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Two Conceptions of Black Nationalism: Martin Delany on the Meaning of Black Political Solidarity Author(s): Tommie Shelby Reviewed

work(s): Source: Political Theory, Vol. 31, No. 5 (Oct., 2003), pp. 664-692 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3595691 . Accessed: 19/02/2013 12:59
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RACE, NATION, AND RESPONSIBILITY

TWO CONCEPTIONS OF BLACK NATIONALISM Martin Delany on the Meaning of Black Political Solidarity
TOMMIE SHELBY Harvard University

Theessay provides both an interpretation and a theoreticalreconstructionof thepolitical philosophyof MartinDelany, a mid-nineteenth-century radical abolitionistand one of thefounders of the doctrine of black nationalism. It identifies two competing strands in Delany's social thought, "classical" nationalismand "pragmatic" nationalism,where each underwrites difa ferent conceptionof the analytical and normativeunderpinnings blackpolitical solidarity.It of is arguedthatthepragmaticvariantis the morecogent of the two and the one to whichDelany is mostcommitted. is also suggested thatpragmaticnationalismcan still serve usefullyas a theoIt retical schema throughwhich AfricanAmericans can understandand carry out their current political projects. Keywords: MartinDelany; nationalism;racism; AfricanAmericans; U.S.politics

In response newpolitical to challenges changing and socialconditions for African Americans, number progressive a of political theorists recently have begunto re-envisage blackpolitics,to modernize social philosophy, the objectives, strategies blackfreedom and of struggles thepost-civilrights for

AUTHOR'SNOTE: This essay benefitedfrom comments by Linda Alcoff, Martha Biondi, JenniferHochschild,RobertLevine, Susan O 'Donovan,Lucius Outlaw,John Pittman, Werner Sollors, and Stephen White. Versionsof the essay were presented at Stanford University,St. Anselm College, fiIarvardUniversity,the Societyfor the Studyof AfricanaPhilosophy,and the SocietyforPhenomenologyand ExistentialPhilosophy;I wouldlike to thanktheseaudiencesfor their commentsand questions.I would also like to thanktwo anonymousreviewers helpful for suggestions. Finally,I 'mgrateful to the FordFoundation forfinancial supportand Ryan White for researchassistance.
POLITICALTHEORY, Vol. 31 No. 5, October2003 664-692 DOI: 10.1177/0090591703252826 g 2003 Sage Publications 664

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era.' Therearemanyimportant aspectsto this rethinking,butat leastpartof it must involve reconstructingblack politics so that it both rests on antiessentialistandnon-racialistfoundationsand,at the same time, maintainsits commitmentto defeating racism and to improvingthe life chances of those racializedas "black," of especially the most disadvantaged these. However,it might seem thatone obstacleto carryingthis programforwardis the continuing persistence of black nationalistideas within black political thoughtand culture. Black nationalism,as an ideology or philosophy,is one of the oldest and most enduringtraditionsin Americanpolitical thought.2Black nationalists advocatesuch things as black self-determination, racial solidarityand group self-reliance, various forms of voluntaryracial separation,pride in the historic achievementsof those of African descent, a concerted effort to overcome racial self-hate and to instill black self-love, militant resistance to antiblackracism, the development and preservationof a distinctive black ethnocultural identity,and the recognitionof Africa as the truehomelandof those who are racially black. Some of these ideas, though perhapsnot all, would seem to be at odds with the aforementioned black goal of transforming to politics, for they appearto reify that dubiouscategory "race," assume the existence of a transhistoricaland organic "black essence," or to imply the desirabilityof an authenticandunitaryblack pluralsubjectcalled "theblack community." Some theorists,such as AnthonyAppiahandPaulGilroy,havechallenged the continuing currencyof these racialist ideas by attemptingto dismantle and discreditblack nationalismaltogether,puttingforwarda radicalcritique of what they take to be its various conceptual,empirical, and moral flaws.3 However,this strategyis unlikelyto be effective, for therearestrainsof black nationalismthat are a constitutivecomponentof the self-understanding and political orientationof a substantialsegment of the AfricanAmericanpopulation. These strainsrun so deep for many blacks that an uncompromising and comprehensiveattackon them will surelybe met with hostility or suspicion. If we are to avoid alienatingpotential allies and thereby furtherfragmenting the collective fight for black liberation,then we should opt for a moreconstructiveformof critique,one thathighlightsthe tensionsandweaknesses within the black nationalistorientationbut thatalso seeks to drawout and build upon importanttruthswithin this establishedoutlook.4The transformation of the political consciousness of black Americans-or of any groupfor thatmatter-is more likely to come aboutif the new vision can be comprehendedas an extension of, ratherthan a radical rupturewith, traditional self-understandings the group. of

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The discussion of black nationalismin this essay focuses primarilyon its commitmentto black political solidarity,as this commitmentis a necessary componentof all versions of the social philosophy, and some such form of solidarity arguablyunderpinsany kind of black politics. Black nationalist discourses suggest a numberof bases for political solidarity,typically orgaand always contested, conception of "blacknized aroundsome particular, ness."Manyof these ways of conceptualizingthe normativefoundationsand political significanceof black unity are,to be sure,eitherunsoundor impracAfrican Americanpolitics. But throughan examinatical for contemporary tion of the work of an early and influentialblack nationalisttheoretician,I will show thatthereis a conceptionof black solidarity,with roots in the black nationalisttradition,that is still viable and even politically necessary.

DELANY'STWONATIONALISMS militantabolitionistMartinRobison Delany The mid-nineteenth-century (1812-85) was born free in CharlesTown,in what is now West Virginia.He was not only a well-known activist, physician, novelist, journalist,African for explorer,andpolitician,but more importantly ourpurposes,he is widely The as of regarded the "father" blacknationalisttheory.5 ancestralappellation is quite appropriate,for not only is practically every core tenet of black nationalistthought prefiguredin his writings but, like Marcus Garvey and MalcolmX afterhim, Delany was a centralspokesperson,charismaticleader, and principal architect of a movement for blacks to establish a separate nation-state.In 1852, Delany publishedthe firstbook-lengthdefense of African Americanemigrationaway from the United States, urgingblacks to act collectively to forman independent republic.This influentialwork, TheCondition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, strongly encouraged free and fugitive blacks to leave the United States in orderto avoid oppressionand to build a sovereign nationstate that would enable blacks to live under conditions of equality and libThe book was writtenin the wake of the draconianFugitive Slave Law erty.6 (a componentof the notorious1850 Compromise),which enabledslaveholders to pursuerunawayslaves even in nonslaveholdingterritoriesand which, in effect, made free blacks (even more)vulnerableto being enslaved,as they would have no reliablelegal recourseshould some slaveholderfalsely claim them as fugitive property.This white supremacisttactic caused a budding mass movement for black emigrationto grow and be energized. In The Condition,Delany famously describesblacks in the United States These subjugatedinternalnations as an oppressed"nationwithin a nation."7

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are,he claims, unjustlydeprivedof social andpolitical equalityby the ruling classes; they are subjectto the most naked and brutalexploitation;and they areoften restricted the most devaluedpositions withinthe society in which to they live and work. Moreover,in orderto legitimate its dominantstatus,the ruling elite regards these subordinatenations as inherently inferior and therebyincapableof self-government. Now it is clear why Delany would regardblacks in the United Statesas a severely oppressedpeople, perhapseven a stigmatizedcaste. However,it is less obvious, and even somewhatpuzzling, why he would choose to characterize them as a "nation."8 Moving beyond the pithy and influentialslogan, I want to clarify Delany's conceptionof black nationalityandhis programfor I nation-building. will do so by discussingtwo blacknationalistdoctrinesthat are advancedin Delany's writings:
political programof black solidarityand voluntaryseparation Strongblack nationalism:the underconditionsof equality and self-determination a worthwhileend in itself, a conis stitutiveandenduring componentof the collective self-realizationof blacks as a people. Weakblacknationalism: politicalprogram black solidarityandgroupself-organization the of is a strategyfor creatinggreaterfreedom and social equality for blacks.

The two doctrinesarenot incompatible,since one mightvalue blackpolitical solidarityas both a means and an end, and of course manyblack nationalists to hold exactlythis two-pronged view. But it is important see thatthe two posiwould have quite differentpracticalimplications. tions, if taken separately, black Strongblack nationalismtreatsthe establishmentof an independent republic or a separateself-determiningcommunity as an intrinsic goal of blackliberationstruggles.It advocatesthe developmentof a nationalidentity, black self-reliance,andseparatism, only as a meansto racialjustice butas not the political destinyof AfricanAmericansandperhapsof all those of African descent.9Weak nationalism, on the other hand, urges black solidarityand concertedaction as a political strategyto lift or resist oppression.This could of coursemean forminga self-governingblacknation-stateor a separateselfdeterminingcommunitywithin a multinationalstate, but it could also mean working to create a racially integratedsociety or even a "postracial" polity (i.e., a political orderwhere "race"has no social meaning). We might call the strong nationalistposition "classical nationalism."10 And let us call anyonewho views black political solidarityas merely a connationalist." The tingentmeans forbringingaboutsocialjustice a "pragmatic solidaristiccommitmentof pragmaticnationalismis based on a desireto live in ajust society, a society thatneed notbe, or even contain,a self-determining black community.Notice that the program of black emigration from the

