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C.L.R James: The historical development of the Negro in the United States (1943)

This article by Trinidad-born socialist C.L.R. James, written under the pseudonym J.R. Johnson, was originally circulated as an internal memorandum of the Workers Party in December 1943, under the title "The Historical Development of the Negro in the United States." It was published in 1945 as "Negroes and the Revolution: Resolution of the Minority" in New International. It was republished in C.L.R. James on the "Negro Question," (Scott McLemee, ed., University Press of Mississippi, 1996).

This text is republished in Socialist Worker (USA) from the Marxists Internet Archive.

Marxist Classics

 

THE HISTORY of the Negro question and the American revolutionary movement in general, and the Trotskyist movement in particular, makes it imperative at this stage to outline in however brief a form the role of the Negroes in the political development of American society.

Eyewitness account: SYRIZA and the Greek grassroots challenge to the politics of austerity

SYRIZA leader Alex Tsipras before speaking at a large assembly in the working-class suburb of Peristeri. Photo by Joanne Landy.

For more discussion and analysis on the political crisis in Greece, click HERE.

By Thomas Harrison and Joanne Landy, co-directors of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy (New York)

Thomas Harrison and Joanne Landy recently returned from a trip to Greece, where they met with activists and others to gain a better understanding of the popular upsurge against the Greek government's austerity program.

Israel’s environmental colonialism and eco-apartheid

The construction of Israel’s mammoth apartheid wall has separated Palestinian farmers from their fields and destroyed Palestinians' legally owned fertile agricultural land.

By Ben Lorber

July 12, 2012 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Since the idea of Zionism first gripped the minds of a few intellectuals and the limbs of many agrarian pioneers in the early 20th century, the state of Israel has presented its settlement of the land of Palestine, and its uprooting of the Palestinian people, as a rejuvenation of the earth. By “greenwashing” the occupation, Israel hides its apartheid behind an environmentalist mirage, and distracts public attention not only from its brutal oppression of the Palestinian people, but from its large-scale degradation of the earth upon which these tragedies unfold.

Determined to “make the desert bloom”, an international organisation -- the Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet LeYisrael (JNF-KKL, or JNF) planted forests, recreational parks and nature reserves to cover over the ruins of Palestinian villages, as refugees were scattered far from, or worse, a few hilltops away from, the land upon which they and their ancestors had based their lives and livelihoods.

South Africa: Who will surf the protest wave?

Johannesburg's Orange Farm revolts against local elites.

By Patrick Bond

July 17, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The recent surge of unconnected community protests across South Africa confirms the country’s profound social, economic and environmental contradictions. But if activists fall before a new hail of police bullets, or if they lack an overarching, unifying political strategy, won’t their demonstrations simply pop up and quickly fall back down again – deserving the curse words "popcorn protests" – as they simply run out of steam, or worse, get channelled by opportunists into a new round of xenophobic attacks?

It’s been a hot winter, and we’re just halfway through July (the Centre for Civil Society’s Social Protest Observatory keeps tabs at http://ccs.ukzn.ac.za). Consider evidence from just the past two weeks, for example, in Johannesburg’s distant Orange Farm township south of Soweto, where residents rose up against city councillors and national electricity officials because of the unaffordable $250 installation charged for hated pre-payment (i.e. self-disconnection) meters, not to mention a 130% increase in electricity prices.

United States: Far right and Republicans attempt roll back of constitutional equal rights

Former enslaved African Americans vote in New Orleans, 1867, during the "Radical Reconstruction" period.

By Malik Miah

May 25, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The “Reconstruction amendments” — the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the United States constitution — are being targeted in many of the far-right “Tea Party” and Republican campaigns against the rights of immigrants and women, marriage equality and gay rights, and voting rights for African Americans and other minority ethnic groups.

The racist tinge of many of these attacks, whether openly stated or implied, is obvious – but this does not mean that racism is more prevalent now than in the past. Rather, the smear campaign against President Barack Obama’s mixed background and dark skin is calculated to appeal to the most extreme backward elements of the Republican Party.

‘Closing the doors of learning’ to the Israeli state opens the doors of freedom

By Patrick Bond and Muhammed Desai

May 24, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- One of South Africa’s largest tertiary institutions, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in Durban, is a site of multiple controversy but a near-disaster on May 21 deserves more reflection because it points us in a positive direction: away from allying with the Israeli state and its apartheid policies during a time of heightened racism. A representative of Israel had been invited to speak but was then disinvited, after the university was called on by staff and students to respect the “academic boycott” of Israel.

