The original draft of this article was written and completed in October of 1970. It was intended primarily as a summing up of the experiences of the Black Liberation Movement (BLM), in general, and the work and experiences of the members of the Black Workers Council, in particular – many having been involved in the BLM during this time.
There were many discussions held in the BWC around the general line of the article. Discussions were also held in various collectives in New York and among some individuals we were in touch with around the country. We received many comradely criticisms, suggestions and ideas over the last year and have re-drafted the article taking into consideration these criticisms, etc. The following is the result.
It is not our intent, nor are we so presumptuous, to view this effort as being the last word on this extremely complicated theoretical and practical question. We see it primarily as our contribution to a debate that has been raging in the Black Liberation Movement and among genuine left forces. Sometimes this debate has been strong and has been dominated by one or another line and at other times it has been weak where all of the lines have been blurred and obscured.
Hopefully, out of this debate and ideological struggle we will come closer to developing a correct Marxist-Leninist line that is in accord with the concrete experiences of the black people’s struggle here in the United States.
. . . revolution is the main trend in the world today. (Mao Tsetung, May 20, 1970 statement)
The principal contradiction in the U.S. today is that between the U.S. capitalist system (which has reached its highest and most ruthless stage as imperialism) and the U.S. working class. U.S. imperialism is presently strong, but this is a temporary condition; in reality it will grow weaker as the downtrodden masses rise up strengthened by unity in oppression to defeat it. It has lost the initiative all over the world and is being surrounded by the oppressed people of the world, led by the “Third World.” It has also lost the initiative here at home where it is now forced, because of the growing strength and militancy of the working class, to react to this new initiative. The anti-worker campaign carried on by the U.S. ruling class is, in reality, a display of their weakness as opposed to their strength.
A clear indication of this growing militancy is the fact that (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), because of the workers’ strikes, 62 million working days were lost in 1970! There were only 42.7 million working days lost in 1969 (N.Y. Times, January 12, 1971). In the same article, it was stated that there “were 5,600 strikes in 1970 involving at least six workers and lasting at least one work shift.” In addition, there were 3.3 million workers in strikes compared to 2.5 million in 1969. They attribute the increase of working days lost and the number of workers on strike to the strikes involving 10,000 or more workers. Of course, these figures do not take into account wildcats and “unauthorized” strikes, work stoppages, sit-downs, sabotage, slow-downs, and other forms of workers’ struggles.
The unemployed and the workers are engaged in rent strikes, seizure of buildings and apartments, school boycotts by students at all levels, ghetto uprisings and armed struggle, revolts in the armed forces and prisons, student actions against the more open forms of pro-imperialist institutions on the campuses and the increasing tit-for-tat policy being carried on against the repressive policy forces. The women’s liberation movement is raising the level of struggle for their equal rights. So, obviously, the working masses are on the move and growing in strength everyday.
Added to this general workers’ assault is the specific struggle by the Black Liberation Movement (BLM), which is an integral part of the general working class movement. There is no doubt that a great many of the actions and reactions of U.S. imperialism in the U.S. are a response to the storm being raised by the black people in the course of fighting against their class and racial oppression.
In considering the principal contradiction (between U.S. imperialism and the U.S. working class) we find that within this contradiction the principal aspect (the force that is playing the leading role between the two and is the most advanced and progressive) is the working class, even though it has not yet seized state power and set up its own class rule. They are gaining the upper hand from U.S. imperialism and forcing the ruling class to react to it. U.S. imperialism concedes that there are 80 million workers in the total labor force in this country. The working class has an overwhelming numerical superiority over the U.S. ruling class. Within the general working class movement the BLM is playing a vanguard role in the struggle for the basic democratic rights of the entire working class, and for the black masses, in particular. This struggle is objectively a struggle for socialism.
Because of the years of slavery, oppression, and brutalization heaped on the black masses, in particular, and other oppressed minorities, and the racism injected into the white working class by the U.S. ruling class, the contradiction between the white working class and U.S. imperialism, although very acute, is not as sharp as the contradiction between the black masses and U.S. imperialism We will discuss here the contradiction between U.S. imperialism and the Black Liberation Movement (BLM).
U.S. imperialism is the most rabid and most ruthless system that has ever existed on the face of the earth. It has the blood of millions of people on its hands. By W.E.B. DuBois’ estimate, 60 million Africans alone died in the slave trade. We must add to this the rape, plunder and almost complete annihilation of the Indian nations of North America. And when the day of reckoning comes, the people of Asia, Africa, and Latin America will be among those in the front to get their debt in blood paid. The Japanese civilians who fell victim to their atom bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki will also present their “bill of particulars.” U.S. imperialism’s crimes against humanity knows no parallel. It makes up 6% of the world’s population and consumes each year 60% of the earth’s consumable resources. It is, without a doubt, the “common enemy of the people of the world.”
This is not an accident, a quirk of history. This is the natural development of capitalism as it grows and expands into imperialism. In what Lenin called a “brief definition” of imperialism he gives a definition of imperialism “that will embrace the following five essential features:
1) The concentration of production and capital developed to such a stage that it creates monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life.
2) The merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of “finance capital,” of a financial oligarchy.
