What are you reading?

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solidgold
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by solidgold » Sun Jun 21, 2020 6:39 am

Has anyone read Black Marxism?

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blindpig
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by blindpig » Sun Jun 21, 2020 1:51 pm

solidgold wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 6:39 am
Has anyone read Black Marxism?
I was unfamiliar with the book but if the quick search I did reflects reality then it seems to me another variant of 'anything but communism'. Consult the Chinese on this Eurocentric biz, they seem to have figured it out. Which is not to say that it does not merit examination.

There's an old thread where chlams presented anax with Russel Means' attack on the eurocentrism of Marx and anax's reply which is relevant here but can't find it at the moment.
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

solidgold
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by solidgold » Sun Jun 21, 2020 5:11 pm

blindpig wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 1:51 pm
solidgold wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 6:39 am
Has anyone read Black Marxism?
I was unfamiliar with the book but if the quick search I did reflects reality then it seems to me another variant of 'anything but communism'. Consult the Chinese on this Eurocentric biz, they seem to have figured it out. Which is not to say that it does not merit examination.

There's an old thread where chlams presented anax with Russel Means' attack on the eurocentrism of Marx and anax's reply which is relevant here but can't find it at the moment.
I picked it up (among some other works) because I'm trying to make sense of a consistent trend away from (or against) Marxism in the Black left. I feel like, since the early 2010s, these ideas made their way out of academia and into public discourse. There is a large majority of social democrats and liberals who are using the opportunity to dismiss out-right leftist ideas, but there's a real good faith people who claim "class" is just not enough. In the aftermath of George Floyd, this has dominated left discussion where I am.

The author (who I believe is a socialist of some type, as opposed to Means) makes pretty serious claims against Marx. Among many topics, he argues 1. historical materialism is insufficient and limited 2. capitalism "wasn't a negation of feudalism" 3. European socialists were a middle class movement (though he cites an Austrian which is a red flag) 4. national movements have been more effective than class movements. His project basis on intra-European racism, citing the Irish working class in England against the nation of England--the Slavs, Jews, etc--and how European capitalism has always relied mostly on imported labor.

I've only gotten like a hundred pages in though--whether reactionary or not, it seems like a great resource for understanding the movement until the critical race theory of Harvard.

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blindpig
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by blindpig » Mon Jun 22, 2020 11:16 am

1.Insufficient for what? Not for understanding the major motivators of human history it ain't.

2. If the dominant class loses it's position to a rising class I think we can call that a negation.

3.In this I might somewhat agree if we confine 'socialists' to the politicians, theorists. It's an inevitability of history that the educated classes were the first to read socialist literature and thus by default leading the movement. The result has been mixed, ya get Lenin but ya get Kautsky too. And Lenins are far too few. With the advances in literacy among the working class these last hundred years ya'd think this would solve itself but as the bourgeois control every form of education(they started feeding us Orwell in the 8th grade) this has become another hurdle to surmount. Work, work, work.

4. Were Mao, Ho & Fidel nationalists or socialists? They were both and the distinction is irrelevant.

But then you're only a hundred pages in....excuse me.
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blindpig
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by blindpig » Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:10 pm

solidgold wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 5:11 pm

I've only gotten like a hundred pages in though--whether reactionary or not, it seems like a great resource for understanding the movement until the critical race theory of Harvard.
Hey SG, you might find this useful:

African Americans and Communism in the United States, a brief review

Image

by Giuseppe Sini

Historian Mary Stanton writes in her recent volume on the activity of the Communist Party in Alabama: "the seeds of black liberation, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the Black Power, the Black Panthers and Black Lives Mathers can all be traced in the legacy of the Southern Negro Youth Congress, whose members included young black communists, and the tactics of the ILD, as well as the ideals of the League of Struggle for Negro Rights, the National Negro Congress and the Civil Rights Congress [ the last mentioned were organizations linked, at different levels, to the Communist Party, ndt] "[1]. In recent decades a part of the historiography on the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) has highlighted, among many other aspects, its role in the struggles for the liberation of African Americans, as well as the commitment of many of them as his militants, helping to give a far more complex image than reconstructions that wanted him a mere tool in the hands of Moscow.

All the more grotesque is the fact that, precisely with the reappearance of the mobilizations of African Americans in the foreground - in particular those provoked by the assassination of George Floyd by the police - gross caricatures on the relationship between blacks and the USSR are back in vogue, caricatures that crossing the Atlantic they find fertile ground in a left intoxicated by decades of crude anti-communist propaganda, clumsily concealed behind the masking of anti-Stalinism; and this even in the less tendentious reconstructions of the relationship between African Americans and the USSR [2]. Mobilizations in respect of which, even in Italy, there is no lack of frankly ungenerous reactions, characterized as they are by a mixture of sicumera, paternalism and superficiality, even more when they come from the communist side, or by those who should be aware of the story well summarized by the quotation with which this text opens. They range from lectures on the need for organization, to blame for the demolition of monuments celebrating questionable, if not hateful, figures for their involvement in various capacities in the oppression of African Americans and other communities, passing through the inevitable and grim militant who emphasizes the pre-eminence of the class with respect to race, gender,etc . All often dismissed by evoking the specter of identity politics , following the moral panic sparked by certain media, academia and liberal politics, thus underestimating the importance, for many of the subjects involved in the protests of these weeks, as well as for others oppressed in the USA. , to affirm its identity against the imposition of that of the dominant.

