Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Workers Viewpoint Organization

Liquidationism on the Afro-American Nation: CPUSA, 1919-1940

Published: In The Afro-American National Question, Volume II, n.d.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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It is almost 50 years since the Comintern (CI) Resolutions on the Afro-American Question in the United States, explicitly stated that the Afro-American people’s struggle in the Black Belt South was that of an oppressed nation fighting for liberation from U.S. imperialism. The correct line advancing the slogan of equal rights for Afro-Americans in all spheres and throughout the country necessitated the special demand in the Black Belt South of “self-determination of the Afro-American people in the Black Belt South.” The CI Resolutions were a direct continuation of Lenin’s teachings and line on the situation of Afro-Americans.

In its early leadership of the class and national struggle under the guidance of the CI, Lenin and Stalin, the CPUSA stood out in the revolutionary role of a Marxist-Leninist party. The correct line of the CI on the Afro-American question was upheld in theory and practice by the CPUSA. For a period the party significantly advanced the Afro-American struggle in the United States and in the deep South. The victories chalked up for the class and the national movement – victories such as the Scottsboro defense, strikes and union organizing among sharecroppers in the South, the unemployed, and workers in heavy industry, and numerous community struggles, especially during the decade of the 1930s – increased the influence and prestige of the fighting communist party among the Afro-American masses.

Two-line struggles on the national question were most sharp on the role, the relationship and the very existence of the oppressed nation. There were continuous struggles against revisionist tendencies, though without success during some important periods of party history. Eventually, due to lines rooted in American chauvinism, American bourgeois pragmatism and class collaboration, the CPUSA adopted full-blown revisionist lines on the Afro-American question. Degeneration of the party’s line affected a host of key positions and led to its total decay, into a modern revisionist party by the mid-1950s.

For most of the past half-century, the CPUSA failed to propagandize extensively the correct line of the CI Resolutions. With no less significance, this task remains for us today. Throughout U.S. history, national rebellion among Afro-Americans has flared up in protracted periods of mass struggle. The heroic struggles waged in the South during the mid-1950s, the black nationalist revolts of the late 60s and the present merging of the class and national struggles have not only brought new questions to the forefront of struggle but also intensified the revolutionary struggle against U.S. imperialism and speeded our march towards the dictatorship of the proletariat in the United States, for the goal of communism. Similarly, the anti-revisionist communist movement of the past eight or nine years has failed to explain with any clarity the correct position on the oppressed nation, the revolutionary role and potential of the national movements, and our present tasks. Since the development of the oppressed nation a century ago, the right of self-determination of the Afro-American people in the Black Belt South has not yet been exercised. Failure to achieve clarity on the question has persisted, though revolutionary storms of the Afro-American national liberation movement have profoundly affected the course of proletarian revolution.


The founding of the U.S. party in 1919-1921 was a product of the international class struggle led by Lenin, in a period also marked by the forging of the Third (Communist) International and its parties, the socialist movement in the United States and its fusion with the American working class struggles. Intensification of the fundamental contradiction in the aftermath of the first imperialist war, World War I; the rapidly developing U.S. working class stunning the packinghouse and steel industry with strikes (1919); the rupture with opportunism and social-imperialism, represented by the left-wing split from the Socialist Party (S.P.); the demands for equal rights from the oppressed nationalities and national minorities, especially linked to the mass migrations and struggle of Afro-Americans in the North; all were factors in the class and national struggle of the period. Internationally, the United States assumed a dominant position among the “great” imperialist powers and internally escalated repression with attacks such as the Palmer Raids (1919) – additional features and conditions facing the newly-forged Communist Party.

