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This ordinary wage earner does not, and cannot understand what Adam Smith is talking about.   His vision is too occluded by his abstract fears, his unrealizable American Dream, and his subliminal recognition of his inferiority . . .

 

 

Books by Wilson Jeremiah Moses

Golden Age of Black Nationalism, 1850-1925 (1988)  / The Wings of Ethiopia  (1990)

 Alexander Crummell: A Study of Civilization and Discontent (1992)  / Destiny & Race: Selected Writings, 1840-1898  (1992) 

 Black Messiahs and Uncle Toms: Social and Literary Manipulations of a Religious Myth (1993)

Liberian Dreams: Back-to-Africa Narratives from the 1850s  / Afrotopia: The Roots of African American Popular History (2002)

Creative Conflict in African American Thought (2004)

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Joe the Plumber and Adam Smith

By Wilson J. Moses

18 October 2008

 

This election is a continuation of the culture wars, and it is likely that cultural symbols may trump economic interests.  On the cultural level, this plays out the Vietnam war all over again.   That is one reason that Ayers has emerged as an icon.  Previously the election of 2004 was about Vietnam, with John Kerry serving as an icon.  McCain, also an icon, sees the Presidency as his opportunity to vindicate not only the Iraq war, but Vietnam, as well.

On the economic level, Republicans, see the election as a way of further destroying the Keynesian economic policies that predominated from Roosevelt through Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson.  People like Joe the Plumber foolishly believe that if they were not taxed, they could take their money and use it to invest on their own.  It is obvious to everyone but themselves that they lack the capacity to do so.   Indeed, most of us lack the capacity to do so, and it is this knowledge that distinguishes a working-class liberal from a working class conservative.   The Sarah Palins lack all humility, and really do believe that they are as smart as Warren Buffett.  They forget that a guy like McCain begins life with tremendous advantages, and proceeds thereafter, with access to information and institutions that they are unavailable to most of the working class.  Far too many workers foolishly believe that they can succeed outside institutional structures supported by government and taxation.

Adam Smith, who is so frequently mischaracterized by Marxist historians, said in 1776:

It sometimes happens, indeed, that a single independent workman has stock sufficient both to purchase the materials of his work, and to maintain himself till it be completed. He is both master and workman, and enjoys the whole produce of his own labour, or the whole value which it adds to the materials upon which it is bestowed. It includes what are usually two distinct revenues, belonging to two distinct persons, the profits of stock, and the wages of labour.

Such cases, however, are not very frequent; and in every part of Europe twenty workmen serve under a master for one that is independent, and the wages of labour are everywhere understood to be, what they usually are, when the labourer is one person, and the owner of the stock which employs him another.

What are the common wages of labour, depends everywhere upon the contract usually made between those two parties, whose interests are by no means the same. The workmen desire to get as much, the masters to give as little, as possible. The former are disposed to combine in order to raise, the latter in order to lower, the wages of labour.

Joe the Plumber does not see the need to have a plumber's license, or a union card, or to pay his taxes.   He earns $40,000 annually, and yet he identifies with people earning $250,000.   This ordinary wage earner does not, and cannot understand what Adam Smith is talking about.   His vision is too occluded by his abstract fears, his unrealizable American Dream, and his subliminal recognition of his inferiority to hereditary aristocrats like John McCain, who are stronger and smarter than himself.  He is unaware of his interests and incapable of acting in accord with them.  Adam Smith is often misrepresented as standing in opposition to Karl Marx.   In fact Marx stood on the sturdy shoulders of Smith.

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Joe The Plumber's Ideal Mortgage

The goal of Secretary Paulson's program, regardless of how he gives away the money, is to maintain an unnatural price level in American housing.   This leads to continuation of inflation in the housing market, and leaves Americans worse off than before.  Paulson's plan if carried out successfully can only mean increased inflation, and Inflation is a tax.

