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Anarchism and the Black Revolution

Anarchism and the Black Revolution

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Published by: Mosi Ngozi (fka) james harris on Mar 23, 2012
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01/19/2013

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LorenzoKom’boaErvinDedicationForthesecondeditionofAnarchismandtheBlackRevolutionIdedicatethissecondeditionofAnarchismandtheBlackRevolutiontoComradeGingerKatz,oneofthefoundersoftheoriginalNorthAmericanAnarchistBlackCrossalmost15yearsago.ItwasGingerKatzwhoalmostsingle-handedlyarrangedforthetypesetting,publishingandprintingofthefirstedition,andthenshewentoutandsoldthembythethousands.Withouther,thissecondeditionwouldnothavebeenpossible.Shehadtofighttogetthebookspublished,andtogetahearingformyselfandotherBlackAnarchists,whohadthingstosayaboutthedirectionofthemovement.The“Anarchistpurists,”whowantedtokeepthemovementallwhiteandasanIndividualist,counter-culturalphenomenon,foughthertoothandnail.Someofthesecriticismsandstruggleswerethinlyveiledracism,andIamsurethattheyfrustratedandexhaustedComradeGinger.Ifso,sheneverrelayedittome,butIhearditfromothersources.IremembermydealingswithAnarchistsinthemovementduringthe1970s,whodeniedtheexistenceofracismassomethingweshouldfightentirely.ButnotComradeGinger.ShewasoneofthefewAnarchistswhounderstoodhowtheAmericanstatewasorganized,andhowitusedwhiteskinprivilegetosplittheworkingclass,andtocontinuethedictatorshipofCapitalismthroughsuch“divideandrule”tactics.IstillhavesomeofthelettersthatGingerwroteme15yearsagowhenIwasinprison.ButIlostcontactwithhersincetheearly1980.In1983,Iwasreleasedfromprison,andbecameestrangedfromtheAnarchistandprisonmovements,soIdonotknowwheresheis.Butwhereversheis,IhopeshewillknowhowmuchIappreciatewhatshedidtomakethisprojectareality,andhowshelaidtheseedsforthegrowthofthepresentandfutureLibertarianSocialistmovementonthiscontinent,andhopefullyaroundtheworld.IamhopefulthatImightonedaymeether,maybewhenIamonanationalbooktourforthisandotherbooksIhavewritten,andjustthankherforhelpingme,whenIcouldnothelpmyself.Tothiscomrade,Iwillgivemyloveandrespectalways.Thankyou.LorenzoKom’boaErvinSeptember1993Chapter1.AnAnalysisofWhiteSupremacyThispamphletwillbrieflydiscussthenatureofAnarchismanditsrelevancetotheBlackLiberationmovement.BecausetherehavebeensomanyliesanddistortionsofwhatAnarchismreallystandsfor,bybothitsleft-andright-wingideologicalopponents,itwillbenecessarytodiscussthemanypopularmythsaboutit.Thisinitselfdeservesabook,butisnottheintentionofthispamphlet,whichismerelytointroducetheBlackmovementtorevolutionaryAnarchistideals.Itisuptothereadertodeterminewhetherthesenewideasarevalidandworthyofadoption.HowtheCapitalistsUseRacismThefateofthewhiteworkingclasshasalwaysbeenboundwiththeconditionofBlackworkers.GoingasfarbackastheAmericancolonialperiodwhenBlacklaborwasfirstimportedintoAmerica,Blackslavesandindenturedservantshavebeenoppressedrightalongwithwhitesofthelowerclasses.ButwhenEuropeanindenturedservantsjoinedwithBlackstorebelagainsttheirlotinthelate1600s,thepropertiedclassdecidedto“free”thembygivingthemaspecialstatusas“whites”andthusastakeinthesystemofoppression.Materialincentives,aswellasthenewlyelevatedsocialstatuswereusedtoensuretheselowerclassesallegiance.Thisinventionofthe“whiterace”andracials
 
