Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Dirty Politics of the Preacher-Politician Class: A Lesson in Colonial Politics

The capitalist system requires colonies from which to extract resources such as minerals and human labor.  In classic colonialism such as in India, the invading country controls native resources through violence, ideology, and a native middle-class known also as the comprador class.  This comprador class created a well-paid buffer between the masses of colonized and the foreign colonizer.  Under neo-colonialism, native elites run governments where they continue to serve foreign elites to the detriment of the native population.  All the while, they reap massive rewards.  Internal colonialism such as we have in the United States, involves the colonial elite stealing the resources of subordinate ethnic groups or people of color.  Here also the colonizers require an educated, self-aggrandizing native elite to control the masses of the Black and Brown working classes.

In graduate school in Texas we referred to them as the Black and Brown managerial class.  As we militantly struggled for educational opportunities for people of color, nicely suited ‘community leaders’ and university personnel urged us to be calm and ‘respect’ the institution; “the very same institution that disenfranchises us and many others like us,” we thought.  They urged patience.  While my friends were being arrested, they were ‘negotiating’ (i.e., ‘making deals’) over lunch with the university and government elite in Austin.  They secured their place in academe.  When we began to ask questions about their involvement, they advised prudence.  "We wouldn’t want our enemies to take advantage of our ‘family’ disagreement," they counselled.  

This was the same year that political operative, Ward Connerly, worked tirelessly as the Black voice of the anti-affirmative action movement and was paid handsomely to speak all over the country.  After shouting him down on his visit to the campus of the University of Texas, we became the First Amendment villains for not allowing this member of the Black petit bourgeoisie to spread his message in favor of the educational disenfranchisement of people of color.  He was paid well to encourage policies that kept people of color from having a voice but we were the First Amendment villains.

Everywhere we looked the Black and Brown men in suits traded us in for self-gain and to curry favor with the colonial elite.  We lost those battles against Hopwood v. The University of Texas Law School, the undermining of Ethnic Studies (in particular, Asian Studies) at UT, and the entrenched Texas elite and their Black and Brown managerial class.  Black and Latino enrollment at Texas universities dropped precipitously the very next semester.  ‘Race’ could no longer be considered for admissions.  In addition, many accepted to Texas universities simply could not afford the tuition since millions of dollars of scholarships could no longer be earmarked for members of subordinate ethnic groups. 

It has been over fifteen years since I have witnessed such crass racist and classist behavior.  While the daily signs of racism are everywhere (just drive down my block or almost any in the Roseland neighborhood where CSU is located), glimpses into the machinations of colonialism and the role of the comprador are rare.  So, I was taken off guard on Friday, March 8, 2013 at the Board of Trustees meetings as the comprador class reared its ugly head in the guise of the Preacher-Politician.  They turned out in droves to support Wayne Watson, millionaire member of the Black managerial class who has been paid handsomely to fleece public institutions in the form of corny hires and contracts (see, for example, the recent blog post “Seventy-eight Million Reasons to Party” or any of the news stories re-posted on the facebook page, “Watson Must Go”).  They did not come to defend the thousands of working class people of color, the students, staff and faculty, victimized over the years by Wayne and his class but to ensure Black petit bourgeois control over ‘their Southside institution.’

While objectively unqualified FOWs (Friends of Wayne) and FOFOWs (Friends of Friends of Wayne) make outrageous sums to do damage to the university (see enrollment numbers down, outrageous policy coming out of legal), the Black working class who attend CSU are denied the respect of functioning facilities and the resources that students at PWIs (predominantly White institutions) take for granted.  Their education suffers when what little resources we get go to hires and raises for an incompetent, greedy, and, ultimately, racist managerial class.

Race is most assuredly a part of the story of the dirty politics being played at CSU.  But, it is not the story of the Black leader, the King figure, fighting for the civil and human rights of the Black masses up against a small group of powerful Whites trying to take down the Black man.  It is the story of the comprador class, the Black and Brown managerial class, the Preacher-ticians, attempting to claim their prize for years of loyal service to the ruling class and a big "screw you" to the Black, Brown and other working class groups on this campus who work and learn here.


  1. Thanks for the history lesson. This was interesting and I learned much from reading it. The first thing I learned is that you can manage to insult more that just African American faculty here at CSU. I would love to hear your stories about your verbal assaults on Brown preachers one day.

    The second thing I learned is that Chicago State University is located in Roseland. Oh wait, it's not. CSU is located in Rosemoor! There is a difference. Just ask some of the folks who lived there.

    Want to fight for the black working classes in the community? Take some time to get to know them.

  2. Frankly, I thought Pancho's post an interesting perspective. If you have any comments that are not entirely personal, I'd be interested in reading them.

  3. According to the Chicago city maps, the university is located in the Roseland neighborhood. There are traditional and colloquial names for different sections of neighborhoods and there are the official city designated names. I used the official designation. mea culpa! As for getting to know the working classes in Roseland, I invite anyone to join me and a few others who have been working throughout the Roseland neighborhood on a wide range of social justice issues but primarily in the areas of urban ag, community gardening, food justice, sustainability, heritage cuisines and the like. In fact, we have a meeting this Wednesday in the Woodson Library. Just working class folks, though, no compradors allowed. No chances for networking or rubbing elbows with the petit bourgeoisie.

