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You are here: Platypus /Tomorrow is today: An interview with Anthony Monteiro

Tomorrow is today: An interview with Anthony Monteiro

Zeyu Chen and D. L. Jacobs

Platypus Review 143 | February 2022

On October 17, 2021, Platypus Affiliated Society members Zeyu Chen and D. L. Jacobs interviewed Anthony Monteiro, a W. E. B. Du Bois scholar and an organizer with the Saturday Free School based in Philadelphia. What follows is an edited transcript of their discussion.

D. L. Jacobs: To start off this interview, we just wanted to ask if you could introduce yourself and talk about what your involvement in the Left has been and how you came to be involved in the Left.

Anthony Monteiro: I've been a person of the Left I think most of my life, not just my adult life, but going back to my teenage years. I was, of course, a child of the Civil Rights Movement. But as a student at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, which is a historically black college, I was influenced by various forms of black nationalism, the Black Arts Movement, revolutionary nationalism, the Nation of Islam, and that complex of ideas and tactics, which were seen by us as a more revolutionary alternative to the Civil Rights Movement. Being a teenager, I had no way to really understand what the full potential of the Civil Rights Movement was. Having read Frantz Fanon, and of course, Mao Zedong and certain of the African Independence movements in the southern part of Africa, being influenced by the Cuban Revolution and the July 26th Movement, we were pretty much rejecting the tactics of non-violence. Our group of students took over the student government through elections, and we did this in alliance with the African students at our university.

To understand all of this, you have to understand what a historically black college was back at that time. It's not the University of Pennsylvania. As they say today, we were “under-resourced.” But we dug it that way, because it meant that we were closer in the ways that we lived to the black working-class communities from which we came. We didn't have luxurious dormitories. In fact, the dining hall could not fit all of the students, so we would have to stand outside in line while one group would go in and eat and then another group would come in and eat. But it was tucked away in the southeastern part of Pennsylvania, a very beautiful rural area, and our student body at that time was about 600 students, who were small, but we were pretty much all black, and that created a spiritual life, the likes of which I've never experienced. I went to Philadelphia Public Schools, which were pretty integrated in terms of the student body. I went to Central High School which was integrated but was 80–90% white, the majority of whom were Jewish. And so a Jewish holiday was a school holiday. But most of the teachers didn't think that we black students were too intelligent. They felt we were taking up space for more qualified people and it was not much love in my high school days. Going to Lincoln, there was a spirit of camaraderie, of solidarity, of love. The professors and the administration cared about us, and we and they shared common aspirations in terms of black freedom. There was space for students like myself to debate the great issues of our time, domestic and foreign, and we wanted to be — more than anything — we wanted to be revolutionaries.

DJ: There are different paths to go on and I wanted to touch on Du Bois who is very central to the Saturday Free School. How did you first come across Du Bois? And how did that influence your own thinking? How do you see Du Bois’s relevance today? But let's start there, in autobiographical terms.

AM: Ironically, because it was the height of the Cold War, I don't think we had any classes on Du Bois nor was Du Bois included in the sociology classes or the history classes. One thing I can say: I felt I had a better education than most students at the elite universities. There I read Kant's Critique of Pure Reason twice, I read Aristotle — it really was a Great Books kind of thing at Lincoln University, this small black college! I remember in my senior year picking up the autobiography of W. E. B. Du Bois, and not being able to really understand it. I got a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship to go to the University of Chicago to do graduate studies in Political Science and hopefully to get a PhD. A monkey wrench was thrown in that, because after having arrived there, I was accused by the FBI and the Philadelphia police of wanting to start a riot along with three other of my friends, poison the water of the police, and kill 1,500 of them. Even if I wanted to do it — I was a very naive person and very young — I couldn't have done anything like that. But it was part of the COINTELPRO program: entrapping young people as a way of smearing the whole black movement. So I was arrested, I was charged with all these things, I made bail, I went back to Chicago. And while taking classes at the university, I also began studying with a group of young black people from several universities, including Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, members of the Black Panther Party, and some others.

DJ: Can you talk about some of that interaction with Fred Hampton?

