Economics Magazine

The People’s Grant: Black History, Slavery, Poverty, Prisons, and Social Welfare

Posted on the 23 February 2012 by Andrewgavinmarshall @A_G_Marshall

The new People’s Grant: February 23, 2012

Target Amount: $1,600

Amount Raised: $0.00

Objective: Completion of two chapters

Chapters: These two chapters, with a combined Grant of $1,600, will cover a historical analysis of the social construction of ‘race’, with the advent of the slave trade, plantation systems, and implementing racism as a concept of social control and domination; included is a history of poverty in the modern era, with the advent of social welfare programs implemented by states as a method of social control to protect against rebellion and revolution from below, but also to maintain low living standards of those in poverty in order to make permanent a dependent labor force; the abolition of slavery in the United States, leading to the Reconstruction period, and subsequently, the North-South ‘compact’ that followed which implemented a new form of slavery through criminalization, the prison system, and its use of prison labour; the relationship between poverty, labour, and race; the role of major foundations in managing the black population of the United States and elsewhere (establishing their educational systems, social welfare provisions, etc.); the poverty, resistance, and unrest which grew out of the Great Depression, and the subsequent social welfare programs implemented for the purpose of social control, as well as their implications for race relations at the time; the development of ghettos in the United States, the role of foundations and states in this process, in order to manage the migration of black Americans from the south to urban areas; the origins and development of the Civil Rights movement, its revolutionary potential and the role of foundations in preventing that potential from being reached; welfare, social services, and other state programs designed to manage the ‘poor’ and especially the black population of the United States; the “War on Poverty” (as a “War on the Poor”); the “crisis of democracy” that emerged in the 1970s as a result of what the Trilateral Commission called an “excess of democracy”, and the innovative methods of managing this: expansion of the prison system, Drug War legal discrimination against black Americans, increased prison labour, student debt, poverty management; and global implications of the race-poverty dichotomy: expansion of poverty in the ‘Third World’, effects of poverty, racial discrimination, origins and development of slums (global ghettos), etc.


It’s a huge task, and the goal of two chapters may be under-estimating the result, but it at least will encourage a more focused approach. Luckily, the great majority of the sources for this research have already been compiled, and some research has been completed. These are important chapters, however, and no history of the modern era, or the ideas and institutions of power that defined it, would be complete without a proper assessment of the modern history of race and poverty and their relationship with concepts of social control, domination, and revolution.

The current People’s Grant has run out of funds, and while the work for the grant is yet to be completed, progress has been substantial, and the work WILL be finished before pushing ahead on these future chapters related to race and poverty.

The current Grant has gone toward the financing of four separate chapters on the post-World War II history of the American Empire in Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East, East and Southeast Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. The chapter on Latin America is finished, at roughly 50 pages single spaced; the chapter on the Middle East and North Africa is near completion, and already at 79 pages single spaced (97 including footnotes); and portions of the other two chapters have been written, while the substantial research has been done for both, allowing for a smooth process toward completion of those two chapters, which WILL be achieved before moving forward on the new People’s Grant.

The purpose of beginning the fundraising for the new Grant is as follows: to allow for enough time to raise the amount set in the fundraising goal, to allow for a smooth transition form completion of the present chapters into the next Grant chapters without losing needed time during a break for fundraising, and due to the lessons learned from the first Grant, money has, unfortunately, become a major issue of concern.

There were two major problems with the first People’s Grant:

(1) The objective of work to be completed was set too high: I set the goal for four separate chapters, all of which have been worked on, two of which are essentially finished, and already the cumulative written pages equal over 150 pages single-spaced since the Grant began in January. The goal for work completion, then, needs to be more realistic given time and financial restraints, as when the four chapters are completed, they will alone equal the equivalent of a short book, which is a great deal to write in a short amount of time and with limited funds, which brings me to the second major problem of the first Grant;

(2) The target fundraising goal was set too low: for the amount of work which was needed to write four chapters, the time it would take, and considering the scope and length of the objectives, the target goal of $800 was unrealistic in being able to finance to completion and live off of during the time spent writing and researching the chapters. However, considering the $800 was able to roughly finance two chapters with relative ease, that will be the set target for the current chapter Grants.

My main problems with the first test Grant was that the work load was too high and the funding goal too low, which, naturally, led to problems with time, objectives, and finances. Thus, lesson learned. It was, after all, the first People’s Grant and was stated as a test for future grants, so now I have a better knowledge of my abilities versus goals and financial considerations. Essentially, I need to be more realistic in setting targets and goals.

Thank you very much for your continued support, this Project would not be possible without you!


Andrew Gavin Marshall



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