[Marxism] From the cultural front & folks from a different poitical trend.

Waistline2 at aol.com Waistline2 at aol.com
Mon Apr 19 07:26:20 MDT 2004


> > FROM: The New Yorker April 19 & 26, 2004
> > April 14, 2004
> >
> > THE RADICAL
> > by BEN McGRATH
> > Why do editors keep throwing "The Boondocks" off the
> funnies page?
> > Issue of 2004-04-19 and 26
> > Posted 2004-04-12
> >

________________
Marsha wrote:

This was really an awesome, riveting piece to me, I thank
Kevin for sending it; I read it all at one time. Some of
you might remember that I was impressed and amazed last
year at Magruder’s sheer nerve in his speaking out against
Bush at the Image Awards ceremony last year - right “in the
face” of Condi Rice - just like the article says.

The writer appears to look favorably upon this young man’s
outlook, talent and courage, and seems to accurately depict
his troubles and less than admirable traits. So I’ll accept
that the writer is open minded regarding this young man and
I’ll trust his accounting. Yet I have mixed feelings about
this article, or rather about Magruder himself.  

At first what I felt while reading this article was déjà
vu, for I too have been on a stage in front of the 30 years
ago equivalent of the same New York left/liberal
intelligentsia that Magruder faced. There were doubtless 
many of same faces gazing at me then, as the next black,
radical “new thing” at the American Writer’s Congress in
NY, the same players at the helm (though clearly as
reported in this article the upper echelons of the Nation's
guest list has gotten even more wealthier and
"mainstream").

Hamilton Fish and (the now late) Victor Navatsky were
virtually salivating, so besotted were they - I was an
unknown from Detroit’s radical union movement and an
unexpected burst of fire on the conference floors packed
with hundreds of writers from the “progressive community”
(and I engaged in ceaseless flirtation which was hard to
resist too then, I suppose).   

I remember similarly frontin’ off an audience in their
presence, in the 30 years ago version of what the article
said Magruder did, and watch as they writhed in the dashing
of their do-gooder comfort and patrony, and I’ve
experienced various permutations of such scenarios over the
years.

But reading the piece on Magruder was not really pleasant,
for I was cast into the net of those old memories. I grew
up in the time of at best, showing respect to good white
liberals for their role in everything from the freedom
rides to the anti-war movement, and at worst using them up
for their money, flowing booze and whatever needs for the
movement that their social privilege might be able to meet
or their influence allow. 

We weren't as bad as Panthers, who sort of specialized in
the vicious excoriation of white liberals while sleeping
with their women in a sado-masochistic relationship the
particulars of which can astound to this day.  

We came to learn the hard way how sometimes, in their
equivocations, they could be used against the movement and 
Mao Tse Tung's "Combat Liberalism" came to be the basic
text of our position. But my words of disdain for the
liberal's and their sometimes willing whoredom at the bed
of the movement would have at least been sweetened with
enough ingratiation to take the edge off; I never desired
to be vicious or unkind or to disrespect their "good
intentions". 

We understood the profound isolation of great segments of
the movement, and the need for the liberals as some kind of
buffer from what could be – especially in the South and
even in the Detroit plants – outright fascist terror and
violence. 

Magruder's expression of contempt for the audience to which
he spoke indicates a change in outlook, in the same vein as
the much criticized sentiments in the movie Barbershop -
and the refusal of the “younger generation” to treat icons
like Rosa Parks as sacrosanct. This represents not just
some shedding of good manners (though it is that too) but
is an expression of the shift of the aims of the movement
from the struggle for integration and equal entrance into
an expanding economy, to many of today’s social and
economic issues that are unsolvable without a fundamental
clash with capital. 

Liberalism is simply not equipped to fellow-travel with
today’s working class that is being hurled into such
conflict with a contracting economy; many of today's
budding leaders are not articulate, glamorous radicals but
are often of the lowest strata of today’s working class -
often uneducated, “unemployable” and disconnected from much
of mainstream social order and proprieties. 

It is an upheaval of liberalism’s often sycophantic
romanticism to accept that there are intellectuals, like
Magruder, Sedrick and others, who are expressing certain
outlooks of this strata and its refusal - or even complete
inability - to embrace the totems of the old liberals and
leaders. Those who would attempt to steer the ship of the
lowest section of today’s working class lack the
inclination to tolerate the ritual white liberal glomming –
for there can be no such barnacles on a vessel riding the
rough sea of class today’s conflict.

Magruder’s antagonism as described in this article strikes
me as expressing this impulse, but I believe it is also
coming from another place. A place of loneliness,
exhaustion, the arrogance of youth and morphing of personal
pain into social anger and back again. A place where his
capacity to see the truth is so large that it cannot be
contained within the confines of his work, where his
intelligence is so great it weighs like a anchor on his
ability to express it and survive, where his refusal to
accept the mantle of “leader” expresses the absurdity of a
vacuum of leadership so great as to accept a cartoonist as
a presidential candidate. 

Magruder’s courage feels to me like a mixture of his
intense intellect, anger and the profound anguish that Rick
has spoken of here. But I read between the lines of this
article and detect that his “honesty” displayed at the
Nation dinner is actually a sign of his unraveling, and it
reminds me of so many who are applauded for an
“outspokenness” that can be a sign of a human being falling
apart at the seams. 

There have been many plenty of breakdowns egged on in the
name trumpeting one’s “courage”; the energy from the
torment of seemingly strong individuals used to drive any
number of causes and agenda’s. The sometimes chemically
induced rage and often addled pronouncements of folks from
Huey Newton to Flavor Flav are elevated to the level of
revolutionary fervor without question, before the reality
of their underlying addictions are inevitably revealed,
subjecting them to pity and scorn.  

Even the author perceives a polarity in Magruder’s
existence - the cartoonist's uncompromising radicalism on
social questions, yet his old-fashioned values in many
matters of  “life-style” and morality. I am reminded of one
of Nelson’s old axiom’s that went something like, “never
confuse the militancy of the Negro people with an
abandonment of their essential conservatism”. Even this
internal conflict can be cause for great distress when
played out in a public forum.

I suspect that both his audacity and frustration may be
fueled from the same source of pain, the excess of which
causes him to break at times; while reading the article I
had the feeling of watching a train wreck in progress, a
repeat of the one that I am grateful I survived. I hope
Magruder finds his way to speak his truth and not
ultimately self-destruct, for as we’ve recently talked
about, not every black person – even the best and brightest
- survives. 


pbMarsha




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