“The pipes of civilization are backing up.”

A copy of the Spring 1968 issue of Partisan Review, lying on a table in the Detroit sun in March 2012. Essays by Susan Sontag, Ivanhoe Donaldson, Norman Mailer, Abbie Hoffman, and others. In the section devoted to Black Power, Fred Powledge wrote:

There are a couple of very good reasons why decent whites should not excuse themselves from the black power movement. Riots, of course, are one reason. If the white liberals retire for the duration, the confrontations between angry Negroes and racists whites are going to be carried out on a nondiscriminatory basis. And the white liberals are going to suffer as much as any other group of whites.

And Donaldson:

Intellectuals, liberals reformers need to raise more basic questions as to whether a bipartisan hierarchical system is still adequate to meet the day-to-day problems of people in the inner city. The way to stop the burnings of the inner city isn’t to devise plans to stop it, but to develop and reorganize the economic institutions which are the fundamental causes of the major problems of domestic America.

And Mailer:

For there is no need to assume that the black man will prove morally superior to the white man. Schooled in treachery, steeped in centuries of white bile, there are avalanches and cataracts of violence, destruction, inchoate rage and promiscuous waste to be encountered–there is well a question whether he can build his own society at all, so perverse are the conduits of his crossed emotions by now. But the irony is that the White would do well to hope the Black can build a world, for those well-ordered epochs of capitalism which flushed the white wastes down into the black heart are gone–the pipes of civilization are backing up.

About Nicholas

Writer. Professor.
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