Left Racism vs Million Man March

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Fri Oct 20 14:49:13 MDT 1995


At 1:02 PM 10/20/95, glevy at acnet.pratt.edu wrote:

>With the beginnings of the civil rights movement, radicals took varying
>positions on the significance of that struggle. Some effectively
>abstained from participation. Others supported such struggles under the
>general umbrella of supporting democratic demands for reform. Still
>others, influenced by Leninism, attempted to extend Lenin's
>"unconditional support for the right of self-determination by oppressed
>nations" to "Negroes." Consequently, this issue is more a political
>divide on the left, rather than a theoretical divide.
>
>If one believes that democratic struggles by African-Americans for
>self-determination are essential to the manner in which the Left can be
>re-built in this country, then one is led into offering a theoretical
>conception that "fits" this belief. I don't really have a problem with
>the concept of black nationalism since it means, in practice, that
>self-determination for African-Americans should be supported. I do not
>think that one can view White separatist movements in the same way that
>one views Black separatist movements. Again, one has to consider the
>social composition, historical origins, and trajectory of those
>movements. They are not the same.

I'm not unfamiliar with this tradition, but I still think it's doo-doo.
African Americans are deeply part of the United States in every sense. They
are responsible for a good bit of its very physical existence, and have
profoundly influenced the culture.

What does "self-determination for African-Americans" mean? Black Americans
are a very diverse population. I can't imagine any way in which their fate
can be separated from nonblack America in any physical or social sense.
Call me old fashinoned, but I want a society where we all can live together
peacefully and prosperously. I fail to see how the rhetoric of national
liberation serves this purpose, even metaphorically.

Doug

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