Racism, captialism & the Million Man March

Al allong at norfolk.infi.net
Mon Oct 16 04:48:05 MDT 1995

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>From: "Janet" <JANET at wwpublish.com>
>To: "Workers World News Service" <workers-l at wwpublish.com>
>Subject: Racism, captialism & the Million Man March
>Date: Thu, 12 Oct 1995 00:07:13 EDT
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>Organization: WW Publishers
>Via Workers World News Service
>Reprinted from the Oct. 19, 1995
>issue of Workers World newspaper
>By Larry Holmes
>On Oct. 16 the "1 Million Man March," the ambitious
>initiative by the Nation of Islam, its leader Minister Louis
>Farrakhan and others to rally Black men, will take place in
>The march has picked up at least the nominal support of
>many African American leaders, including the Rev. Jesse
>Jackson, the Congressional Black Caucus, a number of Black
>mayors, and many Black organizations.
>That the march has been embraced by a large segment of the
>Black community should surprise no one. Among Black people
>in the United States, there exists a powerful, even
>desperate hunger for struggle.
>The Oct. 16 action has tapped into this sentiment, which
>has been created by a multitude of factors--including the
>reactionary Contract with America and the growing poverty
>arising from all the layoffs and budget cuts. These anti-
>worker attacks hit Black and other oppressed communities
>twice as hard.
>Moreover, there are the sweeping attacks on voting rights
>and affirmative action, and the escalating racist police
>terror. State repression against African American males is
>notable in this regard. A recent study by the Sentencing
>Project found that one of three young Black males is either
>in prison or on probation or parole.
>Although the march's principal organizers have cast the
>appeal for the event in religious terms--calling it "a day
>of atonement"--many of those who come will do so in order to
>project a powerful demonstration of Black solidarity against
>The biggest problem with the march, of course, is that
>Black women have been asked not to attend. Instead they're
>being asked to stay home and observe a "day of absence"--not
>to go to work or shop.
> More than anything else, the exclusion of women exposes
>the march's greatest weakness. It is one thing to make an
>appeal to Black men to take a stand. It's quite another
>thing to purposely tell women not to show up.
>There is no doubt a sense of crisis in the Black community
>about the situation of young Black males, who are either
>dying, going to jail, or unemployed in record numbers. This
>is a direct consequence of exploding poverty and repression
>caused by the current phase of monopoly capitalism.
>This crisis, however, is not generating an anti-woman,
>conservative backlash among the Black masses. In the case of
>the Oct. 16 march, this is being imposed from the top down.
>In 1995 there should be no place in a progressive march
>for propagating--directly or indirectly--the old reactionary
>notion that women must stand behind men, have children and
>take care of the family.
>No real struggle can be waged against oppression and
>exploitation in the contemporary world unless it is based on
>the principle and practice of full gender equality and the
>struggle against anti-lesbian and gay bigotry. The movement
>needs to go forward, not backward.
>Progressives, socialists, and revolutionary Black
>political activists, especially women, are asking: Why would
>anyone who wants to take on the racist establishment want
>Black people to split themselves in half?
>Surely no one believes that the profit-hungry corporations
>behind the Gingrich/Clinton assaults will feel threatened by
>a movement burdened with the same sexist attitude as, say,
>the U.S. Senate.
>Again, conservatism is being artificially imposed on the
>masses. This is possible because other more progressive and
>revolutionary currents in the struggle have yet to assert
>themselves on the scale needed to reverse today's anti-
>working class assault. But that will change.
>The upcoming 1996 presidential election compounds this
>problem. Many forces are finding themselves getting sucked
>up into supporting President Clinton because he's "the
>lesser evil" as compared to the Republicans.
>Offering Clinton and the Democratic Party as a focus of
>the movement--as some leaders at the march will do--is the
>quickest way to choke off the potential for a real struggle
>that has a thoroughly independent, progressive program.
