In the last 20 years, Black Conservatism has surged into the mainstream of Black American Politics. A philosophy once derided as being an accomplice to the social malady of white racism, it is fast becoming the bastion of many alienated working class and aspiring black male commentators and pundits. But what is black conservatism? What is its’ true philosophy?
Through ingenious branding, tireless marketing efforts, repetitive use of wedge issues, and cleverly disguised hypocrisy, the American right has been able to convince working class Americans. both black and white, that it’s goals come neatly wrapped in the star spangled bows of God, Liberty, & Country. In the process, it produced a kind of dangerous fanaticism in groups like the Michigan Militia, The American Nazi Party, and the Alt Right. Lurking in the shadows of these organizations were always powerful elites spurring a return to the old days of corporate monarchy with no check on abuses and an open display of social hierarchy, shown by extreme poverty on one hand, and extreme opulence on the other.
So exactly how and where does black conservatism fit into this scene? What are the circumstances that contributed to its’ origin? You know how I do it! Back we go. One of the central tenets of conservatism is its emphasis on family values. If we dust off the historical archives of the black american experience, and walk into the recesses of our collective memory, we will discover that family has been a most precious commodity to Black America since the horrific dissolution of familial bonds inside of chattel slavery. Without a repetitively painful and nauseating discussion about the sale of husbands, wives and children, it is clearly understandable how and why such a people would place prime importance on the family unit.
But in truth, black conservatism had a more practical purpose: survival. A deep cultural estrangement produced by the slave trade, combined with generations of western socialization, produced a race that found itself going at it alone on foreign soil, in a kind racial caste system that was comparable to South Africa and India. Thus, it was reasonably concluded that in order to escape dalit status, Black Americans would have to play the great societal game using the rulebook of American capitalism. Even though its fractured families resulted from this capitalist enterprise, Black America simply charged it to the game and wrote off its ill effects as a forgettable externality. And so began the long march Up From Slavery.
There is probably not a more conservative figure in the history of black conservatism than Booker T. Washington. His emphasis on industrial educational, economic empowerment through free enterprise and individual self-improvement through hard work and faith, at the expense of civil liberties and protection, made him the consummate black conservative. Racial improvement through a mastery of industrial and technological sciences made him the standard model for black nationalists like Jamaican Pan Africanist Marcus Garvey. An important note must be made at this point. Under the conservatism of Booker T. Washington, there was no pitch for corporate tax breaks, no battle for improved working conditions, no segmented class or income inequality, no arguments about gender roles, no bailouts, or discussions about government intervention and most importantly, no racial animosity toward other groups.
It appears that in fact, Black conservatism goes out of its way to disavow any mention of racism; sometimes to the point of absurdity. If we compare black conservatism to its white monopolistic counterpart, we see a distinct difference in quality and character. One was, and is based on the centralization of wealth and subjugation, while the other functions as a vehicle of independence and self-reliance. While independence and self reliance are no doubt conservative virtues, one can quickly surmise that black people were more conservative in practice than the staunchest white conservative. Simply put, real Black conservatives were bout that life!
Another tenet of conservatism is the idea of limited government intervention. This is a no brainer when examined in the context of the black experience. To black people, slavery was the ultimate form of government intervention. It was regulated down to the smallest detail, including the use of a black body. It dictated how the black body would be counted to determine the very balance of power in the halls of Congress (See 3/5ths Compromise). Thus, black trust in government was counter-intuitive.
Even after it attempted to right its judicial and legislative wrongs (i.e. 13th, 14th, & 15th Amendments), government hostility against black interests and aspirations continued right up into the 21 century. One can easily conclude that if anyone has had a complicated relationship with the government, it’s black people. In a very perverse sense, the urban American dope game was a kind of conservative response to the hand of the state, since it too was based on laizze faire economics.