During the decade of World War I and previously, immigrant workers and workers of the oppressed national minorities (primarily Eastern and Southern European) played a most significant role in the leadership and mass struggles. In the spontaneous movement, such as the Lawrence textile strike of 1912, workers from a score of different nationalities together formed the backbone of struggle. The packinghouse movement centered around Eastern European immigrant workers, mostly Slavs, and in Chicago included some 12,000 Afro-Americans. In the major steel organizing campaigns and strikes of 1919, there were as many as 54 nationalities welded together in the struggle against the bourgeoisie. The majority of the heroic fighters of the United Mine Workers were foreign-born. In fact, most of the left wing of the S.P. which split in 1919, and the majority of the Communist (Workers) Party, were members of the language federations – socialist immigrant workers, organized along lines of language and nationality. There were dozens of communist dailies and weeklies in the languages of the oppressed, immigrant nationalities. Despite the relatively high degree of fusion between the communist and oppressed national minority movements, the U.S. party of the 1920s retained much of the chauvinist tendencies and line of the old Socialist Party with regards to the Afro-American question.

Lovestone’s Revisionism

The tremendous development of productive forces of U.S. capitalism in the post-Civil War transition from rising pre-monopoly capitalism obscured from these socialists an understanding of the actual content and class relations of national oppression in the United States. This problem was especially sharp with regard to continuing and maintaining semi-feudal productive relations and economic factors, as well as the political and social aspects of “semi-slave” status of Afro-Americans in the Deep South. Lenin’s own studies and analysis of the oppressed nation in the Black Belt South (“Capitalism and Agriculture in the U.S.”, 1916, “Statistics and Sociology”, “Preliminary Draft Theses on the National and Colonial Questions”, 1920), were negated by the U.S. party’s tendencies towards revisionist views on productive forces, industrialization and the struggle of the Afro-American masses. The dominant trend, until it was corrected by the CI, was the heavily chauvinistic line that Afro-Americans were a reserve of reaction. Lovestone, the General Secretary of the CPUSA wrote: “The great migration and industrialization of these Negro Masses further robs the bourgeoisie of a tremendous reserve force of social reaction.” (Daily Worker, Feb. 17, 1928)

“The Negro Question is a race question” was the CPUSA line which counterposed the Afro-American national question to the particularities of racism in the ideological and political superstructure. The pragmatic, pseudo-scientific influence of social-Darwinism fertilized the “race theories” and “race question.” Even before the resolutions more thoroughly rooted out the incorrect lines, the CI addressed the Afro-American national question in important ways. The Fourth World Congress of the CI in 1922 established the “Special Commission on the American Negro.”

1920s Program and Practice

The mass Afro-American movement of the early ’20s revealed the Afro-American masses’ deep-seated aspiration for national liberation. The Universal Negro Improvement Association led by Marcus Garvey involved upwards of a million Afro-Americans in the struggle for equal rights. The tremendous migrations from the peasant Black Belt South during World War I and right after expanded the fertile ground for the democratic rights protest as well as the “Back to Africa” and mystical nations movement. The African Blood Brotherhood, formed in 1917, carried out a militant and revolutionary program of equal rights and forms of support for African colonial struggles. A number of their members became leaders in the CPUSA and served as such for four decades. The organizing of the Sleepingcar Porters into class struggle by social-democrat A. Philip Randolph resulted in a membership of 7,000 in 1927.

In 1925, the American Negro Labor Congress was founded “to unify the efforts – of all organizations of Negro workers and farmers for the abolition of discrimination, persecution, and exploitation of the Negro race and working people.” The ANLC hailed the Soviet Union for its achievements in the equality “of all peoples, without distinction of race.” Another aim of the ANLC was to “lay the foundation for a world organization of the workers and farmers of our race and to make this organization a leader and fighter in the liberation movements of all darker-skinned peoples in the colonies of imperialism everywhere.”

The CPUSA applied the “boring from within” tactic to the Afro-American movement with a program to “penetrate all separate Negro trade unions,” push for the admission of Afro-American workers into the trade unions, and uphold the principles of industrial unions in its work among Afro-Americans. Hooking up with the Trade Union Education League (TUEL) and the International Labor Defense (ILD) was part of the CP’s program.

