Rounding out a discussion of Moving Against the System: The 1968 Congress of Black Writers and the Making of Global Consciousness, the author engages in a dialogue with his respondents about the significance of the congress. This essay assesses the legacy of the 1968 congress as a manifestation of the black radical tradition and a critical involvement with socialism. Drawing on C. L. R. James and Sylvia Wynter, it argues that black freedom struggles in the Americas and Europe, including slave revolts, have been an essential part of the history of labor and freedom struggles. It also contends that race has been overdetermined in ways that have historically understated the centrality of black labor to the emergence of modern capitalism, to anticapitalist struggle, and to the movement for universal freedom and a more broadly defined socialism. The essay concludes by asserting that black radical politics pose a challenge to the color- and colonial-blindness of the conventional Left while at the same time reimaging what freedom can mean in the present.
David Austin teaches in the Humanities, Philosophy, and Religion Department at John Abbott College and the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada in Montreal. He is the author of Fear of a Black Nation: Race, Sex, and Security in Sixties Montreal (2013), winner of the 2014 Casa de las Américas Prize, and Dread Poetry and Freedom: Linton Kwesi Johnson and the Unfinished Revolution (2018); and the editor of You Don’t Play with Revolution: The Montreal Lectures of C. L. R. James (2009) and Moving Against the System: The Congress of Black Writers and the Shaping of Global Consciousness (2018).
David Austin; Dread Dialectics. Small Axe 1 November 2020; 24 (3 (63)): 228–238. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-8749914
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