There is only one Cornel West. For years, Professor West has been one of the sharpest minds on the American left, and perhaps our greatest moral critic of capitalism and inequality.
A scholar in the Harvard Divinity School, West began his political life in the tumult of the civil rights movement — becoming a Christian radical and later a socialist who served for years as a chair of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).
Part activist, part political philosopher, West remains a singular voice in the wilderness of American politics and brings an indispensable compassion to the position of public intellectual.
In a recent conversation with Daniel Denvir for his Jacobin podcast, The Dig, West discusses Donald Trump, Black Lives Matter, the Bernie Sanders campaign, and the power that can be generated when regular people are brought together in common cause.
The neoliberal versions of identity politics are exactly what Brother Adolph Reed has taught us for the last thirty years; it’s a form of class politics. And if we don’t understand that, we fall right in the trap of what we underwent with Barack Obama. And we can’t fall in that trap again.
... not every person who voted for Trump is a racist. We have to understand that. He’s got a significant following among the racists. But everyone who voted for him isn’t motivated solely by racism. They’re people looking for an alternative to a rotten neoliberal status quo. That’s why Bernie Sanders was crushed by the neoliberals. Bernie presented an alternative to a rotten neoliberal status quo, and these voters are looking for somewhere else to place their vote.
So when Bernie’s pushed out, then they swing back to Trump. And it’s rooted in this very deep contempt that so many fellow citizens have for neoliberal elite. Not just contempt for politicians — contempt for the neoliberal elites in corporate media, the neoliberal elites in universities, the neoliberal elites in churches and synagogues and mosques. There’s a tremendous contempt for neoliberal elites, because they have been so hypocritical, and self-righteous, and arrogant.