[Marxism] Breitman's HOW A MINORITY CAN CHANGE SOCIETY revisited

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sun Apr 30 11:52:13 MDT 2006


One of the greatest teachers I've ever had was George Breitman.
I often like to listen to and re-read his words as he tried to
teach young radicals how to look at contemporary events and how
to understand what we see. I was privileged to be among a the
audience who heard him give this lecture over the New Years 
weekend in Chicago, at a run-down meeting hall which was hired
at 302 S. Canal street. Thinking back to that time today, as we
get ready for what will certainly be the greatest May Day in the
history of the United States of America, I cannot help trying to
wonder how Breitman might have looked at the struggle which is
now unfolding and how he would have helped us to comprehend it.

A task which the immigrants rights movement has set for itself
includes educating and winning over the great majority of people
in the United States, and driving a conceptual wedge between the
great majority, and the tiny racist capitalist stupidist minority
who want to use divide and conquer tactics to prevent this great
majority from focusing on its own interests. This is the point
George Breitman was hinting at in his magnificent lectur back in
1962 HOW A MINORITY CAN CHANGE SOCIETY. If you haven't read it in
a long time, I cannot recommend it more highly as it's completely
timely for the situation in the United States today.

Just substitute the phrase "immigrant workers" for "Negro people"
in the following paragraph and you'll begin to get the idea which
George Breitman, tried to get us to understand about the powerful 
implications of Black nationalism and the Black struggle over 
forty years ago when he gave a great talk on this timely topic:

"A minority can, merely by carrying through its fight for democratic
rights without compromise, help to educate and radicalize the
American people, especially the youth in whose hands the future lies.
In fact, it is already doing so. You in this audience of young
socialists and young radicals know better than anyone else how
profoundly your thinking about the whole world has been influenced by
the Negro struggle; how their fight for equality enabled you to see
through the official myths about "democracy" and "the free world," to
understand the brute reality of the capitalist power structure, to
reach new conclusions about capitalism and socialism. Not only the
Cuban revolution, not only the danger of atomic war, but something
much closer to home, the Negro revolt, has helped to educate or
re-educate you, to shed the blinders of liberalism, and to persuade
you to dedicate your lives to the fight for a better world. In this
respect you are not so much unique as early, because the deepening
struggle of the Negro minority will have similarly healthy effects on
other young people and on some of the not completely hopeless older
people as well."
http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/breitman/1964/xx/minority.htm


Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California





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