Though it is little more than a year since Soul on Ice was published, Eldridge Cleaver has been assimilated so rapidly by popularizers and professional reviewers that it is almost impossible to grasp the book in its original meaning. By emphasizing certain passages one can make him out a spokesman for fascism, Communism, or egalitarian democracy, a skilled psychoanalyst of black identity, a party propagandist, or a harsh critic of American civilization. Cleaver excites every possible emotion from love to hate. For the conservative he may be anathema, but he also represents more attractively black economy, decentralized schools, and local autonomy vis-à-vis the federal bureaucracy. For a wing of the New Left Cleaver is the armed revolutionary who will level the capitalist structure.
Cleaver himself must be held accountable for much of this misunderstanding. He writes an inspired and wild prose that tends to subvert rational judgment. His short declarative sentences forge a f...
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