I hope that the interest generated by the news will inspire younger generations of readers to explore the life history and political impact of Malcolm X, but that it will also serve to highlight Marable's work, as an historian, political thinker and one of the voices of the black left.
Marable, who died on April 1, 2011, at age 60, did not live to see his opus published just a few days after his death. As such, he was not available to either receive kudos, nor to respond to critics and the controversy sparked by the more than 600-page work.
Marable's political views and practice have also become part of the attacks by the right wing on President Obama, and at the time of Marable's death, right-wing sites had a field day spewing drivel about the POTUS being a "commie" or a "socialist" since the president has a familiarity with Marable's scholarly work, and Marable wrote and spoke extensively on the phenomena of Obama's election in the context of U.S. racial and social history. He articulated not only a left perspective on why he endorsed Obama for president, but what he saw the role of progressives should be in voting, and at the same time pressing the president and the Democratic Party from the left. In his interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, right after Obama's election , Marable discussed the significance of the election of our nation's first black president and the challenges this offers for leftists:
I think that the real challenge now is not so much what Obama does, but what do progressives do? Because we have — we’re now in an uncomfortable and unusual situation, where, for many people left of center, we actually have a friend in the White House. You know, I can’t remember, during my lifetime — and I’m fifty-eight years old — where I can actually say that, that someone who understands clearly the positions of the left. Now, we had a lot of silly talk about Obama being a socialist during the last two weeks of the campaign. He’s not. He’s a progressive liberal. But for those of us who are indeed democratic socialists, those of us who are on the left, how do we relate to the government, where someone who ideologically is not an enemy, someone who understands the agenda and the issues that are of concern of the truly disadvantaged? How do we relate to that government? How do we relate to the politics of that administration? This is a real challenge for progressives.These views did not endear Marable to some of Obama's critics from the left, who may not have the analysis posited by Marable, who always explored the complex intersections of race and class in the context of American history and electoral politics. Marable, who as a Marxist, Democratic Socialist found plenty to critique in U.S. policy, was also clear about what he saw the role of those who consider themselves to be left of center should be, when confronted with the advent of the first black president, and where the left should situate itself. Marable was clear in understanding and calling out the rabid racism released during the Obama candidacy and presidency, along with the accompanying Islamophobia and xenophobia. He did not advocate for black Americans, or for the left to leave en masse to vote for a third party, even though he himself was elected chairman of the Board of Movement for a Democratic Society in 2007.
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