Quotes from “Identity Politics and Left Activism” in Monthly Review


On the wall along our stairs to the second floor we have pictures of our ‘heroes’.  These are some of the writers, thinkers, and activists who have shaped our lives and values. Among them are Grace Lee Boggs,   Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Gandhi, and many others.  Bill and I just read an article in the current ‘Monthly Review’ written by Immanuel Wallerstein about Grace Lee Boggs and the sources of her philosophy regarding social activism and the future.  This article   contains important information about the work in which we are presently engaged.  The following are quotes which I’ve underlined

Gandhi warned that our societies “would eventually become so gigantic and complex that human beings would be reduced to masses, dependent on experts, serving machines instead of being served by them…. The would end up being enslaved by the temptations of material wealth and luxuries, a form of bondage…even more cruel than physical enslavement”

Gandhi argued that the struggle for independence “should not be mainly a struggle for state power, It should revolve around going to people at the grassroots, helping them to transform their inner and outer lives in order to create self-reliant local communities.”

Martin Luther King realized after the Watts uprising in 1965 how little his struggle for measures like the Voting Rights Act was relevant to “the powerlessness and uselessness that is the daily experience of black youth made expendable by technology”.  It was more than just asserting Black Power.  King now believed that the challenge was “to organize the strength and compelling power of poor people, white as well as Black, as workers, consumers, and voters, to make demands on the government for sweeping measures, such as a guaranteed annual income for everyone.”

King said in1967 that the war in Vietnam was “ but a symptom of a far deeper malady with the American spirit.  We are on the wrong side of a world revolution because we refuse to give up the privileges and pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments.”

Malcolm X said in interview a few weeks before his assassination: “I’m a Muslim and a revolutionary, and I’m learning more and more about political theories as the months go by…If a mixture of nationalism and Marxism makes the Cubans fight the way they do and makes the Vietnamese stand up so resolutely to the might of American…then there must be something to it.”

John Dewey said the education is “a process of living and not a preparation for future living” Dewey was calling for constructive participation of the schools in the life of the community in ways that would liberate “ our impulses to make, to do, to create, to produce whether in the form of utility or of art”

Paulo Friere saw urban uprisings or rebellions as moments when the rebellious became conscious that their oppression was “rooted in objective conditions” and sought “to overcome the silence in which they have always existed”.

Grace Boggs said, “We must view revolution as an inherently educational process.  (Revolution) is about overcoming the ‘dehumanization’ that has been fostered by the commodification of everything under capitalism and building more democratic, just and nourishing relations to people”

Engels – “All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned…and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”

“The ultimate message of all this is that ‘we are the leaders we’ve been looking for’  And to do that, we must learn the importance of ‘combining activity with reflection.’

Sally McCoy

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