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Subject: Re: [MLL] CLR James and Black Nationalism from the A-List 2004—unaltered (2)

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Subject: Re: [A-List] Black Nationalism/CLR James and the Big Lie (2)
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Date: Mon, 11 Oct 2004 14:16:46 EDT

Black Nationalism/CLR James and the Big Lie

By Melvin P., 11 October 2004

Black Nationalism 1

The October Revolution bought an end to the old political period of the bourgeois democratic movement and ushered in the era of the workers and peasants being able to fight within the political polarity established by the existence of Soviet Power. This fight was not simply to carry out the bourgeois democratic task but against capital.

How did the October Revolution create a new political polarity, and on this basis fight to recast the subjective or intellectual understanding of the objective logic and movement of classes, class strife and class struggle?

The military victory of the Red Army—the Soviets, established a physical area of earth that stood in economic, social and political antagonism with bourgeois property. In became obvious that the emancipation of the toiling masses and oppressed nationalities was impossible without a break with imperialism, without the overthrown of its “own” national bourgeoisie. Further, it became obvious and eighty years of history has proven that imperialism will not allow a colony to attain an independent existence. One could only gravitate within the Soviet polarity of the bourgeois polarity. Hence, the doomed fate of the so-called “Third World Movement.”

During the past thirty years we have slowly and painfully discovered the truth that economic antagonism involves more than a transition in the form of property. That is to say the fundamental polarity created by the Soviets was political/military and there existed an economic identity—unity as social formations, between Soviet industrial socialism and bourgeois industrial production on the basis of the industrial mode of production.

Today we are unquestionably leaving the era of industrial production and consequently all the social relations and form of economic activity specific to the industrial organization of society are thrown into conflict and crisis, antagonism.

It is this understanding of material changes in the mode of production, that serves as the framework for a modern assessment of the National Factor. Marxist simply do not assess a social movement on the basis of what it thinks of itself or ideology, but rather the class factors that give expression to mode of production.

The period of Lenin and the Leninists approach to first “the National Question”and later “the National-Colonial Question,” means that something changed either in the economic or political sphere or a complex mix of both. It is important to remember Lenin's words and his thinking after the confirmation of the October Revolution, when he is now speaking of the National-Colonial Question and not the National Question as such. Lenin writes:

“we decided that the only correct attitude was to take this distinction into account and, in nearly all cases, substitute the term ânational-revolutionaryâ for the term âbourgeois-democratic.â The significance of this change is that we, as Communists, should and will support bourgeois-liberation movements in the colonies only when they are genuinely revolutionary, and when their exponents do not hinder our work of educating and organizing in a revolutionary spirit the peasantry and the masses of the exploited.”

Lenin does not pose the question “progressive” versus “revolutionary” nationalism. Lenin positions the National-Colonial Question as the ability of the communists to win the masses and leaders to the cause of communism and becoming part of the Soviet polarity.

It is difficult to misunderstand Lenin when he states: “we, as Communists . . . will support bourgeois-liberation movements in the colonies only (ONLY!) when they are genuinely revolutionary, and when their exponents do not hinder our work of educating and organizing in a revolutionary spirit the peasantry and the masses of the exploited.”

Let's examine the article “Black Nationalism.” The author writes:


Lenin's break with the dogmatism of the Second International covers many different questions, but none is more important in some respects than the national question. Without a correct understanding of this question, revolution was not possible in Russia.

For Lenin, the key question is not just how to advance the historical development of the productive forces. This task was part of the larger socialist project, which included the development of a vanguard party that could act as a tribune of the masses in defense of all layers of the oppressed, including minor nationalities.

…As part of the socialist project, the working-class must embrace the demands of all the oppressed, including the minor nationalities…. What distinguishes Lenin from Second International was his placing proletarian revolution in the foreground…. The dialectic of his approach could only guarantee success for bourgeois-democratic tasks since the Russian bourgeoisie was so craven and reactionary.

His position in favor of self-determination of nations put him on a collision course with Second International orthodoxy,…Lenin was a consummate politician and understood that a successful revolution would involve tactical alliances with political formations that were not directly based on the working-class.

The above crystallizes the theoretical error of not just political Trotskyism but within American Marxism as a whole. Lenin's break with the Second International and his famous polemic “The Right of Nations to Self Determination” represent a different political juncture than his presentations to the Third Communist International (1921).

Lenin's approach to the National Question before the October Revolution is formulated one way and after the confirmation of October is formulated as the National-Colonial question.

This political juncture and its meaning has been misunderstood by American communists across the board. Actually, “the working-class (DOES NOT HAVE TO) embrace the demands of all the oppressed, including the minor nationalities,” and this misunderstanding disoriented many of a communist in their approach to the so-called “Third World.” The behavior of the Soviets during the era of the “Third World” complicated matters, but that is not the issue. The theory and political question for communists is and was not “progressive” versus “revolutionary” bourgeois nationalism, but as Lenin states the matter:

“we, as Communists . . . will support bourgeois-liberation movements in the colonies only (ONLY!) when they are genuinely revolutionary, and when their exponents do not hinder our work of educating and organizing in a revolutionary spirit the peasantry and the masses of the exploited.”

Lenin does not try to unravel the National-Colonial Question on the basis of its ideology but its relationship to Soviet Power and the field of operations afforded the real living communists insurgents.

The description of Leninism on the National and Colonial Question in “Black Nationalism” is theoretically incorrect and historically inaccurate because it combines the two different political junctures in Leninism and collapses the second period into the first.

On the level of theory what is not understood in “Black Nationalism” is the theory of the transformation of the National Question into the National-Colonial Question and its _expression_ as “From the Bourgeois Democratic National Movement to the National Liberation Movement.”

Nelson's Peery's 1972 “Negro National Colonial Question” is accurate when it titles Chapter 3, “From the Negro Bourgeois Democratic National Movement to the Negro People's National Liberation Movement,” because it conforms fully to political Leninism and the doctrine basis—practical politics, of the Third Communist International.

