Scrubbed from its webpage, the Black Lives Matters organization had previously stated in its “About” section: “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure.” This statement cannot be understood independently of the Third Worldist/neo-Maoist ideology that informs BLM’s portrayal of Western civilization as not only a white supremacist project but also a patriarchal one (see “Mao Zedong Thought and the New Left Corruption of Emancipatory Politics”). The statement dovetails with the also scrubbed Smithsonian exhibit “Aspects and Assumptions of Whiteness and White Culture in the United States” (see my podcast and blog on The Myth of White Culture—and be sure to check out my previous blog).
Along with the attack on the nuclear family structure, BLM seeks to disrupt traditional and modern gender categories. Much of that language has been scrubbed from the page, as well. Yet the Black Lives Matter slogan is almost always in the streets paired with the Trans Lives Matter slogan. At least among the hard core of the countermovement. It is not enough for BLM to advance the liberal value of seeking equality before the law with special rights for none, the feminist cause of abolishing patrilineal and patriarchal rule, and the libertarian ethic of persons freely choosing their gender identity, all of which I advocate unreservedly, the organization has to attack the two-parent household and sex-based gender roles, human relations one finds cross-culturally that predate modernity and that provide a social-stabilizing function.
The characterization of BLM presented here comes with a reflexive rebuttal: The quote about disrupting the nuclear family is missing eclipses. The quotation is taken out of context. BLM only wants extended families. They want to see the community take up the role of the family. It takes a village. As if idealized primitive social orderings are appropriate to modern life of liberty. It is enough to share the heart of the ideology confronting America. (Do eclipses even matter in the wake of the statement’s official disappearance?)
From where does this idea of disrupting the nuclear family come? Having declared themselves “trained Marxist,” Black Lives Matters leaders do claim a revolutionary politics. “The first thing, I think, is that we actually do have an ideological frame,” co-founder Patrisse Cullors told Jared Ball of Real News Network in 2015. “Myself and Alicia [Garza] in particular are trained organizers. We are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on, sort of, ideological theories. And I think that what we really tried to do is build a movement that could be utilized by many, many black folk.”
Given that the founders are self-described Marxists, BLM’s position on the nuclear family might be read in the spirit of views expressed in the Communist Manifesto, appearing mid-nineteenth century, where the principle leaders of the European communist movement, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, acknowledge popular trepidation at hearing that Communists want to abolish the family, describing the abolition of these relations as their “infamous proposal.”
To be sure, Marx and Engels own it. But there is some nuance here. The communists argue that the present prevailing family form in the West, the nuclear family, is based on the bourgeois family. They then identify its complement—“the practical absence of the family among the proletarians”—and make a prediction: “The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital.”
In the communist worldview, the abolition of the family as it is presently known is bound up with the abolition of capitalism. What is more, Engels, in his 1884 The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, famously writes, “According to the materialistic conception, the determining factor in history is, in the final instance, the production and reproduction of the immediate essentials of life. This, again, is of a twofold character. On the one side, the production of the means of existence, of articles of food and clothing, dwellings, and of the tools necessary for that production; on the other side, the production of human beings themselves, the propagation of the species. The social organization under which the people of a particular historical epoch and a particular country live is determined by both kinds of production: by the stage of development of labor on the one hand and of the family on the other.” This formulation, which has always struck me as self-evident, precludes any significant jettisoning or even skirting of the reality of biological sex differences. After all, Marx and Engels believed in natural history. They were fans of Darwin.
Marx and Engels also argue in that section that, under communism, society replaces home education—“the most hallowed of relations”—with social education. To be sure, there is under bourgeois rule a form of social education. But prevailing curricula, Marx and Engels contend, is designed to deepen false consciousness. “The Communists have not invented the intervention of society in education,” Marx and Engels say of their solution; “they do but seek to alter the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class.”
Given the current state of public education with its social justice curricula (critical race theory, the 1619 Project, etc.), it appears that Marx and Engels did not have to wait for the establishment of communism for education to work against the bourgeoisie family (and that likely would have made them suspicious). However, the BLM interpretation of historical materialism is comically juvenile. The founders of the countermovement are hardly super-versed in Marxism. Rather, their ideology is an approximation to neo-Marxism with some postmodernism and nihilism thrown in. Its racism exposes its anti-humanist orientation. As I said, it is neo-Maoist in character. It means to effect a cultural revolution.
Whatever one thinks of the Black Lives Matter/neo-Marxist take on the family and education, the ambition expressed raises an empirical question: Is disrupting the nuclear family and sex roles and establishing public school curricula that means to invalidate bourgeois values good for children and society? If not, who or what is it good for? There is an historical record we can look at.
