[Marxism] Black History Month and the National Colonial Question - part 1
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Fri Feb 13 11:47:39 MST 2004
"Let Us March On Till Victory Is Won."
This stirring line from “Life Every Voice and Sing” rings out from countless
schools and churches in American every February – Black History Month. Black
History Month grew out of Negro History Week. Negro History Week was
proclaimed by the government more than half a century ago. This political and
ideological concession was a skillful maneuver in the world wide campaign against
Soviet power and its world altering victory over German led European fascism.
The context was the political antagonism of the post World War II period. No
one remembers or rather the memory of the events is recorded in a Negro
workers notebook. I have honored James Boggs as he left the old CLR James groups and
became mentor of a generation of black workers destined to produce the next
theoretical assertion. CLR James writings on the Negro question were rejected
wholesale by the revolutionaries in Detroit, riding the crest of the 1967
rebellion. Along with this was rejected his conception of dialectics and his
My writings on the African American Question are to pay a debt we
revolutionaries from the Anglo-American nation owe to history. It is Nelson Peery – the
individual man, who has singularly waged a half a century battle to preserve
the legacy of Marxism and the National Question. This one is for Nelson. It is
on behalf of my wife and daughters that love me beyond human comprehension. The
disposition of my son is never in question and needs no commentary. We shall
live and die by the word.
Negro History Week was designed to take the place of the militant Holidays of
June 19th (when slavery was outlawed in the territories) and January 1st
(Emancipation Proclamation Day). Juneteenth Day is June 19, – my mother's
birthday, and has been liquidated from the ideological sphere. Still, every generation
in Galveston Texas retains the residual memory of the event. By the late
1960s and early 1970s the only place to celebrate Emancipation Proclamation Day
would be in Canada and I retain the memory of the yearly trek across the border.
No one remembers that the “Negro National Anthem” was changed to “Lift Every
Voice and Sing” and carefully shelved for three decades. “Let Us March On
Till Victory Is Won” is the stirring ending of the Negro National anthem. The
writer of this song has been liquidated from the ideological sphere by the
The political and ideological campaign against every manifestation of the
national character of the African American peoples Freedom movement, slowly and
carefully isolated and liquidated this fact from the national consciousness of
the American Union. The world altering brilliance of Marxism and the National
Colonial Question came under assault by bourgeois property. I remember the
ideological left flank.
Crucial in this motion was the final decay of a complex of political and
ideological groupings in American that took shape on the basis of the October
Revolution. At the center – axis, of this complex of radicals and revolutionaries
was the Communist Party USA. By 1949 the Party was in utter route. The leaders
– jailed, scared off or bribed were ready for what ever compromise the
government demanded. The disbanding of the Party in the South in 1949, in violation
of democratic centralism and the Party Program, set the objective political
basis for the destruction of the Marxist line on the Negro Question.
Marxism and the Negro Question has never faired well in the America. Union.
The prestige of Lenin and the firm hand of Stalin forced the “Negro Question”
down the resisting throats of the CPUSA, while compelling the party to
liquidate its language presses in favor of a national press in the language of the
American peoples – English and Spanish. What accounts for this behavior on the
part of American communists and Marxists?
The most generous explanation has to do with the mechanics of the formation
of the working class in the North. Our industrial classes and strata were
formed primarily from the importation of European immigrants. Their intellectual
counterparts consisted of radical syndicalism, anarchy advocates and those not
familiar with elementary Marxism. Syndicalism long ago had merged anarchism.
The Marxist intellectual movement bounced between anarcho-syndicalism and
Populism during this rising curve of industrial development.
Bolshevism was despised and misunderstood.
There was of course no Negro Question in Germany or Poland and it is natural
that many of the immigrant revolutionaries could make neither heads nor tails
of this burning social issue.
To this very day the revolutionaries simply do not know how to approach this
question of African American Liberation. This national factor has presented
itself in complex changing forms at each stage of development of the industrial
system. The industrial system proper goes through quantitative boundaries of
expansion and this quantitative expansion of the quality called “
industrialization,” sets the material basis for reformism. In its initial formation the
Negro Question appears as a question of caste dealing with the emancipation of a
class of slaves, who have not congealed into a people.
The formation of the African American people as a people is unique in world
history. That which makes them a historically evolved people is the meaning of
the concept national character. The African American people began their
formation and evolution as a class of slaves and emerged as a people during the
ninety years period of their segregation in America. The African American people
are not a nation, have never been a nation and will never be a nation. They are
a historically evolved people in further transition within the framework of
changes in the American Union.
Let us pose the question of national question in an inverted form in respects
to the African American people and disclose the immaturity of the radical
intellectual. In every political thesis every written in the history of the
American Union by white writers; in every piece of fiction, work of art and all
literature every produced in our history, not one white writer has every mistaken
the Anglo-American people for the African American people. Both historical
evolved peoples are in flux – transition, mechanically and chemically. The logic
of imperialism is the consolidation and dispersal of nations and peoples.
