“Has the American dream been achieved at the expense of the American Negro?” The debate between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley, Jr

A riveting exchange between two intellectual giants on the most pressing social issue of that or perhaps any time in American history.

The debate on the question occurred at the Cambridge Union, Cambridge University, England in 1965.

I am requesting that you reserve comments until you've seen and heard the entire video.

It's an hour long, so I don't expect or anticipate immediate response or reaction:

Views: 193

Comment by MV Neland on July 16, 2017 at 5:37pm

As intelligent as Buckley was, for me, his eloquent arguments never reached their intended conclusions.  He seemed to often rely upon a final leap of faith in the obscure rightness of what he left unstated...which was usually blindness to white privilege and the double standard. We'd watch FL to learn the arguments and better craft our own. But, the fact that he believed well explained reason would prove him right is so distant now compared to todays unquestioned, untested conservative ideology that requires no facts, no observations, no measures sprung from intellectual laziness and rancor.

Comment by MV Neland on July 16, 2017 at 5:38pm

@koshersalaami and Ron - what's your book?

Comment by koshersalaami on July 16, 2017 at 8:11pm
Comment by MV Neland on July 16, 2017 at 8:44pm

Added to my wishlist, Kosher. Once i sell a few copies of my own (which is being revised), i'll have cash to buy yours! I'm mostly on a work trade/barter economy at the moment.

Comment by koshersalaami on July 16, 2017 at 11:05pm

I'm not hawking it, I'm just answering a question. This started out a few years ago as a conversation on Ron's blog. We were talking to a guy who grew up kind of poor among Blacks and thought his situation was identical to theirs. As such, he tended not to see racism where we saw it. Four of us got involved in this conversation with him: Ron, L in the Southeast, Myriad, and I. When all was said and done, Ron suggested we all collaborate on a book, basically taking a fictitious blogger representing this guy and organizing the conversation into topics by chapter. 

What's your book about?

 

Comment by Ron Powell on July 17, 2017 at 12:27am

@MVN:    ......and where & how might it be purchased?

Comment by MV Neland on July 17, 2017 at 1:22am

Kosher, i DO want to read it and ALL Good Work authors deserve a little reward now and again. Your collaborative book sounds fascinating and i am certain to learn from it.

My ebook, under revision each time better information comes to light, is four vignettes about 9/11 taken from the most vetted primary unofficial theories set as historical fiction. I dramatize the theories of controlled thermitic demolition of three WTC complex buildings and the use of conventionally placed explosives at the Pentagon, the use of additional drones, a small confederacy of likeminded conspirators piggybacking upon a little known Al Qaeda plot, a plausible scenario on one of the hijacked planes, and the dying Osama Bin Laden as his followers may have known him in his final days before the US invasion of Afghanistan.

I will be putting out a call for willing readers for this latest revision in a couple of weeks.  I'd be honored if anyone here would volunteer, be they adherents to either the Truther Movement or the government Official Story or have remained a complete agnostic.

 

Comment by MV Neland on July 17, 2017 at 1:30am

@Ron - Kosher sent me the link to your shared book along with a little history. Good going!  :-)

Comment by Ron Powell on July 17, 2017 at 1:31am

@Kosh; "... if you'd asked my neighbors when I was a child if Black families should have equivalent cars in equivalent garages, I think most would have said No..."

Here's the kicker: Even those who might have said "yes" to your childhood question would have been silently thinking  the following:

A) As long as it's not next door to me;

AND

B) As long as one of THEM doesn't try to marry my daughter.

"if we leave finances out of "expense," this is a good question."

Baldwin's argument is not predicated on leaving personal finances out of the definition or concept of 'expense' but expanding the notion to include the broader intangible, non-pecuniary concept as well.

We all understand that we shouldn't make light of someone else's unfortunate circumstance or condition.

Most of us are taught that it is wrong to make a joke or have fun "at someone else's expense".

Baldwin expanded the argument to include the broader connotation which neither Buckley nor the organizers of the debate could possibly have understood or anticipated...

For Baldwin, the debate was a kind of  "Miles Davis moment".

In essence Baldwin was saying that the "American Dream" is ensconced in the idea or notion of being able to profit or benefit in any way imaginable at someone else's expense and that this is especially and particularly true of the nature of the relationship between white people and black people which, when looked at in its totality, results in white people profiting or benefiting at the "expense" of black people at every conceivable level of human interaction and endeavor.

Even the phrase 'white privelege' isn't broad or expansive enough to cover the full range of the social, political, economic, psychlogical, and emotional impact and consequences of  centuries of race based subjugation and slavery.

Comment by MV Neland on July 17, 2017 at 2:35am

@Ron - all critical and excellent points. Baldwin would be smiling and letting out a little sigh of self satisfaction.

White privilege might better be thought of as primarily a perk of membership to the club...one few whites wish to be without nor know how to stop using. But, certainly, the giving and taking away of institutional privilege is essential for one group to subjugate another as well as to keep their own club members in line.  The threat of whites to take away the racial privilege of other whites and treat them as people of color has always been a common tactic used to prevent too much alliance-building and subsequent powersharing between certain white groups and the black community. We see an escalation of irritation or violence or antipathy of whites against people of color and whites against whites aligning with people of color and Jews (who are thought to be traditionally more tolerant and sympathetic to people of color and thus one more reason to be targeted themselves) throughout the 2016 election. 

Bringing the conversation further to today's political upheaval, it is a testament to the DNC, for all its faults and shortcomings, to have managed such a diverse coalition despite the prevalence of tacit white privilege. It is imperfect and imbalanced much of the time, but the diversity is rarely by default, and rather by a willingness to share in society. The means and extent of that "sharing" may often be in dispute, but no one can claim that it is unintentional and by default. Years of arguing and jostling, settling, and relinquishing, and advocating and resolving and joint action in the streets, the workplace and in the political conference room made the Democratic Party what it is today...which in turn, is now seen by the farthest Right as the greatest threat to white power.

 

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