laveryoftheAfricanswenthand-in-glove,andishowtheupperclassesmaintainedorderduringtheperiodofslavery.Evenpoorwhiteshadaspirationsofdoingbetter,sincetheirsocialmobilitywasensuredbythenewsystem.Thissocialmobility,however,wasonthebacksoftheAfricanslaves,whoweresuper-exploited.Butthediehadbeencastforthedual-tierformoflabor,whichexploitedtheAfrican,butalsotrappedwhitelabor.WhentheysoughttoorganizeunionsorforhigherwagesintheNorthorSouth,whitelaborerswereslappeddownbytherich,whousedenslavedBlacklaborastheirprimarymodeofproduction.Theso-called“free”laborofthewhiteworkerdidnotstandachance.AlthoughtheCapitalistsusedthesystemofwhiteskinprivilegetogreateffecttodividetheworkingclass,thetruthisthattheCapitalistsonlyfavoredwhiteworkerstousethemagainsttheirowninterests,notbecausetherewastrue“white”classunity.TheCapitalistsdidn’twantwhitelaborunitedwithBlacksagainsttheirruleandthesystemofexploitationoflabor.Theinventionofthe“whiterace”wasascamtofacilitatethisexploitation.WhiteworkerswereboughtofftoallowtheirownwageslaveryandtheAfrican’ssuper-exploitation;theystruckadealwiththedevil,whichhashamperedalleffortsatclassunityforthelastfourcenturies.Thecontinualsubjugationofthemassesdependsoncompetitionandinternaldisunity.Aslongasdiscriminationexists,andracialorethnicminoritiesareoppressed,theentireworkingclassisoppressedandweakened.ThisissobecausetheCapitalistclassisabletouseracismtodrivedownthewagesofindividualsegmentsoftheworkingclassbyincitingracialantagonismandforcingafightforjobsandservices.Thisdivisionisadevelopmentthatultimatelyundercutsthelivingstandardsofallworkers.Moreover,bypittingwhitesagainstBlacksandotheroppressednationalities,theCapitalistclassisabletopreventworkersfromunitingagainsttheircommonclassenemy.Aslongasworkersarefightingeachother,Capitalistclassruleissecure.IfaneffectiveresistanceistobemountedagainstthecurrentracistoffensiveoftheCapitalistclass,theutmostsolidaritybetweenworkersofallracesisessentialThewaytodefeattheCapitaliststrategyisforwhiteworkerstodefendthedemocraticrightswonbyBlacksandotheroppressedpeoplesafterdecadesofhardstruggle,andtofighttodismantlethesystemofwhiteskinprivilege.WhiteworkersshouldsupportandadopttheconcretedemandsoftheBlackmovement,andshouldworktoabolishthewhiteidentityentirely.Thesewhiteworkersshouldstriveformulticulturalunity,andshouldworkwithBlackactiviststobuildananti-racistmovementtochallengewhitesupremacy.However,itisalsoveryimportanttorecognizetherightoftheBlackmovementtotakeanindependentroadinitsowninterests.Thatiswhatself-determinationmeans.RaceandClass:theCombinedCharacterofBlackOppressionBecauseofthewaythisnationhasdevelopedwiththeexploitationofAfricanlaborandthemaintenanceofaninternalcolony,Blacksandothernon-whitepeoplesareoppressedbothasmembersoftheworkingclassandasaracialnationality.AsAfricansinAmerica,theyareadistinctpeople,houndedandsegregatedinU.S.society.BystrugglingfortheirhumanandcivilrightstheyultimatelycomeintoconfrontationwiththeentireCapitalistsystem,notjustindividualracistsorregionsofthecountry.Thetruthsoonbecomesapparent:Blackscannotgettheirfreedomunderthissystembecause,basedonhistoricallyunevencompetition,Capitalistexploitationisinherentlyracist.Atthisjuncturethemovementcangointothedirectionofrevolutionarysocialchange,orlimititselftowinningreformsanddemocraticrightswithinthestructureofCapitalism.Thepotentialisthereforeither.Infact,theweaknessofthe1960sCivilrightsmovementwasthatitallieditselfwiththeliberalsin
 