From South Africa, the African continent and everywhere else, it is a critical time to step up pressure against the rogue regime in Tel Aviv. Israel’s hard-right leader, Benyamin Netanyahu, is in a dangerous career phase, preparing to bomb Iran; illegitimately holding thousands of Palestinian prisoners in worsening conditions; expanding settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank; terrorising Gaza; and tightening his militaristic hold over the region.

Denmark: Anti-racist protest outnumbers 'all-Europe' racist/fascist gathering

By Ron Ridenour, Copenhagen

April 1, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Ruling authorities confront the continuing crisis of capitalism by 1) aiding the very firms that bankrupt the general economy by transferring workers’ taxes to the capitalist class, 2) decreasing the welfare state, throwing huge numbers out of jobs and onto the streets and 3) increasing state repression against those who resist, and by allowing the growth of racist and fascist civilian groups.

State repression is used most clearly against the peaceful Arab Spring protesters; the use of police force in US cities where Occupy Wall Street has taken root; against the workers’ resistance and the indignados in Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy, France …; against students struggling for democracy and against gays in Chile.

In Denmark, some unionists, traditional left organisations and young anti-racists remind us how German Nazis and Italian fascists used the race card against Jews to divide and conquer the world. These groups and individuals see history repeating itself in much of Europe with anti-Islamism and are determined to check its growth.

Germany's genocide in Namibia

German troops kill the Herero, circa 1904. Painting by Richard Knötel (1857-1914).

Africa's Pambazuka News has devoted an entire issue to Germany's 1904-08 genocide of the Nama and Herero peoples (in Namibia). Below Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal posts the editorial and an article that details this shameful imperialist slaughter and modern Germany's refusal to adequately acknowledge and compensate Namibia for its crimes. Read the full issue HERE. Become a Friend of Pambazuka.]

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By Eric Van Grasdorff, Nicolai Röschert and Firoze Manji

March 20, 2012 -- Pambazuka News -- On March 22, 2012, Germany's parliament will debate a motion to acknowledge its brutal 1904-08 genocide of the Nama and Herero peoples. Germany’s refusal thus far, and its less than even ‘diplomatic’ treatment in 2011 of the Namibian delegation at the first-ever return of the mortal remains of genocide victims, demands a reassessment of suppressed colonial histories and racism.

UN will deny Tamils justice

Tamils protest in London, April 2009, during the Sri Lankan government's brutal war to crush the Tamil movement for national rights.

By Ron Ridenour

February 20, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Brace yourselves Tamils in and from Sri Lanka! The United Nations Human Rights Council will not grant you justice at its 19th session, on February 27-March 23, 2012 or, perhaps, in any foreseeable future.

Until the past few weeks it looked as though the “international community” (US, UK-Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan), the east (Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran), the Middle East-Libya/Africa and the progressive global South (Cuba-ALBA+, South Africa) were content with ignoring Sri Lanka’s war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Romania: Mass protests then and now

Protesters shout as a background banner reads "Freedom, Early Elections" during an anti-government rally in Bucharest, January 24, 2012.

By Rupen Savoulian

February 15, 2012 -- Antipodean Athiest, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- Back in 1989, Romania was gripped by mass protests, led by miners, against the corrupt and authoritarian regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. The protests in Romania were part of the generalised "Velvet Revolution" against the dictatorial, bureaucratised, deformed workers’ states in Eastern Europe.

United States: Who speaks for the 99%?

"It was decisive action and mass defiance – ultimately forcing the use of federal troops -- that ended Jim Crow legal segregation... Fundamental and radical change, as history shows, comes by mass direct action and popular outrage. Martin Luther King marched and demanded equal rights under Republican and Democratic presidents."

By Malik Miah

February 8, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Against the Current-- The bitter truth about US politics is that neither of the ruling-class parties speaks for the working class or poor. The Democratic Party’s President Barack Obama likes to talk about the “middle class” and how he stands up for them, but he rarely mentions that poverty disproportionately hits African Americans and Latinos. While he personally supports social programs for the working poor, his proposed budgets would reduce funding for these programs.

Martin Luther King Day: The gulf between promise and fulfillment

[For more on Martin Luther King, click HERE.]

By Billy Wharton

January 16, 2012 -- Socialist Webzine, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- More than 40 years since the death of Martin Luther King Jr., his significance remains an uneasy battleground between those wishing to sanitise his legacy and those seeking to draw inspiration from his radical deeds and words.

Interview with Adam Hanieh: Class and capitalism in the Gulf

December 5, 2011 -- New Left Project's Ed Lewis interviewed Adam Hanieh about the international political economy of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Hanieh is a lecturer in development studies at SOAS, and is an editorial board member of Historical Materialism. He is the author, most recently, of Capitalism and Class in the Gulf Arab States. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

* * *

Ed Lewis: You see the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman – as being at the centre of the Middle East economically and politically, but not simply because of their vast reserves of oil. What, then, is your account of how the Gulf states have come to be in this position of centrality?

