“The ABCs of Class
By Lil Joe
One of the main things raised by Addae's article The
ABCs of Class Struggle is the question, "where do
we go from here." This question is best approached
openly and with critical thinking, and not by lashing out at
Addae because of his criticisms of Lenin.
The responses to Addae's article have been interesting, to
say the least. On e-mail list serves that are comprised
predominantly of the White Left, the article gets lip service
agreement regarding the prominence of class struggle, and of the
prominence of the struggle of labor against capital. But,
then those same people spend the majority of their comments
denouncing Addae for criticizing Lenin. Most all dismiss Addae
by accusing him of "ranting" against Lenin.
On e-mail list serves that are comprised predominantly of the
Black Left, the article by Addae (seemingly Marxist) is largely
The issue, however, is not Lenin [1870-1924].
For those who are reading my comments and have not had
experience with the early Black Liberation Movement (BLM), I
will give some background.
The BLM originated in the 1930s in the Garvey Movement.
The Garvey Movement was based in the urban black
petty-bourgeoisie (New York, Chicago, St. Louis, &c.).
It's ideology was Christianity and Black supremacy and
anti-Communism. (Garveyites denounce Black communists as
integrationists.) The program of the Garvey Movement was based
on promoting Black capitalism.
was a radicalized version of Booker
T. Washington [1856-1915] -- both he
and Washington accepted racial segregation, and neither fought
against racial discrimination; both ideologically supported
Black's learning a manual skill, and supported businesses, under
segregation, as the solution to Black folk problems in America.
On the other hand, Garvey differed ideologically from Booker
T. Washington in that, although Garvey accepted racial
segregation in the United States, he argued also that Blacks
should do as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) demanded: Go back to Africa.
Garvey and the KKK Grand Dragons spoke at each other's rallies
-- they both denounced racial integration and interracial sex
and marriage. Furthermore, Garvey said that, as
Christians, Black Americans have more in common with the KKK
than with the American Communist Party. His reasoning was
that the KKK was "Christian," whereas Communists are
Garvey's involvement with and statements about Blacks and the
KKK was at a time (the 1920s and 30s) when Blacks were being
lynched in the South and attacked in the North by the KKK, and
other racists. The only organizations that came forth in
defense of Black people (e.g., the Scottsboro Boys) was the
American Communist Party -- and Black trade unionists who were
organizing the Sleeping Car Porters Union, which eventually
compelled the white trade unionists to recognize them.
From his discussions with Claude
McKay, Lenin -- and, later, from his discussion with C.L.R.
James, and Leon Trotsky -- wondered aloud whether Blacks in
the United States were an oppressed "nation."
The Communist Party USA, later capitulated to racial pressures
in the United States, and declared that the Negro Nation did, in
fact, exist -- using Stalin's criterion, as stated in his
"Marxism and the National Question," and, in
particular, using the formula put forth by Harry Haywood.
The Communist International and Communist Party U.S.A., on
the basis of Haywood's application of the criteria of nations
articulated by Stalin in "Marxism and the National Question
– that is, a common language, territory, economic cohesion,
and common psychological make-up manifest in a common culture --
declared the area in the American South where Blacks constituted
a numerical majority -the Black-belt is an oppressed "Negro
Nation". As such, the Negro Nation had the status of a
colony that had a right to "self-determination"
including political independence by succession.
Queen Mother Moore, for instance, was initially influenced by
the Garvey Movement, but "impressed by the Communist
Party's role as the vanguard in the defense of the Scottsboro
Boys. She joined the Communist Party. However, she
left the CP when she realized that it could or would not
translate its ideas about black self-determination into action.
(See online, Black History Pages.)
On racial oppression grounds -- rather than based in Stalin's
criteria -- C.L.R. James also persuaded Trotsky and the
Socialist Workers Party to recognize Blacks as a nation. Both
the CP and the SWP applied to the "Negro Question"
Lenin's formula of Rights of Nations to Self-Determination.
Lenin was writing about the nations of the Russian Empire, and
the colonies of European Empires in Asia, Africa, and Latin
Lenin understood that it was the bourgeoisie, and its
political representatives, in the colonial countries -- such as
Sun Yat-sen in China, Mohandas K. Gandhi in India -- who were
leading the movements for home rule national
independence). Lenin believed it racist paternalism
for socialists in the "mother country" to oppose the
independence of the colonies in the name of
Lenin was quite clear on this:
Socialists cannot achieve their great aim
without fighting against all oppression of nations.