AM: We were all of the same age. The Black Panther Party was a youth movement. There were all kinds of ideas in it. But Fred Hampton was as close to Marxism as you would get in the Black Panther Party. We studied Lenin. In fact, in the study group, we were reading Marx's Das Kapital every week, and of course, Lenin and Mao. We would try to get as many of these magazines from the Soviet Union, to look at an alternative to world events. But he was very mature politically and as a person — very, very mature — had all of the qualities of a leader even in his early 20s: very courageous and was prepared to die for the cause that he stood up for. One of the things I remember about him is because we read Lenin’s “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder: Fred rejected the leftism of the Weathermen Underground, And he called upon the Chicago Black Panthers not to join their 1968 demonstrations against the Democratic Convention, the “Days of Rage.”

The other thing he always said: “I'm a proletariat.” He would always say that and out of that came this concept — I think he was the one that developed it — that became part of the Black Panther theorizing of politics, a Rainbow Coalition. Hampton developed that in Chicago. He was committed to it. And he conceptualized this — I don't know that everybody agreed with him. I don't know that Bobby Rush and some of the others agreed with him, but he believed in — and this is his language -— “proletarian unity.” That was Fred Hampton at a very fucking young age. That was a part of what we were doing in our reading and study groups.

DJ: This actually leads me back to Du Bois. I want you to also talk about the Saturday Free School and what you see is the legacy of Black Reconstruction in America (1935) and the question of the black proletariat. Could you talk about what you see as the stakes of Du Bois’s argument? Especially because at the time in a sense, it's a kind of intervention first against the Dunning history, but also because it's during the 30s, the high era of the old Left, the Communist Party.

AM: So interesting, because Du Bois is what we call a Black Swan. He's so unusual, so singular, so unique. It's as though he never wanted to be anything other than that, so he could have written an anti-Dunning School study of black reconstruction and called it the Reconstruction and left it at that. But he does something beyond anybody's wildest dream or imagination. There were a lot of people who had been asking him, once that movie Birth of a Nation (1915) came out, “Dr. Du Bois, you have to write something. You have to get the record straight.” He finally does this thing and he had obviously been thinking about it for at least 40 years from the time that he was writing his dissertation at Harvard, and he finally completed it in 1935. It's this huge book that he will call his magnum opus and it begins where no other book on history in the United States began: the black worker. That alone is an unbelievable paradigm shift. To talk about a period in American history, albeit a period of reconstruction and start with the black worker. And the second chapter: the white worker; and the third chapter: the planter. He sets up this trilogy. I'll come back to that.

But then he calls the book Black Reconstruction in America, not just reconstruction: black reconstruction. And he periodizes it: 1860–1880. He's not just talking about the Reconstruction period. He's talking about an era in American history, which he will ultimately say was pregnant with the possibility of genuine revolution, but also with the possibility of counterrevolution. It's breathtaking.

DJ: I have a few questions on that. One thing that comes to mind is what Marx says in the inaugural address at the founding of the first International. He describes the English working class stepping in to prevent intervention of England on the side of the Confederacy — because most of Europe was supporting the Confederacy — as showing the wisdom of the working class. I wonder how you see the International and its relationship to what you were just calling the pregnant possibility for revolution in terms of slaves emancipating themselves. The famous line from Capital: “Labor cannot emancipate itself in white skin where the black skin is branded.”

AM: I heard so often from Henry Winston. I have to plead ignorance on that question. I've kind of forgotten a lot of the history of that unique period in European class conflict. Du Bois is a Marxist to the degree that he acknowledges the class struggle. But he goes beyond any radical thinkers, even Marx, when he conceptualized that the slaves were workers. Marx comes close to it in Das Kapital, but no one but Du Bois does this. He did it in his PhD dissertation already in 1895. He further develops it in Black Reconstruction, so he's rethinking the class struggle. He's literally saying that the Communist Party has it wrong.

DJ: I have a question about that because this was a kind of a controversy at the time amongst the CPUSA. James S. Allen has a book as well, where he agrees in terms of the initiative of the slaves but they differ on the stakes of the revolution: Is it a democratic revolution? Does it have, as you were just saying, the potential for a proletarian socialist revolution?

AM: If I might just say James Allen writes this book-length response to Du Bois entitled Reconstruction: The Battle for Democracy (1937). Clearly, he moves away from Du Bois's concept of black reconstruction, and he moves away from Du Bois's concept of the centrality of black workers — a huge difference in thinking.