3) The export of capital, which has become extremely important, as distinguished from the export of commodities.
4) The formation of international capitalist monopolies which share the world among themselves.
5) The territorial division of the whole world among the greatest capitalist powers is completed.
Imperialism is capitalism in that stage of development in which the domination of monopolies and finance capital has established itself; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun; in which the partition of all the territories of the globe among the great capitalist powers has been completed.” Lenin goes on to say that “politically imperialism is in general a striving towards violence and reaction.” (V.I. Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Vol. V, Selected Works, p. 81-83). Lenin saw and correctly analysed this development over 50 years ago and we see it in operation today.
The other side of this development is that it is also forced to set itself up in opposition to the vast majority of the peoples of the world. Thus, it is in contradiction to the revolutionary aspirations of the peoples in Asia, Africa, and Latin America who want independence, peace and democracy.
At the same time, U.S. imperialism united with its imperialist partners in Western Europe, with Japanese imperialism, and with Soviet social-imperialism to carve up the world among themselves and exploit and oppress the peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But it is also in competition with them to grab the biggest share of the plunder. These lesser imperialist countries are now faced with growing revolutionary upsurges from within their own working classes. Thus, the U.S. finds itself at loggerheads with many of its own “allies.”
At home, the U.S. has found itself in one financial and economic crisis after another since 1945. The economy is beset by inflation, mainly caused by military spending (which it is compelled to do) and a reduction in the buying power of the dollar. The dollar is weak at home, and it is weak internationally. So, in effect, the purchasing power of the working class is steadily going down. The U.S. Government’s response is to induce a recession which has already increased unemployment. The U.S. budget has a deficit of billions of dollars. In its foreign balance of payment there is currently a cumulated net deficit of over $60 billion owed to foreign creditors. So, in the case of a more severe crisis, U.S. imperialism will be teetering on the brink of disaster.
As a result of the present financial crisis, unemployment has reached over 6% generally and nearly 9% among black workers. (These are U.S. Government figures and are not to be trusted. The rate for both groups is probably much higher. Just recently it has been reported that there has been an appreciable increase in the amount of people applying for welfare benefits.) Fewer homes are being built and bought. The prices of food and clothing have gone sky-high and are still climbing. Life for the working class is becoming increasingly more difficult.
The outcome of this squeeze on the working class has led to opposition to the war in Southeast Asia, a general decay of capitalism, and a growing militancy on the part of the workers to try to squeeze more from the bosses. So we see a growing number of increasingly militant wildcat strikes at the point of production. We see more of the unions finding themselves in a position where they are “forced” to call strikes, even though they don’t want to, because the rank-and-file demands it. Hundreds of thousands of people are being brought closer to the realization that there will be no freedom or liberation for the American people unless U.S. imperialism is overthrown. It would be foolhardy to think that because U.S. imperialism is in direct contradiction with the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America and is being confronted by its own population that it is going to lay down and die. Nothing is further from the truth. Comrade Mao Tsetung has pointed out that imperialism never lays down on its own accord. It must be beaten down by the masses of the people and buried!
Even though we know that, in the long run, we will defeat U.S. imperialism and that it is basically weak, it is very strong in the short run and has many weapons at its disposal that we must take into consideration. Thus, “. .. we must despise the enemy with respect to the whole, but that we must take him seriously with respect to each and every concrete question. If we do not despise the enemy with respect to the whole, we shall be committing the error of opportunism. Marx and Engels were only two individuals, and yet in those early days they already declared that capitalism would be overthrown throughout the world. But in dealing with concrete problems and particular enemies we shall be committing the error of adventurism unless we take them seriously.” (Mao Tsetung, Speech at the Moscow Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties, November, 1957)
U.S. imperialism has not laid down. It is fighting back with the tenacity of a cornered rat. It is conducting the most inhumane and barbaric chemical, biological and mass destruction war ever experienced in human history against the peoples of Southeast Asia. It is supplying and tutoring every feudal and fascist government in the world. It is arming itself with weapons of mass destruction. It is huffing and puffing and blustering all over the world trying to frighten and cower people. Yet, even with all of this, the people will not be cowered! They are organizing and fighting back and dealing powerful blows at U.S. imperialism and its lackeys. Even though it has these weapons it is in opposition to the people so it is missing the most powerful of all weapons, the support of the masses of the people!
U.S. imperialism, using the carrot and stick, and attempting to cause further divisions and prevent unity in the working class has taken a “soft” policy towards the white workers. Sharpening contradictions are preventing them from continuing this “soft” policy. It alternates between the carrot and stick with white students and tends to use more of the stick in an attempt to whip them into line. The black students are subject to overt brutal suppression!
Because of the vanguard nature of the black peoples struggle, and the developing Black Liberation Movement (BLM) and the primary role of the black workers, U.S. imperialism uses its most vicious and inhumane tactics to suppress them.