Therefore, they must without fail demand that the
Social-Democratic parties of oppressing countries
(especially of the so-called "great" powers)
should recognise and champion the right of oppressed
nations to self-determination, precisely in the
political sense of the term, i.e., the right to
political secession. The Socialist of a ruling or
colony-owning nation who fails to champion this right is
a chauvinist. (V.I. Lenin. Socialism and War - Rights
of Nations to Self-Determination, 1915)
On the other hand Lenin (and Trotsky) fought with the workers
in the international to place class unity as primary. The
workers in the oppressed nations, in the colonies, and in the
oppressor nation are one class.
The Socialists of oppressed nations must,
in their turn, unfailingly fight for the complete
including organisational unity of the workers of the
oppressed and oppressing nationalities. The idea of the
juridical separation of one nation from another
(so-called "cultural-national autonomy"
advocated by Bauer and Renner) is reactionary." (V.I.
Lenin. Socialism and War - Rights of Nations to
This was also Stalin's position in his book, Marxism and
the National Question (1913). It was only later, as head of
the Soviet Communist government and International, that Stalin
changed this to adapt to the national bourgeois in colonial or
semi-colonial countries by ordering Communists and workers'
parties in those countries to accommodate the bourgeois parties.
The bourgeois parties wanted their class interests to prevail,
of course. To accommodate the bourgeois parties communists were
ordered to subordinate the proletarian struggle for socialism to
the bourgeois parties, which wanted political independence based
on capitalism and bourgeois democracy.
Lenin, however, had regarded the proletariat as a
cosmopolitan class. But, in countries dominated by peasant
agriculture with a small proletariat, Lenin saw the peasantry --
though a "rural bourgeoisie" -- as an ally with the
proletariat in struggle against feudal backwardness. On the
international scale, he also saw the radical bourgeois
intelligentsia in the colonies as allies with workers' movements
in the imperialist countries, in that they had a common enemy.
In practice -- based on Kremlin policies -- this
"alliance of the Soviet Union and the rising colonial
bourgeoisie" resulted in proletarians in the colonial
countries subordinating their movement to the colonial
bourgeoisie in "United Fronts Against Imperialism," in
which case the "contradiction" between the
imperialists and the colonial bourgeois was "primary,"
and between the proletariat and the colonial bourgeois
"secondary." This is what Addae is criticizing.
In the 1950s, 60s and 70s the Soviet Union supported national
liberation movements in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In
some cases, communists refused to subordinate their struggle for
power to Soviet foreign policy, and came to power -- as in
China, Korea and Vietnam. Of course, Cuba decided on a
Communist party state as well. The MPLA in Angola and the
PAIGC in Guinea Bissau also presented themselves as Marxists of
sorts while, at the same time, leaving significant economic and
political institutions in the hands of the bourgeoisie.
Then there were the "progressive" regimes in
Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Nicaragua and Grenada that had
significant -- and costly -- Soviet or/and Cuban support.
During the latter moments of the Cold War, the U.S., during the
Reagan years, expended considerable money, weapons, logistical
and political support to arm, organize, and finance the
counter-revolutionaries in Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Angola, and
Nicaragua. This, and an acerbated "arms race,"
the placement of nuclear tipped cruse missiles in the East NATO
countries, the Strategic Defense Initiative -- SDI or so-called
"Star Wars" program, pressured the Soviets to divert
more money and resources to their military budget, and troops to
Afghanistan, aide to Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and Angola, and so on.
All of this, together with the comparatively less efficient
Soviet industrial capacity, and inability to provide
significantly to its own population contributed to the collapse
of the Soviet Union.
The first causalities of the collapsing Soviet Union were the
states of the Warsaw Pact: Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia
(which are now part of NATO). In the Soviet Union proper
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were the first to succeed.
Then there was the problems in Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia, and
Georgia. East Germany was conquered by the West, and
assimilated into Germany proper, and thereby NATO. In
Romania, and Bulgaria the "communist" governments were
overthrown, and Yugoslavia fell apart, followed by the ethnic
and religious wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo.