For at least eighty years following the abolition of slavery, the nuclear family was the bedrock of black and white majority communities. More than three-quarters of black families were two-parent families and black-majority communities were stable and supportive. Workforce participation among blacks was similar to those of white majority communities. That changed with the full implementation of progressive policy organized as the Great Society under Lyndon Johnson. Accompanying the vast expansion of the welfare state during this period, the United States opened its borders to mass immigration in 1965, while promoting globalization, displacing millions of native workers and undermining private sector union density, a trend that coincided with the expansion of public sector unionization, protecting the technocrats of the administrative apparatus. The consequences of these and related policy developments proved devastating for many black people.
Twenty-five years after Johnson, 68 percent of black children were born to unmarried mothers. If not for the legalization of abortion, that percentage would likely have been much higher. Today, three-quarters of black families are single-parent families, the vast majority headed by women. Female-headed households are associated with higher levels of poverty. Black unemployment climbed to two and three times that of whites, as businesses relied on foreign labor and left for more dependable environments elsewhere. Rates of crime and violence exploded in black-majority urban neighborhoods. Today, despite being less than six percent of the US population, black males are responsible for more than half of all murders and robberies and around a third of assaults and burglaries. Black-majority inner-city neighborhoods, with rising fatherlessness and joblessness and rampant criminal violence, operated as open-air custodial facilities, conditions secured and perpetuated by progressive regimes that entrenched in city governments across the country, the same progressive regimes that are enabling, even promoting open insurrection in America’s cities.
Responding to the crime and violence explosion caused by the disintegration of the black nuclear family, governments expanded the law enforcement apparatus with considerable effect—and the shame of mass incarceration. Their efforts notwithstanding, in part due to racially-selective underprotection of their residents, levels of crime in these neighborhoods, along with family disintegration, poverty, and unemployment, continue to degrade the quality of life for black people. Paradoxically, Black Lives Matter and its allies push for disrupting public safety, calling on governments to stand down the police. BLM inspired rebellion and government rollback of law enforcement have resulted in markedly higher crime rates, erasing decades of progress. Black people are those most harmed by these developments.
Observers are shocked—some are thrilled—when they hear of BLM’s goal of disrupting the nuclear family. But BLM’s goal is not novel. We don’t have to go way back to nineteenth century European-style communism to find its inspiration. BLM’s political position is inspired by the function, if not the intent, of progressive politics and policy in twentieth century North America. BLM has internalized the social logic of global corporatism, a logic that has no need for families or nations. Progressivism is the technocratic arm of corporate governance, its politics and policies designed to manage populations affected by the inequalities globalization systemically generates in the pursuit of corporate profit.
Ask yourself why it is that when progressives hear criticism of the single-parent household in black-majority neighborhoods they hear an attack on moms and not condemnation of the dads who abandon their children? Why is advocacy for the nuclear family considered reactionary among progressives? One might think progressives are feminists. They say they are. So why aren’t they talking about a man’s responsibility to his children and how wrong it is to leave child-rearing solely to the woman carried financially by the state? Why do they hear as racist discussion of the facts that the police who shot Jacob Blake were there to protect a woman from assault and to serve a warrant for Blake’s arrest for felony sexual assault? Put another way, why does Black Lives Matter negate #MeToo? Why is Black Lives Matter pushing an ideology insisting that men have a right to define what a woman is? Why are women who assert their being as a real and a priori ontological category smeared as “transphobic”? Why is BLM dissimulating its politics by cleansing its web page of objectionable rhetoric? They still believe these things. Why, if Black Lives Matter founders are trained Marxists, do they avoid class analysis and criticism?
BLM and Smithsonian are not the only organizations scrubbing web pages. Remember these words crafted by Nikole Hannah-Jones? “The 1619 project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative”? The statement now reads: “The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.” Hannah-Jones is denying that she had ever sought to displace 1776 with 1619. And she is fully aware of how her denial sounds. In a now-deleted tweet she writes, “The #1619Project does not argue that 1619 was our true founding. We know this nation marks its founding at 1776.” She did not mean to draw attention to her act of dissimulation.
Black Lives Matter, the Smithsonian exhibit on whiteness, the 1619 Project—these campaigns are elements of antidemocratic and illiberal propaganda, of the word and of the deed, aiming to delegitimize the American republic and Western civilization with falsehood and violence, namely that the West is intrinsically racist and its institutions and values exist to perpetuate white privilege and are therefore justifiably scheduled for annihilation. History and science are being problematized into ideological battering rams to smash objective knowledge.
Our institutions and values are being delegitimized because transnational corporate power means to denationalize the West to extract its wealth and assimilate the proletarians of these countries into a global neofeudalist order. The modern nation-state as the dynamic unit of world affairs and the family as the fundamental unit of human relations are obstacles to globalist ambition because the social logic of republican political and legal machinery is democratic, humanist, and liberal (and potentially socialist) and the family is the fulcrum of community stability. “Global citizenship” and “it takes a village” share another name: serfdom.