Ed. — This blog post suddenly seems more relevant than ever, with the recent events surrounding Black Lives Matter and the larger, ill-defined “progressive movement” in these United States. Read on, you’ll see.
We’re reprinting this here because probably no one has done a more thorough job detailing the inter-relationship between black revolutionary working-class movements and the larger labor movement and communist, socialist, or generically “left” movements in American history. It all focuses on Detroit because, well, it all focused on Detroit at one moment in time, which was a kind of “node” in American history.
Reprinted from Marxist-Leninist-List mailing list Marxist-Leninist-List@greenhouse.economics.utah.edu October 15, 2012
Supplement to “Detroit I Do Mind Dying.”
Saturday October 13, 2012 Detroit’s African American museum presented a showing of the film “Finally Got The News,” with presentations by General Baker Jr. and professor John Bracey, both former members of the league. This coming Thursday October 18, 2012 Detroit’s Wayne State University will feature a Labor Conference chronicling the labor movement in Detroit from 1920 – 1970, featuring Dan Georgakas, Author/Journalist, Elizabeth Kai Hinton, Columbia University; Dara Walker, Rutgers University and Commentator: General Baker Jr. Dan Georgakas is one of the authors of “Detroit, I Do Mind Dying.”
With the reissuing of “Detroit, I Do Mind Dying” August 2012, a new generation can read an account of the struggle of revolutionaries in the late 1960’s and 1970’s Detroit. “Detroit, I Do Mind Dying” is an excellent historical recollection worthy of reading and owning as a historical text. Its limitation is that it does not convey and express “our” voice and narrative. “Our voice” is a narrative expressed and organized around the workers and student component of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers (LRBW) or what consolidated as a General Baker, Chuck Wooten and John Williams grouping. “Our voice” and narrative is one that connects the rise and demise of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers with a time frame from the 1965 Watts rebellion, to outbreak of “Black Power,” through the various groupings calling themselves the new communist movement in the mid-1970s to collapse of the new communist groups in the mid-1980s. The old workers-students core of the LRBW exists forty-four years late – today – in the League of Revolutionaries for a New America.
Movements don’t just happen. The spontaneous striving of the African American Liberation Movement was reaching a crescendo during the nineteen sixties. Dr. Martin Luther King’s prophetic vision, gigantic personality and immense gravity as an organic intellectual, could not contain the surge of Birmingham Alabama black steel workers, who with their backs to the wall lashed out in self-defense violence against Klansman, terrorist reactionary bombers and garden variety Southern fascist. The response of the masses increasingly supplemented by black soldiers trained in jungles of Vietnam added to the WW II and Korean War veterans’ militancy aggressive opposition and armed resistance to lynch rope violence and the second class citizenship status of blacks. Birmingham 1963 set the stage for 1965 Watts.
The individuals to lead the formation of the LBRW were profoundly influenced by the Cuban Revolution and the plight of Robert Williams (Brother Rob).
But the figure who best embodied black traditions of armed self-defense was Robert Williams, a hero to the new wave of black internationalists whose importance almost rivaled that of Malcolm X. As a former U.S. Marine with extensive military training, Williams earned notoriety in 1957 for forming armed self-defense groups in Monroe, North Carolina, to fight the Ku Klux Klan. Two years later, Williams’s statement that black people must “meet violence with violence” as the only way to end injustice in an uncivilized South led to his suspension as president of the Monroe chapter of the NAACP.
Williams’s break with the NAACP and his open advocacy of armed self defense pushed him further Left and into the orbit of the Socialist Workers Party, the Workers World Party, and among some members of the old CPUSA. However, Williams had had contact with communists since his days as a Detroit auto worker in the 1940s. He not only read the Daily Worker but also published a story in its pages called “Some Day I Am Going Back South.” Williams was also somewhat of an intellectual dabbler and autodidact, having studied at West Virginia State College, North Carolina College, and Johnson C. Smith College. Nevertheless, his more recent Left associations led him to Cuba and the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Upon returning from his first trip in 1960, he hoisted the Cuban flag in his backyard and ran a series of articles in his mimeographed publication, the Crusader, about the transformation of working peoples’ lives in Cuba as a result of the revolution. In one of his editorials published in August 1960, Williams insisted that African Americans’ fight for freedom “is related to the Africans,’ the Cubans,’ all of Latin Americans’ and the Asians’ struggles for self-determination.” http://kasamaproject.org/2010/03/01/red-china-and-black-revolution/
“Meanwhile, the Progressive Labor movement (PL) had begun sponsoring trips to Cuba and recruited several radical black students in the East Bay to go along. Among them was Ernest Allen, a UC Berkeley transfer from Merritt College who had been forced out of the Afro-American Association. A working-class kid from Oakland, Allen was part of a generation of black radicals whose dissatisfaction with the civil rights movement’s strategy of nonviolent, passive resistance drew them closer to Malcolm X and Third World liberation movements. Not surprisingly, through his trip to Cuba in 1964 he discovered the Revolutionary Action Movement. Allen’s travel companions included a contingent of black militants from Detroit: Luke Tripp, Charles (“Mao”) Johnson, Charles Simmons, and General Baker. All were members of the student group Uhuru, and all went on to play key roles in the formation of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. Incredibly, the RAM leader Max Stanford was already on the island visiting Robert Williams. When it was time to go back to the states, Allen and the Detroit group were committed to building RAM. Allen stopped in Cleveland to meet with RAM members on his cross-country bus trip back to Oakland.”
While in Cuba these young men played basketball with Fidel and Che according to General Baker. During lengthy discussion by Fidel and Che Baker was won over to a communist-socialist orientation.
In the aftermath of the August 1965 Watts Rebellion in Los Angeles, a variety of black equality organizations were formed ranging from the US Organization and the Black Panther Party to Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) to Detroit’s League of Revolutionary Black Workers and Republic of New Africa (RNA). (RAM was actually organized in 1962).
“The Black Panthers Karenga met Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in a study circle in the early 1960s. While the US Organization’s cultural nationalism emerged in Los Angeles, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale developed revolutionary nationalism as the forceful political style of the Black Panther Party in Oakland. Actually, Newton and Seale were not the first Black Panthers; there were earlier groups organized by the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) in the aftermath of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s voting rights experiment in Lowndes County, Alabama, led by Stokely Carmichael. In 1965, one year before the Black Power slogan emerged, the independent Lowndes County Freedom Organization stood up to white terror in the Deep South, using a black panther to symbolize its defiance. A number of black activists from northern cities provided material support for self-defense to the Lowndes County Black Panthers and asked Stokely Carmichael for permission to form Black Panther organizations in their urban centers. Consequently, Black Panthers developed in New York, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco. In New York, alongside Eddie Ellis, Ted Wilson, Donald Washington, and Walter Ricks, one of the leaders of the Harlem Panthers was Larry Neal, a cofounder of the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School.