Shooting, murder, tear-gas, torture, slum living (uncollected garbage, poor sanitary conditions, poor or no medical care) jailings, dope are reserved for the black masses–in a word, the most vicious fascist-type oppression. Although the entire U.S. population is under bourgeois fascist rule, the more overt brutal and repressive aspects of it are vented on the black community through police harassment, illegal search and seizure, false arrests, interrogations, beatings, etc. Poor and working-class whites are also victims of this fascist-type repression but less overtly. Therefore, we see that it takes on various forms, but the content remains the same. But due to the unsolvable contradictions between U.S. imperialism and the working class it becomes more difficult to maintain this false division. It should be made clear to all that every piece of “anti-black” legislation and “law and order” bill that is passed in this country also applies to the white working class!
U.S. imperialism is now forced to more openly resort to fascist-type oppression. This is a sign of weakness–not strength. It would like to rule in the “same old way,” with all the trappings of democracy–it makes them look better that way and it helps them to fool the people. But now that the internal contradictions are sharpening, compounded by the external contradictions, it is retreating to fascism–its last resort. It can no longer hide its bloody hands! It is waging an unjust war of oppression against the peoples of the world. It is becoming more and more isolated. It has no friends in the world except a handful of degenerates like itself.
We stated that, at present, U.S. imperialism has directed its major thrust at the vanguard of the struggle for liberation and socialism in the U.S.–the Black Liberation Movement. In this very complicated struggle that has many twists and turns we find that the Black Liberation struggle has many of the characteristics of a national liberation struggle, but is being conducted in the most highly industrialized country in the world by an industrial proletariat. Thus, we have to combine the relevant features of a proletarian socialist revolution with the unique qualities of a national liberation struggle.
Ever since the black people were brought to this country as slaves they have been subjected to the most brutal forms of exploitation and oppression. As a result of this super-exploitation the black masses, in general, and the black working men and women, in particular, are forced to fight harder and more consistently to achieve their freedom. Because of these conditions and the antagonistic contradiction with U.S. imperialism, the black people have been thrust into the vanguard role of the U.S. revolution.
In the unfolding and making of the revolution in the U.S. we see it as a necessity to make an analysis of the classes that exist among the black people and their relationship to the BLM and to the proletarian revolution. We find the following:
1) Proletariat – by far the overwhelming majority of the black people. There are over approximately 7 million employed in various industries, from domestics to steel workers. They are concentrated in the basic industries: auto, transportation, textile, steel, and in the service industries. They are also concentrated in the centers of the large industrial cities. They have consistently fought militant fights against the bosses and the capitalist system. The black workers “own” very little and what they do “own” is a result of “credit buying” at high interest rates. So they are constantly in debt.
All they really own is their labor power which they are forced to sell cheaply. They have very few illusions about where they can “climb” under capitalism. They, in reality, “have nothing to lose but their chains.” They are the most advanced force for revolution in the United States.
This is the class that daily suffers at the hands of the bosses and the slumlords. This is the class that daily fights, in a thousand and one ways, to protect its class interests against the U.S. ruling class. This is the class that produces the wealth in the factories, the shops, the mines, etc. They are the ones that can organize against imperialism where it will hurt most–at the source of their profit.
The black workers have the organizing skills and the discipline that they learn in the shops and in the unions; and it is in their most direct interest to overthrow U.S. imperialism.
The black working men and women are stable and the chance of them wavering is very small. They have been born into the working class (or just recently entered it), have become workers, and the odds are that they will remain workers the rest of their lives.
This is the class that must give leadership to the BLM and therefore play a leading role in the socialist revolution. It is a contingent of the entire working class of the world, and surely a part of Marx’s description that “of all classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class. The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of Modern Industry; the proletariat is it? special and essential product.” (Karl Marx & Frederick Engels, “Manifesto of the Communist Party”)
2) Sharecroppers, Tenant Farmers, Farm Laborers and Small Farmers. (Even though, among black people,– “farm laborers” tend to be part of the working class, “small farmers” part of the petty-bourgeoisie, and “sharecroppers” and “tenant farmers” part of the semi-proletariat, their history and development in the south tends to obscure these differences. In addition, because of the mass migration from the land to the large industrial cities in the north and south, these groups are rapidly disappearing.)
The U.S. Department of Labor says that there are approximately 370,000 black “farmers and farm workers,” as of 1969, in the U.S. Due to the nature and history of farming in this country, the greater preponderance of black “farmers and farm workers” are in the south. Their income is far below that of the black workers and is far below the poverty level, as determined by the government. They are forced to live “from hand to mouth.”
After the tenant pays his bills, if he is lucky, he will break even. After the sharecropper turns over to the plantation owner his share of the crop and pays his debts, he can barely take care of his family. At times, the sharecropper, the tenant farmer and the owners of poor unproductive farms have to sell their labor as farm workers or industrial workers, in addition. The black farmers and farm workers live under a most brutal and oppressive semi-feudal system that strongly resembles the oppression of the peasants of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
They work from sun-up to sun-down – men, women, and children. There are no bourgeois laws that even protect their most elementary rights like wages, hours and working conditions. They live under wretched conditions and are subject to all sorts of diseases and malnutrition. They have been murdered, maimed and intimidated since the beginning of slavery, and it continues today.
Because of mechanization there has been an appreciable decline in the amount of “farmers and farm workers” in the south. Nevertheless, in the plantation south, the cost of the labor is so cheap that some of the plantation owners can still make huge profits off the hand labor, as opposed to full mechanization. These super profits are one of the primary reasons why this feudal kind of production still exists even though it is on a small scale.
