Date: Mon, 7 Sep 98 22:37:32 CDT
From: David Silver <>
Subject: Thoughts on the Harlem Million Youth March
Article: 42714
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
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Some initial thoughts on the just concluded Million Youth March in Harlem

By Dave Silver, 5 September 1998

Marxists and Communists have always maintained that the effectiveness of any Resistance movement such as that for Black Liberation in the belly of imperialist USA, is dependent on sound organization as well as the consciousness that informs it.

Lenin, in updating Marx’s famous slogan to Workers and Oppressed Peoples Unite projected the dialectical link between class and race. This link between class exploitation and racial oppression is that while the elimination of the former provides the material basis for abolishing institutionalized racism, the struggle to eliminate the latter is a precondition for working class emancipation. It should therefore not surprise us that to thwart this struggle the mayor created the climate for a racist siege mentality that required a massive police presence on foot, horseback and motorcycles, the shutting of a subway line, metal barricades, blocked streets and a helicopter flying just above rooftops. This led to a planned provocation and police riot at the very end of an otherwise peaceful and disciplined rally.

In viewing the Million Youth March (M.Y.M.) we must avoid treating the question of class problems as racial ones. At the same time the question of African-American liberation is not only a special question but it also assumes a centrality to the class struggle and for democracy generally. This is so because of super exploitation of Black workers as well as the daily and outrageous indignities on the part of a racist culture. The plight of Black youth whom the rulers demonize, oppress and exploit on a daily basis is dire with up to 40% unemployment. Communists should defend the M.Y.M. and express its solidarity while at the same time we have an internationalist duty to be critical where we think it has severe limitations and errors. As a white anti-imperialist I recognize and appreciate the importance of Black comrades who have already provided a Leninist analysis. That analysis, while expressing solidarity with the broad goals of the MYM particularly on police brutality, political prisoners and education, has also criticized its reactionary nationalist aspects such as anti-white, anti-Jewish, patriarchical and homophobic pronouncements by a few leaders. As some comrades have correctly pointed out that the political perspective of some of the organizers is similar to the fundamentalist and reactionary nationalist movements we witness in the Middle East and Asia.

As Marxists and people advocating revolutionary change we must guard against the vicious, pseudo liberal, racist and anti-communist poison such as the Anti-Defamation League s president who equated the March with that of a Klan rally. For us the main contradiction is still that of the imperialist national security state and socialism, however decimated. Therefore we must stand against the racist bourgeoisie at home while raising consciousness of those engaged in struggle. The MYM, does represent an attempt to mobilize Black youth in the struggle against racism and national oppression, and would have been immeasurably strengthened by a strong Latino participation and leadership.

For while racism is crucial to the U.S. ruling class, it is also its Achilles Heel—its weakest point. All progressive whites must strengthen their anti-racist work among white people which contributes to weakening the global corporate enemy;