Review: James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Here’s my review of James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time:

Accurate Description but Need to Move to the Internet

Baldwin describes the experiences of blacks in the only nation conceived in liberty. It’s a history “of rope, fire, torture, castration, infanticide, rape; death and humiliation; fear by day and night, fear as deep as the marrow of the bone”. Much of the same sort continues today: police killings, mass incarceration, discrimination that ensures unemployment, poverty, and stimulates criminal behavior and, also continuing, a host of other brutalities and injustices. It’s no wonder blacks won’t cooperate with police, riot when their leaders are murdered and why, after all these years, many remain in slums/ghettos, now nicer-named, “communities”. “[W]hite people”, Baldwin writes with an understanding of the power of socialization, are “slightly mad victims of their own brainwashing” and are mostly to blame.

Although Baldwin’s description of the situation of African-Americans is accurate, as is his identification of the root cause of their miseries and life-destructions, his advocacy of love and his positive spin on suffering (“people who cannot suffer can never grow up, can never discover who they are”) should be supplanted with the development of open Internet networks that focus on problem-solving.  Approximations of problem-solving open Internet networks include Wikipedia,, Stockholm’s Stokab, and the US Patent Office’s Peer-to-Patent experiment described in Wiki Government.  You gotta move–to the Internet!

About georgebeam

George Beam is an educator and author. The perspectives that inform his interpretations of the topics of this blog–-as well as his other writings and university courses -–are system analysis, behaviorism, and Internet effects. Specific interests include quality management, methodology, and politics. He is Associate Professor Emeritus, Department of Public Administration; Affiliated Faculty, Department of Political Science; and, previously, Head, Department of Public Administration, University of Illinois at Chicago
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