Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

A Commentary

Black human rights begins with self-determination

First Published: Unity, Vol. 2, No. 22, November 2-15, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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In the last few weeks several different sectors of the Black Liberation Movement have come together at various kinds of conferences. In Oakland, the State of the Race Conference brought together about 500 nationalists, Pan Africanists and other activists. In Sacramento, the same weekend, the Black American Political Association of California met. These are Blacks who focus primarily on electoral politics, and the fact is that the 1980 national elections undoubtedly brought this conference into being. In Chicago, the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party, a nationalist-Pan Africanist organization associated with Stokely Carmichael which calls itself “Nkrumahist,” held a conference to focus on a variety of issues that are relevant to Black people. In Gary, Indiana, there was also a conference on minority student programs, and in New York the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History held its annual conference, the positive aspect of which seeks to clarify African and Afro-American history from a nationalist perspective and link them to contemporary Black struggles. The Southern Conference of Afro-American Writers also held a conference during the same period in Atlanta, with a number of nationally known Black writers and cultural workers participating. During the same period the League of Revolutionary Struggle and the Revolutionary Communist League merged and held important discussions aimed at clarifying its line on the Afro-American national question as well.

For all their diversity, which reflects the varied class interests existing within the Afro-American nation in the Black-belt south, and within the oppressed Black national minority living throughout the rest of this country, there was a critical element that served as a positive and revolutionary link through all these gatherings and their resulting literature, the question of Black Self-Determination. Obviously these various elements see the question of Self-Determination from different perspectives based on their objective class positions and reflecting their diverse class interests, but in all these gatherings the call for Self-Determination was stated openly. This is the call that links all the democratic classes among the Black masses and genuine organizations of struggle for Black liberation – the call for self-determination.

Communists, obviously, must be able to scientifically put forward the legitimate demands of the masses, and in relationship to the Black liberation movement specifically, provide scientific and revolutionary leadership to such mass struggles as the Black liberation movement’s struggle for self-determination.

But this demand is a mass demand, the fundamental cry for democracy by the Black masses. It is the starting point in the struggle for democratic rights and equality for the Black masses and the concrete focus for the Black liberation movement. It is these democratic struggles that are the fuel, the dynamic struggle motion, of the Black masses (as the democratic struggles against imperialism are the general animators of the whole multinational working class) to ultimately struggling for socialism.

Not to recognize the democratic struggles of the Black masses against U.S. imperialism for self-determination as a key revolutionary struggle in this country is also to retard the socialist revolution. The enemy of Black self-determination is U.S. imperialism, as it is the enemy of the multinational working class in its fight for socialism. All of the oppressed nationalities in the U.S. are objectively battling U.S. imperialism and the struggle against their oppression is objectively a struggle against U.S. monopoly capitalism-imperialism. As are all the just struggles inside this country against police brutality, inferior education, layoffs and cutbacks, elimination of affirmative action and other social programs, all are struggles against exploitation and oppression which come from the same system.

The fundamental weapon of the Black masses against U.S. imperialism is the national Black united front of all the democratic classes, organizations, and individuals opposed to U.S. imperialism, just as one of the fundamental weapons of the multinational working class is the struggle against monopoly capitalism in a united front of all those who fight against imperialism.

The building of the multinational revolutionary Marxist-Leninist communist party, based on Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, is so critical because it alone can unify all the various struggles, so that the objective allies can become conscious allies and give the scientific and revolutionary leadership and guidance necessary to smash U.S. imperialism-monopoly capitalism and build socialism. Even the national liberation movements inside the U.S., such as the Black liberation movement and the Chicano liberation movement, cannot be completely successful without the destruction of U.S. imperialism, nor can the end of their national oppression be realized without the building of socialism.

The Black Human Rights Coalition puts forward concretely and correctly that “Black human rights is self-determination.” The taking of mass forces to the United Nations, a site of many international struggles against imperialism, is also correct and another move to implement Malcolm X’s revolutionary nationalist line that the Black liberation movement should be concerned with human rights rather than civil rights, although human rights began, as Malcolm said, with self-determination, self-respect and self-defense.

In 1967, after the Newark rebellion and after the Black Power Conference, elements that soon would form the Committee for a Unified Newark also wrote up a petition as Malcolm had urged for presentation to the United Nations, charging the United States with violating the human rights of Black people through a petition called “A Non-Self-Governing People.”

But in 1967, conditions in the rest of the third world as reflected in the United Nations was still not as positive in terms of third world influence inside that international body as they are today. Obviously, now, progressive third world forces inside the UN could even raise this Black mass document before the world body, making the world even more aware that the Black masses’ basic requirement and demand related to human rights is self-determination! But it must also be clear that the democratic and revolutionary cry for self-determination can only be realized and focused on a particular land base to materialize and make concrete that demand. Hence, the League of Revolutionary Struggle’s call for self-determination for the Afro-American nation in the Black-belt South, the historical and contemporary area of Black concentration.

The work which organizations like the African Peoples Party have done around the Black Human Rights Coalition and the mass demonstration called for November 5 at the United Nations are very positive and reflect the spirit and practice of revolutionary Black nationalists. The mass call for Black self-determination also brings with them each day more and more clarity throughout the Black liberation movement on the need for a national Black united front against U.S. imperialism and for Black self-determination. The transformation of Black Solidarity Day, a traditional and annual day of commemoration of Black struggles into a concrete vehicle for raising the demand for Black self-determination to the international level is clearly part of the irresistible tide Mao spoke of when he said, “Countries want independence, nations want liberation, and people want revolution!”