As we enter the 2nd decade of the 21st century, we have witnessed a devolution of true black conservative values. The Black Conservative of today seems to draw inspiration from it’s white counterpart instead of its’ own indigenous practices. This maybe because the circumstances that shaped it are more internal as opposed to external. Today’s black conservative seems to owe his/her origin to the internal culture wars in the black community. While it may be stereotypical to admit, there is inside of the black community, a politics of swag fueled by a monolithic definition of blackness. This definition has created a culture that defines black as forever impoverished, outlaw, semi-literate, and mindlessly wasteful in pursuit of social recognition. It is a culture that requires constant authentication by those who are fervent adherents to the triumph of style over substance.
This culture identifies itself as oppressed even if it does nothing substantive to alleviate the oppression. It is a culture that sets social trends but doesn’t affect social order. It originates style but does not have the power to remove the barriers to the independent control over the very style that it originates. It’s only redemption is that it has the ability to internally ostracize those whose actions fall outside of the accepted norms of its cultural experience. Therefore, you must be careful, because it’s all too easy to get your “ghetto” (black) pass revoked. This practice has the effect of alienating those who are different away from the black community, right into the hand of those who will harness both their alienation and their ability to “talk white.” This practice robs the black community of its most ingenious and innovative minds that could trigger a collective economic rebirth in Black America.
More often than not, these people usually flee into conservative organizations and adhere to conservative ideology even as they fail to critique their motives, goals and objectives. They are black refugees in white think tanks, astroturf organizations, and political parties tied to oligarchic interests. Their refugee status is richly rewarded. They receive access to capital, prestige and privilege. But far from advocating the Booker Washington platforms of technological mastery for collective advancement, or entrepreneurial ventures to raise the collective income of the race, they advocate the interests of a largely white corporate network of financial elites who seek a return to the old social hegemony of the late 19th, and early 20th century. (More on this later)
Their social media outlets are filled with subtle and sometimes not so subtle, bigots bellowing about the illusory loss of their country in a world of affirmative action enforced by white liberal guilt. This accusation is not so much incorrect as it is mis-stated. White liberals have certainly played a part in this sordid affair but it was not the detriment of white people. White liberals, while they may have exhibited sympathy for the black plight, when it came to the empowerment of Black Americans, they proved to be just as conservative as Strom Thurmond. (More on this in a later article) It is this hypocrisy that forced the Black Conservative away from a community that often largely politically supported the allegedly liberal democratic party.
So where are we today? We are left with Black Conservatives that mostly parrot the news stories and social commentary of Fox News, Breitbart.com, and the Blaze. They don’t even bother with originality. Like white conservatives, they dance around indefensible positions with a clear intent to stick to the script, no matter how insipid or ridiculous. Their debates are filled with obfuscation and irrelevant talking points that speak to wedge issues. Their creativity is reserved for the numerous revisions if not out right lies about simple historical facts. With a few notable exceptions, their statistical data is taken out of context and extrapolated over unrelated highly misleading “alternative facts.” And on those rare occasions when they mention anything black, it is a tranquilizing appeal for calm when tempers are understandably hot.
Black Conservatism was the firebrand of conservative politics when it advocated hard work and industriousness (I hope that’s a word…lol) for community uplift. It was unique when it spoke to training black people to be self reliant in an era where most billionaires depended on government subsidies. Its use of the church to sustain the hope of millions in their darkest hour affirmed their powerful faith in the triumph of justice, even when it seldom came. It carried the gospel of democracy even when it was withheld from its blessings.
But today, I regret to inform you that real Black Conservatism is dying a slow agonizing death. Its’ obituary will be what Dr. King called the “belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.” Its reincarnation will be an animated mummified putrid corpse dancing in white bandages to the all too familiar tune of plutocracy.-TO BE CONTINUED, STAY TUNED!!!
Tony Maceo is a senior blogger at the Negromanosphere and the chief writer@ power and strategy.com. Please like, share and subscribe to my website as well as the You Tube Page. Like us on FB@ Power and Strategy. And also become a patron @ powerofstrategies. Till Next Time, I’ll Holla!