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United States is consistent with both forms of nationalism.On the classical view, emigrationto build a blackrepublicwould be seen as desirablein itself (i.e., apart from the desire to escape the suffering caused by injustice), whereas pragmaticemigrationismwould treatit as a mere means to fight or avoid oppression,a strategythat could be discardedif anotherone appeared more promising." Given these distinctions,my primarycontentionis that Delany vacillated between, and perhaps even confused, classical nationalism and pragmatic nationalismand that this tendency is characteristicof the black nationalist While I will here focus my discussion on Delany's traditionin general.12 nationalism(s),my generalhypothesis is this. Classical nationalismis often merely a defensive and rhetoricalposturethat is takenup so thatthe proponent (andthe grouphe takeshimself to represent)is not seen as merelyreacting to white dominancebut as assertingthe equalrightof blacks to collective self-determination alongside otherwould-be "nations." Pragmaticnationalism, on the other hand, is the more consistently defended and firmly held position of manyself-styledblacknationalists,despitethe factthatthey occaIn sionally evince the classical form.13 supportof this diagnosis, I will demonstratethatDelany exemplifiesthis waveringtendency.My strategyshallbe to reconstructthe argumentshe offers in favor of each of the two doctrines and then to show that,contraryto standard he interpretations, is most deeply committedto pragmaticblack nationalism,notwithstandinghis occasional lapses into the discourse of classical nationalism. But beforeproceedingto thataccount,let me briefly addressthe following concern.Some mightthinkthatpragmaticnationalism,as here defined,is not strictlyspeakinga form of nationalismat all, since this formof blackpolitics isn't necessarily tied to claims of territorialsovereignty or collective selfgovernment,as many,perhapsmost, nationalismsare.14As Eddie Glaudehas convincingly shown, however, the meaning of the language of "nation"in black political thoughtwas intensely contested(as early-nineteenth-century it still is today), with severalprominentblack leaders advocatingwhat I'm here calling a pragmatic conception of "black nationhood."'5 Delany, the widely acknowledged progenitor of black nationalist theory, was among those strugglingto define a conceptionof blacknationalitythatcouldbe used as for emancipatorypurposes, and his "nationalism," I will demonstrate, sometimesfell shortof a demandfor black sovereignty.Accordingly,I maintain that when the idiom of nationhoodis deployed to define a "people,"to identify its collective interestsand will, and to createbonds of political soliis darityamongthose in this would-becommunity,the label of "nationalism" even if the political goal is not necessarilythe creationof a sepaappropriate, rate self-determiningcorporateunit.

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POLITICAL AND MORAL IDEALS. " "WHAT BLACKSWANT? DO One way to get a handleon what really drivesDelany's black nationalism is to examinethe moralandpolitical values thathe defends or assumesin the course of developinghis nationalistprogram.There are four core principles that undergirdhis political philosophy: social equality,democraticcitizenship, self-government,and "manly"virtue. Like all liberals,Delany believes that,as a matterof justice, all members of society shouldbe accordedequal respectwithin social, political, and economic life and that every citizen should possess the same basic rights and duties.'6He also maintains,however, that blacks will not have true social equalitywith whites unless blacks (more or less) matchthem in culturaland economic achievement,as accomplishmentengendersthe respect of others and self-respect.'7Thus, only with proportionate black andwhite attainment in the centralspheresof life can the two races truly live togetheron termsof mutualrespect. Delany also believes thatblacks must have democraticcitizenshipwithin theircountry.The rightsof a citizen shouldnot only includethe equalprotection of the laws but also the rightto enjoypositions of honorandpublic trust. Citizenship,then, is not merely a matterof having the rightto vote for members of the dominantgroupbut, on possession of the requisitemerit,havinga to fairopportunity occupy positions of authoritywithin the countryin which one permanentlyresides.'8 Closely related to the principle of democraticcitizenship is the right of self-government.Delany maintainsthat true political freedomrequiresthat each adultcitizen forman indispensablepartof the sovereignauthority the of republic:
A people, to be free,mustnecessarilybe theirownrulers;thatis, each individualmust,in himself, embody the essential ingredient-so to speak-of the sovereign principle which composes the true basis of his liberty.This principle,when not exercisedby himself, may, at his pleasure,be delegatedto another-his true representative.19

Delany arguesthat self-governmentis necessary for self-defense, since one cannotbe secure in one's life, welfare, or libertywithoutan equal and effective say in mattersof public concern. In addition to these familiar liberal principles, Delany values the moral virtue, if one might call it that, of manhood.Despite the unfortunateterm, as "manhood," Delany understandsit, is a quality of characterthat is not to men, as many women also value and fully embody it. No doubt, peculiar Delany was not using "manhood"in a purely gender-neutral way, and I am

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valnot at all suggestingthathe did not embracemany traditional patriarchal ues (e.g., a belief in a conventionaldomestic sexual division of laborandthe He educationof women to equip them for child rearing).20 cer"practical" But tainly did hold such views, as of course did most at the time.21 it is also to important recognize that,despite these typical but inexcusablesexist prejudices, Delany clearly wanted women to cultivate this "manly"character, though perhaps not to the same extent or in quite the same ways as men. and less masculinist "Vigor"would perhapshave been a more appropriate term to describe the relevantensemble of traits. One of the most importantof these qualities is autonomous thinking. dismayedwhen blacks allow whites, even those symDelany is particularly patheticto black interests,to think for them, and thus he consistentlyurges He blacks to resist white paternalism.22 makes this point repeatedly with regard to religion, claiming that blacks have unthinkingly accepted their that encourages of oppressors'interpretation Christianity,an interpretation and Moreover,he findsit passivity in the face of subordination exploitation.23 when blacks slavishly imitatethe disgraceful,and a suresign of degradation, conductof theiroppressors.Thus,he urgesblacks to be creativeandimaginative in their individualand collective endeavors. This of course requiresa degree of self-confidence and faith in one's own abilities, which Delany believes blacks are sorely lacking and must make a concerted effort to develop. This confident and innovative spirit is to be joined with laudable ambition.Accordingto Delany, as soon as they are able to acquirea few conveniences and some leisure,blacks too often become complacentabouttheir second-class status in American society. But he insists that "manhood" requiresa constant,though moderate, striving for superiorachievementin every central sphere of life. Courage is also among the traits of a vigorous as character, it engendersthe respectof others,even sometimesthe respectof one's oppressor.Perhapsmore importantly, courage, along with independence of mind, is a sign of self-respect.He especially values andurgesthe cultivationof a couragethatexpressesitself in the fight for freedomandequality underconditions of domination.24 Closely relatedto this is the traitof deterwith advermination:thatearnestresolve thatdoesn't falterwhen confronted sity. Finally, vigor involves self-reliance. Delany holds that, rather than expecting the burdenof racial oppressionto be lifted by some otheragency, blacks shouldrealizethatthey mustrely on themselves, as individualsandas a collective, in theireffortto rise abovetheirlow position in U.S. society and It within the international community.25 is not thathe holds blacks responsible for their subordinateposition; he simply believes that self-respect and prudencesuggest thatself-help is the surestroad,if not to freedom,at leastto a dignified existence.

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Delany vividly representsthe qualitiesof a vigorous character throughthe main heroof his novel Blake; or,the Huts of America(1859), a fictionalslave writtenas a criticalresponse to HarrietBeecher Stowe's depiction narrative of slaves as docile, ignorant, and helpless, in her immensely popular antislavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852).26 The Afro-Cuban Henry Blake, in stark contrastto Stowe's characterUncle Tom, is an intelligent, brave, and visionary runawayslave who organizesa general slave insurrection throughoutthe United States and in Cuba.Blake risks his life and freedom to work for the abolition of slavery in the New World. In an effort to develop an independentmind, he throws off the degradingreligion of his oppressors,urgingotherpeople of color to do the same. He cleverlyand successfully devises schemes to free his family and friends from slavery and repeatedlyoutwitsthose who would returnthemto bondage. He is defiantin the face of oppressionand always self-assured.And he is tireless in his effort to enlightenthe oppressedandto motivatethem to concertedactionfor their libertyanduplift. Indeed,with the help of his cousin Placido, Blake manages to infuse vigor into an entire community of would-be revolutionariesin Cuba.Notice how Delany describes a gatheringof this group, composed of both men and women:
There was no empty parade and imitative aping, nor unmeaning pretentions [sic] observed in their doings, but all seeming fully to comprehendthe importanceof the ensemble. They were earnest, firm, and determined; discarding everything which detractedfrom their object, permittingnothing to interfere.Thus intelligentlyunited, a dangerousmaterialexisted in the midst of such an element as Cuba.27

Thereis an important betweenDelany's threepoliticalprincirelationship ples andthe qualitiesof a vigorous character. Delany believes thatpartof the reasonblacks often fail to exhibitthe traitsof vigor-independence of mind, creativity,self-confidence, ambition, courage, self-respect, determination, and self-reliance-is thatthey areseverely oppressed.In particular, they lack socioeconomic equality, the rights of democraticcitizenship, and political self-determination. This kind of deprivationoften weakens the characterof many (though not all) who suffer under it, and blacks had been acutely debasedby theirmanyyears in bondage.It is also clearthatvigorouspersons arethe ones most likely to struggleandfight forthe realizationofthese liberal principles.Overtime, subjugated personswill oftenbecome accustomedand resigned to less than full liberty and equality.Delany maintains,therefore, that blacks must find a way, throughgroup self-reliance and solidarity,to reinvigoratethemselves, if they are to overcome their oppressedcondition and thus to become the "nation" they should be.