“In July 1966, with the public endorsement of Stokely Carmichael, the Harlem Party established headquarters at 2409 Seventh Avenue, near 140th Street, and a Malcolm X Liberation School. By September 1966 twelve Panthers were arrested in Harlem during a school boycott, their first direct-action campaign. The New York Times estimated their membership at one hundred. In San Francisco, the Black Panthers were in communication with Robert F. Williams, the exiled leader of RAM, in Cuba. Between the Watts uprising in August 1965 and San Francisco unrest in September 1966, Newton and Seale began discussing the need for a new kind of organization of their own in Oakland; those exchanges resulted in the founding of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in October 1966. Although Black Panther organizations emerged in other cities before the Oakland Panthers, the revolutionary grassroots party established by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale quickly developed a militant stance that propelled its members into the forefront of the Black Revolt. The definitive political style of the legendary Oakland Black Panther Party soon eclipsed the earlier Panthers in New York and San Francisco, expanding to a base of more than sixty cities with a membership of more than two thousand people.” http://exhibitions.nypl.org/africanaage/essay-black-power.html
After Watts 1965, the Newark and Detroit Rebellions of July 1967 shook American society to its foundations. These were the greatest uprising against the state since the Civil War. Detroit surpassed Newark in scale, with at least 43 deaths and 7,000 arrested. During the first wave of unrest in the 1960s, 329 major rebellions unfolded in 257 different cities; after Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination on April 4, 1968, there were another two hundred uprisings in 172 cities. Another wave of youthful activists took to the streets in five hundred (500) street confrontations in 1969.
The League of Revolutionary Black Workers (LRBW) was formed in the wake of Detroit 1967 and the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The LRBW was formed based on the DRUM organization – Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement – that grew out of the May 1968 Dodge Main strike in Detroit. This strike took place during the period of formation of SDS; it’s splitting and formation of “Revolutionary Union,” apparently in homage to the Detroit Revolutionaries.
The LRBW expressed the historic struggle of “labor in the black,” as this struggle passed through all stages of development of the industrial system. In broad strokes this struggle began under slavery in the South and development of Jim Crow in the North, then Emancipation and the founding of the African American People’s Convention in the post-Civil War era. The defeat of Reconstruction set the condition for “equal rights organizations” based on the color factor and finally the various forms of African American Labor Councils, spanning from the 1920s to the opening era of “Black Power.” Specifically, the DRUM movement and the LRBW were immediately thrown into a struggle over political and ideological hegemony amongst labor in the black facing TULC – Trade Union Leadership Council. TULC was formed by black trade unionists in the wake of the House Un-American Activity Committee attack against Detroit’s African American Labor Council.
“The National African American Labor Council (1950 – 1955) was a labor union dedicated to serving the needs and civil rights of black workers. In 1951, black workers formed the National African American Labor Council (NNLC), which was brought about to serving the needs and civil rights of black workers. This organization was there to do certain tasks that the National African American Congress could not do since its failed return after the war. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Negro_Labor_Council
Black Power was an electoral movement demanding inclusion of blacks into the political superstructure. Black Power erupted as the final stage of the fight against Jim Crow and last stage of an all class movement of the black community based on the color factor. The years 1967/1968 were the time for black power, black power conventions and mass entry of blacks into the political system. Proposed during the 1967 National Black Power Conference in Newark, and organized by Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher, U.S. Representative Charles Diggs and poet Amiri Baraka the convention attracted politically engaged blacks of all persuasions, from Democrats and Republicans to socialists, Marxists and revolutionaries of all types.
More often than not, “the League” is confused with the union caucus formed as the Revolutionary Union Movement. DRUM (Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement) and ELRUM (Eldon Revolutionary Union Movement) were not the LRBW or reducible to the league. The reason RUM groups were formed primarily at Chrysler and not at Ford is bound up with the mass hiring of blacks by the Ford Motor company in the 1920s. The reason RUM’s formed at Chrysler rather than Ford was because of the early communist organizing at Ford Rouge and the role of black communists in winning the battle for unity amongst blacks and whites. This was not the case elsewhere.
Blacks always found themselves in the absurd position of advocating for unions while fighting to be allowed in them and then against being discriminated against. This circumstance was the reason for black caucuses of all kinds. Even though Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, Dodge, Packard, Hudson, and many other manufacturers had signed collective bargaining agreements many areas had yet to fully form local unions, ratify the agreements, or cease Jim Crow policies and practices. Many local unions had segregated divisions and some plants had altogether separate segregated local unions. Blacks faced “hate strikes.” On June 3, 1943 25,000 white workers went on strike at Detroit’s Packard Motors Company when three black workers were promoted to the assembly line.
Thus, the purpose of the RUM was the battle for equality on the job; for blacks to be treated as equals by the company and within the union, rather than an abstract “class struggle” or anarcho-syndicalist vision of “workers against bosses.” The RUMs organizations and the LRBW existed on a continuum whose immediate predecessors were Trade Union Unity League, National African American Labor Council, and League of Struggle for African American Rights, National African American Council.
The LRBW was a federation of diverse organizations rather than a “big” RUM caucus. This federation shared resources to aid its organization in mobilizing and fighting on various “fronts of struggle.” For instance “Parents and Students for Community Control” was formed as a league component to battle in the electoral arena to elect local black school board members, expressing the concerns of their neighborhood. North Woodward Interfaith organization, United Community (UNICOM), West Central Organization (WCO) and International Black Appeal (IPA) were incorporated into the league. The Black Student Voice and later Black Student United Front were high school students, many who would distribute literature at plants. There was a period when the Southend newspaper came under the direction of the League members.
A complex of issues is attributed to the split and disintegration of the LRBW. The LRBW was formed during the final stage of American Revolution 2.5 – the Civil Rights Movement and in a larger historical sense expressed the last phase of organizational unity between Marxism and anarcho-syndicalism. With the shattering of the wall of de jure – legal – segregation, the LRBW could no longer evolve as a revolutionary organization based exclusively on color. In a country such as America, with its huge multinational majority white working class, a majority black organization of revolutionaries, striving for a Marxist approach and method is an impossible contradiction.
The LRBW was not a Marxist or Marxist-Leninist organization, although Marxist and Marxist-Leninist were members of the league. The league would later declare itself in favor of forming a Black Marxist Leninist party. Due to the principled stand of the Communist League demanding a multinational Communist Party, all sections of the old LRBW were won over to the Communist League vision of a revolutionary Communist party.
Every single revolutionary group in American “courted” the LRBW and all of their material was read critically. One should ask why the largest grouping of the LRBW rejected the outlook of the Revolutionary Union and its Red Papers along with the October League, which grew out of the Revolution Youth Movement II.
(See Revolution in the Air pages, 70, 71, 72.)