In our preparation for the Henry Winston conference — Winston ultimately sides with Du Bois. And he sides with Du Bois from the standpoint of attempting to understand scientifically the essence of the revolutionary process in the United States. And the essence of that process was obscured in the early theorizing — much of the early theorizing, I should say — of the Communist Party.

DJ: Were you in the CPUSA one time? Did you ever meet Henry Winston?

AM: I've worked right directly under him.

DJ: Can you talk about his thought process? Also the Saturday Free School is planning this upcoming conference for Henry Winston. Can you talk about what you see that he recaptured in terms of what was lost? What did it mean for you when you were involved?

AM: One of the things that has occurred to me in the process of us organizing this conference — the way he theorized Leninism had a lot to do with his own life. He was born in 1911, in the very shadow of the defeat of black Reconstruction, in Mississippi. So he grew up not only with people who knew Reconstruction, but people who had been slaves. Their lives in Mississippi were not that different from when the slaves had to live. They didn't have any rights, terror all around them, they could never own any land, which was supposedly promised to them. They lived at the bottom of the economic rung. When the Great Depression hits — like the third and fourth Depression — they didn't know anything beyond that.

The point I want to make is this: Winston, especially after he gets out of the penitentiary, sees an unbreakable link between Lenin and Du Bois, and he joins Communist theory with Duboisian theory — a new synthesis that captures the fact that the oppression of black people is not just a national question à la Lenin; but a question of race à la Du Bois, and that this question was central to the development of the class struggle in this country. That's a break from Marx. It's a break from Lenin. It is Duboisian.

But, Winston was completely committed to the Leninist theory of the party, of a vanguard of the working class. Winston also saw the revolutionary process as proceeding on two foundations: class and black liberation. That did not exclude other questions, but these were the two necessary foundations.

DJ: This brings up something else that's also central to the Saturday Free School: the Civil Rights Movement. The black freedom struggle, as you mentioned, and one of the ways in which the Civil Rights Movement was discussed, was characterized as the second Abolitionist Movement, or the continuation or finishing of the American Revolution, fulfill the dream, fulfilled the American promise. When you encountered these kinds of theories, what did they mean for you at the time, in terms of the concrete political events of that period?

AM: I think it meant everything, and I only could appreciate the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King when I joined the Communist Party. Because I was out there with a lot of young people my age. We’re going to be more revolutionary than everybody else, right? We had heard Malcolm X's criticism of non-violence, and, in our communities here in Philadelphia, for example, there were so many young men in particular who were espousing views that characterized Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement as an assimilationist, reformist, anti-revolutionary movement.

It was not until I got in the Communist Party, met Winston and William Paterson — because these were people from the South; they were Southerners. They understood the imperative of breaking down the system of segregation, which was not just laws and cultural practices, but hit at the very core of their economic well-being. They saw King and his movement and evolution in these larger terms. They always were talking about, as they called him, “Dr. Du Bois.” He was like their mentor and they talked about King and Du Bois more than any other people.

And this was all of them: this was [Henry] Winston, William Paterson, James Jackson, Esther Jackson, etc. I mean just all of them. It's just a beautiful thing, when you're young, to be able to sit at the feet of people who have experience and wisdom that you could not have and help to direct you in the proper direction.

DJ: I knew there were a few strategies regarding the Civil Rights Movement: you could either put it as founding a Socialist Party in America or linking up together or refounding it or re-watering it. What was the strategy in terms of the approach? Because you said you appreciated the Civil Rights Movement, perhaps more, once you were in the CPUSA. In other words that would bring in a kind of question of democracy, proletarian leadership, class struggle, and things that might not be there at a liberal level.

AM: We believed in the Communist Party of the stages of development of a movement. No movement emerges, full-blown as a radical revolutionary movement. Certainly black folk in the South could not and did not have the option of full-blown revolution: there had to be stages, and we consider these stages in the democratic struggle; the widening of democracy would benefit the working class as a whole. So many members of the Communist Party were involved in the organization of unorganized workers in industrial unions in the 1930s, but they saw that still the unions had not expunged racism and practices of segregation from the unions.

