Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Workers Group (Marxist-Leninist)

Our Tasks on the National Question

Against Nationalist Deviations in Our Movement


The nearly simultaneous appearance of the Chang and New Voice pamphlets must be causing the New Voice some embarrassment. Here the Revolutionary Union, the Communist League, the October League, and the Black Workers Congress have been dominating the movement scene with their various renditions of the national question, and the New Voice at last surfaces for the counterattack. But the moment it enters into battle, it suddenly finds Harry Chang at its side, throwing his “rigor” into the frey. It would be bad enough to have someone like Professor Chang on your side, but is something on the order of a major disaster to have reached, quite independently, the same conclusions as Dr. Chang. How the New Voice must have shuddered, reading through the Critique and seeing the “logical” extension of their own line of reasoning.

The reader will remember the New Voice from Charles Loren’s little pamphlet, The Struggle for the Party, which appeared a few years back. In that pamphlet, the New Voice critiqued the lines of the Guardian, the RU and the OL on party-building. This was in the days when those three groups formed a loose bloc, when there were relatively minor contradictions between them, and when they could all appear on the same stage without puking. That is all ancient history now. The RU was the first to leave the troika over the Boston busing issue. The Guardian and the OL enjoyed a brief romance until they offended each other during International Women’s Day. The OL has since solidified its “left” revisionist stand, and the Guardian has gone back to criticizing the liberal establishment.

At the time Loren’s pamphlet appeared, it was legitimate to treat the three groups as a common tendency, despite differences between them. Loren correctly criticized the opportunist errors of the trio, but from a pedagogic and sectarian standpoint. The pamphlet caused a small stir, was condemned by the accused, and forgotten. Now the New Voice has taken up the national question, and criticizes the RU, the OL and the Communist League. But although each group in one way or another advances the idea that Blacks in the U.S. are a nation, there are now significant differences between the presentations. By lumping them all together, the New Voice from the start grossly over-simplifies the various positions and so allows for further deviations to arise. In the process, the New Voice offers the movement a complimentary form of opportunism, the “racism pure and simple” line.

The New Voice position is, except for Dr. Chang’s white skin privilege, point by point an exact duplication of the Chang thesis. The difference is that the New Voice has less academic filigree, claims to be a communist organization, and has more concern than our professor in finding the correct basis for organizing the workingclass. Like the RU and the BWC, the opportunism of the New Voice is a natural product of the undeveloped state of the movement as a whole, its liability to deviations in one form or another, its tendency to one-sidedness, and its lack of Marxist-Leninist formulation and method. Such deviations must be ruthlessly exposed, not with the aim of driving their advocates out of the movement, but with the aim of forcing the lines out of the movement. If our criticism is comprehensive and valid, and if it is accepted, it is simply a matter of recognizing mistakes and advancing on that basis to a higher stage.

A. Racism or the National Question

The New Voice introduces its argument with the following statement:

In the communist movement in the U.S., a struggle is going on between two approaches to the analysis of racism: the class analysis and the nationalist approach. Are black people overwhelmingly workers and part of one working class in struggle against one, domestic capitalist class? Or are the black people a distinct nation, and is their struggle against an outside, invading, colonialist oppressive class? In short, racism or the ’national question’? Defeat the “National Question” p. 4

The national question is hung in quotation marks since the New Voice rejects its application to the domestic U.S. Thus we have the simplistic distinction that Dr. Chang has already introduced us to. On the one hand, the race question. On the other, the national question, in quotes. One is the class analysis. The other the “nationalist” approach. With such a glaring contradiction, we of course have no choice but to side with the “class” approach. No one wants to be branded a nationalist. Therefore, if we are following the New Voice, we will throw off the “national question” from the start.

The objective presentation of the national question, on the other hand, is also a “class analysis”, since nations are composed of classes, and relations between nations involve relations between various classes. It is therefore not the “national question” which is at fault, but its faulty, i.e. nationalist or chauvinist, presentation. This is something that slips by the New Voice, which is so obsessed with “classes” it loses sight of the historical context that classes occur in. In reality, there are at least .four possible approaches to the conditions of Blacks in the U.S.: (1) racism pure and simple, (2) the narrow nationalist presentation, (3) the great-nation chauvinist analysis (accommodation of narrow nationalism), and (4) the class analysis of both racial and national features. There are of course many variations within each approach, and hybrids between different approaches, but these are the four basic types.

