Blueprint for Black Power

This book, authored by the late psychologist Amos N. Wilson, was completed posthumously by editors Sababu N. Plata and Adisa Makalani. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be going through this book to raise some issues that I believe merit a deeper discussion.

The subtitle of the book, “A Moral, Political and Economic Imperative for the Twenty-First Century,” runs more than 850 pages. There are a number of themes that are explored in more or less detail. One of the larger issues that is not part of an extended conversation is the question of a Black political party.

Wilson articulates the need for a Black political party – and much of his argument is hinged on William Greider’s analysis of functional unity between Democrats and Republicans, particularly with respect to fundamental class issues and foreign policy. He quotes Greider’s finding that, “In the contemporary Democratic party, the ‘regulars’ at the grassroots are regarded as an impediment to governing.” Wilson goes further and asserts that Blacks are “the primary impediment to governing.” Wilson posits the need for an independent Black party whose primary aim would not be to win elections, but rather to provide a framework for policy/political work on issues critical to a black agenda.

Interestingly, and correctly (I believe), Wilson argues that the primary goal of the party would not be to win elections.

5 comments

  1. This is the fundamental point. The object is to change policy, not to win elections. Whenever someone asks me to handicap Hilary’s odds, or Obama’s odds, I tell them as much. I don’t care about either if there is no policy shift.

    The question that their work doesn’t answer though is…what happens when the entire municipality is black?

  2. I would suggest that when a municipality is all black, the goals would remain the same. An all black municipality does not mean that the residents of that town are any more inclined to join an all Black political party. I would imagine that the municipality would be largely aligned Left or Right and Democratic or Republican. The work of re-aligning that polity to a Black agenda would be considerable – and should be an organic and local activity.

    In fact, Wilson stresses the notion that party membership would NOT be extended to those persons retaining membership in the Democratic or Republican party. Within his construct, the party work continues beyond the scope of “candidates” and the vertical competition for offices beyond the scope of that black municipality. I believe he envisioned a stronger horizontal organization that would make organic connections (if often unplanned) to support similar constituencies across the nation and throughout the diaspora.

    So, the structure which Wilson alludes to (without much detail) emphasizes policy formation, policy education and political organization – to the opposite end of candidate promotion.

  3. How does he envision getting the policies enacted, if not by winning elections, though?

    I’ve thought of this sort of thing before, and actually I think some conservative subgroups are doing it in some fashion -but not as a separate political party or anything. More with the think tanks and other policy centers. But, even if they are not part of the dominant parties themselves, they do use their influence, and the prospect of their votes, on the parties (both, I think) to get their policy positions a hearing.

    The way politics are set up now, I am not sure how effective working outside of that system would really be. The Republicans would be ecstatic if Black people withdrew from the main political arena, Democrats would be horrified because they can’t win without us and would be likely to at least promise anything to get renewed participation… but that’s the same old same old anyway, so not a lot would change.

    So, I’m missing part of this, I think. Sounds like a great book, though, and should engender lots of discussion.

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