In 1928, there were only perhaps 150 Afro-American cadres in the CPUSA, a tiny proportion (1.5%) of the total party membership of about 9300. The problem of developing communist leadership in the Afro-American struggle indicated the seriousness of the errors in line and practice of the party in the ’20s.

Between 1928 and 1930, the CI struggled vigorously against the Lovestoneites and their revisionist lines: first, the line that portrayed the Afro-American masses in the South as a “reserve of reaction”; second, the line that industrialization would wipe out the political inequalities and national differences (i.e., the development of productive forces under imperialism had or would “dissolve” the oppressed nation, or do away with the political demand for self-determination); and third, that the exceptional character of U.S. capitalism would eliminate intense capitalist crisis (i.e., peaceful transition to socialism, at least in the United States, was possible).


Then, and now, theories of the dissolution of the oppressed Afro-American nation in the Black Belt South pretend to base their arguments on economic analysis. Whether their main target is Lenin’s thesis during World War I, the CI’s line of the ’30s, or the genuine Marxist-Leninist line of the 70s, all the dissolution lines liquidate the political significance of the self-determination demand and thereby justify imperialist tricks and class collaboration. The possibility of secession, and the question of winning and holding state power in the Black Belt South, are too difficult for the revisionists to handle. They see the revolutionary nationalism and national liberation of Afro-Americans better handled within the confines of reforms for political and economic integration under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, within the imperialist state. They emphasize the widespread mechanization of agriculture in the South and claim that it has altered the main political and economic forces underlying self-determination and national liberation of Afro-Americans, (i.e., the unfinished agrarian revolution and the severe national oppression of Afro-Americans there) and conclude the national movement has lost its revolutionary significance and potential.

Vulgarizing the economic factors in the national struggle, other factors are described to “prove” dissolution – the growth of the Afro-American working class, the dispersion of the Afro-American Black Belt population, and the South’s rapid economic growth in the past decade. The more extensive penetration of capitalism and “agribusiness” throughout the South has purportedly swept away a national question associated with feudal remnants and semi-feudal relations that characterized the Black Belt South during Lenin’s time and the ’30s. A qualitative transformation of the economy has purportedly taken place. The qualitative transformation was primarily due to the gradual development of productive forces rather than through national revolution, political self-determination or socialism. Due to the mass nonviolent movements, certain political changes such as electoral reforms and some desegregation of public facilities and schools represent major changes in the superstructure; the CPUSA contends that therefore black people have already exercised their right to self-determination. Imperialist humbug! The agrarian revolution and the struggle for national rights of Afro-Americans in the Black Belt South have been consummated, the peasantry-sharecroppers dispersed. The democratic integration, and the national self-determination as a particular slogan is incorrect, or unnecessary.

Leninist Analysis

Lenin’s application of Marxism and meticulous examination of the development of capitalism, nation-states and imperialism, was part of his studies of U.S. agriculture and the oppressed Afro-American nation. Marxism-Leninism will be our guide in exposing the blatant fallacies of the modern revisionists. It is important to delve into the relationship of economic factors in the development of the U.S. and in the national movements.

Its origins going back at least 350 years, the Afro-American national movement’s economic foundation in the particular development of capitalism, slavery, semi-feudal exploitation and national oppression. The Afro-American people’s national development intensified since the 1800s in the Black Belt region, the formerly slave-holding South. The pace of development of the nation and its people is linked to the character of economic life there, and its interrelations with the factors of common territory, language and psychological make-up manifested in common culture. The other important contradictions are those between oppressor and oppressed nations; between landlord and peasant-sharecropper; between the imperialist ruling class and the national bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie, and working people of the oppressed nationality; between bourgeoisie and proletariat; between industry and agriculture.