Many of the farmers have been forced off the farms and have moved into the ghettos of the rapidly industrializing cities of the south. They are a natural and powerful ally of the working class and also “have nothing to lose but their chains” in making revolution.
The other side is that they have been tied to doing things in the “same old way.” They have a tradition of being slow to respond to change and have a strong individualist, pro-capitalist outlook. They are geared to private means of production. They always talk about having a “little land of my own, where I don’t have to work for nobody,” or getting a “little plot of land to work and hunt,” or “raising a few pigs and chickens for myself” and so forth and so on. They tend to vacillate because they see in the proletarian revolution a threat to their little one-family individual farm. The proletariat, to them, in many cases represent “outsiders.” This vacillating side is the minor aspect of the contradiction. Even though we must be ever so watchful and wage continuous ideological struggle against the “old way” we must never lose sight of their close relationship to the working class and their revolutionary potential.
3) Unemployed & Lumpenproletariat. According to the U.S. Department of Labor figures, it is estimated that the black unemployed is around 600,000. More recently (October, 1970) the BLS stated that, by their figures, nearly 35 percent of black youth between the ages of 16 and 19 were unemployed. Their figures also state that there are a little over 2 million black youth between the ages of 14 and 24. If we use this low unemployment figure of 35 percent, it would show that between this age group alone the number of unemployed would reach 700,000. So, obviously the figure of 600,000 unemployed for the entire black population is grossly understated!
Many black workers are caught in the employed-unemployed cycle. Because they cannot accumulate any seniority, due to the “last-hired, first-fired” principle, a large portion of them spend a great deal of time between jobs. So, many of the unemployed are displaced workers. The other side of the coin is that, especially among the youth, some have never worked in their life.
A clear distinction should be made between those who are in the employed-unemployed cycle, who collect unemployment compensation between jobs or who find other “legal” means to eke out a living, and those who have given up the idea of working or who have never worked and who make a “living” by exploiting the working people. Many of the “hard-core” unemployed and the youth are forced to steal in order to feed themselves and their families.
The unemployed, who are between jobs, and those who never worked and who are looking for work and have a working class outlook are true sons and daughters of the working class and are a force for revolution. They live in abject poverty and exist on a hand-to-mouth basis. Many are either from the farms or are no more than one generation removed. They constitute the largest majority of the unemployed.
On the other hand there are a few blacks who are lumpen (unemployed and have never worked, have worked and have given up going back or looking. They exist by living off the working class like parasites. It takes the form of peddling shoddy goods, stealing, peddling dope and numbers, muggings, etc. They are generally called “hustlers.”) They are not a reliable force even though it is capitalist exploitation that has forced many of them to resort to their anti-social behavior. Their behavior tends to be highly individualistic and will unite with the “highest bidder.”
It is among this section of the population that the U.S. ruling class recruits its spies, assassins, informants, agent-provocateurs and dope-peddlers. Some of them who have not entered into the direct pay of the ruling class can be an ally of the working class, but must be closely watched and guided every step of the way along the path of their development.
4) Petty-Bourgeoisie–Small shop keepers, “professionals” – doctors, lawyers, teachers, college students, some high-level civil servants, etc. In a category called “professional and technical” the U.S. Department of Labor gives the figure of 700,000 and in the category titled “Managers, Officials, and Proprietors” they give the figure of 250,000. Since the U.S. government has been trying to wipe out the working class statistically and put them in the “middle class” and therefore say that the working class is vanishing, we must view these figures with the greatest skepticism. Many of these jobs and “positions” are working-class jobs, and have only been given titles outside of the working class. This is part of U.S. imperialism’s attempt to dampen the class struggle.
But, nevertheless, a black petty-bourgeoisie does exist. The small shop keepers are self-exploited and are forced to work 10 to 15 hours a day to make a living. Some have a second job. In most cases, both adults in the family must work. What little “profit” they make, they make off the backs of the poor working class who are forced to live in the ghetto and, many times, have no other place to shop. They charge high prices for shoddy goods and are strong advocates of that part of black nationalism that pushes “buy black.” They are often squeezed by the large chain stores. Their entire existence is lived on the border of bankruptcy.
The black professionals, even though they are financially better off than the small shop keepers, are caught in the same kind of bind–U.S. imperialism and its racism will not allow them to fully develop. In spite of this they still strive to “make it” under capitalism. They too, in the main, make a living off the black ghetto community and exhibit a strong nationalist tendency to protect their own financial interest.
Within this class there are those that can identify with the working class and understand the national aspects of the struggle. On the other hand, we find those who only understand the national aspects because it fits into their aspirations as exploiters. And, finally, we find a very small handful who identify completely with U.S. imperialism and who view the exploitation and suppression of the black people as being in their interest.
The latter are out-and-out enemies of the black masses and should be treated as such, but the others tend to waver and can be won to the side of the revolution. Many of them work for a living, and, in effect, sell their labor power, but at the same time they talk and act in a manner that says clearly, “we are educated and we have ’made it’ and we know what’s best for the movement.” Some talk down to the black workers and put on airs. Some even hold the black workers in contempt.
