Tag Archives: Marxism

The Problematic of the Union in the U.S. – What is to be Done? (Part 2)

Many people reading the blog have only the read the first position paper on unions and not the second. We are releasing the second to make clear there are two position papers being discussed in Advance the Struggle. We wanted to share both so people can see the discussion going on. Please feel free to comment, and or critique both pieces.

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Revolutionaries, Unions and emerging Class Struggle.

“Trade Unions work well as centres of resistance against the encroachment of capital. They fail partially from an injudicious use of their power. They fail generally from limiting themselves to a guerrilla war against the effects of the existing system, instead of simultaneously trying to change it, instead of using their organized forces as a lever for the final emancipation of the working class, that is to say, the ultimate abolition of the wages system.”  -Marx

Thesis:

So few revolutionaries are implanted in the landscape of over 14 million US union members,  making a key task the formation of revolutionary cells amongst the rank and file of unions, which would  engage in three types of political work; 1) day to day organizing and base building amongst the rank and file of that union, 2) form new working class organizations outside of the unions (like solidarity unionism or independent committees) and, 3) in rupturing  moments of capitalist attack, like the “Wisconsin moment,” to lead classwide offensives against capital.

  Continue reading

Classroom Struggle with their latest Newsletter!

The TEACH Committee (formerly Occupy Oakland Education Committee) has been in existence since Nov. 2011. From their inception they have led marches for public education, created & circulated curriculum with class struggle content, built resistance to rampant union busting by Oakland Unified School District, and led an occupation of a shuttered elementary school from which they ran a free People’s School summer program.  This committee, composed of unionized and non-unionized educators, organize independently from hierarchical institutions (namely unions) while also intervening within unions to advance the struggle for quality public education.
They offer their 4th and latest Newsletter which is now called Classroom Struggle. This publication is comprised of articles on: the decision behind the name change, the effect recent elections had on public education in Oakland, the importance of contracts for education workers, analysis of teacher strikes in Sri Lanka and Namibia, and an after-school worker experiential piece. All these articles appear on this committee’s blog —  classroomstruggle.org (formerly education4the99).  Issues 1-3 are also archived as well education struggle articles from around the web. Thanks and ALL POWER to the PROLETARIAT!
Please Print and Distribute!

Finding Our Revolutionary Agency: A Reflection on Peacock Rebellion’s “Agen(c)y”

by Mara

The NonProfit Industrial Complex

Image from an excellent zine and comic book on the NPIC posted at http://zeeninginlaos.wordpress.com. Click the picture to check it out!

I’ve grown up in the bay area and my political development started when I worked for a nonprofit. I was about 19 years old, had gotten kicked out of my parents house for drug use and related family conflicts revolving around mental health, and had to find work in order to pay my newly acquired housing expenses. Not having many marketable skills aside from being bi-lingual, I turned to Craig’s List and eventually got a series of interviews that lead me to an after-school tutoring job at a public school in Oakland. The program was funded and organized through a social justice nonprofit.

It was through my work at this nonprofit that I met people who were politicized around issues in education, pedagogy, and racial justice. Though no one helped me develop my politics through direct mentorship, being around a scene of people who had radical ideas and were doing work with working class students encouraged me to follow my interest in working students to the point where I decided to finish community college and get a teaching credential. It was through this process that I started researching people like Paulo Freire and through this being opened up to the world of revolutionary theory and history . . .

How many people have become radicalized through nonprofits? Found them to be useful forums for expressing radical political energy? How many have found them to be incredibly limiting and de-politicizing after spending some time in them? Continue reading

Notes Towards a Critique of Maoism by Loren Goldner

The below piece was originally posted in the hot-off-the-presses latest edition of Insurgent Notes, an excellent Communist journal published by some of our comrades.

In this moment the US revolutionary left is attempting to rebuild from being murdered, exiled and corrupted into practical nonexistence.  As part of this process, we have to take a hard and utterly nondogmatic look at the history of various revolutionary traditions…..unfortunately this is not very common.  What is more common, and infinitely more boring and useless, is a gutter-level political culture that includes one-sentence name-calling summaries of traditions and idealized versions of ones’ own, leading to brain-dead strategic thought often based in knee-jerk rejection.

