Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Homage to Manning Marable

'At Tuskegee [in 1976], I began to study the major works of Marxism. I gradually became convinced that racism by itself could not account for the oppressed conditions of black people in America and, for that matter, across the globe. Capitalism as an economic system was based on an unequal exchange between the owners of capital and those who worked for a wage. Capitalism as a social system fostered class stratification, extreme concentrations of wealth, and poverty and promoted race hatred as a means to divide workers. This basic analysis seemed to make sense, based on my own experiences growing up inside the United States, in the context of racial discrimination and social inequality. I came to Marxism not out of some abstract love for the white American working class, or out of faith in the power of the international proletariat, or out of respect for the models of Soviet and Chinese Communism, both of which I found equally problematic. I became a socialist because I believed in the struggles of black people, in their history and destiny, and because I believed that to eliminate racism and inequality decisively, a new democratic society would have to be constructed.'
Manning Marable, 'Introduction: Towards an Autobiography of the Politics of Race and Class', Speaking Truth to Power: Essays on Race, Resistance and Radicalism (1996)

Tragically, and at the age of only 60, the great black American Marxist intellectual Manning Marable (1950-2011), author of such pioneering works of black history such as How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America and W.E.B. Du Bois: Black Radical Democrat, has died. This is a very sad loss - one gets a sense of the importance of his prolific writing and commentary on race and class in the US from his staff page at Columbia University, which lists his multiple works of scholarship and other accomplishments, and which culminated in his recent works Beyond Black and White: Transforming African-American Politics and a new biographical study of Malcolm X and The Malcolm X Project that he constructed online. To lose such a powerfully acute mind well before his time, and in a period when there are hopeful signs that the American working class is beginning to stir again, remains a terrible blow - my condolences to his friends and comrades. I will endeavour to add tributes and obituaries to this great thinker and activist whose many works will remain a tremendous resource of hope for the many struggles ahead.

Russell Rickford, A Eulogy for Manning Marable
Yuri Prasad on Manning Marable
Marable interviewed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 by Kevin Ovenden
Manning Marable on Barack Obama
Marable interviewed in 2009 about Malcolm X

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