BRC (replies)

Charles Brown charlesb at
Wed Jun 24 11:24:42 PDT 1998

Rakesh writes: Charles B faults me for failure to comply with Lenin's theses on nationalism >

I raise Lenin's analysis because he is not likely to be accused of undermining the interest of working class unity and victory in his arguments that oppressed national groups have the perogative to organize SEPARATELY for national liberation. This speaks directly to the issue in dispute here , separate meetings. That is short of setting up a whole nation, but the essence of the situtation is the same. In other words, Poles having exclusively Polish meetings without any Germans (or Great White Russians) in them would not undermine the Bolsheviks approach. What is your theory that is more faithful to the interest of proletarian revolution (workers of the world unite) than Lenin's ?

>>and for softness towards white racism and segregation (which
racially exclusive congresses may only strengthen) >>

Softness is not exactly the point. You fail to apprehend the specific history of the relationship between the oppressor white and oppressed Black groups which is central for deciding whether it is "absurd" to consider Black Americans a group with the elements of a nation with right of self-determination , i.e. the right within a working class revolutionary perspective to have separate meetings etc. You also fail to comprehend, what Lenin's theory does, the practical problem that the prejudice of oppressor group members creates a legitimate need in the oppressed group members to meet outside of that oppression to effectively plan for struggling specifically against national /racist oppression. That doesn't contradict also having other meetings with oppressing group members with developed enough revolutionary consciousness and common sense to understand the nature of special national oppression within overall working class oppresssion. Most actually existing white radicals I have worked with have this common sense and are cool with moments of Black only meetings. They aren't offended or putoff by it. They are the ones who then get invited to the "separate"meetings, having demonstrated their solidarity. At the BRC there were lots of whites (but in a minority , which is important , and probably why there was a public pre-meeting discouragement of whites from coming) The whites there probably came on invitation of specific Black participants, which was some control over the level of their self-criticism about racism.

>>and intersperses his
post with excerpts from mine, though the passages quoted are used more as pauses to catch his breath than arguments to be refuted.>>

More silliness, as if I have to struggle to crack on your stuff. It wasn't hard at all. In fact, I think I did it in my sleep.

I only want to reply to his accusation that my posts have reeked of racism. He blames me for using "colored" and "Negro". I referred to minority bidnesmen as 'colored' as a way of distinguishing them and their interests from those of the 'black' masses; as Charles doubtless knows, ordinary African Americans often mock bourgie blacks for a reluctance to self-describe themselves as black. Colored was used then to make a class point.>>

I said you were making a racist argument. If you want to talk Black, you better get it right. Black people don't use that slang among a bunch of white people, Brother man.

>>I referred to Negro intellectuals in the course of one post as a way of mocking the insidious reduction of black intellectuals as experts only qualified to opine on what has historically been called the Negro question. This tragic constriction of black intellectual life is discussed profoundly by Reed, Jr in the intro to his DuBois book. As tragic is the tendency to reduce the social question in this country to the question of racial inequality and blacks (as the Thernstroms and D'Souza are anxious to do) much as the social question was once reduced by renegade socialists in Germany to the Jewish question.>>

Consider that "Workers of the World unite" places the national question at the very center of the class question.

>>I remain opposed to Stalinism, social democracy, left or structural keyensianism (I have been thinking about Palley's book), third world and black nationalism (progressive, reactionary or otherwise)--all the terrible things of the 20th century we are now free to leave behind, if we only dare to be free>>

You have a right to be opposed to what you want. But being absolutely opposed to all "third world and black nationalism" is subject to the cricticisms I made. For example, the Viet Namese National Liberaton Front was "third world" (nationally oppressed group, colonialist victim) nationalism. So, objectively there you are with the imperialists and against the world proletarian revolutionay movement.

Charles Brown

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