theDemocraticPartyandsettledforcivilrightsprotectivelegislation,insteadofpushingforsocialrevolution.Thisself-policingbytheleadersofthemovementisanabjectlessonaboutwhythenewmovementhastobeself-activatedandnotdependentonpersonalitiesandpoliticians.Butifsuchamovementdoesbecomeasocialrevolutionarymovement,itmustultimatelyuniteitsforceswithsimilarmovementslikeGays,Women,radicalworkers,andotherswhoareinrevoltagainstthesystem.Forexample,inthelate1960stheBlackLiberationmovementactedasacatalysttospreadrevolutionaryideasandimages,whichbroughtforththevariousoppositionmovementsweseetoday.Thisiswhatwebelievewillhappenagain,althoughitisnotenoughtocallformindless“unity”asmuchofthewhiteleftdoes.Becauseofthedualformsofoppressionofnon-whiteworkersandthedepthofsocialdesperationitcreates,Blacksworkerswillstrikefirst,whethertheirpotentialalliesareavailabletodosoornot.Thisisself-determinationandthatiswhyitisnecessaryforoppressedworkerstobuildindependentmovementstounitetheirownpeoplesfirst.Thisiswhyitisabsolutelynecessaryforwhiteworkerstodefendthedemocraticrightsandgainsofnon-whiteworkers.Thisself-activityoftheoppressedmasses,(suchastheBlackLiberationmovement)isinherentlyrevolutionary,andisanessentialpartofthesocialrevolutionaryprocessoftheentireworkingclass.Thesearenotmarginalissues;itcannotbedowngradedorignoredbywhiteworkersifarevolutionaryvictoryistobehad.Ithastoberecognizedasacardinalprinciplebyall,thatoppressedpeopleshavearighttoself-determination,includingtherighttoruntheirownorganizationsandliberationstruggle.Thevictimsofracismknowbesthowtofightbackagainstit.SoWhatTypeofAnti-RacistGroupisNeeded?TheBlackmovementneedsalliesinitsbattleagainsttheracistCapitalistclass—nottheusualliberalorphony“radical”support,butgenuinerevolutionaryworkingclasssupportandsolidarity,otherwisecalled“mutualaid”byAnarchists.Thebasisofsuchunityhowevermustbeprincipledandbebasedonclassinterest,ratherthanliberal“guilttripping,”“do-gooding”oropportunismandmanipulationbyliberalorradicalpoliticalparties.Theneedsoftheoppressedpeoplemustbethemostimportantconsideration,buttheywantgenuinesupport,notfakeryorleftistrhetoric.TheAnarchistmovement,whichisoverwhelminglywhite,muststarttounderstandthattheyneedtodopropagandaworkamongtheBlackandotheroppressedcommunity,andtheyneedtomakeitpossiblefornon-whiteAnarchiststoorganizeintheircommunitiesbyprovidingthemwithtechnicalresources(printingofzines,videoandaudiocassetteproduction,etc.)andassistingwithfinancialresources.OnereasontherearesofewBlackAnarchistsisbecausethemovementprovidesnomeanstoreachpeopleofcolor,winthemovertoAnarchismandhelpthemorganizethemselves.ThismustchangeifwewantthesocialrevolutiontotakeplaceinAmerica,andifwewantNorthAmericanAnarchismtobemorethan“whiterights”movement.Thetypeoforganizationneededmustbea“mass”organizationworkingtouniteallworkersincommonclassstruggle,butmustbeabletorecognizethedutytosupportandadoptthespecialdemandsoftheBlackandothernon-whitepeoplesasthoseoftheentireworkingclass.Itmustchallengewhitesupremacyonadailybasis,itmustrefuteracistphilosophyandpropaganda,andmustcounterracistmobilizationandattacks,witharmedself-defenseandstreetfighting,whennecessary.Theobjectiveofsuchamassmovementistowinthewhiteworkingclassovertoananti-whitesupremacy,class-consciousposition;tounitetheentireworkingclass;andtodirectlyconfrontandoverthrowtheCapitaliststate,anditsr

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