Malcolm X and The End of Black Begging

Just a complete repost from the LewRockwell article Malcolm X on Property, Integration, and Economic Independence by José Niño

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With another Martin Luther King Day come and gone, we were reminded that the views of King are regarded as the model for the “civil rights movement.”

Some of this is merited, of course. King stood up to governments that used state force, via Jim Crow laws to mandate segregation and violate property rights.

Unfortunately, not all of King’s views on property and economic independence were equally enlightened.

For a start, King was no friend of markets. In 33 Question About American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask, Tom Woods uncovered a speech King gave to his staff revealing his disapproval:

You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars…. [W]e are treading in difficult waters, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong… with capitalism. There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.

But King wasn’t working alone in the civil rights movement. While far less remembered and honored today, Malcolm X provided a far different and more radical view of how to achieve more independence and prosperity for historically disadvantaged groups.

Choosing Markets Over Forced Integration

Libertarian rapper Eric July produced an excellent video explaining Malcolm X’s philosophy when contrasted to MLK’s vision of forced integration. Malcolm X recognized the power of capitalism, and saw it as a means of advancing the community.

July highlights an interview with Eleanor Fischer in which Malcolm X called forced integration hypocritical and understood the flaws of its involuntary nature:

Well, any form of integration, forced integration, any effort to force integration upon whites is actually hypocritical. It is a form of hypocrisy involved. If a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that’s brotherhood. But if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that’s not brotherhood, that’s hypocrisy. And what America is trying to do is pass laws to force whites to pretend that they want Negroes into their schools or in their places of employment. Well, this is hypocrisy, and this makes a worse relationship between black and white, rather than if this could be brought about on a voluntary basis.

He then expanded on the flaws of MLK’s forced integration strategy when the topic of the Montgomery Bus Boycott came up:

I don’t think having an opportunity to ride either at the front or the back or the middle of someone else’s bus does not dignify you. When you have your own bus, then you have dignity. When you have your own school, you have dignity. When you have own your own country, you have dignity. When you have something of your own, you have dignity.

But whenever you are begging for a chance to participate in that which belongs to someone else, or use that which belongs to someone else, on an equal basis with the owner, that’s not dignity, that’s ignorance.

Malcolm X also critiqued the sit-in strategies civil rights activists employed and insisted that blacks build their own economic institutions instead:

Instead of the negro leaders having the black man begging for a chance to dine in white restaurants, the negro leaders should be showing the black man to do something to strengthen his own economy, to give himself an independent economy, or to provide job opportunities for himself. Not begging for a cup of coffee in a white man’s restaurant.

In sum, Malcolm X was not interested in forced integration and focused his energies toward black economic self-sufficiency. It did not matter to him if blacks had to live separately from whites, as long as each community did not infringe on the rights of others.

He drew examples from the Japanese and Chinese communities in the U.S. to drive this point home:

When you are equal with another person, the problem of integration doesn’t even arise. It doesn’t come up. The Chinese in this country aren’t asking for integration. The Japanese aren’t asking for integration. The only minority in America that’s asking for integration is the so-called Negro, primarily because he is inferior, not inherently inferior, but he’s economically, socially, politically inferior. And this exists because he has never tried to stand on his own two feet and do something for himself. He has filled the role of a beggar.

For these reasons, among others, Murray Rothbard praised Malcolm X describing him as a “great black leader” and acknowledged that Malcolm X’s black nationalism was “a lot more libertarian than the compulsory integration pushed by King, the NAACP, and white liberals.”

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Malcolm X was a black nationalist with some good ideas, and some demonic theology. But that’s how it is when Christians refuse to step up to the plate.

From Gary North, What I Learned from Malcolm X in 1962

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I remember very clearly his misuse of the Bible. He was speaking in front of a white audience. He may have thought that most of them had been influenced by either Christianity or Judaism. So, he quoted the section of Exodus 20 that presents the Ten Commandments.

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me (vv. 4-5).