This struggle would bring into its orbit, once again, the more advanced white workers. Black workers in the unions would fight for solidarity with the Civil Rights Movement. This is why the UAW and the Reuther Brothers were so pro-Civil Rights: because of Detroit, because of black workers in those unions.

DJ: They were pro-Civil Rights, but there also ends up being a conflict with ELRUM[1] and the League of Black Revolutionary Workers in that sense. This actually starts getting into my further question. I think you might have characterized the high struggles from 1954–55 to 1980. You have this article that was just republished as part of the Saturday Free School that you wrote in 1999, “The Bourgeoisification of Negro Intellectuals.”[2] I have found this very interesting because a lot of this is the history after the 1954–1980 moment where you talk about what's become of Angela Davis, what's become of Manning Marable —

AM: Cornel West.

DJ: Yes, Cornel West. How do you see that preceding history and that organization and then their paths in that sense? You talked about it in terms of the results: you say, look, they become distant from the struggle; they've become distant from the masses. But do you have an account of how they got there? What was maybe there in the 60s or 70s that led to that kind of result?

AM: First of all, Manning [Marable] and Cornel [West] were never communist. A lot of it had to do with residual anti-communism and academic careerism. They were members of the Democratic Socialists of America. Angela Davis was a communist, but the event that changed a lot of things for a lot of people was Gorbachev and the collapse of the Soviet Union. For Manning and Cornel, this affirmed that socialism in the Soviet Union was not genuine socialism, was undemocratic socialism and a whole slew of other claims. And so frankly they both celebrated it. I was very sad; I was upset. Angela Davis joined with a group of members of the Communist Party, who literally were following Gorbachev and then chairman of the South African Communist Party, Joe Slovo, who was saying that indeed socialism had failed, and that rather than moving forward as communists, we should retreat and become social democrats. These were communists saying that.

The Communist Party splits: those saying that no, the events in the Soviet Union do not justify the abandonment of the Leninist idea of a communist party; and the others saying that what happened in the Soviet Union is a repudiation of Lenin, and they accuse the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of not being completely honest with the world communist movement. I was on the side that was opposed to us going to Social Democracy. In fact, I wrote an article on Joe Slovo, in which I tried to be very gentle and gingerly, because the South African Communist Party under the apartheid regime. I disagreed with his concept of democracy. It was in the collapse of the Soviet Union that everything changes: the world correlation of forces, configuration of forces, the question of the continued existence of the world communist movement, and so on and so forth.

My claim is that if Manning and Cornel had not been close to the working class or had a theory or ideology which brought them close to the working class before the collapse of the Soviet Union, after that, there was no path to them joining the working class, because the only thing would be the existence of a communist party who would continually hammer home this point of the working class. There was nothing then to compel them to do that.

Manning never did. He died — a good man, by the way, I'm not saying anything other than that — but he dies praising Obama. This represented for Manning the opening towards a new democracy. Cornel West didn't quite go that far. Cornel operated primarily as an individual, and what I criticize Cornel about in that article was his attack upon Du Bois.

Zeyu Chen: I really like your point, Dr. Monteiro, about the present condition of the Left. We suffer from this legacy of the past, and you brought up the Soviet Union as a good example. Maybe that's why I found your article, “V.I. Lenin and W.E.B. Du Bois: Class Struggle and Civilization” (2020) really interesting.[3] You wrote, “If it is possible to build a genuine left, it will take commitment and courage not seen for decades in the left.” What you talked about earlier hinted at why you use the term “decades.” What do you think is the role of the preceding Left in this?

AM: Whatever remains of the preceding Left — and I don't think there's very much left of it — history is also tragedy. It is a great tragedy; the collapse of the Left goes back to the Russian Revolution.

I'll be more than honest with you: I don't have an answer for that question. I can say better what it cannot be, what it won't be. It won't be pretty much what your generation has experienced.

Just like with my colleagues here, we'll have a meeting on one thing and will spend so much time with storytelling: me telling them about different experiences, what it was like to live in a world with Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King Jr. and John Coltrane and Angela Davis, and Huey [Newton] — I mean goddamn! Where just your life experience convinces you of the possibility of revolutionary change. That was broken, severed. That's why I talked about Angela Davis: a good person, a friend who drew all the wrong conclusions.

