the Real World

A brouhaha has been going on recently about the Sanders campaign and reparations which has turned into a real life version of the cap K. Let’s walk through it


Ta-Nehisi Coates – a recent McCarthur Genius Grant recipient- penned an article in 2014 entitled The Case for Reparations.

The article prompted immediate response from Marxist/Socialist critics.


Recently, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was asked what he thought about reparations:


Bernie Sanders says he would not support reparations for African-Americans as president.

“Its likelihood of getting through Congress is nil,” he told Fusion in an interview. “Second of all, I think it would be very divisive.”

The Vermont senator called for “massive investments in rebuilding our cities,” creating millions of decent-paying jobs, and making public colleges and universities tuition-free.


This prompted Coates to write an article “Why Precisely is Bernie Sanders Against Reparations?


If not even an avowed socialist can be bothered to grapple with reparations, if the question really is that far beyond the pale, if Bernie Sanders truly believes that victims of the Tulsa pogrom deserved nothing, that the victims of contract lending deserve nothing, that the victims of debt peonage deserve nothing, that that political plunder of black communities entitle them to nothing, if this is the candidate of the radical left—then expect white supremacy in America to endure well beyond our lifetimes and lifetimes of our children. Reparations is not one possible tool against white supremacy. It is the indispensable tool against white supremacy. One cannot propose to plunder a people, incur a moral and monetary debt, propose to never pay it back, and then claim to be seriously engaging in the fight against white supremacy.


This article sparked a lively back and forth amongst pundits and the general public , here is a small sampling

Killer Mike Issues Rebuttal After Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Slams Bernie Sanders Over Reparations Comment

Are Ta-Nehisi Coates and Bernie Sanders Both Wrong on Reparations?

Chuck Todd Socks Sanders From Left on Reparations

Moral Courage and the Politics of Reparations: Uncle Bernie Drops the Ball


Race Without Class: the “Bougie” Sensibility of Ta-Nehisi Coates


I know I know- reading sucks. Well here is a podcast covering the issue with Adolph Reed , you can read his 2000 article about reparations discussed in the podcast here  and an audio commentary in response.


Yesterday Coates published a response article to his critics- Bernie Sanders and the Liberal Imagination  which includes some pretty good cards for race affirmatives AT cap k

One does not find anything as damaging as the carceral state in the Sanders platform, but the dissonance between name and action is the same. Sanders’s basic approach is to ameliorate the effects of racism through broad, mostly class-based policies—doubling the minimum wage, offering single-payer health-care, delivering free higher education. This is the same “A rising tide lifts all boats” thinking that has dominated Democratic anti-racist policy for a generation. Sanders proposes to intensify this approach. But Sanders’s actual approach is really no different than President Obama’s. I have repeatedly stated my problem with the “rising tide” philosophy when embraced by Obama and liberals in general. (See here, here, here, and here.) Again, briefly, treating a racist injury solely with class-based remedies is like treating a gun-shot wound solely with bandages. The bandages help, but they will not suffice.


Even if you don’t plan on reading the cap K following this back and forth would be a great training ground for learning about arguments. You see in these pieces all the things you see in debates

-people claiming their arguments are misunderstood

-attempts to dodge links

-impact turns

-people cutting updates


There are dozens more articles that could of been included and probably more podcast/video resources I have omitted for the sake of brevity. If you see a good piece you think people could learn from post it in the comments.


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