He used this passage in an attempt to prove that the sins of white Americans against blacks would never end by means of repentance by whites. Immediately, I spotted what he was doing. He was justifying the fact that the Nation of Islam, better known as the Black Muslims, was unwilling to seek any kind of reconciliation with whites. Why should they? After all, whites could not repent. The sins of the fathers would carry down through the generations. This was basic NOI doctrine. I knew this because I had read C. Eric Lincoln’s book on the NOI, The Black Muslims in America (1961).

I suspected, then as now, that Malcolm really believed this in 1962. Officially, Muslims accept the truth of the Bible. That was also true of Black Muslims. They just didn’t understand the Bible. They shared this in common with at least 98% of the students listening to Malcolm at UCLA.

I was not taken in by his logic, meaning his “theologic.” First, the text does not say that specific sins are inevitable, generation by generation. It does imply that God will visit — impose negative sanctions on — sinners down through the generations if they persist in their sins. Second, he left out the crucial passage on this judicial issue in the Old Testament: “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin” (Deut. 24:16). From a biblical standpoint, this verse completely undermined his position on inter-generational white guilt.

Malcolm was a master of rhetoric. When he made his case for black separation, he demonized the whites. This was basic to the Nation of Islam. The Nation of Islam had what direct response marketers call a USP: a unique selling proposition. The NOI’s USP was simple: blacks are inherently good, while whites are inherently evil. Whites were created by selective breeding by a black scientist, Yacub, about 6,600 years ago.

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Ah yes, selective depravity.

The kind of talk Fascists, Communists, and all the other Collectivists like to get going to prepare the ground for the massacres, concentration camps, and gulags they have planned for you, for me, and for all nonconformists.

But Malcolm X Was a black man speaking for a poor minority, without access to the tools of state. And Black America wasn’t interested in indulging a full-on race war which would only have one possible end point.

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I had already seen Malcolm in action on local television. I saw him on the weekly late-night local TV show hosted by Tom Duggan. I wrote this in 2011.

Duggan invited crackpots and weirdos onto his weekly show. It was a Saturday night late show watched by very few college students. I was a devoted fan. Malcolm came on. It was the lamb going to the slaughter. He never knew what hit him. He was sharper than Duggan, but Duggan was not about to be guilt-manipulated. I shall never forget Duggan’s parting shot. “Malcolm, my great grandfather fought for the Union to free the slaves. You are an ungrateful man.” Then he cut to a commercial. Malcolm was gone after the commercial, or might as well have been. Playing the race card with Duggan, a retired Marine who had served in the South Pacific in World War II, and who got his start on the radio by challenging a Chicago mobster, was not going to work. That completely undermined Malcolm’s “make the white guy crawl” routine.

Duggan was not relying on logic. He was using rhetoric. His rhetoric was a lot better than Malcolm’s was.


He was courageous. He spoke his mind eloquently. That cost him his life. On February 21, 1965, eleven months after he had publicly broken with the man he had called “the Honorable Elijah Muhammad,” three members of the NOI gunned him down in a public meeting. That silenced his rhetoric.


What I learned from Malcolm X was this: when you’re building a movement, rhetoric is a lot more effective than logic. This is well understood by direct response marketers: people buy things based far more on emotion than logic. The strategy of a direct response marketer is to appeal to the emotions, and then provide logic — almost any logic will do — to justify the purchase.

On those occasions when I have been sorely tempted to use emotion rather than logic in writing ad copy, I have been restrained by my memory of Malcolm X. I don’t want to wind up as he did.

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Christian Reconstruction is a bookish movement, with a heavy, strong grip on logic.

Bojidar Marinov has put in some strong rhetoric into the mix, but on behalf of the poor and the disadvantaged, instead of a drive for power.

Perhaps we can use even more emotional leaders, so long as politics remains fourth in priority, and the weaker segments of society are protected, and promoted promoted.

And WITHOUT any emotional appeals on behalf of leaders or churches or denominations or political parties, or any other mass-mind no-think powergrab movement.

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