The Communist Manifesto begins with the words, ‘A spectre is haunting Europe – a
spectre of Communism’. Maybe with the death of the father of Black Theology one
could argue that a spectre of Black Theology is haunting the globe. A Spirit of Black
Theology is haunting the globe and particularly South Africa, and this spirit is seeking
to become manifest, in other words, seeking to be made manifest by finding an embodiment.
Theologies in the South have inherited this spirit, the spirit of James Cone,
and with this inheritance comes a responsibility. In this article I will seek to respond
to this spirit, but in the light of another of Marx’s texts, The Eighteenth Brumaire,
where he argues that the new social revolution, which would maybe be an appropriate
response to Cone’s spirit, is a revolution that takes its poetics from the future.
“The social revolution cannot draw its poetry from the past, but only from the future.
It cannot begin with itself before it has stripped itself of all its superstitions concerning
the past. Earlier revolutions relied on memories out of world history in order to
drug themselves against their own content. In order to find their own content, the revolutions
of the 19th century have to let the dead bury the dead. Before, the expression
exceeded the content; now the content exceeds the expression” (Karl Marx, The
Eighteenth Brumaire). The content, the cry, exceeds the expression. Between these two texts of Karl Marx (and Engels), I will specifically be reading Cone’s expropriation
of the cry of black pain, and how this cry calls for a response (expression) in the
contemporary context of mass migration, fundamentalism and a shifting world order
from a mono-polar world to perhaps multi-polar globe, whilst heeding Marx’s words
that the content exceeds the expression.