With the tremendous upsurge of black militancy and rebellion some feel as if they are caught in the middle. They don’t know which way to turn. The racism of U.S. imperialism will not let them go that way and they are afraid of the black working class. Many of them, at this point, have decided to sit on the fence. On one hand, while they recognize the strength and revolutionary force of the BLM, they don’t want to give up their ”privileged” position and their Brooks Brothers suit (or even their Dashikis). On the other hand, it must be remembered that it was this class who during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s led the “civil rights” movement and prepared the way for the present level of struggle.
We think that, in the main, the majority of the black petty-bourgeoisie can be won to the revolution and are a progressive force (most of them either came from the working class or are only one generation removed). Which way they go depends on how the revolutionary movement deals with them.
5) Bourgeoisie. If we use the Marxist-Leninist definition (those that own the means of production) a black bourgeoisie does not exist.
Even though there may be a handful of blacks who call themselves “black capitalist” and may own an insurance company, or be on the Board of Directors of a bank in the ghetto, or an athlete or “entertainer” who has accumulated a million dollars, they in no way determine the course of the U.S. imperialist system. More recently the U.S. ruling class has been systematically building up a whole new strata of black entrepreneurs to act as a buffer between itself and black masses. Many of them have been created through various government sponsored programs and grants. Most notable of these are Jesse Jackson and his PUSH and Floyd McKissick. The main function of this strata of the petty-bourgeoisie is to siphon off the militants and confuse the black masses, and, where possible, divert the BLM.
Based on this analysis it is clear that at least 95 percent of the black people are a force for revolution and can be united. They can be united around working class and around national demands, which are not in contradiction. There will be times when the national demands appear to be primary and class demands secondary and then shift to class demands becoming primary. And even when it appears that the national liberation aspect of the struggle has developed to a primary position it will, in fact, still be an integral part of the proletarian revolution. Chairman Mao has pointed out that “in a struggle that is national in character, the class struggle takes the form of national struggle, which demonstrates the identity between the two.” (Mao Tsetung, Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 215.)
There are contradictions that exist within the BLM – the primary one being between the working class and some of the petty-bourgeoisie. These contradictions will center primarily around the world outlook of the petty-bourgeoisie, which on the one hand can take the form of reactionary nationalism, individualism, their wavering and their fear of the masses, and the proletarian ideology of the working class on the other. These are non-antagonistic contradictions and can be resolved within the framework of revolutionary struggle under the direct leadership of the working class and its Party. Except for a few lackeys and traitors who openly work for U.S. imperialism, against the interest of the black masses, the overwhelming majority of the black people can be united to play their role in defeating U.S. imperialism.
We feel that there are some obstructions that are in the path of the U.S. working class, in general, and in the black liberation section, in particular, in our march towards proletarian revolution. Among these are:
1. White racism and its companion, national chauvinism
2. Reactionary nationalism
3. Male chauvinism
1) White racism. Racism is to be found in every aspect of life in the U.S. It has its roots firmly planted in the economic base and is supported in every part of the superstructure (politics, ideology, religion, legal system, the educational system, etc.)
The reactionary U.S. government will always use this trump-card when it finds itself under seige by the oppressed peoples of the world and at home. This weapon is used to prevent the working class from uniting; it is profitable (billions of dollars are made in extra profit every year by capitalism because of the differences in wages between black and white workers), and it confuses the working class as to who their real enemy is. They have been partly successful in using this weapon because since the founding of this country, the white workers have been able to get an extra crumb off the table of imperialism because of the super-exploitation of the black people.
In speaking of the two pivots of modern English industry Marx says that “the second pivot of English industry was the slave-grown Cotton of the United States. The present American crisis forces them to enlarge their field of supply and emancipate cotton from slave-breeding and slave-consuming oligarchies. As long as the English cotton manufactures depended on slave-grown cotton, it could be truthfully asserted that they rested on a twofold slavery, the indirect slavery of the white man in England and the direct slavery of the black men on the other side of the Atlantic.” (K. Marx and F. Engels, On Colonialism. Foreign Language Publishing House, Moscow, P. 222-223. From an article by K. Marx, October 14, 1861) So slavery and the production of cotton helped to feed the textile industry both in England and New England.
As a result, the slavery of the African peoples in the U.S. helped in the development of the white industrial proletariat and to whatever better living, working, and social conditions they enjoyed over that of the blacks. Not only did they experience these better conditions over the Afro-American population but also over the world proletariat. So, at the same time that U.S. imperialism was extracting super-profits off the backs of the African slaves it was maximizing its profits off the backs of the white working class.
It staggers the imagination when one attempts to calculate the fantastic amount of capital accumulated, and the enormous profits the U.S. reactionary ruling class has made because of the direct slavery and the wage slavery of the Afro-American people. In order for them to continue to make these super-profits off the oppression of the black people, U.S. imperialism has carried on a systematic campaign through its controlled press, other mass media, and its educational system to vilify the black people and preach about “their inherent inferiority” and other such trash. Because of this campaign many white workers mistakenly thought that this racism was in their interest.
