Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cornel West - "Democracy Matters Are Frightening in Our Time" 3

"Democracy matters require that we keep track of the intimate link between domestic issues and foreign policies. Like the empires of old - especially the Roman and British ones - what we do abroad affects what we do here and what we do here shapes what we can do abroad." (10)
If we are to grapple critically with the three antidemocratic dogmas that are raising their ugly heads at this critical juncture, we will need a more realistic understanding of the crushing ways in which they have operated in the country throughout our history. The first step for any critique of a dogma is to lay bare the history of that dogma - to disclose its contingent origins and ignoble beginnings and to show that the critique of that dogma in history has its own tradition and history. America has a long tradition of excoriating, painful, and powerful critiques of the arrested development of our democracy - critiques of the ravages of our imperial expansionist genocide of the Native Americans; of the crushing of the lives of workers by the callous machinery of capitalist excesses; of the wholesale subjugation of women, gays, and lesbians; and most especially and centrally of the deeply antidemocratic and dehumanizing hypocrisies of white supremacy. This is why the lens of race becomes indispensable in our attempt to understand, preserve, and expand America's democratic experiment.

The brutal atrocities of white supremacy in the American past and present speak volumes about the harsh limits of our democracy over against our professed democratic ideals. Race is the crucial intersecting point where democratic energies clash with American imperial realities in the very making of the grand American experiment of democracy. The voices and viewpoints of reviled and disempowered Amerindians, Asians, Mexicans, Africans, and immigrant Europeans reveal and remind us of the profoundly racist roots of the first American empire - the old America of expansionist Manifest Destiny.
-pg. 13-14 of Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism by Dr. Cornel West

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