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Now these political principlesandmoralvalues can be given an individualist interpretation a collectivist one. That is, the claims of equality,citior zenship, and self-governmentcan be foundedon the rightsof individualpersons or of peoples, and vigor is a property that can be possessed by individualsor by communities(where the "manliness"of the communityis not reducibleto the vigorous charactersof its individualmembers).Delany seems awareof this distinctionbutremainssomewhatambiguouson whether his nationalism should be understoodas ultimately rooted in individualor Moreover,it would seem thatDelany's core values arerealizgroupclaims.28 able in principle-though, given thepervasivenessandpersistenceof racism, perhapsnot in practice-within eithera multiracialstateor a monoracialone. And these values can be embracedon universalisticmoral grounds and/or endorsed for reasons of ethnoracialloyalty. As we shall see, Delany offers argumentsthat supportboth an individualist/universalistic reading of his nationalistphilosophy and a collectivist/particularistic one. CLASSICAL NATIONALISMAND " IDENTITY "ORIGINALBLACK Delany's most forceful defense of classical nationalism is found in his essay "The Political Destiny of the Colored Race on the American Continent."This was the keynote addressto the firstNationalEmigrationConvention (1854), of which Delany was presidentpro tem and for which therewere delegates (both men and women) from some twelve states and from the Canadas,with (by Delany's count) nearly sixteen hundredpersons in attendance. In his address,which was adoptedas the convention'sofficial report, he arguesthatblacks must constitute,in terms of shearnumbers,the "ruling element"of theirbody politic. The basis of such a polity, he contends,must be a sharednationalidentity,a so-called "original"identity:
in Upon this solid foundationrests the fabricof every substantialpolitical structure the world, which cannotexist withoutit; andso soon as a people or nationlose theiroriginal identity,just so soon must that nation or people become extinct.29

According to Delany,this common nationalidentitycreates strongbonds of affinityand is the principalbasis upon which a people lays claim to the right of self-government.30 Indeed, he maintains that without a shared national identity,the people of a republicwould lose their common interestandpurpose in remainingtogether,thus creatinginternalinstability,which could in turnmake them vulnerableto being dominatedby a more cohesive national power.31

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In accordancewith this classical nationalistview, what then, for Delany, constitutesthe originalidentityof black Americans?At times, Delany seems committed to racialism, that is, to the now defunct view that being of the same "race"is not merely a matterof sharingsuperficialphenotypictraits, such as skin color or hair type, but of sharing a distinctive "bio-genetic essence"thatgives rise to boththese morphologicaltraitsand a set of psychoHe logical dispositions and naturalendowments.32 claims that blacks have that distinguish them certain "inherenttraits"and "nativecharacteristics" from otherraces.33 Among these are civility, peaceableness,and religiosity. Blacks are also supposedly naturallygifted at languages, oratory,poetry, And they music, painting,ethics, metaphysics,theology, andjurisprudence. are said to be industrious,talentedat agricultural development,adeptat the trainingof horses, and adaptableto almost any climate.34 But there are two obvious problems with this "organicist"method of establishingthe distinctivenessof the black "nationwithin a nation."First, there are clearly lots of nonblackswho possess these traits and talents, and second, there are plenty of blacks who do not. Delany seems to recognize this. Thus, since he cannot argueplausibly that all or only blacks have these characteristics,in order to demonstratethat blacks have a distinctive and noteworthynationalidentity,he arguesthatblacks were thefirst race to display them and/orthatthey best exemplify them. His most comprehensiveattemptto build a case for black originalityand superioritycan be found in his relativelyobscureand final workPrincipia of In Ethnology:TheOriginof Races and Color.3s responseto influentialsocial Darwinist and polygenetic accounts of the development of racial kinds, whereblacks invariably come out as inferiorstock, Delany offers a parttheological and part biological account of the origin of races. He claims that is God's purposein creatingthe varietiesof humankind the developmentand spread of civilization for His glory, where "civilization" is a matter of advancedintellectualachievements(e.g., in religion,philosophy,art,andsciindustry,architecence) and practicalaccomplishments(e.g., in agriculture, ture, and political organization).36 of Relying on the biblical narratives Noah's Ark and the Towerof Babel, Delany claims that, not long after the flood, humankinddivided itself into threeseparategroups,each markedby a differentskin color-white, yellow, and black-and each set off to populate a differentgeographicalregionThe Europe,Asia, andAfrica,respectively.37 threegroupseach hadtheirown language,which, because of the confusion of tongues, the othertwo groupcausing the individualmembersof each groupto ings could not understand, have a special affinity for each other.38

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Now Delany insists thatit was the Africanbranchof the humanfamilythat To was the firstto foundcivilized legal orders.39 show this, he sets out to demonstratethe greatness and originality of the ancient African civilizations of He Egypt and Ethiopia,which he treats as a unified kingdom.40 claims that these ancient Africans were the first to establish municipal law, the first to establishandpropagatethe science of letters,andthe first to spreadintellectual civilization.They inventedastronomy,astrology,andgeometry;they initiated advancedarchitecture; they specialized in agriculturaldevelopment; and they were the firstto develop a monotheisticreligion with a self-created and benevolent god. Now of course this outstandingrecordof original achievementwould be irrelevantto Delany's classical nationalist project unless he were able to show that the ancient Ethiopians and Egyptians were racially "black"or "Negroes."His main evidence is ancient paintings with representationsof persons of high social standing who possess paradigmatic "black" phenotypicfeatures-dark skin color,wooly hair,flat nose, andfull lips.41He also claims thatsince the sphinxhas the "headof a Negro womanon the body of a lion or lioness,"we have indisputableevidence that the originalinhabitIn ants of Egypt were Negroes.42 orderto link modem blacks to theirancient African heritage, Delany invokes racialism and Divine providence. He claims thatthe Ethiopiansled the marchof civilizationbecause of the "inherent faculties"of the Africanrace and that God createdthis race specifically for the purposeof civilizing all of humankind.43 We now have a betteridea of whatDelany meansby the "original" identity Black Americansarethe descendantsof of the black"nationwithina nation." a greatand ancientAfricanpeople. The greatnessof this Africancivilization of is to be explained,at least in part,by the "nativecharacteristics" the original African race. And according to Delany, modem blacks in the African diaspora,even those of "mixedblood," still possess the naturalabilities and tendencies of their original identity.44 But now we must ask, in light of their original identity, what sort of "nation"should modem blacks strive to be? Delany argues that blacks can only become the self-determiningnation they should throughthe regeneration of Africa, their originalhomeland.And this project of Africanredempmustbe carriedout primarily the membersof the Afrition andrestoration by can race themselves.45 Delany outlines the program for African regenerationin his "Official Report of the Niger Valley Exploring Party"(1860), a documentthat also chronicleshis travelsin Africaandhis discussionswith Africanleadersabout This topographicand diplomatic possible African American settlements.46 explorationof Africa was authorizedby the Executive Board of Commis-

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sionersat the NationalEmigrationConventionin Chatham,CanadaWest, in 1858. In this report,Delany defends the view thatif Africa is to be the nation it shouldbe, it musthave a "national" character the effective rightof selfand government,and it mustbe comparablein level of civilizationto thatof other great nations in the world-morally, religiously, socially, politically, and But, he maintains,this essential developmentwill not occur economically.47 unless a "newelement"is introducedinto the Africancontext,an agency that This already possesses the requisite attainmentsof modem civilization.48 new element should possess the "natural" traitsand inclinationsof the African race andmust sharewith it the special sympathiescharacteristic racial of kinship.This regenerative agency,as one might guess, can only be some segment of the most enlightened and vigorous of those of African descent in America. Delany would have a carefully selected African American vanguardestablish social and industrialsettlementsin Africa, with the purpose of institutingthe pursuitsof modem civilized life. Delany contendsthatthe basis of a greatnationalitydependson threefundamentalprinciples.49 nation must (1) control a geographicalterritory, The (2) be sufficientlypopulated,and (3) have an immense stapleproductionas a solid source of wealth. Africa, with its vast native populationand potential for agriculturaldevelopment,would thus be a naturalsite for the establishIt mentof a blacknation-state. is thisvision of a free,economicallyself-reliant, self-governing, and vigorous Pan-Africannation that Delany hopes will be realized throughthe efforts of African Americans:
Ourpolicy must be-and I hazardnothing in promulgatingit; nay, without this design and feeling, there would be a great deficiency of self-respect, pride of race, and love of country,and we might never expect to challenge the respect of nations-Africa for the Africanrace, and blackmen to rule them.By black men I mean, men of Africandescent who claim an identitywith the race.50

This classical nationalistagendais not, however,the only position Delany can be found defending. He just as often, and in fact more persuasively, makes the case for a pragmaticnationalistvision, one with quite different practicalimplications.I now turnto that account.

PRAGMATIC NATIONALISM AND RACIAL DOMINATION Recall Delany's claim that blacks must be the "rulingelement" in any body politic of which they are a part. Now, on the principles of classical nationalism,the justificationfor this stance is that original identitymust be

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the basis of any nationalrepublic, for such a collective identity is allegedly neededto createlastingcommoninterestsandto ensureunity of purpose.But sometimes Delany argues that blacks must be the ruling element in their country simply as a means of self-defense against antiblackprejudiceand Here,he urgesblack solidarity,groupself-reliance, politicalmarginalization. and mass emigrationas a way to achieve social equality,democraticcitizenship, self-government,and "manhood"for those oppressed on account of their "blackness."This pragmatic nationalist strategy does not, however, identity,because the basis of requireblacks to retainorregaintheir"original" black unity is not theirglorious nationalpast or theirso-called nativecharacteristicsbut their mutualrecognitionof their common vulnerabilityto white dominationand their collective resolve to overcome it. In the remainderof this section, I will sketch the argumentsDelany offers in favor of this weak nationalistposition. Let's begin with the questionof the relevanceof "blackidentity"for pragmatic nationalism.Thatis, what, on the pragmaticaccount,is the distinctive and shouldit be? natureof this oppressed"sub-nation," whatkind of "nation" Black nationality cannot be a matter of blacks sharing a distinct culture, since, accordingto Delany, black Americans,for betteror worse, have been strippedof their African cultural heritage and consequently have merged with the dominantcultureof the United States-in religion, language,values, habits, and customs.5'Moreover,he does not advise blacks to returnto culturalways of theirAfricanancestors,orto those of anyconthe "original" temporaryAfrican people. That seems to leave us, as it did with classical nationalism,with "race"as a basis for modem black nationality.To explore let's returnthento Delany's remarksaboutthe nature this possibility further, of races. In his Principia of Ethnology,Delany stresses the fact that all humans,of whateverrace,havecommonancestors-Adam andEve, andthen laterNoah andhis wife. Moreover,the separationof Noah's offspringinto threedistinct except groupsdid not give to each resultingpopulationany special attributes a common language, and, on Delany's account, linguistic peculiaritiesjust happenedto correspondto differencesin skin color. He insists, furthermore, that God did not change the physical constitutionof the three groups;thus, any biological differences that existed between them would have been the result of normal physiological processes.52Indeed, it is quite telling that, despite his use of racialistlanguage,the entiretyof his discussion of the biological peculiaritiesof the differentraces concernsthe explanationof differences in skin color. But even here Delany maintainsthat differentshades of skin are merely the result of more or less concentrationsof pigment or what Eachof Noah's sons was supposedlybom with he sometimescalls "rouge."53