BUT

We are also not going to win by implementing broad left unity, or by rejecting theory and strategic thought as “academic” or “overintellectualized“.  This could only work if our ideas for approaching the world, and the strategies we make with them, don’t matter for whether our struggles win (if only for a few years) or are drowned in blood.  I’ve yet to hear someone directly defend this thesis, but by all means the comment thread is open for you if you’re interested!

What nondogmatic means in this case is MORE intellectual, in the sense of a deeper look into the reality of complex historical events, figures, strategies and tactics.  It also means “No Cheap Shots“, i.e. we’re trying to learn about the applicability of certain ideas to reality, and the consequences of their use, rather than GET someone in some kind of boxing-like debate.

The following piece is an example of the kind of sharp debate that we need, and the readable historical summations of different tendencies we’ll need to develop and debate in order to understand our history and its impact on today.

The Fish

Introduction by an Advance the Struggle Comrade:

A Marxist critique of Maoism

Were living in a historical moment where anarchism, Trotskyism and Maoism have not proved to be powerful revolutionary systems nor totally obsolete. They hang on to the left. Become reproduced in a variety of ways. Maoism in particularly is an important movement. It claims to be the most serious Marxist movement that is grounded in a non European setting. Such a dynamic makes Maoism an attractive force for young militants of color who align themselves with third world struggles. The Black Panthers were highly influenced by Maoism and Fanon. Movies often depict Panthers selling the Mao’s little red book. The key inspiration for the Panthers, Malcolm X, also was influenced by Maoism. In his Message to the Grassroots, 10th Nov, 1963: Malcolm states: 
“…The Chinese Revolution — they wanted land. They threw
the British out, along with the Uncle Tom Chinese. Yeah,
they did. They set a good example. When I was in prison, I
read an article — don’t be shocked when I say I was in
prison. You’re still in prison. That’s what America means:
prison. When I was in prison, I read an article in Life
magazine showing a little Chinese girl, nine years old; her
father was on his hands and knees and she was pulling the
trigger ’cause he was an Uncle Tom Chinaman, When they had
the revolution over there, they took a whole generation of
Uncle Toms — just wiped them out. And within ten years
that little girl become [sic] a full-grown woman. No more
Toms in China. And today it’s one of the toughest,
roughest, most feared countries on this earth — by the
white man. ‘Cause there are no Uncle Toms over there.”…

As 1500 strikes take place in China everyday, and China being a center of global capitalist accumulation within the world system, many in the Chinese left will try to redevelop Maoism. We need a clear analysis of the political character of Maoism from a marxist perspective. One that can trace its historical development from 1911 to the present. With that said, we welcome Loren Goldner’s essay, a Marxist critique of Maoism.

***

Note to the Reader: The following was written at the request of a west coast comrade after he attended the August 2012 “Everything for Everyone” conference in Seattle, at which many members of the “soft Maoist” Kasama current were present. It is a bare-bones history of Maoism which does not bring to bear a full “left communist” viewpoint, leaving out for the example the sharp debates on possible alliances with the “nationalist bourgeoisie” in the colonial and semi-colonial world at the first three congresses of the Communist International. It was written primarily to provide a critical-historical background on Maoism for a young generation of militants who might be just discovering it. —LG.

Maoism was part of a broader movement in the twentieth century of what might be called “bourgeois revolutions with red flags,” as in Vietnam or North Korea.

To understand this, it is important to see that Maoism was one important result of the defeat of the world revolutionary wave in 30 countries (including China itself) which occurred in the years after World War I. The major defeat was in Germany (1918–1921), followed by the defeat of the Russian Revolution (1921 and thereafter), culminating in Stalinism.

Maoism is a variant of Stalinism.[1] Continue reading

Unifying Revolutionary Forces in the Coming Year

We are some members of Advance the Struggle, a New York revolutionary collective, and Black Orchid Collective who have been travelling together and discussing during the lead up to the Everything for Everyone Conference in Seattle.  Through these conversations, we have been brainstorming ideas for how we can build together over the long term. The following is the results of these brainstorms.  To be clear, this is a discussion document, NOT a formal position representing our groups.  It is also not something we aim to push as an immediate outcome of the Everything for Everyone conference.  Instead, we hope it will prompt discussion about how to move forward during 2012 into 2013.  We also acknowledge that not everyone involved in E4E will agree with or be interested in this project, but we hope that those who are contact us so we can discuss further.