To this is added, frequently, a disavowal of the anti-imperialist commitment, in support of the states under attack by the USA, by numerous black militants, all the more noteworthy because it comes from inside the belly of the beast [3]. Therefore, this paper will try to evoke as accurately as possible, but obviously without any pretense of completeness (also from the point of view of the time span treated) or worse objectivity, vicissitudes, personalities and struggles of a part of the variegated US communist galaxy in specific reference to black liberation, trying to provide readers interested in deepening on their own behalf, a series of useful references to get an idea of ​​the complexity of the issue.

African Americans and socialism in the United States before the Communist Party

In the main socialist and more or less vaguely Marxist organizations of the period preceding the foundation of the CPUSA, such as the Socialist Party of America (SPA), which arose in 1901 by splitting from the Socialist Labor Party (SLP), the problem of the struggle of African Americans for their rights it was not perceived as specific, or worthy of special attention and organizations, compared to that of the exploited in general; not only that, the SPA kept sections segregation in the south and it was not uncommon among its ranks to attribute responsibility for low wages to blacks and immigrants. Even more neglected, in this and other organizations, were the struggles of African American women, although there have been figures of black activists, such as the militant of the Workingman's Party, SLP forerunner, Lucy Parsons,

However, among the numerous intellectuals orbiting the Socialist Party of America, or explicitly adhering to it, there were also personalities of the African American community, in particular the sociologist WEB Du Bois, whose socialist inclinations had played a role in haunting eminent black leaders such as Booker T. Washington, advocate of a more reformist and compromising line in facing that complex of discriminatory and segregationist norms known as Read Jim Crow. Du Bois was among other founders in 1909 of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), along with other black personalities, such as Ida B. Wells-Barnett, but also white, such as the SPA militant Mary White Ovington .

A more explicitly Marxist radicalism in dealing with class and racial issues, before the founding of CPUSA, found expression in the magazine Messenger , founded in 1917 by A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen; magazine in which - alongside the position on racism and its most brutal manifestations, such as lynching, intended as instruments of capital aimed at preventing the unity of black and white proletarians - the theme of self-defense of African Americans against racial violence was raised , and the rise of the Bolsheviks was welcomed with enthusiasm. The African Blood Brotherhood (ABB) organization, and the magazine associated with The Crusader , moved along a similar line, founded by Cyril Briggs, advocate of a combination of black nationalism and revolutionary socialism, of Caribbean origins as another member of the same group, Richard B. Moore, the latter later among the first and most rigorous critics of the term "negro" : both later joined the Communist Party.

ABB maintained relationships, albeit critical and destined to finally sink, with the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), the influential pan-Africanist organization founded in 1914 by Marcus Garvey, who, although fundamentally anti-communist, judged positively the figure of Lenin and the foundation of the Soviet Union. In a 1920 leaflet, in addition to those already mentioned - to which anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism must be added - you can read a list that summarizes the positions of ABB: a liberated race, the absolute racial equality (from a political, economic and social), promoting racial self-esteem, organized and uncompromising opposition to the Ku Klux Klan, a united black front, industrial development, higher wages for black people, shorter hours and better working conditions,

African Americans and the III International

In February 1919, John Reed wrote to Zinoviev, providing shortly thereafter President of the Third International a picture of the oppression to which African Americans were subjected in the USA, but also of their spirit of resistance, thus introducing the issue in the discussions of the Comintern ; the following year, on the occasion of the II Congress of the Communist International, in his First thesis sketch on national and colonial issuesLenin argued the need for direct support from the communist parties to the revolutionary movements of dependent countries, citing, together with Ireland, the "black people of America". The IV Congress of the Comintern, in 1922, developed a broader discussion of the problem, with the participation of prominent figures such as the Jamaican poet Claude McKay and the American communist, but native of Suriname, Otto Huiswoud.

The first, in his speech, did not fail to point out how prejudices, as well as a lack of willingness to deal with the black question, between US socialists and communists, constituted an obstacle for the spread of any form of radical propaganda among African Americans, but also as groups of black radicals had already autonomously begun to convey the positions of the III International on colonialism in their communities. The second, already committed to ABB and the first black to join the CPUSA, if he defined the black question as "a fundamentally economic problem", however, remarked on the legacy of slavery as a modeling factor of hostility and prejudice of white workers towards blacks; furthermore, it provided an account of the difficult condition of the latter, especially in the south, as well as denouncing their exclusion from the unions; he also reported on black organizations and the press in both the United States and Africa, citing Garvey's UNIA in addition to ABB, which highlighted his "ultra-nationalist" character, but also his anti-imperialist potential. Worthy of note, as an example of internationalist commitment: the role of McKay and Huiswoud in defining the discussion of the 4th Congress received the important support of one of the co-founders of the Japanese Communist Party, Sen Katayama, who had lived in the USA where he had been interested in the problems of African Americans.

The composition of the commission dedicated to the black question, one of the main outcomes of the IV Congress, was purely internationalist, leading to the adoption of a series of theses on this subject, which indicated the link between African Americans, together with other Afro-descendant communities, with other populations subject to racial oppression; it also expressed the "need to support any form of black movement tending to undermine capitalism and imperialism", committed the Communist International to fight for equality ago black and white, from an economic, political and rights.

Meanwhile, between October and September 1919, a year after the founding of The Crusader , the Communist Party of America and the Communist Labor Party were born in Chicago, the two teams would join in 1921 assuming only later the name Communist USA party. In 1924, on the basis of what was said a little further on, the CPUSA, at the time called Workers Party of America, turning to UNIA, proclaimed its side by side with African Americans, as well as in favor of the "expulsion of European imperialists out of Africa. and the self-determination of its peoples "[5].

