No jobs created in the month of August, the economy on the verge of a Great Depression, poverty, homelessness, illness , three wars, the rise of racist, fascist and right wing forces, headed by the Tea party, the two dominant political parties turning into self serving , billionaire controlled instruments of the big banks and corporations;the question is , what is to be done. Significant elements of the billionaire class see fascism and out and out dictatorship of the right as their answer to growing mass anger and militant action. Revolutionary young people are being targetted and spyed on, and calls for socialism are being called unpatriotic and threats to social order. Black and Latino communities are being bled through horrific unemployment and inprisonment.We are nearing a revolutionary crisis; that is a crisis that can only be addressed and resolved through a revolutionary change in the social system. Already the government is putting in place measure to attack potential uprisings in our cities and to protect the rich. A new leadership in the African American community must be forged. This leadership must see itself as a vanguard of the people in the way the Black Panther Party and the Communist Party did. The concept of vanguard leadership is a unique and specific one. It is almost always applied to revolutionaries and revolutionary leadership. Reformist, bourgeois and petit bourgeois leadership, while capable of joining and supporting a progressive and revolutionary movement, seldom lead it. They usually lead from behind the masses , wishing for compromise and capitulation to the elite class and dominant political forces. Petit bourgeois leaders establish themselves as media personalities, television talk show hosts, and celebrities. Vanguard leadership is formed and constituted from the masses of working and poor people and out of the day to day hard work of understanding the world, analyzing the current crisis , explaining the direction of events and coming forth with programs of ressitance and social change that the people can support. A revolutionary situation is defined when the ruling elite cannot rule in the old way and the working class , the poor and the middle classes will not be ruled in the old way. This is what we saw in South Africa as apartheid crumbled, it is what occured as the Cuban revolutkionaries marched on Havana in 1959, it is what occured in China as Mao and the Communist Party took power in Beijing, we saw something similar to this in the 1960’s and 70’s in the US, especially among African Americans; we are coming close to this in the US now. Revolutionary circumstances require revolutikonary ways of thinking. The young generations must learn from the past and study it. Seasoned revolutionaries must learn from the youth. Theory and ideologies of social transformation must be at the center of the life worlds of young and old revolutionaies. Let’s think in new ways and prepare for the difficult future we face. This crisis will not be resolved within the framework of free market capitalism. This moment is both the best of times and the worst of times.
W.E.B Du Bois wrote, “In the treatment of the child the world foreshadows its own future and faith. All words and all thinking lead to the child,–to the vast immortality and wide sweep of infinite possibility which the child represents.” The immortal child and immortal children are the highest value and therefore the foundation of revolutionary love. The love of the child forces us to question the value of bourgeois, or romantic love, and its selfish individualism. It is such , because all values and beliefs in capitalist morality lead back to the individual. Romance, love and desire, must be placed within the context of a larger and all embracing love of freedom from oppression and injustice. Du Bois insists upon a larger love, which might not take the name love after all; something more embracing that ultimately centers upon the immortal child. As to whether Black folk should have children and should we commit our children to live in this frightful world, he says, “Have we any right to make human souls face what we face? The answer is clear: If the great battle of human rights against poverty, against disease , against color prejudice is to be won, it must be won, not in our day, but in the day of our children’s children. Our is the blood and dust of battle; theirs the rewards of victory…It is our duty, then, to accomplish the immortality of black blood, in order that the day may come in this dark world when poverty shall be abolished, privilege be based on individual desert, and the color of a man’s skin be no bar to the outlook of his soul.” If revolution is an act of love of the immortal child, those who claim to love , and especially those who claim to love children, must commit to revolutionary struggle. In these times the highest manifestation of love is struggle and the highest form of struggle is revolutionary struggle to creat a new social and economic system and hence a new world worthy of children.
‘We want to impress on the emerging generations of Negroes in America, the ideal of plain living and high thinking, in defiance of American noise, waste and display; the rehabilitation of the indispensable family group, by the deliberate planning of marriage, with mates selected for heredity, physique, health and brains, with less insistence on colour, comeliness, or romantic sex lure, mis-called love; youth should marry young and have limited number of children; the home must be a place of education, rather than of cleaning and cooking, with books, discussion and entertainment”
The capitalist system teeters on the edge of a new and deeper economic crisis which will deliver devastating blows to Black folk and our communities.We lack a radical and revolutionary leadership to confront this crisis and to educate the masses. We must consider, in these very difficult times, where we are going as a people and how and by what means we plan to get there. Most Black folk view progress in terms of how far we, or at least the elite of our race, have gone towards becoming American, that is like white folk. In a historic essay written in 1960 Du Bois asked the question Whither Now and Why? He wrote,
“Because what we must now ask ourselves is when we become equal American citizens what will be our aims and ideals and what will we have to do with selecting these aims and ideals. Are we to assume that we will simply adopt the ideals of Americans and become what they are or want to be and that we will have in this process no ideals of our own? that would mean that we would cease to be Negroes as such and become white in action if not completely in color. We would take on the culture of white Americans doing as they do and thinking as they think. Manifestly this would not be satisfactory. Physically it would mean that we would be integrated with Americans losing first of all the physical evidence of color and hair and racial type. We would lose our memory of Negro history and of those racial peculiarities which have long been associated with the Negro. We would cease to acknowledge any greater tie with Africa than with England or Germany. We would not try to develop Negro music and Art and Literature as distinctive and different, but allow them to further degraded as is the case today. We would always, if possible, marry lighter-hued people so as to have children who are not identified with the Negro race, and thus solve our racial problem in America by committing racial suicide.” I
He goes on to say that this assimilationist/racial suicide program has been in the minds of Negroes for generations, but it is now being stated openly and broadly welcomed. He argued that among other things a program of struggle that included Pan Africanism was necessary to offset the dangerous and unacceptable “Americanization” of Black folk.