I gave a speech at the 13th anniversary of the founding of the Black Agenda Report, entitled, “For a Left That’s Worthy of Black People and the Working Class.”[4] In that article that you mentioned, I say a similar thing: the Left has been drawn into an orbit that is dominated by finance capital, high tech, and the military. There's nothing good that will come out of that. The Left will be further broken, demoralized, etc. Unless you call Social Democracy the Left that we want — and that's not the Left that I want, frankly, although I'm not opposed to those who would be social democrats.

That was my point: I do not have the answer. The closest to an answer that I do have is the Saturday Free School, which is a fluid, constantly developing, collective of people.

DJ: The Saturday Free School is a project — it's a historical project seeking to recapture something that you feel has been lost in history through reading authors and what they mean in the present. It is actually in a lot of ways similar to Platypus. We as well have this view of something's been lost in history, something about the Left. In other words, when we say, “the Left is dead, long live the Left,” we mean to give a critical moment to reflect on the Left. Could it be reborn? What would be the possibilities in the presence of past defeats? How have they potentially been passed down, and how they could be turned into assets instead of nihilism? Can you talk about how you see the Saturday Free School as an intervention into the historic moment? What is it trying to recapture?

AM: It is a rich experience for me. A lot of people try to make it like it's all about me, and it really isn't. I'm telling you it really is not.

I think we have a double consciousness. We look back and we look forward at the same time. On this conference on Henry Winston that we are organizing, the big political-theoretical problem we were working on today. We really had to work hard on this today. After every Free School, I have to come home and take a nap. I am tired. Jeremiah told me he has to take a nap, and he's a marathoner.

We worked out most of the first two days, how we're going to do it. But the third day, with the question of culture and culture and art as a revolutionary force — we hadn't worked it out. The point I want to get at is this: the question of young people in large measure, their consciousness, is a question of culture. We are dealing with all of these things, like Afrofuturism, Afro-pessimism, and what we decided today is that we would unite the conversation on Sunday, which will be about a five-hour conversation and we would center it upon cinema and film: the film Black Panther (2018), the one about Wakanda, and several South Korean films, which we kind of believe is the most vanguard of this dystopian filmmaking in the West.

We do this because, like everybody else, we don't know where the youth are. What are you thinking? One thing we do know: they are — and I put this in quotation marks — “trapped” in a culture that is produced by elites to maintain a system in which the majority of young people have no future. I make this point as a way of talking about looking to the future while also anchoring in the history of radical thinking, radical struggle. That's where Henry Winston, Du Bois, and Lenin emerge as a way of explaining the essence of the process of revolutionary change in the United States. All of that means nothing if we cannot address these representations, this dystopia, this non-struggle, this almost “do your thing” — as we talked about yesterday, the human but not humanity. That's the way I would see what we do.

DJ: I have two more questions that are exactly related to this. They're both about recent events in your 2020 article on this, and go straight back to Du Bois. You wrote:

The left justifies its alignment with oligarchs and warmakers with the claim that the white working class is backward; a claim that ultimately applies to all workers. However, is the fact that the majority of white workers and growing numbers of Black and Latino workers voted for Trump evidence of backwardness; or perhaps their seeing their class interest differently than the left and “woke” elites? Or does the left need the claim of backwardness to justify their abandonment of the working class and the poor?[5]

I bring this up because, specifically in the last two elections, a lot of the elite and the woke have justified themselves on Du Bois and Baldwin. I think of maybe Ta-Nehesi Coates and the 1619 Project. I actually interviewed Gerald Horne last year.[6] They would appeal to Du Bois, drawing from something like in Black Reconstruction, a psychological wage for white people, as a means to then write off the white working class, or let's say the Trump voters and say, they are backward, they're complaining about their privilege, they're complaining about this psychological wage. I bring this up to ask, how do you and the Saturday Free School understand Du Bois and Baldwin with respect to the way in which the elite have appropriated them? That is actually a means to do precisely what you were saying they're doing the opposite of. You're saying, no, they're writing off the backward workers in the same way that Lenin and Du Bois said you ought not to, but they're doing it through Du Bois. I've seen it used with Lenin as well. Obviously people reach for anything. How do you see intervention into the history of Du Bois, and what you are recapturing from Du Bois in the Saturday Free School?