Lenin explained the economic foundation of the national movement this way: “For the complete victory of commodity production, the bourgeoisie must capture the home market, and there must be politically united territories, whose population speak a single language, with all obstacles to the development of that language and to its consolidation in literature eliminated. . .Therefore, the tendency of every national movement is towards the formation of national states, under which these requirement of modern capitalism are best satisfied.” [emphasis added]

Lenin was writing primarily of the national development of the nation states of Western Europe, a process which though varied followed these laws and typically culminated in the nation-state. The development of the Black Belt South followed the same general laws (though clearly with exceptions), and resulted in a nation-state forming in the period of pre-monopoly capitalism.

The “victory” of commodity production for the United States as a whole was marked by both the War of Independence and the Civil War victory over the slave South. This hastened the industrial bourgeoisie’s consolidation of state rule. The growth of the Afro-American nation was severely stunted during the 19th century. Its rise sharply contradicted the increasingly rapacious imperialist aims of the U.S. ruling class. The U.S. bourgeoisie strove to eliminate competition from not only the U.S. market, but also from the foreign market, from the whole world. “The American trusts are the highest expression of the economics of imperialism, or monopoly capitalism. The trusts do not confine themselves to economic means to eliminate competitors; they constantly resort to political and even criminal means.”

From 1870-1898 the U.S. bourgeoisie grew tremendously. The simultaneous tendency of the Afro-American national movement, led by a small national bourgeoisie, was to consolidate the Afro-American nation. This development has been relatively slow, but has followed the laws of national development and can be understood through the application of Marxism-Leninism.

The nation-state as a politically united entity best accelerates overall national development. U.S. capitalist accumulation from various forms of exploitation has hastened the development of commodity production and the creation and consolidation of the national home market of the United States. The United States went through the process, workers, farmers, artisans, peasants, slaves, oppressed nations and colonies brutally subjugated. The Afro-American nation embarked on the path of national development “too late” and was crushed by imperialism. It has retained all the characteristics, though not fully developed, of a nation in the capitalist era.

Capitalist Penetration

Capitalism and imperialism, including colonialist expansion and plunders and linked to the components of agriculture, industry and commerce, developed rapidly and violently (within the political shell of bourgeois democracy) in the United States. American slavery and the cotton plantation system in the South directly connected not only to capitalist growth, but also to the contradictions between the American industrial bourgeoisie (merchant capitalists and the petty-bourgeoisie) and British imperialist interests. Capitalism had to a degree penetrated the whole system of slavery. When the plantation economy was at its height in the South, American capitalism had its hooks sunk in, despite the superstructural fetters of feudal-like, Bourbon, aristocratic, landlord class rule. England was trying to maintain the supply of raw cotton to its textile factories, and also use the South as a market for British goods. Thus “anti-slavery” England was itself in direct support of Southern, slave-owner reaction during the war. Marx wrote much about this. Capitalism was hardly separate from the slave South’s economy, and England’s position on the Civil War helps us understand much about the contradictions and hypocrisy of imperialist countries.

The defeat of slavery in the South, marked by the bloody Civil War, speeded up capitalist development throughout the country and politically completed the U.S.’s transformation into a bourgeois republic. It was, as much as any republic had been, the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Yet, in the South: “The economic survivals of slavery differ in no way from similar survivals of feudalism; and in the formerly slave-owning South of the United States these survivals are very strong to this day.”

Capitalism has been the dominant economic system in the United States since its founding. It has subordinated all the varied forms of agriculture and land ownership (for instance, the granting of free land in the far West and the slave-owner land ownership of the South) and reorganized them to accommodate its own needs.

American homesteading, and even the plantation system, was firmly within the needs and wants of the U.S. bourgeoisie. Homesteading was neither “free” natural economy nor non-capitalist. The Russian Social-Revolutionaries, looking at 19th century U.S. agricultural production, thought that homesteading and the breaking of slave plantations into tenant farm and sharecropping land during Reconstruction was the “disintegration of capitalism.” They thought that this indicated the U.S.’s ability to skip the stage of ugly, industrial capitalism and achieve petty-bourgeois “socialism.” The Russian anarchists’ absurd line of analysis, which Lenin exposed in his polemics, repeats itself in different forms by present-day petty-bourgeois “socialists.” Current false conceptions of political economy and the nature of imperialism come out in “dissolution of the Afro-American nation” theories such as the RCP’s.