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different degrees of pigmentation-Shem the same as Noah, Ham a little more, Japhetha little less. Accordingto Delany, God did not need to effect a miracle to createthese color differences, for as we know, parentsof similar complexion, eye color, and/orhair type often produce offspringwho differ from them with respect to these phenotypictraits:
The Divine Creator butoneplan; so in the humanraces,runningthroughall the varihad ous shades of complexion,thereis but one color, modified and intensifiedfromnegative to the extremest[sic] positive, as seen fromthe purestwhite, in all intermediate colors, to the purestblack. This is the solutionof the problemwhich revealsto us the greatmystery of the races of man.54

Since languages no longer-if to they ever did-correspond complexionalhue, skin color turnsout to be the only distinguishingcharacteristic by which the "originalraces" can be reliably identified over time. True,these differencesin skin color could have been reinforcedby the continental separationof the three "racial"populations,but even grantingthis, therestill would be little reasonto believe in the truthof racialism.And, given global migrationpatterns,these color differences themselves would likely fade in the absence of a strongnormagainstcomplexionalexogamy.Thus, it seems that Delany should say, thoughhe sometimes does not, that"race"is only skin-deep. This "thin" account of racial identity is consistent with other things Delany says aboutrace. Forinstance,he claims thatblacks andwhites sharea common inner life, despite their different exteriorphysical traits:"So is it with the whole class of colored people in the United States. Their feelings, tastes, predilections, wants, demands, and sympathies, are identical, and homogeneous with those of all otherAmericans."55 Moreover,thoughDelany presentsa detailedaccountof the originof color differences between the "original"continentalpopulations,he providesno argument or evidence for the existence of a racial essence that causally explainsboth skin color and nativebehavioraldispositions.On the contrary, he sometimes emphasizes that Africa's naturalenvironmentand physical peculiaritieswere especially conducive to the rapiddevelopmentof human faculties, which could explainwhy the Africanracewas the firstto establish civilization.56 aboutblack nativecharacIndeed,pushinga racialistargument teristicswould be incompatiblewith his vision of spreadingthe positivevalues of Africancivilizationthroughout world.57 the How could he expectother races to properly emulate the black race if the intellectual and practical achievementsof the latterwere the result of an innate endowmentthat they did not sharewith otherracial groups?

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Furthermore, Delany does not appearto be particularlydisturbedby socomcalled miscegenation.He does not suggest thatinterracial reproduction the as promisesor retards "blackessence."Nor does he view "race-mixing" a practice that has negative biological consequences, neither for the "mixedBlake portraysmany mixed-race bloods" nor for the would-be pure races.58 personsas heroic and as race leaders,and in TheCondition,Delany lists with pride the many accomplishmentsof blacks with varying degrees of black Richardswas herselfbiracial,a so-called ancestry.Indeed,his wife Catherine "quadroon."59 Now some would arguethatDelany must be a committedracialist,since he speaks with such pride about the achievements of so-called "pure" blacks.60 However,I maintainthathis praisefor "unmixedblackness"is just a to rebuttal those whites who chargethatwheneverblacks achieve anythingof note, their success must be due to theirpossession of some "whiteblood."61 Also in this regard,he maintainsthat the subordinatestatus of mixed-race This is made blackness.62 persons depends on the stigma attachedto "pure" quite clear in Blake, where in the context of a secret meeting among slaves and their free colored allies, arrangedfor purposes of discussing a general in slave insurrection Cuba,a woman from amongtheirnumberobjectsto the emphasis being placed on obtaining equality for those of African descent offers the with "unmixedblood."A "mulatto" hero of the novel, Placido,63 following reply:
The whites assertthe naturalinferiorityof the African as a race:upon this they premise their objections,not only to the blacks, but all who have an affinity with them. You see this position taken by the high Courtof America [in the Dred Scott decision], which declaresthatpersons having Africanblood in their veins have no rights thatwhite men are bound to respect.Now how are the mixed bloods ever to rise? The thing is plain; it requiresno explanation.The instantthat an equality of the blacks with the whites is admitted,we being the descendantsof the two, mustbe acknowledgedthe equalsof both. Is not this clear?64

Thus, Delany's commitment to racialism was, at most, halfhearted, invokedmerely to lend credenceto his claims of black nationaldistinctiveness andto link modem blacksto theirsymbolic ancientprogenitors.But this romanticracialism is wholly unpersuasive,and, in any case, he makes no serious attempt to defend it. However, as Delany was certainly aware, a merely skin-deep conception of race is a rathersuperficialbasis for black identity,hardly an inspiring foundationfor a black national consciousness and a new independentblack republic.So, again, what is the significanceof black identityfor black politics? Ultimately,for Delany, it has to do with the peculiar characterof racial subjectionas a form of oppression.

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According to Delany, the ruling class of America wanted a subservient a class to do their drudgery, grouptoo powerless to successfully resist being enslaved.65 Such a groupwould be even more easily exploited if they were to share some distinguishingphysical mark, since the dominantgroup would then have a basis for differentialsympathy.And this exploitativerelationship would be firmly secured and buttressedif the dominantgroupwere to successfully spreadan ideology of inherentinferioritybased on the saliency of this mark, for this would reduce the sympathy of powerful outsiderswho might interveneon behalf of the oppressed.Thus,afterthe genocide of indigenous peoples in the attemptto make them slaves and to stripthem of their land,Africanswere selected. Delany contendsthatthe latterwere not chosen because whites hated African peoples or those with dark skin, or because blacks were "inferior"in some way; rather,they were selected for purely pragmaticreasons-to increase commercial profit and leisure-time for a slaveholding elite. It is in this way that dark skin (and other paradigmatic "black"phenotypic traits) came to have immense social significance: it became a physical sign of degradation. Delany maintainsthatonce this associationof black skin with low social status had been established, there was virtually nothing blacks could do or (shortof extensive "race-mixing" passing for white) to elevatethemselves to social equality.66 Advancing an argumentmade famous by Alexis de Tocqueville,Delany insists that even the abolition of slaverywould not end black oppressionorracialantagonism,becausethe stigmaof servitudewould have become attachedto their easily observable "distinguishingmark."67 Thus,the skin color of blackswould remindnot only whites butalso blacksof their formerslave status, causing many whites to have contemptfor blacks and some blacks to have self-contempt. Delany thinks that this association of skin color with forced servitude could perhapsbe brokenif blacks were to rise to positions of honorand status within society. This is why he imploresblacksto avoid takingon meniallabor and service roles, an injunction that some commentatorshave wrongly reducedto a formof conservativeelitism.68 However,Delany is not criticalof those blacks who are forcedto take such positions out of materialnecessity; he simply insists thatno self-respectingperson would do so, as some have, Indeed,he argues just to buy ostentatiousclothes andmodem conveniences.69 that when an individualperformsthe role of servant,this is not necessarily degradingat all, but when a greatnumberof a recognizablesocial groupdo, subservientpeople.70 they inevitably come to be viewed as a "naturally" Delanybecomes convincedthatblacks cannoterasethe stigmaattachedto their color while remainingin the United States, and thus he urges them to emigrate elsewhere. He mounts a powerful case, on pragmaticnationalist

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grounds, in supportof this radical conclusion. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 effectively denied full citizenship to even "free"blacks, a denial that was latersolidified andmadeexplicit in theDred Scott decision of 1857.71 He maintainsthatwhites cannotbe rationallyor morally persuadedout of their prejudice because they have a material stake in black subordinationand because they have too little sympathy for what they consider a degraded race.72 Blacks certainlycannotcompel whites to treatthemas equals,because whites greatly outnumberand have significantlymore power than blacks.73 Blacks cannot achieve economic parity with whites while living among them, since whites all butmonopolize land,capital,andpolitical influence.74 Livingundersuch oppressiveconditionsalso fosters servilityandresignation Thus, if blacks were to remainin the United States, among the oppressed.75 theywould not only be sacrificingtheirrightto equalrespect,democraticcitizenship, and self-governmentbut would also be forgoing the cultivationand which no groupcan do andretainits digexpressionof a vigorous character, nity.And even if blackswere to gain legal equalitywith whites in the United States, the antiblack attitudesof the latter,along with their overwhelming powerandshearnumbers,would make it quitedifficult,if not impossible,for blacks to fully exercise their civil rights.76 Delany concludes, therefore, that blacks must leave the United States. Notice, though, that emigration is necessary, not because Africa is the to "fatherland" which blacksmustreturn reclaimanddeveloptheiroriginal to identity but because they must go where they can realize the principles of equality, citizenship, self-government, and vigor. In fact, Delany doesn't even advocate mass black emigrationto Africa. Rather,he urges the vast majorityof blacks to remainin the New World.He tells us many times over thatthe WesternHemisphereis the "home"of blacks and thatthey are fully And in responseto William Lloyd Garrison'scrientitledto remainthere.77 Delany says, "I would as willingly live among tique of his racial separatism, white men as black, if I hadan equalpossession and enjoyment privileges," of but, he explains, "I have no hopes in this country-no confidence in the His Americanpeople-with afew excellent exceptions."78 principledposition, then, is that blacks should live whereverthey do not infringeupon the rights of others;self-governmentand citizenshipon terms of social equality are possible; and a vigorous character can be developed and freely Thus, he suggests, somewhat surprisinglyperhaps,that blacks expressed.79 emigratefromthe UnitedStatesto CentralandSouthAmerica,forthese locations have all the resources needed for building a democratic and free nation.80 Delany strongly encouragesblacks to cultivatesolidaritywith American Indiansand Latin Americanpeoples.81This suggests that his primarycon-