The works of the CL, the RU and the OL are written off as a “mass of liberal racism and nationalism –bourgeois ideology”. It goes without saying that every form of deviation is a form of bourgeois ideology. But what purpose is served by lumping a11 deviations together into one “mass” and pronouncing judgment on it? The only possible benefit is simplification, but it is simplification at the expense of accuracy. Simplification at one pole justifies simplification at its opposite pole, and it is only by stacking all the national questioners into one pile that the New Voice can create a striking contrast for “racism pure and simple”. We are served up a portion of this simplicity in the following:

Are the black people a distinct nation? Or is racism a system of discrimination and unequal rights to divide the working class? Defeat the “National Question” p. 4

The “national question” is put into one corner, “racism a system of discrimination” is put into the other, and between them the New Voice puts a bold and uncompromising “or”. From this it follows that if Blacks are a nation within the U.S., racism cannot be a system of discrimination. The New Voice’s “or” is not a slip of the pen, but follows directly from their initial division between race and nationality. It does not occur to them that a people who are oppressed as a nation can also be oppressed as a race, and that there is no contradiction whatsoever between racial and national categories.

The New Voice opposes the national question on the grounds that it perpetuates divisions along racial lines, and thus subverts the unity of the workingclass. Apparently those that employ the framework of the national question are consciously intent on wrecking the workingclass movement and fostering racism. Racism _or the national question:

In the course of the investigation it has been necessary, of course, to examine the nationalist and liberal racist ideas peddled by those who talk about the ’national question’. The ideology of internal nations serves only the bourgeoisie in its strategy of fomenting racial divisions within a single revolutionary class. The workingclass need class consciousness, not nationalism or liberal racism. Defeat the “National Question” p. 4-5

There is no doubt that the national question has served as a cover for narrow nationalism and great-nation chauvinism. But it is crucial for our movement to understand the difference between the two, the reasons why they are put forward, and how these deviations on the line differ from the line itself. It is not enough to simply hang the national question in quotes. In order for the national question to be completely irrelevant to the internal U.S., it would have to be proven without a doubt that Blacks in the U.S. are not and never have been a nation, nor approaching nationhood. In order for “racism pure and simple” to apply, it would have to be proven beyond doubt that Blacks have only racial characteristics, and are oppressed as a people only on the basis of the color line. In order to determine all of this, we would of course use the theoretical framework of the national question, the question of criteria, self-determination, etc. and it is therefore utter nonsense to talk about “defeating” the national question line. What needs to be defeated is the opportunist application of the national question, the distortion of criteria, the invention of new periods and so on. It is likewise just as necessary to defeat, not the “racism” line, but the opportunist application of “racism pure and simple”.

The New Voice sets out to defeat the “national question”, and given the presentations of the CL, the RU and the OL, has plenty of material to draw on. We are not told why the New Voice has picked these organizations as representative of the “national question”. The CL has veered so sharply to Trotskyism, it has fallen out of the picture altogether. The OL is content to substitute reprints of Harry Haywood in lieu of a formulated position. Only the RU and the BWC have dealt with the national question in any sort of volume, and the New Voice doesn’t touch the BWC. We are left, then, with the main proponent, the RU.

The New Voice makes several valid, and several invalid appraisals of the RU’s presentation. It states that:

The thrust of the RU’s entire approach to the national question is to pursue different ’forms’ past the point where they constitute a national question at all. Defeat the “National Question” p. 12

This is in response to the fact that the RU goes to such lengths to prove the possibility of a Black nation, and then reverses itself in order to show that the “essential thrust” of the Black liberation movement is not towards self-determination. As we have seen, the RU does this in order to attract and accommodate the Black nationalists, and in its peculiar way win them over to its idea of class struggle. The New Voice completely misses this point, assuming that the RU is merely being “liberal racist”.

In the same way, the New Voice assumes it understands the dynamics of the Third Period without bothering to see how the RU’s period relates to Stalin’s analysis. The New Voice states there are only two periods, and that the RU’s is a fabrication. The RU’s Third Period ^s a fabrication, but there are in fact three periods, as Stalin noted, the third one being the national question under socialism. The New Voice has not done its homework, since it thinks this “national question” can easily be disposed of, and so ends up committing gross theoretical blunders. This will allow the RU, in turn, to defend its Third Period, on the grounds that Stalin himself cited three, etc. The New Voice has, in spite of itself, contributed to the RU’s formulation by not correctly criticizing its actual errors.

