Heat and Light... Fear of Consciousness Raising?

Rob Schaap rws at comserver.canberra.edu.au
Fri Jun 26 23:05:57 PDT 1998

G'day Yoshie,

You quote MLK:

[I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. ('Letter from Birmingham Jail')]

and opine:

[_Across the political spectrum_, from reformist to revolutionary, nationalist to radical integrationist, in the past and the present, the oppressed have faced resistance from white males when we attempted to even question, not to mention change, the social relations and ideologies that put them above others. White guys on the Left (liberal or marxist), on the whole, have not been free of the desire to perpetuate the white male _leadership_ in theory and practice. A particularly virulent variety of this desire is manifest in left cons.]

Exactly whose arguments (and motivations) are you thus portraying? I honestly don't know. I mean, that there's plenty of this about is horribly true, but is it really fair or constructive to characterise participants in this discussion thus? White boy though I am, I don't think I think like this, and I don't think others here do.

And 'universalism' can be (and has been) a problem - but it is, in my estimation, crucially useful if defined properly - perhaps a more useful direction for debate lies there ...

Cheers, Rob.

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