The Black Agenda Review will function as a weekly supplement to the regular editorial content of the Black Agenda Report.
“The Review will be proactive in outlining and examining the themes, topics, and debates of concern to the Black radical left.”
The 2020 U.S. elections seem to be over and much of the world is preparing for a new Biden-Harris administration. So, what now? What changes should global Black communities expect? Our sense is that expectations need to be tempered by the lessons of past experience. Long ago we learned that representation is not a sign of radicalism, that the slick and polished surfaces of neoliberal multiculturalism do not mitigate the cynical viciousness of anti-Blackness, capitalism, and imperialism. And yet, as many people are looking towards 2021 as a new era that breaks decisively with the last four years, it becomes more urgent than ever to expand the terrain of critical analysis and historical inquiry, to move away from the easy sophistry of punditry, and to develop a clear-sighted and autonomous forum for the discussion of ideas, histories, and texts about and by the Black radical left. That is the purpose of The Black Agenda Review.
The Review emerges out of, and should be seen as a supplement to, the Black Agenda Report. In the Black Agenda Report, Glen Ford, Margaret Kimberley, and the late Bruce Dixon, have created one of the few Black radical periodicals of recent times in the United States, online or otherwise.
“It becomes more urgent than ever to develop a clear-sighted and autonomous forum for the discussion of ideas, histories, and texts about and by the Black radical left.”
Written in clear, direct prose, and drawing on the long history of Black radicalism, Black Agenda Report provides a rare platform for writing that refuses ethical or political compromise. It does not succumb to many of the pitfalls of contemporary Black debate: Black celebrity worship, an obsession with “Black firsts,” a careerist, aspirational belief in Black faces in high places, a blinkered, exceptionalist focus on national politics, and an unabashed embrace of liberalism as the horizon of Black critique. Black Agenda Report has remained fiercely independent, refusing to pander to corporate interests and partisan pressures. It has consistently looked beyond the limits of electoral politics, casting a cynical eye at Black elites, the Black misleadership class, and, in the US, the two-party duopoly. It has also remained deeply committed to a Pan-African internationalism that is anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist.
The Black Agenda Review embraces these lines of analysis as our political and ethical starting point, but also as our pedagogical first principles. That is, The Black Agenda Review begins with our recognition of the profound and urgent need for a kind of preliminary political education that can prepare readers for the type of trenchant analysis Black Agenda Report has given, and continues to give, us. A Black forum for radical ideas, interventions, and criticism, The Black Agenda Review will function as a weekly supplement to the regular editorial content of the Black Agenda Report. While the Black Agenda Report focuses largely on contemporary politics and current events, The Black Agenda Review will take a longer historical, and more explicitly educational, perspective, offering an in-depth examination of the political-economic and social-cultural issues that have emerged in and from the history of global Black struggles. In doing so, the Review will be proactive in outlining and examining the themes, topics, and debates of concern to the Black radical left and will avoid reactive and reactionary responses to issues deemed important by the mainstream corporate-driven media. It will also revisit the books, statements, speeches, and manifestos that have served as the deep historical, intellectual, and political archive informing the weekly editorials, analysis, and commentary of the Black Agenda Report.
“The Black Agenda Review will take a longer historical, and more explicitly educational, perspective.”
Through a mixture of features, including interviews, long-form review essays, roundtable discussions, the republication of classic BARarticles, and annotations of important Black political and cultural manifestos, The Black Agenda Review seeks to explain, explore, and illuminate the theoretical and historical practices of Black liberation, Pan-Africanism, anti-imperialism, and anti-capitalism -- all from the perspective of Black left writers, workers, and organizers. Our goal is to:
- Emphasize the essential role of study in Black Liberation
- Provide materials for political education
- Highlight Black radical pedagogies and methodologies
- Offer a forum for discussions, debates, and competing visions about issues germane to Black radicals throughout the Black World
- Reinvigorate conversations about, and engagements with, classic Black radical texts
- Lift up historical and contemporary Black writers and organizers grappling with the key issues that have impacted, and continue to shape, the lives of African descendants, with a particular focus on anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism, and Black liberation
Contents of the Review will be guided by the following political and ethical principles:
- We are anti-capitalist socialists. From the age of slavery to the era of neoliberalism, the political-economic system of capitalism has exploited Black labor, destroyed Black communities, and dispossessed and poisoned Black land. We recognize that while race and racism have been central drivers of capitalism’s history and formation of modern-day class hierarchies, so too has gender. The exploitation of women’s bodies has been critical to the biological reproduction of the labor force while what is typically seen as female labor – housework, care work, sex work – is demeaned, degraded, and marginalized. Capitalism, including “Black” capitalism, has only added to the existential questions of inequality and ecological apocalypse plaguing the world. Socialism is the only way forward for Black liberation and the survival of the planet.
