[Marxism] How Netflix And "Manning Marable" Killed Malcolm X (The Third Time) - CounterPunch.org
rfidler at ncf.ca
Sat Feb 29 08:59:31 MST 2020
You tempt me to engage with the rest of that paragraph on George Breitman, in which you contrast to him what you call “the Marxist-Leninist view,” its main protagonist in your view being none other than... “Joseph Stalin.” Tell that to the dozens of oppressed nations and nationalities in Stalin’s USSR, from the Ukrainians to the Tatars.
But that’s like shooting fish in a barrel, so I won’t bother to go there. Rest content with the "imperfect" Amiri Baraka (how patronizing!) and your own professed perfection.
From: Marxism [mailto:marxism-bounces at lists.csbs.utah.edu] On Behalf Of Andrew Stewart via Marxism
Sent: Saturday, February 29, 2020 10:22 AM
To: rfidler at ncf.ca
Subject: Re: [Marxism] How Netflix And "Manning Marable" Killed Malcolm X (The Third Time) - CounterPunch.org
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How strikingly ironic that in the final lines of your rebuttal you end up reinforcing my argument:
“Malcolm did not complete this synthesis before he was
assassinated. It remains for others to complete what he began."
A) That anyone can look at the program that El-Shabazz was articulating at the time of his death and say it was somehow lacking is demonstrable of both paternalistic condescension and absolute cluelessness about the matter at hand. The Organization of Afro-American Unity was building a revolutionary internationalist bloc of power that accomplished far more than the tin-pot American Trots ever did. El-Shabazz was constructing multinational power across the Global South. His revolutionary education in prison was thoroughly soaked in Marxian thought, including Fanon and Du Bois. Plain and simple, the white American Left had more to learn from El-Shabazz than they had to teach him. His synthesis had been completed in prison and it was instead a matter of his rhetorical strategy evolving over the course of his ministerial career in order to better suit the nuances of his circumstances. The claim that he evolved or changed is complete garbage. It is interesting that you don’t include the lines from Kamau Franklin, author of the Breitman critique (perhaps you fear engagement with the substance of his points?), but oh well...
B) The multicultural religious Left has always accomplished more than the secular Left cults. Du Bois elaborated on this in THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK in the chapter about the Sorrow Songs. Martin Luther King Jr and El-Shabazz built power while the CPUSA and the Socialists and the Trotskyists didn’t. If you go back to the Debs era, the socialist periodical with highest subscription rate was a religious socialist one that crossed ethnic lines.
Amiri Baraka, imperfect in a few areas, hit the nail on the head here in his analysis of the Marable book:
You obviously have more to learn from Malcolm X than he would from you or Breitman.
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Andrew Stewart writes:
"[George] Breitman's Eurocentric Trotskyism articulates the claim that Black
nationalism is an ideological delusion that diverts from the revolutionary
cause. This is contrary to the Marxist-Leninist view, one embraced by Cuba and
China during the years El-Shabazz sought to build the bloc supporting the UN
petition, that the national liberation struggles are themselves revolutionary."
This is an outrageous misrepresentation. Anyone who has read George Breitman or
who knew him personally (as I did) would consider the view attributed to him by
Stewart to be beyond reason or belief. Breitman was one of the most far-sighted
Marxist sympathizers of Black nationalism in the United States. He probably did
more than anyone else to publicize Malcolm's revolutionary legacy (the real
legacy ignored by the Netflix series). Consider just this one brief excerpt from
his extensive writings spanning several decades. It is from "In Defense of Black
Power," (October 1966), available with many other works in the Breitman Archive
"Organizationally, the Black Power tendency is only in the early stages of its
development; the various groups and individuals who have raised the Black Power
banner have not yet defined their relations to each other or united into a
single movement or federation. But numerically it is already considerably
stronger than the organized adherents of Malcolm's movement. The Student
Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Congress of Racial Equality
(CORE), groups in the new tendency, are national organizations, with thousands
of members or sympathizers. They have an experienced cadre of dedicated leaders
and activists, hardened in battle along many fronts and equipped with a variety
of skills. They represent the best of the new generation of young freedom
fighters who appeared on the scene around 1960, with a consistently more
militant outlook than that of previous generations and an enviable ability to
learn from experience and grow.
"Ideologically and politically, the Black Power tendency is also still in the
process of crystallization. But its direction-to the left-is unmistakably
indicated by the way it has broken away from several of the premises and
shibboleths of the old "civil rights" consensus. Internationalist and
anti-imperialist, it expresses solidarity with the worldwide struggle against
colonialism and neo-colonialism, condemns the US war in Vietnam and rejects the
contention that the freedom movement "should not mix civil rights and foreign
policy." It spurns the straitjacket of "non-violence" and proclaims the right of
self-defense. It challenges the fraudulent claim that freedom can be won through
the passage of a series of civil-rights laws that are largely un-enforced and
benefit mainly middle-class Negroes.
"Some of its adherents still believe in working inside the Democratic Party, but
others advocate a complete break with the Democrats and Republicans and the
establishment of independent black or black-led parties - not only in Lowndes
County, Ala., but in the Northern ghettos. Some accept capitalism; others are
talking rather vaguely about a cooperative based economy for the black community
that they think would be neither capitalist nor socialist; and there is also
evidently a pro-socialist grouping, as was shown when delegates at a Black Power
planning conference in Washington Sept. 3 posed the need to "determine which is
more politically feasible for the advancement of black power, capitalism or
Unfortunately, the book cited by Stewart (The Last Year of Malcolm X: The
Evolution of a Revolutionary) is not on-line, although it can be purchased from
several sources. But anyone with a copy can see countless statements in it that
refute Stewart's libellous allegation. In particular, I recommend what Breitman
writes on pp. 55-56 and 66-69. As he states in the final paragraph of those
"[Malcolm's] uncertainty about the name to call himself arose from the fact that
he was doing something new in the United States -- he was on the way to a
synthesis of black nationalism and socialism that would be fitting for the
American scene and acceptable to the masses in the black ghetto. (An example of
the tendency of revolutionary nationalism to grow over into and become merged
with socialism can be seen in Cuba, where Castro and his movement began as
nationalist.) Malcolm did not complete this synthesis before he was
assassinated. It remains for others to complete what he began."
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