Myopic View of Nation’s Disintegration

Capitalist exploitation certainly did not “disintegrate” in the Deep South. It developed slowly compared to the rest of the country. The Black Belt area in general remained a concentrated example of the feudal productive forces and relations in its super-exploitation of the “freed” slaves, who essentially became “free peasants.” In actuality, they were bound to the land for decades and decades by numerous statutes, contract requirements, vagrancy laws and mortgage clauses. The national character of the Afro-American people’s resistance matured in the midst of Southern reaction and Ku Klux Klan vigilante terror.

The parcelling out of the slave plantation lands, one of the Afro-American masses’ demands in the Civil War, proceeded slowly through to the 20th century. The division of the slave tracts into small farms and plots cannot mask the continued and intense exploitation of national oppression under capitalist “bourgeois-democratic” rule. As Lenin wrote, the ex-slaves became “sharecroppers who are exploited by former slave-owners in feudal or semi-feudal fashion... in the country of model and advanced’ capitalism. . . .They are chiefly semi-feudal or which is the same thing in economic terms – semi-slave sharecroppers.”

Today’s petty-bourgeois “socialists” look myopically at the relative and systematic decrease of the small sharecropper holdings in the Deep South during the past decades. The growth of large scale capitalist “agribusiness,” along with the decline of cotton and stagnation in many areas, is not seen as intensifying the contradictions of imperialism in the Black Belt South. Objectively, these petty-bourgeois apologists for imperialism are saying that “imperialism has disintegrated” in the South and along with it the Afro-American nation. We refute this absurd conclusion: the intensification of class and national contradictions in the Black Belt South, especially during the past 20 years, actually reveals that imperialism is “rotten ripe” for revolution, not “disintegrating” due to the development of productive forces. Forcible overthrow of the imperialist ruling class, U.S. imperialism, by the revolutionary classes of the oppressed nation in the Black Belt South allied with the revolutionary U.S. proletariat – seizure of state power – is the key to destruction of imperialism and national oppression. Neither incremental reforms under imperialism, nor increases in capitalist investment or development in the oppressed nationality regions, can “disintegrate imperialism.”

There have been important changes, especially since World War II, in the economy of the South including its agricultural sector. The semi-feudal relations and landlord ownership of farmlands has declined rapidly, but certainly has not disappeared. The decline of cotton agriculture and the change to soybean and cattle production during the past decade, for example, indicates transitions to higher forms of land cultivation. The semi-feudal forms survive and intense national oppression continues.

As a framework for investigation of the varied and complex processes of economy:

Finally, you will find throughout Marx’s analysis of ground rent systematic references to the varied conditions of agricultural which arise not only from differences in the quality and location of land, but also from differences in the amount of capital invested in land. And what does this investment of capital in land mean? It means technical changes in agriculture, its intensification, the transition to higher forms of land cultivation, the increased use of artificial fertilisers, improved implements and machines, increased employment of the latter, increased employment of hired labor, etc.

Industrialization in the Black Belt

The CI stated: “Industrialization in the Black Belt is not, as is generally the case in colonies properly speaking, in contradiction with the ruling interest of the imperialist bourgeoisie, which has in its hands the monopoly of the entire industry, but insofar as industry is developed here, it will in no way bring a solution to the question of living conditions of the oppressed Negro majority, or to the agrarian question, which lies at the basis of the national question.”