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cern is with underminingor avoidingwhite domination,not with creatingan exclusive blacknationalpolity.He believes thatthereis no legally sanctioned race prejudice in Latin America, except in Brazil, and that the peoples of those countriesarereadyandeagerto receive U.S. blacks.82 Delany is particularly concerned to combat U.S. and Europeanimperialism, and thus he urges all "colored" peoples to worktogetherin an effortto defendthemselves He against white hegemony.83 even hopes blacks and other people of color will eventuallycreate a United States of South America. It is important see thatthis new self-reliantand sovereignpeople could to not be held together by their common racial identity, as they would be a racially heterogeneousand hybridpopulation.Nor would this be a country committedto black culturalnationalism,as some have suggested.84 Instead, Delany advocates culturalsyncretism among the new population,strongly urges blacks to become bilingualby learningSpanish,and evinces firm supThis would not, thereport for religious tolerance and non-sectarianism.85 fore, be a nationbuilt on the edifice of "originalidentity." Rather,"practical necessity," that is, self-preservationand common defense, would be the social bondingagentamongthis newly emerging,anti-imperialist, "colored" this Most importantly, multiracial"nation" would be committedto people.86 social equality,democraticcitizenshipfor all, self-government,andthe cultivation of a vigorous citizenry.87 if Still, the following challengeis surely appropriate: Delany was "really" a pragmaticblack nationalist,what then are we to make of his project of regeneratingAfrica; that is, how can this romanticprogrambe understood withoutrelyingon classical nationalistprinciples?In response,I would argue that Delany views this projectas primarilya strategyto combatdomination, one thathas the, admittedlyambitious,goal of underminingwhite supremacist ideology,the Africanslave-trade, Euro-American and Here, imperialism. he provides an argumentthat is analogous to the one he offers in defense of the emphasis on the achievementsof so-called "pure"blacks. He suggests that if Africa were to remainunderdevelopedand associated with slavery, then this would contributeto the stigma attachedto blackness. In additionto their darkcolor, the fact thatblacks are of Africandescent would be a "sign" of their degradationso long as Africa is viewed as a place where primitive, savage,anddependentpeoples reside. Thus,he believes Africa'sredemption and civilization must be a part of any general effort to bring about racial equality and true freedom for those of African descent.88 But, again, in advocatingAfrican development,Delany does not suggest that all or even most AfricanAmericans should settle therebut only a select few.89 And he insists that the fact that black Americans will not relocate to Africa is no more a sign of disrespectfor theiroriginalhomelandthanthe fact

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thatmanywhites considerAmericatheirhome is a sign of disrespectfor their European origins.90Moreover, Delany does not recommend a nostalgic he returnto Africanways of old. Rather, suggests thatAfricansretainwhat is Africa andtryto improveuponit, thatthey incorporate good in contemporary what is valuablein the civilizations of otherraces, andthatthey rejectwhatever is inimical to modem progress,regardlessof its nationalroots.91 Delany does not, however, view the regenerationof Africa as simply a means to improvethe condition of blacks living in the New World.This is clear from the fact that he implores all civilized nations to help in Africa's modernization.92 This call, which he claims is a "duty,"could hardly be expectedto motivatenonblacksto actionif it were merelybased on racialloyalty or the need to improvethe position of blacks in the diaspora.Instead,it must be premisedon common humanity,social justice, and perhapsmutual economic advantage.Hence, the program for Africa's redemptionis, for Delany,a cause worthyof universalendorsement,quiteapartfromits advantages for black Americans.

CONCLUSION I have been urging that we read Delany as a pragmaticnationalistwho sometimes misleadinglyexpressedhimself as if he were a committedclassiis cal one. Thejustificationfor this somewhatnonstandard interpretation that it makes the best sense of his various seemingly inconsistent statements.93 But perhapsthe clearest evidence in supportof the claim that Delany was "really"a pragmaticnationalistis thatafterthe Civil War,he ceased to advocate mass black emigrationandinsteadworkedfor "aunion of the two races" If in the United States.94 we read him as a pragmaticnationalist,then this political and moralprinchange is perfectlyconsistentwith his fundamental ciples. Black solidarity and separatismwere never ends in themselves but merely strategiesfor realizing his most cherishedvalues-equality, citizenThese goals obviously would have ship, self-government,and "manhood." seemed to him more achievable within the United States after the war. amendIndeed,in less thana decade, slaverywas abolishedby constitutional ment (1865), blacksbornin the United Stateswere declaredcitizens andconstitutionally guaranteedequal protectionunder the law (1868), and black men were grantedthe franchise(1870). DuringReconstruction, manyblacks held public office, even as high as the U.S. Senate. And Delany himself became the firstblack commissionedfield officer in the U.S. Army,servedas for an administrator the Freedmen'sBureau,andlaterran,thoughunsuccessfully, for lieutenantgovernorof SouthCarolina.Underthese improvingcon-

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ditions for blacks (and for Delany), it is not surprisingthat he would have his abandoned programforblack emigration.Thoughhe droppedthis radical approachand later took up what some might consider ratherconservative we positions,95 should not conclude that Delany had therebyrejectedpragmaticnationalism,since it was quiteclearto him thatmuchworkremainedto be done in the cause for racial equalityandthat, in the meantime,blacks still needed the self-protectionprovidedby theirpolitical solidarity. I have discussed Delany's social philosophyat length,not only because it is intrinsicallyinterestingandoftenneglectedby studentsof Americanpolitical thoughtbutbecause it can help us betterappreciatethe need to rethinkthe foundationsof contemporaryblack solidarity,and it might even aid us in developinga more suitableblack (post)nationalist philosophy.Withinmuch of current black political thinking there is still a tendency to vacillate between, and at times to confuse, classical and pragmaticforms of black nationalism.This is understandable, since no subordinate groupwould want to thinkof itself as merelyreactingto, or as naively accepting,the dictatesand ideology of the dominantgroup.Instead,they quitenaturallywantto express self-directedagency,to feel as if they are forging their own path, againstthe grainif necessary.Ironically,as othershave argued,classical black nationalism, ratherthanexposing the more dangerouselements in the nationalistidebuttressesthemby reproducologies of the United StatesandEurope,further Truevigor, though, should go beyond ing them in a black-inflectedform.96 this insufficientlyself-critical and superficialemulation.It should entail the courageous, determined,and creative pursuit of the highest ideals, which manyof the beliefs, values,and may requirecritiquingandeven transcending practicesthatwe inheritfrom previousgenerations,a reflexive stancethatis surely a sign of vigorous independent thinking. Moreover, this creative reevaluation but oughtnotbe limitedto the expressionof individuality should also extendto the political realm,where mattersof socialjustice areat stake. So, while pragmaticnationalism,too, drawson Westernnationalistideas, it does so with a criticaleye and an improvisational spirit,riffingon themto be sure, but with a healthy suspicion of politicized ethnoracialidentitiesand a steadfastcommitmentto justice for all. What I'm suggesting here, then, is ratherthan continue this ambivalent embraceof classical nationalism-with its emphasison inherentracialcharacteristics,primordialethnic origins, culturalpurity and distinctiveness,an ancient "homeland,"and national self-determination-blacks should consider abandoningthis misleading discourse altogether,despite its evocative and symbolic resonance.However, contraryto what some critics have supposed, forsakingthis ideology would not necessarily mean giving up black solidarityas a strategyfor overcoming (or at least ameliorating)antiblack

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racism. Indeed,what holds blacks together as a (more or less) unified "peoand ple" with sharedpolitical interestsis the fact of theirracialsubordination their collective resolve to triumphover it. The "racial"blackness of blacks, then, while in one sense only skin-deep-constituted as it is by relatively superficialphenotypic traits-has tremendous social importance,as these somatic traitscarrythe stigma of subordinatesocial status.But blacks need not cherish or valorize this peculiar ascribedidentity in orderto see that it makesthem all vulnerableto variousforms of mistreatment. Buildingon this recognition and their sharedgoal to break down all unnecessarybarriersto and globally dissocial equality,this culturallydiverse, intergenerational, persed community can firmly and consistently embrace pragmaticblack would treatblack solidarityas a strategyforbringnationalism.This program racialequalityandas a meansof collective self-defense ing aboutsubstantive againstracial oppression.97 Pragmaticnationalismis, therefore,in principle cooperation,and indeed it is perfectlyconsistent compatiblewith interracial with the goal of bringing about a world where "racial"identities-hegemonic or oppositional-are no longer thoughtuseful or appealing,even to those who have historicallybeen most disadvantaged racism.It shouldbe by viewed as just one among a numberof possibly effective programsfor ending, or at least surviving,racial injustice.98

