Peace, Self Determination and the Duopoly Trap

by Glen Ford, published on Black Agenda Report, October 22, 2020

Corporate institutions and their Black servants conspire to hide the fact that the Black American worldview is profoundly Left on issues of peace and social justice.

“Independent Black politics is not a subject of corporate discussion, and is derided by the Democratic operatives that have infested every civic institution in Black America.”

Homo sapiens make a very big deal of the species’ vaunted intelligence, but no group of chimpanzees would allow themselves to be ensnared for generations in a binary trap without exploring ways to escape. Sadly, the same human capacity to imagine a near-infinity of life scenarios (dramas, comedies, satires, election forecasting, best-selling volumes of lies) can also conjure constellations of reasons to believe that a trap is not a trap.

In the national electoral process that will culminate on November 3, the vast majority of Black voters will invest their (very limited) franchise in a Democrat who has never been on their side of the issues and vows to continue standing in the way of national health care and even the most modest “reforms” of policing. Joe Biden does, however, occasionally rouse himself from geriatric torpor to promise a kind of imperial military reparations: that he will repair Washington’s alliances that have become frayed during Donald Trump’s erratic years at the helm, with the aim of standing up  to Russia and China. It’s the Democrats’ very understated way of signaling to the ruling class that endless austerity (the Race to the Bottom) and war will be the operative policies once Trump is gone.

“Joe Biden does occasionally rouse himself from geriatric torpor to promise a kind of imperial military reparations.”

Kamala Harris did not write the 1994 crime bill that condemned additional millions of Black people to the prison gulag, but she was a dedicated prosecutorial disciple of the Biden-Clinton lock-up-the-(Black)-“predators” doctrine. Having taken all sides of the issues in the primaries, Harris now speaks only the language of “Joe” and mouths the Democrats’ sacred promise to “Build Back Better” – possibly the most noncommittal campaign slogan ever concocted. But she is Black, and has a heartbeat, and will therefore be only a heartbeat away from the presidency if her ticket wins – which some Black folks and women claim is reason to be excited about November 3. They have so devalued the franchise, they are satisfied with a choice of physical “role models” – like the “right” to buy your child a Black Barbie doll  for Xmas/Kwanza – only these role models kill and imprison millions.

The hegemony of (white) big capital allows for very few cracks in the corporate-mediated public discourse that might reveal Black folks’ actual worldviews, beyond the excruciatingly narrow left-right choices presented by the two corporate parties. Where do Black folks really (want to) stand on issues of war and peace and social justice? We all know what most Black people fear: four more years of the “red meat” race-baiting that brought Trump into the White House, and which stampeded Blacks deeper into the duopoly trap. But corporate pollsters earn their fees by asking questions that are carefully framed to indicate preferences for one duopoly party or the other; that is, the questions themselves produce answers that appear to reinforce the legitimacy of duopoly rule, the binary straightjacket. However, we do know that the Black American worldview is profoundly Left – a reality “discovered” to the surprise of the Bay Area Center For Voting Research, in 2005.  As Bruce Dixon reported in The Black Commentator , the Center’s leftish political scientists assumed that the the white intellectual bastions of Cambridge, Massachusetts and Madison, Wisconsin, were the most left-leaning cities. The Bay Area think tank concluded that:

“…Detroit is the most liberal city in the United States and has one of the highest concentrations of African American residents of any major city. Over 81% of the population in Detroit is African American, compared to the national average of 12.3%. In fact, the average percentage of African American residents in the 25 most liberal cities in the country is 40.3%, more than three times the national rate.

“The list of America’s most liberal cities reads like a who’s who of prominent African American communities. Gary, Washington D.C., Newark, Flint, Cleveland, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Birmingham have long had prominent black populations. While most black voters have consistently supported Democrats since the 1960s, it is the white liberals that have slowly withered away over the decades, leaving African Americans as the sole standard bearers for the left….”

“…it is the white liberals that have slowly withered away over the decades.”

But independent Black politics is not a subject of corporate discussion, and is derided by the Democratic operatives that have infested every civic institution in Black America – including the AKA sorority, whose main political project is boosting their member, top-cop Kamala Harris.

