Skip to main content

Paul Robeson's birthday went by last month without a single mention on the daily kos website.  A few weeks ago, I discovered the appearance (on youtube) of a strange and wonderful performance that I happened to see in person.  It took place at a small bookstore in Trenton NJ.  

A musical essay and tribute toward the life of Paul Robeson by Harry Jackendoff, with some heavy discussions about what Paul Robeson's life may have meant to the entire progressive movement, and perhaps how some of the same factors that destroyed Paul Robeson continue to harm the progressive movement today.

During the performance (which was produced for Princeton Community Television..Paul Robeson was born in Princeton), we learn a little about the life story of Paul Robeson.   Through some wildly thoughtful songs performed by the 60-year-old Jackendoff, he relates Robeson's life to economics, and politics.

At a climactic point, Jackendoff seems to say that Robeson (and many progressives) fall into the trap of seeking to make the world better, but being forced to defend imperfect solutions to the problems.

Robeson wasn't destroyed because he wasn't strong enough for the fight.  Striking out against bigotry and ignorance, he found himself backed into a corner, backing up communism that he couldn't defend.
Jackendoff continues on to quote psychologist Erich Fromm:
What happened to socialism?  Instead of understanding it as a movement for the liberation of man, many of its adherents and its enemies alike understood it as being exclusively a movement for the economic improvement of the working class.  The humanistic gains of socialism were forgotten or only paid lip-service to (as in capitalism).  All the emphasis was laid on the aims of economic gain.  It succumbed to the spirit of capitalism which is had wanted to replace.  It became the vehicle by which the workers could attain their place within the capitalistic structure rather than transcend it, and instead of changing capitalism, socialism was absorbed by its spirit.
It's a beautiful performance.  The best part are the songs.  So you'll need to watch if you are interested in learning about one man's inspired look at the incredible life of Paul Robeson.

Originally posted to NJNiceGuy on Sun May 13, 2012 at 08:35 AM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Progressive Hippie.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site