The reason the LRBW was won over to the California Communist League (CCL) and then the Communist League (CL) is their theory basis in Marxism and living connection in the long struggle for an American Marxist narrative. The Communist League approach to the issues of the day and description of the social revolution made more sense than all the new communist groups combined, at least to a broad section of revolutionaries in Detroit. The Motor City Labor League, fragments of Detroit Organizing Committee (DOC), Revolution Per Minute (RPM), People Against Racism (PAR) and groups of independent Marxist would join CL and become part of the Communist Labor Party.
The proposition that the LRBW and others joined CL because Nelson Peery, its Chairman, is African American is absurd and insulting. The LRBW did not join the CL because Peery is African American. The LRBW was recruited into the CL by a revolutionary from the Bay area sent to establish an educational forum for the workers and student component.
Nelson Peery became Chairman of CL because he was best qualified. It is a feature of our society that a revolutionary group must express a historical continuity and the salient feature of the social movement to be relevant. Peery’s history evolves through the CPUSA and the long struggle for a revolutionary position on the African American Question; against the anti-Stalin form of anti-communism, against Khrushchev revisionism and for the building of a Leninist party along the lines pioneered by Lenin. Thus, Peery (along with his wife Sue Ying who created CL’s study program and Blue Book) expressed the salient feature of the social process in the same way the Slavic workers constituted the driving core of the CPUSA during the drive for industrial unionism. The revolutionary driving core of the industrial union movement was the unskilled Slavic workers rather than the Western European English workers. In an earlier period the CPUSA was composed of various ethnic associations, which revolutionaries from the various European ethnic groups joined.
End part 1
Edited version of article. Page 2 and 3 Quotes from Kasama added.
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Part 2: League of Revolutionary Black Workers: League of Revolutionary for a New America: from league to league.
It is a truth of American history that proletarian and petty bourgeoisie as expression of distinct classes cannot harmonious exist in the same organization, carrying out a program of winning the most poverty stricken section of the proletariat to the cause of communism. The LRBW was not a student organization but an organization of adults, second generation industrial proletariat with factory caucuses and neighborhood associations. On the perceptual level it appears that a black organization and white organization could not unite, but the experience is the historical problem of petty bourgeois whites attempting to do the thinking and leading for proletarian blacks doing the fighting and dying. (For an exhaustive accounting of the various organizations constituting the totality of the new communist movement see Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism on Line.)
The LRBW contained a student component and these youth were more oriented to the proletariat with well over 90% of them entering industry becoming the next generation of leaders within the trade union movement. Rather than Peery being black, the LRBW had no basis for unity with the Revolution Union (RU) or the October League in 1971. The character of the literature of the CL was well in advance of all the so-called new communist groups in 1971, 72 and 1973 and through the 80’s and 90s and into the new century. One could read CL’s literature and feel a connection in American history. Even today – 40 years later – one can read this period literature at the Encyclopedia of Anti Revisionism and compare the theoretical depth of CLs writings with those of the entire NCM. The single greatest practical difference between CL and the NCM was over building a party of the proletariat. From the viewpoint and experience of the LRBW, CL approach was correct. CL’s approach is still correct.
The LRBW spent an inordinate amount of its time and money on education as its primary task, rather than building a mass base and so-called mass movement. The so-called movement is spontaneous, composed of individuals with a deep moral and material opposition to the ravages of bourgeois rule. Activism brought the revolutionaries together as leaders in a particular front of struggle and these real leaders craved education. This remains true to this day and is apparent in the Occupy Movement.
The historic criticism leveled by the new communists against CL (recorded and preserve for all to see at “Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism on Line”), is that the Communist League erred by building a so-called “cadre organization” at the expense of trying to build a revolutionary party “rooted in” and based on building a revolutionary mass movement. The new communists were wrong. According to the literature of the NCM, a revolutionary mass movement in 1968, 89, 70, 71 and 1972 meant the African American Peoples movements as the cutting edge of all social movements.
When the Communist League recruited the LRBW to its political projections, many of new communist groups declared the CL reactionary, counter revolutionary and privately stated the LRBW joined CL because Nelson is black rather than because “we” could read. The insistence that the “workers-student” core of the LRBW joined CL because Nelson is black persists to this day and was stated as such by a certain author. The real issue has always been the fact that the Peery’s CL – if such a description is valid – became the conduit and purveyor of the legacy of American Marxism and Leninism, against a tidal wave of revisionism and Maoism.
Every generation of Marxists must become an organization dedicated to preserving and transmitting the history of American Marxism, defining the line of march of a revolutionary organization and educating and training revolutionaries in the science of social revolution rather than trying to educate them to do what they are already doing.
Black Workers Congress: Using the League of Revolutionary Black Workers as a platform, the Black Workers Congress (BWC) was formed in 1971 to unite “black workers nationally.” “Black workers power” contained the striving of various classes among blacks along with a healthy dose of old fashioned anarcho-syndicalism. The revolutionaries pushing for creation of the Black Workers Congress faced varying degrees of resistance from the “workers and student component” of the LRBW.
With the split, the section of the LRBW retreating into the Black Workers Congress (BWC) carried out a mass purge of the “workers and student components” of the League from the BWC at the Baltimore Convention. Chapter seven and eight of “Detroit, I Do Mind Dying” describes the formation of the Black Workers Congress and breakup of the LRBW and the conversion of activity into what the “workers and students component” called an electoral apparatus. The work of the LRBW created the condition for the election of Marxists to public office, alongside the entry of blacks into the electoral arena. The “electoral group” organized into DARE (Detroit Activist for a Rational Economy) scored major success in electing Marxists to political office in 1970s Detroit.
Enlarging its core of revolutionaries, based on the Watts Rebellion and the Chicano Moratorium, the Communist League recruited the “workers and student components” of the LRBW in mass, along with the core of the Motor City Labor League. The Communist League began their Marxist education on a new foundation, combating anarcho-syndicalism, various racial ideologies and rooting the revolutionaries in the continuity of American Marxism.
The Detroit League of Revolutionary Black Workers and the Motor City Labor League as well as a number of local and regional Black, Chicano, and Puerto Rican revolutionary groups joined the Communist League. A conference was called to found a new Communist party, and in 1974, the Communist Labor Party was formed. http://www.lrna.org/2-pt/articles/v17ed2art2.html
In the struggle to form a Communist Party the Communist League would present its first draft of “Regional Autonomy for the Indian Peoples!” to the National Continuations Committee to Call a Congress for a Multinational, Marxist-Leninist Party” and publish “Regional Autonomy for the Southwest” in 1974. http://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ncm-2/cccn-conf.htm
The Communist Labor Party would carry out two “Vote Communist” campaigns in 1976 and 1978. As the decade of the 1990s approached, the CLP shed the old reform character of its organization, build on the basis of the national-colonial struggle as the salient feature of the revolutionary movement and formed the League of Revolutionaries for a New America.