Joe the Plumber, who earns $40,000 a year, cannot afford to own a $350,000 house with three baths and a three car garage, nor can he afford to purchase his employer's business.  But the government persists in telling him that he can do so.  In order for Joe to "own," such a house, it is necessary to manufacture a dream world.    This involves a no-money-down, interest only, adjustable-rate mortgage at a teaser rate of  4%, which is ridiculous.  Such mortgage rates inflate the price of real estate.  Nobody should be able to get a mortgage unless they have 20% down payment.  Interest on a 30 year mortgage should be 8%.   Joe the plumber can perhaps afford such a mortgage on a home priced at $150,000 if his wife works and earns enough to bring their household income to $85,000.  Anything else is folly.

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Responses

Guided by An Invisible Hand—Make no mistake: we are witnessing the biggest crisis since the Great Depression. . . . There are several reasons for my pessimism. The extreme credit crunch is a result of the banks having lost a lot of capital. And there is still uncertainty about the value of the toxic mortgages and other complex products on their balance sheets. The US economy has been fuelled by a consumption binge. With average savings at zero, many people borrowed to live beyond their means. When you cut off that credit you reduce consumption. This, in turn, will dampen the US economy, which helps keep the global economy growing. The American consumer has not only sustained the US economy, he has sustained the global economy. The richest country in the world has been living beyond its means and telling the rest of the world it should be thankful because America fuelled global economic growth. .  .  .

This crisis is a turning point, not only in the economy, but in our thinking about economics. Adam Smith, the father of modern economists, argued that the pursuit of self-interest (profit-making by competitive firms) would lead, as if by an invisible hand, to general well-being. But for over a quarter of a century, we have known that Smith's conclusions do not hold when there is imperfect information and all markets, especially financial markets, are characterised by information imperfections. The reason the invisible hand often seems invisible is that it is not there. The pursuit of self-interest by Enron and WorldCom did not lead to societal well-being; and the pursuit of self-interest by those in the financial industry has brought our economy to the brink of the abyss. New Statesman

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Will an Obama Change Speed Up a New and Better Economic Model?

Joe the Plumber is indeed an American type—white working class male Republicans. They are morphed descendants of those Jim Crow racists of 1968. It wouldn't matter what Obama was able to do for them, even if Obama offered them zero taxes on his wages these Republican loyalists (guys and dolls) would still be against Obama and the likes of Obama—that “foreign” element in “White American” politics.

He and his compatriots are ideologues and hypocrites—e.g., against Social Security; though they will happily draw their SS when 65 and complain that it is not sufficient. Race plays no small part in their political psychology. Because they are not able to afford that $350,000 house or afford that plumbing business, Joe and his type fault minorities, immigrants, and foreigners in general for not being fully part of the white elite, just as the patty rollers and the mountain folk blamed black slaves rather than slave owners for their class conditions.

They are a sad and unhappy lot—anti-liberal, anti-democratic, anti-black, anti-rational, and anti-their-own-good. At bottom this type wants to retain and enhance white skin privileges. They are the base of these white-appealing-American ideologues, including MSNBC commentator Pat Buchanan. They are seen as more American than say a Jeremiah Wright.

The Republican Party has become today's Dixiecrats (North, South, Midwest, and Southwest) and they are using this election as a testing ground to put forth more vigorous ideological statements and actions. A reorganization of the RP after November is a national necessity. Will they decide however to fixate on a far right religious (cultural) agenda?  In that they, including the more moderate Republicans, have made Sarah Palin their heroine, the prospects seems unlikely. The RP has become unmanageable. They lack the necessary leadership.

Much of the necessary changes in the RP, may they rest in peace, depends on the more intellectual and as David Brooks says the “coastal”  Republicans. That too  will depend on how crushing the DP win will be in November. The Republicans fear the outcome of the 2008 election will be a landslide. They fear it like the plague and so rather than creating a better product they are now bringing out every kind of racial fear tactic used since 1980.

The other problem connected with their right wing cultural offensive is that the Wall Street culture has not changed. McCain and the Wall Street Republicans are indeed “elitists.” Their trickle down economy theory—decreasing corporate taxes and taxes on the very wealthy—is an elitist one, that is, top down from the few to the pyramidal base.

