LEADERSHIP, LOVE AND AGGRESSION by Allison Davis

LEADERSHIP, LOVE AND AGGRESSION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Psychobiographies of four notable blacks--Frederick Douglass, W. E. B, Du Bois, Richard Wright, Martin Luther King--with a special purpose and pertinence: ""A basic problem of the Negro masses and of Negro leaders is how to transform and direct their anger into reform, in short, how to remedy the social and economic causes of their anger."" Davis, professor emeritus of social anthropology and psychology at the Univ. of Chicago, is given to underlining his points; and, by pieces, his psychological analysis becomes a polemic. On Frederick Douglass: his ""redirection of his ancient anger against white males (his master) into constructively aggressive and self-enhancing behavior,"" signaled by his rejection of John Brown's plan for seizing the Harper's Ferry arsenal, came about because ""he had learned from Sophia and Lucretia that all whites did not hate or exploit blacks; some trusted and loved them."" Thus, he would not have agreed with the ""Black Power extremists"" who rejected Euro-American culture and assimilated blacks; ""he was for integration, amalgamation, and acculturation."" Douglass also stands here, with King, as an ""affiliative,"" or ""reality-oriented,"" leader--as against Du Bois and Wright, who individually and variously failed to resolve their conflicts but did, in venting their anger, make whites ""listen"" (as Davis says of Wright). In each case, there is much personal detail and considerable social analysis--some of it more complex, ambiguous, and suggestive than the overall aggression/compassion, sadistic/masochistic/affiliative scheme.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1983
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich