CPUSA and 3rd-Worldism

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Thu Apr 27 23:27:04 MDT 1995


>The best source for this history in particular is Harry Haywood,
>*Black Bolshevik*,

Haywood remained an unreconstructed Stalinist.  Can his story be
trusted?

>and Mike Goldfield's terrific review essay in *Review of Radical
>Political Economy* which appeared in 1981.

Do you have a complete bibliographic citation?

>the tension between the claim that Black autonomist movements
>should be supported and the practice of organizing multiracially
>by marxist writers of various ethnicities inclined to support
>this theoretical position was not worked out.  Indeed, it hasn't
>been to this day, and probably can't be.

Then you should be interested in the work of C.L.R. James.  He did
not see a contradiction in these two positions.  (Nor did he see a
contradiction between being a Pan-Africanist and a Trotskyist at
the same time in England in the 30s.)  James supported a black
autonomous movement from 1939 within the Trotskyist movement.
Note: this was NOT a support of separatism.  In an interview
published in 1986, James emphasized what rubbish the idea of
separatism was and that he never supported it.  Separate,
independent black organization to fight for integration into
American society: that was James's idea.

Trotskyists, to bolster their own advocacy of black nationalism,
which includes theoretical support for separatism, tends to
distort the historical record, including James's position.
Furthermore, James's contribution to Trotskyism is often relegated
to his contribution to "Black nationalism".  This really hits my
last nerve.  For all the on-paper advocacy of black nationalism
that Trots brag about now, why was it during the 1940s that James
found it so difficult to get the SWP and the Workers Party to put
more of their resources into "Negro work", not to mention to take
his other policy aims, theoretical work, and organizational
criticisms and proposals seriously?

There are other Trots who in their rabid support for black
nationalism castigate James precisely because he tried to talk
Trotsky out of taking black separatist fantasies seriously.

Some of the extremist Trots who counter nationalism with
"revolutionary integrationism" sometimes give a more honest
account of James, sometimes they blame him for the pro-nationalist
line.  But both positions within the Trotskyist camp in my view
are schematic and dishonest, which is characteristic of the
schematic character of the Trotskyist movement anyway, which is as
dead as the pro-Moscow "International Communist Movement",
Maoists, Albanians, etc.

But I digress.  The key issue here is to look at how James viewed
race (and anti-colonialism, too) and class not only theoretically
but in terms of social movements.


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