Black Struggle

Black Struggle and the Socialist Revolution

A policy of “divide and rule” on racial, ethnic, national or religious lines, has been a common feature of the ruling class internationally. As the Black Panther Bobby Seale correctly wrote: “Racism and ethnic differences allow the power structure to exploit the masses of workers in this country, because that's the key by which they maintain their control. To divide the people and conquer them is the objective of the power structure...” And as Malcolm X explained, “You cannot have capitalism without racism.” In other words, racial discrimination is a product and component part of capitalism, without which it could not exist. Therefore, the only way to lay the basis for ending racism and discrimination is by ending capitalism.

The struggle against racism and discrimination is of crucial importance for revolutionary Marxists. We fight at all times against all forms of oppression and discrimination. But we do this while fighting for maximum unity of the working class across lines of gender, race, ethnicity and religion, always linking this to the struggle for the revolutionary socialist transformation of society. There is no solution within the limits of capitalism.

It is above all a class question, and as always, we start with our general program. Our task as Marxists is to raise class unity, consciousness and confidence. We do not fight only for immediate gains, but also to raise the perspective and potential for plenty of jobs, health care, housing and education for all under socialism. We do not merely seek a “more fair” division of capitalist scarcity.

— From Black Struggle and the Socialist Revolution

On 4 April 1968, Martin Luther King Jnr. was assassinated: shot in cold blood whilst standing on the balcony of his hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee. 50 years on, speaking at the recent Revolution Festival in London, Fred Weston looks at Martin Luther King's life and ideas, and discusses the way forward today in the fight against racism and for liberation.

50 years ago, on 4 April 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – the leader of the civil rights movement in America – was shot dead in cold blood. On that day, Dr. King was in Memphis, Tennessee, to lead a demonstration and rally in support of a three-month-long fight for trade union recognition by 1,300 local refuse collectors.

The #BlackLivesMatter movement clearly shows that, despite the civil rights struggles of the past, inequality and racism are still thriving in America. Many young people in particular are looking for answers and a way to solve the problems facing society. As Marxists we stand on the front lines in the struggle against discrimination in all its forms. We believe that to be successful, this must be combined with the united working class’s struggle against capitalism and for socialism. We take this opportunity to look back at and learn from the successes and failures of one of the most inspiring experiences of our

...

Nearly twice a week in the USA, a black person is killed by a white cop. In Ferguson, Missouri, the death of yet another young black man at the hands of the police was one too many. Necessity expressed itself through accident, and the murder of Mike Brown unleashed a wave of pent-up outrage and indignation across the country. The daily protests and nightly confrontations with the police, state troopers, and National Guard flooded the media with scenes reminiscent of modern day Gaza, Iraq—or the US in the 1950s and 1960s.

Obama and King - not so alike like after all. Photo on the left by bonayur on Flickr

Racism is interwoven into the very fabric of capitalism. Malcolm X once said: “You can’t have capitalism without racism.” We would add: “You can’t have racism without capitalism.” In other words, we cannot end the scourge of racism, while leaving capitalism intact, and ending capitalism is something that Barack Obama will not, and cannot do.

What is the most effective way of combating racism? Fred Weston, of the marxist.com editorial board, spoke at the Marxist Day School held recently in London on the effects of positive discrimination and the lessons for the labour movement, touching on the origins of racism, the Black question in the USA, South Africa and the struggle against apartheid and Brazil where today the Black Socialist movement is opposing racial legislation.

Why were these two outstanding leaders of the Civil Rights movement in the USA assassinated? Roland Sheppard witnessed the killing of Malcolm X in the Audubon Ballroom, on February 21, 1965. Here he delves into all the evidence that has been produced that clearly indicates that the powers that be had a concrete material interest in removing these two individuals from the political scene.

Forty years ago, yesterday, Malcolm X stood up at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem (New York) to speak. He was going to speak against the racial segregation all over the US. He was going to appeal to his brothers and sisters to resist and fight back against the “oppression of the white man” when he was gunned down. More than one or two breathed a sigh of relief at the top of the US establishment. One of the loudest voices against injustice had been lost.

Goran M, after interviewing the famous Black American hip hop band Public Enemy, wrote this analysis of their background, how they emerged as a band, how their lyrics evolved, and what they generally stand for. He puts everything within the context of the struggles of the Afro-American community for their rights. Public Enemy clearly expressed, and continue to express, a growing radical mood among blacks, but also among all the youth.

The United States is the richest and most powerful country on the planet. Yet despite this, the poison of racism remains an integral part of America. Blacks, together with the other racial minorities, remain the most exploited section of society, mostly employed in the lowest-paid and menial jobs. Blacks continue to suffer from lynchings and violence at the hands of the state, racist organisations and individuals, as well as being forced to live under conditions of mass poverty and oppression. Rob Sewell discusses the alternatives from a working class point of view.