African Americans and the Communist Party

In the first half of the 1920s the Communist Party, whose white base largely made up of immigrants often spoke barely English, was beginning to gain a certain following among African Americans; for example, between 1923-24, ABB ceased to be an autonomous organization becoming, as Harry Haywood reports in his autobiography, recruiting ground for the party. Party that was also beginning to support the struggles of black women, as during the strike against clothing stores in Chicago in 1924, an occasion in which, as in others, the American Federation of labor (AFL) discriminatory orientation was harmful unionization. Discrimination in trade unions that found strenuous opposition from some important communist militants, such as William Z. Foster,ticket with African American James W. Ford, Rose Pastor Stokes and especially William F. Dunne.

Dunne bitterly contested commonplaces such as that of an alleged inclination of black workers to strikebreakers and the myth of the black rapist, one of the most hateful constants of racism against African Americans; racism which he considered incorrect to equate the mistrust of blacks with whites, justified by past and present oppression, whites who had the responsibility to overcome it (lesson very useful today, in times of ranting about an alleged racism on the contrary); finally he underlined the connection between struggles of the African American masses with those of the other blacks in the "colonies and spheres of influence of imperialism".

At the end of the 1920s, the US Communist Party, also under pressure from the Comintern, adopted the thesis according to which African Americans, in particular those stationed in the south, constituted an oppressed nationality entitled to self-determination, a thesis imposed on the VI Congress of the Communist International in 1928, thanks also to the action of the aforementioned Harry Haywood. Son of a proletarian family (both parents were born slaves), self-taught, already a member of ABB, he joined the communist party in 1923 and was able to form in the Soviet Union between 1926 and 1930. Haywood was a prominent figure in the party until the 1940s, but among the many struggles in which it took part, it is worth mentioning the one that engaged the US communists in a famous case of (in) racial justice in the 1930s,

Numerous militants and black cadres, in addition to Haywood, BD Amis, William Patterson and Benjamin Davis Jr, helped to shed light on the matter and provide adequate defense to the defendants, through organizations affiliated to the Communist Party such as the League of Struggle for negro Rights (LSNR ), the International Labor Defense (ILD), and to internationalize it, in particular with the intervention of the pan-Africanist activist and member of the US party George Padmore, at the time at the top of the International Trade Union Commitee of Negro Workers [6] .

The US communists gave a further example of their organizational capacity in Alabama, a state divided between the mining-industrial complex around Birmingham and the rural areas, with the mining industry basing its profits on the presence of a vast workforce low cost, both white and black, also fueled by the influx of landless peasants and immigrants from other areas of the country. Despite the hostile environment of the south, the Communist party and its affiliated organizations enjoyed a certain following in Alabama, acting as a means of fighting the black working class, including women, but still managing to attract a part of whites and operating at a wide level of autonomy, both with respect to the national summits and the USSR.

A hostile environment was said, not only because of the local authorities and the police, but also because of the Ku Klux Klan, whose violence struck with particular frequency against the black militants of the party, victims of repeated beatings and even kidnappings; Ku Klux Klan who produced special leaflets to warn African Americans not to participate in communist initiatives. Among the African American organizers that the party managed to recruit are Angelo Herndon, a miner who became radicalized in the harsh environment of the coal mines and conquered by the communist commitment against racism; Al Murphy, educated in the evening schools while he worked, came into contact with the Communists thanks to a leaflet that read "Stop lynching - Full rights for blacks - Down with the imperialist war!"; in turn Murphy recruited steel worker Hosea Hudson, and both were crucial in attracting future African-American party activists. The latter, during the thirties, managed to consolidate itself in Alabama by organizing the unemployed, the miners and in particular the tenants through the Sharecroppers' Union (SCU), whose base was mainly, if not totally, blacks.

We have mentioned the passage to the role of African American women in the party, figures of various social backgrounds and backgrounds, sometimes coming from the middle class, such as Grace Campbell, or of proletarian origins such as Williana Jones and Maude White; not infrequently, after completing their education, they found employment in social services, teaching or office work. Equally varied were the ways that led them to become communists: Campbell was the first black woman to join the Socialist Party of America, also leaving her because of the prevailing class reductionism regarding the black question, she later joined Briggs' ABB, thus merging into the CPUSA within which it opposed the line of self-determination for southern blacks; likewise Williana Jones was first part of the SPA, abandoning it for the same reasons, then the American Negro labor Congress (ANLC), an organization founded by the Communist Party, finally joining the latter in 1927; Maude White was introduced to Communism at the age of eighteen by her English teacher, a member of the party, remaining enthusiastic about an environment where blacks participated in interracial demonstrations and in which racism and imperialism were openly contested.

All the quoted personalities shared the admiration for the progress in the female condition made in the USSR and, in the case of Campbell and other black communists, such as Hellen Holman, their familiarity with the circles of the Harlem Renaissance, in which the contestation was not rare petty and middle-class values ​​in matters of sexuality, gender, family, etc.. Among the main tools of the activity of some of these militants was the Harlem Tenants league (HTL): formed in 1928, it was involved in organizing rent strikes, opposing evictions and housing problems in general, framing them even in the most context broad of the struggle against white suprematism, capitalism and imperialism. In conclusion of this brief re-enactment it is necessary to mention Claudia Jones, originally from Trinidad, a young immigrant in New York joined the CPUSA at eighteen, emerging as a brilliant organizer and journalist, pointing firmly to the triple oppression inflicted on African American women - as workers, black and women - also denouncing the reluctance, or inability, of many progressive movements to give space to their claims and enhance their struggles;

The last years of the Claudia Jones affair lead this review to another period in the history of American communism, marked by McCarthy persecutions, by disappointments and abandonments and later, between the end of the fifties and the sixties, by the emergence of new movements inspired by communist, nationalist, or various combinations of the two trends, often with an eye to Maoist China. Movements that often re-proposed themes mentioned in the previous paragraphs: that of armed self-defense, particularly felt by the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), inspired by the activity of Robert Williams, who in 1957 had organized armed groups in order to react to the violence of the Ku Klux Klan and, in 1961 - following false allegations of kidnapping - found asylum in Cuba; or even the thesis of southern blacks as a nation with the right to self-determination, embraced by anti-revisionist groups including the Communist Party (Leninist Marxist) (CP [ML]) which boasted Harry Haywood among its ranks. We will not dwell on more well-known organizations, one for all the Black Panther Parthy, after all, equally famous figures have been neglected in this text, and not only for political commitment, such as Paul Robeson and Langston Hughes, on whom also in Italian you can find something.

