Million Man March

Tom Condit tomcondit at igc.apc.org
Fri Oct 20 16:04:49 MDT 1995


I agree with most of what Ralph and Rakesh have written about the
Million Man March, but I can't agree with Ralph's assessment that
the march was in any sense a "historic defeat" for the left. It
was, rather, an expression of the defeats which have already
taken place. A march of this type could never have taken place
had the left, the civil rights movement or the labor movement had
one-half the strength and vitality they had twenty years ago.

I listened to only part of the speeches at the march.  Farrakhan
lost me for a while when he went off on the fact that George
Washington was a Freemason, thus establishing himself as firmly
planted in the great interracial North American tradition of
total looniness. Then he got back with a very good analysis of
the racist character of the discussion in the Continental
Congress about the design of the Great Seal of the United States,
then went off on some other strange tangent, ...

Of course, we had other speakers as well.  Perhaps Carl Davidson
can give us a good word for the execrable demagogue and anti-
semite Gus Savage, thankfully removed from the United States
Congress by the voters of his Chicago district.  Don't ask me why
he was there, ask Farrakhan.

But perhaps the utter bankruptcy of the march itself was
represented by its "left" face, Jesse Jackson.  Jackson had a
three point program: register to vote, pay attention to your
child's education, and turn off the television three hours a day.
All very good advice. Someone told me that he also  put in a good
word for "enterprise zones". I didn't hear it, but I was out of
the car getting a pizza at the end of the speech.  Maybe it was
someone else.

Why did 400,000, or 500,000, or one million or however many
people attend this contentless event? *Precisely because it
**was** contentless.* Millions of Americans, Black and white,
know that there is something profoundly wrong with this country,
and Blacks know it far more acutely because the wrong is visited
upon them on a regular basis.  But they don't know what to do
about it, they have few collective institutions through which to
act, and they mistrust "big ideas".  In this situation, the banal
has an enormous attraction--it can make you feel part of
something big, yet without making any real demands for
transformation other than ones you've heard all your life: be
polite, comb your hair, brush your teeth, work hard, stand up
straight.

In the past twenty years, the conditions of life and work of the
majority of (U.S.) Americans have gone steadily downhill. Unions
have been broken in industry after industry; transit systems
slowly fall apart except for the grandiose rail projects linking
affluent suburbs with financial districts; schools, roads,
bridges, you name it, are near collapse, and people with them.

What passes for a left in the United States has responded by
grovelling before the Democratic Party in a futile hope to revive
their fantasy of the "New Deal alliance", as have the mainstream
labor, environmental and women's organizations.  There is, quite
simply, no organized independent force of any significance to the
left of the utterly bankrupt establishment politics in this
country.

So we have Ross Perot, Colin Powell, the Natural Law Party (which
will undoubtedly qualify for the California ballot) and all the
other "agents of change" who offer no real change whatsoever. 
Louis Farrakhan is merely the ghetto expression of this
purposeless demagoguery, and the support of the MMM by leftists
is merely another expression of the moral and political
bankruptcy which leads them to support the Democrats.  The
hundreds of thousands who went to the march went there because
they had nowhere else to go, and they've come home still having
nowhere to go.

What is even more discouraging is to see how many on the left
also clearly have nowhere to go, nor any notion of how to find
one.

Tom


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