• Ari Patrinos

Black Capital: The Color of Progress

Updated: Aug 31, 2019

Welcome to my passion project.

Why have I done this? I'm still an analogue man, still prefer records to CDs and mp3's. But we are forced to manage in the world as it is.

Despite my inclination that the internet and social media are a pain in the neck, there are nevertheless some very nice aspects to it. An ordinary man can be his own publisher. How cool is that?

The theme of this website is implicit in its title: African-American progress & development through capital accumulation. The word capital is used here in its broadest sense, that is, not just money or financial capital, but also human capital, social, cultural, political, etc.

Why capital accumulation? Why not fighting for social justice? Or even stage a socialist revolution? The short answer is that the former is best suited to achieve the ends we seek.

Social justice is a noble cause, and it is motivated in the best cases by the highest ideals. Political activists do a lot of good work, and serve an important role. But it would be a grave mistake to think that there was a strictly political solution to the problems of the color line. History contradicts such a belief.

Some problems cannot be overcome simply by political activism, no matter how committed. These problems cannot be effectively managed until greater socio-economic progress and development has been made. This socio-economic progress will in turn help to open up new windows for political change.

The idea of revolution is also attractive to many black activists and intellectuals, because it contains within it the possibility of a quick-fix to the problems of color. I can't tell you how many black Ivy League intellectuals have secretly confessed to me that they are revolutionaries for the struggle. Frankly, I think this is an unpractical utopian fantasy.

Not that a revolution isn't possible. I suppose it's inevitable in some sense. There will eventually be a revolution in this country. Whether it will come in 5 years or 500 is impossible for anyone to know. Still, one must be careful here. The system that replaces this one is likely to be worse than the one we have. Much worse.

The Devil you know...

All this black progress and development through capital accumulation occurs within a larger ecosystem, which I call simply: the game. This game poses two basic challenges to the average African-American: 1) They have little or no knowledge of how this game is played. 2) They don't make the rules, and in fact, the rules of the game have been rigged against them.

Today, we have seen the emergence for the first time in American history of a true African-American capitalist class. This is a remarkable and unheralded development. No longer must black institutions, politicians, causes, scholarship, etc. be wholly or mostly financed by the generosity of white benefactors, who have played such a crucial role historically. The most well known of these black capitalists are the inimitable celebrity-moguls, who act as spokesmen for this class.

President Calvin Coolidge once said that "the business of America is business', and the fact that the seat of power in the American system tends to lie not with the politicians, but instead with Big Business is well known. But African-Americans, who have never had a capitalist class until recently, exhibit different patterns of political behavior from Anglo-Americans.

For a long time, black politics was dominated largely by Christian ministers, in what can only be termed a sort of theocratic rule. We still see this today with Reverends Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Louis Farrakhan. While these ministers, Christian and Muslim, have and will continue to play an important role in black civil society, the rise of the new black capitalist class will in time necessarily alter this balance of power.

A primary political goal of this blog is to develop an effective model and ideology for this new political dynamic, which will inevitably change the character of African-American politics and civil society. We see this already happening, not only in this issue with Jay-Z, the NFL, and Colin Kaepernick, but also in the federal lawsuit by black media mogul, Byron Allen, against Comcast, in which he claims that the firm is in violation of the 1866 Civil Rights Act.

The interesting twist in the Allen case is that Al Sharpton, the National Urban League, and the NAACP were all named as co-defendants in the original lawsuit. Allen claims that these civil rights activists have been paid off by Comcast, so they'll keep quiet about its questionable racial policies. If this is true, then black political activism at its highest level has itself become a capitalist enterprise. Of course, this 'spoils system' for black political elites is an inefficient growth model for black civil society as a whole. The past 50 years have proven this unequivocally.

For years, business oriented black folks have been frustrated by huckster preachers, politicians, activists, and intellectuals, but they have never organized themselves effectively to make the necessary political and ideological reforms within African-American civil society. This problem has been endemic to black civil society since emancipation. Frederick Douglass talks in Life and Times of his pain at learning of so many black hustlers steering the Freedmen wrong for their own selfish profit, during the Reconstruction period. Taking advantage of the Freedmen's dire circumstances and naivete.

Black capitalists must found alternative black institutions to the ones which currently exist. The latter serve an important function, but over time, as all such institutions, they have become corrupted. Also, black political institutions were generally founded to press for and maintain black political rights. They don't really have the interests of black capital in mind. Moreover, since they are solely or primarily funded by the generosity of white benefactors, the interests of black capital might actually conflict with the Civil Rights establishment.

The agenda is straightforward. Black think tanks. Black political action committees. Black political lobbies. Academic chairs in different aspects of black thought and policy. Grass roots organizations. And, of course, black spokespeople for the new agenda. All towards the goal of black progress and development through capital accumulation.

Money can buy what is needed. Moreover, many of the existing organizations are not so well-funded that an extraordinary sum would be required to match them in effectiveness. Allen's claim that Sharpton "can be bought with $50,000 and a bucket of chicken" is probably an exaggeration. Furthermore, these kind of verbal attacks can be disrespectful and unproductive. Black folks should not be at each other's throats.

Black capitalists can learn from the mistakes of their Anglo-American counterparts, and possibly show them a better way.

It is not only black music and culture which has influenced the world, but also black political and socio-economic movements. The Civil Rights Movement's global influence is well known, but lesser known is the global influence of Booker T. Washington's socio-economic development program. His approach to industrial education, not only deeply influenced Anglo-American higher education, but higher education throughout the world.

That is the basic model.

Aristarchus Patrinos

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