To conclude, at the beginning of this last paragraph we talked about disillusions and abandonments, however it is significant - as historian Malcolm Sylvers pointed out - that many of the most prominent blacks of the CPUSA remembered did not leave the Communist Party, made except for Haywood, who however came out from the left, on Maoist positions, and consistent with what he had claimed in his previous militancy.

1. Mary Stanton, Red, Black, White: The Alabama Communist Party, 1930-1950, University of Georgia Press, 2019, p. 5.

2. https://www.theroot.com/russia-s-recent ... 1818877990 ; https://jacobinitalia.it/black-in-the-ussr/

3. “[…] black is a sort of seventh child born with a veil and endowed with a second sight in this American world; a world that does not grant him any real self-awareness, but allows him to see himself only through the revelation of the other world. This double awareness, this sense of always looking through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul with the yardstick of a world that looks at you with amused contempt and with pity, is a very particular feeling. ", WEB Du Bois, The souls of black people, The Letters, 2007, p.9; https://ottobre.info/2020/06/08/smasche ... iberation- .

4. Malcolm Sylvers, Political Left and Workers Movement in the United States, Liguori publisher, 1984, pp. 19, 40, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74; Robin DG Kelley, Freadom Dreams: The Black Radical Immagination, Beacon Press, 2002, pp. 41, 45; Gerald Horne, WEB Du Bois: A Biography, Greenwood Press, 2009, pp. 34, 52; Mary White Ovington, Black and White Sat Together: The Reminiscences of a NAACP founder, The Feminist Press, 1995, p. 45; Cornelius L. Bynum, A. Philip Randolph and the Struggle for Civil Rights, University of Illinois Press, 2010, pp. 78, 95; Mark Solomon, The Cry Was Unity: Communists and African Americans, 1917-1936, University press of Mississippi, 1998, p.7; Richard B. Moore, The Name "Negro": its Origin and Evil Use, Black Classic Press, 1992, p. 17;https://traduzionimarxiste.wordpress.co ... hakim-adi/ ; http://www.marxisthistory.org/history/u ... ndaims.pdf

5. Solomon, 1998, p. 39, 40, 41; Lenin, First sketch of thesis on national and colonial issues, in Complete Works, Vol. XXXI, Editori Riuniti, 1967, p. 162; https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/gr ... speech.pdf ; Carol Boyce Davies (edited by), Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora: Origins, Exsperiences and Culture, Vol. 2, ABC-CLIO, 2008, p. 545; https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pa ... eeches.pdf ; Cedric J. Robinson, Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition, University of North Carolina Press, 2000, p. 259; Anne Garland Mahler, From the Tricontinental to the Global South: Race, Radicalism, and Transbational Solidarity, Duke university Press, 2018, p. 49;https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/ne ... party-usa/ ; Hakim Adi, Pan-Africanism: A History, Bloomsbury, 2018, p. 66.

6. Solomon, 1998, p. 43, 44, 45; Harry Haywood, A Black Communist in the Freedom Struggle: The life of Harry Haywood (first edition, Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist), University of Minnesota Press, 2012, pp. xi, xii, xiv, 8, 107; Wlliam F. Dunne, Negroes in American Industries, The Workers Monthly, March 1925, p. 208, April 1925, p. 257; Dunne, The Negroes as an Oppressed People, The Workers Monthly, June 1925, p. 395 (available here: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/cu ... /index.htm ); Riché Richardson, Black Masculinity and the US South: From Uncle Tom to Gangsta, University of Georgia Press, 2010, p. 36; Walter T. Howard (edited by), Black Communists Speak on Scottsboro: A documentary History, Temple University Press, 2008, pp. 1, 2, 3, 84.

7. Robin DG Kelley, Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression, University of North Carolina Press, 1990, pp. xii, xiii, xiv, 1, 2, 3, 4, 15, 23, 24, 33, 48, 74; Erik S. McDuffie, Sojourning for Freedom: Black Woman, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism, Duke University Oress, 2011, pp. 30, 31, 32, 33, 35, 36, 42, 44, 45; Carol Boyce Davies (edited by), 2008, p. 245, 246, 598; Claudia Jones, An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman, Political Affairs, June 1949 (available here: https://palmm.digital.flvc.org/islandor ... ucf%3A4865 ).

8. https://traduzionimarxiste.wordpress.co ... tion-nera/ ; https://traduzionimarxiste.wordpress.co ... l-robeson/ ; Malcolm Sylvers, Politics and ideology in American communism, Jouvence, 1989, pp. 48, 49.

https://ottobre.info/2020/07/16/afroame ... -rassegna/

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"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

solidgold
Posts: 64
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:36 pm

Re: What are you reading?