AM: That's a tough question. Who I had in the back of my mind are the 1619 Project and Gerald Horne. Gerald Horne was a member of the Communist Party. We were in the Communist Party together. We know each other. But Gerald is one of those who took this move to the Right after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He writes a lot, but I think Gerald is quite careless often. I would apply this in particular to the book The Counter-Revolution of 1776 (2014).

When Horne becomes one of the foundation thinkers of the 1619 Project, it's almost like the ruling elite rescued him from the grave. They are joined with him where he is joined with them on the grounds of this, and he says it — it’s so fucking painful to hear this guy say this shit — that the ruling elite, HBO and the founder of Twitter, are the advanced part of the population, and the working class is the backward part. In the preface to The Counter-Revolution of 1776, Horne states unabashedly that we should replace the slogan, “Black and White Unite and Fight,” with the slogan, “Africans of the World Unite.”

Where does that leave us? At least give the working class a fighting chance — that’s my argument. You look across the working class and the social landscape: white people are not doing well. In a city like Philadelphia, the fastest-growing impoverished group is white people. I could take you on a tour of Philadelphia: white working people are not doing well. They're not going to do well in this capitalist reset, etc.

I don't know what to say. I'm left speechless. Sometimes I feel like somebody punched me in the gut as hard as they could. It's just so disturbing that people, who are talented and very brilliant like Gerald, have gone on to the opposite side. The same with Angela Davis. They support Obama without a critique of anything, and they go on and on, but when it comes to the working class, they can so easily throw them under the bus.

DJ: This leads to my last question. Something I thought was really wonderful listening to your talks, to the Saturday Free School, to recordings that you have online — is that you saw an opportunity with the Trump moment. My question is straightforward: what do you see as the opportunity with the Trump movement or moment? It doesn't have to be that it is socialist, but the opportunity in terms of what he represents. You gave an interview where you said, Trump is the most anti-war president since JFK.[7] If you could talk about all of your thoughts on Trump, we want to hear them all.

AM: Thank you for listening to all of that stuff. What the Trump movement and the Trump phenomenon did was, for all intents and purposes, smash the neoliberal, neocon, austerity, war, political cabal. They haven't recovered. Did you read Robert Kagan’s article in the Washington Post, “Our constitutional crisis is already here”?[8] Hugely important. Like they say, the messenger is the message. Kagan says that the country could descend into actual armed civil war.

But the way I read it is a manifestation of the fact that the ruling class cannot rule in the old way. That is the crisis of democracy, of bourgeois democracy. It emerged in ways because we say there is a law of social development. This came out of nowhere: a person who is really not the one that we would have chosen to do this. But in a country where a Left had been broken, where the trade union movement was a shadow of what it once was, where the black movement had been brought to heel, where the ruling class was choosing leaders of unions, of the black movement; the electoral system was rigged, and it was money and connections. This movement came from that part of the populationand it's not just one thing in my opinion who are tired of war, who are tired of austerity, who are from these small towns that have been de-industrialized, places like Bradford, Pennsylvania. You could say that they're all racist, they're all fascist you can call them that all day long but the fact of the matter is they emerge out of a crisis of the system, and you just can't overlook that. The fact that a good part of them are working people what does this say? What is the potential there?

DJ: What do you see as the ideological baggage that prevented the Left from being able to treat it as this opportunity? To give an anecdote: I was on the radio talking to somebody about Trump in 2016, and they said, “it's fascism.” I said, “I don't think it's fascism,” and then he accused me of being a fascist.

AM: Haha! That’s the way it goes these days.

DJ: What do you see as the ideological or practical baggage that perhaps is preventing the Left from understanding my point, preventing them from treating this as a serious opportunity?

AM: I'm encouraged to put it that way by the fact that my views are not that far off from people like Richard Rorty in the book Achieving Our Country (1998). I think it's Michael Lind in his recent book- these small books, but these very important and intelligent books. I'm encouraged by Glenn Greenwald, Tulsi Gabbard, and Matt Taibbi. I think there is a critical mass of thinkers arriving at the same conclusion: when did the CIA become the vanguard of democracy? When did the FBI? When did the Joint Chiefs of Staff? All of this is arrayed against Trump or the Trump movement. In a certain sense, it can tell you something. It can at least tell you where you don't need to be. That's the way I felt about it.

