“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: 181

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;


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.


Comment by Ron Powell on July 17, 2017 at 3:03am

@MVB; "...and rather by a willingness to share in society..."

This may have have been true for a brief moment in American political history. 

However, the driving force behind this phenomenon has been and is primarily the desire to win elections.

Comment by koshersalaami on July 17, 2017 at 6:19am

On the part of the DNC, maybe. On the part of the electorate, no. Egalitarianism among sectors of the electorate is not that cynical. Rev. Barber's supporters for Moral Mondays are not doing it to use minorities to win elections. 

As to DNC cynicism, the accusation I've heard is that Democratic centrists use identity politics to keep their constituents focused away from economic distribution issues - a bone to their public to keep them from opposing the corporatism their key contributors insist on. In other words, political liberalism emphasized so they can ignore economic liberalism. Keep them focused on transgender bathrooms and focused off their wallets because focusing on transgender bathrooms is free. 

I don't know how true the accusation is. That was my dilemma with Hillary. Obviously, given her opponent, I supported her anyway, but I wasn't sure enough about that answer to vote for her in the primary. As the the DNC since the general election, my suspicions have been heightened given the moderate candidates they've put up in special elections since, all of whom have lost. The Democratic Party does not need moderate candidates right now. They should stop worrying about Bernie's party loyalty and start worrying about what their core constituency will mobilize for, and that isn't moderation, particularly given that economic and political circumstances do not call for moderation - they call for addressing distribution problems way more seriously than that. 

The last numbers I saw, which are a few years old, indicate that the poorest 40% of America's population collectively owns 0.3% of America's wealth, which is incidentally less than the Walton family owns. That says two things:

1. We have a bad justice problem, with a distribution model way more skewed than even ideal Republican numbers taken in surveys. 

2. For a lot of businesses, this means that two out of five American consumers are essentially AWOL. Why the general public and the Democrats in particular haven't made an issue of this, of skewed distribution as our biggest business problem, is totally beyond me. If Imwere in the DNC, I'd have been on Wall Street saying that the Republicans are terrible for business. I've made this point repeatedly in posts but not recent ones. Perhaps I need some reposts. 

Comment by koshersalaami on July 17, 2017 at 6:34am

Maybe I need to go back to 1-Alligator (the name of a post). As a model:

Use time to represent money because scale in time is easier to grasp than pure numbers.

$1=1 second

An expensive meal is about a minute ($60) per person

An average premium car is about half a day. An expensive but not totally exceptional premium car is about a day. 

An average American house is maybe two to five days. Mortgaged.

A million dollars is about 11 1/2 days.

A billion dollars is in the neighborhood of 31 years.

Each Koch brother is worth well in excess of a Millenium. 


Let's leave the model for a second and look at the Koch brothers in other terms:

One of the brothers has three kids. If he were to pass away,

The inheritance tax rate was a Draconian 99%,

The estate was evenly divided between his wife and kids,

His heirs would be forced to survive on a net worth of over $100 million


This is who we won't raise taxes on. 

Identity politics matters but we have to fix this, and we don't fix this by voting for moderates who aren't strongly about fixing this.

Bernie is. That is Bernie's real value to America. Blowing him and his followers off is terrible for the country because his core issue really is that critical. 



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