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Albert Parker

The Negro Struggle

“Labor with a White Skin Cannot Emancipate Itself Where Labor with a Black Skin Is Branded.” – Karl Marx.

(12 July 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 28, 12 July 1941, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

How To Defend the Soviet Union

Last week we explained that workers, Negro and white, have the job of defending the Soviet Union against its imperialist enemies, in spite of Stalin’s crimes against the world working class because the Soviet Union is a workers’ state and because its defeat by the imperialists would greatly strengthen the bosses in their exploitation and oppression of the workers everywhere. This week we want to discuss how workers, and especially Negro workers, can best defend the Soviet Union.

By defense of the Soviet Union, it must be understood, first of all we Trotskyists do not mean the same thing at all that the Stalinists do. They don’t defend the same things we do, and they don’t defend them in the same way.

What they defend in the Soviet Union first of all is Stalinism, the power and privileges and theories of the corrupt bureaucracy that has seized control of the state. What WE defend is the remains of the greatest revolution of all time, the nationalized property relations, the economic foundation which if extended will lead to socialism and a new kind of society.

For example, a month ago, the Stalinists, feeling that the United States when it entered the war would probably be in an alliance directed against the Soviet Union, spent all their time denouncing the war preparations of the U.S. government and trying to keep it from entering the war with full military steps. As part of its propaganda, the Communist Party dealt with the Negro question and Jim Crowism, showed how false are Roosevelt’s slogans about “a war for democracy”.

Then came the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. And now the policy of the Stalinists in this country is not to “get out and stay out of the war,” but to get into it as quickly as possible. As a result, almost every single correct argument the Stalinists used a month ago has today been thrown overboard. The Daily Worker no longer stresses the contradictions between a war for democracy abroad and Jim Crowism at home. It no longer criticizes Roosevelt except because he is so slow at getting into the war. It calls on the Negro people not to oppose the war, but to put pressure on Roosevelt to hasten American entry.

In short, in order to get an alliance between Stalin and Roosevelt, the Stalinists are ready to drop everything else, including the struggle against Jim Crowism.

The Stalinists and the Negro March

A concrete example of the change in their approach to the Negro problem is the recently called-off Negro March On Washington. Before the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Stalinists bitterly criticized the leaders of the March because they were tied to Roosevelt’s war machine, because their demands were inadequate, because they did not demand that the government support the anti-lynch and anti-poll tax bills, because they did not demand that the government stay out of war, etc. When the Roosevelt, administration began to put pressure on Randolph and White and the other leaders of the March, in an attempt to get it called off, the Daily Worker warned the Negroes to be careful that they did not submit to the pressure and call off the march.

Then came the invasion and a few days later Randolph gave in to Roosevelt, and in return for a face saving executive order which granted very little, called off the March. If this had happened a week earlier, the Stalinists would have raised holy hell, attacking and condemning Randolph. But since the Stalinists now had a new line, they uttered not a single word of criticism that the March had been called off. True, they saw what they called a few “loopholes” in Roosevelt’s executive order, but their National Negro Congress called it “a great step forward.”

We want to warn Negroes who watch the developments of the Stalinist line hot to expect a complete and open reversal overnight. If they did this, they would quickly lose all the influence among the militant Negroes which they now have. They will not drop their demand for the passage of an anti-lynch bill, for instance. After all, many “liberals” who also support the imperialist war, still think it would be good to pass such a bill. But the Stalinists will no longer make much of a point of it, and certainly will support Roosevelt’s war plans despite his refusal to back the anti-lynch bill.

We Fight On Against Jim Crow

As opposed to the Stalinist line, the Socialist Workers Party finds no contradiction between revolutionary defense of the Soviet Union and continuation of militant struggle for labor and Negro rights.

As the Manifesto of the Socialist Workers Party says:

“The method to defend the Soviet Union is to continue the class struggle against the imperialists. Defend workers’ rights against government strikebreaking! Build the power of the working class until it becomes the governmental power. That is the best service which the American workers can render to their brothers in the Soviet Union.”

In other words, class conscious Negroes must continue their struggle against Jim Crowism. Together with their white brothers, they must help to substitute for the present system of exploitation and discrimination, a system of socialist brotherhood which will help to solve our problems here and to defend the Soviet Union at the same time.

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Last updated: 23 May 2016