What is the point of criticizing opportunist errors in our movement if not to advance the movement to a higher stage, tighten our grasp on Marxism-Leninism, and put our feet on a solid foundation? If the New Voice is so intent on “defeating the ’national question’ line in the U.S.”, it should take the time to find out what this national question is all about and why proponents of the Black nation have taken this particular approach. From the New Voice pamphlet we can only assume that it took, not the ”sum total of facts”, but the bare minimum. It has not thought things through. It critiques the SU for taking a shortcut to liberalism, but takes shortcuts of its own, even to the point of talking in a self-confident way about Stalin’s five (five!) criteria. Is the New Voice criticizing the RU, or following in its footsteps?

B. The Multi-national State

How do the proponents of the national question arrive at their conclusions?

Instead of a class analysis to guide us, however, idealists in the movement notice two superficial facts that lead to a superficial conclusion. They notice that racial minorities in the U.S. live under worse conditions than the average – just like in the colonies. They notice that those more oppressed in the U.S. are disproportionately Third World, i.e., non-Caucasion –just like in the colonies. The conclusion: minorities in the U.S. are really nations enslaved within these borders and the correct analysis of the problem is not racism but the ’national question’. Defeat the “National Question” p. 15

Who is being “idealist” here? The CL may be responsible for such simple-mindedness, but the RU and the BWC are much more deliberate in showing that they base their positions not on racial or “oppressed” features in general, but on specifically national attributes of the Black population. They do so with an opportunist slant, granted, but the New Voice’s oversimplification allows that opportunist slant to develop into a full-fledged “inclined plane” down which the entire movement can slide. Not a word about the historical development of the national question line in the CPUSA. Not a word about the struggle against revisionism within the new communist movement and its relation to the revival of one of the CP’s old, “non-revisionist” lines on the national question. Not a word about the very powerful currents of Black nationalism within the Black community that have surfaced among the Black intelligensia. Not a word about the BWC’s realization of those currents in a “Marxist” disguise. Not a word about the RU’s accommodation of those currents and the RU’s motivation for doing so. Instead, we are led to believe that the proponents of a Black nation have, very much on their own, drawn simplistic parallels between colonial oppression and the oppression of Blacks in the U.S. This simplification is very convenient for the New Voice, but completely worthless for our movement.

The advocates of the national question, we are told, advance the idea that the U.S. is a multi-national state. By this the New Voice takes to mean that the concept of multi-national states applies only to nations that oppress internal nations. But that is absurd, says the New Voice. Multi-national states do not exist. There is only neo-colonialism.

The national question in the world today is one of neo-colonialism, and not multi-national states or any combination of the two. Defeat the ”National Question” p. 18

Besides, there is nothing even resembling a multi-national state in the U.S.

Nothing in the development of the United States follows the pattern of the multi-national state. Neither does the Southern U.S. or any other part of the country look anything like a neo-colony. Defeat the “National Question” p. 19

It doesn’t look like a neo-colony, therefore it is not. Further,

In short, those who glibly speak of the U.S. as a multi-national state pervert the Marxist analysis of social systems and development. Defeat the “National Question” p. 19

The RU substantiates its positions on the basis of “we are convinced”. The New Voice is likewise “convinced”. But convictions have little to do with reality unless they are backed with the sum total of facts. We cannot run a movement on bull-headedness, comrades, despite all your “convictions” and good intentions. If the New Voice had bothered pursuing the matter, it would have discovered that there are, in fact, multi-national states under modern imperialism. According to Stalin, it is in the second period that the formerly integral single-nation states become imperialist states, and that imperialist states are precisely multi-national states, i.e. oppress other nations under one state structure. The New Voice goes to such lengths to disprove the multinational state under imperialism, thinking that it thereby strikes a blow against the “pro-nationalists”, but in fact only beats at itself.