> The fact that some African American leaders feel
>compelled to support and attend the march reflects the
>current political period, one in which the working class and
>progressive movement--and all the struggles of the oppressed
>in particular--are on the defensive.
>The central theme of the march--emphasizing self-reliance
>and "personal responsibility" as opposed to attacking the
>capitalist government--adds to the problem. In fact, this
>focus makes it possible for many right wingers to say that
>they "share some of the march's goals."
>But mostly these forces attack the march, as they would
>any mass expression that objectively targets the racist
>status quo. Indeed, workers of all nationalities have been
>subjected to the capitalist media's endless, self-serving
>interpretations of the march and Minister Farrakhan.
>The fact that the march comes less then two weeks after
>the O.J. Simpson verdict adds grist to the racist, big-
>business media's mill. The U.S. propaganda-for-profit
>machine is already well poised to work overtime trying to
>sow division between white and Black.
>But what should white workers think and do as they face
>the barrage from the airwaves? First and foremost, they
>should not be taken in by the attacks on the march
>The capitalist establishment is not against Minister
>Farrakhan because he's conservative. They are against him to
>the extent that he is a symbol of Black struggle.
>Make no mistake about it. When the bourgeoisie attacks
>Minister Farrakhan, they are aiming their shots at the
>entire Black struggle. And they're desperately trying to
>whip up white racism.
>African American people are going to Washington because
>they want to fight racist oppression and uplift the Black
>community. This is why whites should support them.
>If there's going to be unity among workers in the struggle
>against capitalist exploitation, it is absolutely critical
>that white workers support--in words and in deeds--the
>struggle of workers who suffer national oppression.
>This is what is called supporting the right to self-
>All this doesn't mean that the working class and the broad
>progressive movement, especially its revolutionary Marxist
>sector, should merely stand on the sidelines of the anti-
>racist struggle--waiting to take a position in response to
>this or that event.
>Socialists must have a clear view of what's at stake. And
>they must point out clearly, patiently and without
>hesitation the source of racism and national oppression: the
>capitalist system.
>This is doubly true today in light of the world-wide,
>high-tech capitalist offensive that is pauperizing workers
>everywhere. Central to this offensive is fostering reaction,
>racism, national oppression, sexism, gay oppression, anti-
>Semitism militarism and imperialist war.
>The politics of special oppression are a by-product of the
>politics and economics of division. Marxists must always
>point out this out. There is an interdependence of the
>struggle against national oppression and the class struggle
>against capitalism and for socialist revolution.
>To get to the goal of overthrowing the imperialist world
>order, it is necessary to meet the challenge of everyday
>life. This includes formulating a program and course of
>action that can unite all people in what must ultimately be
>a class war to end capitalism.
>Such a program must demand: Stop the war on Black people
>and all the oppressed; stop police terror and state
>repression; expand affirmative action and civil rights; and
>build jobs, schools and drug rehabilitation programs--not
>jails and prisons.
>The time has come for the labor movement to embrace and
>fight for such a program. Certainly the multinational U.S.
>working class is ready and willing to take this on.
>But what about the leaders? The devastating impact of 20
>years of capitalist restructuring is finally forcing the top
>leadership of the labor movement to get serious about
>organizing the tens of millions of unorganized workers in
>the U.S.
>And who are these workers? Mostly Black, Latino and women
>Thus, the struggle against racist and sexist oppression is
>by its very nature the concern of the organized labor
>movement. The AFL-CIO leadership is meeting in New York
>later in October to take up its new course and perhaps
>change its leadership. This would be a perfect time for
>labor and Black leaders to meet and discuss strengthening
>and uniting their mutual struggles.
>Instead of the unions squandering workers' dues for
>Clinton's re-election, why not put that money toward
>initiatives that unite the struggle of workers with the
>struggles of the oppressed?
>Imagine the possibilities. Imagine the bosses' fear.
>                         - END -
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