One of W.E.B Du Bois’ major concerns was the creation of the African American family of a new type, one that drew upon our African past, yet resisted the lures of the white American family type. He suggested a family that was African, African American and modern. here is how he put it,
“Unless a new type of Negro family the burden of this duty (socializing a new generation of black intellectuals and activists), we are destined to be, as we are largely today , a bad -mannered, unclean crowd of ill-bred young men and women who are under the impression they are educated. For this task we have got to create a new family group; and a cultural group rather than a group merely biological. the biology and blood relationship of families is entirely subordinate and unimportant as compared with its cultural entity; with the presence of two persons who take upon themselves voluntarily the sacrificial preisthood of parents to children, limited in number and interval by intelligent and scientific birth-control, who can and will train in the elements of being civilized human beings: how to eat, how to sleep, how to wash, how to stand, how to walk, how to laugh, how to be reverent and how to obey.”
Du Bosi went on to say that it is not entirely our fault that we have forgotten the place and function of the family; however, in the interest of our progress as a race it was our duty to rediscover its traditions and to reinvent a Black family of a new type to face the challenges of the future.
Evidence continues to accumulate that the European and American economic and political order are close to collapse. Polls show that national leaders are increasingly rejected by their people. In the US 80% of the people say the nation is going in the wrong direction. Only 18% believe Congress is doing an adequate job, and a mere 25% approve of Obama’s performance on the economy. Rising discontent follows the rise of unemployment and the collpase of the economy. The dismal display of bourgeois politicians clawing and scratching for political advantage with no regard for the conditions of the people, angers people and turns them off to the political game. What is needed is organization and political clarity. The two go together. For instance a PEW poll taken this past summer showed that most African Americans expressed optimism about the future of the country. Most other people polled were pessimistic about the future. This while Black are worse off and hit hardest by unemployment and mortgage foreclosures than any other group. The principle explanation of this is the “Obama effect” . The hope that the first Black president does well. The belief that Obama is one of us and on our side is a major defect in Black consciousness and an obstacle to organization and militant struggle. This situation cries out for a new type of leadership in the African American community, something along the lines of what Du Bois called a guiding one hundred. This vanguard of the people must rise to clarify the nature of the struggle, the dimensions of the crisis and propose ways out. This vanguard must come from the day to day life of Blak folk, it must be courageous, politically and intellectually honest and trained in fields as diverse as political economy, political science, psychology, anthropology, social work, education, law and international relations. But most of all it must see radical and fundamental social change as necessary and as a science; and therefore must study revolutionary experiences from throughout the world. This vanguard must take on the question of how to move from a capitalist economy in crisis to socialism and must be honest enough to say to Black folk that capitalism as a system is done and a new model of economic life has to be developed. But it must fight for a new peoples culture of resistance and struggle in opposition to the corporate invented pop culture of selfishness, individualism, celebrity worship,violence and non resistance. Culture is a necessary part of struggle and bringing political education and clarity to the people.
For the last thirty years of his life W.E.B Du Bois attempted to think of ways to liberate Africans from racism ,colonialism and imperialism that went beyond capitalism. His book Black Reconstruction in America is in part a study of the counter revolution after the Civil War that pushed Black folk back towards slavery. This , he conlcuded , was done in the interest of the expansion of American capitalism, the consolidation of the new instrument of captialist growth , the joint stock corporation, and American imperialism. In other words, Black freedom was sacrificed upon the alter of capitalism and capitalist expansion. If that were so in the 1870 and 1880’s , it was true in the 1930’s. 40’s and so on. It remains true today. the problem as Du Bosi saw it was that the Black leadership class refused to share these truths with the masses of Black folk. It continued to tell Black Folk to have hope that in the not that distant future captialism would reform itself and Black folk would be freed. On these grounds Du Bois argued that Black leadership had abandoned genuine struggle and become consumed in universal selfishness. Most were bought off by big capitalist and bankers; most Black organizations were willing to go along with the capitalist worldview. Hence, most Black leaders and intellectuals attacked progressive, radical and revolutionary Black intellectuals as going against the best interest of the Black community. At the end of his life Du Bois joined the Communist Party of the US; this after spending ten weeks in the People’s Republic of China and meeting with the leaders of its Communist Party. Du Bois said he joined the Communist Party because he believed that capitalist was not the future , but the past and that Black folk would never be free and equal human beings under capitalism. We are now approaching the 50th anniversary of Du Bois’ joining the CP and rejecting the capitalist system as a failure and the foundation of Black oppression. His words ring more true today then when he uttered them. We must be courageous enough to learn from Du Bois. In so doing we must in the interest of the Immortal Child look to a future world free of the blood , stench and dirt of capitalism.