Oh, I think he definitely wrote for white liberals, as in...I don't even see how one could deny it. They were the near sole audience for capital L literature at the time. And that's fine. I just think the whole 'struggle session with the whites, one-on-one' was of limited value in the 1960s -- the labor movement's partnership with the Civil Rights movement was infinitely more effective -- and today is just a way for elite whites to self-flagellate in order to cleanse themselves of the sin of being on top in an altogether far, far more materially unequal America -- but one in which antiracism is now a totally hegemonic value, supported both by the federal government and Fortune 500, with an elite stratum that's unimaginably less white and male than in Baldwin's day. I mean, that this is a thing today says a lot about our times.MitchPerrywinkle wrote: ↑Thu Feb 02, 2023 9:47 pmDixon charges Baldwin with that very sentiment ford is expressing, and he dismisses that with a graceful answer which I happen to believe whole-heartedly. Just because white liberals read his books didn't mean he wrote for them, and he certainly wasn't under the assumption that they'd get the full scope of what he was attempting to communicate with his writing.
The question remains: why is inequality even worse? Why is the state of the bottom third of black America as bad as it was before? I don't think Baldwin, who was hardly any kind of Marxian economist, can do much to answer these questions. He was a literary figure. And while we can find truth from literary figures (even ugly truths, as in Dostoevsky), we cannot find a blueprint. The section in Peck's Baldwin doc where he talks about Hollywood and media depictions of black men, in which it splices in historical examples, is frankly just totally alien to what anyone can see when they turn on the TV or watch a movie today. The shift has been enormous and I don't see any use in denying it unless one wants to, for whatever reason, obscure the progress.
I'd argue the answers to those aforementioned questions has almost nothing to do with racist sentiments in human beings and infinitely more to do with the political economy of American postwar capitalism -- the sudden collapse of sharecropping combined with offshoring, automation, a global assault on the trade union movement (who didn't get nearly as far here as it did elsewhere in the west) and a new commitment to free trade that enriched the rich, did well for the upper middle class, tore the middle class in two, dealt a body-blow to the working class and essentially murdered the already impoverished.