Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Friday, January 25, 2008

Black radicals on Barack Obama

He is being consumed as the embodiment of colour-blindness. It's the notion that we have moved beyond racism by not taking race into account. That's what makes him conceivable as a presidential candidate. He has become the model of diversity in this period, and what is interesting about his campaign is that it has not sought to invoke engagements with race other than those that have already existed.

This Republican administration is the most diverse in history. But when the inclusion of black people into the machine of oppression is designed to make that machine work more efficiently, then it does not represent progress at all. We have more black people in more visible and powerful positions. But then we have far more black people who have been pushed down to the bottom of the ladder. When people call for diversity and link it to justice and equality, that's fine. But there's a model of diversity as the difference that makes no difference, the change that brings about no change.

Angela Davis, former Black Panther and academic.

I haven't heard anything he has talked about that has touched on the lives of black people in this country. If we are going to get Clinton in blackface, why not just get Clinton?

Obama didn't support the war, but he was only in the Illinois Senate - he didn't have influence. [Obama was not elected to the US Senate until November 2004; the Iraq war began in March 2003.] He probably would have [supported the war] if he'd been in the Senate.

· Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther activist who has been on death row in Pennsylvania for 25 years.

From here.

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At 9:12 pm, Anonymous Callum said...

Couple of things on this.

Firstly, they are both right. Obama is a far from a radical candidate and his campaign is full of the same rancid compromises any hopeful elected official needs to make in the U.S.

But I think Mumia's comment about what Obama would "probably" have done had he been in the Senate when the vote for War was taken is misplaced. Obama has been THE most consistently anti-war national political figure and a win for him, however you cook it, would be a blow to the Neocons.

Also, I see Cornel West is supporting Obama, which perhaps is interesting.

At 1:08 am, Blogger blackstone said...

I don't thing anyone ever labeled Obama as a radical candidate, so i don't think Angela's or Mumia's comments are any real breakthroughs. Yet, it is interesting as Mumia notes, that Obama has not touched on the issues important or relevant to black people. This has to do with him not wanting to be labeled as the black candidate. He's playing it safe, like all presidential candidates before him and all after him.

At 4:21 pm, Anonymous Colin F Saint-Denis said...

Could we have the sources for these two quotes ?

Davis' comments about diversity are relevant to us here in France, where the idea - and the effective visibility of non-whites in for example the media - is quite new.

Sarkozy's appointment of two non-white, female, ministers was politically very astute, as the Socialist Party has been very slow to promote non-white candidates and is held back by its dogmatic commitment to the myth of a colour-blind Republic.

At 6:55 pm, Blogger Snowball said...

Cheers for comments - all good points.

Blackstone - there are some radicals who are trying to make out Obama is some sort of threat to the military industrial complex - I did come across one article comparing Obama to the revolutionary Marxist CLR James, while Grace Lee Boggs, who worked with James from the 1940s to the early 1960s also seems a little soft on Obama: "The new energies being unleashed by Barack Obama hold great promise. In his person and prose Obama embodies the achievements of the movements of the 20th century and the hope that we can become the change we want to see in the 21st century."

Colin scroll down here.


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