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 Racism had tactical significance for 15 years after the Bolshevik revolution.

The Soviet Union needed the support of Black people to survive.

(Remember how they feted Claude McKay and George Padmore, etc.). 

So Stalin gave practical support to the struggles of Black people



Marxism Irrelevant?

By Aduku Addae


As a precaution I must disassociate myself from Marx because such as I am about to deliver cannot do justice to the encyclopedic breadth, depth, and height of this man's intellect.  Generations of much more capable men than myself have struggled to decipher the knowledge that he gained in his lifetime. I would be the worst fraud to attempt to link my endeavor with his name.

In speaking of matters related to the struggle of the working class against dispossession, economic exploitation and social oppression I must make something clear; I am not a member of any sectarian Marxist cult.  I am none of these things: Marxist-Leninist, Trotskyist, Stalinist, and Maoist.  I have no party and I do not have a mass following. And for those who are afraid of ghosts, I am not Marcus Garvey, come back to haunt your souls, in the whirlwind.   Nevertheless I hope that those I am attempting to prod awake will not be frightened into disparaging me in this outrageous manner: "Dont tell me, let me guess. A voice from the Meadowlands (the Trot races), a case of Diarrhea (the runs, the Trots), CIA proprietary, a LaRouche douche bag,  or just short brained and ill."  This kind of thing "does violence" to any civilized effort to debate serious questions.  Such an assault moves me to cuss rass. And when I cuss rass I am a hair's breadth away from a fisticuff.  This is why, as a matter of principle, I avoid Marxists. They come across as arrogant farts that are self-possessed and wholly impressed by the size of their anal vocabularies. And that just pisses me off.

Further, I disassociate myself from the “religious” sects of Marxism to possess myself of the license to speak irresponsibly, even foolishly, but especially irreverently.  I proceed in this manner in the hope that the alert listener (reader) will "pick sense outta nonsense" as the old Caribbean adage exhorts.  I am going to speak far more boldly than I am accustomed to, for, I am utterly convinced that the old feet (not head) and the “greybacks'” have not gained any wisdom in spite of all the years that passed them by.

Someone said to me recently "Marxism was an appropriate tool for the industrial age. But, at least, I have misgivings about its continued effectiveness in the post-industrial era." It moved me to preaching on the subject.

Marxism is a peculiar theology.  It ranks up there with Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and those "isms" which purport to offer a cure for universal evil.  It is the modern church replete with its prophets and saints, scribes and Pharisees, denominations, clergy and congregations. Its description as "an appropriate tool for the industrial age" is apt only in the context of a pronouncement on the appropriateness of cultic religious organizations and institutions to the social context of the "industrial age." The existence of these institutions validates their “appropriateness.” People always need something to lean on, some kind of crutch, or, opiate to lessen the sting of life.  Misgivings about "its [Marxism's] continued effectiveness in the post-industrial era" is part of the general misgivings that 21st century people have about the other branches of religion. The question can be answered by taking a look at how other religions are faring. Religion is doing great.  Marxism is faring only slightly less good. It is alive and ready to assault the people with its message of redemption.

I have a dire prediction to make. Marxism will join the other religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism) in one grand apocalyptic struggle – in the battle of the "beasts" and bigots. (Now that's going to piss off some Marxists!).

Germane to the question of Marxism's relevance is the matter of the class struggle.  How will Marxism influence the class struggle?  In its many misguided currents Marxism has shown a capacity for regimentation and inflexible hierarchical structure in organization.  Its proselytizing technique (characteristic of evangelicals) and mastery of propagandist methods will produce legions of converts to carry forward their crusade as they surge into prominence on the upsurge of the tidal wave of the struggles to come.  The sectarian nature of their program will, however, prove their undoing. The Marxists are going to destroy each other over difference in "political line." 

We saw the prologue to their demise in Stalin's purges, in the blood orgy of the Khmer Rouge and in my favorite Caribbean farce, the Grenadian  “revolution” (where, it must be remembered, Bernard Coard initiated a coup detat that cost the life of his (former) friend and comrade, Maurice Bishop).  The destiny of the Marxist dogmatists is sealed in pathetic dog-eat-dog self-destruction.  In terms of the class struggle, the Marxist will have a costly, diversionary and destructive influence. They will give in the future what they have given in the past, blood and mayhem.

Yet the class struggle will go on. The workers will wade through the sectarian bullshit to the essential kernel of Marx's theoretical insights thereby equipping themselves with the tools to fully, and unconditionally, liberate themselves.  The proletarian revolution is a social act not the sectarian practice of a bunch of self-possessed and misguided morons. So, when I am asked if Marxism is irrelevant, I answer unequivocally in the affirmative.  Marxism is irrelevant to the final outcome of the class struggle. It is not the working class movement and it is not the embodiment of the consciousness of the proletariat.

Marx's work, however, is indispensable. I hope the distinction is clear.

Black people hold an old peeve that Marxism-Leninism never effectively dealt with the question of racism. There are many instances, they say, particularly in the United States, where the Communist Party, Trotskyites, and Stalinist organizations have insisted on putting the class struggle before the struggle against racism. They are absolutely right.  The Marxist-Leninist have never effectively dealt with the question of racism. And they have steadfastly insisted on putting the class struggle ahead of the struggle against racism.

Well, here's the deal. Racism divides workers. Marxists perceive that the immediate concern in the struggle against capital is to get workers to unite. It is hard to argue with this imperative. You would think, therefore, that they would want to struggle against this source of division to heal the breach within the ranks of the proletariat in the effort to unite them against capital. The Marxist strategy instead allowed this breach to fester.  This is totally inconsistent with the stated objective (unity in the ranks of the proletariat). They are either imbeciles or they had an ulterior motive.

We have to give unto Cesar what is Cesar's. Racism had tactical significance for 15 years after the Bolshevik revolution. The Soviet Union needed the support of Black people to survive. (Remember how they feted Claude McKay and George Padmore, etc.).  So Stalin gave practical support to the struggles of Black people until the rise of Hitler and the Nazi regime. Subsequently, under the threat of a militarized Germany, he bartered away his support for the anti-colonialist struggle, and for so-called African self-determination in the USA, to the colonial powers for support against the Nazi threat.  This abandonment of the "racial struggle" was, at that time at least, perceived as a purely tactical consideration.  The racist dogmatists who populated the Marxists parties, however, codified it as part of the Marxist-Leninist script for the duration of the cold war.

Black people have to own up to a few things in this matter though. Racism was put on the back burner of the socialist agenda here in the USA principally because Black people have always been an insignificant element in the ranks of left wing parties.  They could not force an anti-racist mandate in these rigidly centralist and racist organizations in such small numbers as they occupied the ranks. When Black people become the backbone of workers' organizations, or, better still, form their own workers' organizations they can place the anti-racist struggle at the top of the agenda, if they so desire. 

It must be said that Black communists have always spoken against the racist attitudes of their white comrades and against the institution of racism in the wider society.  They have done so valiantly at every juncture in history. If their efforts have not been noticed it is because there has been so few of them. (You know how we say it: Hard enough to be black, don't need to be red. Can't blame a brother for that.)
Having said all of the preceding, I must go on to say that the "racial struggle" is essentially diversionary. Struggling against racism is like struggling against Willie Lynch's ghost.  It is a total waste of time. Once black people wake up to the true cause of their condition, and begin to LEAD the fight against capital, the race question will be solved. The race question is intricately tied up with the unique socio-economic condition of Black people in America, which condition places them at the bottom of the proverbial barrel. Racism cannot survive the upheaval of a revolution made from the bottom up because, as we know, this implies the most radical and comprehensive transformation of social relations.

There is another dimension to this peevish charge. Addressing the "question of racism" implies a scientific theoretic investigation into the social, historical, and economic essence of the phenomenon that is racism.  The Marxists (most varieties) failed to render a thoroughgoing critique of racism and they still find themselves subscribing to the metaphoric and mythological notions characteristic of conventional wisdom in their attempts to deal with the subject.  

An essay, "Critique of The Black Nation Thesis," written by a group called Racism Research Project, self-identified as "Marxist," both accuses and redeems the Marxist from this failure. The essay, available on the Internet at, through the most incisive argumentation demolishes the aforementioned thesis and deliver a stunning critique of racism.  This essay uncovers the essence of the matter in declaring that  "racial formation is a forceful dispossession-disinheritance imposed on a segment of the population for the purpose of rationalizing the systematic denial of certain benefits of social development."  

It goes on further (in a footnote) to make the critical observation that "the overthrow of racism will involve the abolition of racial categories by denying them of their socio-economic base."  The struggle against racism is identical to the struggle against capitalist subjugation. 