The great problem with this pyramid scheme, as all pyramid schemes, is that the trickling does not get down far enough on the pyramid, say, to a Joe the Plumber, which has partially been caused by the global trade agreements and overproduction. That has decreased income nationally and shifted wealth more and more upward.

Doubtless the Republicans have had a persuasive opaque populous racist response to convince their very white religious base that all is well with fundamentalist capitalism . . . .

Too many living beyond their means resist the spread of wealth farther downward to the base. They foolish think they each have a chance of becoming a millionaire. We can see that the present economic crisis has cracked that opaqueness and allowed some light and fresh air to come in.

Class suppression and penal methods to resolve the criminality of poverty are not working for the overall economy. Will the present window of opportunity and vision be cemented and the American people return to the old cave they have been in for more than two decades?

The verdict is still out. We have no idea what will be the full material impact of this economic crisis and we have no idea how long it will last. Moreover, we are still in the dark about what can be achieved by an Obama presidency. We all remain on the edges of our seats and we want the change promised to be speeded up—Rudy

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What went wrong in the capitalist casino?—Trade union rights are now more restricted than they were in 1906, wages have been held down and people have been advised to borrow and spend as an alternative—which explains why the stock market has fallen and locked more and more people into debt, which is a subtle form of slavery itself.

This is why so many people are frightened and frightened people can sometimes be persuaded to seek an answer by identifying an enemy who can be made a scapegoat for failure - as Hitler did when he blamed the Jews, the Communists and the trade unions for the mass unemployment in Germany and set up a fascist dictatorship which led to the Holocaust and war.

Hitler dealt with the unemployed by giving them jobs in the arms factories and the armed forces which led to the Second World War and the massive human cost it caused. ZMAG

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The Real Plumbers of Ohio—But what’s really happening to the plumbers of Ohio, and to working Americans in general?

First of all, they aren’t making a lot of money. You may recall that in one of the early Democratic debates Charles Gibson of ABC suggested that $200,000 a year was a middle-class income. Tell that to Ohio plumbers: according to the May 2007 occupational earnings report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income of “plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters” in Ohio was $47,930.

Second, their real incomes have stagnated or fallen, even in supposedly good years. The Bush administration assured us that the economy was booming in 2007 — but the average Ohio plumber’s income in that 2007 report was only 15.5 percent higher than in the 2000 report, not enough to keep up with the 17.7 percent rise in consumer prices in the Midwest. As Ohio plumbers went, so went the nation: median household income, adjusted for inflation, was lower in 2007 than it had been in 2000.

Third, Ohio plumbers have been having growing trouble getting health insurance, especially if, like many craftsmen, they work for small firms. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2007 only 45 percent of companies with fewer than 10 employees offered health benefits, down from 57 percent in 2000. . . . I don’t want to suggest that everyone would be better off under the Obama tax plan. Joe the plumber would almost certainly be better off, but Richie the hedge fund manager would take a serious hit.

But that’s the point. Whatever today’s G.O.P. is, it isn’t the party of working Americans. NYTimes

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Speak My Name

Black Men on Masculinity and the American Dream

Edited by Don Belton

 

It is rare in America for African-American men to have the opportunity to express who they are, what they think, or how they feel. As the nemesis in the American psyche, they have been silenced by an image that is at once celebrated and maligned. In this first anthology of contemporary African-American men's writing, black men share their experiences as the revered and reviled of America. Through the voices of some of today's most prominent African-American writers, including August Wilson, John Edgar Wideman, Derrick Bell, and Walter Mosley, Speak My Name explores the intimate territory behind the myths about black masculinity. These intensely personal essays and stories reveal contemporary black men from the vantage point of their own lives - as men with proper names, distinctive faces, and strong family ties.

Writing about everything from "How it Feels to Be a Problem" to relationships between fathers and sons, these men reveal to us both great courage and in an amazing love for each other and themselves. In a stunning tribute to a centuries-old brotherhood of heroes, black men come together to challenge America finally to see them as individuals, to hear their long-silenced voices—to speak their names. This diverse anthology, mainly of original essays, serves as an excellent counterpoint to media stereotypes of black men. Topics include black male images, relations with women, family life and heroism.

