against 'entrenched identities'

charles brown cdehbrown at
Sat Jun 27 15:06:15 PDT 1998

Max wrote:

>> >If something is incoherent, it is so without
>> >respect to whatever else is or is not going on.
>> Chas:
>> I'm not sure why you say this. In general we want to analyze things
>> their interconnectedness, holistically. Self-determination or
>> of a historically specially oppressed and exploited group is effected
>> what else is going on, n'est-ce pas ?
>O.K. But making all this less abstract gets
>to the point better. So --
>> >The question is the feasibility of assorted ways
>> >of going it alone.
>> >
>> By the way, the BRC did not have a "go it alone" theme or thrust in
>Never said it did. And let me remind anyone
>who needs it that I have not 'attacked' the BRC,
>or even criticized it, since as I said there is
>no 'it' but a pluralist they.
>> . . . A
>> self-coherence develops in that historical cauldron. At the same
>We would hope so. But where is it now?
>The cauldron has been bubbling for a long
>time. Even the BRC, a subset of the black
>movements, is very diverse.

The activists who attended the BRC have continued in various struggles. There was just a big march on Washington,D.C. this spring in support of U.S. political prisoners and against the proto-faascist , superexploitative nature of the growing prison population, its racist composition and it privatization and profitization. That is one place it is now. In Michigan there is organizing against the attack on affirmative action at the Univ. of Mich.

There are everyday struggles against the effects of the welfare demolition and the abusive new "slave"fare programs. I could name more. There is an ebb ,but not a stop in Black activism. You are evidently not in touch with this,if you are wondering where is it.

>> . . .
>> The goals of ending racism/achieving equality and the whole long,
>> program of a radical Bill of Economic Rights for everybody can be
>Without rendering judgement on the BRC, I can't
>disagree, and have already said as much in my
>own post.
>> struggled for simultaneously. No ayo contradiction. There is no need
>> pussyfoot with white workers about abolishing racism and predjudice
>> fear of turning them off for this Bill of Rights struggle. All of the
>Depends on what you mean here. White workers will never
>follow a Sharpton or Farrakhan type unless their rhetoric
>changed radically, in both senses of the word.

I am talking about you, a white person leftist not being shy about getting an anti-racist agenda in front of all the white people you know, most of whom are wage-laborers essentially and objectively workers. I am not talking about Farrakhan or Sharpton or any other Black people, nationalist or not, convincing the vast majority of white people of to divest of racism. You have to persuade yourselves of that. I am saying that even Farrakhan's rhetoric is not any real barrier to white workers to make a radical change in this country. They don't think "I'm sick and tired of this system. I am going to become a dedicated revolutionary until we change it." and then hear a REPORT on a speech by Farrakhan and change their minds. Black nationalism is a red herring in explaining the lack of "activism" by the potentially effective agent for radical change in this country.

>> . . .
>> not seriatim or sequentially. The elements are coreinforcing (if you
>> racism the class will be stonger in fighting for the pure and simple
>> ecoonomic gains, vice versa), plus the totalness the
>> of the demanding is more radical in effect on the different parts. To
>> make a revolution you have to break a few eggs like making an
>> The barrier of "bad" Black nationalism is being exaggerated here.
>> has the existence of Black nationalist stopped radical white workers
>> from doing something to the capitalists. . . .
>I mentioned the Newark teachers strike. Some time ago,
>blacks were used overtly in racial fashion as strike-

Black strike breakers weren't nationalists. The nationalists were going back to Africa or starting their own shops. They weren't breaking strikes.

I admit that nowadays these sorts of incidents
>are rare. More to the point is the use of separatist
>rhetoric not as a prelude to any larger struggle
>but as an obstacle to it. Such rhetoric is not usually
>an instrument to some alternative, nationalist politics,
>but to no politics at all. Exhibit A is the Million
>Man March, which led to a follow-up meet in St. Louis
>which produced nothing, as far as I can see.

The Million Man March had followup in Detroit in the nature of its subject which was not very overtly political. Of course, Detroit is a 75% Black city. Do you spend much time in the Black community ? I think part of the reason you don't find much Black activism is that you are out of touch with Black people.

Again, separatist rhetoric is no excuse and does not act as a barrier to white radical action. This is a non-sequitur and not a true causal connection. Radiacalized white, militantly anti-racist white workers would find ready, allies for action in Black nationalists and Blacks of all types. I bet even Farrakhan would embrace some white workers serious about making fundamental change in this society. There's a lot of bravado in Farrakhan's rhetoric and white workers understand that better than you do.

>I could post a list of political events that various
>class- and labor-oriented groups are up to. I look
>forward to being able to post a similar list for the
>BRC or whatever follows it. But right now I don't
>see anything from the nationalist movement(s),
>even stuff I don't like. If there is more going
>on, go ahead and school me. But the dearth of
>activism reinforces my skepticism about nationalism.

Well, you are not accurate about the million man march. There was as much follow up as there was on Solidarity Days I, II, and III, the Great anti-nuc Peace March on NYC in 82, the marches against intervention in Central America. the demos against the war on Iraq, I could go on and on, because I have been to lots of Left marches, so I am an expert on how much follow up is the norm, and the MMM is at or above the norm. As I say , it might help if you were in the Black community. In Detroit, there are still mill. man march clubs and activist groups. Leaders from that march,have become leaders in other issues here. My background is not especially nationalist, but in recent years, much of the public demonstrations I have been to here have been initiated by nationalists, from NOI , and otherwise. You are wrong on the facts of no activism by nationalists.

One other fact: We just had a mayoral campaign in which the opponent to the neo-liberal mayor was a long time Black nationalist who essentially ran as a anti-monopoly populist. He ran particularly against the influence of GM and big business, and for more popular control. Even though in a majority Black city , he did not run a "Black" (or blacker) race. Didn't even mention the word. He lost, but this real life example demonstrates that your fear of Black nationalism is exaggerated. Black nationalism often has a lot of progressive class radicalism embedded in it, as Louis Pro's essay deomonstrates. The mayoral campaign I mention is another example of Black activism going on that you are not aware of.

Charles Brown

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