  1. Tensions of building a national formation
  2. Character of Occupy
  3. Rupture versus base building? Towards a new Revolutionary Organization
  4. Towards a working class insurrection

2012-2013 can be a year of unifying revolutionary militants from around the US. In order for this to happen we need to take the necessary preparatory steps in 2013 to develop a common political analysis and perspective on revolutionary work.  Our strength will come from unifying all of the militants that come out of left communism, anarcho-communism, Johnson-Forrest Tendency/Sojourner Truth, and like-minded revolutionary forces close to this constellation.

Continue reading

Power to the Women and Therefore the Class: Bread and Roses / Pan y Rosas

Many women of a feminist and marxist perspective are gathering this weekend to educate  each other and build solidarity/community amongst each other. We give a shout out to them all and must say that we are inspired by this crucial work. Power to the Women and Therefore the Class!

Determining a program for women’s liberation that can actually be into practice is no easy task. AS has been trying to figure it out throughout our short history as a collective. One thing has injected a fair amount of insight, a concrete manifestation of many of the theoretical conclusions we had started to come to grips with. That is the internationalist socialist women’s organization, Pan y Rosas.

A comrade of ours visited Argentina a while ago and ever since her return has been agitating AS around the politics of Pan y Rosas (Bread and Roses). So far, we are very impressed, and even though their strategy leans more toward the electoral than we think is merited, we have profound respect for their application of theory to practice which focuses on the women sector of the working class without embracing a “sectoralist” perspective that divides this work from that of the male sector.

PyR is an all-women’s socialist group connected to a Trotskyist party, the Partido de Trabajadores Socialistas (Socialist Workers Party). In extremely patriarchal countries like Argentina and Mexico where reproductive rights are nearly non-existent and femicide is a huge and growing problem, PyR has implanted itself within factories and other workplaces to build women’s agency as workers and as women. They resist the boss and the state, in the process defying established gender norms and building women’s solidarity rooted in Third World reality.

Women are the majority of the paid proletariat, and most of the time, they are unpaid workers in the home (“the proletariat of the proletariat”). PyR sees women’s oppression in its totality, fighting patriarchy in all its manifestations without falling down that slippery slope of stage-ism wherein the primary task of feminism is perceived to be settling the score with men of their class, as a precondition to fighting the enemy shared by all genders: capital. Let’s hope that their male comrades are not abstaining from the struggle for women’s liberation under the false notion that according to the principle of “self-determination” only those directly effected by a particular form of oppression have a right or duty to fight against it.

PTS, the multi-gender trotskyist party, has its own video/news network called TV PTS  set up and has covered much of Pan y Rosas’ activism. In this video, a media mogul, Ricardo Fort, meets the resistance of his mostly woman workforce. He is also the owner of a factory where most of the workers are women who face terrible conditions and sexual harrassment. This patriarchal capitalist going down!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aqw5wNxmSrM

more PyR in action:

And finally, here is a response to the Pan y Rosas program by our comrade Sasha Yanga. Translation of program and this reflection to come in dedicated post, we just couldn’t wait to big up Pan y Rosas and put it out there that AS is engaging feminism from a proletarian perspective:

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Queer Liberation and Class Struggle Case Study: The Welsh Miner’s Strike

Can you imagine a 100% male industry of miners acting in solidarity with communities of gays and lesbians?  Can you imagine them dancing in queer spaces together, learning about each other over a beer?  Can you imagine these men marching behind members of the queer community and under a queer banner in a parade?  Seems hard to imagine . . .

Identity politics has long maintained that differences of identity along lines of race, gender, ability, and sexuality must be respected and tolerated.  This has often been counterposed to what is characterized as the “class reductionist” approach of class unity above all else.  The history of race riots, domestic violence, and macho heterosexism within the proletarian movement is all too real, and has provided the material basis for a form of postmodern politics in the 1980s towards today which has defensively fetishized forms of social difference.

