Understanding “Black Lives Matter”

The statement “black lives matter” must be affirmed in light of the recent killing of George Floyd. The police officer did not act as if Mr. Floyd’s life mattered, and by extension, as if black lives matter. His actions, and those of many other policemen, have failed to recognize the equal worth and dignity of black lives. Nevertheless, that black lives matter is a moral fact, one properly grounded in the deeper truth that black lives are, each one, made in the image of God.

At the same time, the political rhetoric of the Black Lives Matter organization depends on keeping a destructive agenda hidden behind its morally compelling title.

Black Lives Matter seeks to raise the perceived value of black lives through political means, rather than derive it from government’s fundamental duty to recognize the innate value of black lives as grounded in the nature of the human person. Black Lives Matter does not recognize the deep metaphysical grounding of its own central claim. Politics is not the “ground floor” of reality; human law and politics should be brought to reflect the deeper moral foundations of civilization.1

The Ambiguity of the Claim

There are, then, two different meanings of “black lives matter.” The primary meaning is the claim that black lives matter, a statement to be understood as proclaiming a paramount moral fact. The secondary meaning refers to the organization called “Black Lives Matter.”

The good news is that black and non-black people of conscience strongly affirm that black lives matter, want to better appreciate the history of black people in America, and want to fulfill the promise of dignity and equality for all human beings, especially in the case of black lives.

The not-so-good news is that, even though the Black Lives Matter website includes much that amplifies the uniqueness and dignity of black lives, it also masks a very different set of claims that are inconsistent with forming a good and just society. As it turns out, beneath the calls for ending “institutional violence” against blacks and advocating for “social justice,” two of the three founders of the organization are self-proclaimed “trained Marxists” and embrace Marxism as the “guiding ideology” of their organization.2 All the points, programs, and demands on the Black Lives Matter website both hint at and cover up an underlying revolutionary Marxist agenda.3

“Black Lives Matter” and the Current Rhetorical Environment

The conflation of the two meanings of “black lives matter” makes it difficult to affirm that black lives do indeed matter without implying that all classically liberal American institutions (and their symbols) must be torn down and realigned with old-become-new Marxist doctrines. The demanded realignment involves the “disruption” of the nuclear family, the redistribution of money and property, and violent revolution as necessary to attain BLM’s goals.

The inference from black lives matter as a compelling moral fact to the underlying political program of the eponymous organization is really a great non-sequitur. Nevertheless, the only “hope” for the Black Lives Matter organization (as it is currently configured) to successfully implement its negative political agenda is to keep the moral fact that black lives matter prominent, rightly insist upon it, but falsely claim that the rest of the BLM program follows as corollary to its title.

Black Lives Matter’s organizational strategy seems especially focused on bringing all black people into the movement through the truth of “black lives matter,” and then drawing the black community away from any traditional conceptions of family, personal responsibility, and reconciliation, and toward acceptance of an “anything goes” sexual morality. Since the 1960s, political radicals have leveraged the tremendous energy of the Sexual Revolution—on behalf of the larger communist revolution—to fuel their long walk through all good and stabilizing American institutions, ideals, and values. Black Lives Matter continues to draw on that same destructive energy to de-stabilize, and ultimately overthrow, all social and governmental structures, and to “transform” them along Marxist ideological lines.

Black Lives Matter lists under “What We Believe” that “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.”4 This statement is nearly incoherent; it flatters the needs of “… mothers, parents, and children …” while seeking to “disrupt” intact families of mothers, parents, and children. It misunderstands and misstates what means would be effective in accomplishing its own goals for black extended families, as well as for individual black lives.

Disrupting the nuclear family is not the solution to the lack of justice and social progress in black communities. On the contrary, disruption of the nuclear family is the central problem for black communities and for every other community. Strong black communities are strong in spite of any disruption of their nuclear families, not because of the disruption. In that sense, Black Lives Matter propagates an inversion of the key values that have held black communities together and allowed them to flourish to the degree that they have.

The fact is, sexual libertinage is the real disrupter of social progress; it damages or destroys families of all kinds, black, brown, white or otherwise. Paradoxically, while most know that sexual libertinage is personally and socially degenerate, those who know it but publicly deny it still insist that they hold the moral high ground, and rain down accusations of bigotry upon those who would counsel marital commitment, fidelity, or (especially) chastity. The paradox is resolved when we remember that many who publicly deny the harmful effects of the Sexual Revolution also leverage that same harm to disrupt “the system.” It’s one thing to seek necessary social change ordered toward forming a just society; it’s another thing to burn it all down.

The illusory connection between the moral fact that black lives matter and the strategies and tactics of the neo-Marxist organization should be severed, so that the false step from the one to the other is as rhetorically ineffective as it is logically invalid.

