Friday, March 16, 2007

Cornel West on the Political Left Today

"What I would like to see is radical reformism once more become fashionable among young people."

- Professor Cornel West

At the 2007 Left Forum in NYC, Princeton University Professor Cornel West answers the question:
What does it really mean to be a leftist in the early part of the 21st century? What are we really talking about?
It's clear that the Democratic Party remains clueless, visionless and spineless for the most part. Does that mean you give up on them? No, it doesn’t mean you give up on them, but you have to be honest with them. But it does allow one to, in some way -- and this is what I think Brother Rick Wolff was talking about in terms of the desegregation of the rightwing consensus, the unbelievable ways in which now rightwing fellow citizens are at each other's throats. The evangelical right wing can't stand the free marketeers, can’t stand the balanced-budgeters. That's fine. Let them fight. Let them fight. Let them go at each other. They're weakened in that way. But what kind of alternative do we have? [...]

leftist identity is not going to be the major means by which you get at people to wake up and come to terms with their social misery, be willing to stand up courageously, articulate vision, and most importantly, have a slice of people who are willing to live and die for a cause, you see, because they have other stories and other narratives that they use to do that.

So I would even argue, in some way, that Martin King and Fannie Lou Hamer were much more important than the Black Panther Party.
[Democracy Now]
Commenting on the same Left Forum, conservative John McWhorter writes as if Blacks should be resigned to struggling within and under a system that they cannot change, which, to me, sounds more like victim-mentality than an encouraging statement on the status of healthy and vibrant democracy in these United States. He says,
If Obama is elected, it is unlikely that he will spearhead a black agenda of the sort that the Left Forum panel would recognize. Nor is it likely that such a black agenda will ever come to be. However, there are ways of making people's lives better within the system that we are stuck with.