Actually the subtitle of this section of “Black Nationalism” is non-Leninists: “MARXISM-LENINISM AND THE NATIONAL QUESTION.” The correct presentation should be either “Marxism and the National Question” or “Marxism and Leninism and the National-Colonial Question.”

The issue is not words but justifying ones theoretical propositions. Nothing in Marx approach can justify confusing the National Question with the National-Colonial Question. The baseline theory conflict and disagreement has nothing to do with a definition of a nation. The disagreement is over the essence and revolutionary heart of political Leninism.

The American Communists have in history posed “the Negro Question,” “The Negro National-Colonial Question” and “African American Liberation and Social revolution,” incorrectly from the standpoint of Marxist theory and political Leninism, while ignoring elementary American history.

Until one understands the fundamental distinction between what is called the “National Question” before the October Revolution and during the First Imperial World War and the “National-Colonial Question” after the confirmation of the October Revolution, we cannot make heads or tails of what Lenin is talking about.

The question of all African American Unity, the definition of “Black Nationalism,” cause an immense amount of tension. This call comes from the white political left, no matter what their professed Marxism, and the black bourgeoisie. This call from the white political left that claims Marxism and Leninism does not have its source in “whiteness” or being white but in a fundamentally wrong assessment of the social struggle and the inability to grasp the Leninist presentation of the National Factor. In a real way this means an inability to understand class in American history and a misunderstanding of proletarian revolution in the American Union.

First of all in discussing what is called “Black Nationalism” there is no economic or historic impulse for the African American to remain an exclusive community. In fact the African American people as a people are no longer an exclusive community in the American Union. Racial ideology blind radicals to the most obvious class and economic facts of life.

African American community meant “black community” and in history the words “black community” means a community where all the classes amongst the African American people are housed together. Jim Crow created the black community and this black community was shattered as a living framework housing and intermingling all classes of African Americans, with the shattering of segregation and Jim Crow.

Thirty years after the 1965 Voting Rights Act, what exists today are large proletarian slums that by definition of American history are more than less black, brown and white because the African American entered the working class at the bottom of the social ladder.

The “black community” is a historical political reality embracing a specific alignment and combination of classes, but the white petty bourgeois radicals, in league with the Black bourgeoisie refuse to even look at modern demographics of these proletarian slums and together talk about the “black community,” or “Black Nationalism” to describe the National Factor in respects to the African American people as a people.

“What is the black community going to do” ask the radical ideologue, while the black bourgeoisie screams about the “black community” and votes for more segregated housing projects to consolidate and stabilize their votes and demand more jails and police. Here is the daily and hourly meaning of the “Negro Question” as a race question. Here is the political alignment behind the demand for “Black Reparations” or what amounts to the demand for government support of the black bourgeoisie.

“(T)he working-class (DOES NOT HAVE TO) embrace the demands of all the oppressed, including the minor nationalities,” especially if they run counter to that section of the working class in motion. This does not nullify the responsibility of communist to recruit any and all to the cause of communism.

Is not the real class question “what are the various forms of struggle of this poverty stricken proletarian mass?” History evolved in a way that the issue of equality is going to dominate the proletarian movement as proletariat because the lowest section of the working class is unequal across the board.

The question cannot be understood as the National Question being one of race or as black people and the working class or as an alliance. The question deepens because of the two historical tendencies of the Negro Bourgeois Democratic National Movement, that of necessity were carried over to the Negro National Liberation Movement. First lets deal with this question of political alliance from the standpoint of Leninism.

In Mr. Proyect's “Black Nationalism,” Lenin is referenced and it is stated: “a successful revolution would involve tactical alliances with political formations that were not directly based on the working-class.”

Beneath this muddled and incoherent formulation, something about “the working class” and “oppressed nationalities” is meant. As the National Factor, Leninism is a political approach to class alliances. In respects to the National and Colonial Question after the confirmation of the October Revolution, the alliance that is spoken of is between the advanced revolutionary workers in the imperial centers and the struggling, more than less petty bourgeois masses in the colonies and the political form of this alliance is cemented through the communist organizations in unity or within the political orbit of Soviet Power. During the period of Lenin the organizational form of his unity or alliance was the Third International as the fighting intellectual expression of the new political juncture.

That is the heart of the alliance between classes that is of workers and peasant. In the hands of Lenin the word “alliance” meant political unity between classes in relationship to carrying out the bourgeois democratic task and this meant the destruction of feudal economic and social relations; communists and Soviet Power, in combat with imperialism.

For those familiar with the history of the Third International and the National-Colonial Question, Lenin did make compromises with M.N. Roy, but never on principle or concerning the content of communists work and striving. No where does Lenin put forth an all embracing concept of “the Right of Nations to Self Determination of Nations” after the confirmation of the October Revolution.

In fact as early September 1, before the Second World Congress, “A Congress of Peasants and Workers of Persia, Armenia and Turkey” was called in Baku. The purpose of this Congress and the aim of the Communists was stated clearly:

“Peasants and workers of the Near East. If you organize yourselves, if you arm yourselves, if you unite with the Red Russian peasants and workers army . . . then you will be able to deal with the English, French and American capitalists—you will be able to get rid of your oppressors and will have a chance to look after your own interests in alliance with the workers republic of the world. Then the riches of the land will belong to you.“

The question of class alliances on a world scale today pose itself very different from the period of the Third International. Even during the period of the Third International, support of the National Liberation Movements was conditional, according to Lenin. The direct question is not Soviet policy at a given moment but the theory grid underlying the Marxist approach to the National Factor and political Leninism.

On a world scale, looking at the front of the curve of development, the demand for self determination of nations today is reactionary and utterly bourgeois. Self determination of nations cannot be confused with the communist unconditional stance against imperial intrusion. The political issue is even more complex in the absence of a Soviet polarity.

This polemic began as a response to the demand within America for self determination of Chechnya. Communists in the American Union that raise the banner of Self Determination of Chechnya and any other “national movement” within the former Soviet Union go over to the ideological side of the imperialist. It is a reactionary demand pure and simple. No communist pick and choose between what bourgeois regime will govern the Republics in the Soviet Union.