The insistence on putting the "class struggle ahead of the struggle against racism" is a rank misconception.  The notion that these are distinctive struggles, and that there is a need to assign priority, derives from the failure to render the problem to thoroughgoing critical analysis.  There is absolutely no basis for differentiation. The struggle is one.   

There is a popular notion that holds that the industrial proletariat has diminished in numbers and strength.  This notion is fed by a deep-seated despair that has taken hold of workers worldwide. The fear is that if the industrial proletariat has diminished and continues to diminish then the vision of an impending clash between workers and capitalist is a losing proposition for the proletariat.  This scenario is not the apocalypse that it is made out to be.

Contrary to such intimations the "post-industrial" proletariat has not diminished in numbers. Proletarians have increased phenomenally. Their numbers have increased in the service trades across the globe. Moreover, globalization and its handmaiden, the WTO, have displaced the rural peasantry in Africa, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Where once there was an overworked peasantry there is now a hungry and idle proletariat. This proletariat is only momentarily powerless. A change is in the offing. 

Here is how you can recognize the signs. In the USA "white collar jobs" are taking flight diffusing across the border in the trail of the millions of blue-collar jobs that had gone before. An interesting dynamic emerges. Political labor has its interest tied up with keeping jobs at home. Capital, driven by the profit motive, has its interest tied up with the incessant search for cheaper labor.  This is an unhealthy tension in the labor-political union. Workers worldwide are beginning to understand that their interest is best served by gaining the same kind of mobility which capital has secured for itself. As soon as American workers begin to chase the jobs that are leaving America for foreign countries and immigration barriers in these countries become an impediment to "American interest" the changes will come. Big labor (the corrupt unions) is going to see to it.

Commentators have bemoaned the decline in worker militancy.  They point to the fact that in the service industry, the fastest growing employer of American labor, there is an absence of organizational structure and leadership.  The service sector is still very much a cottage industry. They are low value added and low wage operations. The labor force in this sector is transient, comprised of workers who are basically stopping over on their way through college, or, who are simply biding their time until they can find better jobs. The commentators offer a bleak prognosis; the promised battle between labor and capital is not in the offing. Well good, for, there is much work to be done.

The commentators contrast these workers to the telecommunications workers who enjoy much more stable long-term arrangements. Their highly skilled in-demand-labor affords them leverage to press their demands against management. They are militant but it is also said that they show no sense of class solidarity. The reason, of course, is that their bread is buttered and they are happy. This is not cause for despair.

The commentators see greater gloom when they look at the workers in the computer industry.  It is said that among these workers there reigns all kind of petit bourgeoisie tendencies, reactionary, as well as progressive trends. This is the petit-bourgeois-worker manifesting vacillating tendencies, reflecting in thoughts and actions the condition of his being. The computer industry is in a state of volatility -- one day a worker the next a petty capitalist. This sort of situation breeds schizophrenic tendencies. People don't know what side they are standing on, so they have to act accordingly. This is really nothing to fear.

There is light, however, at the end of the tunnel.  Concentration in the service trade as capital goes in search of profit will bring in its train larger groups of workers and the concomitant worker organizations and leadership. Competition from outside the country will drive the telecommunications workers to solidarity with other workers on a national scale. And there is even now a sorting out of the roles in the computer industry. That was part of what the dot-com bust was about.  The capitalist and workers are finding their respective roles.

Working class apathy finds its reflection in the totally corrupt and at times outright reactionary trade unions. The unions have declined into dues collecting machines and are collectively the appendage of a political party.  In essence, therefore, the working class in the USA is completely bereft of organizational representation.  There is no working class agenda just political expediency, graft, and compromise between big business and union management.  

This co-optation of the workers traditional organ of struggle sets in train a continuous process of erosion of the safeguards against inhuman conditions of labor.  As the labor conditions deteriorate and regresses to a state comparable to 19th century Europe the radical tendencies of that age may well re-emerge. Naked persecution invariably provokes intense resistance.  Where the unions are absent, or, negotiation precluded, rebellion is the proven alternative. One way or another the struggle goes on.