African Americans and #Occupy: a convergence of interests

By Malik Miah, San Francisco

December 7, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- What strikes you about the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement and its popular slogan “We are the 99%” is how much the central demand of the movement resonates with the Black community. African Americans, with few exceptions, are in the bottom 20% of income and wealth. Double digit unemployment is the norm in “good” economic times. Yet the social composition of most OWS occupations (some 10,000 including college campuses) has had few Black faces including in urban areas with large Black populations.

The reality of high unemployment, few job opportunities, poverty and inadequate health care has most poor people trying to survive. It is why African Americans are not visible in large numbers.

In many cases, however, African Americans are taking to the streets. They are using civil action to protest police brutality and the shutdown of community schools, hospitals and obvious acts of discrimination.

These protests, while widely known in the Black community and Black-oriented media, rarely get prominence in the mainstream newspapers and networks.

Europe: Old racist poison in new bottles

Marine Le Pen, daughter of the racist founder of the National Front in France, Jean Marie Le Pen (right).

By Rupen Savoulian

November 14, 2011 -- Antipodean Atheist, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- With Europe engulfed in an economic crisis that threatens to bring down the eurozone, and possibly shrink the European Union itself, it is noteworthy to see that some people are doing well out of this crisis – very well in fact. The capitalist system is lurching from crisis to crisis, and while the political left and socialist parties have experienced some growth from the widespread disaffection with the imploding capitalist system, it is the extreme right that is also benefiting from the generalised economic malaise.

Martin Hart-Landsberg: Yes, Virginia, there is a 1%

For more on the Occupy movement, click HERE.

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

October 24-November 7, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The Occupy Wall Street movement has succeed in forcing the media to acknowledge the extent and seriousness of income inequality. In many ways wealth inequality is a bigger problem, since it is wealth that largely underpins income and power differences.

According to an Economic Policy Institute posting,

the richest 5 percent of households obtained roughly 82 percent of all the nation’s gains in wealth between 1983 and 2009. The bottom 60 per cent of households actually had less wealth in 2009 than in 1983, meaning they did not participate at all in the growth of wealth over this period.

It is worth dividing the top 5% into what has now become two familiar groups, the top 1% and the next 4%.

COSATU leader on South African and Israeli apartheid

Address by Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, District Six Museum, Cape Town. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine's Cape Town hearings concluded that Israel is guilty of apartheid crimes. Its panel of jurists ruled that Israel's actions against the Palestinians breach the prohibition of apartheid under international law. Click here for more details of the tribunal's findings.

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Black South African workers -- especially a mineworker like myself -- who bore the brunt of South African racial capitalism, and understood the purposes and mechanisms of apartheid, know that when we talk about the conditions faced by our Palestinian comrades we are talking about apartheid . -- Zwelinzima Vavi

How socialists work to win mass support

By Dave Holmes

[The following talk was presented at the Socialist Ideas Conference organised by the Australian Socialist Alliance and Resistance, Melbourne, September 3, 2011. It first appeared at Dave Holmes' Arguing for Socialism and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

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Will the level of popular and working-class struggle rise significantly in the coming years? How can we overcome or neutralise the deadly effect of ruling-class propaganda on the minds of so many ordinary people? Can left-wing forces rally significant support and lead big struggles? How do we work towards this goal?

Bible sects like the Jehovah's Witnesses or the Mormons go door to door preaching their message. Their success depends on the scope of the effort: How many people can they mobilise and how many doors can they knock on? It also depends on the general level of social distress and alienation in society, on the number of people searching for solace and comfort.

Socialists obviously don't reject propaganda, we are putting it out all the time, but our strategy is — and must be if we are serious — fundamentally based on something else.

Challenges for independent South Sudan; Behind the clashes in Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Darfur

South Sudan celebrates independence. Photo by babasteve.

By Explo Nani-Kofi

September 6, 2011 -- Pambazuka News, posted at Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- I have decided not to separate Sudan and South Sudan in my articles because developments in both places, even after the secession of South Sudan as an independent country, are linked to how Sudan, Africa’s biggest country, was shaped historically and how it functioned as a country. The crisis in Sudan is a crisis of capitalism in post-colonial Africa but manifests itself through the way capitalism specifically functions in Sudan.

Black liberation and the Communist International

Claude McKay.

By John Riddell

September 11, 2011 -- This article also appears at http://johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with John Riddell's permission -- The influence of the Communist International was decisive in the early 1920s in winning a generation of black revolutionaries to Marxism. On this the historians agree. But what did this influence consist of, and how was it exerted?

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