Capitalism, Marxism, and the Black Radical Tradition: An Interview with Cedric Robinson

My only loyalties are to the morally just world; and my happiest and most stunning opportunity for raising hell with corruption and deceit are with other Black people. I suppose that makes me a part, an expression, of Black Radicalism.


What anti-authoritarian traditions have in common is that they confront and show the necessity of avoiding certain conceits which follow from the general theory of revolution in Marxism.

One conceit is class; another is determinancy; and another is the stage-construction of history. As Amilcar Cabral argued thirty years ago, class is not a world-historical phenomena enveloping the histories of all peoples; and culture and consciousness are as powerful in determining choice and behavior as the material reproduction of a society. Finally, the discrete stages of history which Marx borrowed from the Scottish Enlightenment of the 17th century hardly corresponds with any human history, even European’s.

However, I do not believe that it is necessary for a convergence of these traditions to take place. They are all assaults on the same social and political authority.

– Cedric Robinson

It is the task of the radical critic to illuminate what is repressed and excluded by the basic mechanisms of a given social order. It is the task of the politically engaged radical critic to side with the excluded and repressed: to develop insights gained in confrontation with injustice, to nourish cultures of resistance, and to help define the means with which society can be rendered adequate to the full breadth of human potentialities.

Cedric Robinson has embraced these tasks. His work explores the relationship between our social order and its negations, particularly Marxism and the Black Radical Tradition. He has examined this relationship in historical, political, and philosophical terms with an orientation that is as comprehensive as it is anti-authoritarian.

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