Malcolm X

Malcolm X

The Pragmatic Nationalist

eBook - 2014
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This book tracks the evolution of Malcolm X from a racist, espousing the essentialist ideals of the Nation of Islam to a human rights activist, aware of the broader early 1960's struggle against imperial forces. Central to this was his strategic use of race to unite African-American initially and then the oppressed people in the world. Race was used as a strategy with the aim to abolish racial oppression. In the first chapter of this study we look at the constraints, most notably the white power structure, present in the United States during the mid-1960s which, on one hand gave form to Malcolm's thinking, and on the other, made it necessary for Malcolm to add an international dimension to his thinking. The second chapter explores Malcolm's racial theorising in 1964-65 when he identified the two stages which were necessary for the attainment of a colour-blind society. While Africa, as both idea and place, served as a cultural base, it also acted as a springboard to an international coalition of oppressed people. By linking the domestic and the international politics of Malcolm X, this study highlights the sense of purpose with which Malcolm X articulated his arguments concerning the future of the African-American community and their involvement in the American society.   Auszug aus dem Text Text Sample: Chapter: Introduction: Over the years, much has been written on Malcolm X, most particularly the last year of his life. The period extending from 12 March 1964, the date he officially announced his split from the Nation of Islam, to 21 February 1965, when he was assassinated, has attracted the most attention due to its political significance. The change in Malcolm X brought about by the split was both secular and religious. During the last year of his life, Malcolm's critique of the American social, political, economic structures was incisive as
he identified and tried to solve the central problems facing the African-American community. Adopting a pragmatic position, Malcolm formulated conceptual strategies which he believed would help to bring an end to oppression. Central to this was his strategic use of race to unite African-American initially and then the oppressed people in the world. Race was used as a strategy with the aim to abolish racial oppression. The literature devoted to Malcolm's last year is both diverse and enriching. The scholarship which will be discussed in the following paragraphs either deals with how the domestic and international dimensions of Malcolm's thinking are linked or some of the domestic factors which shaped Malcolm's global perspective. George Breitman was among the most prolific scholars writing on Malcolm X during the late 1960s and early 1970s. In line with his own socialist leaning, Breitman, in The Last Year of Malcolm X, explores Malcolm's links to the left, and posits that after his break from the Nation of Islam, Malcolm became increasingly pro-socialist and anti-capitalist. Breitman highlights the fact that the change in Malcolm's approach to the black struggle in the United States, his political involvement in particular, upset white supremacists who 'believed that the 'new Malcolm' could pose a greater threat to the status quo than the Black Muslim Malcolm.' Although Breitman identifies black unity as a pre-requisite to freedom and equality, he however concedes that 'Black nationalism is a means, not the end; it is a means, but not the only means; it is probably and indispensable means toward a solution; but it is not the solution itself.' Despite his new, pragmatic approach, Malcolm X remained deeply suspicious of whites in the United States, fearing their complicity - whether voluntary or involuntary - with the oppressive structures of the
country. In this regard, Breitman points out that: 'he [Malcolm] did not share the belief of the Marxists that the working class, including a decisive section of the white workers as well as of the black workers, will play a leading role in the alliance that will end both racism and capitalism.' Breitman's The Last Year of Malcolm X highlights the political contribution of Malcolm X after his break from the Nation of Islam. Although he explores Malcolm's connections with leftist organizations, mainly socialism, Breitman acknowledges that race, as a marker of identity, often displaces class. In its 'attempt to place the political thought of Malcolm X within a broader context of fundamental concepts of Geography,' James Tyner's The Geography of Malcolm X highlights the political importance of Africa in his thinking. Malcolm X's attempt, during the last year of his life, to build a diasporic consciousness in African-Americans was above all aimed at creating a positive sense of identity for the community. Tynerpoints out that 'the recognition and analysis of negative representations of African Americans provided an important building block to the development of Malcolm X's own political thought and geographical imagination.' By extension, Malcolm X's exhortation for African-Americans to recover the lost base that was Africa was likewise part of the evolution of his political thought. Tyner acknowledges the fact that the American political, economic, and social structures could not ensure the equal participation of blacks. He argues that 'the objective of Malcolm X's black radicalism was the attainment of respect and equality within American society; this was to be achieved through a remaking of American space.' Robert Terrill, in Malcolm X: Inventing Radical Judgement, posits that Malcolm's thinking was in incessantly evolving after his separation
from the Nation of Islam and thus he did not leave behind a set ideology or strategy. Instead, Malcolm encouraged people 'to think for themselves in ways beyond the limitations imposed by the dominant culture and to entertain a wide range of inventional possibilities always tempered by the need to stay focused on making positive contributions toward obtaining freedom.' Robert Terrill does well to identify the importance of both the domestic and the international dimensions working in tandem in Malcolm's thinking. Terrill says that during the post-Nation of Islam phase of Malcolm's life, his speeches followed a pattern where 'Malcolm works first within a scene defined by the borders of the United States and then expands it to an international scene, drawing parallels between the two.' In line with his view that Malcolm's thinking was in constant flux, Terrill posits that 'Malcolm does not offer any political action.' As such, Malcolm's contribution was in terms of changing the mindset of the African-American community, by encouraging them to think independently instead of abiding to a specific framework. Like Terrill, Eugene Victor Wolfenstein highlights the link between Malcolm's domestic and international politics. In The Victims of Democracy: Malcolm X and the Black Revolution, Wolfenstein posits that in the post-war period, during the decolonisation process, Malcolm X 'was the most persistent and most successful in heightening black American consciousness of the African cultural heritage, and in linking the national struggle to the international one.' Wolfenstein underlines 'Afro-American Unity, Black power, and Black Pride' as representative of Malcolm's significance. Wolfenstein's analysis of Malcolm's political thinking leads him to conclude that 'Malcolm both represented the interests and mobilized the emotional resources of the black
masses and black people in general.' Both James H. Cone and Michael Eric Dyson delve into the influence that intra-racial class differences had on Malcolm's articulation of black struggle. While both of these scholars affirm the existence of such differences, they nevertheless have diverging views on how such differences shaped Malcolm's ideology. Cone, a professor of Theology, sets out to underline the distinct differences between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King in Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare. Cone says that Malcolm's perspective 'of the 'black masses living at the bottom of the social heap'' was 'in opposition to Martin King's middle-class, integrationist image.' In addition to class differences, Cone states that divergences between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King also stemmed from geographical differences as 'each developed a strategy for freedom that was appropriate for the region in which he worked.' Dyson's analysis of class differences existing within the African-American community during the 1960s is much more critical of the middle-class. Dyson says that: It is the presence of class differences within black life that bestowed particular meanings on King's and Malcolm's leadership. Such differences shaped the styles each leader adapted in voicing the grievances of his constituency - for King, a guilt-laden, upwardly mobile, and ever-expanding black middle-class, for Malcolm, an ever-widening, trouble-prone, and rigidly oppressed black ghetto poor. According to Dyson, Malcolm's close links to the lower class put him in a better position to criticise the racist American political, social, and economic structures. Dyson talks of 'the common moral worldviews occupied by King and his white oppressors,' and is of the opinion that 'Malcolm was perhaps the living indictment of a white American worldview.' Cone and Dyson
Publisher: Hamburg : Diplomica Verlag, 2014
Edition: 1st ed
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9783954897056
Branch Call Number: Electronic book
Characteristics: 1 online resource (61 pages)
Additional Contributors: ProQuest (Firm)


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