Political Power and Black Leadership

March 30, 2017


In my book, The Road to Hell is not Paved with Good Intentions, I took the position that the African American Community is the core of the revolutionary movement in this country. By enduring and surmounting slavery, Jim Crow segregation and mass incarceration they have gained and established power – political power and moral power. Still the most oppressed section of the working class, the African American community can and often does lead movements for social justice.

On the other hand, I have also noted in my book and many other times that the ruling class learns from revolutionary uprisings of the working class. That is certainly true of the union movement, the civil rights movement and the women’s movement. Faced with the power of the union movement, the ruling class passed Taft-Hartley, barred communists and socialists from leadership and temporarily made concessions to the unions only to use automation and decentralization to undermine the power of the union movement.

For the women’s movement, the ruling class again gave concessions and then created an alternative “artificial turf movement” to oppose basic demands. In addition, the women’s leadership became isolated from its working class base.

The most diabolical actions by the ruling class were in its attacks on the civil rights movements. First, they slightly altered the frame of reference. Diversity was substituted for integration. Institutional racism was used as an excuse for what is in fact capitalist racism. These conceptual substitutions fundamentally altered the direction of the civil rights movement. On the other hand, Dr. Martin Luther King called for a structural alteration of the economy to support all working people in opposition to a war economy and in support of a poor people’s organization. That was the correct formulation of the issue but it was buried with MLK.

As a result, of these altered frame of references, African Americans were able to obtain important positions of political power and cultural freedom to alter the intellectual and emotional framework of racial prejudice. Politically, African Americans utilized a sophisticated voting strategy to dominate Democratic Party politics. Using tremendous skill, intelligence, and perseverance, African Americans came to dominate entertainment whether it was in music, movies or sports.

The ruling class, nevertheless, maintained control of the levers of power in all these fields. By demanding diversity not integration, leaders within the African American community accepted positions while abandoning allegiance to the class from which they came.

This entire process was subtle and proceeded at almost glacier speed. But it culminated in the disaster of 2016. From 2008 to 2016, President Obama provided tremendous inspiration with his family’s grace, intelligence and charisma. The very power of Michelle’s presence altered the perception of the American political landscape. However, at the same time, Obama’s administration supported the entire premise of corporate America. That can be seen in the continuation of war to protect the empire, refusing to let the Bush tax gifts to the wealthy expire in 12/10, appointments of Democratic consultant Tim Geithner, Larry Summers to guide the economy, and continuous compromise with right wing Republican demands. In other words, he became the powerful leader of Corporate Democrats and thereby supported the nomination of Hillary Rodham Clinton instead of Bernie Sanders in July of 2016. It is important to note that HRC was supported by criminal bankers and private prison, fossil fuels, and basically the entire corporate structure. Bernie was supported by progressive Democrats and more importantly the young people, who are the future of this country. Always remember $27.00 donations.

And it was the powerful Congressional Black Caucus that aided in the nomination of a severely flawed, compromised candidate who lost the most crucial election of the last 60 years. She lost to a Republican candidate who was neither liked nor respected. And, he was a failed business man and had never ran for any political office.

When Black leadership supported, actually nominated Hillary Rodham Clinton, they necessarily abandoned the needs of the working class in general and the African American community in particular. They were on the wrong side of history. Had HRC not been nominated, Trump would not be president.

Bernie Sanders started his campaign on April 30, 2015. I respect the fact that he had visited many areas of the country to determine whether a run for the presidency made sense and most importantly, whether it would assist the progressive agenda or whether an abortive campaign would set back efforts to push progressive policies. He stated as follows:

Start quote from Bernie’s book “Well before I was formally a candidate for president, when I was still thinking about it, my longtime Vermont friend and coworker Phil Fiermonte and I did some traveling around the country. We wanted to get a sense of what kind of support there was for our ideas whether running for president made any sense. I know, I know, that’s what candidates who intend to run for office always say. But in our case it was true. If there was real support, if it looked like we could run  credible campaign, we would do it. If not, no big deal. I was proud of being a senator from Vermont. There are worse jobs in the world.

