Black Radical Congress and "the Left"

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Jun 22 06:10:55 PDT 1998

>Nathan, you have not responded to my argument as to the reactionary
>consequence the exclusion of non-blacks has on the kind of agenda a black
>radical congress is pressured to agree on in the absence of non-blacks. If
>you would cut out the parts of my post where I tried to lay out the
>problem, then perhaps you would see it. It's no answer to say that you know
>radical blacks who will be there; I am trying to outline the forces which
>will trap them as well.

Why beat around the bush? The real issue is black nationalism. I am afraid that Rakesh has been influenced by dogmatic Trotskyites on this question. Their hostility to black nationalism has very little to do with the Marxist tradition, but is a throwback to the sort of schematic views of Kautsky in the early 1900s.

The Russian Revolution demonstrated that the nationalism of the oppressed can be a powerful force in the workers revolution. The Bolsheviks remained open to the idea of cross-class national liberation formations fighting side by side with communist organizations. Support for the Kuomingtang was only withdrawn after it became obvious that the bourgeoisie had become hegemonous.

Trotsky was for black nationalism. So was CLR James, the outstanding American Marxist thinker of the last half-century. The reason black nationalism is progressive is that it mobilizes the most oppressed section of the working-class on the basis of its own unique oppression. Historically it has been observed that the more power that this sector demonstrates, the more possibility that integrated class action can take place. This is the dialectic. When the exclusively black Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement stood up to the auto and UAW bosses in the late 60s, the next thing that happened is that integrated caucuses began to form. White workers understood that it was in their class interests to work with the black nationalists.

Rakesh's hostility to black nationalism is a clear illustration of "left conservatism."

Louis Proyect


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