Some favorites: soft-voiced scholar Robin D.G. Kelley recounts how his newly shaved head scared people; novelist Randall Kenan recalls a mysterious, kind and loving mentor; Quinn Eli faces the tendency of black men to accuse black women of not being supportive; filmmaker Isaac Julien and poet Essex Hemphill debate whether black unity can include gay men; novelist Walter Mosley muses about why his PI protagonist, Easy Rawlins, needs the backup of the remorseless killer Mouse to survive in an oppressive world. Belton, a former reporter for Newsweek who teaches at Macalester College, contributes his own touching effort, which treats the gap between himself and the ghetto-trapped nephew he loves.—Publishers Weekly

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Black masculinity has built and shaped America. It is an old story which our fathers taught us; it is measured by their quiet dignity as well as their fears. What is heroic about Speak My Name is the fact that the contributors are men who decided to become writers. They all made the decision to use words instead of fists. They are writers shaped by the 1960s, like Arthur Flowers, who writes:

And, understand, the 60s were more than street battles or sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, the 60s were about commitment. We cared. We tried. It was important (and do-able) for us to make a better world. It was important to save the race. And it still is.

While our society still attempts to come to grips with the lyrics of tappers, Don Belton's book is a gift which offers insight into how a few Black men think and feel. For sisters who are still waiting to exhale, it serves as testimony that there are good men in the world and we only have to speak their names.

Belton's purpose for editing the volume was to "experience a richer sense of community and communion among other Black male writers." This is evident in the interview conducted by Lewis Edwards of Albert Murray. Here, a young writer sits at the feet of an elder with an acknowledgment of inheritance and a respect for tradition. When Murray (author of The Omni-Americans and Train Whistle Guitar) talks about his friendship with Ralph Ellison during their days at Tuskegee, he conveys to Edwards how two Black men enjoyed reading and developing their intellect.

Speak My Name , according to Belton, is structured in "jazz music's compositional model of theme and variation, giving my contributors a series of extended solos that develop toward visions of masculinity as a struggle for hope." Belton divides his book into five sections, although these categories are unnecessary. One can enjoy the entire volume the way one appreciates the old Ornette Coleman "Free Jazz" album; just open the door to the studio and let the brothers play. The music will find its own center.Black Issues in Higher Education, March 7, 1996 by E. Ethelbert MillerFindArticles 

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Race Men

By Hazel V. Carby

Race men is a term of endearment used by blacks to signify those high-achieving African American men who "represent the race," disproving bigoted notions of black inferiority. In this engaging study, Yale African American Studies Professor Hazel V. Carby seeks to ask "questions about various black masculinities at different historical moments and in different media: literature, photography, film, music, and song." She does so by discussing the lives and works of myriad types of race men. Frederick Douglass's uncompromising fight against slavery, W. E. B. Du Bois's masterful The Souls of Black Folk, Martin Luther King's nonviolent struggles, and Malcolm X's fiery rhetoric articulate the intellectual-political prisms of black activism, for example, while actor Danny Glover represents the dilemma of the black/white sidekick and the fight for a more multidimensional Afro-American image.

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Carby compares Toussaint L'Ouverture, the ex-slave who liberated Haiti from the French in the 19th century, to Trinidadian writer C.L.R. James, whose Marxist interpretation of the Haitian Revolution, the Black Jacobins, unveiled the complexities of colonialism, class, and the sexist aspects of radical black leadership. She discusses jazz icon Miles Davis's quest for freedom and his misogynistic persona articulated in his autobiography, then praises science fiction writer Samuel R. Delany's Motion of Light in Water as "an effective counterpoint to Miles ... a magnificent attempt to reject the socially created obstacles separating desire from its material achievement, and in the process demolishing and transcending the limitations of heterosexual norms."

Indeed, for Carby the major flaw of race men is that their upholding of "the race" does not prominently address the concerns of African American women as well.—Eugene Holley Jr.

