Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Carl Davidson

In Defense of the Right to Self-Determination

Introduction to the Liberator Press Edition

Liberator Press is proud to publish Carl Davidson’s “In Defense of the Right to Self-Determination.” We believe his article is a scientific refutation of those forces who would liquidate the revolutionary significance of the Afro-American people’s struggle and deny the right of self-determination to the Black Belt nation in the South.

Davidson’s article originally appeared as a series in the Guardian newspaper in response to Guardian editor Irwin Silber’s “On the National Question.” (See Guardian, Sept. 24, 1975, to April 14, 1976.) Because Davidson makes several references to Silber’s piece, we are including the full text of Silber’s column as an appendix.

In his article, Davidson outlines the development of an oppressed nation of Afro-American people in the Deep South and clearly upholds the Marxist-Leninist principle of the right of self-determination. He shows how “special theories” concocted to prove the Afro-American nation does not exist are nothing more than chauvinist attempts to betray the struggle of Black people for full democratic rights and political power in their historic homeland.

This debate over whether there is an oppressed Black nation in the South is not new to the revolutionary movement in the United States. Heated struggle took place within the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) during the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. In fact, the degeneration of the once-revolutionary CPUSA went hand in hand with the thesis that the mechanization of agriculture combined with the out-migration of Black people had done away with the Black Belt nation.

Harry Haywood, a leading fighter for a Marxist-Leninist position within the party, wrote For a Revolutionary Position on the Negro Question (1957) in order to repudiate the opportunist line of the party leadership on the national question. Haywood also wrote Negro Liberation (1948), which stands today as a comprehensive examination of the history of Black oppression. In this work, Haywood showed that the struggle of Afro-American people for self-determination was integrally bound up with the struggle of all working people against the imperialist system.

Liberator Press has republished both of these works by Haywood. This pamphlet by Davidson is a welcome addition to the growing library of Marxist-Leninist writings on the national question.

Like Haywood, Davidson argues that the Afro-American question is a strategic question for the revolutionary movement and that imperialism will not be overthrown unless the closest possible alliance of the workers’ struggle with the struggle of Black people is built. The history of our movement bears witness to the fact that when this alliance is developed, the struggle against imperialism surges forward.

The Davidson article, focusing on four periods of revolutionary Black upsurge (Reconstruction, Garvey movement, 1930s, 1940s), shows that class struggle is indeed the key link to winning the emancipation of all working people, both Black and white.

The Publishers September 20, 1976