Wednesday, December 26, 2007
"The Great Debaters" Why Are Black Folks Taken By The Populist Message?
I watched the movie "The Great Debaters" with Denzel Washington. I promise not to spill the beans about the conclusion of the movie for those who did not see it. I could not help but notice some of the subtle messages that where hidden within the movie as a means of appealing to the sentiments and racial grievances that are popular among Black folks. In fact - it could be argued that this movie which referenced the 1930's Texas USA provides further proof of how far Black people have come today.
Yes there was a lynching scene. Yes the Wiley College debate team were not able to compete against one but fellow Black schools with few exceptions. Yes indeed - a Black man being caught outside of his own house and engaging a White man had reason to fear the White man because THE LAW would cover for him regardless of what he might do. Is this the state of "America 2008"? Or are the examples that one could pull up EXCEPTIONS rather than rules? Despite this point that I needed to make THESE are not the point of my post.
I want to talk about the Populist Message and how it is broadcast to Black folks. Denzel Washington - a fine actor, also played in the movie "John Q". This movie was about a father who in desperation to acquire medical attention for his dying son as he couldn't afford to pay for these services took hostages at the hospital in the last ditch attempt to bring awareness to his cause. While the movie "John Q" bashed the movie going audience over the head with its populist message, the move "The Great Debaters" had a similar goal with less abruptness in the message.
One key subtext of the movie was the union organizing efforts of the lead character that was played by Mr. Washington. During that time in our development as a nation a "union organizer" was consider a communist, socialist, radical or agitator. In addition - the "Law men" were agents of the Industrial complex that worked to suppress any such challenges to the status quo as they attempted to have more benefit flow to the laborers, in the movie's case - the poor "Sharecroppers" both Black and White.
Let us move forward to the year 2008 which is just around the corner. As we consider the densely populated urban areas where Black folks are concentrated - is it the lack of the RIGHT TO FORM A UNION that is our critical issue of the day? What would happen if all of the abandoned lots that litter North Philly and Baltimore were replaced by a brand new UNION HALL, built by the hands of the unemployed citizenry? What if upon holding a meeting in these facilities.........no corrupt sheriff or Pennsylvania's version of the "Texas Rangers" ever drove up to the union hall to bust up the meeting? What happens when no union rally attendee gets beaten up by the corrupt sheriff to motivate him to talk - dropping the dime on who else was in the meeting?
What happens in 2008 when NONE OF THIS HAPPENS?
DO YOU HAVE JOBS IN THESE URBAN AREAS AS A RESULT OF THE PRESENCE OF THE UNION AND THE ABSENCE OF THE THREAT TO THEM AFTER HAVING SECURED YOUR LABOR RIGHTS?
What is the "photographic negative" to this message that is so appealing to those "without"? Isn't it clear that in 2008 the Black community needs to PRODUCE ITS OWN JOBS for the people within to a greater extent than FIGHTING FOR LABOR RIGHTS?
In the movie there were several debate teams that argued "in the affirmative" for various social welfare programs. One debater said that "a man needs to be GIVEN a job.......". My serious challenge to the Black community with its strong Popular Black Political Machine that dominates every single political ward where we are the majority across America - WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE CONTROL THE KEY KNOBS AND SWITCHES IN A GIVEN DISTRICT? In this circumstance when it is said "a man needs to be GIVEN A JOB" who is the GRANTER of such a social benefit? One can't help but note that as this nation has changed over time. In the past economic development was done at the local as a part of a city's choice to INCORPORATE as they realized that as a chartered entity they were more or less self-contained and the synergies of their local resources could produce more benefit for its citizens than would be the case for the un-incorporated entity. Today despite having a favorable political machine in office controlling the entity of the city - the political leaders having taken over that plateau now seek to conquer the federal government as the pretext for economic abundance at the local level. What is the consequence of this?
In my view the consequence of "the external economic chase" has been to promote the power of the Federal government into a high stakes game of big money politics. Black people are made to be agents of a given political party that promises more POPULIST/PROGRESSIVE policies that will establish our standard of living, having OUTSOURCED this function from the local economy that actually PRODUCES value over to the POLITICAL process that REDISTRIBUTES value as confiscated from the SYSTEM THAT PRODUCES IT. This is the bastardization to the notion that "all politics is local". To violate such a principle is to buy into the notion that THE MACHINE that you are loyal to provides you with your quality of life and standard of living. Thus your very stake is at risk IF "your side LOSES" the election rather than it being a matter of if YOUR EFFORTS at producing value is more efficient in the marketplace. Having reached this point what must you do besides VOTING to attain your station in life? As you have adopted such indoctrination WHO HAS GROWN MORE POWERFUL? Your COMMUNITY or YOUR PARTY?
The job market in Detroit, in New Orleans, in Gary, in Baltimore will be regenerated NOT by the federal government but by the efforts of local entities who have the primary interests in employing the minds of the people contained there in as they play their individual parts in the system that crafts the STANDARD OF LIVING that is expressed by the community. This is the sum of all of their labors.
With the populist message one can't help but to notice that the burden for producing this end is OBFUSCATED onto some external entity who is always inches away from being conquered. Just as these golden rings are in the vestiges of control of the body politic per their superior numbers stuffed into the polling place.................THEY MOVE AWAY, hopscotching just over the man made political boundary that frees them of the legislative mandate that your new found power had arrayed AGAINST THEM as you plotted to reorder the system to your advantage. The key question that must be asked is: "Is it YOUR SYSTEM that produces economic value or are you in a system in which YOUR ADVERSARIES wealth is central to the development of your own? (In a spate of intellectual honesty I am compelled to admit that while I was talking about GOVERNMENT CONFISCATION it is also true that the CAPITALIST is plotting on your wallet as well. Of the two, however, the former is passing laws and thus the benefits rain down upon those who haven't even done anything differently prior to the law being enacted. In the latter AT LEAST he is doing something, learning from doing and then increasing his capabilities and market value as he develops 'schemes' to lighten your wallet.)
If you are going to be dependent on a system then at least be dependent on one that requires your efforts to produce value rather than requiring your ballot, properly filled out in November.