As is the Vermont way, our trips were pretty low-key. No entourage. No advance people. No communications director. No security. Just Phil and me flying coach, renting cars and showing up for meetings – trying to get a sense of the potential support that might exist. (Bernie Sanders, Our Revolution, (pg. 56)) End of quote from Bernie’s book

On 4/30/15, Bernie had no campaign organization, no money, no name recognition and the entire Democratic Party apparatus opposed his candidacy. Yet, he won 22 states & 13 million voters. But for the support of Black leadership, Hillary Rodham Clinton would never have won the nomination and Trump/Republicans would not control political apparatus of this country. As Dr. Cornell West stated, Black leadership mistook the gravy train for the freedom train. While that is a precise, pithy summary, the issue involves much more. The ruling class knew consciously that they had to blunt the revolutionary thrust of the black community. They learned their lessons and adjusted their tactics and strategies accordingly. Unfortunately, much of the left has failed to follow that process of learning from history.

Initially it was violence. Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965 at the very time he had rejected narrow Black Nationalism as a recognized correct political analysis. Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 when he called for a restructuring of the American economy with tactics of supporting the striking workers in Memphis, uniting with the anti-war movement, and organizing the poor people’s march. Mark Clark and Fred Hampton were assassinated on December 4, 1969. As members of the Black Panther Party, they were organizing working class African American’s to stop gang violence. The Black Panther Party was brutally suppressed, prosecuted, infiltrated and ultimately destroyed.

The alternative tactic used by the ruling class and Corporate Democrats was diversity to compromise important Black leadership within positions of power. In effect, these were gifts of power to Black leadership. The strategy of the ruling class was not only designed to silence true Black leadership but also to divide the class framing the issues as a zero sum game. That is, the corporate media always framed the issue as if every gain by the African American community was a loss of the dominate white community.

This strategy allowed Corporate Democrats to secure Hillary Rodham Clinton’s nomination by cornering the Black vote, with the misleading Black leadership, again dividing the class. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s devastating loss to the Trump/Republicans has hopefully ended the careers of the Clintons and the corporatist program they promote. However, Obama remains popular and is able to disguise the failed corporatist program. They can substitute his leadership for that of Hillary Rodham Clinton. They will not substitute the corporatist program that they still promote. And they will never admit it is a losing program.

The program of Bernie Democrats is the only strategy to unite the class and block the march of the ruling class to destroy the planet. With Trump/Republicans in power, the question is not whether there will be a recession/depression,  but when. With Trump/Republicans in power the question is not whether climate warming will lead to disaster, but when.

Corporate democrats have neither the inclination nor the ability to block either catastrophe. The responsibility of Bernie Democrats is both awesome in scope and daunting in implementation. But there is no alternative. Without a conscious united working class, we cannot prevent the ruling class self-destructive myopic greed, which will undermine the very foundation of civilization. Millions of people are in motion opposing the outrageously backward, narrow-minded, mean spirited positions of the Trump Republicans.

In addition, the concentration of wealth is not only unfair but unconsciousable. Not since 1928, has the undeserving rich been so bloated in their excesses. And, luckily, Trump has viciously attacked and hopefully alienated the corporate media so that it is less willing to excuse the brutish tactics of the Trump/Republicans. Therefore, there is a basis to build our movement and hopefully stop the march towards climate disaster.

It is in the electoral arena that Bernie Democrats must fight. And that is where the ruling class has all the advantages of money, power, and media control. But it is also where political consciousness must be consolidated. That is why it is necessary for that fight to occur in that arena. That is also why Bernie Democrats uniting with Black leadership carry such a heavy burden. They can create a united fight for power. Because Bernie has a national voice, at last his leadership is a central part of this fight to unite millions against the ruling class whose greed and avarice will destroy the economy and the planet.

Yours in Struggle,




Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply