June 16, 2023
There’s a place for all at the rendezvous of victory—Aimé Césaire
Dr. Cornel West is running for president. Is he in for the long haul? I hope so. He’s smart, he’s principled, and he knows intimately the lay of the political landscape from top to bottom and from left to right. He might talk about loving his enemies (I can’t but wonder whether he would have said “Brother Adolf”) and can sound a bit wooly at times, but he’s nobody’s fool. When push comes to shove, he can and will hit back hard. It’ll be a joy to behold him putting sleaze buckets like Al Sharpton, Michael Eric Dyson, Joy Reid, and the Big Enchilada himself, Brother Barack, in their place when the Democratic Party slave masters order them to beat up on Dr. West. He’ll also have to confront AOC and, I’m sorry to say, Bernie, but while smothering them with love in a giant bear hug, he’ll almost certainly press on undeterred. Dr. West has also been the man about town the past 40 years so he’s got lots of connections not just among Ivy League elites but also at the grassroots. He should be able to activate a far-flung (if still rudimentary) organization in short order. And that’s critical. Because the sand in the hourglass is rapidly running out. The times are desperate and grim. In one department—nuclear conflagration—we are rushing headlong to the point of no return. In other words, Dr. West can and—not to be emotive or hyperbolic, but it’s the truth—must make a difference. No one person can save Humanity. The ruling class has fantastical resources at its disposal. It controls the economy, it controls the police and the courts, it controls the media. Who it doesn’t yet control, it can almost always buy off. In the absence of mass organization—what Cornel has been given to calling a “united front”—it can’t be budged, while the power and greed is so blinding that it will lurch forward even as it is set on a suicide course. But if he does things right, Dr. West can be the vehicle of a movement that stops dead in its tracks the lunacy currently afoot. In the next few weeks I will present in the spirit of comradely solidarity some ideas for Dr. West’s consideration.
The great revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg urged that one of the principal tasks of a radical is to educate the masses. Dr. West will be the only candidate speaking candidly on Ukraine. He potentially can command a huge audience. Unless it directly impinges on the lives of ordinary Americans—such as the GIs dying in Vietnam—foreign policy will not determine the outcome of the election. But the situation in Ukraine is now so dire, so terrifying, that he must exploit the opportunity granted him to sound the alarm. Just as Bernie Sanders used his campaign to call out Big Pharma and the “crooks” on Wall Street, Cornel must educate the American people about the relentless provocations against Russia of one U.S. administration after another that brought on this war. He should convene a national town meeting in which he brings on the leading experts— John Mearsheimer, Jeffrey Sachs, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Aaron Maté—to present the hard facts. Cornel is an intent and shrewd interlocutor and was gifted with a dazzling memory. He must hammer down a crystal-clear set of talking points as to how he would proceed were he elected; no rhetorical circumlocutions. The first two planks (quoted below) of China’s peace plan correctly state the only basis for resolving the conflict: respect for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and Russia’s legitimate security concerns—
1. Respecting the sovereignty of all countries. Universally recognized international law, including the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, must be strictly observed. The sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively upheld. All countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community. All parties should jointly uphold the basic norms governing international relations and defend international fairness and justice. Equal and uniform application of international law should be promoted, while double standards must be rejected.
2. Abandoning the Cold War mentality. The security of a country should not be pursued at the expense of others. The security of a region should not be achieved by strengthening or expanding military blocs. The legitimate security interests and concerns of all countries must be taken seriously and addressed properly. There is no simple solution to a complex issue. All parties should, following the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and bearing in mind the long-term peace and stability of the world, help forge a balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture. All parties should oppose the pursuit of one’s own security at the cost of others’ security, prevent bloc confrontation, and work together for peace and stability on the Eurasian Continent.
There are few American private citizens who can meet as an equal the leaders of China and Russia, but also Brazil and South Africa. Dr. West is one of them. Sycophancy runs contrary to his nature and he won’t be browbeaten, awed, or seduced by the trappings of power. He showed that in how he acquitted himself with Harvard president Larry Summers and U.S. president Barack Obama. He should set as a top priority to personally engage these leaders and hear them out. Once in firm possession of the essential facts, and confident that he can fend off the predictable smears that he’s a “Putin puppet,” Dr. West must use every occasion availed him to broadcast in lapidary phrases the truth about this monstrous and possibly terminal war.