This racism also expresses itself against Mexican-Americans, Indians, Puerto Ricans and, of course, the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Also, here white workers recognize that the couple of extra dollars they get are a result of the exploitation of these people which has led to a form of national chauvinism.
But there is another side to this question and that is the unsolvable contradiction between U.S. imperialism and the working class. As long as capitalism exists, it must not only extract super-profits and exploit the oppressed people of the world, but it must also oppress and exploit its own working class. That is a law of the development of capitalism and imperialism, and only proletarian revolution can change it. So the ruling class will continue to squeeze the profits out of the white working class and attempt to convince them that their misery is the fault of blacks. But the white working class has a long history that goes back to the American Revolution, where they have fought bloody battles in their own class interest against the ruling class.
Their contradiction with U.S. imperialism is a class contradiction and therefore irreconcilable under capitalism. And in the final analysis, they can only seek and find unity with their class brothers and sisters if that contradiction is to be dealt with.
White workers must be brought to understand through class struggle, political education, and ideological remoulding, that racism is slowing down human development, including their own. They must understand that every crumb and penny “extra” that U.S. imperialism may give them is directly the result of profits derived from super-exploitation of oppressed peoples around the world. It must be shown them in direct confrontation with the ruling class, that U.S. imperialism is also their mortal enemy. They must learn that they will never be really free from exploitation unless they come out and fully support the BLM. White radicals, progressives and Marxist-Leninists must play a key role in the shops, in the communities, in their organizations, in their unions and in the schools in the class struggle against racism.
They all must become battlegrounds and living classrooms in the study and application of how to wage battles against white racism and support for the Black Liberation struggle, allied with other Third World peoples, as the most militant, progressive and vanguard force of the proletariat for real democracy, peace, and socialism in the U.S.
This battle will be long, complicated and a difficult one that will see all kinds of roadblocks and detours in our path. We must learn how to smash them, not get sidetracked, properly analyse each situation, grasp and learn to apply Marxist dialectics and win battle after battle until we are victorious.
Even if, to many, the white working class seems to be “backwards,” that is only looking at it one-sidedly and not properly analysing the inherent contradiction between capitalism and the working class. What is emerging and coming into being is a closer unity between the white working class and the BLM. We therefore view the white working class as a revolutionary force. Thus there can be no proletarian revolution in the U.S. unless the BLM and the white working class unite under one banner!
2) Reactionary Nationalism. Given the present situation in the U.S. that has as one of its major aspects the concerted attacks against the black people, the vanguard of the proletarian revolution, it is counter-revolutionary and reactionary to raise black nationalism and white racism in the same breath. It would also be sheer folly not to actively unite and support the entire black masses–all levels and strata that can be united in the battle against U.S. imperialism.
To raise the nationalism of the black masses in the same way and in the same breath as the racism of the white people is to deny the oppression of the black people. The racism perpetrated by U.S. imperialism, that has deep roots among the white masses, is in every way and is at all times–without exception–reactionary, anti-working class and, counterrevolutionary. The black people, in turn, respond to this racism and their class oppression by raising their own class and national consciousness. The national struggle is just another form of the class struggle.
The nationalism of black people in general, and black workers in particular, is a motive force that brings them into sharp conflict with U.S. imperialism. It is revolutionary and a powerful force for fighting for the entire working class in the U.S. and internationally. Therefore, to put nationalism and racism in the same light is to look at the developing struggle one-sidedly and undialectically. And to put into practice this erroneous political theory is to put into practice a counter-revolutionary line.
At the same time not to see the other aspect of nationalism is also one-sided and undialectical. Nationalism also has its reactionary side that has its roots in petty-bourgeois ideology, which also is a reaction to white racism, and emerges as “cultural nationalism,” “back to Africa,” and “black capitalism.” These movements are essentially defeatist, no-struggle and exploitative. They represent only a handful of individuals, for the present, have very little following and are counter-revolutionary. But they can become a powerful force if the working class does not take the leadership of the BLM. The nationalism of the former is progressive and revolutionary. That of the latter groups is regressive and reactionary.
3) Male Chauvinism. It is clear, for all to see, the important position that black women represent in the working class and among the black masses. The class and national oppression of black women was quickly established with slavery and played a vital role in their political development. Because of this oppression and political development, black women play a vital role in maintaining the national unity of the black people. Some black men, often confronted with tremendous obstacles and facing many daily setbacks, find themselves in a position where they cannot support their families. In order for their families to get “relief” they are forced to flee, leaving their wives and children. Others just desert out of sheer hopelessness. Thus, the burden of raising a family and being the “breadwinner” falls on the shoulders of black women. Who but these women who have suffered hundreds of years of degradation, insults and burdens beyond belief can tell what it means to live under capitalism? They have been consistent, glorious and staunch fighters. They constitute half of the black population and are, without a doubt, a force for revolution. Who would be stupid enough to go into battle with only half of the available troops, when all can be put into battle? Why should the black proletariat go into combat against U.S. imperialism disunited? Obviously it would be stupidity of the highest order!
But isn’t this happening to a large degree today? Even though our black women play a decisive role in production, in raising the family, and in political struggle, and are more exploited than even the black man. Doesn’t the chauvinism of the black man help to keep not only black women from fully developing, but also prevents black men from fully developing?