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In a discussion of "The Body and Soul of Modernism" Carby reads Nicolas Murray's nude photographs of Paul Robeson, as well as black male nudes by other European and American artists, and argues that for these modernists the black male body represented "essentialized masculinity." However, because the black subject was unable to "gaze back at the viewer," these photographic texts reproduced "the unequal relation of power and subjection of their historical moment" in the early twentieth century. Carby also discusses Robeson's roles in Eugene O'Neill's Emperor Jones and All God's Chillun Got Wings, concluding that, in contrast to the character Robeson portrays in Oscar Micheaux's film Body and Soul, O'Neill utilized a "strategy of inwardness" to present racialized emotional conflicts for Robeson's character, rather than outward resistance and rebellion. Carby's notes that, with his expanding political consciousness and increased commitment to the advancement of the working classes worldwide in the 1930s, Robeson rejected these types of roles. Unfortunately, how these ideological changes were reflected in Robeson's racial consciousness (was Robeson a "race man"?) are left unexplored.

Carby describes the authentic and inauthentic nature of the relationship between ex-convict and folk singer Huddie (Leadbelly) Ledbetter and folklorist John Lomax and his son Alan. She believes that this unusual partnership demonstrated an attempt to use "the aesthetics of the folk" to create a "fictive ethnicity of blackness" that allowed the incorporation of potentially threatening black males into the national community. For C. L. R. James the cricket field in England's colonial territories not only was the space where "ideologies of masculinity" were put to the test, but also was "the battleground out of which nationhood . . . [had to] be forged." Carby argues that in James's Beyond the Boundary (1963) and the novel Minty Alley (1936), "intellectual practice, racial politics, and cricket were . . . unquestioningly imagined within a discourse of autonomous, patriarchal masculinity." In Black Jacobins(1938) James posits the existence of a "revolutionary black manhood that, both individually and collectively, gives birth to an independent black nation state."—African American Review, Fall, 2000 by V.P. Franklin, FindArticles

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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The Shadows of Youth

The Remarkable Journey of the Civil Rights Generation

By Andrew B. Lewis

With deep admiration and rigorous scholarship, historian Lewis (Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table) revisits the ragtag band of young men and women who formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Impatient with what they considered the overly cautious and accommodating pace of the NAACP and Martin Luther King Jr., the black college students and their white allies, inspired by Gandhi's principles of nonviolence and moral integrity, risked their lives to challenge a deeply entrenched system. Fanning out over the Jim Crow South, SNCC organized sit-ins, voter registration drives, Freedom Schools and protest marches. Despite early successes, the movement disintegrated in the late 1960s, succeeded by the militant Black Power movement. The highly readable history follows the later careers of the principal leaders. Some, like Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown, became bitter and disillusioned. Others, including Marion Barry, Julian Bond and John Lewis, tempered their idealism and moved from protest to politics, assuming positions of leadership within the very institutions they had challenged. According to the author, No organization contributed more to the civil rights movement than SNCC, and with his eloquent book, he offers a deserved tribute.Publishers Weekly

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Hopes and Prospects

By Noam Chomsky

In this urgent new book, Noam Chomsky surveys the dangers and prospects of our early twenty-first century. Exploring challenges such as the growing gap between North and South, American exceptionalism (including under President Barack Obama), the fiascos of Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-Israeli assault on Gaza, and the recent financial bailouts, he also sees hope for the future and a way to move forward—in the democratic wave in Latin America and in the global solidarity movements that suggest "real progress toward freedom and justice." Hopes and Prospects is essential reading for anyone who is concerned about the primary challenges still facing the human race. "This is a classic Chomsky work: a bonfire of myths and lies, sophistries and delusions. Noam Chomsky is an enduring inspiration all over the world—to millions, I suspect—for the simple reason that he is a truth-teller on an epic scale. I salute him." —John Pilger

In dissecting the rhetoric and logic of American empire and class domination, at home and abroad, Chomsky continues a longstanding and crucial work of elucidation and activism . . .the writing remains unswervingly rational and principled throughout, and lends bracing impetus to the real alternatives before us.—
Publisher's Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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posted 18 October 2008

 

 

 

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