NOTES
1. See, for example,RobinD. G. Kelley,FreedomDreams: TheBlackRadicalImagination (Boston: Beacon, 2002); Lani Guinierand GeraldTorres,TheMiner's Canary:EnlistingRace, UniversityPress, 2002); Democracy(Cambridge,MA: Harvard ResistingPower,Transforming Adolph Reed Jr.,Stirrings in the Jug: Black Politics in the Post-segregationEra (Minneapolis: and Universityof MinnesotaPress, 1999); RobertGooding-Williams,"Race,Multiculturalism Constellations5 (1998): 18-41; ClarenceLusane,Race in the GlobalEra:African Democracy," Americansat the Millennium(Boston: South End, 1997); ManningMarable,BeyondBlack and White: Transforming African-AmericanPolitics (London: Verso, 1995); Cornel West, Race Matters (New York:Vintage, 1994); Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernityand Double Consciousness (Cambridge,MA: HarvardUniversity Press, 1993); and BernardR. Boxill, Blacks and Social Justice, rev. ed. (Lanham,MD: Rowman& Littlefield, 1992). 2. In a comprehensive empirical analysis of contemporaryblack political ideologies, Michael Dawson has shown thatamongAfrican Americansthereis broadsupportfor (andvery little hardoppositionto) severalcorenationalistideas, includingthe creationandcontrolof separate institutionswithin the black community,black economic and political self-determination, and a belief that African Americans constitute an "internalblack nation" within the United States. See Michael C. Dawson, Black Visions:TheRoots of Contemporary African-American Political Ideologies (Chicago:Universityof ChicagoPress, 2001), esp. chap. 3. Also see Robert Dimensions of BlackNationalA. BrownandToddC. Shaw,"Separate Nations:TwoAttitudinal ism,"Journal of Politics 64 (2002): 22-44; Dean E. Robinson,Black Nationalism in American

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Politics and Thought (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001), chap. 7; and JenniferL. Hochschild, Facing Up to the AmericanDream: Race, Class, and the Soul of the Nation (Princeton,NJ: PrincetonUniversity Press, 1995), chaps. 4-6. 3. See Kwame AnthonyAppiah,In My Father'sHouse: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture(Oxford,UK: OxfordUniversityPress, 1992);PaulGilroy,AgainstRace: ImaginingPolitical Culturebeyondthe ColorLine (Cambridge,MA: Harvard UniversityPress, 2000). Also see ClarenceE. Walker,WeCan't Go HomeAgain: An ArgumentaboutAfrocentrism(Oxford,UK: OxfordUniversityPress,2001). It is worthpointingoutthat,in recentyears,Appiahhas softened his critical stance towardcertainblack nationalistideas about social identity.See, for example, his "Race, Culture,Identity:MisunderstoodConnections,"in Color Conscious: The Political Moralityof Race, by K. AnthonyAppiahand Amy Gutmann(Princeton,NJ: PrincetonUniversity Press, 1996). 4. This more constructiveapproachto black nationalism-intensely critical yet sympatheticengagement-is exemplifiedby the essays in Is It Nation Time?Contemporary Essays on Black Power and Black Nationalism, edited by Eddie Glaude Jr.(Chicago:University of Chicago Press, 2002). 5. In his influential discussion of the nationalist and integrationiststrains within black political thought,HaroldCrusetraces the nationaliststrainback to the writings of Delany. See his TheCrisisof the NegroIntellectual(New York:Quill, 1984), 4-6. Also see Floyd JohnMiller, "The Search for a Black Nationality: Martin R. Delany and the EmigrationistAlternative" (Ph.D. diss., Universityof Minnesota,1970);VictorUllman, MartinR. Delany: TheBeginnings of Black Nationalism (Boston: Beacon, 1971); and Dorothy Sterling, The Makingof an AfroAmerican:MartinRobisonDelany (New York:Da Capo, 1971). 6. MartinR. Delany, The Condition,Elevation, Emigration,and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, Politically Considered(Baltimore:Black Classic Press, 1993). 7. Ibid., 11-13. 8. If we use Kymlicka'swell-known criteriafor a "nationalminority"-a previously selfconcentrated, institutionally governing,territorially complete, culturallycohesive groupthathas been incorporated (forciblyor otherwise)into a largerstatebutthatmaintainsits culturaldistinctiveness andindependencefromthe majorityculture-then it is not at all clearthatblackAmericans in Delany's time (and even less so now) should be describedas an internal"nation." But slave trade,nor arethe given the forcedmigrationto the New Worldcausedby the trans-Atlantic vastmajorityof blacksproperlydescribedas immigrants descendantsof immigrants.See Will or A Kymlicka,Multicultural Citizenship: Liberal Theoryof MinorityRights(Oxford,UK: Clarendon, 1995), 10-26. For a useful discussion of how NorthAmericanblacks (bothU.S. and Canasee dian)fit into recent debatesovernationalismandmulticulturalism, Kymlicka,Politics in the and Citizenship(Oxford, UK: Oxford University Vernacular: Nationalism, Multiculturalism, Press, 2001), chap. 9. Fortwo quitedifferentviews, see Iris MarionYoung,Justice and thePolitics of Difference (Princeton,NJ: PrincetonUniversityPress, 1990), chap. 6; BrianBarry,Cultureand Equality:An Egalitarian Critiqueof Multiculturalism MA: Harvard Uni(Cambridge, versity Press, 2001), chap. 8. 9. E. U. Essien-Udomusefully summarizesthe strongnationalistposition (thoughhe does not label it as such) as follows: The belief of a groupthat it possesses, or ought to possess, a country;that it shares, or ought to share, a common heritageof language, culture,and religion; and that its heritage, way of life, andethnicidentityare distinctfromthose of othergroups.Nationalists believe that they ought to rule themselves and shape their own destinies, and that they should thereforebe in control of their social, economic, and political institutions.

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See his BlackNationalism:A Searchforan IdentityinAmerica (Chicago:Universityof Chicago Press, 1962), 6. For similarconceptionsof nationalism,see Benedict Anderson,ImaginedCommunities:Reflections on the Originand Spreadof Nationalism,rev. ed. (London:Verso, 1991), 6-7; E. J. Hobsbawm,Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme,Myth,Reality (Cambridge,UK: CambridgeUniversityPress, 1990), 9-13; andErnestGellner,Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca,NY: Cornell UniversityPress, 1983), 1-7. 10. On this definition,prominentcontemporary "classical"black nationalistsin the United Stateswould include MaulanaKarenga(founderof the culturalnationalistgroupUS andcreator of the AfricanAmericanholidayKwanzaa),Molefi KeteAsante (centraltheoristandspokesperson for the Afrocentric approachto the study of history and culture), and Minister Louis Farrakhan (leaderof the Nation of Islam and principalorganizerof the Million Man March,the largestassemblageof blacks in U.S. history). See, for example, MaulanaKarenga,Introduction to Black Studies (Los Angeles: University of SankorePress, 1982); Molefi Kete Asante, The Idea, rev.ed. (Philadelphia: Afrocentric TempleUniversityPress, 1998); andJosephD. Eureand Richard M. Jerome, eds., Back Where We Belong: Selected Speeches by Minister Louis Farrakhan(Philadelphia:PC International Press, 1989). 11. BernardBoxill makes a similar set of distinctionswithin the traditionalintegrationist/ separatist framework. See his "Two Traditions in African American Political Philosophy," Philosophical Forum24 (1992-93): 119-35; also see HowardMcGary,Race and Social Justice (Oxford,UK: Blackwell, 1999), chap. 3. 12. The intellectualhistorianWilson JeremiahMoses usefully distinguishesthe "classical" of age of black nationalism(1850-1925)-marking the 1850 Compromiseto the imprisonment MarcusGarvey-from its "modem"period (1925-present). See his The GoldenAge of Black Nationalism, 1850-1925 (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1978). The modem period could be viewed as roughly markingthe decline of Garveyismthroughthe rise of the Nation of Islam and the Black Power movement in the early postwarperiod to its variouscontemporary and manifestations,such as Afrocentricity hip-hopnationalism.My distinctionbetween "classical" and "pragmatic" nationalism,as a way to distinguishtwo relateddoctrines,is meantto cut across this historicalperiodization,and unlike Moses, I consider a nationalistposition "classical" even if its call for self-determinationfalls short of a call for statehood. Cf. John T. Political Thought(PhilaMcCartney,Black Power Ideologies: An Essay in African-American delphia:TempleUniversity Press, 1992); Robinson, Black Nationalism. 13. This is a view aboutthe internaltensionsandshiftswithinblacknationalisttheorydevelopment;it is not an attemptto explainblack nationalismas a social movementor social tendency. My interest in black nationalism(in this essay at least) is primarilyas a social philosophy or political theory,and only secondarilyas a sociohistoricalphenomenon.In this way, my project differsfromthatof intellectualhistorians.The historianAugust Meier, for example,claims that "nationalist tendencies tend to be salient duringperiodswhen conditionswere becoming worse and white public opinion morehostile, while the integrationist became salientwhen the blacks' statuswas improvingand white public opinion becoming more tolerant." August Meier,Negro Thoughtin America, 1880-1915: Racial Ideologies in the Age of Booker T. Washington (Ann Arbor:Universityof MichiganPress, 1988), ix. Meier'sthesis may very well be correct,andthe hypothesis stated above in the main text is, I believe, perfectly compatible with it. But I am the attemptingto understand logic of black nationalismand the ways in which nationalistideas get developedandshapedwithinthe thinkingof its principalexponents,not with the social shifts within the largerblack population-though the two are betweennationalismandintegrationism no doubtrelated. 14. For a compelling defense of the view thatnationalismshould not be understoodas nec"MythsandMisconceptions essarilytied to claims of political sovereignty,see RogersBrubaker,

