The phantom politics of critical race theory

The controversy regarding critical race theory has exposed the fundamental weakness of the American left in the post-civil rights, post-Vietnam War activism era: it gave up on organizing people. Instead the left went for the soft sell of producing theories about oppression but no serious mobilization against it. Beginning from the seventies and onward, the American left had given up organizing people through labor unions, mass-based direct action  groups. The Democratic Party, the “party of the people,” shifted away from working people to college educated professionals, the very people who either teach the theory or promote it via the DEI industry.

However, critical race theory is merely the latest iteration of phantom politics which has characterized the post-civil rights political activities of African Americans. Jesse Jackson’s two presidential campaigns, Al Sharpton’s campaign, Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March franchise, numerous “black agenda” confabs, even Black Lives Matters are examples of phantom politics: none of them truly sought to assert black participation in striving for a share in the distribution of power. Such “politics” play to the emotional appeal of “movement” but never entailed the hard work of actually mobilizing people to contest for power in a democratic society.