Post by solidgold » Mon Jul 20, 2020 4:06 am

blindpig wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:10 pm
solidgold wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 5:11 pm

I've only gotten like a hundred pages in though--whether reactionary or not, it seems like a great resource for understanding the movement until the critical race theory of Harvard.
Hey SG, you might find this useful:

African Americans and Communism in the United States, a brief review

Image

by Giuseppe Sini

Historian Mary Stanton writes in her recent volume on the activity of the Communist Party in Alabama: "the seeds of black liberation, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the Black Power, the Black Panthers and Black Lives Mathers can all be traced in the legacy of the Southern Negro Youth Congress, whose members included young black communists, and the tactics of the ILD, as well as the ideals of the League of Struggle for Negro Rights, the National Negro Congress and the Civil Rights Congress [ the last mentioned were organizations linked, at different levels, to the Communist Party, ndt] "[1]. In recent decades a part of the historiography on the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) has highlighted, among many other aspects, its role in the struggles for the liberation of African Americans, as well as the commitment of many of them as his militants, helping to give a far more complex image than reconstructions that wanted him a mere tool in the hands of Moscow.

All the more grotesque is the fact that, precisely with the reappearance of the mobilizations of African Americans in the foreground - in particular those provoked by the assassination of George Floyd by the police - gross caricatures on the relationship between blacks and the USSR are back in vogue, caricatures that crossing the Atlantic they find fertile ground in a left intoxicated by decades of crude anti-communist propaganda, clumsily concealed behind the masking of anti-Stalinism; and this even in the less tendentious reconstructions of the relationship between African Americans and the USSR [2]. Mobilizations in respect of which, even in Italy, there is no lack of frankly ungenerous reactions, characterized as they are by a mixture of sicumera, paternalism and superficiality, even more when they come from the communist side, or by those who should be aware of the story well summarized by the quotation with which this text opens. They range from lectures on the need for organization, to blame for the demolition of monuments celebrating questionable, if not hateful, figures for their involvement in various capacities in the oppression of African Americans and other communities, passing through the inevitable and grim militant who emphasizes the pre-eminence of the class with respect to race, gender,etc . All often dismissed by evoking the specter of identity politics , following the moral panic sparked by certain media, academia and liberal politics, thus underestimating the importance, for many of the subjects involved in the protests of these weeks, as well as for others oppressed in the USA. , to affirm its identity against the imposition of that of the dominant.

To this is added, frequently, a disavowal of the anti-imperialist commitment, in support of the states under attack by the USA, by numerous black militants, all the more noteworthy because it comes from inside the belly of the beast [3]. Therefore, this paper will try to evoke as accurately as possible, but obviously without any pretense of completeness (also from the point of view of the time span treated) or worse objectivity, vicissitudes, personalities and struggles of a part of the variegated US communist galaxy in specific reference to black liberation, trying to provide readers interested in deepening on their own behalf, a series of useful references to get an idea of ​​the complexity of the issue.

African Americans and socialism in the United States before the Communist Party

In the main socialist and more or less vaguely Marxist organizations of the period preceding the foundation of the CPUSA, such as the Socialist Party of America (SPA), which arose in 1901 by splitting from the Socialist Labor Party (SLP), the problem of the struggle of African Americans for their rights it was not perceived as specific, or worthy of special attention and organizations, compared to that of the exploited in general; not only that, the SPA kept sections segregation in the south and it was not uncommon among its ranks to attribute responsibility for low wages to blacks and immigrants. Even more neglected, in this and other organizations, were the struggles of African American women, although there have been figures of black activists, such as the militant of the Workingman's Party, SLP forerunner, Lucy Parsons,

However, among the numerous intellectuals orbiting the Socialist Party of America, or explicitly adhering to it, there were also personalities of the African American community, in particular the sociologist WEB Du Bois, whose socialist inclinations had played a role in haunting eminent black leaders such as Booker T. Washington, advocate of a more reformist and compromising line in facing that complex of discriminatory and segregationist norms known as Read Jim Crow. Du Bois was among other founders in 1909 of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), along with other black personalities, such as Ida B. Wells-Barnett, but also white, such as the SPA militant Mary White Ovington .

A more explicitly Marxist radicalism in dealing with class and racial issues, before the founding of CPUSA, found expression in the magazine Messenger , founded in 1917 by A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen; magazine in which - alongside the position on racism and its most brutal manifestations, such as lynching, intended as instruments of capital aimed at preventing the unity of black and white proletarians - the theme of self-defense of African Americans against racial violence was raised , and the rise of the Bolsheviks was welcomed with enthusiasm. The African Blood Brotherhood (ABB) organization, and the magazine associated with The Crusader , moved along a similar line, founded by Cyril Briggs, advocate of a combination of black nationalism and revolutionary socialism, of Caribbean origins as another member of the same group, Richard B. Moore, the latter later among the first and most rigorous critics of the term "negro" : both later joined the Communist Party.

ABB maintained relationships, albeit critical and destined to finally sink, with the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), the influential pan-Africanist organization founded in 1914 by Marcus Garvey, who, although fundamentally anti-communist, judged positively the figure of Lenin and the foundation of the Soviet Union. In a 1920 leaflet, in addition to those already mentioned - to which anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism must be added - you can read a list that summarizes the positions of ABB: a liberated race, the absolute racial equality (from a political, economic and social), promoting racial self-esteem, organized and uncompromising opposition to the Ku Klux Klan, a united black front, industrial development, higher wages for black people, shorter hours and better working conditions,

African Americans and the III International

In February 1919, John Reed wrote to Zinoviev, providing shortly thereafter President of the Third International a picture of the oppression to which African Americans were subjected in the USA, but also of their spirit of resistance, thus introducing the issue in the discussions of the Comintern ; the following year, on the occasion of the II Congress of the Communist International, in his First thesis sketch on national and colonial issuesLenin argued the need for direct support from the communist parties to the revolutionary movements of dependent countries, citing, together with Ireland, the "black people of America". The IV Congress of the Comintern, in 1922, developed a broader discussion of the problem, with the participation of prominent figures such as the Jamaican poet Claude McKay and the American communist, but native of Suriname, Otto Huiswoud.