Within this context, the communist movement has sought in various ways to reconcile the contradictions and move towards a higher plane of political unity.  Unfortunately, often times these moves have ended up reifying differences – bowing to forms of sectoralism which keep differences static, with each “identity group” staying safe within its own silo – or attempts to paper over the real differences and antagonisms which exist in society and amongst the proletariat in particular, which amount to reifying the differences from another angle.

As a young generation of communists coming up in this context, we are seeking to carve out a space which can account for difference while also aiming towards the pedagogical development of radical understanding and unity amongst people of different backgrounds and identities.  We seek out the common class interest amongst the proletariat in ways which facilitate the learning process amongst all its sectors – where male identified workers are able to break down the patriarchal values instilled in them since birth; where women workers are able to assert themselves amongst men and feel confident that they will not be silenced by a culture of machismo; where trans workers are able to occupy space with their fellow cis-workers and engage in radical dialogue that facilitates understanding between them, along with creating the space to strategize about taking down the boss. Continue reading

What Communists Can Learn From Native Struggle: Sogorea Te and Primitive Accumulation

Driving North from Oakland, past West Berkeley’s smokestacks and Richmond’s industrial warehouses, you eventually cross the Carquinez bridge to the first city in what is referred locally as the North Bay – Vallejo, “The City of Opportunity.”  Vallejo is known as the home of Mac Dre, Sly Stone, and E-40 (amongst others), as well as to a sizeable Pilipino population.

The city bears the name of General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, that piece of paper that codified the theft of over half of Mexican land. That treaty marks the transition from Mexican colonial domination over native american peoples, to an even more heinous form of racial domination under Anglo rule. Indians were the base of the productive system as slaves to Mexican and Anglo ranchers, producing wealth that carried California eventually to become the richest state in the richest country in the world. Today, Vallejo is known internationally as one of the first cities to go bankrupt during the financial meltdown of ’07-’08 and the native community is rising to assert their legacy, reclaim their history and resist capitalist development of one of their most precious ancestral burial grounds:  Sogorea Te, or Glen Cove. Continue reading

Introducing “The Magical Blue Pamphlet”

Capital and Today’s Crisis by Raya Dunayevskaya

Magical Blue Pamphlet

Click Here to touch 5MB of the magic! (Blueness not shown.)

Millions of workers have been laid off since the 2007 crisis, creating a new political world where turbulence is to be expected in the coming period.  A new generation of activists has been reading Karl Marx’s Capital to understand our changing contemporary political reality.  This new political reality demands a political theory to explain and help transform it.  Who is building a revolutionary framework for this process?  The contemporary revolutionary left is largely an extension of 1960s Trotskyist and Maoist groups, fighting for correct leadership over movements, or anarchist and insurrectionist currents, trying to set a spark to the dry wood of the people.  Are these our only revolutionary political options? Raya Dunayevskaya, great but generally-ignored Marxist theorist, was at one point Trotsky’s secretary but later broke from and critiqued Trotskyism through the Marxist method.  Well-known Trinidadian co-thinker CLR James (author of The Black Jacobins on the Haitian slave revolution) has overshadowed her, and she is often dismissed as a cult leader.  One day, a member of Advance the Struggle found a Dunayevskaya pamphlet that AS militants informally labeled “The Magical Blue Pamphlet” (MBP).

It is often assumed that Marx’s Capital is a work that explains Capitalist economics.  And it does, but to reduce it to that ignores the revolutionary fire built into the text.  Raya recontextualizes Capital by demonstrating how it embodies the experience of revolutionary movements; this provides a direct challenge to theorists like famous Trotskyist Ernest Mandel, whose “vulgarization of Marx’s analysis of the dialectical relationship between production and its reflection in the market” Raya smashes on in “Today’s Epigones Who Try to Truncate Marx’s Capital.”  One of Dunayevskaya’s central points is that capital is not a thing that oppresses us but a relationship we are subjected to.  She explores how the American slave revolts and the Paris Commune formed and deepened Marx’s understanding of capital, summarizes the three volumes of Capital as a singular political unit of revolutionary logic, then finishes the pamphlet by exploring the Russian revolution.

Continue reading

Dope Quote: Marx on Housing and Crisis

In light of another study showing the racialized impact of foreclosures on communities of color (where 17 percent of Latino homeowners, 11 percent of black homeowners and 7 percent of white homeowners were foreclosed), check out this dope quote from Marx . . .

