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Johnson got 60,000 American soldiers killed.   I have boycotted most elections since 1964,

and I voted for Obama only because I thought it might be symbolically significant to have

an American mulatto in such an historically unique position on the world stage. 



Books by Wilson Jeremiah Moses

Golden Age of Black Nationalism, 1850-1925 (1988)  / The Wings of Ethiopia  (1990)

 Alexander Crummell: A Study of Civilization and Discontent (1992)  / Destiny & Race: Selected Writings, 1840-1898  (1992) 

 Black Messiahs and Uncle Toms: Social and Literary Manipulations of a Religious Myth (1993)

Liberian Dreams: Back-to-Africa Narratives from the 1850s  / Afrotopia: The Roots of African American Popular History (2002)

Creative Conflict in African American Thought (2004)

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A Time for PeaceA Time for War

By Wilson J. Moses


One of Barack Obama’s first acts as president was to say that Guantanamo must go. It did not go. Soon after, he said that the Israeli settlements must go. They expanded. . . .  President Obama, who had traveled far already from his origins when he reinstituted military tribunals and defended the treatment of Bradley Manning, is now seen to have cast his lot with a long history of secret wars and overthrows and kinetic military operations extending back to Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Vietnam in 1963, and Nicaragua in 1984.—David Bromwich, Yale Professor, expert on Political Writing

What continues to amaze me is that anyone can be surprised by those actions of the President that Professor Bromwich catalogues.   Those voters who thought that Obama would be able to deliver much-needed legislation on socialized medicine were perhaps too optimistic.  But those who thought he could or would modify the thrust of American foreign policy, especially Middle East policy, were completely unrealistic and naive.

Bromwich is, perhaps, too young to have clear memories of Lyndon B. Johnson.   I voted for Johnson in 1964 to keep Goldwater out of the White House, supposing Johnson would be a lesser warmonger than Goldwater.  Maybe he was.  Goldwater had promised to use tactical nukes.  All I can say with certainty is what actually happened.  Johnson got 60,000 American soldiers killed.   I have boycotted most elections since 1964, and I voted for Obama only because I thought it might be symbolically significant to have an American mulatto in such an historically unique position on the world stage. 

I therefore regarded with somewhat mitigated bafflement the enthusiastic crowd that greeted Obama in Berlin in 2008.  Both the "Berliners" and the world press seemed to see a Kennedy reincarnation in Obama.    I have difficulty understanding what was so important about Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech.  I suppose the Germans found Kennedy's malapropism heart-warming, as they often do my own frequent corruptions of German idiom and syntax.  Both Kennedy and Reagan earned places in Bartlett's Quotations with their Berlin speeches that have been tiresomely repeated by mindless hagiographers.  Actually these were two empty statements by the two most overrated of American presidents. 

There was a better occasion, on which for Obama to usefully (or cynically) exploit the Kennedy myth and symbolism; that was when he was offered the Nobel Peace Prize.  With strategic humility he might have declined the Nobel Prize, referencing Kennedy and recycling Kennedy's famous citation of Ecclesiastes:  "There is a time for peace and a time for war." Think of how useful he would find those words at this moment, invoking simultaneously the Bible and the martyred Kennedy.  Just thinking about it gives me goose-bumps!

4 April 2011

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Manning Marable (May 13, 1950 - April, 1, 2011)—American historian, educator, and social critic—has passed over. His  Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention will be published  on  4 April 2011NYTimes

Wilson Moses Remembers Manning Marable

How tragic, and yet how beautiful, that Manning Marable should leave us at this moment of heroic triumph.  He has had few rivals and no scholar has been more important.   His book How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America was celebrated by myself and others as the brilliant and widely heralded complement to the paradigm of his colleague Walter Rodney, who monumentally demonstrated the European underdevelopment of Africa.  When I taught as a guest professor at the Free University of Berlin in1984, I was gratified to learn that Marable's work The Second Reconstruction in Black America had gained him the respect of leftist intellectuals internationally.  

Death comes to us all, and few of us welcome its coming, but some of us hope that it will arrive when our powers are intact, and we are satisfied with the results of our labors.   At the moment of his departure, Manning Marable's scholarly triumphs were universally acclaimed. The publication of his definitive biography, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention is not only destined to transform our perception of its subject; it will force us into a more critical and realistic perception of black nationalism in the modern world. 

Marable was a principal shaper of the Pan-African methodology in scholarship, and a model citizen of the borderless Republic of Letters.  His legacy will be his example of dedication to the pursuit of truth, wherever that pursuit may lead.

2 April 2011

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Obama’s Libyan Choices

By Wilson J. Moses


Dear Friends and Relatives,

Years ago, when I was an undergraduate English major, I encountered the following definition:  “Tragedy consists in a situation where a protagonist’s choices are limited to only two alternatives, both of which are unacceptable.” 

With time being of the essence, and the fall of the last bastion of the Libyan rebels impending, Obama had the choices of either standing still to witness a possible humanitarian disaster or staging an at least symbolic military intervention. 