The most comprehensive political survey of Black folks took place in 1994-95, under Black political scientist Michael C. Dawson. The National Black Politics Study  found that 50 percent of Blacks thought of themselves as a “nation within a nation” (although only 11 percent wanted to separate from the U.S.); 50 percent wanted Blacks to form their own political party; 51 percent saw the police as just another gang; and 74 percent viewed corporations as “unfair to the Black community.” (See Black Visions: The Roots of Contemporary African American Political Ideologies, Dawson, University of Chicago Press, 2000.)

Dr. Dawson, a pioneering Black political demographer, used the survey to delineate the ideological affinities of Blacks in the U.S. It is a profoundly left-leaning polity.

True Believers   True Haters (very opposed)

Black Nationalism:         37%                 4%

Black Feminism:            19%                 2%

Black Marxism:             34%                 2%

Disillusioned Liberalism 40%                 2%

Black Conservatism       1%                   20%

Dr. Dawson tracked the divide that separates grassroots Black political thinking and the positions taken by Black politicians (almost all of whom are Democrats). “[A]s black elected officials began to have aspirations that require attracting votes outside the black community, they (with the exception of Jesse Jackson and Harold Washington) deemphasized both their explicit racial appeals and political agendas that included economic redistribution—historically a fundamental political demand of the black community…. Finally, many black elected officials became incorporated into the new ruling regime of race relations management, which functions as a regulatory buffer dedicated to incremental changes in race relations and even smaller changes in the economic plight of the poor.”

“[B]lack elected officials…deemphasized both their explicit racial appeals and political agendas that included economic redistribution.”

There has been no sea change in the Black American world view since 1995, although eight years with a Black family in the White House clearly enhanced — during Barack Obama’s tenure, at least — Black folk’s identification with the U.S. State. When Obama threatened to bomb Syria in 2013 for allegedly carrying out a chemical attack on civilians, more Blacks (40%) than whites (38%) and Hispanics (31%) favored bombing Damascus. (see BAR, 18 September, 2013, “Black America More Pro-War Than Ever.”) However, majorities of all three groups were opposed to bombing Syria: Blacks 56%, whites 58%, Hispanics 63%.

A much clearer picture of Black anti-war sentiment – when not clouded by racial loyalties – was revealed by a Zogby poll conducted in early February of 2003, just a month before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The pollsters asked: “Would you support or oppose a war against Iraq if it meant thousands of Iraqi civilian casualties?” A solid majority of white men answered in the affirmative, as did more than a third of white women. Only seven percent of African Americans favored a war that would kill thousands. 

Hispanics lost some of their bloodlust when confronted with the prospect of mass Iraqi civilian casualties; only 16 percent are willing to support such an outcome. (Text from The Black Commentator, February 18, 2003 .)

If only 7 percent of Blacks could countenance mass carnage of Iraqi civilians, then war fever was an entirely marginal sentiment in the Black polity, which was fundamentally different than white America on issues of war and peace. Specifically, Blacks saw Arabs as human beings, even after two years of Arab-demonizing in the wake of 9/11. We at BAR maintain that the Black American consensus remains overwhelmingly anti-war, in both comparative and actual terms.

“Only 7 percent of Blacks could countenance mass carnage of Iraqi civilians.”

But you won’t get that kind of insight from #BlackLivesMatter name-giver Alicia Garza’s Black Census , which is the largest survey of Black public opinion in history but asked not one question on U.S. foreign policy — as if Black people have no positions on war and peace. The Census was paid for by the corporate philanthropy that has poured into Black Lives Matter-labeled coffers to yoke the movement into the Democratic Party – which prefers that Black people let white folks do foreign policy. Garza is glad to oblige and has become a major player on the corporate side of the Party. (See BAR, 5 June 2019, “Black Lives Matter Founder Launches Huge Project to Shrink Black Lives.” And BAR, 3 Oct 2019, “The Corporate Democrats’ (and Alicia Garza’s) Get-Sanders Slanders.”)

So, while too many of BAR readers, including some of our closest friends and collaborators, will on November 3 be rewarding one of the duopoly parties for its record of opposing and actively stifling the vast bulk of Black public opinion on war and peace and social justice issues, please also consider giving support to those organizations that reflect the actual majority – and profoundly Left — Black American worldview.

Below is posted the Black Is Back Coalition’s  ground-breaking 19-point National Black Political Agenda for Self-determination, a document that will be highlighted at the Coalition’s November 7th and 8th “Black People’s March on the White House,” an annual event since the organization’s founding in the first year of the Obama Administration; and the Black Alliance For Peace’s  demands for all elected officials and candidates in the 2020 elections. (I am a co-founder, and member, respectively, of BiB and BAP,) The anti-war positions taken by BAP and the self-determinationist stance of Black Is Back reflect the opinions of large majorities or very strong pluralities of Black people, as measured by the surveys and studies cited in this article. Those sentiments are marginalized and muted by the corporate duopoly with the collaboration of the mostly Democratic Black Misleadership Class, who are the undeserving recipients of Black and Left votes every election cycle – recurring cycles of despair and fear.

Black Alliance for Peace Demands of Candidate and Elected Officials

The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) has determined climate change and the interlocking issues of war, militarism, and the now-normalized and still illegal U.S. interventionism pose the greatest threats to humanity.

That is why we have launched a campaign demanding all 2020 candidates for local, state and federal offices in the United States take a position on U.S. interventionism (read our official statement ).

BAP’s campaign has been making the connection between U.S. foreign interventions and the domestic war on African people and other oppressed groups (see No Compromise, No Retreat: Defeat the War Against African/Black People in the U.S. and Abroad ).

DEMAND ALL 2020 CANDIDATES TAKE A STAND AGAINST WAR, MILITARISM AND REPRESSION

ALL CANDIDATES AND ELECTED OFFICIALS MUST:

  • Oppose the militarization of U.S. police through the Department of Defense’s 1033 program
  • Oppose Israeli training of U.S. police forces
  • Call for and work for the closure of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM)
  • Advocate for the closure of 800+ U.S. foreign military bases
  • Oppose Trump’s “Operation Relentless Pursuit”
  • Commit to opposing all military, economic (including sanctions and blockades) and political interventions
  • Advocate for an end to U.S. participation in NATO
  • Support efforts to cut the U.S. military budget by 50%
  • Demand the U.S. Department of Justice document and investigate the use of lethal force by domestic police officers
  • Commit to passing resolutions that commit the U.S. to uphold international law and the U.N. Charter
  • Sponsor legislation and/or resolutions to support the U.N. resolution on the complete global abolition of nuclear weapons
  • See our social media campaign @blackallianceforpeace  on Instagram.
  • Please encourage organizations you work with to endorse the pledge at BlackAllianceforPeace.com/candidate . There, orgs and individuals can also download and distribute the candidate pledge.
  • To help you mobilize any organizations you are involved with, find the campaign social media resources, an example email, and the candidate pledge attached below. Please share our 2020 Candidate Accountability Pledge with any aligned organizations or individuals to demand that our representatives oppose global militarism, imperialism and repression and tag us in any photos you share!

 

Black Is Back Coalition National Black Political Agenda for Self-determination

19 Points

  1. Black Women. With this National Black Political Agenda for Self-determination, the entire black or African nation declares our commitment to facilitate the elevation of African women to full, equal partnership in our struggle to create a new world of freedom and socialist democracy for a united black community and a world shorn forever of bosses and workers and slaves and masters and where African women will share the power to guarantee that African women are adequately empowered as equal architects of our new world.
  1. The Black Family. We demand an immediate halt to attacks on the Black family, a genocidal campaign rooted in the Atlantic Slave Trade and embedded in U.S. public and private policy. The United States has waged ceaseless war on the Black family: from the slaveholder that sold Africans as units of private property with no claims to family ties that he was bound to respect; to the denial of adult Black people the human right to protect our families. To the deliberate exclusion of heads of Black households from employment sufficient to provide for our families’ needs. To the systemic undermining of Black family structures through public “welfare” programs, such as the foster care system, in which Black children are disproportionately taken away from families and in which parental rights are being stripped from Black parents at an alarming rate. To the criminalization of all Black adults and children by the current mass Black incarceration regime. These intentionally-inflicted harms can only be repaired through the achievement of Black self-determination.
  1. Black Community Control Of The Police. We demand the immediate withdrawal of all domestic military occupation forces from Black communities. This democratic demand assumes the ability of Black people to mobilize for our own security and to redefine the role of the police so that it no longer functions as an agency imposed on us from the outside.
  1. Free All Political Prisoners. This includes “politicized” prisoners who may have originally been imprisoned for non-political reasons, but whose achieved political consciousness after imprisonment resulted in political acts or statements that were punished by specialized treatment and, sometimes, additional prison time. The definition of political prisoners is also extended to all those activists and militants who have been detained, or arrested during the most recent wave or resistance in places like Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore, Maryland; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We reject the authority of the U.S. State to imprison persons whose imprisonment is rooted in their defense of Black people’s democratic and self-determination rights. Black people ourselves have the right and responsibility to designate those individuals and categories of prisoners to be immediately released from U.S. confinement and control.
  1. Roll Back and End Mass Black Incarceration. The U.S. mass Black incarceration regime is designed to contain, terrorize and criminalize an entire people, with the result that one out of eight prison inmates on the planet is a Black person in the U.S. As a minimal demand, every U.S. incarcerating authority must take immediate steps to roll back the national prison and jail population to 1972 levels, resulting in the release of four out of five current inmates in a process overseen by representatives of the imprisoned peoples’ communities––primarily people of color. As a maximum demand, all Africans must be immediately released from U.S. prisons and jails and our community given the democratic right to determine their fate.
  1. Reparations. We demand reparations consistent with international norms regarding redress for crimes against humanity. This includes the enslavement, colonialism and apartheid from which we suffer up to today. The totality of the repair, according to international law, must include policies, programs and projects that cease ongoing racial crimes; offer restitution and return us to wholeness; provide compensation that allows for a quality standard of life as well as individual and collective wealth creation; ensure satisfaction that returns our dignity and achieves rehabilitation for the heart, mind, body and spirit injuries resulting from the centuries of trauma and abuse.
  1. Self-defense. We declare our human right to armed self-defense from the violent attacks by white citizens and the assaults and murders by the domestic military occupation forces that include various police organizations. We fully recognize that in a struggle for self-determination any act of resistance by the oppressed is an act of self-defense.
  1. Nationalize the Banks And End Forever The Rule Of Capital, which has been central to the enslavement, extermination, colonization and denial of self-determination to peoples, worldwide. The process must begin with creation of a National Development Bank as the primary engine of commerce and development, and a Black-directed public bank to finance developmental paths chosen by Black communities.
  1. Full Employment and A National Minimum Income. We demand that the U.S. government ensure the provision of living wage jobs for all, and a guaranteed minimum income sufficient to support a life with dignity for every household and individual. This goal is immediately achievable and is intended not only to totally eliminate poverty––beginning with historically super-exploited and deprived communities––but to provide families and individuals with the resources and free time to fully contribute to our community’s social, cultural, economic and political development. This minimum demand for full employment and a national minimum income is not a concession to the existing system of capitalist economic domination, it is not an assumption of the permanence of the worker-boss relationship that helps to define capitalist exploitation. Our ultimate aim continues to be total black self-determination and socialist democracy that empowers the workers at the expense of the capitalist class.