As is generally the case in the development of capitalism and imperialism, with the growth of industry in the South the agrarian economy has been transformed. The imperialists have maintained their monopoly on the oppressed nation’s market, but this does not negate the nation’s existence and its right to self-determination. In “Capital” Marx used the example of England and its suppression of the Irish nation. As in the Black Belt, the subjugation and exploitation of the oppressed nation and its people are tied very closely to the capital-imperialists’ territory, economic life, culture and language. The suppression of Irish independence by England was brought out by Lenin as having historic, political and economic parallels to the similar “exception of the Afro-American nation in the Black Belt South in relation to the CI.S. nation.” The industrialization of Ireland (and of the Black Belt South) only partially transformed the agrarian peasant question. Certainly the national question was not peacefully resolved in either case. The urban rebellions, often led by the petty-bourgeoisie in Ireland, express the revolt of the oppressed nation as a whole.

The demographic change to a great proportion of urban workers, petty bourgeoisie and working people is part of the general development of capitalism. “The expropriation and eviction of a part of the agricultural population (the Afro-American peasantry) not only set free for industrial capital, the labourers, their means of subsistence, and material for labour: it also created the home market.”

Agribusiness (and mechanization) forces the Afro-American peasantry off the land into the towns and cities near the Black Belt and north into the industrial centers. The war economy up North and in the cities required cheap labor. The economic pillage reinforced by the state and its agents, the violence and terror directed at the Afro-American peasantry through lynching and subtle acts of barbarity, also express economic power. Oftentimes, the areas of the greatest impoverishment are the areas of greatest out-migration.

To understand the Southern response to industrialization, we should understand capitalism’s requirement of a reserve army of industrial labor. The fallacies behind the idea of “the dissolution of the nation due to dispersion and out-migration” are exposed by examining the essence of the changes in production, trade labor and agriculture in the different areas of the South (the coastal plains, Piedmont, and uplands) and understanding historical materialism and the political economy of imperialism.

Mechanization in cotton, tobacco and rice cultivation and the development of industry with Afro-Americans employed as sawmill workers, pulpwood cutters, laborers and industrial workers, packinghousemen, longshoremen, and moving into the mines, iron and steelworks, chemical and auto plants, indicate the degree and rapidity of industrialization. The class composition of the Afro-American population, their attitude toward revolution and the national struggle, and the present trends among all classes are important features to define. For example, the class and national contradictions in the textile workers struggles and the industry as a whole from the 1930s to today are important factors in determining the party s strategy and tactics to lead the Afro-American national liberation struggle.

The decrease of the Afro-American population and changes in the contiguous territory of black majority counties have been topics in the debate over whether or not to uphold self-determination and whether or not to oppose secession in declaration. Incorrect lines state that the decrease has led to a significant dislocation or withering away of the oppressed nation. A variation points to the major “shrinking” of the demand, depending on if and how Afro-Americans return to reconstitute the nation. The decrease of black majority counties and the shift of the Afro-American population to the cities of the South outside the Black Belt and North, especially in the historic migration of wartime and post-war “boom,” are often-cited features of change.

In the main, during the past century, these changes in the Afro-American population were consistent throughout the United States, outside the Black Belt South in proportionate numbers. Examination of the actual trends and changes still reveals the laws of imperialism operating on the oppressed nation and the Afro-American minority in the rest of the country. Liquidationist lines are rooted in the failure to recognize the devastation and scourge of imperialist economy and political rule. Each step along the way, nations and national minorities are suppressed, their cultures attacked and undermined, their land and rights stolen, their entire people downtrodden. That the imperialists seek to extinguish the national life of these peoples is exactly why communists must direct and tap the revolutionary potentiality of the national movements, direct their full force straight at the heart of monopoly capitalism and guarantee that under socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat, the formerly oppressed nations and national minorities will thrive and develop, in all aspects of national development, with equality and without exploitation.

The growth of the Afro-American working class, with the industrial development in the Black Belt and other areas, strengthens the most important driving force in the national liberation movement. This factor actually increases the prospects of a revolutionary crisis in the Black Belt: the national liberation rebellion, under the leadership and hegemony of the most revolutionary class, the proletariat, will seize power from the imperialists and continue on the road of socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Stubborn and Conscious Struggle

The Lovestone revisionists, not unlike the “centrists” and social-chauvinists of today, often paid lip service to “self-determination” and “national liberation” in relation to the colonies. But they liquidate the struggle or muddle the question when it comes to the support of the oppressed nations and national minorities here in the United States. Sometimes this comes up as “new economic data” on imperialism, or as “critiques” by the petty bourgeoisie of the correct line on the nature of the world crisis of capitalism.