The Bad News and the Worse News for the “Black Lives Matter” Organization

Black Lives Matter could try to develop a clear line of reasoning from the premise that black lives matter to the conclusion that Marxism is the best or only way for black people to finally enjoy equal treatment under the law. Making such a logical connection—rather than a  rhetorical one—would be difficult, since the actual implementation of Marxism in various countries has led, in every case, to a totalitarian and murderous regime perpetrating mass starvations, gulags, Cultural Revolutions, and/or killing fields. That bad news for Black Lives Matter, the organization, is very bad news indeed.

Even worse would be, if the organization were able to prove that if black lives matter, then Marxism must be implemented, that if-then statement would seriously undermine black civil rights progress, and make every member and “ally” of the Black Lives Matter organization a knowing or unknowing domestic enemy of the Constitution. Logic is only part of the solution here, but basic logic can play a role.

Suppose that BLM’s key underlying claim is true: If black lives matter, then Marxism must be implemented. That entails that if Marxism is not implemented, then black lives do not matter. If BLM builds its black lives matter house on shifting Marxist sands, the moral claim that black lives matter will not be well-grounded.

Black Lives Matter self-refutes, then, in its insistence on Marxism as the only answer to the just demands of the black community. Any possible connection between the truth that black lives matter and the implementation of Marxism does not hold water for anyone whose conscience is compelled toward the intrinsic value and dignity of black lives, but repelled by the horrors of Marxism.

In other words, Marxism is no proper foundation for anyone’s human rights. Marxism by definition does not recognize indefeasible human rights. Quite the opposite, in theory and practice.

PolitiFact has tried to defend Black Lives Matter against the charge of being a Marxist organization: “…the movement has grown and broadened dramatically. Many Americans, few of whom would identify as Marxists, support Black Lives Matter, drawn to its message of anti-racism.”5 Indeed, these many Americans are drawn to BLM’s message of anti-racism, but not to the organization’s “guiding ideology.” According to this ideology, these well-intentioned supporters do not count as intrinsically valuable human beings but only as instrumentally valuable “useful idiots.” Again, two of the founders are “super-versed” in Marxist ideology, presumably including the corollary tactics of manipulation and indoctrination.

By building itself upon a Marxist foundation, Black Lives Matter has formed a self-refuting and self-defeating program, which at the same time undermines and distracts from the moral fact that black lives matter.6


 

1 For a discussion of the pre-political foundations of a free state, see The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion, by Jurgen Habermas and Joseph Ratzinger, Ignatius Press; First edition January 10, 2007.

2 Yaron Steinbuch, “Black lives matter co-founder describes herself as ‘trained Marxist,’ New York Post, June 25, 2020. https://nypost.com/2020/06/25/blm-co-founder-describes-herself-as-trained-marxist/; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgEUbSzOTZ8

3 Ian Schwartz, Black Lives Matter Leader: “We Will Burn Down This System” If Country Doesn’t Give Us What We Want, Real Clear Politics, June 25, 2020. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2020/06/25/black_lives_matter_leader_we_will_burn_down_this_system_if_country_doesnt_give_us_what_we_want.html

4 “What We Believe,” Black Lives Matter website: https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-we-believe/

5 Tom Kertscher, “Is Black Lives Matter a Marxist Movement?” PolitiFact, July 21, 2020. https://www.politifact.com/article/2020/jul/21/black-lives-matter-marxist-movement/

6 For more on how Marxism undermines the foundation for human equality, see Carlo Lancellotti, “Augusto Del Noche on Marx’s Abolition of Human Nature,” Communio International Catholic Review, Fall-Winter 2019.


Image: Fibonacci Blue, Public Domain

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James Druley

James Druley teaches philosophy at Madera Community College.

2 thoughts on “Understanding “Black Lives Matter”

  1. A beautifully written article providing succinct and effective clarity in times fraught with ambiguity, confusion, and manipulative misdirection. This needs to go viral. Our country is at a cross-roads and too many people are not examining the inconsistencies within their own belief systems.

  2. The good news is that black and non-black people of conscience strongly affirm that black lives matter, want to better appreciate the history of black people in America, and want to fulfill the promise of dignity and equality for all human beings, especially in the case of black lives.

    I wouldn’t agree with especially. Just as much in the case of black lives as for all other human lives. I think this point is causing a lot of the ongoing hostility. The demonstrations are demanding a special status. That’s also what so-called anti-racism is about. And many of us decline. We insist, and will not back down, that the right formulation is simply “all lives matter”.

    Then there’s the point the article makes well, that BLM is a front for a lot of bad actors and subversives. This is certainly also true, and a somewhat distinct issue. But to deny BLM is not in any way to deny the value of black or any other lives.

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