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in the Study of Nationalism,"in The State of the Nation: Ernest Gellner and the Theoryof Nationalism,editedby JohnA. Hall (Cambridge,UK: CambridgeUniversityPress, 1998), 272306. 15. I should say, however,thatGlaudechooses to speak of the pragmaticconceptionof the black "race"insteadof the pragmaticconceptionof black "nationalism." despitethis largely But terminologicaldisagreement,I take it thatwe have a similarview aboutthe substanceandvalue blackpolitics. See Eddie S. GlaudeJr.,Exodus!Religion,Race, andNationin Early of pragmatic Black America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000). For a comNineteenth-Century and prehensivecriticaldiscussion of competingconceptionsof "nation" theoriesof nationalism, see Anthony D. Smith, Nationalism and Modernism:A Critical Surveyof Recent Theoriesof Nations and Nationalism (London:Routledge, 1998). 16. Delany, The Condition, 14-15. 17. Ibid., 41-43. 18. MartinR. Delany, "ThePolitical Destiny of the ColoredRace,"in TheIdeological Origins of Black Nationalism, edited by Sterling Stuckey (Boston: Beacon, 1972), 196-97. 19. Ibid., 197-98. 20. Paul Gilroy goes so far as to call Delany "the progenitorof black Atlanticpatriarchy." TheBlackAtlantic,26. However,not only is this statementanachronistic, it also underplays but the progressiveelements of Delany's thoughtwith regardto gender,for as RobertLevine points out, Delany wrote of the need for women to take up business enterprises,he encouragedthe participationof women (including his wife) at all the emigrationconventionshe sponsored,and,trueto his sense of women as political entitiesin theirown right,he presented the readerof Blake with actively engaged women revolutionaries. RobertS. Levine,MartinDelany,FrederickDouglass,and thePolitics of RepresentativeIdentity (Chapel Hill: University of North CarolinaPress, 1997), 14. Also see Tolagbe Ogunleye,"Dr. MartinRobisonDelany, 19th-Century AfricanaWomanist: Reflectionson His Avant-Garde Politics ConcerningGender,Colorism, andNation Building,"Journal of Black Studies28 (1998): 628-49. 21. For useful discussions of pre-emancipationconceptions of black masculinity, see Darlene ClarkHine and Eamestine Jenkins, eds., A Question of Manhood:A Reader in U.S. Black Men's History and Masculinity,vol. 1 (Bloomington:Universityof IndianaPress, 1999). Some have arguedthatpatriarchal conceptionsof gender identityare a constitutivecomponent of black nationalist discourses. See, for example, E. Francis White, Dark Continentof Our Bodies: Black Feminism and the Politics of Respectability (Philadelphia:Temple University Press, 2001), chap. 3; WahneemaLubiano, "Black Nationalism and Black Common Sense: Policing Ourselves and Others,"in TheHouse ThatRace Built, edited by WahneemaLubiano (New York:Vintage, 1998), 232-52. 22. Delany, The Condition, 10, 25-30, 170-71, 190-91. 23. Ibid., 39-40. 24. Ibid., 62, 182-83. 25. Ibid., 45-46. 26. Martin R. Delany, Blake; or, the Huts of America (Boston: Beacon, 1970). Werner Sollors aptlydescribesthe novel as "anunusuallyradicalbook, both in its creationof a blackand beautifulprotagonistwho is an aristocratic hero, revolutionary superman,and slave conspirator andinstigatorandin a moreor less continuousoppositionto Americannationalsymbolism." See his BeyondEthnicity:Consentand Descent in American Culture(Oxford,UK: OxfordUniver-

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sity Press, 1986), 51. Fora richandinsightfuldiscussion of Delany's place in the developmentof the the Americanliterarytradition,see Eric J. Sundquist,To Wake Nations: Race in the Making of AmericanLiterature(Cambridge,MA: HarvardUniversity Press, 1993), chap. 2. Also see Levine, MartinDelany, chap. 5; Moses, The GoldenAge, chap. 7. 27. Delany, Blake, 252. 28. For instance,when he defends the principleof self-government,he emphasizesthatit is a rightof the individual,butthen he goes on to say in this regard,"whatis trueof an individualis trueof a family,andthatwhich is trueof a family is also trueconcerninga whole people."See his Jour"PoliticalDestiny,"197. Cf. RobertM. Kahn,"ThePolitical Ideology of MartinDelany," nal of Black Studies 14 (1984): 415-40. 29. Delany, "PoliticalDestiny,"201. 30. Weget a hintof this doctrinein TheConditionas well, as when he approvesof the Jewish theirnationalcharacteristics, looking forwardin high hopes of seeing and people "maintaining to the day when they may return theirformernationalposition of self-governmentandindependence."Delany, The Condition,12. 31. Delany, "PoliticalDestiny,"201. in 32. KwameAnthonyAppiahcalls this doctrine"racialism" his In MyFather'sHouse, 13. I follow his practicehere,realizingthatothersmay use the termdifferently.Therehas of course as been muchrecentphilosophicaldebateaboutwhetherwe shouldthinkof "races" real. See, for example, LawrenceBlum, "I'mNot a Racist, But. . . ": The Moral Quandaryof Race (Ithaca, in NY: Cornell University Press, 2002), chaps. 5-9; BernardBoxill, "Introduction," Race and Racism, edited by BernardBoxill (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001), 1-42; Sally Haslanger,"Genderand Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We WantThem to Be?" Nous 34 in (2000): 31-55; Philip Kitcher,"Race,Ethnicity,Biology, Culture," Racism,editedby Leonard Harris(Amherst,NY: HumanityBooks, 1999), 87-117; CharlesW. Mills," 'But WhatAre You Really?'The Metaphysicsof Race,"in Blackness Visible,by CharlesW. Mills (Ithaca,NY: Cornell UniversityPress, 1998); Appiah, "Race,Culture,Identity";Lucius T. OutlawJr.,On Race and Philosophy (New York:Routledge, 1996); Naomi Zack, Race and MixedRace (Philadelphia: TempleUniversityPress, 1993). My sympathiesare largely with the antirealists,but I do as not rely on racialantirealism a premisehere.I only assume thatracialism,as definedabove,is false, which few political theorists,I take it, would want to deny.This is not to rule out, then,the possibility of defensible non-essentialistways of conceptualizing"race." 33. Delany, "PoliticalDestiny,"203. 34. Delany, The Condition,62-66, 214. 35. Martin R. Delany, Principia of Ethnology: The Origin of Races and Color, with an of Archeological Compendium Ethiopianand Egyptian Civilization(Baltimore:Black Classic Press, 1991). 36. Ibid., 14-15. 37. Ibid., 18. 38. Ibid., 27. 39. Ibid., 38. 40. Ibid., 42-59. 41. Ibid., 62, 70. 42. Ibid., 69-71. 43. Ibid., 86-89. 44. Delany, "PoliticalDestiny,"203. 45. Delany, Principia, 81-82.

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in 46. MartinR. Delany,"OfficialReportof the Niger Valley ExploringParty," Searchfor a Place: Black Separatismand Africa, 1860, by M. R. Delany and RobertCambell(Ann Arbor: Universityof Michigan Press, 1969). 47. Ibid., 111. 48. Ibid., 110. Also see the appendixof Delany, The Condition,210-13. 49. Delany, "OfficialReport,"112. The claim is also repeatedin Delany, Blake, 262. 50. Delany, "OfficialReport,"121. 51. Delany, The Condition,209-10. 52. Delany, Principia, 15. 53. Ibid., 22-24. 54. Ibid., 35. 55. Delany, The Condition,8. 56. Delany,Principia, 60-61. 57. SterlingStuckey,Slave Culture: Nationalist Theoryand theFoundationsof BlackAmerica (Oxford,UK: OxfordUniversityPress, 1987), 229. 58. Delany, Principia, 91-94. 79-80. 59. Sterling, The Makingof an Afro-American, 60. See, for example, Levine, MartinDelany, 6-7, 13. 61. Delany, The Condition,91-92. 62. Ibid., 87. 63. "Placido"is the pen name of a famous Cubanpoet, Gabrielde la Concepcion Valdes (1809-44), who was, accordingto Delany, a mulatto "gentleman,scholar,poet, and intended Chief Engineer of the Army of Liberty and Freedomin Cuba,"and who was executed on the Ibid.,203. Also see Floyd J. Miller'snote chargeof high treasonandincitingslave insurrections. to text in Delany, Blake, 319. Delany also named one of his sons afterthe Cubanrevolutionary 86. and poet. See Sterling, The Makingof an Afro-American, 64. Delany, Blake, 261. 65. Delany, The Condition,12-21. 66. Delany, "PoliticalDestiny,"199. 67. See Alexis de Tocqueville,Democracy in America,translatedby GeorgeLawrenceand editedby J. P.Mayer(New York:HarperPerennial, 1988), 341; Delany,"PoliticalDestiny,"19899. in 68. Nell IrvinPainter,"Martin Delany:Elitism andBlack Nationalism," BlackLeadersof the NineteenthCentury,editedby Leon Litwack and August Meier (Urbana:Universityof Illinois Press, 1988). 69. Delany, The Condition,187-88, 197-99. 70. Ibid., 200-201. 71. Ibid., 147-59. 72. Delany, "PoliticalDestiny," 102-3. In the history of black political thought,there is a debateover whetherwhite racismwill yield to persistentmoralcriticism,and it is one recurring of the issues that has divided the more militantnationalists(e.g., Delany, MarcusGarvey,and MalcolmX) fromthose in the blackprotesttradition(Frederick Douglass, W.E. B. Du Bois, and MartinLutherKing Jr.).Foran illuminatingdiscussionof Delany's views on the ineffectiveness of moral suasion to weaken white prejudice, see Boxill, "Two Traditions,"120-21, and in "Douglassagainstthe Emigrationists," FrederickDouglass: A CriticalReader,editedby Bill E. Lawson and FrankM. Kirkland(Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1999), 21-49. 73. Delany, "PoliticalDestiny,"103-4.