Further, these are not “National Movements” because that period of history died during Lenin's stewardship of the world proletarian movement. Nor are these reactionary bourgeois nationalist currents “National-Colonial Liberation Movements” in conflict with capital. These “identity movements” are outright capitalist-nationalist movements that are the handmaiden of the imperial policy of Balkanization and the “national minoritization” of the former Socialist community.

The National Factor in 2004 in respect to the African American people is not a question of an alliance between classes. What classes? There is no white working class and black working class in the American union? Today the National Factor in respects to the African American people as a historically evolved people is the proletarian revolution. The issue today and for the past 30 years has NOT been a matter of the working class liberating the African American people. There is no distinction between the African American and the proletariat today.

Further, Lenin does not talk about alliances based “on political formations that were not directly based on the working-class,” as the essence of the National-Colonial Question or the National Question.

This question of “Black Nationalism” is posed incorrectly. Why write an article on the National Colonial Question in respects to the African American People, and no where speak of, much less outline the class facts and evolution of the question and the source of this nationalism that is black as opposed to bourgeois?

The social movement of the African American people is not black nationalism and has never been black nationalism and no Marxist worth their salt ever confuses the demands of a social movement with parts of its ideology. No Marxist in America ever calls all white organizations in white neighborhoods fighting the good proletarian fight “white nationalists organizations.” African American organizations or organizations of African Americans are somehow magically black nationalist because whites are absent.

The absolute majority of the communist party organizations were white up until 1928 or after the Comintern document on the Negro Question. Were they white nationalist organizations? The majority of Trotskyite organizations have been white in their history. Are they white nationalists organizations? During the decade of the 1920s, actually since 1890s up until yesterday 2004, the majority of African American organizations fighting for equality have been black or overwhelmingly African American.

In the case of the various communists organizations, their character to a large degree expressed the formation of our working class from European immigrants and were based in neighborhoods using European language presses. Immigration policy is based on a pecking order with the English at the top and the Slavic workers at the bottom. The organizations of the Slavic workers were not inherently racists, but rather ethnic, and operating under the intense pressure to adopt the ideology of white chauvinism or become a victim along with the black.

The point is not to obscure the rank white chauvinism in our history but to clarify what the African American people have faced and why history left it to the black workers themselves to resurrect and correct the presentation of the National Factor in American history.

Was the Colored National Labor Union of the 1870s a “black nationalist” organization? Was the Niagara Movement founded in 1905 and later the Equal Rights League “black nationalist” organizations? Was the “Deacons for the Defense” and Robert Williams NAACP Chapter “black nationalist organizations?”

The various ideological currents in African American organizations cannot be confused with why they are founded or the pronouncements of individual leaders.

It can be stated without fear of refutation that the absolute majority of all African American organizations outside the Church, were formed in our history to fight against lynching, the burning stake, extreme violence legal and extra legal, to form cooperatives in which to gain access to the market, to build and protect schools, to gain access to the labor market, to fight for unions, to public newspapers articulating ones social life and sense of the self and as self defense organizations to defend themselves against the whites.

“Whatever can happen will” and “what cannot happen won't.” If you cannot join or be part of a labor union then under extreme compulsion you are compelled to form your own organization. If the whites will not cut your hair, and to this very day it is a rare sight for blacks to go to white barbers, although this is changing, then you must open your own barber shop.

The question is not “Black Nationalism” but the Leninist approach to the National Factor. In other words what is being raised is a description of the transition from the “Negro Bourgeois Democratic National Movement” to the “Negro Peoples National Liberation Movement” to “African American Liberation and Social Revolution.” These three distinct political concepts accurately express the National Factor in history, on a world scale and in the American Union.

As we further explore the question of self determination of nations, a slogan absolutely obsolete, “Black Nationalism” and the writings of CLR James what will become apparent is a fundamental misunderstanding of the Leninist conception of the National Question and his approach to the National Colonial Question.

It is strong language to state that one has no conception of Leninism and the National Colonial Question, but what can one say to someone that has rejected the theory and policy basis of the Third International? The clash has never really been about Stalin versus Trotsky, which is the form of polarity that sides took in their approach to the National Factor.

One must explain why the majority of African American Marxists and Marxists that are nonwhite throughout the world, more than less gravitate and have always gravitated within the Third International polarity, while the majority of white radicals, especially in the American Union have always gravitated within political Trotskyism and the Fourth International?

CLR James political Trotskyism is not worthy of discussion. His approach to the Negro National Colonial Question is an affront to the most naive Marxists.

Black Nationalism (2)

In our history there has been profound differences between the character and form of struggle of the African American masses in the Black Belt of the South and the adjacent areas that historically gravitated to the economic center that was the plantation area (called the ‘Border Region’ by Leninists), and the battles of the black masses of the North: meaning the New England States and the Midwest.

This difference between New York, Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit in distinction to the Black Belt of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, parts of Louisiana and South Carolina and Florida and North Carolina is called the National-Colonial Question. The ideology of race obscures the obvious from the vision of many a revolutionary.

There were specific economic and political factors that made the African Americans an exclusive community in the North, but these factors have and are daily being eroded by history itself. The historic and economic impulse that made the African American in the North an exclusive community is the face of the logic that made them a historically evolved people that completed their evolution under the iron fist of Jim Crow.

The African American people were formed and created under the political pressure and violence of the whites. This actual process differed in the North and South and radically changed with the mechanization of agriculture, the mass migrations to the North and the need to shatter Jim Crow and allow the entry of African American en masse into the heart of the proletariat. Jim Crow origins are in the North—not the South.

Therefore to speak of all class unity amongst African Americans or “black nationalism,” one has to understand or trace the actual process of American history. Here is the error and non-Marxists approach of “Black Nationalism,” which basically mimics the theory of CLR James. He is how the article “Black Nationalism” outlines what the imperial bourgeoisie called the Civil Rights Movement.