Are there white people in the North of the American Union distinctly
different from the white people in Germany? However one chooses to describe this
difference is the meaning of national character. The white people Anglo-Americans
of the North of the American Union are not the English. Surely one cannot
liquidate the “Boston Tea Party” from history.
Whatever is the reason that not one writer - in the entire history of the
American Union, has blurred the distinction or confused the Anglo American people
with the African American people is the recognition of national character.
National character is not color or reducible to color. The Nigerian is not
mistaken for African American unless in the course of successive generations her
family assimilated that which is uniquely American. Then they become African
American or what is called black in American short speak.
No writer in American history has ever mistaken the white people of the North
with the white people of Mississippi's black belt area. Why is that? Even
Elvis Presley had to be assaulted and liquidated from history, because he was of
But cotton came to Harlem. The inevitable dialectic of life proved itself to
be inevitable or rather the historical assertion.
Whatever the reason for this peculiar American consciousness is called the
recognition of the “national character” of a people. The word “people”
embodies history because they came from somewhere and for whatever reason evolved
their historical peculiarity. Not one white writer in the entire history of the
American Union has ever mistaken the Indian peoples – nations or their
historically evolved attributes for the Anglo American people. The Red man is a man
and his “Red” becomes a designation
This consciousness arises from a complex social process that has a material
reality or one must renounce militant materialism and discard dialectics. That
humanity becomes increasingly mixed – mechanically and chemically, is the
material reality of the world market buttressed by this specific state of
development of the technological regime...
The liquidation of Marxism and the National Question took place on the
political basis of the blind criticism of Stalin and Soviet Power and was
orchestrated by the bourgeoisie. The result was catastrophic. By abandoning the Marxist
position on the national factor, the CPUSA embraced cultural nationalism and
helped create an unprecedented political vacuum in both the African American
peoples movement and the working class.
Going into the 1950s the political leadership of the African American
Liberation Movement passed from the hands of the workers and radical intellectual and
into the hands of the black petty bourgeois intellectual hostile to
Unraveling a theoretical position is no easy task. None of the Anglo-American
intellectuals could carry out such an act because of the national character
of the African American people. They would be immediately rejected by way of a
section of the black elite and the black petty bourgeoisie. The politics of
the black bourgeoisie is jail the black proletarians, plain and simple. “Fuck
the great unwashed.” Anyone that doubts this should read the Black Commentator
This question of national character is simple and requires common sense to
understand. Are the Indian people Indian? Individuals can escape the social
position of a people lingering under the jackboot of imperial oppression, but not
the entire people. To be American Indian is not simply a belief system
outside the historically evolved social position of a conquered people or there
would be no reservations. “Reservations” – here is an interesting word.
National character by definition embodies a belief system or distinct
physiological makeup. The greater – fuller, amalgamation of peoples requires a
radical restructuring of the economy and an enormous political leap to a new basis.
What is required is the destruction of property and the national factor enters
a new period. National character evolves into a historically evolved social
tradition freed from the gravity of class. Nevertheless one can discern
national character – today, amongst “the great unwashed” – the lower strata of the
proletariat as it evolve chemically.
The task of unraveling “Marxism and the National Question - the Negro
Question, was sidestepped by the chauvinistic lame duck leadership of the CPUSA,
never understood by the various brands of infantile Trotskyism, and fell to the
lot of Dr. James Jackson. Clutching the mantle of theoretician bestowed upon him
by the equally illustrious theoretician, Gus Hall, Dr. Jackson stepped up to
Dr. Jackson's “New Theoretical Aspects on the Negro Question” is remembered
by the proletarian Marxists as the instrument of a cowards coup de grace. This
rotten document basically states that the dispersal of the Negro People had
transformed the national factor and the national factor which is the plantation
South no longer existed. Further the national question is a question of race
– color, and two different nations did not evolved on the shores of America.
Although anyone with a small sense of American history knows that American
evolved as a Southern country up until the Civil War, and the new nation arose
in the North – which produced the conflict called the Civil War, this was
disregarded. The national question was declared to be a singular question of color –
Nigga – please!
What no Anglo-American theoretician would say or write Dr. Jackson stated.
Here is the voice of the bourgeoisie within American Marxism.
All meaningful theories concerning social life sooner or later get put to the
test. Stated another way, “life asserts itself,” (Engels)
We forget things and what happened. We tend to color the Roosevelt period –
period as in cycle of menstruation, or bleeding, unrealistically.
I am told by every revolutionary in America that my clinging to the legacy of
the great Stalin and Marxism and that national question is "old hat."
You are wrong.
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