Black People : Black Self-determination & Socialist Revolution

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by Pharaoh Jahil, Aug 16, 2004.

  1. Pharaoh Jahil

    Pharaoh Jahil Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Aug 2, 2003
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    College Student
    Mother Earth
    The following resolution, "Black Self-Determination and Socialist Revolution in the United States," was drafted in February 1992 and adopted by the July 29-August 2, 1992 Socialist Action convention.

    African Americans are an integral part of the American working class. They are also an oppressed nationality, and we support their right to self-determination up to and including the right to form a separate nation. While nationalist aspirations have always been a part of the Black consciousness, whether or not this people sees its interests best served by separate forms of organization and goals or as an integral component of the broader class struggle has been shown by history to be dependent on both objective and subjective factors.

    When the white majority is sharply divided, as it is from time to time, Black Americans might see their interests coinciding with those of this or that sector of the majority. When African Americans sense that allying with one or another sector of a divided white majority serves their interests as a people, they have vigorously responded.

    Such a division led to the Civil War, which ended in the overthrow of the slaveowning class and the abolition of slavery. This second American Revolution – as was the first – was led by this country’s capitalists. A de facto alliance was formed between the whole Black people, free and slave, and the opponents of slavery led by Abraham Lincoln, the last of America’s capitalist revolutionaries. Lincoln and Northern capitalism were driven further than they intended to go – by Blacks, the abolitionists, and by the logic of the deadly struggle for capitalist supremacy over the slaveholding class.

    Black Americans enjoyed a short period of relative political freedom during the period known as “Reconstruction.” Black political freedom was the means by which Northern capitalists consolidated their victory over the former slaveholding class.

    Shortly after the Civil War, a new alliance was formed between Black and white poor farmers, who made common cause against the large landowners – formerly slaveholders – and Northern bankers. This alliance was crushed by the victorious capitalists, who by 1877 had concluded peace with the remnants of the old Southern ruling class. Because the old slaveholders were also landlords and owners of private property, including capitalist enterprises employing wage labor, their incorporation into victorious American capitalism was entirely logical and quite easily consummated. Thus the former slavemasters were fully integrated into the expanded American capitalist class.

    Once the domination of capitalism over the Southern states was assured, Blacks were soon subjugated once again. This time as a sector, or caste, of super-exploited workers and farmers. And in the rural Southern states the former slaves were eventually placed in a special form of bondage that had features of serfdom. They were chained to the land by the peculiar institution of sharecropping backed up by juridical forms of second-class citizenship.

    Many poor white farmers were similarly subjugated by the institution of sharecropping. But as whites, they were able to more easily extricate themselves from the bondage of debt to the landlord. Blacks, however, not having any legal recourse and subject to extra-legal terrorism of KKK other fascistic bands, were chained to the land substantially in the manner of feudal serfs.

    “Jim Crow” laws, which constituted the American form of apartheid, were enacted in all the Southern states. African Americans were juridically segregated – a word that barely suggests its terrible consequences. They were denied the right to vote, denied access to all but the hardest and lowest-paid jobs, condemned to inferior, segregated schools and housing, and subjected to a variety of degrading insults of every imaginable kind. These ranged from segregated drinking fountains and toilets – and worse, to a de facto denial of access, more often than not, to these indispensable and vital requirements of modern civic life. There was no arena of public life in which Blacks were not confronted by instances of racial injustice, down to being compelled to stand at the rear of busses until every white rider was seated.

    In many cases, while white workers and poor farmers were not the real beneficiaries of Jim Crow laws, they were often among the Blacks’ worst tormentors. How did this come about?

    First, those Blacks who had succeeded in becoming independent farmers were driven from their land by naked terrorism. Ku Klux Klan and other fascistic gangs then lynched and burned Blacks out of every occupation but the very worst. And those poor white farmers who had allied themselves with Blacks in a populist movement in opposition to the former plantocracy and Northern bankers also came under attack. The poor whites that dared oppose the extra-legal gangs – many of whom would mobilize in defense of their Black neighbors – were subjected to a dose of the same murder and mayhem inflicted upon Blacks.

    Moreover, many poor white workers and farmers were deceived by capitalism, and its agents among them, into believing that they would materially benefit from the oppression of Blacks. While this was sometimes the case, with individuals here and there gaining the better-paying jobs taken away from Black workers, and gaining land at bargain prices taken from Black farmers, the white workers in factory and farm “gained” mainly by not being the immediate target of the terror campaign and all its horrendous consequences.

    Then, as all resistance was suppressed, the living standards of white workers’ – and working farmers too – were in most cases also driven down to a level only somewhat better than that of Blacks. The method is similar to the practice of capitalist employers who will pay scabs higher than normal wages – until the strike is broken.

    Many workers and farmers, terrorized into a culpable silence or brainwashed into thinking that they would gain economically from the assault against Blacks, were induced by their misleaders to take a more or less active part in the victimization of their class brothers and sisters. But the expected gain was an illusion because by driving down the living standards of Blacks, the standards of all workers – and working farmers too – were driven down. In fact, during the long period when Jim Crow was the law of the land in the Southern states – from the end of the 1870s to the end of the 1960s – Black and white workers in the Jim Crow states earned wages which averaged considerably lower than their counterparts in the North.

    What began in the Southern states eventually was extended to varying degrees everywhere. The capitalist-initiated exclusion of Blacks created an artificial oversupply of Black labor. According to the laws of the capitalist market, this drastically drove down the price of Black labor power (wages).

    But capitalist economics also dictated that Blacks thus forced to work for lower wages inexorably undermined the price of labor power for all workers, white as well as Black. White workers were regularly reminded by their bosses, when they showed dissatisfaction with wages or working conditions, that they could be easily replaced by Blacks “only too eager to work for less.”

    The absurdly false perception spread, and was insidiously promoted among white workers, that Blacks voluntarily choose to work for lower wages because, racists falsely argued, “as an indolent and inferior race they need less to live on.”

    This myth provided the rationale for the treacherous practice of excluding Blacks from unions. It is the privileged labor bureaucracy that led the unions toward self-destructive racist, exclusionary practices. Historically constituting the most backward layers of the workers’ movement, the bureaucracy serves as the main transmission belt into the working class for capitalist ideology. The racist role of the labor lieutenants of the capitalist class helped create the illusion among Blacks that racism derives from the exclusionary policy of white workers and their unions, and not from capitalism.

    This myth is relentlessly promoted by the capitalist media and still distorts the perceptions of both Black and white workers despite the fact that white workers also suffer from the generalized reduction in the price of labor power resulting from racist practices. Meanwhile capitalist continues to reap untold billions in superprofits because Blacks are systematically paid below the value of their labor power.

    Unfortunately, once in place, the real source of the racist centrifugal dynamic disrupting the unity of Black and white workers became increasingly harder to perceive.

    This opened the door wider to the divide-and-conquer policy of the ruling class. Once the practice of paying Black labor less than white labor had been institutionalized, capitalists could quite easily induce desperate Black workers, alienated by racist union practices, to serve as strikebreakers. Black workers, condemned by capitalism to serve as virtual permanent members of the reserve army of the unemployed – but perceiving it as caused by the racism of white workers – could see no good reason to act in solidarity with striking white workers. This, in turn, contributed substantially to further ingrain racist prejudices against Blacks among the more backward layers of the white working class.

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