William J. Harris: On Amiri Baraka's Third World Marxist Period (1974- )

In 1974, dramatically reversing himself, Baraka rejected black nationalism as racist and became a Third World Socialist. He declared, in the New York Times: "It is a narrow nationalism that says the white man is the enemy . . . Nationalism, so-called, when it says ‘all non-blacks are our enemies," is sickness or criminality, in fact, a form of fascism." Since 1974 he has produced a number of Marxist poetry collections and plays, including Hard Facts, Poetry for the Advanced, and What Was the Relationship of the Lone Ranger and the Means of Production? He has also published a book of Marxist essays, Daggers and Javelins. The goal of his socialist art is the destruction of the capitalist state and the creation of a socialist community. Baraka has stated: "I think fundamentally my intentions are similar to those I had when I was a Nationalist. That might seem contradictory, but they were similar in the sense I see art as a weapon, and a weapon of revolution. It’s just now that I define revolution in Marxist terms. Once defined revolution in Nationalist terms. But I came to my Marxist view as a result of having struggled as a Nationalist and found certain dead ends theoretically and ideologically, as far as Nationalism was concerned and had to reach out for a communist ideology." His socialist art is addressed to the black community, which has, he believes, the greatest revolutionary potential in America.

From the "Introduction," to The LeRoi Jones / Amiri Baraka Reader. Copyright © 1991 by William J. Harris.


Title William J. Harris: On Amiri Baraka's Third World Marxist Period (1974- ) Type of Content General Poet Criticism
Criticism Author William J. Harris Criticism Target Amiri Baraka
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 05 Apr 2015
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication The LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka Reader
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