Race and Foreclosures

From Capital Vol. 2

“Anyone wanting a new house picks one from among those built on speculation or still in process of construction. The builder no longer works for his customers but for the market. Like every other industrial capitalist he is compelled to have finished articles in the market. While formerly a builder had perhaps three or four houses building at a time for speculation, he must now buy a large plot of ground (which in continental language means rent it for ninety-nine years, as a rule), build from 100 to 200 houses on it, and thus embark on an enterprise which exceeds his resources twenty to fifty times. The funds are procured through mortgaging and the money is placed at the disposal of the contractor as the buildings proceed. Then, if a crisis comes along and interrupts the payment of the advance instalments, the entire enterprise generally collapses. At best, the houses remain unfinished until better times arrive; at the worst they are sold at auction for half their cost . . .”

Between a Trot and a Hard Place: The Debate Within Our Movement

As we get further from March 4th and various groups put out their analysis, we see emerging differences in political line. Some of the primary differences we’ve seen emerge [discussed in our Post-March 4th analysis] stem from our criticisms of the Trotskyist tradition. Recently, Unity & Struggle (U&S), a group we consider to be aligned with our general political orientation wrote a response to two of the Trotskyist responses to our piece put out by Labor’s Militant Voice – LMV and Socialist Organizer – SO. We think U&S’s response piece very clearly illustrates some of the emerging differences that distinguish us from the existing Trotskyist groups. These differences center on the following questions:

How should marxist militants understand the political character of unions? How should militants relate to unions, their leadership and their rank and file? Many Marxists agree that union bureaucrats have been bought off, but there are often disagreements as to why.

How should disciplined revolutionaries relate to, and work within coalitional spaces? How important are general assemblies as organizational forms for the working-class’ political self-activity?

Is there a need for revolutionaries to have independent spaces and organizations outside of both coalitions/united fronts and general assemblies? Or are general assemblies and united fronts the only true legitimate spaces for working-class self activity? If not, what should independent political organizations look like?

How should a marxist ‘cadre’ type organization relate to such a space or organization? Should we help build them to the exclusion of participating in united fronts? Are these forms of organization mutually exclusive?

Furthermore, can the problem facing the working class today be summed up by Leon Trotsky’s assertion in the opening line of his famous work, ‘The Transitional Program’, which states that:  “the world political situation as a whole is chiefly characterized by a historical crisis of leadership of the proletariat”? And, if so, does this mean that the problem facing revolutionaries today is primarily the task of substituting ‘bad leadership’ [read: union bureaucrats] for ‘good leadership’ [read: correct-line trotskyist revolutionaries], or do revolutionaries need to orient in radically different ways that consciously avoid reproducing the same hierarchical structures of authority present in capitalism?

These are all questions that we were thinking about when we wrote our Crisis and Consciousness piece, which analyzed March 4th and the movement that lead up to it.

Unfortunately all of us in AtS are not merely armchair intellectuals [we got jobs and other political work ya’ll!] and thus it has taken us a lil’ while to engage with all the responses that have been put out.

We are also taking time to respond to the Trotskyist responses in a way that moves beyond March 4th, and which moves us in the direction of a more fleshed out articulation of our position on many of the above issues, as political questions in general.

In the meantime, we think people should seriously engage with the piece written by our Seattle comrade from the group  Unity and Struggle.

We were psyched to read U&S’s response to the responses to our piece, because we have been heavily influenced and inspired by the work they do. U&S is a great example of the class-struggle left we describe in Crisis and Consciousness, and we had them in mind when we wrote it. We believe their response to the two Trotskyist responses to our piece (one by Labor’s Militant Voice – LMV and the other by Socialist Organizer – SO), is a very straightforward and accurate, cursory overview of the debate thus far. As we’ve mentioned,  U&S shares many of our critical disagreements with the Trotskyist tradition and its current incarnations.

We look forward to continuing these debates, as they help us develop our own understanding of ourselves and the existing left. We are a new formation and we are trying to develop a fresh analysis of the current conditions, while trying to avoid many of the political mistakes made by revolutionary militants in the past.

We plan to put out more in-depth and detailed analysis on the questions raised above, for which we are studying, reading and discussing with our political milieus. We welcome you to become part of this debate as it unfolds.

