Unmasking the Black Conservatives By Cornel West (click the link to read the article)
In reading the article penned by Dr Cornel West I felt as if I were listening to the various ideological debate adversaries that I interact with on a constant basis. Cornel West's words were an amalgamation of their talking points and mischaracterizations that they so frequently spout regarding the Black conservative. They do a better job constructing a Black Conservative out of the same material that is used to make a piñata and then tearing him down than they do in actually debating against one in the flesh - me.
I don't understand how this force (Black Conservatives) who they all say has been rejected by the Black Community can also be so frequently discussed (and attacked) in so many Black Progressive-Fundamentalist literary works. A force with so much power within our community should be documenting their success at retiring many of our grievances. Instead they are left to point to the portraits of the elected leaders who have brought the Black community joy and make the case that this is indicative of our racial success because their ideology now has more POLITICAL POWER.
I have the audacity to agree with them with the statement: "You indeed now control all of the key institutions within Black America. In as much as you have fused your power with the Democratic Party and the Progressive Movement there is enough ownership there in by which the Black community should substantively hold you accountable for our present condition and now begin to enumerate the measurable benefits that we have received. Acknowledge your complicity in our fate or chose a different course by which to have our permanent interests obtained and maintained."
In fact as I read the viewpoints in the article I am forced to reject Dr West's attempts at placing Black Progressives and Black Conservatives on an equal balance scale. He does this in his attempts at claiming that both have failed to address the problems in the Black community sufficiently - thus "spreading the blame" as an tacit peace offering for all sides to figure out a way forward that was wrapped in a snowball to the back of the Black Conservative's head.
I have previously pointed out that such tactics violate the truth about the INCUMBENCY of the Black Progressive over our key institutions. I cannot accept the "equal failure" of Black Conservative and Black Progressive. What we have is a blowout regarding their respective influence. Why can't Dr West and others more affirmatively link the notion that they are both accepted as the controlling order and most accountable for the ultimate outcomes as expressed by the people who have spent all of their lives influenced by the messages and cultural norms as managed by the presiding order? An 18 year old Black male, born in 1992 in the average big city in America has experienced life in an eco-system that forces which are favorable to Dr West has thoroughly controlled. Their tactic is to claim "power" against their "Black Conservative" critics yet feign inferiority against an amorphous threat that always seems to up-end their way forward, regardless of their control over these key institutions.
From the article I was impressed by Dr West's candidness in admitting the problems that are present WITHIN the Black community. It is rare for a Black Establishment figure to be so candid in his pronouncements of the problems that remain. Thus I credit him on his "vision". Unfortunately Dr West's own will to protect his resident ideological bias and his need to fend off the Black Conservative threat have rendered his analysis of the Black Conservative agenda impotent. Thus the entire treatises must be discarded because the scientist has been shown to have received payments from the forces that he seeks to protect.
The American Political Domain vs The Cultural Consciousness & Competence Domain At Play
Dr West fires off the key volley that many of his ideological soul mates figure can effectively sink a Black Conservative:
The overriding aim of the new black conservatives is to undermine the position of black liberals and replace them with black Republicans, who downplay governmental regulation and stress market mechanisms and success-oriented values in black communities.I could not help but to notice that throughout his work he refers to the forces that are in control of the Black Establishment as "Black liberals". Never does he make them out to be agents of the Democratic Party. As I engage in debate I am amazed at how certain people need to make me out to be a Republican - though I am not. They know as well as I do that if they can tar me as such "the game is over". All Black people can read between the lines in regards to the "Republican party". There is no need for further debate thereafter. Once a Black person is "Republicanized" there is no more need to debate this person that stands before you. He morphs into the form of "Ronald Reagan, Rush Limbaugh, Richard Nixon and George W. Bush". I find it strange that a Black Democrat never morphs into the form of the "Governments of Detroit, Newark, Baltimore or East St Louis" by the same measure.
These same people are alowed to be the most loyal "Black Democrat" around as they will never suffer the risk of being called a "Democratic Sellout". There has NEVER been a Black person who has been called too much of a "Democratic Loyalist" for the good of the Black community. There is NO SUCH POINT IN EXISTENCE per the line of thinking of the Black Political Establishment. Once again they benefit from the prevailing establishment bias that appears as the norm within our community.
