Can Catholics Support Black Lives Matter? Part Three: Is BLM Marxist?

Can Catholics Support Black Lives Matter? Part Three: Is BLM Marxist? August 18, 2020

Continued from Part One: Intro to BLM and Part Two: Marxism.

Last time we looked at the three founders of BLM, and weighed the claim that they’re Marxists. The answer was kind of a soft yes?—soft, because “Marxist” is a more malleable term than people tend to think. But still a soft yes.

However, this doesn’t in itself tell us whether BLM as such is Marxist. If a group of Catholics found a hospital, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s a Catholic hospital, though it might be. Christians probably founded most American political parties, but that doesn’t make any of them Christian parties. So what would make BLM, as an organization, Marxist?

The obvious answer is that BLM would be Marxist if it relied on or promoted Marxist thought. Our quick-and-dirty summary from last time was that Marxism says power and money are the main driving forces of history, and capitalism is bad because it exploits the poor to unfairly keep the rich in power. Is that the ideology of BLM?

Well, it certainly isn’t in their “What We Believe” page. They mention “economic status” as a possible source of oppression exactly once, devoting most of their self-articulation to issues of race and violence (as their name suggests). This is not a primarily class-based analysis of society. They spend more time talking about the family than they do talking about economic issues. Insofar as fascism is ethnonationalist and racist, BLM is clearly antifascist; but antifascism is not equivalent to Marxism by any means. Marxists are normally antifascists, but lots of other groups are antifascist as well. Judging from the stated goals of BLM, I’d characterize it as “not Marxist.” Not because it’s anti-Marxist (it isn’t), but because it’s talking about different issues.

Photograph by Joe Cardamone. See for more of his work.

But why would Marxists organize a group that isn’t Marxist? I don’t know, maybe because they’re capable of taking an interest in more than one thing? You can have a problem with both racist violence and exploiting of the poor. In fact, you should! And building a coalition with people who maybe don’t agree with you about everything, but do agree with you about some specific issue, can be an important way of promoting that issue. It’s exactly what the pro-life movement has done. And in the interview quoted in Part Two, Patrisse Khan-Cullors said that they want to build a movement that’s helpful to a lot of Black people, not just the ones who happen to be Marxists.

Of course, maybe this is just a devious ploy to get their Marxist agenda in secretly. But maybe lots of things. Maybe Our Lady of Guadalupe was an ingenious ploy on Satan’s part to get people to worship Mary as a false idol. If you start with the assumption that the person you’re talking to or about is a liar, then everything becomes evidence against them. For myself, unless somebody can offer me concrete evidence that the founders of BLM are liars, I prefer not to make such a nasty assumption about strangers.

Continued in Part Four: ViolencePart Five: Reporting on ViolencePart Six: Is BLM Violent?, Part Seven: Is BLM Anti-Family?Part Eight: Does BLM Support the Gay Agenda?, Part Nine: Does BLM Support Abortion?, and Part Ten: So What?

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