C. Race and Nationhood

Here we would expect an analysis of race and nationality, the historical evolution of each, and how the two categories are contradictory or interrelated. Instead of an objective framework, we are given a subjective look at the subjective positions of the RU and the CL. The “pro-nationalists” make use of the fact that segregation after Reconstruction prevented the Black population from merging directly into the general population of the U.S. That, and the incredible oppression Blacks suffered generated a common national identity, their separation into a specific territory and the evolution of a separate domestic economy. The RU, and especially the BWC, make this subjective national identity one of the main elements of the Black nation, and so put the national question on a subjective basis.

What does the New Voice do with this? It rejects the “pro-nationalist” thesis, not because it is subjective, but because

The division was and is artificial, created by a minority ruling class, not in the interest of either white or black workers. Defeat the “National Question” p. 24


We dispute the idea that the special oppression of blacks during Reconstruction or since proves nationhood for the oppressed. Defeat the “National Question” p. 26

The division between Blacks and whites was not “real”, that is, national, but was only imposed by a minority ruling bourgeoisie. Therefore Blacks are not a nation. The New Voice has not thought this through, or it would realize that national distinctions, too, become at a certain point “artificial” and “not in the interest of” any workers. True, the fact of division does not prove that the division is a national one. But it is just as plain that divisions are one factor of nationality, and it is the ruling class of every nation that attempts to make the most of those divisions, either to create a home market, or to oppress another home market. Special oppression, likewise, does not prove nationality, but it is the special oppression of a people, and their division from another people, that may set them apart and engender such national features as a common culture, common language, common territory, and common economy. It is all very well and good to “dispute” the subjective interpretation of these phenomena, i.e. that special oppression in itself equals nationhood, but it is a gross error to overlook the objective development of national or nation-like features due to divisions and special oppression.

How does race relate to the national question? Racism is a means to divide the workingclass along the color line. The “national question” proposes

...that the left institutionalize this division by defining nations on the same basis. Defeat the “National Question” p. 30

Does defining actual nations as nations “institutionalize” divisions between workers of different nationalities? In the case of actual nations it should be clear that national differences are completely subordinate from the workingclass standpoint. The only reason communists must correctly resolve the national question is precisely to prevent national distinctions from becoming primary and divisive. On the one hand, communists must expose the attempt by the imperialist bourgeoisie to foster great-nation chauvinism and national oppression, must fight against imperialist “self-determination”. On the other hand, communists must expose the attempt by the oppressed bourgeoisie to assert the national line over the class line. It is solely to put national distinctions in their proper perspective and develop principled means of dealing with the forms of national chauvinism that stem from national oppression that we have a national question to begin with. Why, then, all this to-do about “institutionalizing” distinctions between workers. Whether it is objectively accurate or not to define Blacks in the U.S. as a nation, the definition itself does not “institutionalize” divisions within the workingclass. It is possible to institutionalize such divisions only if by nation we mean bourgeois nationalism, separatism and national isolationism. That is the position put forward, say, by the early BWC, but the contradiction is not from defining Blacks as a nation, but from using such a definition as a rationalization for nationalist separatism. Determining the objective status of a people is one thing. Defining a people according to subjective bias is quite another. Unless we have a clear understanding of the working-class position on nations and draw an indelible line between that position and bourgeois nationalism, we will inevitably make nationalist errors of one sort of another. That is precisely what the New Voice has done.

Let us suppose for a moment that Blacks are, as the NOT Voice states, a race “pure and simple”. Then attempts to define Blacks as a nation could stem from: (1) theoretical incompetence, from the failure to understand racial and national categories; (2) narrow nationalism; and (3) great-nation chauvinism, here taking the form of accommodation of narrow nationalism. Each subjective deviation differs from the others, and the three taken together differ from the Marxist-Leninist principle on the national question. In the same way, the principle of the right of nations to self-determination is given a bourgeois interpretation when on the one hand it is used to rationalize imperialist “self-determination” and on the other hand is used to defend narrow nationalism. But it would be a “howling theoretical error” to accuse the principle of self-determination of “institutionalizing” divisions, simply because the bourgeois distortions of self-determination do institutionalize divisions.

On the other hand, if we suppose for a moment that Blacks are a nation, then attempts to define them as a “race pure and simple” are expressions of (1) theoretical incompetence, or (2) great-nation chauvinism, here completely liquidating the national features in order to perpetuate national oppression under the guise of “anti-racism”.