  1. Right to Housing that is safe, secure, habitable and affordable, with freedom from forced eviction and the process of red lining, traditionally used to deny housing to black people. In addition, we demand reparations for the loss of billions of dollars in Black wealth due to home foreclosures stemming from the U.S. government-supported subprime mortgage scam. Just as the financial institutions that perpetrated the scam were rescued through the massive infusion of federal dollars, so too must the victims of this crime be made whole through a reparations process overseen by representatives of the families and communities that were most grievously harmed.
  1. Halt Gentrification through the empowerment, stabilization and restoration of traditional Black neighborhoods. Black people have the right to develop, plan and preserve our own communities. No project shall be considered “development” that does not serve the interests of the impacted population, nor should any people-displacing or otherwise disruptive project be allowed to proceed without the permission of that population. Peoples that have been displaced from our communities by public or private development schemes have the right to return to our communities, from New Orleans to Harlem.
  1. Black Business Must Be Nurtured by public development banks and protected from strangulation by corporate chains and monopolies. Black community planning agencies must protect and give preferential access to local entrepreneurs and cooperatives willing to operate in harmony with the community’s developmental plans, with a special emphasis on agriculture. Accordingly, we demand immediate reparations for Black farmers and an end to the land theft and discriminatory laws and practices used against Black farmers in the U.S.
  1. Right To Free Education Through Post-graduate Level. Public schools must meet the highest standards of excellence, under the supervision of educational boards directly elected by the communities they serve. We oppose both for-profit schooling and philosophies of teaching that put profit over human development, and we support democratic educational values and strategies that empower students and their communities to determine their own destinies. In the immediate term, Black people in the U.S. need education that facilitates our liberation from white supremacy and corporate hegemony.
  1. Free, Universal, Quality Healthcare For All by a public system that serves the health needs of entire communities, as well as individuals. Given that group health outcomes are closely linked to group political and economic status, past and present, a universal healthcare policy must provide both equal care to all, regardless of social and financial circumstances, and restorative care to historically oppressed communities, which require political self-determination to achieve social and biological wellness.
  1. Voting Rights. We believe the right to vote, to effectively express a preference for political candidates, parties or social policies, is an inalienable right, the deprival of which results in a kind of social death. In this sense, the vote belongs to communities and peoples, as much as to individuals. Therefore, in addition to an irrevocable right to vote, we demand the use of proportional representation voting systems that more effectively reflect Black people’s political aspirations and opinion. Winner-takes-all voting, as practiced in the U.S., is inherently undemocratic and incompatible with Black people’s right to self-determination.
  1. U.S. Out of Africa, Asia And Latin America, where U.S. imperialism and support for European colonialism has caused tens of millions of deaths and vast social and physical destruction. In addition to U.S. military withdrawal to within its own currently-recognized borders, we demand an end to U.S. proxy wars, drone attacks and political subversion of governments and people’s movements around the globe. Given that the U.S. was the first nuclear power, is the only country to have used nuclear weapons, and has never renounced First Strike, we demand U.S. nuclear disarmament without preconditions––unilaterally, if necessary.
  1. The West Must Pay Its Debt To Africa and Its Descendants Africa and the rest of the colonized world owes nothing to European and U.S. governments or financial institutions. Rather, reparations should be flowing in the other direction as payback for half a millennium of slavery, colonialism and imperialist underdevelopment. We reject the suggestion that debt “forgiveness” or “relief” should be considered as reparations. We demand the U.S. immediately drop all debt claims against the formerly-colonized regions of Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific, and begin negotiations for restitution to those countries.
  1. Free Palestine, Down With Israeli Apartheid. We demand recognition of all rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to an independent, sovereign Palestinian State and the right to return for all Palestinian refugees. The U.S. must immediately end all monetary aid, trade relationships and military cooperation with the Apartheid Zionist State of Israel, until that uniquely barbaric affront to human civilization is dismantled and abolished.
  1. Climate Change and Toxic Pollution Created By Capitalism Must End. We demand that the capitalist countries take responsibility for the destruction of the environment through policies based on the parasitic profit motive. We recognize that capitalist-induced climate change for our brothers and sisters on the continent of Africa is a matter of life and death due to the resulting drought, death, famine and starvation. We recognize that capitalist pollution and toxic waste dumps in Africa as well as in our communities throughout the U.S. endangers the health of African people everywhere. We recognize that the same system that built itself through colonial occupation, genocide and enslavement has no regard for the safety of the planet and the health of our communities.

In 1977 Glen Ford co-launched, produced and hosted “America’s Black Forum” (ABF), the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television.  Ford co-founded BlackCommentator.com (BC) in 2002. The weekly journal quickly became the most influential Black political site on the Net. In October, 2006, Ford and the entire writing team left BC to launch BlackAgendaReport.com (BAR).  BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford(at)BlackAgendaReport.com 

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