There can never be a revolutionary movement, not to speak of a revolution, unless the power and strength of black women is brought into full play. This means that male chauvinism (the so-called superiority of men over women) must be defeated and ground into the dust.
The oppression of black women by black men, a by-product of capitalism, must cease! It is counterrevolutionary and reactionary! Black women are more exploited than black men. In addition to being exploited as workers and as women, they are exploited because they are black.
It is precisely because of the position of women and the brutal exploitation of black women, in particular, that they are an important revolutionary section of the working class. They are the most oppressed, have very few illusions, have had a high degree of political development, and will therefore fight back just as hard and, in most cases, even harder than the men. Recent history has shown that black women have taken leading roles in the fight for better housing, welfare rights, against police terror, against drugs, in trade union struggles. Black men must play a key role in defeating male chauvinism and uniting the black working class.
As the working class generally will be led by black Marxist-Leninist in the BLM, black women will play a leading role among these black working class revolutionaries.
The black people’s war is a just war against our oppressor. It is a part of the worldwide revolutionary movement. We have many friends and allies.
The struggle of the black people for their liberation is a struggle in the interest of the overwhelming majority of mankind. The black people can, in no way, achieve complete liberation without first overthrowing U.S. imperialism. Since 1964 the concrete conditions and the level of struggle has qualitatively changed and a leap has occurred from the bourgeois-democratic demands of civil rights movement to the demands of armed struggle, revolution, and socialism. This is a new feature of the BLM.
In the process of grinding U.S. imperialism into the dirt, the entire U.S. working class, and its allies, will be brought into the fight and will see that they can never be fully liberated unless they give all-out support to the BLM. This, of course, will tie U.S. imperialism down on its own home ground and make it less capable of sending its troops to suppress other oppressed peoples fighting for their liberation.
There is no question that the racial oppression of the black people has acted as a motive force for the black people to identify with the oppressed peoples of the Third World. And, to a great degree, this identity is based on color oppression. We view this identity, based on color oppression, as an integral part of the world wide class struggle and class unity of the oppressed peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America against U.S. imperialism. It is a positive force that has contributed to raising the class consciousness of the black masses.
It is U.S. imperialism that has taken over and developed, to a high degree, racism and white supremacy and pushed it to an international level and uses it as an instrument of class and national oppression. And it is a fact that, in the contemporary world, the number one class enemy of the oppressed peoples of the world is the U.S. imperialist system that has always been dominated by a class that represents white racism. Therefore, the struggle of the black masses is an integral part of the struggle of the revolutionary peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Because of the peculiar development of the black people in this country their movement has many of the characteristics of a national liberation movement. Yet, the struggle of the industrial proletariat is a struggle for the overthrow of the fascist bourgeoisie, for socialism and for the dictatorship of the proletariat. Therefore the organizational form of the BLM will be of a national liberation character and its main political content and strategy will be for socialism.
The BLM, as a united front, will comprise workers, farmers, students and other sections of the petty-bourgeoisie. It will be organized along national liberational lines but will have working class leadership. Therefore, a strategy of the revolution must be a united front, led by the working class and its Marxist-Leninist party that would include some sections of the petty-bourgeoisie, those that work the land, the unemployed and some of the lumpen.
Black women comprise half of the black population and are in a strategic position to push the revolution forward. There can be no proletarian revolution in the U.S. unless the power and strength of black women is brought into full play.
Therefore, the BLM must have as one of its major tasks the defeat of male chauvinism and the complete liberation of black women.
Because of the numerical weakness of the black people and their need and desire to bring the strength of the entire working class into full play as part of its working class emancipation process, the BLM will not, by itself, attempt to defeat U.S. imperialism, even though it will play a leading role. It must organize and unite whomever it can on a principled basis.
Therefore, the only revolutionary class in the U.S. that can unite with the BLM is the white working class and its allies.
White racism is a noose around the neck of the entire working class in the U.S. It stifles their political, economic and social development. It reduces the sharpness of the class struggle and gives U.S. imperialism a little added room to roam the globe in its attempt to oppress the peoples of the world. It is a stumbling block in the path of the black people in their fight for liberation.
Therefore, one of the foremost tasks of the proletarian, revolution is the defeat of white racism and its partner, national chauvinism, through sharp class struggle, political education and ideological remoulding.
U.S. imperialism is the most vicious and ruthless system that has ever existed on the face of this earth. Its murderous drive for maximum and super profits knows no bounds. As has been demonstrated for over 300 years it will not hesitate to maim, rape, murder and massacre to achieve its ends. The oppressed peoples of the world and the oppressed workers in the U.S. can no more “peacefully co-exist” with U.S. imperialism than a sheep with a wolf!
Therefore, the only correct strategy for the revolutionary movement is armed struggle adopted to the concrete conditions of a highly concentrated industrial country.
And finally, none of the above can be accomplished without two fundamental ingredients–the science of Marxism-Leninism, applied to the concrete conditions of the U.S., and a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary party.
As we stated earlier the BLM is a developing united front organization that will be led by the black workers. The more advanced elements among the black workers and the black petty-bourgeoisie will be armed with Marxism-Leninism.
