W. E. B. Du Bois and American Political Thought: Fabianism and the Color Line

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9780195051742: W. E. B. Du Bois and American Political Thought: Fabianism and the Color Line

In this pathbreaking book, Adolph Reed, Jr. covers for the first time the sweep and totality of W. E. B. Du Bois's political thought. Departing from existing scholarship, Reed locates the sources of Du Bois's thought in the cauldron of reform-minded intellectual life at the turn of the century, demonstrating that a commitment to liberal collectivism, an essentially Fabian socialism, remained pivotal in Du Bois's thought even as he embraced a range of political programs over time, including radical Marxism. Exploring the segregation-era political discourse which informed Du Bois's texts, and identifying the imperatives which triggered Du Bois's strategic political thinking, Reed reveals that Du Bois's core beliefs concerning such `ssues as the relationship between knowledge and progress, social stratification among blacks, and proper social organization, endured with little change from their early formulation in The Philadelphia Negro (1899). Reed's discussion, in addition to demonstrating the theoretical rigor and integrity of Du Bois's work over nearly six decades, involves a suggestive remapping of the history of progressive thought in this span, bringing clearly into view previously unexamined continuities and tensions between fin de siecle and later twentieth-century socialist and Marxist discourses.

Illuminating the foundations and course of Du Bois's political thought, Reed also considers the way this thought has been interpreted. Exposing recent vindicationist, de-politicizing, and transhistorical trends in Du Bois studies, Reed devotes special attention to recent misreadings of Du Bois's concept of "double- consciousness." Tracking the source of these trends to troubling currents in contemporary Afro-American, literary, and cultural studies, Reed offers a compelling alternative approach to the writing of the history of political thought, one that anchors inquiry to contemporary concerns while requiring the kind of thick historical grounding too often missing in recent scholarship. American intellectuals and activists of this century,

Eloquent and far-reaching, W. E. B. Du Bois and American Political Thought is an indispensable study of Du Bois's thought and holds clear implications for Americanists, African- Americanists, and those doing theory-inflected work in the humanities.

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In his own time, W.E.B. Du Bois was a controversial figure, and now, more than 30 years after his death, he continues to be so. Born in 1868, Du Bois was a central figure in African American intellectual life during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, yet many of his positions are difficult to reconcile with current African American thought. Du Bois, for example, was an elitist who believed that black society was divided between "the talented tenth" and everybody else. Yet in his later years, he joined the communist party and moved to Africa, where he lived out the remainder of his life. Since his death in 1963, a generation of African American intellectuals have tried to interpret, explain, or revise him according to their own beliefs; now Adolph Reed Jr. weighs in with W.E.B. Du Bois and American Political Thought.

Reed's approach to Du Bois is simple: he believes that what you read is what you get. When, for example, Du Bois wrote movingly in The Souls of Black Folk of a feeling of "twoness," a sense of warring natures, Reed suggests that, far from embracing a notion of double consciousness, Du Bois was actually following precepts of early 20th-century social theory which described the split between primitive and civilized societies. In addition to his discussion about Du Bois, Reed comments on many other African American critics at work today, from Houston Baker to Henry Louis Gates, making the author of W.E.B. Du Bois and American Political Thought as controversial as his subject.

About the Author:


Adolph L. Reed, Jr. is a member of the Graduate Faculty of Political Science at the New School of Social Research . He is also a regular columnist for The Village Voice and a frequent contributor to The Progressive and The Nation.

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 1997. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. This groundbreaking study of W.E.B. DuBois simultaneously analyses the political thought of one of the leading black American intellectuals and activists of this century, provides a model for the study of the history of political thought, and by examining recent DuBois scholarship, offers a penetrating interpretation of contemporary black thought. The book departs from existing DuBois scholarship by locating the sources of DuBois s thinking in the cauldron of reform-oriented American intellectual life at the end of the nineteenth century, and follows through the course of his career the ways that his early commitments persisted in his basic views regarding such pivotal issues as the relation of science and progress, social stratification among black Americans and in general, and rational social organization. While DuBois s substantive political programmes changed over time, for example in his support for defensive organizing behind the walls of segregation during the 1930s and his rapprochement with the Communist left in his last two decades, Reed argues that those changes do not reflect fundamental shifts in the structure of his thinking but were pragmatic responses to concrete political circumstances. When situated within their own constitutive contexts, these changing responses reveal their compatibility, if not coherence, with DuBois s basic, essentially Fabian socialist world view as first elaborated in The Philadelphia Negro. W.E.B. DuBois and American Political Thought s interpretation of DuBois is also an argument about the fundamental connections between Afro-American political debate and broader patterns of political discourse. This argument is linked to a path-breaking critique of dominant tendencies in Afro-American intellectual historiography and their ideological foundations, as well as to a sophisticated argument in support of an alternative, historically generativist approach to the study of the history of political thought. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780195051742

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 1997. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.This groundbreaking study of W.E.B. DuBois simultaneously analyses the political thought of one of the leading black American intellectuals and activists of this century, provides a model for the study of the history of political thought, and by examining recent DuBois scholarship, offers a penetrating interpretation of contemporary black thought. The book departs from existing DuBois scholarship by locating the sources of DuBois s thinking in the cauldron of reform-oriented American intellectual life at the end of the nineteenth century, and follows through the course of his career the ways that his early commitments persisted in his basic views regarding such pivotal issues as the relation of science and progress, social stratification among black Americans and in general, and rational social organization. While DuBois s substantive political programmes changed over time, for example in his support for defensive organizing behind the walls of segregation during the 1930s and his rapprochement with the Communist left in his last two decades, Reed argues that those changes do not reflect fundamental shifts in the structure of his thinking but were pragmatic responses to concrete political circumstances. When situated within their own constitutive contexts, these changing responses reveal their compatibility, if not coherence, with DuBois s basic, essentially Fabian socialist world view as first elaborated in The Philadelphia Negro. W.E.B. DuBois and American Political Thought s interpretation of DuBois is also an argument about the fundamental connections between Afro-American political debate and broader patterns of political discourse. This argument is linked to a path-breaking critique of dominant tendencies in Afro-American intellectual historiography and their ideological foundations, as well as to a sophisticated argument in support of an alternative, historically generativist approach to the study of the history of political thought. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780195051742

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