The CPUSA revisionists in the ’20s and the ’30s, under Lovestone’s leadership and later Browder’s, pinned their line on the bourgeois pragmatist view of productive forces in relation to the revolution and on false assertions regarding the stabilization of capitalism, capitalism worldwide and the special character of U.S. capitalism. Actually, the temporary stabilization of capitalism during the 1920s, the boom period of capitalism, and the rationalization of production techniques indicated not the peaceful transition to socialism but rather preparation for the doom of capitalism. Instead of the crisis of capitalism withering away, explained by the “exceptional” theory of U.S. productive forces, and the Afro-American nation “dissolving” due to industrialization, the revisionist line proved its bankruptcy in the next decade of class struggle. The revisionist assumptions proved sham amidst the general crisis, in the context of severe, worldwide capitalist depression, rising contention for a repartitioned world market and heightening of the danger of world war. The rise of the U.S. working class and the oppressed nationalities came during the 1930s period of prolonged depression and increased centralization, part of fascization under Roosevelt. Class collaboration and the chauvinism of the revisionist CPUSA proved terribly harmful to the masses. However, the struggle of workers and other strata of the oppressed nationalities will be extremely stubborn, and victorious, despite revisionist and Trotskyite subversion.

In Europe, Lenin had to expose a line of revisionists who tried theoretically to justify why communists should not support the correct slogan of “self-determination” when it came to the more capitalistically developed (compared to the colonies proper) oppressed nations of Europe.

These revisionists paid lip service to the colonies’ freedom, unconditionally raising “Out of the colonies!”; but they would not raise the anti-imperialist demand when they addressed the question of the dependent and oppressed nations of Europe. For example, British “socialists” would say, “Get out of Africa, India and Australia,” but not “Out of Ireland.” Likewise, American “communists” like Lovestone and later Browder, denounced the imperialist war and the subjugation of oppressed nations throughout the world (and also the defense of the socialist Soviet Union) but when it came to the oppressed Afro-American nation in the Black Belt South, opposed “self-determination” with the line that the productive forces of U.S. capitalism had answered the question.

The revisionism in this reasoning, and on the other hand the correct outlook on the significance to the proletarian revolution worldwide to tap the potential of the national movements among the oppressed nations of Europe as well, to defeat imperialism and capitalism, was exposed by Lenin: “The greater part of the dependent nations in Europe are capitalistically more developed than that of the colonies (though not all, the exceptions being the Albanians and many non-Russian peoples in Russia). But it is just this that generates greater resistance to national oppression and annexations!. . .’There,’ the Polish comrades say about the colonies (1, 4), ’capitalism is still confronted with the task of developing the productive forces independently. . . This is even more noticeable in Europe: capitalism is undoubtedly developing the productive forces more vigorously, rapidly and independently in Poland, Finland, the Ukraine and Alsace than in India, Turkestan, Egypt and other straightforward colonies. . . Any deviation from the ordinary, the commonplace, as well as everything that is revolutionary, is here labelled utopianism’! But revolutionary movements are more possible, more practicable, more stubborn, more conscious and more difficult to defeat in Europe than they are in the colonies.” (“Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Up,” QNP and PR, pp. 142-43)

In the United States, the revisionist line of the Lovestoneites and the Browderites on the one hand seized on the fact that capitalism in the Black Belt South is somewhat more developed than in the “straightforward colonies,” and used it in isolation to justify the peaceful dissolution of the nation line. But using the tenets of Leninism, the Comintern pointed out, development of the productive forces in the Black Belt South also intensifies the revolutionary crisis, strengthens the proletariat and its hegemony in the national movement and will be far too stubborn, and far too difficult, to defeat.