Communist Labor Party: Proceeding from a materialist conception of history, the Communist League and later the Communist Labor Party (CLP) grasped on one level and then another, the shift from mechanics to electronics, and why it constituted a social revolution with all its implications for the coming class struggle. In its founding documents in September 1974 the CLP stated:
“The trend toward shifting the economic base from mechanics to electronics has not only increased the reserve army of unemployed but also created a huge qualitatively new army of the permanently unemployed, especially amongst national minority proletarians. Every technical advance makes the position of the proletarians more untenable.” http://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ncm-2/clp-1st/program.htm
The CLP has left a verifiable history changing legacy in the quest for revolutionary Marxism in America. Forty years publication of the People’s Tribune and thirty years publication of “Rally Comrades!” documents the evolution of their line of march and narrative on the form of the American Revolution.
Despite some admitted theoretical errors, Nelson Peery’s “Negro National Colonial Question,” remains a bookmark and bench mark in the struggle to maintain a revolutionary position on African American liberation and social revolution in America. All the polemics on African American liberation of the NCM era are written as a response to Peery’s book. This can be verified at the “Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line.”
Elbaum’s “Revolution in the Air” notes another Communist Labor Party contribution and legacy: “Socialism in the Soviet Union”. This text singlehandedly destroyed the neo-Trotskian thesis that capitalism had been restored in the Soviet Union during the late 1950s and early 1960s by Khrushchev. During the late 1970s the CLP theoretical journal “Proletariat” also published an article about contradiction and antagonism as used in the writings of Chairman Mao Zedong, reaffirming Lenin’s statement that contradiction and antagonism are not the same. (See Textbook of Marxist Philosophy 1937, page 174). The CLP proposition would later appear as a contribution to developing applied materialist dialectics. (See Antagonism and Stage).
During the mid to late 1980s, the CLP declared its previous outlook bankrupt and obsolete. The CLP conclusion was based on the proposition that the communist movement must adjust its policy and doctrine to conform to the line of march of the social revolution; that all revolutionary groupings change and shift from one quantitative stage to another and most certainly must change under the impact of qualitative new means of production, shifts in class relations and changes in the salient feature of the social revolution. Today the core of the CLP exists as the League of Revolutionaries for a New America.
End part 2
Part 3: League of Revolutionary Black Workers: League of Revolutionary for a New America: from league to league.
Social Change and organizations: The 1965 Watts Rebellion ushered in a new political stage in the Freedom Movement, challenging every revolutionary organization in America to adjust itself to the struggle of the “African American masses” or go out of business.
Watts signaled the black masses rejecting nonviolence and completing the encirclement of American imperialism by the colored colonial masses of the world. Watts and later Detroit in 1967 forced realignment in the social-political sphere, compelling all self-styled revolutionary groups to take heed of Leninism on the colonial question.
Revolutionary organizations come into existence based on the salient features of their material, spiritual, intellectual and political environment. Class ideology and Marxists politics mesh with a complex of class, sex, ethnic-nationality and color fact, oppressing and oppressed people; specific stage in the development of the social process and character of the fighting section of the proletariat. At each stage of the social process a revolutionary group has to adjust itself to the spontaneous movement and bring into its fold new social forces. Revolutionary groups are not military organizations marching in columns with the ability to march “right,” “left” and turn on the dime. Change comes hard for communists, who tend to become stuck in ideology and formulations of the past. The deeper subjective issue of change is the need for a revolutionary line of march and a Marxist core able to ensure sublation from one form of the movement to the next.
When the African American freedom movement broke into the open in Montgomery Alabama December 4, 1955, the Communist Party USA was unable to build its organization based on this social movement for a complex of reasons including government harassment, government attack and jailing of its members. Like most political organizations the CPUSA could not change or leap from one economic and social basis to another. Unlike a military column, it could not simply turn “left,” “right” or shift its members and resources from their base in the trade union movement to the African American freedom movement. Further, the color factor and the colonial relations of the core South confronted all of America in the context of the South to North migration.
This Second American Exodus from the South (the first was 1879 Kansas Exodus of African Americans from states along the Mississippi River to Kansas in the late nineteenth century) actually involved more whites than blacks and challenged the ethnic-national and color components of the CPUSA. The party composition changed during the era of the Comintern from a preponderance of foreign born and intellectuals to a solid base of industrial proletarians under the impact of industrial unionism. This base in the industrial trade union movement meant a core of unskilled Slavic workers, whose historical second class citizenship status as Eastern Europeans had been transferred to America.
Compounding matters was the party’s liquidation of the Leninists’ approach to the African American Question. The shift away from Leninism on the colonial question was matched with the party dismantling the party organizations in the Southern United States. These actions coincided with passage of the Taft-Hartley Act, which excluded Southern labor (the area of concentration of African Americans) from elementary legal protection against the razor edge of capital. The shift away from Leninism on the colonial question changed the attitude and orientation of the party.
The stage was being set to defeat the Communist left-wing hegemony over the African American people’s movement and shift hegemony to rightwing socialists such as A. Phillip Randolph. Randolph was a remarkable labor organization; an intellectual of gravity and density and labor leader, with politics and ideology mirroring the difference between the Socialist party and the Communist party of that period of history. That is to say, Randolph was historically cut in the cloth of Booker T. Washington rather than Dr. Dubois, with both expressing the striving of a people against lynch rope violence and discrimination.
A Philip Randolph and Baynard Rustin organized the “March on Washington Movement” (MOWM) outside the political and ideological domination of the African American Labor Councils, historically shaped and supported by the CPUSA. The MOWM lasted from 1933-1947 and was formed as a tool to organize a mass march on Washington, D.C., designed to pressure the US government into desegregating the armed forces, war industry and provide working opportunities for African Americans. Despite its name, the March on Washington Movement did not lead to an actual march on Washington during this period, as Randolph’s requests were compiled by Roosevelt.
When the CPUSA did not support Randolph’s call for a 1941 march on Washington for jobs to blacks, their actions would be attributed to the Comintern; an “international communist conspiracy” and Stalinist betrayal. It did not matter that a march on Washington by blacks would never take place in this period. The right wing socialists and ultra-leftist would declare that the CPUSA’s lack of support of the Randolph organized march was proof of their betrayal of “African American liberation,” rather than an intense struggle involving hegemony of the African American People’s Movement of that era http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_on_Washington_Movement
In the struggle for hegemony black communists organized in and around the CPUSA, opposed the ideology and policy of Mr. Randolph. Under wartime conditions the “United Front Against Fascism” policy was based on a real world coalition between Soviet Power and American imperialism, as this policy was applied in America as the Roosevelt Coalition. Mr. Randolph (notwithstanding his eloquence, intellectual brilliance and organizational skills) was part of a cabal of anti-communists, anti-Leninists and the forerunner of the kind of populist democrats that would later constitute the politics of the Nation magazine. This struggle for hegemony within labor in the black reached its decisive turning point in the 1970s during the period of the rise and fall of the New Communist Movement (NCM).