The first, in his speech, did not fail to point out how prejudices, as well as a lack of willingness to deal with the black question, between US socialists and communists, constituted an obstacle for the spread of any form of radical propaganda among African Americans, but also as groups of black radicals had already autonomously begun to convey the positions of the III International on colonialism in their communities. The second, already committed to ABB and the first black to join the CPUSA, if he defined the black question as "a fundamentally economic problem", however, remarked on the legacy of slavery as a modeling factor of hostility and prejudice of white workers towards blacks; furthermore, it provided an account of the difficult condition of the latter, especially in the south, as well as denouncing their exclusion from the unions; he also reported on black organizations and the press in both the United States and Africa, citing Garvey's UNIA in addition to ABB, which highlighted his "ultra-nationalist" character, but also his anti-imperialist potential. Worthy of note, as an example of internationalist commitment: the role of McKay and Huiswoud in defining the discussion of the 4th Congress received the important support of one of the co-founders of the Japanese Communist Party, Sen Katayama, who had lived in the USA where he had been interested in the problems of African Americans.

The composition of the commission dedicated to the black question, one of the main outcomes of the IV Congress, was purely internationalist, leading to the adoption of a series of theses on this subject, which indicated the link between African Americans, together with other Afro-descendant communities, with other populations subject to racial oppression; it also expressed the "need to support any form of black movement tending to undermine capitalism and imperialism", committed the Communist International to fight for equality ago black and white, from an economic, political and rights.

Meanwhile, between October and September 1919, a year after the founding of The Crusader , the Communist Party of America and the Communist Labor Party were born in Chicago, the two teams would join in 1921 assuming only later the name Communist USA party. In 1924, on the basis of what was said a little further on, the CPUSA, at the time called Workers Party of America, turning to UNIA, proclaimed its side by side with African Americans, as well as in favor of the "expulsion of European imperialists out of Africa. and the self-determination of its peoples "[5].

African Americans and the Communist Party

In the first half of the 1920s the Communist Party, whose white base largely made up of immigrants often spoke barely English, was beginning to gain a certain following among African Americans; for example, between 1923-24, ABB ceased to be an autonomous organization becoming, as Harry Haywood reports in his autobiography, recruiting ground for the party. Party that was also beginning to support the struggles of black women, as during the strike against clothing stores in Chicago in 1924, an occasion in which, as in others, the American Federation of labor (AFL) discriminatory orientation was harmful unionization. Discrimination in trade unions that found strenuous opposition from some important communist militants, such as William Z. Foster,ticket with African American James W. Ford, Rose Pastor Stokes and especially William F. Dunne.

Dunne bitterly contested commonplaces such as that of an alleged inclination of black workers to strikebreakers and the myth of the black rapist, one of the most hateful constants of racism against African Americans; racism which he considered incorrect to equate the mistrust of blacks with whites, justified by past and present oppression, whites who had the responsibility to overcome it (lesson very useful today, in times of ranting about an alleged racism on the contrary); finally he underlined the connection between struggles of the African American masses with those of the other blacks in the "colonies and spheres of influence of imperialism".

At the end of the 1920s, the US Communist Party, also under pressure from the Comintern, adopted the thesis according to which African Americans, in particular those stationed in the south, constituted an oppressed nationality entitled to self-determination, a thesis imposed on the VI Congress of the Communist International in 1928, thanks also to the action of the aforementioned Harry Haywood. Son of a proletarian family (both parents were born slaves), self-taught, already a member of ABB, he joined the communist party in 1923 and was able to form in the Soviet Union between 1926 and 1930. Haywood was a prominent figure in the party until the 1940s, but among the many struggles in which it took part, it is worth mentioning the one that engaged the US communists in a famous case of (in) racial justice in the 1930s,

Numerous militants and black cadres, in addition to Haywood, BD Amis, William Patterson and Benjamin Davis Jr, helped to shed light on the matter and provide adequate defense to the defendants, through organizations affiliated to the Communist Party such as the League of Struggle for negro Rights (LSNR ), the International Labor Defense (ILD), and to internationalize it, in particular with the intervention of the pan-Africanist activist and member of the US party George Padmore, at the time at the top of the International Trade Union Commitee of Negro Workers [6] .

The US communists gave a further example of their organizational capacity in Alabama, a state divided between the mining-industrial complex around Birmingham and the rural areas, with the mining industry basing its profits on the presence of a vast workforce low cost, both white and black, also fueled by the influx of landless peasants and immigrants from other areas of the country. Despite the hostile environment of the south, the Communist party and its affiliated organizations enjoyed a certain following in Alabama, acting as a means of fighting the black working class, including women, but still managing to attract a part of whites and operating at a wide level of autonomy, both with respect to the national summits and the USSR.

A hostile environment was said, not only because of the local authorities and the police, but also because of the Ku Klux Klan, whose violence struck with particular frequency against the black militants of the party, victims of repeated beatings and even kidnappings; Ku Klux Klan who produced special leaflets to warn African Americans not to participate in communist initiatives. Among the African American organizers that the party managed to recruit are Angelo Herndon, a miner who became radicalized in the harsh environment of the coal mines and conquered by the communist commitment against racism; Al Murphy, educated in the evening schools while he worked, came into contact with the Communists thanks to a leaflet that read "Stop lynching - Full rights for blacks - Down with the imperialist war!"; in turn Murphy recruited steel worker Hosea Hudson, and both were crucial in attracting future African-American party activists. The latter, during the thirties, managed to consolidate itself in Alabama by organizing the unemployed, the miners and in particular the tenants through the Sharecroppers' Union (SCU), whose base was mainly, if not totally, blacks.