It should be clear that, like any other major question before our movement, even the formally correct solution of the Black question is only half the problem. If Blacks are a nation and defined as such, there are still innumerable ways for narrow nationalism, great-nation chauvinism and racism to surface in Party work. Likewise, if Blacks are only a race, and defined as such, nationalism and racism will inevitably find a way to exert themselves.

The New Voice completely avoids the relationship between race and nationality, the fact that a race in a particular area can have national attributes, or that a nation can have strongly pronounced racial features. These very real phenomena would only interfere with the New Voice’s attempt to draw an absolute demarcation between race and nationality. That is fine if you are living in a theoretical construction, but the real world has greater demands. It is a fundamental of Marxism that anyone who avoids the sum total of facts and relationships in considering a problem is in one way or another, consciously or unconsciously, defending a narrow, bourgeois viewpoint. The New Voice, which likes to talk in a sincere way about the invincibility of the truth, is so convinced it has a firm grasp on this “national question” it doesn’t notice that the truth has completely passed it by.

D. The Question of Material Basis

We are all materialists, so it naturally occurs to us to begin looking around for the “material basis” of anything that drifts into our line of sight. This is the New Voice’s “clincher” for defeating the “national question”. The “pro-nationalists” place the material basis of Black oppression on the fact that Blacks are a nation. The race liners, such as the New Voice, place the material basis of Black oppression on the fact that Blacks are racially oppressed. We are led to believe there is a stark contradiction between these two “material bases”, that one is more of a “basis” than the other, and that there can be no inter-mingling of the two. Another clear-cut, either/or proposition.

What is the material basis of racism? That the bourgeoisie uses racial distinctions, like it uses all other distinctions, to divide the workingclass, and thus force a sector of the workingclass into the lowest paid and most oppressive jobs. The wage differential, hiring and layoff policies, and the standard of living that accompany the lowest paid jobs: such is the material basis of Black oppression. By forcing a part of the workingclass into the worst paid jobs on the basis of color, the bourgeoisie is able to lead the rest of the workingclass into the illusion that they enjoy innumerable benefits from racism, and therefore have a stake in defending and perpetuating it. In this way, the entire wage-scale of the workingclass is kept to a bare minimum. The material basis of racism is therefore the immense profit margin the bourgeoisie maintains by pitting one section of the workingclass against the other. It is exactly the same material basis as economism in general, except that instead of the color line, the bourgeoisie manipulates craft and industrial lines.

It is this higher and more secure profit margin that initiates bourgeois racism. This is apparently something the “pro-nationalists” are completely ignorant of:

Liberal racists and nationalists do not accept the class analysis of racism. Therefore, it is necessary for those who claim to be Marxist-Leninists to propose another material basis for the attitudes of ’white chauvinism’, as they term racist attitudes. The analysis we are examining runs along the line that the black people are a nation, and that their struggle is that of an oppressed nation, while white workers are part of an oppressing white nation. Defeat the “National Question” p.31

What is it the New Voice resents in the “pro-nationalist” line? That it indentifies white workers with the white bourgeoisie, making them part of the “oppressing white nation”. But this does not follow directly from considering Blacks from the standpoint of the national question. The Sojourner Truth Organization, for example, takes the “class” approach to racism, and yet ends up with the position that white workers are part of an oppressing race, enjoy white skin privileges, etc. That sort of conclusion can be drawn regardless of the theoretical framework a particular organization may have. It easily follows from Harry Chang’s analysis, which so closely resembles the New Voice’s, what with his “White’s monopolized claim of the subjective”. All that is required is that you be sufficiently opportunist. The problem is not that the national question generates the color line, whereas the race question generates the class line. It should be self-evident that no matter what framework an organization has, it is liable to every sort of deviation. The problem is not the race approach versus the national approach. The problem is precisely the opportunist handling of both.

What is the material basis of national oppression? The New Voice goes to great lengths to describe the lack of national characteristics among Blacks, the lack of common territory, the lack of common economy, etc., but nowhere gives a clear statement of what exactly this “material basis” of national oppression really is. It assumes it is enough simply to liquidate the notion of a Black nation without bothering to analyse the general framework of national oppression, and without drawing the distinctions between racial oppression in general and national oppression. Without an analysis of each, we have no way of knowing whether our “pro-nationalists” are rejecting racial oppression or not.

