Loren Goldner on the American Radical Indigenous Afro-Anabaptist Tradition
- Article: The fusion of anabaptist, Indian and African as the American radical tradition - Loren Goldner
"Ten years ago, even five years ago, I was highly skeptical about the native American radical tradition, with its clearly religious origins and overtones, to the extent that I even acknowledged its existence. Then, Europe and its apparently solid working-class traditions seemed the rule, and America, where those "immigrant" currents had ultimately had so little lasting impact, the oddity. What compelled me, in the past decade, to invert that viewpoint and to judge the European left from the perspective of the American radical tradition, was hardly a mass upsurge in America. It was the collapse of that European tradition in Europe, as part of a profound crisis of the international left generally, which showed the European movement's true social content--its actual dynamic and accomplishments, not its self-understanding and rhetoric--to have been about issues that were settled in America long ago. Once it seemed clear that the role of the European revolutionary tradition from France to Germany to Russia had in fact been to make Europe more, not less, capitalist, it seemed obvious why this tradition had made little impact in such a totally capitalist society as America. It also seemed clear that the native American radical tradition, originating ultimately in the radical religious currents who "lost" at the very dawn of capitalism, and their meeting with the non-Western peoples--Indian and African--who shaped early American culture as much as white people, might have something very unique to contribute to the current and still completely unresolved crisis of the international revolutionary left, something actually more radical than anything modern Europe has known."
From the Reading Notes of Michel Bauwens:
European social democracy was an alliance between state functionaries and intellectuals with workers and peasants inspired by the Enligthenment. But the US had another pre-Enlightenment tradition: a fusion of the left-wing, anti-Puritan, Radical Reformation, i.e. the anti-baptist movements and migrants; with the Blacks and the Indians, forming a Afro-Anabaptist Tradition.
Why would such a tradition still be relevant today ?
- Because socialism was in fact about completing the bourgeois revolution and industrializing backward countries, while wanting to 'humanize work' in the developed countries.
But the earlier tradition was about emancipation from work! It is about a form of higher activity, beyond the hegemony of work.