Nation of Islam

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Sat Oct 21 16:54:29 MDT 1995


On Fri, 20 Oct 1995, Doug Henwood wrote:

> Some people may doubt the source (though I find them to be generally quite
> accurate on matters like this), but the current Workers Vanguard says this:
> 
>    "[I]t's no wonder that Farrakhan is more than willing to collaborate
> with white-supremacists like California Nazi Tom Metzger. Even back in the
> 1960s under Elijah Muhammed, the NOI got funding from Texas ultrarightist
> H.L. Hunt and cultivated relations with the American Nazi Party and the
> KKK.

Louis: This is exactly the sort of thing that James Baldwin was harping 
on in his "Fire Next Time" which was written in 1963. This is an odd sort 
of fascism that has been around since 1963 and has not attacked a single 
demonstration or meeting in memory. Let's not take the Spart's word for 
what's going on in Philadelphia. We live here in NY and the only incident 
of violence that the Nation has been involved in is defending its mosque 
from racist NY cops.

The ideology of the Nation of Islam reminds me deeply of the 
ultra-orthodox Jews in Brooklyn: racially exclusivist, mystical and 
misogynist. Of course, nobody fears the orthodox Jews because they are 
"members in good standing" of polite white society.

Transplant them to the occupied territories in the mid-east and it's a 
totally different story. They often run amok and massacre unarmed 
Palestinians. The followers of Kahane are especially fascist-like.

The point is this: ideology does not determine whether or not a given 
group is fascist at a given time in history. You need a more dialectical 
approach, one that takes into account *actions* as well as words.

The Larouchites did become fascist at a certain point in the early 70's, 
but you couldn't tell exactly from Lyndon Larouche's speeches. It had to 
do more with the fact that 50 or 60 of his followers would storm into a 
meeting armed with numchuks and baseball bats in order to drive a CP 
candidate off the stage.

The main beef against the Nation of Islam is not that they are a 
right-wing threat, but that they are ineffectual. In order to understand 
them, I recommend reading their newspaper or their other publications, or 
Malcom X's autobiography. The last thing I would check is Spartacist 
League publications. If the Spart's powers of analysis were half-way 
competent, they wouldn't be a miniscule little sect on the fringes of US 
left politics. Evidence of your powers of analysis have more to do with your 
ability to mobilize masses of people, rather than your ability to fill a tiny 
newspaper with fire-breathing prose.


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