It was important for Dr West to quickly jump into the "American Political Domain" - charging that the Black Conservatives in play at the time of this writing (1986) were loyal to the Reagan Administration's policies and functions as agents for their "White Conservative Republican Sponsors". The classical "sellouts" for money, if you will.
Once again - despite the abundance of financing from Democratic resources to "Get out the Black vote so it can vote for the Democrats", Dr West found it far more offensive that these Black Conservatives had corporations backing their think-tanks. No mention of how much corporate funding the NAACP or the NUL receive on an annual basis.
Even when Dr West does venture into the "Cultural Consciousness & Competence Domain" - and acknowledges the problems that are present - he quickly jumps back into the political domain which he is more comfortable with and assigns blame upon the legacy of racism and the Reagan policies which the Black Conservatives are echoing.
In Control Over The Turf Where We Live
Dr West blames certain forces for undercutting the interests of the Black community and the Black Establishment order that represents it. America's loss in preeminence economically and in its industrial base has undercut the interests of Black Americans who live in these centers of production.
Such skewed analysis affords Dr West the ability to argue: "while indeed the Progressive Establishment has gained more political power over these population centers - the changes in the international order has stifled the ability of the Progressives to maintain and grow prosperity". This expansion of the horizon allows him to escape from the responsibility that INCUMBENCY normally renders.
We should note that these words were written 25 years ago (1986). Today Dr West has a contemptuous view of global capitalism and Globalization. Thus his localized perspective of why the new progressive order was not able translate their political power into the pockets of the individuals living within is dutifully shifted from the backs of this leadership over to global conditions that they have no control over. This is the "boil the ocean" expansionism that is the trademark of progressivism. Instead of plotting out some turf and insuring that all that is transacted within is in line with their broader goals - they focus most of the external forces that rain down. Some are valid others are merely obfucationary. The progressive loves to paint the picture that they were "walking down the street, minding their own business, doing the right thing for all mankind". Then some external force came up behind them and bludgeoned them upon the head, thereby assaulting them for no good reason. Their expansionary efforts beyond their present boundaries becomes the pursuit of JUSTICE for this last assault. Thus their mission has been rechristened from the actual management of the land upon which they now stand but has failed to increase the yield.
Dr West's Article:
The impact of the economic recession on Afro-Americans was immense. Not surprisingly, it more deeply affected the black working poor and underclass than the expanding black middle class. Issues of sheer survival loomed large for the former, while the latter continued to seize opportunities in education, business and politics. Most middle-class blacks consistently supported the emergent black political class -- the black officials elected at the national, state and local levels -- primarily to ensure black upward social mobility. But a few began to feel uncomfortable about how their white middle-class peers viewed them. Mobility by means of affirmative action breeds tenuous self respect and questionable peer acceptance for many middle-class blacks. The new black conservatives voiced these feelings in the form of attacks on affirmative action programs (ignoring the fact that they had achieved their positions by means of such programs).
The importance of this quest for middle-class respectability based on merit rather than politics cannot be overestimated in the new black conservatism. The need of black conservatives to gain the respect of their white peers deeply shapes certain elements of their conservatism. In this regard, they simply want what most Americans want -- to be judged by the quality of their skills, not the color of their skin. But surprisingly, the black conservatives overlook the fact that affirmative action policies were political responses to the pervasive refusal of most white Americans to judge black Americans on that basis.
The above passage is importance because it provides cover for the drive for the best interests of Black America by West and other Black Progressives. Whereas he dismisses the importance of respect for one's equal competency from White people his currency is the focus upon Black people's equal "SOCIAL JUSTICE RIGHTS" as recognized by White People. This breaks down cleanly into the push and pull between "rights vs responsibility". (Responsibilities equating to the skills and competencies that one has to bring to the table).