“In the early 1950s, the first seeds of the civil rights movement were being planted. WWII had led to powerful anticolonial uprisings as the former major powers were weakened by 5 years of war. India, Indonesia, Indochina, Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, etc. were all swept by nationalist uprisings against colonial rule. In the United States, the ruling class began to feel compromised by the presence of Jim Crow laws in the south. Such de jure segregation could only tarnish the reputation of US imperialism as a leader of the postcolonial world. With this in mind, hesitant steps were taken to break down segregation. The Supreme Court decision outlawing segregated schools in 1954 was one such step.”

This is not what happened in America. What actually happened, is International Harvester and 1942. This is when the gasoline power harvester was put to work. This expansion of the means of production, the mechanization of agriculture, in the context of the war and an industrial boom, drove the blacks and whites off the land and first into the Southern cities and then the North in search of work. It was a change in the means of production, the mechanization of Southern agriculture that resulted in the massive migrations of African Americans from the Black Belt.

This massive migration reduced the huge majority of blacks relative to whites in the Black Belt, but nations are not based on skin color and it is the whites and black together that have always constituted the historically distinct social and economic formation that evolved as plantation slavery. One should consult not the blacks but the Southern whites of Mississippi's black belt.

Happy things happen in history and for the black descendants of Southern slavery nothing was more happier than the mechanization of agriculture, because it liquidated the economic and social basis of the sharecropper system, the historic basis of segregation, which intersect with but has a different origin than Jim Crow. The rising curve of mechanization coincided with the shift of industry from the unionized North to the nonunion South and I believe it was President Eisenhower that set aside 15 billion dollars to assist in this move. The South itself had to be industrialized but not equalized with the North. Its colonial signature would remain.

Thus, the white and black sharecroppers had some place to go and they first went into small scale Southern industry and then into large scale Northern industry. The sharecropper or the equivalent of the “European peasants” were liquidated as a class and our Marxism teaches us that in its genesis the national question is fundamentally a peasant question.

Stated another way, in the American Union the semi-feudal social features of the sharecropping system was liquidated on the basis of the advance of industry and for a historical moment there appeared an unstable unity between the imperial bourgeoisie and the Civil Rights Movement.

This National Liberation Movement across the breath and depths of America involved all classes of African Americans because segregation and Jim Crow prevented their dispersal and entering American society alongside their economic and social counterparts within the white population.

It was not a historical impulse to save face or improve the reputation of our bourgeoisie in the international arena that lead to Brown verus Board of Education. Where would this mass of people be housed and educated? Modern factories cannot have two bathrooms, two water facets, two parking lots and the costly structure of segregation. Plus, mechanization of agriculture and industrialization of the South and industrial expansion in the North created a labor shortage and the imperial bourgeoisie said, “Fuck you guys in the South, put those blacks “doing nothing” to work.”

This momentary identity of interest is why the past generation called the Civil rights Movement the “Second Reconstruction,” and coined the term the “New South.” The “Black Nationalism” article does not even pretend to adopt a Marxist approach to American history or the African American people. Further, it was not the wave of National Liberation Movements internationally that threatened the hegemony of imperialism but the existence of the Soviet polarity and the possibility of the colonies escaping the orbit of bourgeois property in the world market.

This possibility of escape is the political basis for the Cold War and the fully mature colonial bourgeoisie coined the term the “Third World” as the watchword for assistance from financial imperialism in dismantling the closed colonial system of the previous era and opening all markets for American financial and industrial capital. The betrayal of the Soviets and the Sino-Soviet split produced a horribly destructive affect but that is not the issue at present. The issue is the Marxist approach to the National factor and the Leninists conception of the national-colonial question.

We can of course sum up the entire logic of the African American peoples movement in a Marxist manner. The social motion of the African American people of the United States has always reflected the level of development of the productive forces, the productive relations and the political maneuvering of the ruling class to kept the two united. This political maneuvering and the response of the African Americans has kept them at the center of our country's history.

After describing Imperialism's need for “face saving” the author states:

“So it is out of the struggle of oppressed nationalities in Asia, Africa and Latin America that our modern civil rights movement gets its initial inspiration. As this civil rights movement begins to pick up momentum, it becomes transformed into a black power movement. This movement even begins to take on the dynamics of nationalist struggles in places like Algeria, Kenya, etc. Franz Fanon, the Algerian revolutionary, becomes widely accepted as the ideologist of a new type of American black nationalism.”

This is tragic logic and an insult to Marxism and a sharp slap in the face of the proletarian masses in the American Union! The first sentence states “our modern civil rights movement gets its initial inspiration out of the struggle of oppressed nationalities in Asia, Africa and Latin America.”

This is not even historically accurate. Without question the battling African American masses find inspiration in the quest of the colonial masses to break the chain and bondage of imperialism and see in Mother Africa the birth of humanity itself. The modern Civil Rights Movement means the social movement of the African American people generated on the basis of the mechanization of agriculture and the subsequent mass migrations to first southern cities and then the North and the need to shattered the barriers of segregation and Jim Crow to allow the entry of this enormous mass into the unskilled sector of t he industrial proletariat.

The subjective disposition of the African American masses is that of a people that have fought with their back to the ocean for 140 years under impossible conditions. The African American people did not fight harder in 1950 than they did in 1940 or 1920 or 1870. The sad truth is that their ability to achieve their goals is conditioned by the needs of the bourgeoisie in politically maneuvering to maintain the unity of the productive forces and production relations.

The Civil Rights Movement was able to break out because of the historic and unstoppable fight of the African American masses and its rapidly expanding mass dimensions was the result of a momentary unity of identity, interest, on the part of financial and industrial capital and the Negro masses is ending lynching, kangaroo courts, housing discrimination and the barriers of segregation.

Even the 1965 Voting Rights Act was dictated by the need to break the political strangle old of the Southern fascists who dominated political American through the seniority system. This was the last bastion of segregation and Jim Crow. Specifically, the Voting Rights Act and registration efforts weakened the Southern County police force as the main political and governmental base of the Ku Klux Klan and allowed for a more rapid shattering of the wall of segregation and Jim Crow.

