A Work of Negation: A Critical Review of Manning Marable’s, “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention”

The revolutionary Malcolm X never stopped fighting for Black Liberation

Malcolm X

by Kali Akuno

Thursday, May 19, 2011 

Manning Marable’s, “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention”, must be seen for what it is, an ideological polemic. The general focus of this polemic is Black Nationalism, and Black revolutionary nationalism in particular. Manning’s critical focus and fixation on Malcolm X as the quintessential point of reference for Black Nationalists since his cold blooded assassination in 1965, is a means to socially advance a line of reasoning against this broad political philosophy and social movement by turning its iconic figurehead on his head. The objective of this inversion is to prove, in 594 pages no less, that those who adhere to and seek to advance some variant of a Black nationalist program not only have it all wrong, but in fact are distorting what Malcolm himself stood for at the end of his days.

As Manning would have it, at the time of his assassination, Malcolm X had all but abandoned Black nationalism, and had instead become a pragmatic, liberal humanist, with social democratic political leanings. As several critics have already pointed out, this character bears a striking resemblance to Manning himself. Paraphrasing Patrick Moyniham, although Manning is unquestionably entitled to his own opinion, he is not entitled to his own facts. And the fact stands that the document that most clearly reflects Malcolm’s political philosophy and programmatic orientation at the time of his death was the Program of the Organization of Afro-American Unity. This program is without question a revolutionary nationalist program. The OAAU’s program is modeled on the anti-imperialist program of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) advanced by the Casablanca block of the Union in the early 1960’s. Continue reading

On Manning Marable’s “Ivory Tower Assassination of Malcolm X…”

April 20, 2011 by Kamau Franklin

(ThyBlackMan.com)

Although much of the negative reaction to the late Manning Marable’s new bio of Malcolm X revolves around the book’s rehashed allegations of Malcolm’s homosexuality, the recasting of the slain leader’s core political beliefs is more disturbing. “Marable’s backers say he wants to ‘humanize’ Malcolm” – as if the “Black Panther of a Man” is not human enough. In Marable’s telling of the story, Malcolm is finally reduced to merely another “anti-racist social justice soldier” – a character with a striking political resemblance to the biographer.

“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” – Malcolm X

Marable’s unsubstantiated claims are actually meant to create controversy in order to sell books.”

I am pleased that Karl Evens and Zak Kondo, two biographers of Malcolm X, are speaking up and offering accurate critiques of Manning Marable’s new  twisted biography of Malcolm X. They are defending Malcolm’s legacy, as Karl Evens put it, as “a Black Panther of a Man.” Manning’s book is a second assassination along the lines of Bruce Perry’s previous hatchet job and George Breitman’s attempt to move Malcolm from his ideological positions. In Marable’s bio we get a two for one attempt to move Malcolm from being a powerful black nationalist into a more academy friendly anti-racist social justice activist. Dangerous to no one but perfect for a liberal left academic establishment. Continue reading

Dragging Malcolm X to Obamaland

[From Black Agenda Report, a very critical review of Manning Marable’s social-reformist distortion of the life of Malcolm X.  Glen Ford begins the struggle to return the weapon of history to the hands of those who struggle for an end to national oppression, capitalist exploitation, and imperialism.  — Frontlines ed.]

April 27, 2011

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
http://www.blackagendareport.com/print/content/dragging-malcolm-x-obamaland

Malcolm X's revolutionary spirit, thinking, and teachings continue to inspire and educate new generations, despite the efforts of social reformists like Manning Marable to turn Malcolm into a useless icon and tool for the renunciation of revolution

Manning Marable’s rendition of Malcolm X’s life should be read very carefully, so as not to confuse Malcolm’s evolving worldview with the late Columbia University professor’s left-reformist politics. “Marable tries to convince us that Malcolm must have contemplated a reformist political path in his mind, if not in practice.” The author’s mission is to discredit revolutionary Black nationalism as outdated and primitive. Black Democratic Party activism and support for President Obama are hyped as the new Black Power.

Dragging Malcolm X to Obamaland

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Marable grows so bold in pushing his back-to-the-future reformist fantasies, by page 333 he describes a Malcolm X who has become ‘race-neutral.’”

In packaging the life of Malcolm X for a wide audience, the late Dr. Manning Marable has presented us with an opportunity to reignite the debate over the meaning of Black self-determination, a discussion-through-struggle that effectively ended when the Black Freedom Movement became no longer worthy of the name. Unfortunately, it appears this was not Dr. Marable’s intention, since Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention is largely an attempt to render useless the vocabulary of Black struggle. Essential terms such as “self-determination,” “Black nationalism,” “revolutionary” and “empowerment” lose their meaning, abused and misused in order to portray the great Black nationalist leader as inexorably evolving into a “race-neutral” reformer on the road to Obamaland. Continue reading