The European nation-states in the Soviet Union -- Russia,
Ukraine, etc. -- disbanded the Soviet Union and formed a
"Commonwealth of Independent States, disengaged themselves
from Azerbaijan, Mongolia, and so on. Cuba, Angola and
others were now on their own.
The nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, that were once
courted and/or economically and therefore politically propped up
by either the Soviet Union or the United States during the cold
war were now on their own. U.S. imperialism, which emerged
as victor of the cold war was/is more arrogant and deadly than
The illusion that U.S. imperialism like the old Roman Empire
(or so it was believed) will "collapse" as a
consequence of 3rd world colonies winning their
"independence," is among the casualties of the
collapse of the Soviet Union, and lost of cold war economic
support by one side or the other. Given its economic and
political defeat of the Soviet Union, U.S. imperialism has an
even greater stranglehold on the economies of politically
independent countries of the "periphery."
Third-world liberation ideology was often stated in terms of
an analogy of an "Octopus" – the
"Octopus" head represents the United States, and the
"Octopus" tentacles represent U.S. economic and
political domination in the colonial countries in the 3rd world.
The analogy goes something like this: each successful
independence movement represents cutting off "a
tentacle" of the imperialist "Octopus."
Assumedly, the "Octopus" would eventually be without
any tentacles, and the "Octopus head" exposed,
vulnerable, and unprotected.
Reality often does not go the way of analogies. We were not
dealing with an Octopus with tentacles, but with an economic
power that is based on advanced technological and military
capabilities. When third-world liberation states proved
socialism impossible in those agrarian economies, each one after
another submitted to the economic dominance – and pressures
– of the world market and finance capital. The analogy
of the Octopus was swept away when the third-world liberation
movements did not affect the "tentacles" of the
so-called "Octopus" called the U.S.
One side of the Black nationalist movement – the
Afrocentrics – is also in crisis, because these
Afrocentrics believed that the problem in the world is the
predominance of the "Eurocentric world-view," and the
economic, class, and political issues are subordinated to that.
They believed that Africans in Africa, untouched by the European
mentality, are some how genetically black conscious, smart, and
wise. They said that "native African-Americans are
"fucked up," because they are "white
minded," and that Eurocentrism has them "thinking like
However, once the African nation-states, and those in the
Caribbean won their political independence the Black bourgeoisie
came to the helm. The African bourgeoisie is no different that
the bourgeoisie of any other continent or country. So long
as capitalism exist, whether in the United States or in Nigeria,
for example, the bourgeoisie is able to function as ruling
class, behind the scenes, by corrupting politicians, or/and the
political wing of the military leadership corps.
Once the Soviet Union collapsed and the Cold War (actually
hot wars in Asia, Africa, and Latin America) ended by the
triumph of U.S. imperialism and the European Union, the African
bourgeoisie was unhampered in bringing in politicians or/and
generals that brought their countries into the orbits of the
World Bank, the IMF, and into WTO. At the same time, the
wars financed by the U.S. in Angola and Mozambique spread like
wild-fire throughout Africa, with competing ethnic political
groups trading diamonds and oil for guns.
The African-American ethnocentrists got mad at the Africans
for being human beings, succumbing to U.S. and European
imperialism. They now oppose almost all (if not all) the African
heads of state as warlords, as "corrupt," and
"sell-outs." Once the reality of capitalism and
political corruption became obvious, and the fallacies of the
myth that "Africans" were immune to "white
thinking" also became obvious, now the same Afrocentrists
that praise the African kings of the past has turned into
venomous attacks on African heads of state in the present.
But, these "Cultural Nationalists" are not the
"Black nationalists" to which Addae is directing his
criticisms in "ABCs of Class Struggle." Addae is
criticizing those in the Marxist section of the Black
nationalist/Pan Africanist movement that subordinate the
proletarian class struggle for socialism to the hegemony of the
African bourgeoisie in the national liberation movement.
Addae is not attacking Garvey, but Lenin.
Additionally, when the Soviet Union collapsed third-world
countries had to come hat in hand to the United States or/and
the European Union in search for revenues of "foreign aide."
Third-world countries lost their avenue of military and
financial support from the collapsed Soviet Union –
Russia is now itself begging with hat in hand for European Union
investment and "assistance"!
