Adolph Reed

Rakesh Bhandari bhandari at phoenix.Princeton.EDU
Thu Jun 11 08:09:17 PDT 1998

In the message before this, Kenny simply asserts that revolution will be made if the left can get the church to share our issues. What about the Oakland teacher's strike? Black church leaders sided with the administration and insinuated that teachers were racist for striking? After breaking the strike, the administration then turned around to propose another reform--Ebonics. In International Labor and Working Class History a couple years ago, Eric Arnesen argued that Black Churches have often been supported by employers for discouraging black workers from joining in workplace actions and encouraging instead black community projects. What about the Nation of Islam and the misogyny and the self-flaggelation it supports (by the way, what did you think of the Marable/Reed debate in New Politics about the *Nation of Islam* and Farrakhan?) No, the Church will not easily be brought under the hegemony of the left. Revolutionary or simply progressive forces often have to make it impossible for the church's reactionary opinion to matter on social or public policy matters.

Now Kenny's arguments against Reed verge on the incomprehensible, and are at best undeveloped.

Reed's Jackson critique is sectarian--how? anyone who disagrees with Reed is an individual--what? (Reed attempts to analyze the formation of a self-conscious black petit bourgeois elite; for example, he notes Jackson's willingness to pull out of support for a labor strike to get corporate support for black businessmen. Reed also analyzed the weaknesses of Operation Push.)

As for Reed's critique of black popular intellectuals (I don't have the essay with me).

Reed is said to have downplayed Hooks' and West's contributions in the 80s--which was what? Kenny doesn't say

Reed was critiqued by Adell and Spiller's, though we learn nothing of substance here about those counter-critiques, except that they are useful.

Reed should not have published criticism of black intellectuals playing to white audiences in a white supremacist rag (the Village Voice); of course this misrepresents Reed's argument, which was about how black intellectuals often confirm the assumption that the black experience, opaque to whites, can only and has to be crystallized for them by exceptional putatively representative blacks. Reed's critique was as much of the white racist impulse to have the black experience reduced for them in economical form as it was of black intellectuals. What better place for such a critique than the Village Voice, though I liked Reed's criticism of the new black nostalgia for segregation even better.

Now to DuBois: Reed dismisses any philosophical influence on DuBois except American pragmatism. I'll have to check this (book's not with me); while Reed argues that DuBois was not influenced by Hegel, this is not the same as Kenny's claim, which I am pretty sure is flat and absurdly wrong.

Reed's academic world faded twenty years ago. This is ridiculous. The book ends with a chapter on Gates' and Baker's recent work. Anyways, in The Bubbling Cauldron, Reed haswritten one of the most incisive chapters on the failures of black mayoral rule in several major cities.

Kenny makes the fantastic claim that Reed finds nothing useful in DuBois after 1903, which is of course not an answer to the criticisms Reed makes of DuBois.

Kenny says "the more interesting text" is Dusk of Dawn, but does not say how Reed misinterprets it.

The nastiness of my reply followed from Kenny calling Adolph an idiot; now he suggest Reed may not have read any DuBois, that all Reed can do is cry about it, that Reed is a lightweight.

The best case made for Reed so far is your criticism Kenny. best, Rakesh

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