Image Credit: above: Summer 1957 cover of Dissent magazine in which Norman Mailer’s essay The White Negro initially appeared
Society & Culture

The Real White Negro

Those who think that James Comey, John Brennan, and Hillary Clinton are the first East Coast liberals to try to take down the United States have not been following the news—or at least, the old news. Columbia professors Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven argued in 1966 that the “weight of the poor,” that is, the weaponized suffering of the destitute, could and should be used to collapse awful capitalist America and usher in a socialist utopia.

But by the ’60s such revolution talk had become so cliched that even Susan Sontag had gotten in on the act. The real East Coast plan to get revenge on God-fearing flyover country ramped up more than a decade before the army of drug-addled Visigoths went to receive their catechism on a farm in upstate New York.

There were the Beats, yes. But people who spend their time doing zazen on train tracks or aiming orgone boxes at their genitalia are unlikely to be able to lead a real revolution against a superpower. For that, you need someone not clueless, but angry. Someone consumed with rage and ready to blow the entire North American continent to smithereens. There were many wannabe Lucifers in mid-century America, from Saul Alinsky to Herbert Marcuse, but nobody combined sulfur with venom, hate with dead-on aim, the way Norman Mailer did. East Coast revolutionary to the core, Mailer—who once nearly throttled both Gore Vidal and New Yorker...

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