Pressured by humanitarian interventionists on the left, militarists on the right, and a silent cast of cynical oil merchants, Obama initially imposed a no-fly zone over Libya, bombed several tank columns and a few military truck convoys, and called on Gaddafi to resign his presidency.  

Liberals felt obliged to defend Obama, despite their opposition to American involvement in yet another war in the Muslim world. But some liberals are now calling for Obama to arm the Rebels. Leftists, however, attacked Obama for allowing himself to be pressured into military action by the Right.  One faction of Afrocentrists responded with outrage, for some (but not all Afrocentrists) view Gaddafi as an African, and are inclined to defend him as an African brother.   This segment of Afrocentrists apparently preferred complete non-interventionism, which may have been correct.  Other Afrocentists are cynical about Gaddafi, pointing out the history of Arab involvement in the slave trade and in East African plantation slavery. 

The Republican Party responded cynically and opportunistically.  They have been aggressively wishy-washy, advising interventionism one day, and non-interventionism the next.   They call for firmness of action while themselves flipping, flopping, vacillating and equivocating.   Within the space of every news-cycle the Republicans have been consistently inconsistent, several times condemning the “Obama Doctrine,” and several times accusing Obama of having no doctrine. 

The fact is that no American knows how to respond to the crisis in Libya, because there is little reliable information about the cast of characters or about the understudies, waiting in the wings.  Nobody knows what to expect when Gaddafi is replaced at whatever time or by whatever means. 

Obama was elected to be president of the United States, which means always putting American interests first.  But what are American interests in the long run or in the short run? That is largely up to the President of the United States to decide.  When Obama asserts that it will serve American interests for Gaddafi to be removed, he is referring to the diverse and competing interests of the American business and industrial master classes.  Thus his position is as unavoidably contradictory and illogical as was the position of James Madison, when he launched the ill-advised and catastrophic war of 1812. 

American energy needs are currently being debated in an atmosphere polluted by emissions from Fukushima Daiichi, and by the persistent lies and cover-ups of the international energy cartels.  We have no reliable information concerning the energy resources of the United States, whether this involves natural gas, petroleum, or nuclear power.  Everything is contaminated by the lies of the energy industries, and the financiers who speculate on energy futures.   And let’s not forget the difference between business and industry; these are distinct, albeit overlapping concepts, which few people have contemplated, thanks to the deliberate fogginess of the terminology. 

One thing is crystal clear, however.   Regardless of who occupies the White House, United States policy will inevitably be determined by the economic interests of the masters'—or politicians' perceptions of the masters' interests. 

In 1913, Charles Beard, the greatest of all American historians told the simple truth about the nature of the Constitution of the United States; it was intended to defend the interests of an economic elite.   James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” bluntly stated that the purpose of the Constitution is to negotiate the interests of the propertied classes, that is, the classes that Adam Smith refers to as, “the masters.”  

The executive responsibility of the President of the United States is by definition, the advancement of the interests of the propertied master-class.   Only a Tea-Party populist could be so naive as to think otherwise.  

31 March 2011

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The Reagan Doctrine of National Suicide  /Open Letter to President Barack Obama

A Time for Peace: A Time for War / Obama’s Libyan Choices

The Country We Believe In  (Obama)  / Tea Party, Schmee Party (Moses

Cornel West and the fight against injustice  /  Cornel West Calls Out Barack Obama  

Rehabilitating U.S. Military Intervention in the Age of Obama

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Malcolm X

A Life of Reinvention

By Manning Marable

Years in the making-the definitive biography of the legendary black activist.

Of the great figure in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins' bullets at age thirty-nine. Through his tireless work and countless speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death he became a broad symbol of both resistance and reconciliation for millions around the world.

Manning Marable's new biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement. Filled with new information and shocking revelations that go beyond the Autobiography, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America, from the rise of Marcus Garvey and the Ku Klux Klan to the struggles of the civil rights movement in the fifties and sixties.

Reaching into Malcolm's troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents' activism through his own engagement with the Nation of Islam, charting his astronomical rise in the world of Black Nationalism and culminating in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. Malcolm X will stand as the definitive work on one of the most singular forces for social change, capturing with revelatory clarity a man who constantly strove, in the great American tradition, to remake himself anew.

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The Predator State: How Conservatives

Abandoned the Free Market, and Why Liberals Should Too

By James K. Galbraith

Galbraith, noted economist and son of the late economist John Kenneth Galbraith, offers his views on the gap between conservative ideology and its use and abuse to cover up the George W. Bush administration’s Predator State, which takes advantage of the public sector and undermines public institutions for private profit. Galbraith reports that although most academics have abandoned conservative principles such as free trade, deregulation, and tax cuts for the wealthy, politicians from both parties continue to advance policies that, in reality, have turned regulatory agencies over to business lobbies, allowed the subprime mortgage foreclosures and banking crisis, and created Medicare’s drug plan, which legislates monopoly pricing for drug companies.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 3 April 2011 




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Related files:  Tea Party, Schmee Party   Tea Party Nationalism: A Critical Examination  The History of White People  White Nationalism Black Interests   

White Nationalism Black Interests  The Reagan Doctrine of National Suicide  A Time for Peace: A Time for War  The Real Michael Steele