Left Racism vs Million Man March

cdavidson at igc.apc.org cdavidson at igc.apc.org
Thu Oct 19 19:09:13 MDT 1995

Here's a response to some of the points made in this exchange, plus
a few new questions:

1. It seems that more than a few of the opponents of the MMM on
this list are forgetting their ABCs. The world is not only divided
between exploiter and exploited classes; it is also divided between
oppressor and oppressed nations. If we ignore this reality,
especially in all the concrete ways it is mainfested in every aspect of
life in this country, then we will understand nothing about race
relations or anything significant about political strategy and tactics.
How has the dismissal of the importance of the distinction between
oppressor and oppressed nations--what we used to call "liquidating
the national question"--come up in this discussion? Here's a few
examples: The Fruit of Islam has been equated with the KKK;
Farakhan has been equated with Hitler; the NOI has been equated
with the white miltias (if not considered worse); the Million Man
March has been equated with the PromiseKeeepers; the MMM has
been equated with the Nuremberg rallies; etc, etc. German fascism,
the KKK, the Militias, the Gingrich "Revolution"--all these are or
have been movements of different classes and strata of the "great"
nations to defend or restore their domination, plunder and
privileges. The last time I looked, no African-American movement,
left or right, was trying to enforce its domination, continue its
plunder or defend its privileges over and against white Americans.
It's ludicrous even to pose the question that way. One can view the
Nation of Islam and its leaders as advanced, backward or centrist
within the context of Black politics, as effective or ineffective, in
advancing the struggle against the main enemy. But whatever our
assessment, we are fundamentally wrong if we say they are the
same as main enemy. They couldn't be even if they wanted to be.

2. Lenin, for one, also carried over this distinction between
oppressor and oppressed in assigning how the revolutionaries of the
oppressed and oppressor nationalities carry out their tasks. He said
it was wrong for the militants of the "great" nation to aim their fire
at the narrow nationalism and divisiveness that arose within the
oppressed nations. He called for a division of labor, even stressing
that the degree to which we whites were successful in beating back
white racism would set the conditions for the Black comrades to
successfully  deal with narrow nationalism.

3. Farakhan and the NOI are attacked as segregationists. What a
joke. I grew up in a Pennsylvania mill town that was 30% Italian,
30% Serb, 30% Black and %10 Hillbilly. All my life, just about
every white working class and middle class family I know, including
my own relatives,  has made it one of their prime goals in life to
keep themselves and their children as far away from Black people
as possible. It didn't matter who was the prominent leader of the
day among blacks--Randolph in the 1940s, King in the 50s and 60s,
Jesse and Farakhan today--they found some reason to hold them in

4. Why does Farakhan have the influence he has today? I don't
pretend to know the whole answer. His ideology and program are a
mixture of nationist reformism and irrational metaphyics and
diatribes against other nationalities. But most of that is beside the
point; we cannot underestimate that what many Blacks respond to 
is that fact that he is unbowedand uninhibited in his denunciations
 of white supremacy, plus the fact that he is not dependent 
upon white philanthropy.

5. Finally, I think most of the criticisms of the MMM as a march for
men and not women are missing the main point. These men, for the most 
part, were not mobilizing to restore some reactionary patriarchy and
subordinate women. They couldn't do it if they wanted to. The
target of their affirmation was not women, but the retrograde anti-female 
and anti-children outbursts that were occurring with
increasing frequency among other men like themselves. Many of my
friends are making the contrary point that Black men have nothing
to atone for, and that to do so is to "blame the victim." Again, I
think they are missing the point. The black men in DC had nothing
to apologize to the white ruling class for. But they did have plenty
that they wanted to say, criticism and affirm to each other and their
 community ingeneral. That's why the question of atonement had
 such a powerfulappeal and why its impact was progressive. It was an 
upwelling of stable, proletarian patterns of value over and against Black-on
Black anti-social activity and criminality.  You can try to pin a 
dismissive label on this if you want to, but it won't resonant with 
the real experience of real people.

6. Enough for now. We'll go into the question of "Black fascism"
later. Carl Davidson, Chicago.

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