black lives matter moves to cultural nationalism: analysis and forecast
Let’s start with a quiz. Guess which policy demands are from the Black Lives Matter platform and which ones are from the original 10-point plan from the Black Panthers in 1966:
- We believe that this racist government has robbed us, and now we are demanding the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules.
- An end to the privatization of education and real community control by parents, students and community members of schools including democratic school boards and community control of curriculum, hiring, firing and discipline policies.
- We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of self. If a man does not have knowledge of himself and his position in society and the world, then he has little chance to relate to anything else
- We believe we can end police brutality in our Black community by organizing Black self-defense groups that are dedicated to defending our Black community from racist police oppression and brutality.
- A reallocation of funds at the federal, state and local level from policing and incarceration [specific programs omitted] to long-term safety strategies such as education, local restorative justice services, and employment programs.
- Institute a universal single payer healthcare system. To do this all private insurers must be banned from the healthcare market as their only effect on the health of patients is to take money away from doctors, nurses and hospitals preventing them from doing their jobs and hand that money to wall st. investors.
- Racial and gender equal rights amendment.
Answer: BLM – 2, 5; BP – 1, 3, 4. Trick question: 6 & 7 are actually from a list of Occupy Wall Street demands. If you got some wrong, don’t worry. A lot of these demands are interchangeable and all three groups have promoted some version of most of them.
The purpose of the quiz is to illustrate how the recent Black Lives Matter platform draws heavily from Black cultural nationalism and progressivism. It also shows that the Black Lives Matter movement is now evolving in a direction very similar to these groups. Like the Panthers in 1966, Black Lives was founded specifically in response to police repression. But it framed itself in Marxist terms and soon expanded to offer social programs. Similarly, Black Lives Matter started in response to police shootings and has now offered a fairly comprehensive list of demands rooted in the Left.
There are differences of course, but I think we can now articulate a framework, or baseline, for thinking about BLM. It is a progressive, community oriented movement, not a movement that primarily focuses on police reform. It is also a movement that will have wide appeal on the Left, but less appeal to the middle and the Right.
Since we’ve had a number of movements like this, we can look at their history. We’ve had the Panthers in the 1960s, the anti-globalization movement of the 1990s, and the Occupy movement of 2010s. These movements tend to be brief, but intense. They have wide cultural impact, but limited policy or electoral impact. The impact of BLM will be very concentrated in a few places and otherwise widespread and diffuse. Time will tell if the comparison with BLMs ancestry is an adequate guide to their future.
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