We have mentioned the passage to the role of African American women in the party, figures of various social backgrounds and backgrounds, sometimes coming from the middle class, such as Grace Campbell, or of proletarian origins such as Williana Jones and Maude White; not infrequently, after completing their education, they found employment in social services, teaching or office work. Equally varied were the ways that led them to become communists: Campbell was the first black woman to join the Socialist Party of America, also leaving her because of the prevailing class reductionism regarding the black question, she later joined Briggs' ABB, thus merging into the CPUSA within which it opposed the line of self-determination for southern blacks; likewise Williana Jones was first part of the SPA, abandoning it for the same reasons, then the American Negro labor Congress (ANLC), an organization founded by the Communist Party, finally joining the latter in 1927; Maude White was introduced to Communism at the age of eighteen by her English teacher, a member of the party, remaining enthusiastic about an environment where blacks participated in interracial demonstrations and in which racism and imperialism were openly contested.

All the quoted personalities shared the admiration for the progress in the female condition made in the USSR and, in the case of Campbell and other black communists, such as Hellen Holman, their familiarity with the circles of the Harlem Renaissance, in which the contestation was not rare petty and middle-class values ​​in matters of sexuality, gender, family, etc.. Among the main tools of the activity of some of these militants was the Harlem Tenants league (HTL): formed in 1928, it was involved in organizing rent strikes, opposing evictions and housing problems in general, framing them even in the most context broad of the struggle against white suprematism, capitalism and imperialism. In conclusion of this brief re-enactment it is necessary to mention Claudia Jones, originally from Trinidad, a young immigrant in New York joined the CPUSA at eighteen, emerging as a brilliant organizer and journalist, pointing firmly to the triple oppression inflicted on African American women - as workers, black and women - also denouncing the reluctance, or inability, of many progressive movements to give space to their claims and enhance their struggles;

The last years of the Claudia Jones affair lead this review to another period in the history of American communism, marked by McCarthy persecutions, by disappointments and abandonments and later, between the end of the fifties and the sixties, by the emergence of new movements inspired by communist, nationalist, or various combinations of the two trends, often with an eye to Maoist China. Movements that often re-proposed themes mentioned in the previous paragraphs: that of armed self-defense, particularly felt by the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), inspired by the activity of Robert Williams, who in 1957 had organized armed groups in order to react to the violence of the Ku Klux Klan and, in 1961 - following false allegations of kidnapping - found asylum in Cuba; or even the thesis of southern blacks as a nation with the right to self-determination, embraced by anti-revisionist groups including the Communist Party (Leninist Marxist) (CP [ML]) which boasted Harry Haywood among its ranks. We will not dwell on more well-known organizations, one for all the Black Panther Parthy, after all, equally famous figures have been neglected in this text, and not only for political commitment, such as Paul Robeson and Langston Hughes, on whom also in Italian you can find something.

To conclude, at the beginning of this last paragraph we talked about disillusions and abandonments, however it is significant - as historian Malcolm Sylvers pointed out - that many of the most prominent blacks of the CPUSA remembered did not leave the Communist Party, made except for Haywood, who however came out from the left, on Maoist positions, and consistent with what he had claimed in his previous militancy.

1. Mary Stanton, Red, Black, White: The Alabama Communist Party, 1930-1950, University of Georgia Press, 2019, p. 5.

2. https://www.theroot.com/russia-s-recent ... 1818877990 ; https://jacobinitalia.it/black-in-the-ussr/

3. “[…] black is a sort of seventh child born with a veil and endowed with a second sight in this American world; a world that does not grant him any real self-awareness, but allows him to see himself only through the revelation of the other world. This double awareness, this sense of always looking through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul with the yardstick of a world that looks at you with amused contempt and with pity, is a very particular feeling. ", WEB Du Bois, The souls of black people, The Letters, 2007, p.9; https://ottobre.info/2020/06/08/smasche ... iberation- .

4. Malcolm Sylvers, Political Left and Workers Movement in the United States, Liguori publisher, 1984, pp. 19, 40, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74; Robin DG Kelley, Freadom Dreams: The Black Radical Immagination, Beacon Press, 2002, pp. 41, 45; Gerald Horne, WEB Du Bois: A Biography, Greenwood Press, 2009, pp. 34, 52; Mary White Ovington, Black and White Sat Together: The Reminiscences of a NAACP founder, The Feminist Press, 1995, p. 45; Cornelius L. Bynum, A. Philip Randolph and the Struggle for Civil Rights, University of Illinois Press, 2010, pp. 78, 95; Mark Solomon, The Cry Was Unity: Communists and African Americans, 1917-1936, University press of Mississippi, 1998, p.7; Richard B. Moore, The Name "Negro": its Origin and Evil Use, Black Classic Press, 1992, p. 17;https://traduzionimarxiste.wordpress.co ... hakim-adi/ ; http://www.marxisthistory.org/history/u ... ndaims.pdf

5. Solomon, 1998, p. 39, 40, 41; Lenin, First sketch of thesis on national and colonial issues, in Complete Works, Vol. XXXI, Editori Riuniti, 1967, p. 162; https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/gr ... speech.pdf ; Carol Boyce Davies (edited by), Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora: Origins, Exsperiences and Culture, Vol. 2, ABC-CLIO, 2008, p. 545; https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pa ... eeches.pdf ; Cedric J. Robinson, Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition, University of North Carolina Press, 2000, p. 259; Anne Garland Mahler, From the Tricontinental to the Global South: Race, Radicalism, and Transbational Solidarity, Duke university Press, 2018, p. 49;https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/ne ... party-usa/ ; Hakim Adi, Pan-Africanism: A History, Bloomsbury, 2018, p. 66.