- We reject liberalism. The philosophy of liberalism provides the consensus, common-sense perspective of much of the work of Black intellectuals, politicians, and cultural critics -- even as it often poses under the banners of Black internationalism, Black radicalism, and Black cultural nationalism. Yet liberalism as espoused by Black people is little more than white liberalism in Black face. It offers a reformist view of the modern world based on the presumed ideals of the western democratic tradition and of the worship of capitalism as an economic model. Both western democracy and capitalism have failed Black people and it is a fatal political error to presume that liberalism offers a pathway to Black freedom. While rejecting liberalism as Black common-sense, we embrace the universe of Black radical thinkers from the Black socialist, anarchist, and revolutionary nationalist traditions and their visions of a radically new society.
- We are anti-imperialist. To speak of imperialism is to invoke the political and economic means by which the wills and desires of sovereign nations are bent to the service and needs of other nations. Imperialism is not a phenomenon of the past. Certainly, imperialism appears under its traditional, colonial guises: through diplomatic threat, military intervention, territorial conquest, the super-exploitation of labor, the extractive theft of natural and communal resources, and the global expansion of white supremacy. But imperialism also takes on newer, neo-colonial forms: drone warfare and assassination, legal sanctions, imbalanced trade policies, the growth of corporate monopolies and the granting of economic privileges, the expansion of the immaterial shackles of debt and finance, and the installing of Black rulers. Despite the independence of the nation-states of the Black world, most countries remain under the jackboots of imperialism. The United States remains the citadel of imperialism in the modern world, even as the US is collapsing internally and externally, and US hegemony is under threat. We understand that one of our tasks as writers and researchers is to support the work of anti-imperialists through the excavation of how modern imperial power operates, to name the institutions and individuals upholding it, and to unravel its strategies and approaches. But our aim is also to find its contradictions and its points of vulnerability and weakness so as best to hasten imperialism’s demise.
- We are against war and militarism. In the tradition of Black radicals like Paul Robeson, Claudia Jones, the National Black Antiwar Antidraft Movement, and the Black Alliance for Peace, we abhor war and support a durable peace. We condemn the U.S. military industrial complex and those nations and corporations profiting from the international trade in arms and weapons of mass destruction. We condemn warmongering as the dominant mode of “diplomacy.” We also oppose those domestic manifestations of war in the forms of the militarization of policing, the targeted deployment of “law and order” policies, the uses of state terror against racialized and marginalized people, the stunning growth in technologies of surveillance and biometric monitoring, and the expansion of the carceral state through public and private prisons and jails and immigrant detention centers. We support the abolition of the police, prisons, and the military industry, and the refunding of and investment in healthcare, childcare, education, and other truly social goods.
- We are internationalists. Internationalism is often seen as a synonym for “cosmopolitanism” and cosmopolitanism is represented as the global travels between world capitals of a multiracial, transnational super-elite, unfettered by borders and unburdened by money. Often, this cosmopolitanism appears in academic discourse under the guise of a “Black internationalism” that centers the “Global North.” However, this elite cosmopolitanism, Black or otherwise, does not jibe with our understanding of internationalism and its history. For us, internationalism is rooted in the global history of working-class peoples and of the poorer nations, struggling to forge radical alliances across national borders and narrow ethnic identities in a fight against capitalism and imperialism. We are inspired by Third Worldism and Tricontinentalism, and by the Non-Aligned Movement and the histories of South-South solidarity. From our perspective, a revived internationalism, and the lines of solidarity and alliance it presumes, is necessary for global Black liberation.
- We are Pan-Africanists. Rooted in the long history of Black resistance and revolt, Pan-Africanism covers a range of ideas, activities, and movements that have centered the Black experience, found commonality in the oppression of Black people worldwide, and understood the importance of Africa to the African diaspora. As Pan-Africanists, we reject the imperial partitioning of the world, the fetishization of the nation-state and national politics, and the brutal separation of people by borders, walls, and boundaries. Moreover, we embrace Pan-African critiques of capitalism and imperialism, especially as they have demonstrated the supreme importance of the exploitation of global Black labor – and of Africa itself – to white supremacy and capitalism. As Pan-Africanists, we believe that any solutions to current ills, and the formation of any new society to come, must prioritize Black self-determination, autonomy, and liberation -- and the flourishing of African people worldwide.
At The Black Agenda Review, we recognize that, despite these shared principles, Black radical theory and politics are not always internally consistent. We are committed to engaging different perspectives from within the Black radical left as a means toward a clearer understanding of the current historical conjuncture and of the possible pathways for Black liberation. Moreover, we hold to the literal definition of a “review” -- a “formal assessment or examination of something with the possibility or intention of instituting change if necessary.”
We believe that change is absolutely necessary. And with The Black Agenda Review, we hope to offer a modest contribution towards effecting this change.
‑— the Black Agenda Review team
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