Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Congress of African People

Revolutionary Review: The Black Nation Thesis


First Published in two parts: Unity and Struggle, Vol. V, Nos. 3 and 4, March and April 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Pamphlet, “Critique of the Black Nation Thesis”, is yet another recent attempt by a group claiming to be Marxist to liquidate the Afro-American National Question and reduce the struggle of Black people to a watered down “moral” and intellectual plea for equality.

The authors are a group of people calling themselves the Racism Research Project. This group gives as their point of departure the need for a Marxist critical analysis of racism in America. However, nowhere in the pamphlet is this analysis given. And, upon reading it you know why. Even in their weak attempt to dispute the existence of the Black nation, Marxism is never used, though they make twisted references to comrades Lenin and Stalin.

The chauvinism in this pamphlet is evidenced by such statements as, “This view has long been identified as the Marxist position on Black Liberation both because its authors have invoked the name of Marxism. . .and because no one outside of Marxist Circles has ever seriously espoused it.” Obviously these intellectual racism researchers never bothered to research the Black Liberation Movement, because they would have discovered that such groups as the African Blood Brotherhood in the early 1900's called for Self-determination of Black People in the old slave south. Or had they really investigated they would have seen that the Nation of Islam, one of the largest Black organizations to exist, called consistently for 40 years for independence and separate statehood for the Black masses in the U.S. using the land base of the slave south as our national territory, all this being based on Black peoples historical development. Or what about the Republic of New Africa, what circle are they in? It is obvious already that this book is a shallow attempt to attack the right of self-determination for the Afro-American people.

But, they do not stop there. They go on to say that upholding the existence of a Black Nation and the right to Self-determination can “serve as a sophistic means of dividing a nation.” What outrageous chauvinism! Perhaps the racism researchers would do good to read Lenin and get an understanding that it is not the oppressed nations that have divided the world but Imperialism!

But it is clear that the intent of the racism researchers is not to use Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought, to support and/ or clarify their position, (M-L-M would only prove this thesis incorrectness). But they only intended to distort and attack the revolutionary essence of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought.

Check out how they distort and attack Stalin's definitions of a nation, as he clearly and correctly laid out in Marxism and the National Question, “A nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and a psychological makeup manifested in a common culture.” What do these racism researchers have to say, “those characteristic features which a nation necessarily exhibits are not always what is sufficient to make a nation.” Well, what is; the approval of the racism researchers?

But this is not the end of their attacks on Marxism. They also state, “the Black Belt being the national territory of the Black Nation. . .and Blacks elsewhere being a national minority. . .constitutes the “communist” contribution to this muddled debate.” But if this is the communist contribution, what or who are they saying is muddling the debate? Because this contribution was not only made by leading American communists, but in 1928 and 1930 the Communist International passed resolutions firmly stating the definite existence of the Black Nation and upholding the right of Self-determination. Again a little research will reveal that the C.I. at the time was under the leadership of the first socialist country the U.S.S.R. headed by Comrade Stalin. Or if the debate is so muddled perhaps these racism researchers think it was Comrade Lenin who muddled it when he said, “In the United States the Negroes. . .account for only 11.1%. They should be classed as an oppressed nation. . .” Or maybe it is the fact that the CPUSA when it was fighting to uphold the revolutionary principles of Marxism-Leninism, and took the correct stand in support of the Black Nation's right to Self-determination, registered 10,000 black people in their ranks in one year during the 30's. This is just an opportunist attack on Marxism-Leninism.

The two main areas that these racism researchers use to attack the Black nation, are common territory and common economic life.

The land base of the Black Nation is the Black Belt south and the border areas. What most black people refer to as “down home.” In their attempt to dispute the existence of this as our national territory, the racism researchers point to the fact that the analysis is done based on Black peoples relationship to whites, and that the analysis should be made based on the internal conditions in the Black Belt. But what they fail to see is that the analysis is based not on Black peoples’ relationship to whites as such, but based on black peoples’ relationship to slavery and then to capitalism and imperialism.

They continue to try and disprove the existence of the Black Nation with statistics, saying that over 45% of the Black population is no longer in the South, and the territory is over 40% white. But the fact that there was a large migration of Black people from the south does not dispute the existence of the nation, and any close look at the migration would show that black people left the south by force, violence (KKK), economic coercion, and the lack of promise of jobs.

The existence of whites in the south no more disputes the existence of the nation, than the existence of Blacks in the north dispute the existence of the American nation. Only, people using bourgeois logic as there tool of analysis would make such an absurd statement.

The Racism Research Project contends that Blacks do not have a common economic life. But as we can see through looking at the historical development of Black people in the U.S., it was the emergence of a class structure, a black market created by segregation and served by a Black Bourgeoisie, among black people and the consolidation of those classes through reconstruction and after, that signified a definite common economic life among black people. The Black Bourgeoisie is stunted by imperialism, and kept from reaching the level of some of their U.S. (white) counterparts, but there is still an economic cohesion in the Black Nation based on a developed class structure with a Black market “served”, and exploited by a Black Bourgeoisie. Though it is true N.C. Mutual cannot hire as many wage workers or exploit as many blacks as Prudential. But penetration of 3rd World Nations by imperialism is not unique with the Black Belt. And even with employment by the imperialists the wage level and the standard of living is lowest among Blacks, and especially in the Black Belt, where all the workers wages are pitifully depressed by the national oppression of the Black Belt. And even outside the Black Belt that blacks in effect make up an almost separate labor market, even as an oppressed nationality as part of the multi-national working class. The racism researchers contend that there is no Black bourgeois. That they are just the upper-strata of the proletariat. But, the fact that imperialism stifles and prevents the Black Bourgeoisie from getting as large as the American Bourgeois, should not be confused with their role in production and society. The Black bourgeois like all bourgeois own wealth that is used to exploit and this wealth they own comes from their exploitation of labor.

A section of the pamphlet dealing with Black Nationalism, claims that Black nationalism is only the call for Nation Building, and the need for Black solidarity against racism. But again, the racism researchers have negated the historical call of different Black organizations for “land and Power,” in the historical homeland. The fact that Black nationalism is indeed a call for solidarity against racism, points to the continuation of the national character of our struggle outside of the Black Belt, and the continuing national character of our oppression even in Northern urban centers where we live in almost exact duplication of the conditions inside of the Black Nation.

The racism researchers refuse throughout the pamphlet to explain that racism is a product of the slave trade and early capitalism, institutionalized as a part of the western capitalist superstructure by the trade in Afrikan slaves. Or that racism is used as a tool that has/does objectively divide the working class, just as it was a tool to keep slaves and poor white peasants divided and just as it is used today to keep the Black nation and Black Nationality (elsewhere) oppressed.

The “Critique of the Black Nation Thesis”, is an expose' of the rampant chauvinism and anti-Marxist positions that are in the communist movement today. Real communist revolutionaries should expose this pamphlet as a perpetuation of white chauvinism and racism, and move to uphold the rights of self-determination. Because finally the Black nation is not a thesis, it is a fact, and it will be liberated, just as there will be a socialist revolution in the U.S. The revolution will be led by a vanguard communist party, and the party will be built faster by communists taking a correct line on the Black National Question, sweeping aside all chauvinists.