If I were 30, I’d be out on the streets, well ok, I was too ironic at 30, living in lower Manhattan married to a rag picker and going to performance arts events, but I believed in all the causes of the left. I’d spent my 20’s so embedded that, by the time I decided to write, two red-diaper babies helped me scale the first brick wall. After which I met some of the great leaders of the left, most of the board of the African National Congress, especially the man who headed up uMkhonto We Sizwe, the military arm of the ANC, who ran training and torture camps in Zaire. In fact, I was so embedded in the left I spent the three weeks after Nelson Mandela’s release in his back garden. I’d engineered a $1.6 million book deal for him. He chose our offer because of my association with Time Inc., but also because I knew the daughter of his strongest champion. I was safe. I was practically family. I met Martin McGuinness, the military head of the IRA, a man who had ordered the killing of thousands. I met a substantial number of their intellectuals, the bombers, the assassins. I met many of their cultural supporters, Pacino, U2, Kazan. I worked for Arthur Penn, the film director, who was quietly hard left, as were all his very starry pals.
In my 20’s I’d started a feminist theatre company, and spent the summers managing 12 women in a straight-up cooperative, which meant I worked three more hours a day trying to figure out how to manipulate them into showing up for work. We’d stage a play and open the audience for questions, during which we’d be shouted at for an hour by infuriated men and women. It was tiring.
At the time I was dating my philosophy professor, a very black Indian whose parents were indentured laborers in Trinidad, out of which they finally worked. The Anglican church had plucked him out of their school and sent him to Cambridge where he got a Master’s degree. He took me to Young Socialist meetings, and on his advice, I volunteered for the NDP, Canada’s Socialist party. We would go to Chinatown on Saturdays for dim sum, after which we would go to the Maoist bookstore, where he bought me my political tract for the week. On Practice, by Mao himself, is one I remember, mostly because after reading it I decided to live my life by getting so close to a group of people I experienced their reality, which was a weird as hell decision I still don’t understand other than I was mad curious. My boyfriend had been a friend and associate of Paul Goodman and Ivan Illich, two of the men responsible for the reworking of education, the results of which we are now enjoying. Hilariously, he tried to convert my mother, who sent back his pages, heavily notated.
Eventually, I sickened of the negativity, the deadendedness of his thinking and dumped him, after extracting from him everything he knew. Which is sociopathic right? Though not if you’re a man.
So here’s the question, why would a pretty upper-middle-class girl from an occasionally notable founding family of both the US and Canada, decide to throw all that away and identify with the dispossessed and unfairly treated? I hadn’t been indoctrinated through my education, rather, I had deliberately chosen to be indoctrinated by my philosopher/communist friend.
Answering that would answer the question as to why almost every segment of our culture has thrown itself on the pyre of Black Lives Matter whose stated purpose is to destroy America and rebuild it on Marxist lines.
At some point making a living became paramount, learning a constructive skill, one I loved enough to give my life to, making a happy life with my family, and I gave up the revolution. Equally, I saw what Winnie Mandela had done to the townships, what Martin McGuinness had done to Northern Ireland, what my friend’s father, head of the South African Communist Party had done to the culture of southern Africa. They caused devastation. The streets were ruined, infrastructure was gone, civil society a dim memory. Each of them left their region in a war of all against all.
The need, the desire, stayed with me. Much of the time I’ve had to work for money, but when I decide what to do, it has to have at least a glimmer of a higher purpose, or I won’t animate. This appears to be a rewrite of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, once basic requirements including and especially status, are taken care of, service becomes the highest high. I think I am right, not Maslow, whose thinking was polluted by Marxism.
I didn’t start reading policy papers til I was 45. I bet exactly zero people on the streets know they even exist. But that is where they should start. With hard analyses of the mess caused by the $22 Trillion injected into the black community since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.
The housing and schools in many challenged neighborhoods are pits of despair out of which crawl crime, anger, and desperation. But they weren’t created so much by prejudice as by the last three generations of well-meaning, misguided politicians and bureaucrats. Reversing those policies, finding the right ones, creating opportunities that move blacks towards the prosperity and safety of an average white region, will take the combined brainpower of Generation Z.
The most brilliant woman I know said that as wealth increases, the marginalized become mainstream. It is hard to know what comes first but as women were integrated into the workforce, cultural wealth shot up, doubled, then doubled again. The same happened with gay people, integrated, accepted they contributed more talent, more energy, the result more abundance and prosperity. Every marginalized group carries with it a gift to the rest. The bounty that will be brought by an integrated black culture will stun us all. Imagine what could come out of the billion youth of Africa.
Humans activate themselves through violence, it is the original sin + 1 of the race (whichever damned color). If Reese Witherspoon and all her blindingly rich Hollywood pals are determined to help, they will be a model for all the upper-middle-class women who used to ignore the plight in America’s projects, while they perfect their golf game. The more integrated people of color into the culture, the better. As fast as possible, please. And frankly, with automation bearing down on us, generations coming up need something meaningful to do. Africa could take them the next 100 years.
So I say it’s going to shake out ok. The hard Marxism of Black Lives Matter will not disrupt the American dream, not even slightly. They are already becoming a joke, one with blood attached. Most of the people in sympathy with the protestors are educated, competent individuals who seek to give their lives a deeper meaning by helping those who need help. And that desire represents a much much better future. There is a shit ton of stuff to work out, a million questions to ask. The problems are far far far more complex than most can imagine. It will require every one of them to fix them.
But what better way to spend your life?