The illusion that third-world countries could "cut the
tentacles" of the "Octopus" and yet survive as
independent countries, as had been stated by Stalinists, Maoists,
and Trotskyists, was also perpetuated by Samir Amin in his Third
Worldist theory of "core-periphery." The
"core" countries, in Europe – and especially
the United States – were/are presented by Amin as a
modern version of the collapse of the Roman Empire by the
separation from it of colonies and provinces of the
"periphery" relative to Rome. In the Roman Empire, the
colonies and provinces in the "periphery" where
production and taxes came from, and was challenged in the West
by the Germanic tribes.
But, what is omitted is that the Afro-Asian Eastern
Mediterranean states, which were the ancient centers of wealth
in which Rome was part and parcel, had been integrated for some
time as the so-called civilized world. It did not collapse from
loosing the Western Empire, but survived as the Eastern Empire
until the Crusades, and finally overtaken by the Arabic Muslims.
The Assyrian empire was displaced by the Persians and the Medes,
which were displaced by the Greeks, that was displaced by the
Romans, that was displaced by the Muslim Arabs and Turks. The
empires passed from group to group, but this region never
"collapsed" – notwithstanding the lost by Rome of
the "periphery" to the "barbarian" in the
The "core/periphery" theory in the last analysis is
bourgeois ideology in that it substitutes in place of class
struggles all over the world the primacy of ethnic, national or
racial conflict -- Garvey's concept of "race first" in
pseudoscientific economic "theory."
In all of these instances, we find one
universal truth: Globalizing projects created economies
marked by polarization into cores and peripheries,
winners and losers. Often they degraded into violence
and wars between the core and the periphery. In the
Roman Empire, Rome was the core, and all its far-flung
dominions the periphery. In the British Empire, London
was the core, and the colonies, from India to Palestine
to South Africa, the periphery.
Colonialism was the world system in which the core
and periphery were legally and militarily linked in a
clearly exploitative division of labor.
Today, globalization continues to not only integrate
but distinguish the core developed nations of Europe,
Japan, and the United States with regard to the
peripheral Third World. (Boston College Magazine,
Get it? "Third World" in conflict with the 1st
world (including Japan!) Then the article goes on to
contrast the "income" of 1st world and 3rd world
countries rather than contrast the different degrees of
exploitation, and thus quantified rate of surplus value of the
industrial proletariat in the "1st World" to that of
the non-industrial 3rd world peasants and workers. An
immediate quantifiable fact would establish that workers in
industrial capital using advanced technology has an enhanced
productivity yielding a higher rate of surplus labor output per
time unit, thus a greater degree of exploitation than do workers
or peasants using traditional (animal or/and hand) tools in 3rd
But the bourgeois sociologists do not deal with scientific
issues of exploitation and surplus labor but the
"income" of the 1st world, including wages of labor
and capitalist profits, which they contrast to the
"income" of the 3rd world (including wages and
profits) countries. Thus they contrast the "rich and
poor," which are eternal classless "categories"
which takes the issue away from relations of production and
Without explaining how 3rd world workers can, and do survive
on relatively less "income" (have you ever wondered
HOW 3rd world workers survive on $3.00 a day and American
workers cannot survive on $3.00 an hour?) the bourgeois
sociologists instead contrast the "incomes" of
Indonesian, Nigerian and Mexican workers to those of the United
States, thus spreading the lie that American workers
"benefit from the "super-exploitation" of 3rd
world workers. Thus instead of pitting the global proletariat
against the global bourgeoisie they pit the European and
American working class against the workers and peasants of Asia,
Africa and Latin America!
Thus to continue with the quote:
The average income in the world's richest
20 countries is 37 times the average in the poorest 20,
and the per capita income gap between rich and poor
nations tripled between 1960 and 1993." (Boston
College Magazine, Spring 2003)
The author refuses to point out in his
statistics about "income" the Marxian look at wealth
distribution that determines differences in income. Rather
than clearly pointing out that even in American bourgeois
economics income is not the same as wealth – wealth is a
resource used to produce income.
In America only 1 percent of the wealthiest
families own 20 percent of the nations wealth. The top eight
percent own 60 percent. "Owning wealth" means
that in America capitalists own the land, factories, banks
and financial institutions from which they respectively derive
"income" in the forms of rent, profits and interests.
Landowners in America as in Africa derive income from their land
in the form of rent.
Capitalists in Africa as in America derive
income in the form of profits by exploiting wage-labor.