Marxism has never faired well in the American Union and the Trotskyites and those of this political tradition are generally the worse of the worse and not because they “don’t like Stalin” but because they repudiate elementary Marxism.

Thus far, all that has been written is the most elementary entry point of Marxism and the National Factor. We were at this point in the old League of Revolutionary Black Workers before we en masse when over to Marxism as an organization. It was not politically possible to enter the CPUSA if we wanted to and we did not. Entering the SWP was out of the question. What they wrote on the “Negro Question” was horrendous.

We would say, “we went from picking cotton to picking steel” and “the nigga put the plant in plantation and the factory became a plant.” To this day in the American Union the industrial workers call their facilities “the plant.”

The theory basis of “Black Nationalism” is not even within recognizable Marxism and totally outside the Leninist approach to the National Factor. But things really gets worse. After describing our Civil Rights Movement outside of the specific logic of American history we are told, apparently with a straight face:

“As this civil rights movement begins to pick up momentum, it becomes transformed into a black power movement.”

This is not what happened and does not describe the actual process or its meaning. What the author is basically saying is that the quality called the Civil Rights Movement got bigger (”pick up momentum”) and at a certain stage in its “biggness” . . . leaps and become (”transformed into”) the “black power movement.”

This is not even elementary dialectics. There has to be something internal to the social process called the “Civil Rights Movement” and its development to cause the transition in the form of the social movement. What is this “something?”

For a moment can we not look at the African American people as black and just another group of mutherfuckers in America, although this is basically impossible amongst the white petty bourgeois radicals? Please. I grow tired of endlessly wiring that racial concepts blind the revolutionaries in America.

1. The mechanization of Southern agriculture drove millions of African Americans into the central areas of the major cities North and South. In respect to the North these migrants came, entered and appeared like the European immigrants entering the Anglo American proletariat or the working class of the North.

2. They came and conquered entering the decaying industrial cities at the bottom of the working class as does most immigrants in American history. The Ir ish, Italian and Jewish immigrants before them had also moved into special neighborhoods and the black masses moved into these neighborhoods along with the neighborhoods that had evolved since the freeing of 30,000 Northern black in 1790.

The blacks freed in the North in 1790 caught a special kind of hell because the economic, social and political gravity of the Slave system sought them as slaves and created the impulse for the Northern capitalist to institute a system of Jim Crow that segregated the black and made his life as difficult if not more difficult than that of the black under slavery. In the book “Black Labor-White Wealth” there is recorded the cases of Northern blacks selling themselves and families into slavery because in the North you had to live in back alley way, had your land taken and simply could not find work.

The bottom line is that the migrants from the North joined an existing community that was welded together as a people based on the violence and terror of the whites.

3. The political system in America is set up where whatever people or ethnic group dominates a district can elect its representative. The Civil Rights Movement did not pick up “momentum” but rather what happened is that black power emerged as a slogan at the point that the African American people were able to victoriously elected their own representatives in government.

4. The Black Power Movement as one side of the Civil Rights Movement meant electing African Americans to political office and this movement culminated in the election of Carl Stokes as the first African American Mayor in Cleveland Ohio, in 1967. Black Power meant the specific phase of the social process where African Americans began being elected to political office en masse.

I do not want to waste time and words explaining why the two major African American parties, the Freedom Now Party, had impact in Mississippi and Detroit Mississippi. In Mississippi Fannie Lou Hamer is connected with this process. In Detroit Michigan my father's brother . . . Uncle LeRoy, ran for Secretary of Treasure on the Freedom Now Ballot and this political grouping invited and sponsored Malcolm X visit to Detroit in February 1965 where he recorded his “Last Message.”

The point? Black Power was the ideological slogan of the electoral movement that can be traced in the Northj from Carl Stokes to Coleman Young Jr., in Detroit to Harold Washington in Chicago. I have no problem with calling the Black Power Movement “Black Nationalist Movement” as an abstraction.

The problem is that no one called the domination of the Italians over an electoral district “Italian Nationalism” or the Slavic workers domination over an electoral district “Slavic Nationalism” or even the economic domination of Jews over a political district and their political representatives “Jewish nationalism” of “Jewish economic nationalism.”

Wasn't the “Bank of America” initially the Italian Bank or bank of the Italians and no one writes and screams about “Italian Nationalism.” The reason is that the European ethnic groups melt into the Anglo American people.

To solve the riddle of the National Factor in America, in totality, one must prove that the European immigrants North and South are different, but evolve into the Anglo American people and the African American before the shattering of the wall of segregation and Jim Crow could not.

Fuck proving the African American is a historically evolved people. Let's flip the script and deal with the “White People Question,” and their formation and consolidation on the basis of changes in the means of production.

OK, I have had my fun. The point is that the article “Black Nationalism” is not distinguished by its political Trotskyism but by it utterly non-Marxist approach to the social movement and its anti-Leninism. Everything in the article is wrong, including the presentation of Marx views on what would become the National Question.

I ask for a certain latitude in challenging the author of “Black Nationalism” and unraveling the insanity of CLR James on the National Factor. “Black Nationalism” and CLR James on the Negro Question will be dissected but for now I need to challenge the author of Black Nationalism.

In what has been numerous clashes with Mr. Proyect over the question of Proletarian Revolution in the American Union, I am informed that some “black guy” refused to shake Stalin's hand eight years ago and apparently this means a refutation of the revolutionary position of Marxism on the National Factor.

What is this but rank imperialism chauvinism. The question is not of Stalin or his policies, but the Leninists approach to the National Factor; the political polarity created by the October Revolution and how one fought and fight within such a polarity. Soviet Power opened doors that would not have opened and this is the first political consideration after the October Revolution.

Now these “black guys,” who generally are never African American that the authors writes history about . . . and we are always informed that they are “black,” is how the ideological chauvinists think out the National Factor as a question of race. As if a “black guy” articulating ones ideological outlook gives it validity. CLR James is one such “black guy.”

CLR James on the “Negro Question” was rejected not simply by his own Trotskyite grouping but by everyone with a familiar grasp of Marxism and the National-Colonial Question or as it was called the “Negro Question.”

