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Louis Proyect wrote: This must be a first. A NYT op-ed that cites James
Boggs, a black Marxist auto worker.

I don't know about New York Times op-eds citing James Boggs. But, on Sept.
23, 1972, the Times published "Beyond Rebellion", an op-ed _by_ James Boggs.

DETROIT—The black movement has gone through a number of stages in the last
15 years. First, there was the civil rights movement which reached a
critical stage with the Birmingham confrontations of 1963, and which fi
nally collapsed with the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
in 1968. Then, there has been the black power movement which began to rise
with Malcolm in 1963–4; and which mushroomed into a national movement
following the Watts uprising of 1965 and the Newark and Detroit rebellions
of 1967.

Today we are still in the stage of trying to clarify what black power
means. At the present time most “movement” people are still in the purely
nationalist stage of black power. That is to say, most of those who call
themselves black power advocates are trying to find a solution for blacks
separate from a solution for the contradictions of the entire United
States. Actually this is impossible. Therefore, many black nationalists are
going off into all kinds of fantasies and dreams about what black power
means — like heading for Africa, or isolating themselves in a few states,
or whites just vanishing into thin air and leaving this country to blacks.

We have yet to come face to face with our contradiction that just as it has
been on the backs of the black masses that this country has advanced
economically, so it is only under the revolutionary political leadership of
black people that this country will be able to get out of its
contradictions. We are hesitant to face up to this truth because it is too
challenging. We have the fear which always haunts the revolutionary social
forces, the fear of not knowing whether they can win, the lack of
confidence in themselves and in their ability to create a better society.

This is not a fear that is unique to blacks. All revolutionary social
forces have this fear as they come face to face with their real conditions
of life and the growing realization that they must assume the revolutionary
responsibility of changing the whole society, so that their lives as well,
as those of others in the society can be funda mentally changed. Because
the task is so great, it becomes much easier to evade the tremendous
challenge and responsibility for disciplined scientific thinking and
disciplined political organization which are necessary to lead
revolutionary struggle.

Confronted with this political choice, many of those who have been
frustrated by the failure of the civil rights movement and the succeeding
rebellions to solve all our problems have begun to put forward all kinds of
fantastic ideas as to what we should now do. Some say we should separate
and return to Africa. Some say we should separate but should remain here
and try to build a new black capitalist economy from scratch inside the
most advanced and powerful capitalist economy in the world! Some say we
should join the Pan‐African movement of the African peoples in Africa and
build a military base in Africa from which we will eventually be able to
attack the U.S.A.

Others say we should just struggle for survival from day to day, doing
whatever has to be done for survival. And finally, others have just given
up struggling for anything at all, and have turned to astrology or drugs or
religion in the old‐time belief that some metaphysical force out there in
the twilight zone will rescue us from our dilemma.

We have to examine all these theories realistically and scientifically
—whatever their origin and whosoever is proposing them—whether they are our
friends or our relatives; whether or not they are old comrades with whom we
have demonstrated and gone to jail in the past; whether or not we admire
them for their past deeds or for their charismatic personalities or because
they make us feel good when we hear them rapping against “the man.” All
these personal considerations are irrelevant measured against the real
miseries of our present conditions in this country and the real future
which we must create for ourselves and our posterity in this country. We
live in this country, our labors have laid the foundation for the growth of
this country. Our contradictions are rooted in this country's unique
development and can only be resolved by struggles under our leadership to
eliminate the roots of these contradictions in this country.

As we look at our communities, looking more and more each day like
wastelands and fortresses, as we look at our younger brothers and sisters
scrambling and nodding on the streets of our communities, as we think of
the children whom we will be bringing into this world—we cannot just grab
on to any ideas of liberation just because they are being pushed by old
friends of ours or because they give us an emotional shot in the arm.

We can start by categorically rejecting astrology, drugs, religion, black
capitalism, separatism and also all those messianic complexes that someone
else or we ourselves are going to become “the leader” whom the black masses
are waiting for, to lead them out of the wilderness of their oppression. In
other words, we can start by turning our backs on all the various escape
routes by which many people are still traveling, in the vain hope that
somehow they can evade grappling with the real contradictions of this
country, this society.

James Boggs, a former auto worker and now a writer, is author of "The
American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker's Notebook."

People with access to the online Times should be able to view the op-ed at
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