In this piece Dr West all but admits that Black people are not able to make it in the employment market without "Affirmative Action" and jobs programs. He points out that in addition to pure skills there are issues of "familiarity" and "insider trading" which gives the leg up in employment to Whites. I agree that this is part of the problem.
Still Dr West makes a classical flawed analysis in his review of the fate of the large urban centers that were central in the struggle for labor and civil rights. The index upon the jobs and economic prosperity for the people living within is focused upon the CORPORATE JOBS that were once available and have now departed via the increase in global competition as Dr West has stated.
My primary criticism of anti-capitalist / Marxist forces is that they are never made to consider the "raw materials" that reside at their feet upon victory (human resources, raw materials, financial resources, etc) and made to reestablish such an order which employs these resources for the common good in a manner that closely approximates that which their adversaries did as they EXPLOITED these resources. Thus the dogma of West and others is permitted to be upon the "Permanent CHASE" for social justice. It needs to be a scrutiny in which co-equal economic theories are put to the test in regards to their ability to:
- Employ People
- A balance of Social Control vs Absolute Justice
- Educate People In Preparation To Service The Community
- Endure For The Next Generation
By allowing Dr West to enjoy "free range criticism" of the system that has vacated these cities while never expecting the forces that are now in control to DUPLICATE the productivity sans the "exploitation" - he and others effective utilize their escape hatch. They are never the "manager" but always the "enlightened critic" of how things should be done in the most enlightened manner.
In a recent post on this blog I made a strategic analysis about the payoff that could be obtained by focusing upon Black male unemployment. With Black college graduates being unemployed to the tune of 7.8% versus over 30% for those without a high school diploma the most glaring employment problems are related to educational attainment rather than the historical racism that Dr West points out. The prevailing sentiments within the Black community will not often have us thinking strategically by addressing the solutions that will provide the most "bang for the buck" and the most enduring solutions. Instead those strategies that afford the establishment the ability to "confront racial differences"; "fight on the fault lines between Black and White" or induce more government regulation while suppressing market advantage are more often favored. In their view the only "fundamentally corrective change" that impacts the distribution of societal resources comes from government control of that distribution. The thought that the Black worker could be empowered to offer something that is valued more by the market place and/or developing more places within our own domain by which these professions are practiced are not promoted as the only option forward. This is due to the lack of "cultural confidence" which places our fortunes into an "all or nothing" proposition.This means that if we fail to order our human resources into a directed order - we starve - because "we have done everything necessary to starve ourselves".
Dr West fails to tie together the prevailing control of the forces who are in line with his ideology with the missed opportunities that have taken place on their watch. Never does he explore how anti-corporate / anti-capitalistic / pro-government regulation tendencies among some of these forces also have an economic suppressive effect. The story of the collapse of the "Rust Belt" is one where "greedy corporations facing fair 'living wage' compensation packages from the organized labor - chose to pack up and move to Third World Nations so their profit margins could be maintained. No where will you see an indictment upon "Labor Greed", "Punitive Regulation", "Confiscatory Taxation" from the quasi-socialist left who was at the negotiating table.
The New "All White Jury"
My term "The All White Jury" is a metaphor for those who render a ruling REGARDLESS of the evidence that is placed before them to the contrary. The real world evidence that confronts their world view is not able to overcome these views that they had prior to stepping into the jury box upon receiving their summons. Ultimately it is proof of "resident bigotry". The "All White Jury's" goal above all else is to retain the system at present "by any means necessary" and thus defend the power relationships as such. It is my view that the "Black Establishment" is infected by this same mental disease. The results are as deleterious today upon the backs of Black people as was the case "back in the day" when this namesake ruled.