“Black Nationalism” is an affront to the most naive Marxist. There is a need to unravel the question of “Black Nationalism” but first let us present the portrait of CLR James—“the black guy,” provided by Mr. Proyect so that we understand where we are and what we have been dealing with for the past 76 (seventy-six) years.

The author states:

“James was not particularly interested in the “Negro question” when he came to the United States. The question did become important to him through his discussions with Trotsky, who did view the question as paramount as early as 1933. James was part of a delegation that visited Trotsky in Mexico in 1939, as I mentioned yesterday. It was there that the subject of Garveyism and black nationalism arose. Trotsky was more favorably disposed to the call for self-determination than James was, who doubted that Garvey's mass appeal had much to do with the desire for a separate nation. “When James returned to the US after the Mexican visit, he went through a transforming experience. He visited New Orleans in order to learn about Jim Crow on a first-hand basis. He was astonished to learn that if he was seated on a crowded bus, a white passenger would expect him to give up his seat. This came as a profound shock to the aristocratic intellectual who had read William Thackeray's “Vanity Fair” at least twenty times by the age of fourteen.”


1. The Comintern document on the Negro Question appeared in 1928 after many years of fighting to educate the American communists in a Leninists fashion and conception of the national-colonial question. Basically the Comintern failed and the absolute majority of white communists theoreticians considered the Negro Question a question of race or the “white man's burden.”

2. That CLR James—“the black guy” Lou P. hangs out to dry, would be surprised during his visit to New Orleans about the rank white chauvinism in America is baffling considering that everyone in the Third International understood the social, economic and political position of Negroes in America.

It is an irony of history that CLR James encountered his experience with looking like he was Negro in New Orleans, Louisiana because it was Louisiana that birthed Plessy Vs Ferguson. It was Plessy Vs Ferguson that inaugurated the separate but equal doctrine and its political form as the doctrine of “State Rights” and specifically the “Separate Car Act” or segregated traveling facilities.

3. CLR James was won over to Trotskyism in the 1930s, came to America in the late 1930s with zero understanding of the Leninists conception of the national-colonial question and underwent a political/spiritual conversion from being mistaken for a Negro in New Orleans and treated as such (1938/39) and by 1943 is an authority on the Negro Question.

No . . . CLR James was never an authority on the Negro Question according to anyone, while on the other hand I am. Not because I am black but because we evolved an acute understanding of proletarian revolution in the American Union.

If CLR James had not been a rank Trotskyite, which he was, at best he is cast in history as a representative of the Negro National Bourgeoisie, along with WEB Dubois and even Malcolm X.

CLR James is worse because of his political Trotskyism and compulsion to fight within the world polarity that was bourgeois imperialism and Soviet Power - against Soviet Power.

CLR James on the Negro Question express the striving of classes amongst the African American people from the standpoint of what class? The answer is obvious: the Negro National Bourgeoisie in its alliance with the white anti-Soviet petty bourgeoisie.

The Negro Question has up until us . . . literally the communists of the post 1965 Watts and 1967 Detroit era, defied unraveling for a complex of reasons and one of them is bound up with what is called the “peculiar phenomena of the Black Leader.”

CLR James was not a “black Leader” by anyone's account.

Black Nationalism (3)

There is not a black working class in America, or rather the working class in America is not white and existing in relationship to it and along side of it are black people, Chicano's and so on. There is a historically evolved working/industrial class in the North that was formed from successive waves of European immigrants and a working class of the South, that in history evolved riveted to the plantation system and the slave class. During the era of sharecropping in the black belt South a little bit more than 50% of the 10-12 million sharecroppers were white.

How different sections of classes behave, act and their ideological disposition is important but cannot blind Marxists to basic class concepts. The white sharecropper of the South behave as a white sharecropper, yet his basic economic needs mirrored that of the black sharecropper. Communists have to take this into account. The black sharecropper without question faced the razor edge of the South's fascist political structures.

From time to time Communists in America have raised the question of fascism in the Black Belt of the South and throughout the Southern region and most have retracted this consideration because they “saw” a contradiction between political fascism and their understanding of imperialism. “Fascism is imperialism turned inwards” and in my opinion is not simply an industrial-capitalist “relationship,” although in a given period of history fascism can be the rule of the industrial sector of capital.

Lenin's conception of the bourgeois democratic national movement and its transition to the national liberation movement is basically absent from every presentation of the National Factor in the history of American Marxism. Given the absense of this specific political concept advance by Lenin, the radicals lack a concept of the emergence of the “Negro Bourgeois Democratic National Movement” and why it became the Negro Peoples National Liberation Movement.”

Consequently, the history of the social motion of the African American people is understood as “Black Nationalism,” that has more than less surged forward in waves. It was popular for communists of the 1930 to speak of the uncompleted democratic revolution in the South in grappling with the Negro Question or the task of the bourgeois democratic revolution. Actually, it was none other than Lenin that stated the Negro in the American South should be considered a nation given the un-completetion of the bourgeois democratic revolution.

Thus, it is historically inaccurate to attribute the concept of the Black Belt and Negroes as a nation to Stalin and the Third International when it was Lenin that directly wrote about this matter years before the Third International and the October Revolution.

CLR James—“the black guy” Trotskyite and Trinidadian intellectual, is paraded before us and his “Historical Development of the Negro in the United States” is dusted off for inspection. The special oppression of the black in the South is due to race and racial antagonism. I ask forgiveness for quoting the Trotskyite James, but this is “the black guy” continuously recycled in history as the “authority” on the Negro Question by a segment of radical intellectuals.

Not only is CLR James behind the learning curve and writings by James Allen, Harry Haywood and the documents of the Comintern, but he lack an elementary understanding of political Leninism on the National-Colonial Question. Read what he states:

In the agrarian movement of the 1890s in the South the Negro farmers and semi- proletarians, independently organized to the extent of a million and a quarter members in the National Colored Farmers Alliance, were a militant and powerful wing of the Populist movement. They supported the break with the Republican Party and the proposal for a third party with social as well as economic aims.

