In case you haven’t noticed, the right-wing propaganda slime machine is doing its dead-level best at reaching back for its old, reliable dog whistle. The same old “They’re Marxist” scare tactic is being employed again to scare the hell out of white people. This time the dirt is being dug up on the Black Lives Matter Movement, and, as usual, for starters and maximum effect they plant the dirt within the religious establishments.
For example, recently an African-American friend reported that during a Bible Study Fellowship (BSF}conducted by a world-wide, interdenominational Christian organization, the coordinator and leader of the group began a prayer in which she prayed that “The Marxist Black Lives Matter Movement be banished from the face of the earth because it is against God’s will and is hurting Donald Trump, our beloved president”. Admittedly, I’m reporting second-hand information, but a quick check with a You Tube video confirmed the indictment that the BLM movement is, in fact, being smeared and slammed as a Marxist organization.
The truth is that Marxism, as a socialist structure, has traditionally been a way of life in black society and is nothing particularly unusual as Black people do tend to share and work together. After 400 years of horrific treatment under European rule, Black people’s survival, having been beaten down and massacred time and time again, especially after Reconstruction in 1865, is nothing short of a miracle; the utilization of socialist ideas represented coping techniques, not methods of overtaking the Capitalist economic system.
And, by the way, Marxism is simply a philosophical statement of the consciousness or perspective of the working class: it spells out how oppression occurs and what is necessary to overcome it. Historically, whenever Black people attempted to gain wealth, it was stolen and/or destroyed — -the people massacred — -or, by some other edit or cruel formulation that white people concocted; Marxism within Black society was never meant as a threat to white wealth or power, but merely an accommodation to fit in and survive in the majority system.
In his book Black Reconstruction in America renowned educator, author, and activist, W.E.B. Dubois outlined the survivalist connection between Marxism and Black people as the only viable route forward, even during the Civil War: “…DuBois’s insistence on labeling black resistance during the Civil War a general strike…as soon as it became clear that the Union armies would not or could not return fugitive slaves, and that the masters with all their fume and fury were uncertain of victory, the slave entered upon a general strike against slavery…DuBois was ahead of the scholarly curve for crediting blacks with winning the war and emancipating themselves. He was putting slave resistance in a capital versus labor, Marxist framework.”
So, in that historical framework, clearly Marxism was a tactic used by the slaves themselves as a survival strategy that Karl Marx would have found admirable, but certainly not life-threatening to the slave-owning capitalists in any way.
Nevertheless, in the 1950’s and 60’s the frightful “Marxism” meme was unveiled and widely spread in the media during J. Edgar Hoover’s notorious F.B.I. slandering and wiretapping of Dr. Martin Luther King. Following World War Two, the ‘Red Scare’ tactic was particularly effective against King because the country was preoccupied with the perception that national or foreign communists were infiltrating or subverting the Unites States. Indeed, the purported communist scheme made some white people even more suspicious of Blacks during the Civil Rights Movement. Nonetheless, King fought against racism and the one-hundred-year-old Jim Crow Laws, which eventually led to President Lyndon Johnson signing landmark legislation, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and The Voting Rights Acts of 1965.
Despite this progress, however, the right-wing propaganda machine is still effective fifty years later whenever Black people begin to organize.
Black Lives Matter is a movement predicated on the idea that violence against Black and Brown people by police is not acceptable, and that non-violent protest and civil disobedience are simply methods used to highlight the issue. It’s comprised of 16 decentralized chapters of like-minded groups under various names, all existing under the Black Lives Matter umbrella working for policy changes in the interest of Black liberation in the United States and around the world.
When the conservative white power structure paints any Black movement as ‘Marxist’ it is clearly a typical knee jerk reaction aimed at alarming white people. In point of fact, Black labor, beginning with the slave labor that built this country, has been an abomination, and has done nothing to advance the struggle for any significant level of wealth-building for Black people, even after after 400 years.
Perhaps THAT is the threat that the white establishment fears when it hears that Black Lives Matter and realize that, yes, it IS much more than a hashtag!