According to reports, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is on the verge of bankruptcy. According to other accounts, Black Lives Matter has $30 million in assets and is not bankrupt.
BLM supporters had enough of the financial scandals. They indicated that they remained committed to the movement but not the organization. Many supporters, though, refuse to admit that the movement was intellectually bankrupt from the outset.
Since its inception in 2013, journalists have stated that BLM is the modern-day civil rights movement, yet BLM has never carried the mantle of civil rights. BLM adopted the political posture of Black Power.
In the mid-sixties, a new generation of Black activists began demanding “Black Power” at a march in Mississippi. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed two years prior, but the younger generation rejected their elders’ incremental politics in favor of empowerment by any means necessary. Black Power activists demanded an immediate end to “neocolonial” control of Black communities, the circulation of “philosophies of blackness,” and reparations for slavery from “White capitalist America.”
MLK’s advisor, Bayard Rustin, warned everyone who asked him that Black Power not only had no practical value for the Civil Rights Movement but that spreading it was harmful.
According to Rustin, the slogan “Black Power” lacked any clear definition. It only succeeded in galvanizing emotions on all sides, with Whites seeing it as an expression of a new racism and many Blacks taking it as a warning to White people that Blacks will no longer tolerate brutality and violence.
Rustin went on to say that Black Power is a psychological rejection of White supremacy, part of the rebellion against the stereotypes that have been ascribed to Blacks for three hundred years. Nevertheless, pride, confidence, and a new identity cannot be won by glorifying “blackness” or attacking Whites.
Finally, Rustin stated that, while Black power is understandable as a reaction to the apparent irrelevance of so many hard-won victories in the day-to-day lives of most Blacks, the fact remains that the slogan Black Power does no service to Black people, and Black Power threatens to recreate the very conditions its adherents claimed to rebel against.
Obviously, Rustin’s critique of Black Power can be adapted and applied to BLM, but doing so will not demonstrate BLM’s intellectual bankruptcy. That is evident in BLM’s vast misunderstanding of 21st century America.
Consider how the right-wing classified BLM as a Marxist organization in order to discredit it. This failed because most people are unaware of Marxism’s intellectual history. As a result, most people are unaware that BLM made the same mistake about 21st century America that Marx did about working conditions during the industrial age.
Marx predicted that working conditions would deteriorate progressively, leading workers to revolt and demolish the capitalist system. Marx was incorrect. The inverse occurred: labor conditions improved, earnings rose, and society as a whole flourished.
America’s silent majority found it peculiar that a movement demanding that Black lives matter began during the second term of the country’s first Black president, where the descendants of African slaves are collectively the most prosperous Black people on the planet. They thought it was even odder that the movement sought to eradicate White supremacy. For decades, the phrase “White supremacy” was confined to describing Neo-Nazi ideology or serving as a historical reference.
All of this would have been an oxymoron if it weren’t for the fact that BLM believed America was just as racist today as it was during segregation and that Black Americans are worse off in the 21st century than they were in the past.
None of this matched the reality of contemporary America. BLM’s mistake was far worse than Marx’s.
BLM convinced themselves that Whites were at the top of a social hierarchy while Blacks were at the bottom, and the movement’s goal was to reverse the social hierarchy one “peaceful protest” at a time. In 2018, an ACLU article said, “Black Lives Matter has always been more of a human rights movement than a civil rights movement. BLM’s focus has been less about changing specific laws and more about fighting for a fundamental reordering of society.”
When Rustin was asked about the Black Power advocates insistence that they wanted to reconstruct society in the interest of greater social justice, Rustin replied that they have no such idea in mind; what they are in fact arguing for is the creation of a new Black establishment.
The only thing more damaging than an idea in the wrong hands is a social movement that is intellectually bankrupt.