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hard-knock-radioLUMPENPROLETARIAT—On 13 APR 2015, Hard Knock Radio’s Davey D (Pacifica Radio, KPFA, 94.1 FM, Berkeley, CA) [1] broadcast an interview with activist and author Kevin Powell (b. 1966) to discuss the current state of police terrorism in the USA.  Powell likened modern day state executions of unarmed civilians, particularly black males, to a modern-day form of lynchings.

Older folks, such as myself, may recall Kevin Powell from MTV’s original reality TV show, The Real World in the early 1990s.  Powell may not be the most revolutionary cat in the struggle.  But he is in the struggle.  And Powell seems to be a sincere advocate against police terrorism, racism, and poverty.

We know any of our peers, who have read more radical literature, books, and journals, with a stronger grasp of social, economic, and critical theory, may be disappointed with much of our analysis at Lumpenproletariat, just as we may be disappointed with some of Kevin Powell’s analysis.  But it is incumbent upon the more enlightened to help enlighten those of us still in the dark by also speaking our language from time to time in order to build bridges across divisions of intellectual capacity and help us develop more ample rhetorical and conceptual tools because, surely, the working classes and the lumpenproletariat are not expected to all go out and get graduate degrees before we can be meaningfully included in sociopolitical discourse about our own lives.  Surely, academics, with the most intellectual training and potential for wisdom, can communicate with activists on the street who may have less education, but just as much heart to fight for socioeconomic justice.

We encourage academics to come out of their insular echo chambers up in the stratospheric heights of graduate-level dialectic and speak to the people, to the working classes, and, especially, to the lumpenproletariat.  This is what makes Dr. Richard Wolff (b. 1942) so cool, despite the apparently valid epistemological complaints levelled at his theories.  We must parse the best from all angles and sources.  In that spirit, we welcome all critical, but mindful, critique.

Ultimately, Kevin Powell, in conversation with Davey D, largely echoes the words [2] of Tupac Shakur (1971—1996), possibly, the kinds, which ultimately led to Tupac’s murder (or political assassination):

“I mean I think this country was built on gangs.  This country is still run on gangsRepublicans, Democrats, the police department, the FBI, the CIA, those are gangs.  You know what I mean?  The correctional officers.  I had a correctional officer tell me, straight up:  We’re the biggest gang in New York State.  Straight up.  You know w’ I mean?  This whole country is built on gangs.  We just have to not be so self-destructive about itOrganise.  You know?”

Listen to the interview here. [3]  Lumpenproletariat will transcribe and archive this radio broadcast here, as time and resources allow.



[1] Hard Knock Radio is not only broadcast nationally, across Pacifica Radio’s national network of five listener-sponsored free speech radio stations.  HKR is also syndicated across many other community radio, listener-sponsored station across the nation.  Davey D has been an influential fixture in the SF Bay Area since, at least, the 1980s—to the best of your author’s recollection from personal historical memory.

[2] Taken from a sample used in the unidentified song played at the end of the broadcast about “black and brown people” facing lynchings with a hook singing “fire in the sky…”

[3]  Due to copyright limitations associated with musical selections incorporated into the Hard Knock Radio broadcasts (and, apparently, due to the lack of volunteers to re-edit, sans music, broadcast archives), audio streams are taken down two weeks after the broadcast date.