The importance of the Negroes as a revolutionary force has grown with the development of the American economy. Conversely, however, racial prejudice against the Negroes has also grown. Between 1830 and 1860 the Southern planters cultivated the theory of Negro inferiority to a degree far exceeding that of earlier slavery days, being driven to do this by the increasing divergences between the developing bourgeois democracy in the United States and the needs of the slave economy. To conquer the formidable threat of white and Negro unity, particularly that represented by Populism, the Southern plantocracy elevated race consciousness to the position of a principle. The whole country was injected with this idea. Thus, side by side with his increasing integration into production which becomes more and more a social process, the Negro becomes more than ever conscious of his exclusion from democratic privileges as a separate social group in the community. This dual movement is the key to the Marxist analysis of the Negro question in the U.S.A.


The above is beyond tragic and would be laughable if the radical did not take this serious. This is not just an insult to the African American people, but a mockery of Marxism and the repudiation of the Leninist presentation of the National Question.

“(T)he key to the Marxist analysis of the Negro question…(is) his increasing integration into production…a social process, (and) the Negro becomes more…conscious of his exclusion from democratic privileges as a separate social group in the community.”

One of the many theory problems is CLR James misunderstanding of Southern slavery as a value producing system and the slave as the producer of exchange value. This concrete economic formation is what welded the black into a people and set the economic basis for the emergence of the Black Belt south as a nation. Black were long ago producers—laborers, or integrated into the production process as slaves. In fact they were a slave class.

If you are a slave and part of a slave class then you have a specific position in a division of labor that is social production. Black belt slavery was a system of social production, if social production is to have any meaning. In fact this slavery was a bourgeois property relations, because the Slave owner was a bourgeois planter class according to Karl Marx and the slave produced exchange-values, commodities that entered the world market and was transformed into an expanded value or capital.

This antiquated form of labor—slavery, instead of “free labor,” is called the “peculiar institution” in American history, but we are dealing with a bourgeois property relations. Let's solve this once and for all.

Free white and black labor in the North, was not free at all, but rather means the ability of the individual to sell his labor power in the market or rather ones labor power is not sold thorough the medium of selling the person to another person.

Another problem is the meaning of the completion of the democratic tasks or the Bourgeois Democratic Revolution in the South. Lenin invests a lot of energy in the concept of the Bourgeois Democratic Revolution and its transition into the National Liberation Movement. Here is “the key to the Marxist analysis of the Negro question in the U.S.A” . . . especially in the period James has marked . . . 1830—1890 and from here to 1935.

The key to understanding the Negro Question is bound up with the overthrow of Reconstruction and the establishment of political fascism in the Black Belt south and how the Negro Bourgeois Democratic National Movement arose on that basis. Here is the key and not some special consciousness of one oppression or raising white supremacy to a principle. White supremacy had already been raised to the principle justification of the fact of slavery.

Emancipation imposed a real social revolution on the South, that was stabilized by the military victory over the Slave oligarchy. The Slave Oligarchy as a class was not only shattered but expropriated by liquidating their capital in the form of the slaves. The Slave Oligarchy without slaves becomes a landlord planter class and with the lose of their labor force hit the wall real hard. Many that retained their land, could not put it to use on an expanding scale and ended up in hock to Wall Street financial-industrial capital.

The fact of Emancipation was that segregation remain a fundamental way of life in the South. The fact of the matter is that black and white political unity amongst the poor was not won as the fundamental organizational form of the social movement and we need to face this and not pretend. There were moments of unity between blacks and whites, but the majority of poor whites were represented by whites, while the black Reconstruction leaders could not but represent the class of freemen whose demands matched and mirrored that of the poor whites. It was not the blacks that excluded whites from organizations but the refusal of many whites to join in collective organizations. Many Reconstruction leaders and political officials were black but they were not the peculiar phenomenon of the “black leader” that would later arise.

Before the war the South was about 15% richer than the North and at the end of the war, it began a deep slide into regional poverty. As the result of its defeat, the economic base of the Black Belt came under attack, direct and indirect control of Northern financial interest and the onslaught of the freemen demanding land and expropriation of the large plantations, was not pleasant to the former slave oligarchy. A real social revolution was taking place with the potential to democratize the South on the basis of Jeffersonian democracy or the small land holding farmer.

For a brief moment following Emancipation the state sponsored force and violence against the African American was checked and to a significant degree halted. The immediate tendency was by the ex-slave was to disperse. Apart from organizing to defend their newly won freedom, the political tendency amongst this mass of ex-slaves was to individually become free and equal citizens.

The planter elite terrified by the Southern struggle for democracy— (the impulse to complete the bourgeois democratic revolution and forever regulate the semi-feudal like social relations of slavery to the past), crept into the arms of the Northern bourgeoisie for protection. The Hayes Tiden compromise was the protection. This political compromise between Northern and Southern capital, bourgeois property called among other things for removing the Federal troops from the South. Needless to say the blood bath quickly followed, because the shattered Southern armies were never fundamentally disarmed.

The planter elite made their final surrender to Northern Wall Street money and political power. In return for protection from the democratic aspiration of the American peoples, they turned the South into a region of political reaction and transformed the Black Belt into a bastion of fascism. This allowed US imperialism to emerge safely beyond the political reach of the democratic masses.

Thus, the Black Belt, an entire section of the country that includes all of the people within the area without regard to color, is larger than Czechoslovakia and more populous than Canada, became the first colony of Wall Street. The forms of political control of the Black Belt colony flowed from the historic forms of control of not the white people but the black slaves—segregation, brutality and terror. In this ideological sphere this is articulated was articulated as white supremacy.

As these fascists methods of control became institutionalized, the politically impotent and militarily defeated blacks were used to manipulate the whites. The blacks were used as the bogey man to frighten and force the whites into unity with the elite—their worst enemy. Many whites did not go quietly into the night, but rather what took place was a fascist counterrevolution and bloo dletting—murder. No one just read a white supremacist book or heard a Sunday school sermon on the horrors of blacks or simply stories of rape of white women. Military defeat was imposed on the insurgents after the withdrawal of Federal troops. It would not be until the turn of the century and the evolution of motion pictures that the movie “Birth of a Nation” would nationally portray blacks raping white women and disrespecting “Southern honor.”

