MMMarch

Stu Shafer sshafer at ix.netcom.com
Wed Oct 25 06:33:35 MDT 1995


I know the discussion of MMM is dying down by now, but it took me some time
to get permission from Rosenthal to forward this analysis to the marxism
list. Some of you who are on the PSN list have already read it, but I think
the analysis adds a concrete dimension to some of the stuff that has been
thrown about in the discussion here for the last couple of weeks. It also
ends with some points about fascism that are relevant to the emerging focus
of the ongoing discussion and upcoming cyberseminar. As for the latter, I
would love to participate more actively but will probably mainly lurk due to
other pressing matters.
-Stu Shafer

>Return-Path: <owner-psn at csf.colorado.edu>
>Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 21:57:47 -0400 (EDT)
>Reply-To: MDR at borg.evms.edu
>Sender: owner-psn at csf.colorado.edu
>From: Steve Rosenthal <MDR at borg.evms.edu>
>To: PROGRESSIVE SOCIOLOGISTS NETWORK <psn at csf.colorado.edu>
>Subject: MMMarch
>X-To: PSN at CSF.COLORADO.EDU, ABSLST-L at CMUVM.CSV.CMICH.EDU
>X-Listprocessor-Version: 7.1 -- ListProcessor by CREN
>
>   Mort sent me a short note expressing surprise that I have not 
>posted any comments about the Million Man March.  This is the first 
>time on PSN that I have received a special invitation to voice my 
>opinions.  It is an occasion I shall cherish.  Thanks, Mort.
>   Actually, I have been so busy discussing the nature and politics of 
>the march with my students and colleagues at Hampton University 
>that I have had relatively little time for anything else.  I have been 
>meaning to post some comments for days.
>   Hundreds of students from Hampton went up to DC for the March.  
>On the day of the march I participated in a panel discussion about the 
>march and then watched the speeches with several hundred students 
>in our student union.  One white faculty member among a group of 
>500 black students--it was a fascinating experience!
>   My students know that I opposed the march and its politics.  We 
>had discussion about the march for about two weeks prior to the 
>march.  I have enough of a reputation as an anti-racist activist that 
>most students took me seriously and discussed and debated the 
>nature and politics of the march with me in a generally respectful and 
>serious manner.
>   Virtually all white criticism of the march has come from racists, 
>which makes it difficult for black students to see any criticism from a 
>white person as coming from an anti-racist political perspective.  It is 
>easy to talk to white people about what was wrong with the march.  
>Many of my white colleagues either opposed or were indifferent to the 
>march, while many of my black male colleagues attended the march, 
>and most black female colleagues supported the march, even the 
>feminists among them.  (The Hampton faculty of 300 is about half 
>black, one-fourth white, and one-fourth international.)
>   I opposed the March for the following reasons: (1) The march 
>blamed the victim, emphasizing black male responsibility for what the 
>U.S. ruling class has done to black workers.  Capitalists have 
>destroyed or relocated the jobs of black workers, worked with 
>international drug cartels to import drugs into black communities, and 
>promoted the self-destructive cultural attitudes that reinforce the 
>problems of inner city blacks.  (2) The march made no demands on 
>the government and the ruling class, instead calling for black men to 
>atone for their lack of responsibility.  (3) The march reinforced 
>sexism, both by calling upon black women to stay home, and by 
>urging black men to resume their "role" as breadwinner and protector. 
>(4) The march promoted black capitalism and therefore served not the 
>interests of the black working class majority but the interests of the 
>small black bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie--and, of course, the 
>interests of the white bourgeoisie.  (5) The march contributed to the 
>ruling class strategy of dividing the working class by "race" and sex.
>   I worked at trying to get these points across to students and 
>colleagues whenever I had the opportunity, but, as you might 
>assume, it was usually an up-hill struggle.  I learned how to lose or 
>defer arguments, because there was no point in fighting to the death 
>with very decent people whose support for the march does not mean 
>that they are anti-white, anti-Semitic, or uncritical supporters of the 
>Nation of Islam.  The vast majority of black students and faculty who 
>supported and/or attended the march are progressive people who 
>hate racism and are willing to work with anti-racist whites on a 
>friendly basis.
>   In carrying on these discussions, I found myself drawing upon 
>Stephen Steinberg's recent work, Turning Back.  Steinberg showed 
>me that William J. Wilson and Cornell West, in their shifting of blame 
>from a racist system onto "nihilistic" "underclass" blacks, are 
>essentially reproducing the Moynihan Report "in blackface."  To take 
>this a step further, Louis Farrakhan has to a great extent picked up 
>the Moynihan report and organized a rally to celebrate its central 
>racist allegations about the irresponsibility of black men brought up in 
>"matriarchal" families.
>   Having reached this insight, I then began rereading Yancey and 
>Rainwater's  (YR) The Moynihan Report and the Politics of 
>Controversy, and I came upon the SMOKING GUN!  On pp. 264-265 
>YR wrote:
>   "Somewhat surprisingly, a defender of Moynihan turned up at the 
>black nationalist extreme of the Negro movement.  Daniel Watts 
>editorialized in the December (1965) Liberator, the publication of 
>adherents to Malcolm X, that Moynihan was the only participant in the 
> planning conference (for the White House conference on the Negro 
>Family) who had a possible blueprint for action."
>   The Liberator wrote:  "The one man at the conference possessing a 
>possible blueprint for meaningful change was Daniel P. 
>Moynihan...Needless to say, Mr. Moynihan was avoided like a 
>plague.  Any recommendations that threatened the uncle tom's vested 
