Glen Ford: A Reckoning for Al Sharpton and the Black Misleadership Class

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“Capitalism is the best path for human progress -- as long as all the other paths are outlawed.”

Black Agenda Report, April 11, 2019

With support for “socialism” rising, the political fate of Al Sharpton and the rest of the Democratic party’s Black corporate minions is in doubt -- and they know it.

“Capitalism is the best path for human progress -- as long as all the other paths are outlawed.”

Big Capital’s darker denizens made their voices heard at Al Sharpton’s annual National Action Network showcase, last week, blasting “democratic” socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for her role in chasing Amazon away from New York City. “The people campaigning against the Amazon campus are financially illiterate,” said Tracy Maitland, CEO of Advent Capital Management, which handles $9 billion in other people’s money. Maitland claimed that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s offer to set up a corporate headquarters in Queens in return for $3 billion in tax breaks and other subsidies was a good trade for 25,000 new jobs, and that activists misinformed the public. “This was a disgrace,” exclaimed the irate Black money manipulator . “I partially blame AOC for the loss of Amazon. She doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. That’s scary. We have to make sure she’s better educated or vote her out of office.”

Joining the chorus of capitalist indignation was Bill Thompson, a perennial Black mouthpiece for Wall Street and current chairman of the City University system. “We were at the table talking to Amazon on how students could get jobs … those opportunities were snatched away,” said Thompson, who spoke on Maitland’s aptly named panel, “The Black Economic Agenda: Driving Capital into the Hands of Black Asset managers and Housing Developers.” 

“Maitland claimed that activists misinformed the public.”

Harold Ford Jr., once the most rightwing member of the Congressional Black Caucus and a supporter of George W. Bush’s bid to privatize Social Security, said there was nothing wrong with paying billions to the world’s richest man for the pleasure of his presence. “Creating 25,000 jobs is always a positive thing,” said Ford. “There’s a multiplier effect.”

Certainly, Amazon anticipated that the deal would have a multiplier effect on its own profits, since the public would bear the social costs of Bezos’ private enterprise. This capitalist model of “development” has its own, peculiar arithmetic, by which the human, social and ecological costs of production are borne by everyone except the owners of capital, who grow richer and richer until the inevitable crash -- after which they are bailed out at great additional cost to the larger society and placed back in the pinnacles of power. If these are the rules, and if there is no alternative, then “creating 25,000 jobs is,” indeed, “always a positive thing,” no matter the social consequences, or the nature of the jobs, or the damage to the planet. 

Thus, capitalism is the best path for human progress -- as long as all the other paths are outlawed. Those who don’t accept such logic are deemed “illiterate.” 

“Harold Ford said there was nothing wrong with paying billions to the world’s richest man for the pleasure of his presence.”

Al Sharpton is a true believer in the rich man’s logic, and still hopes to become one himself some day by dint of his untiring service to the Lords of Capital. Sharpton assured  the corporate media that he supports capitalism -- as long as there is a level playing field and “access to capital” for minorities. The fact that such a “level field “has never existed – and cannot exist under capitalism – does not phase Sharpton. He and his fellow crumb-snatchers are playing the only roles that are allotted to them under the system as it actually exists, as political operatives of an oligarchy whose three richest men -- including Jeff Bezos -- possess more wealth than the whole bottom half of the U.S. population. 

Sharpton’s antennae are alert to the challenge presented to Big Capital’s control of the Democratic Party, the half of the governing corporate duopoly where virtually all Black electoral activity is confined. Sharpton knows which side he’ll be on in the looming confrontation between the bosses and the party’s base, supermajorities of which support Bernie Sanders’ signature measures on health care, free public college and higher minimum wages.  Sharpton is as “literate” as the task requires: he can read the numbers on a check, and knows which side has the deepest pockets.

“Sharpton assured the corporate media that he supports capitalism.”

Black America has always been socialist-friendly. However, a half century ago the aspiring Black bourgeoisie sought to find their niche in the power structure through a pact with the real corporate bourgeoisie and the Democratic Party. This Black Misleadership Class has dominated Black politics since the assassination of “democratic socialist” Dr. Martin Luther King and the U.S. government’s murderous assault on Black radicals. It is this class that oversaw the imposition of Black mass incarceration in the nation’s “chocolate cites,” and then collaborated with Big Capital in whitening these cities through gentrification. Although this class’s venality is intimately understood by the Black masses, it has maintained a political headlock by linking its own narrow agenda with the larger aspirations of the Black community. Over the course of two generations, a succession of hustlers masquerading as liberationists sold out Black America, grafting “movement” language onto capitalist projects for the benefit of themselves and their rich white sponsors.  The Black business class long ago lost whatever political independence it possessed under Jim Crow. Today, Black businesses are mainly vendors, annexes or franchises of white multinational corporations and banks. Their overarching imperative is to find a place for themselves in the corporate order. They seek to profit from every urban scheme put forward by the Lords of Capital, and value the Black community only to the extent that its political clout can be enlisted in the service of their own ambitions.

“A succession of hustlers masquerading as liberationists sold out Black America.”

Their grasp on Black politics is finally slipping among all age cohorts, especially Black youth, who are “woke” enough to know that the Black political class has bequeathed them less  upward mobility and power to shape their own destinies than was wielded by their parents and grandparents. Most Black people share the general goal of Black community empowerment, and have come to realize thatthe Black Misleadership Class seeks only to further embed themselves in the corporate matrix.The youth see police and corporations as the enemy and regard Black officeholders as collaborators or minions of cops and corporations -- and therefore, favor “socialism.” And that freaks out Al Sharpton and his bourgeois buddies, whose hall-passes through the corridors of power are predicated on their ability to maintain docility in Black America. Sharpton’s failure to quickly defuse the Black Lives Matter phenomenon shriveled his stature in the corporate Democratic world. The fact that he and his cohorts could not convince the richest man in the world that New York City was a compliant enough place for his new headquarters, threatens to make Sharpton wholly obsolete.

The pace of political change quickens. New world views are being shaped.  Real socialists must make the most of it.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com

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