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74. Ibid., 94; Delany, The Condition,205. 75. Delany, The Condition,206-8. 76. Ibid., 191. 77. Ibid., 48-49, 168, 171, 178; Delany, Blake, 287. 78. Quoted in Sterling, TheMakingof an Afro-American,149-50. 79. Delany, The Condition, 184, 186-87, 192. 80. Ibid., 178-88. 81. Ibid., 62, 173, 181. 82. Ibid., 179-81. 83. Ibid., 36-37, 182-83; Delany, "PoliticalDestiny,"96-97. 84. Cyril E. Griffith, TheAfrican Dream: MartinR. Delany and the Emergence of PanAfrican Thought(University Park:Pennsylvania State University Press, 1975), 21. Also see Stuckey,Slave Culture,226-31. 85. Delany, TheCondition,178 footnote, 189;Blake, 257-58. Foran interestingandprovocative discussion of Delany's commitmentto culturalsyncretism,see Gilroy,TheBlackAtlantic, 27-29. 86. Delany, Blake, 182. 87. This vision is not unlike what David Hollingerhas called "civic nationalism," which he See usefully contrastswith "ethnicnationalism." his PostethnicAmerica:BeyondMulticulturalism, rev. ed. (New York:Basic Books, 2000), 133-35. It is also compatiblewith the forms of nonracialistPan-Africanism (from both the continentand the diaspora)thatAppiahwould find politically acceptable. See Appiah,In My Father's House, 179-80. 88. Delany, TheCondition,160-62;Blake, 260-62; andPrincipia, 81. Cf. Gilroy,TheBlack Atlantic, 23. 89. It is often claimedthatDelany eitheris inconsistentor changeshis mind aboutAfricaas the ultimatedestinationfor black Americans.(See, for example, Painter,"Martin Delany,"155; 434-36; andBoxill, "Douglass,"26-29.) However,Delanynever Kahn,"ThePoliticalIdeology," advocates a general returnof African Americans to Africa but just a select number of the fromthe United Statesin the hopes thatthey mighthelp in the regenera"enlightenedfreedmen" tion of their ancestralhomeland. This position is not inconsistent with holding that the vast majorityof American blacks should relocate to Latin America, or wherever they might best flourish. In a supplementto the Constitutionof the African Civilization Society (writtenby Delany) this view is made quite clear: The Society is not designedto encouragegeneralemigration,butwill aid only such persons as may be practicallyqualifiedandsuitedto promotethe developmentof Christianity, morality,education,mechanical arts, agriculture,commerce, and general improvement;who must alwaysbe carefullyselectedandwell recommended,thatthe progressof civilization may not be obstructed. See Delany, "Constitutionof the African Civilization Society,"in Negro Social and Political Thought,1850-1920, editedby HowardBrotz(New York:Basic Books, 1966), 191-96. Also see 77-80, 110-11. Delany, "Official Report," 90. Delany, The Condition,172. 91. Delany, Principia, 83; "OfficialReport,"108-10; and Blake, 262. 92. Delany, Principia, 81-82. 93. Gilroy has also recently examined Delany's nationalism,and my analysis is, in some ways, quite congenial to his and owes much to its creativeengagementwith Delany's philosophy.(See Gilroy, TheBlackAtlantic, 19-29.) Thatsaid, my discussion differssignificantlyfrom

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Gilroy'sin its aims, focus, andargumentative strategy.Since Gilroy'sis a familiarandinfluential account, it may be useful to briefly contrastour approachesto this seminal figure.Gilroy is primarilyconcernedwith critiquingethnocentricandnationalistconceptionsof blackculturalproductionandreplacingthem with a conceptionof "blackAtlantic"modes of culturalexpression, which are transnational,dynamic, and thoroughly hybrid.He is against a "narrow" focus on nationalculturalpolitics in ourincreasinglyglobal world,wheremigrationandethnoracial intermixing are commonplace. For him, Delany functions largely as a metaphor for the of "rootlessness" syncreticcharacter black culture,andhe uses Delany's life andthoughtto and illustratethe alleged ambivalenceof blacks from the diasporatowardthe West (theirwould-be new "home")and Africa (theiroriginal"homeland"). contrast,the thin conceptionof blackBy ness thatI defend and to which I thinkDelany is ultimatelycommittedis not a mode of cultural has blacknessat all, at least insofaras "culture" to do with aestheticexpression,language,or relithat Delany sometimes seems to express is not about "ethnic gion. I think the "ambivalence" roots"but aboutthe ever-changingprospectsfor realizingblack equality,freedom,civil rights, and "manly"virtue in this or that geographicallocale. While I think the context and details of his Delany's life areuseful for understanding social philosophy,my primaryconcernis with the contoursandplausibilityof his thought,takingcareto avoidthe all too commontendencyto flatten out the thinkingof black writersby reducing their thoughtto their sociohistoricalcontext. While Gilroy is largely concerned to show how nationalistthinking negatively affects black political culture,I'm primarilyconcernedwith how such thinking (negatively and positively) affects black political solidarity as this relates to an antiracistprogressive agenda. And ultiAmericanpolitics, even as I recognize mately I am interested(as I thinkDelany was) in "narrow" its interconnections with, andindeedits hegemonic influenceon, global processes.Forwhile the political significance of the nation-statemay be dramaticallychanging, this does not translate into it being insignificant;nor does it mean, I contend, that black collective activism directed towardthe U.S. governmenton behalfof its racializedcitizensnecessarilydemonstrates lackof a concern with others who are racially or otherwise oppressed. 94. Quotedin Painter,"MartinDelany,"168. 95. DuringReconstruction, Delany opposedthe confiscationof slaveholders'landfor redistribution freedmenand arguedagainstgovernmentsubsidiesfor the formerslaves;instead,he to advocateda "triplealliance"of capital,land, and labor,a profit-sharing scheme thatwould have left the means of productionlargely in white hands and would have favored the interests of employers over workers. He lecturedon the virtues of temperance,marriage,and hardwork. And he pledged his supportfor the southernDemocrats over the northernRepublicansin the 1876 federal and state elections, a decision that many blacks at the time considereda tragic see betrayal.For a discussion of Delany's "conservatism," Painter,"MartinDelany." 96. FrederickDouglass made this point against the classical nationalists of his time. He argued that by claiming Africa as the national homeland of all blacks, American-bornblack nationalistswere giving comfortandideological supportto white supremacists who would deny blacks U.S. citizenshipon classical nationalistgrounds.Frederick ColonizaDouglass, "African tion Society,"in Classical Black Nationalism, edited by Wilson JeremiahMoses (New York: NYU Press, 1996), 135-41. 97. It shouldbe notedthatpragmatic black nationalism,as a philosophyfor the black liberation struggleagainstantiblackracism,is not a form of "strategic essentialism,"at least not in the sense that the latteris usually understood,that is, within a poststructuralist theoreticalframework. See ErnestoLaclau and ChantalMouffe, Hegemonyand Socialist Strategy:Towardsa Radical Democratic Politics, 2d ed. (London:Verso, 2001); GayatriSpivak,In Other Worlds: Essays in CulturalPolitics (New York:Routledge, 1989), 205-11. For one thing, pragmatic black nationalismis not skepticalaboutour ability to understand empiricallythe structureand

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dynamicsof modernracism;nor is it hesitantto embracecertainmoralprinciplesas universally of, applicable.Indeed,it presupposesthatsuch understanding andprincipledethicalopposition to, the currentracial orderis absolutely necessary for the coherenceof the outlook. Pragmatic black nationalismforthrightly rejectsracialandethnic essences andhas no need to deploy them, aims. It does not requireidealizstrategicallyor otherwise,in orderto carryout its emancipatory ing fictions aboutrace,nationality,or primordial originsbutjust a recognitionthatantiblackracism negatively affects the lives of millions in the United Statesand across the globe. Pragmatic black political consciousness,while certainlyself-consciously strategicandaimedat transforming the oppressiveconditions that make it possible and necessary,does not ultimatelyseek the and destructionof all black identities,just those that are stigmatizing,rigid, and reactionary, in this way it is not "necessarilyself-alienating." at the same time, pragmaticblack solidarity But does not requirethose who areracializedas blackto embrace"blackness," any genre,as a valof and ued or necessarycomponentof the "self' at all. Fora trenchant thoroughcritiqueof the theoretical underpinnings "strategicessentialism,"see Norman Geras,Discourses of Extremity: of Radical Ethics and Post-MarxistExtravagances(London:Verso, 1990). And for a discussionof the limitations of strategicessentialism with respect to politicized social identities, see Linda MartinAlcoff, "Who'sAfraid of IdentityPolitics,"in ReclaimingIdentity:Realist Theoryand editedby PaulaM. L. Moya andMichael R. Hames-Garcia the Predicamentof Postmodernism, (Berkeley:Universityof CaliforniaPress, 2000), 322-25. 98. I develop and furtherdefend this conception of black solidarity in Tommie Shelby, "Foundationsof Black Solidarity: Collective Identity or Common Oppression?"Ethics 112 (January2002): 231-66.

TommieShelby is an assistant professor in the Department of African and AfricanAmerican Studies and the Committeeon Degrees in Social Studies at HarvardUniversity. He writes on blackpolitical thought,philosophical problems of race and racism, and Marxisttheory.His essays have appeared in Ethics, Journalof Social Philosophy, and Social Theoryand Practice.He is currentlyworkingon a book tentativelyentitled Solidarityin Black: An Essay in AfricanaPhilosophy.

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