>interest in maintaining the status quo was treated as something alien, 
>in fact not part of the game of hustling the man for more guilt money."
>   In other words, while all sections of the Civil Rights Movement 
>correctly regarded the Moynihan Report as signaling a shift away 
>from a Federal commitment to reform, the Nation of Islam supported 
>Moynihan's effort to curtail Federal programs and redirect the focus 
>onto "pathological" Negroes.
>   Actually, the Nation of Islam was only returning a favor to 
>Moynihan.  In the Moynihan Report itself, YR point out on p. 268, 
>Moynihan wrote:  "The only religious movement that appears to have 
>enlisted a considerable number of lower class Negro males in 
>northern cities of late is that of the Black Muslims..."
>   Louis Farrakhan is thus resuming the reactionary religious 
>fundamentalist role his predecessors played in the mid-1960's, 
>helping the ruling class shift the blame for the consequences of 
>capitalist super-exploitation of black workers from the capitalist class 
>onto black workers themselves.
>   (Note:  This is not to say that the Muslims and MalcolmX did not 
>make a number of valid criticisms of the reformism and other 
>opportunist political weaknesses of 1960's Civil Rights leaders.  But 
>they made those criticisms while putting forward an even more 
>reactionary alternative.)
>   It is one thing to write or state these arguments.  It is quite another 
>to convince black people that, therefore, Farrakhan has organized a 
>rally around a political line that reinforces white anti-black racism.
>   It became even harder to do this after the march and the speeches.  
>The spirit of the march and the generally anti-racist character of the 
>speeches provided very effective cover for the underlying political 
>objectives of the march leadership.
>   I watched the entire afternoon of speeches, including all of 
>Farrakhan's two and one-half hour speech.  Farrakhan primarily made 
>a liberal anti-racist speech, arguing that the root of America's 
>sickness is white supremacy, that white supremacy is bad for 
>everyone, including whites, and that it must be uprooted in order to 
>reunite America.  Farrakhan did not attack whites, Jews, or women, 
>and he was very ecumenical in his references to religions, ethnic 
>groups, and previous anti-racist leaders.  He even acknowledged the 
>role of the Nation of Islam in the murder of Malcolm X.
>   It was not easy to discern the underlying politically reactionary 
>character of Farrakhan's speech, but it was there.  First, there was his 
>religious justification of centuries of black suffering as a process of 
>purifying and uplifting the souls of black people.  (Some Jewish 
>rabbis accorded a similar uplifting role to Jew's experience with 
>genocide.)  Second, Farrakhan certainly reaffirmed his call for black 
>capitalism, and for a capitalism in which capitalists of all racial 
>backgrounds have the opportunity to own banks, factories, and 
>stores.  Farrakhan held up Japan and other Asian countries as the 
>proper response to white supremacy.  Finally, of course, Farrakhan 
>never mentioned the word capitalism and the need to overthrow it.
>   The reason Farrakhan attacks Jewish and other "bloodsuckers" is 
>so that he need not attack the real capitalist bloodsuckers.  I pointed 
>out to my students that Farrakhan likes to attack the small Jewish or 
>Korean store in the neighborhood, but he has never attacked the 
>Wal-Marts which close down hundreds of small stores every time 
>they open up a new mega-bloodsucker.
>  I have come to a general conclusion about fascism.  It is hardest for 
>people to recognize the nature of "their own" fascists.  Most Jews 
>readily recognize Farrakhan's fascist characteristics, but most Jews 
>cannot recognize the fascist character of Israeli state policy toward 
>Palestinians.  Blacks easily recognize Jewish and white fascists, but 
>find it genuinely difficult to see the similarities between the Nation of 
>Islam and white religious fundamentalism.  Serbians and Croatians 
>see each others fascists but often not their own.  This should be no 
>surprise.  Fascism comes in many disguises.  It is always 
>packaged to attempt to fool the workers of the particular nationality or 
>racial or ethnic group to whom they are appealing.
>   Some recent postings have remarked on some of the similarities 
>between white and black fascists and wondered if this is purely 
>coincidental.  It is not.  Fascism is like a rotten sewer, with a 
>collection of disgusting ingredients, especially, racism, sexism, 
>nationalism, religious fundamentalism, and anti-communism.  Each 
>aspiring fascist  misleader or organization dips into this sewer and 
>extracts a particular combination of ingredients to peddle, and the 
>similarities derive from the existence of a common source.  White 
>fascists such as the Christian Identity Aryans proclaim that white 
>protestants are the true Israelites.  Black Afrocentric religious posters 
>at my school proclaim that African Americans are the true Israelites.  
>According to facsists, your nationality or race is always the "chosen 
>people."
>   White and black fascists sometimes intrigue together, although they 
>have to be careful and not entirely blow their cover.  Black fascist 
>Tony Martin in Race First devotes entire chapters to Marcus Garvey's 
> collusion with the KKK and Garvey's relatively favorable attitude 
>toward Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.  Martin depicts all this 
>shamelessly, because he sees nothing wrong with it!
>  The growing variety of fascist "conspiracy" literature that discusses 
>the "Illuminati," the Freemasons, etc., comes in both white- and black- 
>oriented versions and presents the same anti-working class 
>fantasies.  Michael Novick's White Power, White Lies, from Common 
>Courage Press has a useful chapter on this "New World Order" 
>literature and linkages among white and black fascists.
>   Please excuse the length of this posting.  I am catching up on 
>things I wanted to write for the past two weeks.
>   Steve Rosenthal, Hampton University
>
>



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