Marxist-Leninists understand that in order for the working class to operate at its fullest potential, beginning at the point of production, that it must be as thoroughly organized and politicized as possible. That means that class conscious workers and Marxist-Leninists must also be at the point of production to integrate with and learn from the working class. They must be able to also integrate the universal truths of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete conditions that daily face the working class.
Since the BLM is an integral part of the general working class movement, strategies and tactics must be worked out to overcome the contradictions that exist between black and white workers and between the BLM and the general working class movement.
And there must be an overall strategy developed for the overthrow of U.S. imperialism and for the seizure of state power. This strategy must be built on a firm understanding that we must build even larger and broader united fronts, with the working class in leadership in the form of its vanguard party, that can unite some sections of the petty-bourgeoisie, small farmers, students, intellectuals–in a word, all those revolutionary and potentially revolutionary forces that are in contradiction with U.S. imperialism and can be united. Some of these alliances may be short term, some longer, some single issue, some up until, and even after, the seizure of power. These strategies, and the tactics that flow from them, are very complicated. They must be coordinated and organized if they are to be successful and if the working class is to win victories. We cannot leave it to spontaneity. The BLM has learned since the spontaneous ghetto rebellions of the 1960’s that even though the masses are bold and heroic, spontaneity is not enough to get the oppressor class off their backs.
We must learn to analyse and summarize our experiences and the experiences of the masses, not only ghetto uprisings that began in the early 1960’s but our experiences in the shops, factories, and working-class communities and wherever the masses are in motion. After we have made these analyses and summarized our experiences and the experiences of the masses, drawn conclusions, using Marxism-Leninism as our guide, we should be clear as to the development in the various movements, the moves by the ruling class and how to move the united front and the working class movement forward.
The BLM has had much practical experience, especially in the last decade. It is not practice that is missing from the BLM, but theory, a lack of summing up our practice and experiences and drawing lessons from them, and our inability to sharpen the struggle between the bourgeois line and the proletarian line. It is our weakness in struggling against idealism, reactionary nationalism, and white racism; it is not guaranteeing that Marxism-Leninism becomes a weapon in the hands of the masses of the black people to be used against imperialism; and it is not educating “our comrades in the dialectical materialist theory of knowledge” that holds back, the unity of the working class.
We have had a tendency to open fire on the so-called “ultra-left” represented by PLP (Progressive Labor Party) and the other various Trotskyite groups and have let the main danger in the mass movement, the revisionist CPUSA (“Communist” Party of the USA) get away scot-free. In the struggle between the “left” and right opportunist lines in the mass movements and among the people in this period the main danger is not the “trots” or PLP but the “C”PUSA and its right opportunist line that is the main danger. And in our struggle against this opportunist line our main danger will be “left” sectarianism.
For it is only through the correct integration of a disciplined communist party, armed with Marxism-Leninism, with the masses of the people that we will be able to successfully make revolution and overthrow U.S. imperialism.
Marxism-Leninism is a proven science, a method, for studying and making an analysis of concrete conditions in concrete societies and changing society. In other words, it is the science of making revolution, of how the working class can and will organize itself and its allies to overthrow the oppressive monopoly-capitalist ruling class.
In order to fight for theory and for correct strategies and tactics to be developed; in order to build the many complicated united fronts that must be built; in order to forge the unity between the BLM and the general working class movement; in order to begin breaking down the division between men and women, etc., there must be an organized body with a governing set of principles and world outlook, and with forces actively working among every strata of the population to coordinate the work among these various sections. The organized body must be a communist party and the governing set of principles must be Marxism-Leninism.
There is no question that the situation in the world and in the U.S. calls for the emergence of a Marxist-Leninist party in the U.S. It will be a hard and arduous task organizing this party around correct political lines and around correct principles. It will be difficult, but it must be done and we must be able to correctly analyse the concrete conditions, constantly unite our forces when the objective conditions and our subjective forces are sufficiently united. It will be at this point that the working class and its allies will form and launch their Marxist-Leninist party. “The working class without a revolutionary party is an army without a general staff.” (Stalin, Foundations of Leninism)
Fascism was only temporarily defeated at the end of 1945 and only in three countries, but it continued to rule just as ruthlessly in Asia, Africa, and Latin America and among the black population here in the U.S. For us, there has never been a “First World War” or a “Second World War,” but one continuous war waged against us since our enslavement. That war here in the U.S. is going on with growing intensity between the working class, with the BLM as its vanguard contingent, and the U.S. imperialist system.
This war has its ups and downs and twists and turns. At times, after a long series of struggles, there are spontaneous “leaps” and the ghettos burst into open rebellion. These rebellions are no longer confined to the large industrial cities of the north and mid-west. They have spread to the small cities and towns in the south, southwest and west coast. It is without a doubt that “a single spark can start a prairie fire.” That spark must be consciously ignited by the vanguard party.
Mao Tsetung stated, in talking about the possibilities of a much more expanded war, that the war may give rise to revolution or revolution will prevent that war. The strategic position of the black working class, united with its allies, puts it in a position to prevent U.S. imperialism from turning the wars of revolution of the oppressed peoples into another world war.