In 1963, Randolph would be the figurehead of the March on Washington, which was organized by Bayard Rustin, at which Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech. A subterranean political struggle over political hegemony had taken place spanning decades and it is this struggle and the historic defeat of the CPUSA that would create the political vacuum allowing growth of the new communist movement.
Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev anti-Stalinism campaign was launched during at the outbreak of the African American Liberation movement, splitting the Communist Party and rendering it incapable of providing leadership to this movement. On February 25, 1956, at the Soviet Communist Party’s 20th Party Congress, barely 60 days after Montgomery Alabama exploded in protest; Khrushchev delivered the “Secret Speech,” denouncing Stalin’s purges, jailing and execution of innocent people, promising to usher in a new era in the Soviet Union. Seeking to relax tension with American led imperialism Khrushchev put forth a model of collaboration with imperialism to overthrow the direct colonial system, embracing a theoretical and practical policy of Third Worldism. The third path of development was stated to be non-capitalist and non-socialist, that is, the idea that the colonies could free themselves from imperialist entrapment without overthrowing capital and without entering the orbit of Sovietism.
It is impossible for any organization or corporation to recast itself and reform itself without ridding itself of the features of a previous period. This is especially true of communist organizations. Lenin broke with the Second Communist International, and many of the new members of the Third Communist International did not agree with his vision, especially on the national-colonial question. A persist struggle was waged to explain the difference between the national question and the national-colonial and why defense of Soviet Power was to be a first consideration in weighing the international situation of the class struggle.
At any rate, the new communist movement emerged from the political vacuum created with the demise of the Comintern, Cominform and destruction of the CPUSA as relevant to American politics. Lacking connection with historical stages of struggle against revisionism of Marxism by the Leninists and the living experience of American communism shaped by the Comintern, the student organizations that sprung up during the mid and late 1960s, becoming the base of the New Communist Movement (NCM), evolved as more or less support committees of the national-colonial revolutions indistinguishable from “foreign agents” of the political state of China.
Today, one can go to the internet to access the history of the American Marxist movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The groups and individuals forming the NCM could not overcome the legacy of their birth and roots in SDS.
Consequently, the NCM could not and did not advance an American narrative and understanding of applied dialectics as social revolution in America. Nor did the NCM contribute to clarifying an organization’s line of march and the historical context for the rise and fall of revolutionary organizations. The totality of the NCM did not leave one single theoretical contribution to Marxism because it couldn’t.
Of the literature produced by the NCM Harry Haywood’s autobiography “Black Bolshevik” remains worthy of reading, if for no other reason than to understand the theoretical positions he would later repudiate. Actually, Harry plays a seminal role in American communism. By the mid1980s, the NCM had all but vanished. A general review of the literature of the new communist movement is possible using the material from the Encyclopedia of anti-Revisionism On Line. http://www.marxists.org/history/erol/erol.htm
New Communist Movement (NCM). The New Communist Movement (NCM) in America came forth as a trend within the ideological communist-Marxist movement, whose stated goals were to build a “genuine” Communist Party, able to lead the proletariat in the struggle for political power. Formed between 1968 and 1976, the NCM advocated a neo-Trotskian view of Soviet socialism and became more or less spokespersons for the political state of China and/or various political factions within the Communist Party of China.
Although the rise and fall of the NCM occurs within a ten year period, its life cycle can serve as bookmark in a historical and political period. The gigantic historical epoch is transition from agriculture to industry and stages of development of industrialism. During this epoch communists and capitalists fought for leadership of the industrial revolution – seeking socialist and capitalist political regimes respectively. This was a period of class conflict in the advanced capitalist countries; the struggle for redivision of the world by imperial powers, the rise of Soviet power and colonial revolts and wars of national liberation.
The Third Communist International (Comintern) was formed on the basis of World War I and victory of Soviet power, to protect and expand the 1917 October Revolution. The Comintern dominated the world communist movement and the Soviet party (Bolsheviks) dominated the Comintern. This last stage of industrialism ushers in the technology foundation for the evolutionary leap from industrialism (industrial mechanics or the electro-mechanical production process) to electronics and robotics. This political period closes out with the victory of the Vietnamese revolution, reunification of Vietnam and formation of a slew of “Marxist-Leninist” parties.
Just as the rise of the steam engine brings the world of the feudal lord and manufacture to an historic end in quantitative stages, the electronic revolution does not take place all at one time, as one stroke or in the blink of an eye. Qualitative change takes place quantitatively. When something fundamental to a process undergoes qualitative alteration – change – everything dependent upon that, which is fundamental must in turn change. Not all at one time but inexorably. Quantitative and qualitative change in the productive force gives rise to and calls forth new forms of the revolutionary movement. Here is the context in which the New Communist Movement is examined.
The new communist movement’s historians and chroniclers, exemplified by the “Encyclopedia of anti-Revisionism On Line” and Max Elbaum’s book “Revolution in the Air,” label the American new communist movement as third wave anti-revisionism and a form of “Third World Marxism.” Defining the NCM as “anti-revisionist” presents problems. Anti-revisionism in the post Stalin period was a political response to Nikita Khrushchev’s 1956 “Secret Speech,” condemning Stalin for all real and perceived ills of Soviet society. The Khrushchev “revelations” became the form of the split in the post-Comintern world communist movement. In America the Provisional Organizing Committee to Reconstitute the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party in the United States (POC) was formed by members of the Communist Party USA in August 1958, in response to Khrushchev’s lies and his revisionism. (See “Khrushchev Lied” by Grover Furr, Erythos Press and Media, LLC, Corrected Edition, July 2011.)
The neo-Trotskian new communist point of view stated the Khrushchev clique overthrew Soviet socialism by political fiat (literally by saying it was so) and converted the Soviet state into an imperialist state “more dangerous than the American imperial state.” These propositions were variations of the Trotskian notion of the “Stalinist betrayal of Revolution” and hence, neo-Trotskian. After the 1977 publication of “Socialism in the Soviet Union” by Jonathan Aurthur, the neo-Trotskians abandoned this claim. (See “Revolution in the Air,” Max Elbaum, page 244, “A Slowly Shifting Balance.”)
Roots of the New Communist Movement:
The early American foot soldiers of the new communist movement were the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). SDS developed from the Student League for Industrial Democracy (SLID), the youth branch of a socialist educational organization known as the League for Industrial Democracy (LID). LID descended from the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, started in 1905. On January 1, 1960, SLID changed its name to Students for a Democratic Society, holding its first meeting on the University of Michigan campus at Ann Arbor, Michigan. Its political manifesto, known as the Port Huron Statement, criticized the political system of the United States for failing to achieve international peace and critiqued Cold War foreign policy, the threat of nuclear war, and the arms race. In domestic matters, it criticized racial discrimination, economic inequality, big businesses, trade unions and political parties and called for “participatory democracy.”
