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The CLR James Journal

Volume 23, Issue 1/2, Fall 2017

Michael Neocosmos
Pages 13-42
DOI: 10.5840/clrjames2017121349

The Dialectic of Emancipatory Politics and African Subjective Potentiality

All politics (i.e., a collective organised thought-practice), if it is to be emancipatory, must exhibit a dialectic of expressive and excessive thought. The absence of the dialectic implies the absence of a politics. The same point can be made by stressing that, in emancipatory politics, thought and practice are indistinguishable. The dialectic here concerns an emancipatory politics latent in excluded popular African traditions. Such latency means that a potentiality for dialectical thought often already exists within African traditions. Yet it can only be activated in struggle. I show through three examples separated by long periods of time, that Africans—or more accurately some Africans—have successfully activated existing potentials into emancipatory politics by thinking against and beyond the oppressive particularities of interests, place and identity embedded in dominant cultures (such as those typical of civil society today) and have thus emphasised the centrality of universal humanity in the politics of emancipation.