Greed Is Tolerant
By Bryan Caplan
Kelly Miller was the first black admitted to Johns Hopkins. He became a professor of mathematics at Howard in 1890. In 1895, he introduced sociology to the curriculum and became a sociology professor. One of his essays, “The Negro and Capitalism,” (1924) appears in Race and Liberty in America. It’s very good. Highlights:
If the capitalist shows race prejudice in his operation, it is merely the reflected attitude of the white workman. The colored man who applies at the office for skilled employment meets with one unvarying response from the employer: “I have no objection, but all of my white workmen will quit if I assign you a place among them.”
[T]he capitalistic element at present possesses the culture and moral restraint in dealing with the Negro which the white workman misses. There is nothing in the white working class to which the Negro can appeal. They are the ones who lynch, and burn and torture him. He looks to the upper elements for respect of law and order and the appeal to conscience.
[T]he laborers outnumber the capitalists more than ten to one, and under spur of the democratic ideal must in the long run gain the essential ends for which they strive. White labor in the South has already asserted its political power. Will it not also shortly assert its dominance in the North and West, and indeed, in the nation? If the colored race aligns itself with capital, and refuses to help win the common battle of labor, how will it fare with him in the hour of triumph?
The key factor Miller failed to anticipate: Elite tolerance trickled down to the masses quickly enough to outweigh the rise of populism.