It is often lamented that there exists no national black working class organization with real anti-capitalist agenda and that there is a widening gap between the black middle and working classes. The widening gap between the black middle and working classes reflects the worldwide trend of differentiation between the "haves and the have-nots." A national working class organization can hardly be far off.  The anti-capitalist agenda is unavoidable. It is a global historical imperative.  There is no alternative

More than at any other time in history, capital is now identifiable as the scourge of society.  The communist boogieman is gone and "terrorism" is not living up to expectations as an enemy of "democracy."   The rapacious nature of capital is laid bare in the draconian structural adjustment programs of the IMF and World Bank that have been foisted on people all over the world. And now that the repressive and militaristic reflexes of capital have kicked in, and murder for profit has commenced in full view of the world, the workers' reflexes, which drives them to mass organization, is kicking in. The worldwide anti-war protest is indicative of this.  The tide is rising.  The question is, is Black people ready to LEAD? 

*   *   *   *   *

African Revolutions

       By  Mukoma wa Ngugi

Her womb pressed against the desert to bear the parasite

that eats her insides like termites drill into dry wood. 

He is born into an empty bowl, fist choking umbilical cord. 

She dies sighing, child son at last.  He couldn't have known,


instinct told him - always raise your arm in defense of your

own -Strike! Strike until they are all dead! Egg shells

in your hands milk bottle held between your toes,

you have been anointed twice, you strong enough to kill


at birth and survive.  You will want to name the world

after yourself but you will have no name- a collage of dead

roots, tongues and other things.  You will point your sword

to the center of the earth, duel the world to split into perfect


mirrors after your imperfect  mutations but you will be

too weak having latched your self onto too many streams

straddling too many continents, pulling patches of a self

as one does fruits from an from an orchard, building a home


of planks with many faces. How does one look into a mirror

with a face that washes clean every rainy season? 

He has an identity for every occasion - here he is Lenin

 there Jesus and yesterday Marx - inflexible truths inherited


without roots.  To be nothing to remain nothing, to kill

at birth - such love can only drink from our wrists.  We

storming from our past to Jo'Burg eating wisdom of others

building homes made of our grandparent's bones.  We


gathering momentum that eats out of our earth, We standing

pens and bullets hurled at you, your enemies.  Comrade, there

are many ways to die. A dog dies never having known

why it lived but a free death belongs to a life lived in roots,


roots not afraid of growing where they stand, roots tapped all over

the earth. Comrade, for a tree to grow, it must first own its earth.

Source: Zeleza

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The Slave Ship

By Marcus Rediker

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Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues

                                                         By Ida Cox

I hear these women raving 'bout their monkey men
About their fighting husbands and their no good friends
These poor women sit around all day and moan
Wondering why their wandering papas don't come home
But wild women don't worry, wild women don't have the blues.

Now when you've got a man, don't ever be on the square
'Cause if you do he'll have a woman everywhere
I never was known to treat no one man right
I keep 'em working hard both day and night
because wild women don't worry, wild women don't have no blues.

I've got a disposition and a way of my own
When my man starts kicking I let him find another home
I get full of good liquor, walk the streets all night
Go home and put my man out if he don't act right
Wild women don't worry, wild women don't have no blues

You never get nothing by being an angel child
You better change your ways and get real wild
I wanna tell you something, I wouldn't tell you no lie
Wild women are the only kind that ever get by
Wild women don't worry, wild women don't have no blues.

 Born Ida Prather,25 February 1896 in Toccoa, Habersham County, Georgia, United States. Died 10 November 1967 (aged 71) Genres Jazz, Blues Instruments Vocalist.

*   *   *   *   *

Hunger for a Black President  / Introduction I Write What I Like

Biko Biosketch   Biko Speaks on Africans

*   *   *   *   *

Fourth World Essays

Afro-America & The Fourth World 

The Black Middle Class & a Political Party of the Poor  (essay)

Dark Child of the Fourth World  

The Fourth World and the Marxists

The Fourth World: In the Belly of the Beast

New Orleans: The American Nightmare

On the Fourth World: Black Power, Black Panthers, and White Allies

Why I Support the Latino Demonstrators


Other Fourth World Essays

African America A Fourth World  (Waldron H. Giles)

Dark Child of the Fourth World Reaches Out   (Dennis Leroy Moore)

Fourth World Introduction (M.P. Parameswaran)

 Fourth World: Marxist, Gandhian, Environmentalist  (M.P. Parameswaran)

The Fourth World Multiculturalism (Rose Ure Mezu)

Fourth World Programme M.P. Parameswaran)

Neo-Liberalism Dictatorship of the Market  M.P. Parameswaran)

The Rise and Fall of the Socialist World  M.P. Parameswaran)

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#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

*   *   *   *   *

Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake.

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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