Amiri Baraka’s pre-nationalist and nationalist plays such as Dutchman and Experimental Death Unit # 1 largely incorporates scenes of murder and violence. The cadaverous permeates. Baraka’s stage. There is a whole sacrificial system that determines the characters’ ultimate destinies and lives. This mechanism operates not merely to bring death to those who betray the national black liberation cause, but also to castigate those holders of the slave mentality and chastise the assimilationists who hide behind a white mask. This sacrificial mechanism functions as a generator of purification to cleanse the black community from the vestiges of black docility. In the Marxist plays, violence and murder take the form of political assassination. A play such as The Motion of History displays the dynamics of political struggle that conditions the kind of murder or acts of killings. Whereas in the nationalist plays murder is effected for purificatory goals, in the Marxist plays the intersection between political struggle and the official repression of the state determines the shape of physical elimination for political motives. The neutralization of political opponents assumes that murder is simply a means of exclusion from the political arena and restoration of political and social stability. Because agitation is detrimental to social peace and political order, systemic violence takes a bloody dimension and approximates bloodshed. This paper seeks to highlight the prevalence and, in Frantz Fanon’s phrase, the instrumentality of violence as an absolute praxis in Baraka’s dramatic works. Violence marshals then a new equation of asserted subjectivity.
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