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The Debate on Strategy in the Anti-Budget Cuts Movement

As an anti-budget cuts organizer in Seattle, I am excited by the important debates Advance the Struggle (AS) has raised with their piece Crisis and Contradictions: Reflections and Lessons from March 4th. I basically agree with the perspective that AS is putting forward;  it confirms and advances a lot of the perspectives that my comrades in Unity and Struggle have been developing, especially with our anti-budget cuts work with Democracy Insurgent in Seattle, with ella pelea! in Austin, and our comrade’s work at Berkley.  For those who don’t know, Unity and Struggle is a revolutionary organization animated by a belief in the self-emancipation of oppressed people; for more info, check out the “About US” section of the Gathering Forces blog.

I would consider Unity and Struggle and a lot of the milleiu around Gathering Forces to be part of  the “class struggle Left” tendency that AS outlines and calls for; like AS we are attempting to chart a third path that is independent from both the centrists (the “we need to meet people where they are at” folks) and the adventurists (the “Occupy Everything Demand Nothing” folks).  We appreciate the chance to dialogue with AS and other  like-minded activists around the country and we also appreciate the chance to have principled debate with comrades from the other two tendencies.

The response pieces written by Socialist Organizer (SO) and Labors Militant Voice (LMV), raise some important challenges to this third tendency and highlight some key differences between us and the centrist tendency.  It is important to note that LMV’s piece raises important critiques of SO’s piece and I engage with those here  – I have no intention of lumping them together.   I offer my notes on these responses  in the hope of furthering the debate.

Continue reading

Critique of the Black Nation Thesis – Harry Chang

Big L writes:

In light of the rich debate on the Fred Hampton: Marxist or Nationalist?

Mabel & Robert Williams (Author of Negroes with Guns) aiming the gun with precision, just as our revolutionary theory should be aimed

Mabel & Robert Williams (Author of Negroes with Guns) aiming the gun with precision, just as our revolutionary theory should be aimed

blog (which actually derails from a discussion on Fred Hampton) folks should engage in this serious critique of the theory that sees black people in the US as an oppressed nation.

While the article is credited to the Racism Research Project, it is primarily the work of a little known Korean immigrant marxist named Harry Chang. Amongst Chang’s students were Michael Omi and Howard Winant who popularized the theory of racial formation (without giving any credit to Chang in their book.)

The critique takes Stalin’s definition of a nation (A nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture.” ) and looks at the problematic ways in which it has been applied by maoists, nationalists, marxists, and stalinists to the oppression of black people in the US, pointing out some fundamental flaws.

This should help in focusing the debate on this important question.

Quote:

“The failure to criticize the vulgar conception of racism led the Old Left to handle the race question in a schizophrenic fashion. On the one hand, racism was understood only within the limited scope of individual subjective attitudes of prejudice and bigotry, leaving unanswered the socio-economic reason for these attitudes ever becoming so widespread and sustained to begin with. On the other hand, Black people were depicted as “objectively” constituting a nation, a nationality, or a national minority by means of an argument which also made a shambles of the Marxist position on the national question. This created tremendous confusion in the communist movement in the U.S. — the race question and the national question have been weaved in and out of each other, subject to the eclectic whim of whoever was “interpreting” the line at the moment. After all, to define a Black Nation is to make use of the racial category Black and to characterize racism as the persecution of a national minority is to negate racial oppression altogether. Matters are not helped by asserting that the oppression of Black people is a “combination” of racial and national oppressions, for this is merely an admission of analytic failure disguised as a melange of analytic profundity.”

Read the article in full here

Fred Hampton: Marxist or Nationalist?

 

revolutionary proletarian internationalist

revolutionary proletarian internationalist

Big L

Writes:

How can racial oppression and white supremacy be defeated?  Is it through a nationalist struggle against a colonial enemy?  Are these paradigms of struggle accurate and strategic enough in 2009?  As far back as 1969 Fred Hampton saw the struggle against racism as being rooted within the struggle against capitalism:

“We got to face some facts. That the masses are poor, that the masses belong to what you call the lower class, and when I talk about the masses, I’m talking about the white masses, I’m talking about the black masses, and the brown masses, and the yellow masses, too. We’ve got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you do’nt fight racism with racism. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity. We say you don’t fight capitalism with no black capitalism; you fight capitalism with socialism.”

Usually the Black Panther Party is described as a “Revolutionary Nationalist” organization, but militants like Fred Hampton demonstrate clearly that some of the most important Panthers had more of a multiracial marxist consciousness. 

Fred Hampton summed his politics up clearly:

“We ain’t gonna fight no reactionary pigs who run up and down the street being reactionary; we’re gonna organize and dedicate ourselves to revolutionary political power and teach ourselves the specific needs of resisting the power structure, arm ourselves, and we’re gonna fight reactionary pigs with INTERNATIONAL PROLETARIAN REVOLUTION. That’s what it has to be. The people have to have the power: it belongs to the people.

We have to understand very clearly that there’s a man in our community called a capitalist. Sometimes he’s black and sometimes he’s white. But that man has to be driven out of our community, because anybody who comes into the community to make profit off the people by exploiting them can be defined as a capitalist. And we don’t care how many programs they have, how long a dashiki they have. Because political power does not flow from the sleeve of a dashiki; political power flows from the barrel of a gun. It flows from the barrel of a gun!

These politics represent a movement beyond simply  nationalism into a complicated, race-conscious proletarian internationalism.  Hampton’s words inspired militancy and advanced struggles in 1969, and are still refreshing today. 

An important task of marxists today is making a fresh analysis of racial/national oppression which avoids mechanically applying Lenin’s “Self-Determination” theses, while also avoiding simplistic and equally mechanical “class is more important than race” logic. 

For an important contribution towards this analysis, refer to the work of Adolph Reed Jr. found here on the A/S blog

Read Fred Hampton’s speech “Power Anywhere Where There’s People” in full: http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/fhamptonspeech.html

How Does Race relate to Class? A debate

Professor Adolph Reed Jr debates three other professors, Steven Gregory, Maurice Zeitlin and Ellen Meiksins Wood, about how race and class relate to each other. This debate represents a historical problem in the American Marxist movement. Many different progressive and revolutionary movements in American history were never able to overcome racial differences to create class unity in key historic class struggles. Arguably the two most important strike waves in working class American history, 1877 and 1919, ended in defeats. Intra-racial fighting was a central problem that helped lay the ground work for the defeats of the strike. Eugene Debs, one of American labors great socialist leaders once openly stated, “We see it as a class issue rather than a race issue.” Debs colorblind socialism differed with racial theorist WEB Dubois who remarked in that same time period; “That the white heel is still on the black neck is simply proof that the world is not yet civilized. The history of the Negro in the United States is a history of crime without a parallel.” With that said, read this outstanding debate that will challenge simplistic notions of both race and class.

A PDF of this debate How_does_Race_relate_to_Class includes the following contents:

1.    UNRAVELING THE RELATION OF RACE AND CLASS IN AMERICAN POLITICS Adolph Reed, Jr.

2.    CLASS, RACE, AND CAPITALISM Ellen Meiksins Wood

3.    ON THE ‘CONFLUENCE OF RACE AND CLASS’ IN AMERICA Maurice Zeitlin

4.    THE ‘PARADOXES’ OF MISPLACED CONCRETENESS: I THINKING THROUGH THE STATE Steven Gregory

5.    REJOINDER Adolph Reed, Jr.

Kwame Nkrumah: Marxist Pan Africanist

Some people claim Marxism is Eurocentric and inapplicable to other countries around the world. We disagree. Here is a piece written by a leading Pan-Africanist, (Kwame Nkrumah) who considered himself some kind of Marxist and is still seen by many Black Nationalists as a hero. Nkrumah puts class struggle forward as a strategy for liberation.

Excerpt from Kwame Nkrumah’s: What I Mean by Positive Action

Kwame Nkrumah: Marxist Pan Africanist

Kwame Nkrumah: Marxist Pan Africanist

What is Positive Action?

By Positive Action we mean the adoption of all legitimate and constitutional means by which we can cripple the forces of imperialism in this country. The Weapons of Positive Action are:

(1) Legitimate political agitation
(2) Newspaper and educational campaigns and
(3) as a last resort, the constitutional application of strikes, boycotts and non-co-operation based on the principle of absolute non-violence.