The SDS set the stage for formation of the “New Left.” The “New Left” inherited the anti-fascist and anti-communist democratic ideology of the “old left” generated by American-Soviet cooperation in world war two. The term “New Left” was popularized in 1960 as a counter culture, anti-establishment and anti-Marxist trend arguing that the Left-wing of bourgeois politics should answer the needs of students and ignore the proletariat. One SDS publication stated that “the revolution may come from the universities after all if Berkeley is any indication.” A 1967 pamphlet, The Student as Nigger, attempted to cast students as a marginalized class.
This was the period of victory of neo-colonialism, the era of the Sino-Soviet split and the final victory of the Vietnamese Revolution. The primary groups constituting America’s new communist movement did not evolve from the Third Communist International and its offshoots.
End of part 3
Part 4: League of Revolutionary Black Workers: League of Revolutionary for a New America: from league to league.
Dialectics of development of the Communist League: Formed during the era of the New Communist Movement (NCM), but distinct from it, was the Communist League (CL) and later the Communist Labor Party (CLP).
Elbaum’s “Revolution in the Air,” pages 103 and 104 attributes the difference between Communist League and the “new communists” to the CL’s allegiance to “pre-1956 Stalin,” its rejection of the idea of a “new communist movement” and finally:
“The fact that a veteran of the ‘Old’ communist movement led CL, while the top leaders of the other formations were from the 1968 generation, crystallized these differences. For all these reasons there was a certain distance between CL and the other groups, individuals and informal circles that made up the emerging new Leninists trend.”
“Most new generation communists shared the perspective of Red Papers 1, which placed Lenin and Mao in the top rank of revolutionary leaders and accepted Stalin mainly because he was seen as a linking the two.”
There is truth in Elbaum’s observation. “Old” communist movement means the one founded by Marx and Engel and continued by Lenin and the Comintern. What in fact does Red Papers 1 say concerning its own evolution?
“Our own history is worth telling. About 10 months ago, a handful of us got together on the following basis: we were activists and having read some of Mao’s works considered ourselves to be generally in that camp. A few of us had experience in the communist movement, but, in the main, we were products of the recent mass upsurges in the country. As a group our understanding was not high, but our determination was. We consciously stressed the activist side of struggle. We believed, and experience has shown, that, given a desire to “serve the people”, and a revolutionary spirit and daring, cadre will emerge in the course of the struggle, and theory will be more intimately connected with practice. We began with sharp differences, and we still are not completely united. But we have made progress, have expanded our struggles, and have tried to sum up our experiences: what you are reading is a beginning in that direction.” http://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ncm-1/red-papers-1/against.htm
Red Paper 1 was issued in the spring of 1969, which would indicate that ten months earlier when “a handful of us got together” was spring of 1968. The difference between the Communist League and the new communists groups was not the pantheon of Marxism with its deity like figures, where one prefers Lenin over Marx and Stalin over Mao or Mao over Lenin and Stalin. These figures represent distinct historical periods, as does the new communist movement.
The American new communist movement grew out of the “Old Left” as this old left became the “New Left” under the impact of the Students for a Democratic society (SDS) and its rightwing ideological parents in the League for Industrial Democracy. SDS is appropriately named as a student movement on college campuses, rather than a general proletarian youth movement consisting of the 1968 generation. Many of these students would be drawn to the orbit of Marxism based on the last stage of the anti-colonial revolutions, Mao Zedong Thought and Maoism, rather than the history of American Marxism.
Organized and inspired by the 1965 Watts Rebellion, the Communist League was founded as the California Communist League (CCL) with roots in the Provisional Organizing Committee (POC). Watts was a turning point, a new stage in the social struggle with the black masses entering into combat with the state power.
“Relying on the institutionalized white chauvinism of the Party, the new set of liquidators and revisionists attacked the Party at its weakest link. The Party in the South and in Puerto Rico were illegally dissolved in 1949. The broadly based and militant African American Labor Councils were dissolved and a real purge was launched against the African American members and workers in general. The Party’s roles fell drastically. In the confused situation, a number of groupings came together. Factionalism again broke out as a legal style of work in the Party. Foster again emerged as the leader of the biggest group that had the gall to call themselves the consistent Left caucus, as against the openly liquidationist groupings around Gates, Dennis, etc. After the formation of the various groupings, a core of Marxists-Leninists arose that was quickly dubbed the ultra-left. This caucus had members from across the country and had a relatively firm grasp on Marxism.
“At the 16th Convention of the CP.U.S.A. in 1954, it was obvious that the Party was fractured beyond repair, but the politicking inside the Party continued. The 17th convention in 1958 came out fully for revisionism. Also by that time it was apparent that the revisionism of the CP.U.S.A. was an adjunct of the Khrushchev revisionists in the U.S.S.R. Overwhelmed by national and international revisionism, the Marxists left the Party in droves. The organized caucuses disbanded or were expelled. The ultra-left caucus withdrew from the Party under its policy of disengagement and on Labor Day 1958 formed the Provisional Organizing Committee to reconstitute a Marxist-Leninist Communist Party in the United States. They issued a paper named the Vanguard which contained a statement of principles and set about organizing themselves. With the formation of the POC, the development of the revolutionary movement within the United States of North America reached a new qualitative level. Whereas the POC began as a Marxist caucus within the Party, the normal course of developments soon placed it in a position as opposing the revisionism of the Party – from the outside of the Party. Thus the struggle against revisionism ceased to be an internal phenomenon and became external, thus allowing for a further development of the movement.
“A few other groupings sprang up after the 17th Convention of the Party. Amongst these were ‘Hammer and Steel’ and the phony movement, the Progressive Labor Movement. Both of these groups moved quickly to the right and took a Trotskyite position.
“The POC started out with about 400 members, the majority of these being professionals who were out of the Party apparatus and wanted back in. Mickey Lima and the whole West Coast organization quickly deserted the POC. The sailors and the East Coast Waterfront section soon followed. Left-wing errors in dealing with the struggle against revisionism reduced the Cleveland organization from 45 to 2 in a period of several months. By the summer of 1959, The POC was reduced to a hard core grouping of Puerto Rican and African American Communists and a handful of Anglo-American Communists. http://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ncm-1/ccl-dialectics.htm
“Marxism shows us how, in the development of thought, as well as in reality in the struggle that produces a synthesis, the negative is negated, it is not abolished. Thus it is impossible for anything to develop without bringing with it the legacy of its birth. Thus it was with the POC.
“. . . . During the historic uprising in Watts, Laski and Hoffman were thoroughly exposed as agents of intrigue and were expelled from the POC. Laski was able to pull the Frisco section out with him. This group under an African American adventurer named Sherman, soon disappeared from view. Laski joined up with first one and then another group of adventurers of black nationalists, but was increasingly isolated from the movement. By 1969, he retired from politics, opened up a trucking firm and two apartment buildings in the Vermont area of Los Angeles.
