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national question (USA)

Barry Sheppard: Recovering the revolutionary legacy of Malcolm X

For more on Malcolm X, click HERE. More by Barry Sheppard.

By Barry Sheppard

March 5, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- February 21 marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, one of the greatest leaders of the 1960s Black liberation movement in the United States.

Lenin once wrote:

During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander.

The life of African-American socialist Hubert Harrison: a discussion with Jeffrey B. Perry

Doug Enaa Greene in discussion with historian Jeffrey B. Perry (above).

February 20, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Hubert Harrison (1883-1927) was an immensely skilled writer, orator, educator, critic and political activist who, more than any other political leader of his era, combined class consciousness and anti-white-supremacist race consciousness into a coherent political radicalism.

The St. Croix, Virgin Islands-born and Harlem-based Harrison profoundly influenced "New Negro" militants, including A. Philip Randolph and Marcus Garvey, and his synthesis of class and race issues is a key unifying link between the two great trends of the African American liberation movement: the labour and civil rights-based work of Martin Luther King Jr. and the race and nationalist work associated with Malcolm X.

Harrison played unique, signal roles in the largest class radical movement (socialism) and the largest race radical movement (the New Negro/Garvey) movement of his era. He was the foremost Black organiser, agitator and theoretician of the Socialist Party of New York, the founder of the "New Negro" movement, the editor of the Negro World and the principal radical influence on the Garvey movement.

'A Freedom Budget for All': Paul Le Blanc on Martin Luther King's struggle for economic and racial justice (now with slideshow)

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

Paul Le Blanc interviewed by Scott McLemee

August 21, 2013 -- Inside Higher Ed, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Three years after the August 28, 1963, March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a number of its core organisers projected a new stage of the struggle for equality -- expanding and deepening it, creating the economic and social foundations needed to realise Martin Luther King’s dream.

Their program, “A Freedom Budget for All Americans”, was issued by the A. Philip Randolph Institute in fall 1966. In his foreword, King called the document “a moral commitment to the fundamental principles on which this nation was founded”. Chances are you’ve never heard of it. (The original pamphlet is available in PDF here.)

CLR James: The revolutionary answer to the Negro problem in the United States (1948)

CLR James.

A report delivered by C.L.R. James in presenting the draft resolution on the Negro Question to the Thirteenth Convention of the Socialist Workers Party (US), July 5, 1948; introduction by Scott McLemee. Text from International Socialist Review

* * *

ORIGINALLY PRESENTED as a speech to an audience of socialists in the early days of the Cold War, “The Revolutionary Answer to the Negro Problem in the United States” is undoubtedly one of the best-known writings by C. L. R. James from his long study of American politics and culture. It appeared almost exactly ten years after the publication of his book The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (1938). And like that great account of the Haitian liberation struggle, it has earned its place in the classical Marxist tradition as a forceful and incisive treatment of racial oppression, mass action, and revolutionary social change.

Paul Le Blanc on Martin Luther King: Christian core, socialist bedrock

January 22, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following article was first published in Against The Current #96 (January/February 2002) and is one of the first to focus on the fact that Martin Luther King was a socialist from the time he war a college student until his death. It is posted at Paul Le Blanc's suggestion and with his permission.

For more on Martin Luther King, click HERE.

* * *

By Paul Le Blanc

The life and example of Martin Luther King, Jr. are central to any quest for a better world—in part because he so effectively illuminated, and helped people struggle against, the realities of racism, highlighting the link between issues of racial and economic justice.  I will argue here that his outlook represents a remarkable blending of Christian, democratic, and socialist perspectives.

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.

New voices and new views on revolutionary history

By John Riddell

May 28, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/johnriddell.wordpress.com -- Some familiar issues were addressed with originality and new vigour at the Historical Materialism conference in Toronto on May 11–13. Attendance at the three sessions on revolutionary history, organised by Abigail Bakan (Queen’s University), ranged between 30 and 75 of the 400 conference participants.

Given that eight of 11 presentations had a European focus, the discussions were opened fittingly by Montreal scholar Daria Dyakonova with a paper on a little-studied aspect of revolutionary history here in Canada: the birth of communism in Quebec.

The pioneers of this movement faced objective obstacles, including severe repression and formidable opposition by the Catholic Church. In addition, Dyakonova explained, “after Lenin and especially after 1929”, the Canadian Communist Party’s “policies were determined from Moscow”. The line dictated by the leadership of the Communist International (Comintern) was “often at odds with national or local needs”.

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.

How African-American communists fought for racial equality to the US south

Februarry 16, 2010 -- NPR -- Tell Me More continues its Black History Month series of conversations with a discussion about the role of the Communist Party. It was prominent in the fight for racial equality in the south, specifically Alabama, where segregation was most oppressive. Many courageous activists were communists. Host Michel Martin speaks with historian Robin G. Kelley about his book Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression about how the communist party tried to secure racial, economic, and political reforms. The transcript is available from NPR.

A critique of Norm Dixon's article, 'Marx, Engels and Lenin on the National Question'

By Malik Miah

Malik Miah is a member of the Editorial Board of Links and of the US socialist organisation Solidarity.

In Links Number 13, Norm Dixon writes: "The struggle of oppressed nations for national liberation remains one of the most burning issues in the world today". And therefore "socialists need to understand the national question if they are to make sense of the world, provide leadership and correctly determine their attitude and response to many international events".

I wholeheartedly agree. However, Dixon presents a formalistic and schematic understanding of the theory of the national question as first discussed by Marx and Engels in a period of rising capitalism and by Lenin in the age of imperialism. Dixon narrowly defines what a nation is and what Lenin means by self-determination, and rejects the nationalism of many oppressed peoples.

For a materialist analysis of national and racial oppression

By Norm Dixon

Norm Dixon is a member of the National Committee of the Australian Democratic Socialist Party and a journalist for Green Left Weekly.

In his critique of my article in Links Number 13, "Marx, Engels and Lenin on the National Question", Malik Miah (Links Number 14) charges that "Dixon presents a formalistic and schematic understanding of the theory of the national question" and "narrowly defines what a nation is and what Lenin means by self-determination, and rejects the nationalism of many oppressed peoples".

The purpose of my article was to reassert that the Marxist theory of the national question as it was developed by Marx, Engels and Lenin and definitively outlined in Stalin's 1913 pamphlet, Marxism and the National Question is firmly based on a materialist, scientific analysis of what does and does not constitute a nation.

Another purpose of the article was to alert to the consequences that losing sight of this scientific socialist understanding of a nation can lead to at the least, ideological confusion, and, at worst, support for politically inappropriate, incorrect or even reactionary slogans and demands.

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