Far too many people on the left, while they are not liable to think of themselves as Marxists in so many words, are influenced by Marxist ideas. Black on black violence is not a problem to them because they see it as the vanguard of the revolution. Other people’s children are just a little sacrifice they’ll just have to live with on the way to their leftist Utopia.
Recently, I happened to read Tom Wolfe’s “Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s” from 1970. I’d read other writings of his from the sixties and early seventies and assumed I’d read that one as well. I hadn’t. If I had, there is no way I could have forgotten it. It’s absolutely brilliant. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it highly. Most of it is fairly amusing observations about high society and the behaviors of people in it. Toward the end, however, Wolfe recounts the discussion that took place about the Black Panthers’ political program. One person at the soiree, Richard Feigen, asks if there is any chance the Black Panthers might consider backing a candidate for governor. “In other words,” he asks, “are the Black Panthers interested in getting any political leverage within the System?”
The representative of the Panthers, Don Cox, explains that they have “no use” for “the traditional political arena, because if you try to oppose the system from within the traditional political arena, you’re wasting your time…. We have no power within the system, and we will never have any power within the system. The only power we have is the power to destroy, the power to disrupt.”
In a fabulous descriptive passage, Wolfe writes:
Hardly anybody has noticed it up to now, but Leonard Bernstein has moved from the back of the room to an easy chair up front. He’s only a couple of feet from Cox. But Cox is standing up, by the piano, and Lenny is sunk down to his hip sockets in the easy chair . . . They really don’t know what they’re in for. Lenny is on the move. As more than one person in this room knows, Lenny treasures “the art of conversation.” He treasures it, monopolizes it, conglomerates it, like a Jay Gould, an Onassis, a Cornfeld of Conversation. Anyone who has spent a three-day weekend with Lenny in the country, by the shore, or captive on some lonesome cay in the Windward Islands, knows that feeling—the alternating spells of adrenal stimulation and insulin coma as the Great Interrupter, the Village Explainer, the champion of Mental Jotto, the Free Analyst, Mr. Let’s Find Out, leads the troops on a 72-hour forced march through the lateral geniculate and the pyramids of Betz, no breathers allowed, until every human brain is reduced finally to a clump of dried seaweed inside a burnt-out husk and collapses, implodes, in one last crunch of terminal boredom.
After a discussion of the tensions between the Black Panthers, the churches, the “established black community” and a mention of the fact that the civil rights leader Bayard Rustin did not attend due to threats, Leonard Bernstein and Otto Preminger try to pin Cox down on what the Black Panthers are seeking.
Lenny breaks in: “When you say ‘capitalist’ in that pejorative tone, it reminds me of Stokely. When you read Stokely’s statement in The New York Review of Books, there’s only one place where he says what he really means, and that’s way down in paragraph 28 or something, and you realize he is talking about setting up a socialist government—”
Cox beings to elaborate, but Bernstein interrupts.
Lenny says: “How? I dig it! But how?”
Cox dodges the question.
“You can’t blueprint the future,” says Cox.
“You mean you’re just going to wing it?” says Lenny.
“Like . . . this is what we want, man,” says Cox, “we want the same thing as you, we want peace. We want to come home at night and be with the family . . . and turn on the TV . . . and smoke a little weed . . . you know? . . . and get a little high . . . you dig? . . . and we’d like to get into that bag, like anybody else. But we can’t do that . . . see . . . because if they send in the pigs to rip us off and brutalize our families, then we have to fight.”
“I couldn’t agree with you more!” says Lenny. “But what do you do—”
Cox says: “We think that this country is going more and more toward fascism to oppress those people who have the will to fight back—”
“I agree with you one hundred percent!” says Lenny. “But you’re putting it in defensive terms, and don’t you really mean it in offensive terms—”
After more discussion during which Bernstein talks about the Black Panthers’ feelings towards white society in psychoanalytic terms, Barbara Walters finally manages to speak, and asks the question no one seems to be willing to ask the current crop of radicals.
Last year we interviewed Mrs. Eldridge Cleaver, Kathleen Cleaver, and it was not an edited report or anything of that sort. She had a chance to say whatever she wanted, and this is a very knowledgeable, very brilliant, very articulate woman . . . And I asked her, I said, ‘I have a child, and you have a child,’ and I said, ‘Do you see any possibility that our children will be able to grow up and live side by side in peace and harmony?’ and she said, ‘not with the conditions that prevail in this society today, not without the overthrow of the system.’ So I asked her, ‘How do you feel, as a mother, about the prospect of your child being in that kind of confrontation, a nation in flames?’ and she said, ‘Let it burn!’ And I said, ‘What about your own child?’ and she said, ‘May he light the first match!’ And that’s what I want to ask you about. I’m still here as a concerned person, not as a reporter, but what I’m talking about, and what Mr. Bernstein and Mr. Preminger are talking about, when they ask you about the way you refer to capitalism, is whether you see any chance at all for a peaceful solution to these problems, some way out without violence.
this country is going more and more toward fascism… I’ve heard this refrain with great regularity. If I haunt left leaning websites, I’ll read it every single day. More and more towards fascism – for forty-five years. The slowest slippery slope known to man.
From the website The Daily Kos alone in just the month of August:
“Trump’s a fascist… And his demagoguery is lifted right out of the 20th century fascist playbook”
“Could elements of a far-right fascist movement be present in the “preventative war”-backing, conspicuously self-radicalizing American right?”
“The neo-fascists are not practiced in throwing poo at a real fascist.”
The left is seduced by radical rhetoric, but few follow the radical reasoning to its conclusion. The bask in the glow of revolutionary postures, secure in the knowledge that they live far from any real violence.
But people who live in more vulnerable circumstances do not have that luxury. They do not want their children to be the cannon fodder of the revolutionary vanguard. While homicide rates in most of the country remains low, it has increased dramatically in a small number of cities, St. Louis and Baltimore being two of them. These are the sacrificial victims on the alter of the revolutionary dreams of the educated. The would be leaders are utterly insensible to the pain of the people they pretend to lead.
Although leftist websites are unlikely to disseminate Hubbard’s video, which has racked up over five million shares on Facebook, the far right websites which have shared her video don’t fully represent her interests either. Right now, there is no political party or movement that represents people like her, and that’s missing from our political life, much to our detriment.