A nation is a historically evolved ensemble of four characteristics, features, or criteria. When a people are oppressed as a nation, their national relationships are suppressed or exploited. The oppressing nation dominates the home market, exploits labor-power, cultivates an imperialist sector of production. Hence exploitation of the economy. The oppressing nation uses the subject nation as a source of raw materials and energy resources, and so the exploitation of the territory and natural wealth. In order to facilitate this economic exploitation and reduce domestic competition, the oppressing nation suppresses the subject nation’s language and culture. The suppression of native language and culture is a means not only to secure control of the market, but a means to cultivate a comprador mentality among the upper strata of the oppressed nation, and thus create a native repressive apparatus. The suppression of language and culture is a material fact of life. The “material basis” of national oppression is therefore the comprehensive exploitation of a people, their labor-power, economy, land, raw materials, and the suppression of their language and national culture. In terms of material rewards, national oppression is much more lucrative than racism for the imperialist bourgeoisie, given the wider scope of exploitable materials.

What of the relations between workers of the oppressed nations and and workers of the oppressor nation? The imperialist bourgeoisie attempts to engender national chauvinism among the population at large, claiming their “own” workers have a stake in national oppression. Thus they are encouraged to believe they have “national privileges” due to their status in the “superior” nation. The workers of the oppressed nation are given just the opposite, and are encouraged to identify the workers of the oppressor nation with the imperialist bourgeoisie. To the degree that this splitting tactic works, the working populations of both nations are divided along what is now pictured as national antagonism between the two peoples.

There is, of course, no basis for the idea of national privileges. The imperialist bourgeoisie conspires with and supports the local feudal or semi-feudal elements (if they exist), and the comprador bourgeoisie in order to keep the standard of living of the oppressed nation at a starvation level. The profits made from the cheaper labor and ready supply of raw materials goes, not to the general population of the oppressor nation, but to the imperialist bourgeoisie. The lower wages in the oppressed nation enables the Imperialists to maintain minimum wages at home. The only beneficiaries of imperialism other than the bourgeoisie is the labor aristocracy, a handful of labor bureaucrats who foster imperialist mentality among the top strata of workers.

Racial oppression and national oppression, then, are distinguished only by the added areas of exploitation found under national oppression and by the suppression of features peculiar to nations, but not to races, i.e. language and culture. Further, racial and national oppression may be combined, as they are when the imperialist bourgeoisie uses both the color line and the national line to divide workers of both countries. It would be absurd, therefore, to accuse someone of minimizing a people’s oppression by calling it national oppression rather than racial oppression. If anything, the reverse tendency is more likely. If national oppression can be reduced to racial oppression, the national features are still subject to exploitation.

None of this fits into the New Voice’s worldview. Everything must be in a stark contrast, race versus nationality. The New Voice starts with the “scientific” approach, and ends up making a big moral argument. If things were as simple as the New Voice makes them out to be, we would have no difficulty choosing one trend over another. As it is, opportunist tendencies in our movement do not fix on one or another approach (the race line or the national line) but settle in whatever position is most comfortable at the moment, always will to “move along” under the threat of exposure. To forget this elementary fact, and instead focus solely on one or another “approach” in a narrow way, is to perpetuate narrowness and opportunism in our movement.

E. The Question of “Proof”

The New Voice knows we won’t settle for what it “disputes” or is convinced of, and so sets about showing us its mastery of the “scientific” method, maps, facts, percentages, and so on. Up to now we have only been told that Blacks are not and never were a nation, that the “national question” is an outlet for liberal racism and nationalism, and that the only solution is the “race” line. Now we are given “undeniable” evidence that Blacks are not now a nation. We are not told how the present non-existence of a Black nation also automatically proves its past non-existence, but somewhere the New Voice has made such a leap, and if we’re to prove ourselves fit for struggle, we must leap along with them.