And, of course, I didn't do myself any good when I announced publicly in the Free School that I voted for Trump and I didn't intend to. But I'm sitting in my fucking house and there is no Green Party on the ballot, which I supported in 2016. The Democrats made sure of that. But I wanted to cast a vote of protest. That vote was a vote of protest against that alliance. I gave an interview, and they asked me about Chris Hedges, who said that there was a division in the ruling class. I said I don't believe that. The ruling class is more united now than it has ever been, at least since World War II.

The Left question is a huge one in this country. I don't know. I kind of like the People's Party. I don't know if you are familiar with them. They had a conference this past summer that was kind of virtual. I like the things that you can find some resonance with. I'm sad about what's happening to Black Agenda Report now that Glenn Ford is gone. But, I'm always encouraged by Glenn Greenwald. Yeah. He's on it all the time. So that's the way I’m rolling to be a part of people like in the Free School, where we can do something and impact a population, hopefully getting closer to impacting the working class and young people in the city of Philadelphia. I'm lucky because I know the city, I can feel this city, although there's a lot that is still a mystery for me.

ZC: I have a really small point on the discussion on Trump. When you mentioned earlier the article by Robert Kagan, I saw the title and I didn't find it impressive, because it's the same thing I've seen in the last four years. I wanted to ask more about what you see that the anti-Trump hysteria reflects. On the one hand, you said it clearly showed the untenability of the current ruling class, of the system, but you also said they are more than ever united. Does that presents a contradiction in some way?

AM: It makes all the sense in the world, your question, the way you formulated it. In fact, I think all of these questions are more like research projects. Everything we say demands greater and further research and study. That's why I'm so glad to be around you two guys. It's so helpful to hear how you think about and what you see, because no one has figured this out completely yet. This is a complicated crisis in this country and I could say to both of you guys I’d go to “back in the days.” It was never this complicated. If I could just say one small thing before we go: we were talking about organizing this conference, and it's not just a conference, because you're thinking about who will hear you. Who will you reach? We were talking about all of the headwinds that we confront: subtle, open, veiled. But the ruling class controls the commanding heights of culture and information, and that is more significant than the commanding heights of the economy, because to shape culture and the way people see the world, even if they see it as dystopia, even if they see it only through narrow identity the ruling class is shaping and reshaping this.

DJ: The ideological struggle.

AM: Yeah, absolutely. You are trying to get a handle on it, and then they'll hit you with something else. So thank you. But that article by Kagan, again: the messenger is also the message. He's not saying a lot that's new, I agree with you. But the fact that he's saying it, and that there's hysteria in the way he says it. |P


[1]Eldon Avenue Revolutionary Union Movement, founded at Chrysler’s Eldon Avenue Gear and Axle Plant in 1968.

[2] Anthony Monteiro, “The Bourgeoisification of Negro Intellectuals and Other Problems of the 21st Century” (1999), available online at <https://forpositivepeaceblog.wordpress.com/2020/10/16/the-bourgeoisification-of-negro-intellectuals-and-other-problems-of-the-21st-century/>.

[3] Anthony Monteiro, “V.I. Lenin and W.E.B. Du Bois: Class Struggle and Civilization,” Black Agenda Report, November 18, 2020, available online at <https://www.blackagendareport.com/vi-lenin-and-web-du-bois-class-struggle-and-civilization>.

[4] Anthony Monteiro, “For a Left That’s Worthy of Black People and the Working Class” (October 13, 2019), available online at <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZR-oQokTo1U>.

[5] Monteiro, “V.I. Lenin and W.E.B. Du Bois.”

[6] D. L. Jacobs and Luc Bronder-Giroux, “An interview with Gerald Horne,” Platypus Review 129 (September 2020), available online at <https://platypus1917.org/2020/09/01/an-interview-with-gerald-horne/>.

[7] Anthony Monteiro, “Monteiro: Trump Most Pro-Peace President Since JFK,” Black Agenda Radio with Nellie Bailey and Glen Ford, July 16, 2018, available online at <https://www.blackagendareport.com/monteiro-trump-most-pro-peace-president-jfk>.

[8] Robert Kagan, “Our constitutional crisis is already here,” Washington Post, September 23, 2021.