6. Solomon, 1998, p. 43, 44, 45; Harry Haywood, A Black Communist in the Freedom Struggle: The life of Harry Haywood (first edition, Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist), University of Minnesota Press, 2012, pp. xi, xii, xiv, 8, 107; Wlliam F. Dunne, Negroes in American Industries, The Workers Monthly, March 1925, p. 208, April 1925, p. 257; Dunne, The Negroes as an Oppressed People, The Workers Monthly, June 1925, p. 395 (available here: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/cu ... /index.htm ); Riché Richardson, Black Masculinity and the US South: From Uncle Tom to Gangsta, University of Georgia Press, 2010, p. 36; Walter T. Howard (edited by), Black Communists Speak on Scottsboro: A documentary History, Temple University Press, 2008, pp. 1, 2, 3, 84.

7. Robin DG Kelley, Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression, University of North Carolina Press, 1990, pp. xii, xiii, xiv, 1, 2, 3, 4, 15, 23, 24, 33, 48, 74; Erik S. McDuffie, Sojourning for Freedom: Black Woman, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism, Duke University Oress, 2011, pp. 30, 31, 32, 33, 35, 36, 42, 44, 45; Carol Boyce Davies (edited by), 2008, p. 245, 246, 598; Claudia Jones, An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman, Political Affairs, June 1949 (available here: https://palmm.digital.flvc.org/islandor ... ucf%3A4865 ).

8. https://traduzionimarxiste.wordpress.co ... tion-nera/ ; https://traduzionimarxiste.wordpress.co ... l-robeson/ ; Malcolm Sylvers, Politics and ideology in American communism, Jouvence, 1989, pp. 48, 49.

https://ottobre.info/2020/07/16/afroame ... -rassegna/

Google Translator
Good piece, although I have trouble understanding some of the translations because I'm dyslexic! Minor correction, probably due to the fact he's European, but the USSR/black people is not the narrative comparison: it's China and Maoism.

As for Black Marxism by Cedric Robinson--I read it because Robin DG Kelley (coincidentally cited in your article) did a talk about the book in the wake of George Floyd. It appears to be the Kapital of the present day anti-racist movement; meaning, it's foundational to the logic of their argument. Of course the distinction is one is largely an economic critique and one is largely a historical critique. Many Jacobin-types, following the lead of Adolph Reed, go on tirelessly about the "the limits of anti-racism." They seem to conflate the perspectives of someone like Ta-Nahisi Coates and Robin DG Kelley and fail to engage honestly with the different premises. That premise is "racial capitalism."

Robinson doesn't mean racial capitalism in the way people say crony capitalism or other _____ capitalism; he argues capitalism has always been racial because it pre-dates capitalism (bordering on an anachronism, though I agree with him here). Outside of the fact Ta-Nehisi Coates seems to be a-ok with capitalism, this pretty much neuters the impact of the 1619 Project and other neoliberal-approved work. To Robinson, racism pre-dates capitalism via "racialized European groups": Irish, Slavs, etc. He argues against Marx, saying the move from feudalism to capitalism was not revolutionary because the racialized groups in the bourgeoisie were left out of the benefits of capitalism. Cedric concludes that the proletarian is not the revolutionary force for socialism, for which he is in favor. You can see how this pairs well with intersectionality, which places class in the same tier as race and gender as opposed to a starting point--“the history of all hitherto existing human society is the history of class struggles.”

This is the modern left.

solidgold
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by solidgold » Mon Jul 20, 2020 8:22 am

Let me say, I don't agree or quite follow his argument fully. It reads like it's trying to put Hegel back on his feet, but his writing is very compelling as you read it. But it looks like all race scholars have some sort of affinity for this book, so couldn't hurt to familiarize.

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blindpig
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by blindpig » Mon Jul 20, 2020 11:29 am

You can see how this pairs well with intersectionality, which places class in the same tier as race and gender as opposed to a starting point--“the history of all hitherto existing human society is the history of class struggles.”

This is the modern left.
Anything but communism. Yeah, a lot more complicated than that but that's the summation, at least from my view. All of these identity based views ignore the forest for the trees, all valid(tho I take exception with Queer Theory, which is idealistic) but ignoring the thread which unites them.

A poor reading of history I think, failing the larger view. And is this a 'get out of jail free' card for Black Capitalists?

I am reminded how them French Philosophers sowed confusion in the 60s. Just in the nick of time....
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

solidgold
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by solidgold » Mon Jul 20, 2020 7:09 pm

blindpig wrote:
Mon Jul 20, 2020 11:29 am
You can see how this pairs well with intersectionality, which places class in the same tier as race and gender as opposed to a starting point--“the history of all hitherto existing human society is the history of class struggles.”

This is the modern left.
Anything but communism. Yeah, a lot more complicated than that but that's the summation, at least from my view. All of these identity based views ignore the forest for the trees, all valid(tho I take exception with Queer Theory, which is idealistic) but ignoring the thread which unites them.

A poor reading of history I think, failing the larger view. And is this a 'get out of jail free' card for Black Capitalists?

I am reminded how them French Philosophers sowed confusion in the 60s. Just in the nick of time....
I think you can see that parallel with intersectionality, but I think the racial capitalism argument is different.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zN0ENeiImcI[/youtube]

Found some teacher's slides about the book.

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blindpig
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by blindpig » Mon Jul 20, 2020 10:26 pm

Yeah, I don't get the "racialized European groups" thing, those groups were assimilated in due course while other battles fought to this day. This is historical? Damn near apples & oranges.
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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