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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>-------------------------
>Via Workers World News Service
>Reprinted from the Oct. 19, 1995
>issue of Workers World newspaper
>-------------------------
>
>RACISM, CAPITALISM & THE MILLION MAN MARCH
>
>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 
>Washington. 
>
>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 
>racism.
>
>THE WOMAN QUESTION
>
>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.
>
>WHAT SHOULD WHITE PEOPLE'S ATTITUDES BE?
>
>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."
>
>DEFEND THE STRUGGLE AGAINST RACISM
>
>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 
>leadership. 
>
>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-
>determination.
>
>THE ROLE OF REVOLUTIONARY SOCIALISTS
>
>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.
>
>LABOR SHOULD TAKE THE LEAD
>
>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 
>workers. 
>
>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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