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W. E. B. Du Bois

someloser
Posts: 1,377
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5/6/2016 6:16:31 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
Recently bought most of his works (not including Black Reconstruction, unfortunately, which I will get later), was curious as to what DDO thinks of him and his work
Ego sum qui sum. Deus lo vult.

"America is ungovernable; those who served the revolution have plowed the sea." - Simon Bolivar

"A healthy nation is as unconscious of its nationality as a healthy man of his bones. But if you break a nation's nationality it will think of nothing else but getting it set again." - George Bernard Shaw
YYW
Posts: 36,364
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5/7/2016 2:58:33 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/6/2016 6:16:31 PM, someloser wrote:
Recently bought most of his works (not including Black Reconstruction, unfortunately, which I will get later), was curious as to what DDO thinks of him and his work

Du Bois is generally taught from the perspective of his opposition to Booker T. Washington, in his opposition to the Atlanta Compromise. Washington wanted southern blacks to have a chance to create economic value for themselves, whereas Du Bois was interested in education and civil rights.

Du Bois wrote a book/treatise called "The Souls of Black Folk," in which the theme of double consciousness and the tension between being both self consciously black and self consciously American. This, and other things he wrote/did while at the various colleges he worked at sort of laid the foundation for the sociological study of race in America. Also, Du Boise was involved with founding the NAACP, and held a research position there.

Things got controversial when he became a socialist, breaking from his historical alliance with the Republican party. He thought that socialism could better relieve racial inequality than capitalism could. He later became involved in a group of American communists. This caused him a lot of political problems, predictably, but he had developed a taste for Marx and Lenin so it was too late. Du Bois was heavily implicated in the McCarthy era, due to his political inclinations, and he was under surveillance by the FBI.

He was also very eccentric... he insisted on being referred to as Dr. Du Bois, he dressed like a 19th century Englishman and carried a walking stick.

What do I think of him?

He was a historically significant figure with respect to the civil rights movement (and the factors which precipitated it), the history of American socialism and communism, and American intellectual history, and, in particular, social science.

What I like about him was the fact that he was extremely class conscious, and he also didn't get caught up in the total nonsense of the McCarthy era. I like the fact that, despite his disagreements with Washington, he went on later in life to understand the connection between economics and social status.

What I don't like about him is how the most important stuff he did (political mobilization through the NAACP), and the purposes behind that (i.e. his class consciousness, and racial consciousness) tend to be only portrayed from the racial perspective and less the class perspective.

Granted... I have not read a whole lot of what he's written. It's sort of amazing for me to say that I know more about what European wannabe intellectuals (read: the Frankfurt School) have said than what he ever did, though I do have some familiarity with him from college.
Tsar of DDO