“By 1967, it was apparent, that the POC while appearing to take a turn to the left, was taking a serious turn to the right. They began a policy of searching for the roots of revisionism and like the PLP found these roots to be with Stalin, Dimitrov, the 7th World Congress of the CI, and then took steps to throw Mao in for good measure. These steps were resisted on the West Coast.
“Contact between the POC and San Pedro group of Marxists was made. This group had a small but solid base among the militant and radicals in the San Pedro Area.
“The Labor day 1968 POC Conference in New York, spelt the end of a period. By that time, the POC was narrowed down to a clique of ex-Puerto Rican nationalists, small groupings of African American comrades and the immediate family ties of the comrades. By that time, the POC had completed the turn and now it was thoroughly disgusted with the Anglo-American working class; it held the Trotskyite position on the Soviet Revolution and it was increasingly steeped with hatred for the leadership of the Revolution, especially Mao, whom they labeled as the chief revisionist.
“The California delegation could not resist, but did not join in the denunciation of Stalin and Mao. Armando Roman had completed the transformation into an outright scab. The New York Times gleefully reprinted pages from the Vanguard where Roman exposed the confidential discussions that had been held with certain U.N. delegations. The social degeneracy at the top of the organization was open and defended.
“Registering some 42 members some ten years after disengagement from the Party, and clearly seeing that they were hopelessly isolated from the working class, the POC declared itself a Party and took the name, American Workers Communist Party. Armando Roman, as General Secretary and Harold Allen, who was now suffering from alcoholism was named Chairman.
“Shortly after the California delegation returned to Los Angeles, Roman secretly withdrew the Puerto Rican comrades and without charges or a trial expelled the California group.
“The small collective in Los Angeles struggled hard to hold itself together and to strike out on its own, dumping the Trotskyite and petite bourgeois nationalist orientation that had been imposed on it. The collective called a small conference to evaluate the situation and to form the California Communist League. This basic collective was joined by the San Pedro grouping.
“The CCL was thrown into immediate conflict with certain groups, especially the Bay Area Revolutionary Union. Out of these beginning struggles the line began to emerge. The basic question of building the mass movement or building a core of communist cadre was settled; the line on the African American and National Question emerged with some difficult struggle within and around the organization.
“Contact was made with a large grouping of mainly ex-SDS militants who were studying the Thought of Mao Tse Tung. Their leading group was recruited into the CCL. With this expanded base, May Day 1969 was held in conjunction with this grouping which called itself the Marxist-Leninist Workers Association. Out of the highly enthusiastic meeting came plans to merge the two groups. This merger took place in Feb. 1970. Now the CCL had the necessary base to start an aggressive program of expansion. As the financial and cadre demands have grown, the Communist League has sent organizers to the San Francisco Bay area, the Chicago area and New York where collectives are stabilizing themselves. http://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ncm-1/ccl-dialectics.htm
The CCL grew out of the history of American Marxism, in its struggle for a revolutionary line of march and to discover the form of the American Revolution.
“The Communist League was built from the revolutionary and socialist processes in the USNA, as pointed out in the pamphlet, Dialectics of the Development of the Communist League, reprinted in the “North American News Service,” Dec. 15, 1972. The CL has developed from the struggle against revisionism in this country from many different angles. First, of all, many of the leaders of the CL at the present time were previously members of the CPUSA. After the Party was liquidated in 1944, they struggled against the revisionism of the CPUSA and for the reconstitution of the Party. But the Marxists were not successful because the 16th convention of the Communist Party showed that it had reached a stage of no return where the party itself could not be reconstituted. It was the struggle of the Communist caucus in the Communist Party at that time that lead to the development of the Provisional Organizing Committee (POC) when the revisionists kicked out the Marxists in 1959. As of today, the CL has followed through with this struggle against revisionism and we are developing and bringing into the organization real dedicated young communists. The party that we are going to build in the USNA will be a multi-national communist party and it will be a young party.
“It has to be a young party because nearly 80% of the USNA working class right now is young. That is precisely where the communist party will be getting most of its forces from, not from the campus ground. We know many students will leave the campuses; many students on the campuses are workers and will become dedicated communists. These working class students will get jobs and later become members of the multi-national communist party and they are absolutely welcome. But we are not going to try to confuse the youth or confuse the students on the campus ground and tell them that they are capable of leading the working class. (See “The Dialectics of the Development of the Communist League”
1972 at: http://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ncm-1/ccl-dialectics.htm)
Rather than a personal assessment and personal summation, Peery builds upon, actually sublates rather than rejects William Z. Foster’s “History of the Communist Party of the United States New York” International Publishers, 1952, and “History of the Three Internationals; the world socialist and communist movements from 1848 to the present,” New York : International Publishers 1955. Peery departs from Foster’s summations and conclusions providing critical insight into the populist and anarcho-syndicalist trend within American communism, and offered a new generation of revolutionaries a richer and deeper understanding of the proletarian revolution and African American Question and social revolution in the United States.
Peery subjected Foster’s theoretical framework to a Marxist modality taught to “us” . . . pardon . . . shaped by the Comintern, rather than European Social Democracy, the outlook of the Second International, legal Marxism west or east or the counterrevolutionary ideological strivings of mad hatter Trotskyism. Foster dug into American history and imported the “theory” of blacks constituting a “nation within a nation” into Marxism.
In American history, the concept of “nation within a nation” was pioneered and articulated by Martin L. Delany, as he carried out his work as abolitionist, journalist, physician and the first African-American field officer in the United States Army during the American Civil War. Delany was arguably what we would today call the first proponent of American Black Nationalism.
From the standpoint of Leninism, nations – which are essentially economic institutions in which human will express itself – do not exist within other nations. What is being described is the existence of one or several nations, oppressed ethnic-nationality groups, advanced national groups and non-sovereign peoples within a multinational state. “Nation within nation” is a non-Marxist pre-modern imperialism description of the relationship between oppressing and oppressed peoples rather than simply exploited and exploiting classes.
According to Perry’s NNCQ (African American National Colonial Question) the misunderstanding of the “African American Question” and role of the African American in the American proletariat revolution is not reducible to ideological “white racism” but has its taproot in the formation of our industrial working class from European immigrants and the peculiar phenomena of the color factor in history.
“Until the late 1920’s the Anglo American proletariat was formed primarily from the importation of German, Irish, Italian and Slavic workers. It is only natural that the struggle of these workers should be couched in the framework of the struggles within their native lands. There is no African American question in Germany or Poland, so it is only natural that these immigrants many of them revolutionaries – would disregard the burning African American Question. And it is only natural that the capitalist class would recognize this abnormal situation and take advantage of it. We Anglo-American revolutionaries have a terrible debt to pay to history. We must begin by clarifying history and taking it out of the hands of the capitalist class and making it into a weapon of the proletariat. This is the basic reason for this document.” Nelson Peery, Negro National Colonial Question Introduction 1975.