  4. And Chris Hedges writing today in Truthdig an article called "The Treason of the Intellectuals" has some poignant quotes and words of his own.

    “Nothing in my view is more reprehensible than those habits of mind in the intellectual that induce avoidance, that characteristic turning away from a difficult and principled position, which you know to be the right one, but which you decide not to take,” wrote the late Edward Said. “You do not want to appear too political; you are afraid of seeming controversial; you want to keep a reputation for being balanced, objective, moderate; your hope is to be asked back, to consult, to be on a board or prestigious committee, and so to remain within the responsible mainstream; someday you hope to get an honorary degree, a big prize, perhaps even an ambassadorship.”

    “For an intellectual these habits of mind are corrupting par excellence,” Said went on. “If anything can denature, neutralize, and finally kill a passionate intellectual life it is the internalization of such habits. Personally I have encountered them in one of the toughest of all contemporary issues, Palestine, where fear of speaking out about one of the greatest injustices in modern history has hobbled, blinkered, muzzled many who know the truth and are in a position to serve it. For despite the abuse and vilification that any outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights and self-determination earns for him or herself, the truth deserves to be spoken, represented by an unafraid and compassionate intellectual.”

    “The desire to tell the truth,” wrote Paul Baran, the brilliant Marxist economist and author of “The Political Economy of Growth,” is “only one condition for being an intellectual. The other is courage, readiness to carry on rational inquiry to wherever it may lead … to withstand … comfortable and lucrative conformity.”

    [Hedges concludes]
    "Those who doggedly challenge the orthodoxy of belief, who question the reigning political passions, who refuse to sacrifice their integrity to serve the cult of power, are pushed to the margins. They are denounced by the very people who, years later, will often claim these moral battles as their own. It is only the outcasts and the rebels who keep truth and intellectual inquiry alive. They alone name the crimes of the state. They alone give a voice to the victims of oppression. They alone ask the difficult questions. Most important, they expose the powerful, along with their liberal apologists, for what they are."

  5. Enough! ENOUGH! E-F**KING-NUFF!!! Sweet JESUS! Haven't you people had ENOUGH of having this E Fight? DAMMIT!

    I offer to be the mediator at a coffee date with all involved parties in this.


  6. If you're not comfortable with this exchange, don't read the comments.

    1. Doc, its not about being "comfortable" or not. I offer to mediate here not out of any want of creating a more peaceful world, but for a very practical reason.

      My priority is the ouster of Emperor Wayne I. I argue ending the Jim Crow conditions of our school, and saving the school, should take precedence. What can anyone hope to gain via this infighting? What a Pyrrhic victory would be gained here if it came at the price of losing our fight against the Emperor and the destruction of the school!

      I believe the differences between the parties involved here are both solvable AND would be best handled in a face to face manner, as opposed to online. In addition, even if the differences of the parties involved here prove insolvable, I argue the principle "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" should be followed, for the EMPEROR is the greater threat. The greater threat to my investment in time and money made at the school, the greater threat to the school itself, and the greater threat to the parties involved here.

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    3. Since you seem intent on continuing this line of discussion, I will point out three things: 1) there are multiple ways to reach the same destination; 2) there are issues at play here you know nothing about; 3) we are capable of engaging in multiple discussions without one necessarily being a distraction from the other.

  7. I don't think anyone has taken their eye off the ball. I think this a fight over tactics and not objective.

    1. Yes, but when the house is on fire, everyone needs to grab a bucket and work together to put it out quickly. I'm thinking of Pete Seeger's take on the Book of Ecclesiastes: --to everything there is a season:
      ...A time of love, a time of hate
      A time of war, a time of peace
      A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

      BTW Have a look at the 4-page document on how faculty are to conduct departmental searches--one can only imagine what else is on the way from the imperial presidency.

  8. I don't disagree with that at all. What I object to is telling folks who, for whatever reason, didn't help that its entirely their fault the barn burned down. Or worse yet, telling them "well I know you let us use your waterhose, spigot, and your buckets but, you weren't out there with us, so you should have done more."

  9. Well, there is a lot of emotion running high on all parts of campus. Aside from what some of us have been doing here on the blog, at Trustee meetings, in the Senate, I have not seen an alternative method of opposition being offered to these methods. Tenured faculty are the only ones who can stand up publicly without fear of direct recourse for their actions. Whether you think you'd like to have a beer with Watson and enjoy being engaged by his charm (and there is no doubt he has that) is one thing --Emil Jones has charm-- no one is saying these guys are Hitler, but their actions (not their words and charm) have been ruthless over decades and so openly displayed over the past 6 weeks that Watson has no fear of firing Glenn Meeks or reneging on signed contracts or abrogating promises made to faculty about shared governance. They will stop at nothing--lies and political machinations, ruining reputations, to stay in power and to keep CSU as Emil Jones' personal property unable to operate independently like other universities. They clearly have Quinn in their pocket, they have many media outlets, they have various "community" leaders marshalled. Besides hunkering down and hoping Emil does not appoint Watson for another 5-year contract what method of opposition is the alternative?

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