Although I realize that this will sound peculiar, it nonetheless needs to be said. The relative non-response to the Republican Party’s “tax reform” efforts proves once again that significant sections of the Left, particularly within Black America, have abandoned, are afraid, or unaware of prominent class issues in this nation. I must say that their dereliction of duty by what can be termed a traditional Leftist coalition has occurred at a particularly inopportune moment.
There is little room to debate that the Left has allowed their traditional narrative regarding economic inequities to be hijacked by an illogical Republic Party argument that reminds one of late 19th Century populism. This strange narrative has caused many poor and working-class Americans to believe that the wealthy are interested in either economic equality or fiscal fairness. Oh, how I long for a return of the identity politic driven sixties radicalism, a period filled with diverse groups expressing a righteous indignation at economic disparities.
In many ways, it is shocking that monetary matters that have historically possessed the ability to mobilize poor and working-class American workers have been trumped in the new millennium by the haunting specter of Race. I must relate that it has been interesting to see the manner in which poor and working-class Americans have developed a belief in the false narrative that it is other poor and working-class people of differing races/ethnicities who sit at the core of their economic hardships.
One needs to look no further than the obvious racial animosity existing among Leftists at this present moment for verification of the previous assertions. In many ways, it is impossible to believe that today’s progressives are the grandchildren of sixties radicals who resisted the divisive nature of Race. Although issues of Race have always factored into the actions of American workers, however, it was relatively rare to witness the rise of political postures that amounted to poor and working-class whites adopting a political stance that amounts to their “cutting off their nose to spite their face.” There is really no other way of explaining Trump’s ability to capture huge swaths of white voters with hollow words filled with no real intention than to attribute it to a white populace whose economic problems have birthed a familiar weariness with matters of race and diversity.
With the benefit of hindsight, it is obvious that Trump’s ascension was bolstered by the intra-movement racial conflict that was occurring between black and white Leftists. Despite what black progressives would prefer to believe, the truth of the matter is that whites are not the only entity in this coalition that abandoned prior productive political positions such as inter-racial cooperation as a significant segment of Black America also retreated from traditional Leftist relationships in favor of a new political perspective that was best expressed in their opposition to whites, regardless of their political leanings/affiliation.
In place of the aforementioned stance of inter-racial cooperation has arisen a myopic and heavily flawed formula that advocates for Black America to turn inward and work toward the creation of a parallel society that could exist and operate without the of whites. Such a political development has rendered traditional black political positions of inter-racial cooperation and coalitions a political relic of yesteryear. Sadly, the mutually beneficial inter-racial alliances that groups such as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and the Peace and Freedom Party forged during a highly volatile and racially charged sixties protest era in a concerted attempt to activate the slogan of “All Power to the People” has long ago been forgotten my a new generation of young black leaders whose only political priority never strays from an overemphasis on Race and racial matters.
Unfortunately for poor and working-class Americans, the alluded to spirit of inter-racial cooperation that has historically proven to be their most reliable weapon against a greedy and avaricious wealthy class has been replaced by a terse xenophobia that mandates that today’s Leftists view each other skeptically, if not with a venomous hostility. Consider for a moment that while Conservatives make significant in-roads to this nation’s coffers, many black activist groups have seen sophisticated political positions devolve into a singular focus of opposing “whitey” at every turn, regardless of the issue or situation. It is this pedestrian understanding of American political matters that have facilitated the disruption of inter-racial cooperation among Leftists that the Right gleefully exploits.
What an unfortunate moment this is to be on the Left, particularly when one realizes that the historical record indicates that the most assured path forward is the development of productive mutually beneficial alliances among a highly diverse population of progressives.
There is no clearer illustration of the present spirit of non-cooperation among black activists than a recent “New Black Panther Party” meeting I attended. One of the initial things I noticed as I entered was that there was not a single white present. Although the absence of white radicals is partially attributable to their shifting political priorities, I am certain that the main reason for their absence was the bitter hatred spewed by groups such as the New Black Panther Party. As expected, the tone and tenor of the speeches conveyed an unmistakable perspective that whites were neither welcome nor needed in Black America’s pursuit of racial equality. The historical record that contradicts such a position matters little to these types of revolutionaries.
I intently listened as these neo-Panthers dressed in paramilitary gear ranted against all things white and supported all things black. I am convinced that in their rush to don paramilitary uniforms and posture with guns that they missed fundamental Panther historical lessons that made the Black Panther Party what it was. I am convinced that their lack of knowledge would sadden Huey P. Newton, Fred Hampton, Elaine Brown, Kathleen Cleaver, Bobby Seale, and Eldridge Cleaver.
After exiting this meeting of the people, I could not shake a gnawing feeling that maybe every segment of the Left is woefully ignorant of the inter-racial coalition building that preceded them. Obviously, the alluded to historical illiteracy curtails contemporary strategies and strengthens their better-versed opponents.
I seriously doubt that this latest reiteration of the Black Panther Party is aware of the original Panthers working relationship with white radical groups such as the Students for a Democratic Society or the Weathermen for what Huey P. Newton considered mutually-beneficial reasons. Unfortunately, the alluded to ignorance regarding the utility of coalitions and alliances with like-minded groups fighting the same enemy compromises the achievement of reachable goals. One is ultimately left with an unfortunate query of are the various groups found on the Left even fighting for the same goals? It is sad that such a question has to be asked, and even more disappointing that I cannot offer a definitive answer to the most mundane of all queries.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017