From the article:
Yet the new black conservatives have been unable to convince black Americans that conservative ideology and Reaganite policies are morally acceptable and politically advantageous. The vast depoliticization and electoral disengagement of blacks suggests that they are indeed disenchanted with black liberals and distrustful of American political processes; and a downtrodden and degraded people with limited options may be ready to try any alternative. Nevertheless, black Americans have systematically rejected the arguments of the new black conservatives. This is not because blacks are duped by liberal black politicians nor because blacks worship the Democratic Party. Rather, it is because most blacks conclude that while racial discrimination is not the sole cause of their plight, it certainly is one cause. Thus, most black Americans view the new black conservative assault on the black liberal leadership as a step backward rather than forward. Black liberalism indeed is inadequate, but black conservatism is unacceptable. This negative reaction to black conservatives by most blacks partly explains the reluctance of the new black conservatives to engage in public debates in the black community, and their contrasting eagerness to do so in the mass media, where a few go so far as to portray themselves as courageous, embattled critics of a black liberal establishment -- while their salaries, honorariums and travel expenses are paid by well-endowed conservative foundations and corporations.
For Dr West the ball is in the Black Conservative's court to "convince Black America" that their strategy is better than that of the Progressive and the Democratic Party establishment. This despite the prevailing control that is present and our continued grievances. Unfortunately there will never be enough evidence that the present ideological order is faulty for the Black community to erect a TRANSPARENT system of evaluation. This would entail expelling BOTH ideological or partisan forces out of our "racial nucleus" and forcing both to submit "RFPs" for consideration. . Dr West and others utilizes racism and (what will become later known as) "Globalization" as the "out" and the reason for the failures. It is important to understand that by REJECTING the Progressive's incumbency in shaping the lives and consciousness of the African-American he is able to continue upon his CHASE milieu, gaining further power in pursuit of satisfying his appetite.
As a frequent viewer of "Democracy Now" with Amy Goodwin I have seen man Black Establishment leaders come on the show as guests (Dr West, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Ben Jealous, Color Of Change). At NO POINT IN TIME are any of them appraised by their willingness to "confound the 'WHITE' talk show host" (Amy Goodman or Juan Gonzales. )
Instead all of them plug in comfortably with the prevailing ideological consciousness that is contained upon the show. This shows me that the critiques of Dr West and others about Black Conservatives is merely rooted in the assumption that the AUTHENTIC consciousness for the Black community is "left-wing progressivism". In the spirit of "A fish don't know he wet" they attend far left shows like "Democracy Now" and feel right at home with fellow travelers. The Black Establishment is effectively a "perpetual protest movement" as is Democracy Now. The key difference is that when the Black Establishment obtains POWER - they are disinclined to attack their "Permanent Friends" but instead look for a the next hop in the planetary system that needs to be conquered per their romp toward satisfaction. "The Struggle" IS their proof of advancement not the management of the resources that they now control to this end.
The enduring vision that I have of Dr West is that of a "rock star" professor and "Public Intellectual" who conducts university symposiums with scores of young liberal students circled around him, drinking in his every word. This has been the case on several occasions on C-SPAN. He is used to pontificating to a crowd of minds that are open to his world view as a means of understanding that which is swirling amongst them.
At the end of it all this piece by Dr West is merely yet another "brush back" of the stinging criticism of the Black Establishment by Black Conservatives. Establishment figures like Dr West are more threatened by Black Conservatives than they are the far more numerous "Black Jerry Springer Types" that dot the airwaves. While they are minstrels and thus impugn our racial dignity and consciousness - they are not the same type of THREAT to Dr West and other Black Quasi-Socialist Progressive-Fundamentalist Racism Chasers. In a debate a few weeks ago someone fired back at me: "The ignorant Hip Hop Star does not shape public policy as does Rush Limbaugh".
The truth is that the Progressive-Fundamentalist merely values the political realm greater than he does the social and cultural realm at achieving his ends.
This domain is far more important to them and their sensibilities than are those who are in full violation of our "Community Cultural & Competence Domain" per their public acts Those echoing "Ronald Regan's policies" have never done the amount of harm to our interests as those who regularly appear upon "Maury", "Jerry Springer", "Divorce Court" or an assortment of Hip Hop Music Shows and Videos. . Sadly this latter domain are where the bulk of our problems reside.
For a group who is dismissed as 'unimportant', 'low in numbers' and having "FAILED TO CONVINCE BLACK PEOPLE OF THE EFFICACY OF THEIR ALTERNATIVE SUGGESTIONS" the Black Conservative sure does get a lot of press from the those who seek to defend the Black Establishment Order despite their present grievance.