Reviews | On Charles W. Mills, a great philosopher we lost this week


And in his latest book, “The rights of blacks / the wrongs of whites: The Critique of Racial Liberalism, “Mills offered perspectives on everything from the nature of race -” a social materiality rooted in the relationship between the individual body and the body politic “- to the very project of” ideal theory. Itself, prompting philosophers to engage more in society as it really exists, to witness the details of modern life, and to show how their theorizing relates to the real problems of real people.

What emerges from Mills is that his critique of liberalism did not mean an abandonment or rejection of tradition. Instead, Mills sought to incorporate the ideas of various Western radicalisms – particularly Marxism, feminism, and black radicalism – to forge a liberalism that could live up to its claims to universalism. “In a future work,” he writes at the end of his last book, “I hope to develop in more detail this project of articulation of a radical black liberalism at the same time faithful to the liberal (idealized) tradition, the liberalism which should have been, and respectful of the black diasporic experience in modernity, victims of the liberalism that has really been and is.

I never met Mills, but his work – which I discovered in the early years of my journalistic career – had a profound impact on my worldview and my way of thinking. My understanding of race as a structural concern, my preoccupation with the relationship between race and capitalism, my interest in how race shapes moral psychology – all of this comes from reading Mills, although I did moved away from his work and even came to disagree with some of his conclusions. I always told myself that I would take the time to contact him, and I deeply regret never having the opportunity.

The best way to honor your work, I think, is to read it, engage in it, and take your desire to to disassemble the racial contract and relegate its influence to the past.


My Tuesday column was about the self-defeating behavior of so-called moderate Democrats, who, against all evidence, think they will somehow get away with it unscathed if they derail the president’s agenda. Biden.

Democrats will rise together in next year’s election or they will fall together. The best approach, given the strong relationship between presidential popularity and a party’s midterm performance, is to enshrine Biden’s platform as much as possible in law by any means possible. But that would require a more shameless partisan approach, and this is where the real divide between moderates and progressives emerges. Moderate and centrist Democrats seem to place more importance on a bipartisan process than on a particular political outcome or ideological goal.

My Friday column was about John Eastman’s memo, a written plan to overturn the 2020 election and end U.S. constitutional democracy.

On January 20, Joe Biden became president and Donald Trump fled to Mar-a-Lago to heal his wounds. But the country has not really returned to normal. January 6 closed the door to one era of American politics and opened the door to another, where constitutional democracy itself is at stake.