Banks derive their income in the form of interest, derived
from money-lending ( to corporations, governments,
landlords and individuals). In America as in the 3rd world
proletarians own no means of production and therefore must sell
their labor power to live. Workers work for wages, and have
"income" so long as they work and work so long as
they produce wealth for their employers, the capitalists.
The author goes on to racialise the American
proletariat, into "immigrants" and Americans and also
American and native capitalist executives abroad:
But the core/periphery distinction is now
being de-territorialized. We increasingly find large
parts of the periphery in the core. Think of the
impoverished immigrants from Mexico, China, Pakistan,
and Nigeria who work in the sweatshops of New York and
Los Angeles. We also find more members of the core in
the Third World-superwealthy business leaders in Saudi
Arabia, Thailand, Chile, and Mexico who are part of a
new global plutocracy. (Boston College Magazine,
This article reeks with racism as well as bourgeois ideology,
what makes workers from Mexico, China, Pakistan, and Nigeria
"periphery" in the American working-class and
immigrants from England, Germany and Canada not? It is
that "periphery" analysis is based on the skin-color
of immigrants, otherwise they would cease calling them
"immigrants" once they got jobs in "the
sweatshops of New York and Los Angeles."
The point of fact is that there are no "periphery"
people working in America, the immigrants from Mexico, China,
Pakistan and Nigeria are part of the American proletariat and
ought to be brought into the trade unions along with every other
Similarly the bourgeoisie is a cosmopolitan class, whether
they are American capitalist executives who moved "to Saudi
Arabia, Thailand, Chile, and Mexico," or "Third World-superwealthy
business leaders" in those countries. Saudi Arabia,
Mexico, China, Pakistan and Nigeria are capitalist countries,
not "periphery" countries.
Lenin's argument of rights of nations to self-determination
is "A proletariat that tolerates the slightest violence by
'its' nation against other nations cannot be a socialist
proletariat." This means in practice that the socialist
proletariat in England and America has to oppose the
Anglo-American imperialist aggression and re-colonization of
Afghanistan and Iraq.
We recognize at the same time that there can be no freedom
and security in the world so long as U.S. and European
imperialism exist with the bourgeoisie in those industrialized
countries having all that technology and weapons of mass
destruction at their disposal. Thus the struggle of
workers in the industrialized countries are "primary."
World War III must take the form of class war - the cosmopolitan
proletariat against the cosmopolitan bourgeoisie.
The class struggle of wage-labor and capital as primary means
that the proletariat must have as its primary goal expropriating
the productive forces in the industrialized world – including
in industrialized countries in the 3rd World where there is a
proletarian majority. The petty-dictators elsewhere,
without support from expropriated industrial capitalist will
collapse. All the imperialist traps will be destroyed and
workers and peasants in less developed 3rd world countries will
work together with a selfless support of the international
community of labor.
* * *
* * *
The Price of Civilization
Reawakening American Virtue and
Jeffrey D. Sachs
The Price of Civilization is a
book that is essential reading for every
American. In a forceful, impassioned,
and personal voice, he offers not only a
searing and incisive diagnosis of our
country’s economic ills but also an
urgent call for Americans to restore the
virtues of fairness, honesty, and
foresight as the foundations of national
prosperity. Sachs finds that both
political parties—and many leading
economists—have missed the big picture,
offering shortsighted solutions such as
stimulus spending or tax cuts to address
complex economic problems that require
deeper solutions. Sachs argues that we
have profoundly underestimated
globalization’s long-term effects on our
country, which create deep and largely
unmet challenges with regard to jobs,
incomes, poverty, and the environment.
America’s single biggest economic
failure, Sachs argues, is its inability
to come to grips with the new global
economic realities. Sachs describes a
political system that has lost its
ethical moorings, in which ever-rising
campaign contributions and lobbying
outlays overpower the voice of the
citizenry. . . . Sachs offers a plan to
turn the crisis around. He argues
persuasively that the problem is not
America’s abiding values, which remain
generous and pragmatic, but the ease
with which political spin and
consumerism run circles around those
values. He bids the reader to reclaim
the virtues of good citizenship and
mindfulness toward the economy and one
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
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.
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
As for the source
of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their
own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless,
it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate
the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate
* * *
Sex at the Margins
Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry
By Laura María Agustín
This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London
* * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
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
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
* * * * *
* * *
(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
update 5 March