The whites ended up giving up their right to vote in order to guarantee the blacks were denied the vote. Watch what is taking place in Florida today and throughout the South in respects to national elections and denying blacks the right to vote. Actually, the Bush/Gore election was almost an identical replay of the Hayes Tilden Agreement and the election of 1876. The Federal troops began withdrawal in 1877 and it took another decade to consolidate the counter revolution.

Six and half million white sharecroppers could not keep five million black sharecroppers in the ditch of poverty without literally jumping in the ditch on top of them. The segregation and discrimination against the blacks was the guarantee that the whites could not escape colonial exploitation. Here is the “key” and dialectic of American history and not some metaphysical racial antagonism and the black having a special consciousness about his oppression.

So-called Racial antagonism made it appear as if there was a South African like white settler regime dominating a black nation. The isolation of a very large and compact mass of blacks people meant the isolation of an entire area. The complete development of the African American people within this isolation was indispensable to the development of the Black Belt. The blacks were the majority of the people in this historically evolved Black Belt community, which is not identical to the South as a Region.

The blacks provided the basic culture of the Black Belt community and as a historically evolved people are not required to have a totally separate language, although every one on earth knows that the Blacks do not speak the “Kings English” or standard bourgeois American English and the Southern blacks and whites to this very day speak a different variation of American English than those in the North or rather historic New England States.

The blacks in the Black Belt were the overwhelming force in the formation of the black belt nation because they were the economic center of the value producing system as slaves, but the black people in and of themselves were not the nation. Nations are not racial categories but products of history and economic commerce. This colonial nation was and is composed of a historically evolved community of people, regardless of “racial antagonism.”

What had been a brutal white supremacy under the Slave Oligarchy was now under the domination of Wall Street Imperialism and transformed into white chauvinism and national chauvinism, in as much as we are now talking about the oppression and exploitation of a nation. One can always consult the Southern white in the Mississippi Black belt of delta as it is called.

Even during the worse days of the counterrevolution and reaction it was impossible to single out the black exclusively for the chain gang, the lynch rope, the blade, boot and the bullet. “Nigger Lover” was the charge leveled against the democratic whites and with this went the threat of the loss of property, limbs and even ones life.

It was the military/political overthrow of Reconstruction and the institution of political fascism in the Black Belt region that defeated the democratic impulse to abolish the remnants of the system of slavery. Sharecropping and the convict lease system became the new forms of slavery for the African Americans. The most brutal social and political oppression was necessary to carry out the extreme level of economic exploitation based on the most primitive instruments of labor in agriculture. The sharecropping blacks, cheated by the landlord planter, brutalized by the legal authorities, terrorized by the extra legal forces of reaction, were reduced to the level of the peasants of India.

Then it got worse. No one would do business with the Negro so black businesses arose, but could not get insurance so black insurance companies arose to cater to a strictly segregated market. The dialectic of reaction transformed the enslavement of the African into a people and the re enslavement of a people into the basis of the enslavement of a nation.

In the wake of this very real fascist reaction arose the Negro Bourgeois Democratic National Movement. Its goal was to complete the democratic revolution and to allow blacks to fully enter American society alongside their economic counterparts in all spheres. That is, this movement was against lynching's and the horrors of political fascism. From within the Negro Bourgeois Democratic National Movement arose the peculiar phenomena of the “black leader.”

Here is the Leninist presentation of the Negro Question during the period before the October Revolution or during the era of the bourgeois democratic national movement. CLR James has not a clue about American history and lack any concept of Leninism and the National Factor.

The reality of social life in America is that the Civil War and Emancipation were and remain the most traumatic events in all of our history. Reconstruction and its overthrow is part of the political continuum created as by products of the Civil War and Emancipation. The nature of the struggle of the African American changed rapidly during Reconstruction and the counter revolution accelerated this change. What began as a struggle of a land less peasant like mass, with a minute proletariat, rapidly became the political striving of an oppressed nation struggle against Wall Street imperialism.

This struggle produced the “Populism Movement” in the South and Southwest, with its cry against Wall Street imperialism or the banks and had some very progressive tendencies. This Populist Movement embraced all the classes of the South oppressed and exploited by Wall Street Imperialism, but in the South always had a fascists white supremacist current. Needless to say a non-class outlook movement not firmly rotted in the defense of the class interest of the most poverty stricken section of the laboring classes is the recipe for political fascism and the Populist Movement was steered down this road.

The defeat of Reconstruction would alter American history forever and the clamp down on the Black Belt masses destroyed the broad struggle for democracy in the South and give birth to the Negro Bourgeois Democratic National Movement. A heavy “Cotton Curtain” was imposed on the Black Belt by the Southern reactionaries servants and custodians of Wall Street.

After Reconstruction and prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960 and 1970s all classes of African Americans were tied together by and in common struggle against second class citizenship. First the struggle against slavery and then the struggle to overthrow Jim Crow laws overlay any contradictions within the African American community. This social reality created not simply leaders that were black but the “Black Leader” representative of first the Negro Bourgeois Democratic National Movement and after the October Revolution the “Black Leader” of the Negro Peoples National Liberation Movement.

CLR James states:

“(T)he key to the Marxist analysis of the Negro question…(is) his increasing integration into production…a social process, (and) the Negro becomes more…conscious of his exclusion from democratic privileges as a separate social group in the community.”

This is how James describes the defeat of Reconstruction, the triumph of political fascism, the lock down of the democratic minded Southern masses and their entrapment behind a heavy “Cotton Curtain” and the emergence of the Negro Bourgeois Democratic National Movement. “The Historical Development of the Negro in the United States,” is utterly devoid of Leninism and contains not one drop of Marxism. We have always considered CLR James writings on the Negro Question the supreme act of political buffoonery, when he was alive and this assessment has not changed.