The Dialectic Political Philosophy of W.E.B. Du Bois: Nationalism, Liberalism, Pan-Africanism and Socialism
Brian P. Sales
Robert L. Harris, Jr.
Thesis DT 3.5 1993 S163
xii, 117 leaves; 29 cm.
The purpose of this thesis is to elevate the dialectic concept as the predominant mode of inquiry resonant in the political philosophy of W.E. B. Du Bois. I argue that Du Bois' political philosophy synthesized nationalist and liberalist tendencies to produce an ideological pluralist vision. Moreover, the dialectic model can be further seen in Du Bois' Pan-Africanist and socialist tendencies throughout his intellectual career. The historiography surrounding Du Boisian political thought can be characterized as: 1) the paradox school and 2) the continuity school. On the evaluative level, the paradox argument, headed by August Meier, maintains Du Bois' ideological positions were often ambivalent, contradictory and lacked consistency.
The continuity school, led by Manning Marable, refutes the paradox's contention regarding Du Bois's preceived ideological positions. It maintains that Du Bois' political thought was not inconsistent, but continuous, evolutionary and logical. It is in this school of scholarly opinion that the dialectical argument is anchored. Obviously the dialectical position is not a complete departure from the continuity school but elevates the concept of dialectics as the predominant mode of inquiry with which to analyze Du Bois' philosophical bent. Dialectic can best be understood as a synthesis of two seemingly different ideas-Hegel's notion of thesis and antithesis. To understand Du Bois' intellectual career is to recognize the complexity and ideological expansion of his political thought-growth, maturation and evolution are the key words in his ideological autobiography.
This thesis will examine Du Bois' dialectical political philosophy in three major areas: 1) his synthesis of Pan-Africanism and Socialism, 2) the concept of voluntary segregation and 3) his move to radicalism.