First we are told:

Since a nation must exist today for the argument of the liberal racists and nationalists, it is important in light of such rapid change to use current figures. Figures even from the 1960 Census are inadequate and outdated. Defeat the “National Question” p. 33

The Black population is dispersing at a rapid rate. We must therefore use the most recent figures, since the more dispersed the Black population is, the less evidence there is of a nation, and at all costs we must disprove the Black nation. Such is the way the minds of certain people work. Furthermore, the existence of a Black nation and the existence of liberal racists and nationalists appear to be inseparably bound. It is therefore not a matter of determining an objective phenomenon, the possible existence of a Black nation, and also criticizing subjective interpretations of that phenomenon, criticizing the liberal racists and nationalists. No. We must do away with the whole “mass”, the racists, nationalists, and the Black nation. The logical conclusion of this assumption is that if, in fact, Blacks are a nation, our liberal racists and nationalists would be vindicated, in fact, legitimized. From that fact it would likewise follow that since Blacks are a nation, their oppression is national oppression, and since national oppression and racial oppression are mutually exclusive, there is therefore no need to struggle against racism. In fact, if we follow the New Voice’s logic, it would therefore be wrong “in principle” to struggle against racism, just as now, from the New Voice’s standpoint, it is wrong “in principle” to struggle against the national oppression of Blacks. A curious logic for “communists”.

If the New Voice had bothered studying the documents of the “pro-nationalists” in any detail, it would have noticed that the reality of a Black nation has nothing at all to do with the opportunist renditions of the national question. Liberal racism and nationalism will express themselves regardless of objective conditions. This “oversight” by the New Voice leaves ample room for the RU or the BWC to counter-attack on the basis of “potentiality”. To the early BWC the Black Nation Is held together not by territory or common economy, but through will-power, through reserving the “right to reclaim that historic homeland”. The RU has its Nation of a New Type, quite independent of objective reality and the “...formulations and even the vocabulary of Marxism-Leninism in dealing with the national question in earlier historical periods”. If the New Voice wishes to expose opportunism, that is one thing. In that case, it should deal with opportunist arguments, their mode of presentation, and the reasons for their existence. If it wishes to determine the existence of a Black nation, that is something altogether different. But to attempt to defeat opportunism on the basis of disproving the Black nation, that is just another form of opportunism, and has nothing in common with Marxism-Leninism.

What do the New Voice’s facts, maps and figures show? That the Black population is dispersed, that there are only 105 counties of Black majority, that those counties are not contiguous, but dispersed throughout the South, that only 2.5% of Black families are farmers, that 96% of Blacks are workers, and that Black businesses deal primarily in services. As with Professor Chang, the New Voice considers territory and economy separately, and so gives us no figures on the degree of economic community within the majority areas. Why does the New Voice divide the territorial and economic categories? Because, as our liquidationists never tire of saying, “Stalin said” that it was sufficient for one criteria to be absent, and the nation is no longer a nation. This has been reduced to something on the order of: 1+1+1+1 = 4; 4 -territory = 3; 3 is not 4 and therefore 4 no longer exists. But 3 still resembles 4 in some ways, so we subtract common economy and get 2. Two is must less four than three, and therefore can in no way be confused as four, or a potential four. Therefore Blacks are not a nation. Therefore “racism pure and simple”.

All this arithmetic says nothing about the historical development of Blacks, of whether they were once a nation, or were approaching nation, hood before dispersion set in. Nor do our liquidators realize they are still left with two features of a nation, common language and common culture. It is easy to dispose of common language since “we all talk American” But it is more convenient from the New Voice standpoint to simply avoid mentioning common culture altogether. A common culture, being a national attribute, has no place in “racism pure and simple?’.

The New Voice’s “proof” offers us nothing more than we have already learned through the data of the RU and the BWC. It would appear that Blacks are not presently a nation, but we cannot build a principled movement on appearances alone. It was on the basis of such appearances that the BWC developed its line on property right “in escrow”, that the RU developed the Nation of a New Type, and on which Harry Chang made his pathetic attempt to smuggle liberalism into the movement.

The question of whether Blacks in the U.S. are or are not, have or have not been, a nation must be answered if we are to have a principled position on the Black liberation movement. And we cannot develop correct practice in Party work without such fundamental principles. The resolution of this question demands a Marxist-Leninist framework, a thorough communist style of work, and absolute fidelity to objective relations. Once we have firmly grasped this method, not to prove or disprove, but merely to establish objective facts, then we are well on the way to achieving our principles. Criticizing deviations on interpretations, as we have done here, is something else entirely, and is meant only to clear the way for a Marxist-Leninist method on the national question.