George Molnar. Sydney Libertarianism 1957

Integration Issues

Source: Broadsheet No. 1, October 1957;
Transcribed: by Curtis Price.

1. A lot of uncritical estimates of the conflict in Dixieland have in common the assumption that the conflicting interests are split mainly along the black-white dividing line. It is a mistake, however, to accept the racial issue (in the sense of the whole of one race vs. another) as central. For one thing, the black race is not homogeneous. Throughout the South for a long time now those in the personal forefront of the struggle for integration have been eminent Negroes representative of the upper crust of the black population. It is their children who would – in prestige as well as educational terms – benefit from desegregation. The most active and interested parties fighting for civil rights among Negroes, are the black bourgeoisie and the black politicians and Church leaders: people like the Rev. Martin Luther King (organizer of the Montgomery bus strike) who, as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, is now urging Negroes to exercise their political rights by voting; “socially adaptable Negroes” (to quote Time) like Assistant Prof. Counts whose daughter was kept out of the Charlotte High School; or people, like a group of 23 Negroes in Texas, who arc at least rich enough to sue their state at their own expense for not enforcing the High Court decision. Not the least important among institutions through which advanced Negroes work is the NAACP, a political trade-union under the influence of northern liberal blacks. It lobbies and pressurizes in Washington maintaining much the same relation to “its” rank and file as a big-time industrial trade-union. At its best it is a thoroughly reformist organization, which – in the course of maintaining and extending its power- and tying Negro voters more firmly to the state- finds good allies in the black bourgeoisie and certain Churches in the South. The demand for Negro emancipation is the demand of already “advanced” blacks for recognition in practice of their social differences from the Southern proletariat (black and white), and their social and political similarities to the white middle class,

2. We would equally have to regard the white proletariat, demonstrating in the streets of Southern towns, as products of their harsh social environment. White proles live in mental, cultural and economic misery as the poorest inhabitants of the poorest parts of the U.S.A. Their oppressed conditions make them ready victims for an ideology of racial hatred. The white proles are nigger-haters because their rulers (the politicians bosses, policemen, trade unions) have tied their political passions hand and foots their racial violence is a consequence of their oppression. This illustrates a point of central importance: bayonets can repress symptoms, but they cannot cure social conditions. The white proletariat can be kept by state brutality from attacking Negro children – but, since this does nothing to affect the social conditions which indirectly motivate the white crowds, nothing has been done for Negro freedom.

From the last point it follows that the struggle in the South is far from fully explained by looking at the interests of various groups involved, without taking into account the roles of the states (the governments of the Southern states and the central government) as independent repressive institutions. This is just at the arch-sentimentalists on the Negro question, the communists, cannot admit. That is why, since Eisenhower sent paratroopers to Little Rock (to defend Negroes’ freedom, we are told ) Marxists have nothing to say. They are reduced to silence by the spectacle of Washington sticking for the oppressed toy methods similar to those used by communists. But we already know that the effective pressure for integration comes from not from the oppressed but from the well-off blacks. And we also know it the reason why Eisenhower’s police are in Little Rock does not matter much at all. What they are doing, what effects they are having is what matters. State brutality in Arkansas is grounded in a struggle for political power over the question of whose policies shall prevail – Southern forces whose interests are mainly local, including above all those of Southern state politicians and bureaucracies, or central state power whose interest in the present issue is to a large extent that of tying to itself 20 million American Negroes by bringing them into its bit of voting, state-dependent, obedient citizens. The states involved in this case (as in other cases) are not just tools of competing factions: Eisenhower’s administration d Southern governors are pursuing their own political interests. No doubt the outcome of events will be weakening of the various states as against the influence of the central government.

The issues in the South, then, are represented as a struggle for emancipation of Negroes. The leading issues of the complex situation are the social changes and adjustments consequent upon industrialization among white-black and black-black relationships, and the centralizing effects of Federal intervention. The black bourgeoisie is demanding equality (but especially differentiation from black proles). Their struggle coincides with and is supported by centralizing tendencies of Washington which ensures its success. In years to come the black aristocracy will no doubt attain a position of greater de facto privilege and security than they are now enjoying. And some of this will rub off on to the black proletariat who, at the end of the long process, will perhaps be able to take their place as fully privileged members of the underprivileged classes: they will share their buses, schools, grocery shops, bars and their mental and physical servitude. We are all brothers under the boot, brother.