Black Radical Congress and "the Left"

Michael Eisenscher meisenscher at
Sun Jun 21 21:28:55 PDT 1998

At 02:04 PM 6/21/98 -0500, Carrol Cox wrote:
>I think the clarification you ask for would properly be the subject of a
>separate thread, more limited in scope. In this thread, I merely wish to
>establish in general the principle that the route to a multi-"racial" left
>and to a (reasonably) united left has to *begin* by recognizing and taking
>deeply to heart the history of the failure of the white (i.e., in
>principle multi-racial but in practice white dominated) left to honor
>the needs of minorities and women and the really deep refusal to accept
>non-white leadership while assuming blindly that because of their good
>intentions *of course* blacks would join such a movement. They won't.
>Real clarity and unity on this among a sizeable and connected number of
>white leftists is an essential preliminary to even beginning to discuss
>the topics you raise. I think I agree with most that you say: I just
>don't think it very relevant until more clarity is achieved on the threat
>of racism to the left. I have recently had access to some extraordinarily
>interesting empirical and analytic research into the history of the left,
>unions, and Blacks. As I digest that I may be able to express my
>perspective in less generalized form.


I think from what you say in paragraph one above that we do not differ in any substantial respect. I said much the same thing in my query and what followed.

I think where we may part company is in your view that any substantial progress in reducing the influences of racism requires that "a sizeable and connected number of white leftists is an essential preliminary to even beginning to discuss the topics you raise." The frames any such change as an essentially intellectual exercise on the one hand, and a precondition of Left unity before any discussion can even begin. That bears no relationship to how people shift their consciousness, nor how institutional change might develop within the Left. It ignores the dialectical relationship between consciousness and struggle. It is an idealist rather than materialst way of approaching the problem, and in its stage theory, mechanical to boot.

I look forward to your sharing both your digested analysis and undigested empirical and analytic research data.

In solidarity, Michael

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