Peery describes the best of times and the worse of time and the way we were, evolving as history American brand. This description is legacy and what separated the NCM from the evolution of American Marxism as an organization. Deploying Marx approach and method in presenting “Dialectics of Development” as a public document was met with scorn and contempt from elements within the new communist movement, unable to sublate their bourgeois democratic heritage.
“New American Marxist Glossary” exposition on “contradiction and antagonism” is based on a “Draft Report from the Standing Committee of the Communist Labor Party (CLP) June 1989.” The entry on “Process,” “Quantity and Quality” is also based on “Draft Report” which was slightly edited as Nelson Peery’s 1993 “Entering an Epoch of Social Revolution.”
“Reform to Revolution” and the definition of “reform” were hammered out in the CLP, as well as the concept “line of march.” Glossary presentation of “polarity” and “polarization” are an American interpretation, describing the movement of contradiction and antagonism. A clear exposition of polarity and polarization as applied dialectics appeared in Vol. 19, No. 4 of the LRNA Newsletter page 5, “Report of the LRNA Standing Committee, July 2012.” An edited version appeared as “Solving the Riddle of History” in Rally Comrades! September-October 2012. http://rallycomrades.lrna.org/2012/09/solving-the-riddle-of-history/
“Electronics” and “electronics revolution” is understood as defined in Nelson Peery’s “Revolutionary Change in America” 1996.
The presentation of the issue of “abundance” is bound to raise eyebrows, as does the question of the “division of labor” and its destruction and the “destruction of value.”
Socialism is defined as a transition economy between capitalism and communism rather than the first stage of communism. Soviet socialism and economic socialism of the past century is called “industrial socialism.” The theory problem Glossary addressed is the question of “quality” and the “dialectic of the leap.” One cannot build socialism up quantitatively and on the basis of this quantitative enhancements leap to communism. Society cannot leap to communist economy from industrial socialism based on quantitative development of industrialism, even under condition of a world dictatorship of the proletariat. Proletarian rule is necessary for the revolutionary advance to communism but is not sufficient to realize communist economy.
Industrial socialism is a different quality from communist economy and a communist mode of production. To achieve the first stage of the quality that is communist economy (communist mode of production) a revolution in the means of production is required or what is the same, a qualitative change in the productive forces; robotics. Glossary takes the position that industrial socialism was not the first stage or any stage of a communist mode of production. Rather than a first stage of a communist mode of production, socialism as an economic institution was a transition economy between the bourgeois mode of commodity production and communist mode of production. Politically, the transition era is characterized as the dictatorship of the proletariat.
What is needed is a modern subjective understanding of the modern objective communist movement created and given life by the electronic revolution. In the meaning and context of qualitative change in the means of production, the new communist movement of the 1970’s (no matter what its perceived and real strengths and weaknesses) would still have “gone out of business” and been compelled to reorganize itself based on a new doctrine of social revolution due to robotics and the electronic revolution.
In reviewing the literature of the new communist movement, the Communist League was singled out for the most vicious kinds of attacks, insults and name calling owing to the color factor. This name calling smacks of the manipulation of the political police. Revolutionaries should learn from this history and temper their polemics so as not to open the door to police manipulation.
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Notes on League of Revolutionary Black Workers (LRBW)
Reprinted from Marxist-Leninist-List mailing list Marxist-Leninist-List@greenhouse.economics.utah.edu October 16, 2012
The notes on League of Revolutionary Black Workers (LRBW) and the new communist movement, was sent to this list as a narrative by one involved in the events described. These notes are meant to correct and add substance to “Detroit, I Do Mind Dying” and present a different point of view of the events described in Max Elbaum’s “Revolution in the Air.”
When Elbaum’s book was first published in 2002, I believe myself to be the first person to write a general on-line review of it for the Marxism list. “Revolution in the Air” is a first and first-rate study setting the stage for the Encyclopedia of Anti- Revisionism on line. “Revolution in the Air” is much broader than the notes of the league of revolutionary black workers. Both books ought to be a part of every revolutionary’s library.
The internet and list such as this change things.
Naming names as “who was there.”
This material sent in under the name “Waistline” is not my individual point of view, although the narrative – how the story is told – is personal. “Notes” express the general viewpoint of people intimately involved in the social movement between 1960 and 1975. I have in mind General Baker Jr. the heart and soul of DRUM and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers; John Williams, Marion Kramer Baker, Alonzo Chandler, William Mitchell, Marshal Lynn Battle, Cassandra Smith, Tawana Chandler, Professor John Bracey, Maureen Taylor, Sandra Stewart and Cassandra Ford.
Mike Hamilin, a founder of LRBW and later leading figure of the Black Workers Congress is scheduled to make a presentation this week on the LRBW in place of General due to General’s medical circumstances. Mike is an old comrade and friend that was a part of the events spoken of in Detroit, I Do Mind Dying.” Then of course this list included Chuck Wooten who departed from the flesh a year ago. All of these individuals were founders of the old League of Revolutionary Black Workers and took part in DRUM to one degree or another.
There is Muhammad Ahmad (Maxwell Stanford, Jr.) founder and organizer of RAM (revolutionary action movement) whose 2007 “We will return in the Whirlwind: Black Radical Organizations 1960 – 1975” (Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company) presents a unique narrative of the Civil Rights Movement. The historical record must include Muhammad Ahmad as a member of the LRBW due to his connections through RAM. Individuals held membership in RAM and the LRBW simultaneously. Card carrying members of the LRBW and RAM did not actually carry membership cards and one became a member of RAM by being recruited by a RAM member and told they were drafted into the organization. This connection through simultaneous membership is an interesting story made manifest in very different way in Cleveland Ohio. Cleveland Ohio is a story for later.
“We will return in the Whirlwind” Chapter five, “LRBW – League of Revolutionary Black Workers” – is the most comprehensive treatment and narrative of the groups and individuals involved in the Detroit scene leading to formation of the LRBW. Ahmad is not merely a Marxist, scholar and revolutionary contesting the historical-scholarly assessment of blacks in the labor movement and evolution of the American communist movement, but a personal friend and comrade present in the events he describes. On page 275, Ahmad quotes a cadre of the LRBW, from an unpolished manuscript, commenting on the split in the group and writing under the synonym J.W. Freeman. This quote is mine and the unpolished manuscript is from the mid-1980.
John Bracey’s “Introduction” to “We will return in the Whirlwind” continues his decades of scholarly work documenting the social movement and making historical material available to every generation. When the old LRBW was formed very little material existed in the public domain concerning “labor in the black.” Bracey’s individual work and collaboration with the famed professor August A. Meier carry the work of the revolutionary workers into academia and altered the narrative of American history. Bracey remains a wonderful human being, man, comrade and teacher and forever member of the fraternity that is the LRBW as we change ourselves in the era of electronic production and robotic wars of capital. http://www.bookfinder.com/author/john-h-bracey/
Proletarians of all countries Unite!