[Marxism] Re: I'm not convinced...(Black nation thread)

thomas muntzer immune_from_demoralization at yahoo.com
Wed Mar 8 18:23:26 MST 2006

Let me reiterate.  I think blacks will be a nation
when *they decide they are a nation*.  A group of
people is only a nation if there is a hegemonic
conception within the politics of that group that that
group deserves to be represented by a unique state. 
Look at any nationalism in the modern world -
Palestinian, Kurdish, Basque, Irish, East Timorese,
Tamil.  You name it.  The national movements and the
dominant politics of these groups focus on the claim
to the right to be represented by a separate state
(nation-state).  In the case of Latin American and
other Third World nationalisms there is the claim to
be represented by a nation-state that is really
accountable to its own people as opposed to the
imperialist power.  Within these claims, then, as
Joaquin has very rightly been pointing out on this
list, you have a struggle _within_ the national
movement between classes over the character that new
state should take, the character the nationally
liberated society should take.

In contrast, in the case of blacks we don't see them
in general calling themselves a separate nation.  We
don't see them laying claim to the right to be
represented by a new and independent state apparatus. 
Black nationalism was never really a full fledged
nationalism but something in between: a struggle for
_true_ racial equality and a struggle for a just
political, economic, cultural and social autonomy. 
And in any case black nationalism never became the
hegemonic politics of the black community.

What we do see in full force in the black community is
a struggle against the _racism_, a consciousness of
_racism_, a consciousness that it that has undergirded
American life since the very foundation of the
colonies as colonial settler states.  And we see a
fierce class struggle, first, albeit in a somewhat
limited way, against slavery, then against landlords
and capitalists, with blacks more and more playing a
leading role in class struggles.  And one of my main
points is: the black struggle against racism and class
oppression has _for the most part_ derived its
ideology from _laying claim to the guarantees of
citizenship within the U.S. nation-state_.  AS OPPOSED
TO laying claim to rights _on the basis of deserving a
separate nation state representing a separate nation_.

A truly convincing theory of race in the United States
(the "nation within a nation" idea as an example of a
theory) has yet to come out.  A good theorization
would deal with race as a relationship to the means of
subsistence and production as well as a relation to
the state apparatus (black skin /marks/ one before the
institutions of the state, before employers, before
landlords, etc, as does any other skin color).  It
would deal with it on the cultural level and integrate
some of the academic writing that looks at the role of
racism in generating some degree of American
exceptionalism for white workers.

Fred and Joaquin's "nation within a nation" theory is
too simplistic, however, although I agree with their
emphasis on the importance of racist oppression and
the role it will play in coming upheavals.  Nick's
"caste" analogy is also crude and stretches a
historical analogy beyond much usefulness.

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