Re: [Marxism] If You Want to Let Freedom Ring, Hammer on Economic Injustice

2020-06-26 Thread Alan Ginsberg via Marxism
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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 

[Marxism] If You Want to Let Freedom Ring, Hammer on Economic Injustice

2020-06-26 Thread Louis Proyect via Marxism

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(This must be a first. A NYT op-ed that cites James Boggs, a black 
Marxist auto worker.)

NY Times Op-Ed, June 26, 2020
If You Want to Let Freedom Ring, Hammer on Economic Injustice
There’s far more work to do than changing the way we police.
By Jamelle Bouie

Since it emerged seven years ago in response to the acquittal of George 
Zimmerman in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the Black Lives Matter 
movement has produced a sea change in attitudes, politics and policy.

In 2016, 43 percent of Americans supported Black Lives Matter and its 
claims about the criminal justice system; now, it’s up to 67 percent, 
with 60 percent support among white Americans, compared with 40 percent 
four years ago. Whereas Democratic politicians once stumbled over the 
issue, now even Republicans are falling over themselves to say that 
“black lives matter.” And where the policy conversation was formerly 
focused on body cameras and chokehold bans, now mainstream outlets are 
debating and taking seriously calls to demilitarize and defund police 
departments or to abolish them outright.

But the Black Lives Matter platform isn’t just about criminal justice. 
From the start, activists have articulated a broad, inclusive vision 
for the entire country. This, in fact, has been true of each of the 
nation’s major movements for racial equality. Among black Americans and 
their Radical Republican allies, Reconstruction — which was still 
ongoing as of 150 years ago — was as much a fight to fundamentally 
reorder Southern economic life as it was a struggle for political 
inclusion. The struggle against Jim Crow, likewise, was also a struggle 
for economic equality and the transformation of society.

“The black revolution is much more than a struggle for the rights of 
Negroes,” the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in “A Testament of Hope”:

It is forcing America to face all its interrelated flaws — racism, 
poverty, militarism and materialism. It is exposing evils that are 
rooted deeply in the whole structure of our society. It reveals systemic 
rather than superficial flaws and suggests that radical reconstruction 
of society itself is the real issue to be faced.

Our society was built on the racial segmentation of personhood. Some 
people were full humans, guaranteed non-enslavement, secured from 
expropriation and given the protection of law, and some people — blacks, 
Natives and other nonwhites — were not. That unequal distribution of 
personhood was an economic reality as well. It shaped your access to 
employment and capital; determined whether you would be doomed to the 
margins of labor or given access to its elevated ranks; marked who might 
share in the bounty of capitalist production and who would most likely 
be cast out as disposable.

In our society, in other words, the fight for equal personhood can’t 
help but also be a struggle for economic justice. And what we see, past 
and present, is how that fight against the privileges and distinctions 
of race can also lay the foundations for a broader assault on the 
privileges and distinctions of class.

As soon as the Civil War came to a close, it was clear there could be no 
actual freedom for the formerly enslaved without a fundamental 
transformation of economic relations. “We must see that the freedman are 
established on the soil, and that they may become proprietors,” Charles 
Sumner, the Radical Republican senator from Massachusetts, wrote in 
March 1865. “The great plantations, which have been so many nurseries of 
the rebellion, must be broken up, and the freedmen must have the 
pieces.” Likewise, said the Radical Republican congressman Thaddeus 
Stevens in September 1865, “The whole fabric of Southern society must be 
changed, and never can it be done if this opportunity is lost.” The 
foundations of their institutions, he continued, “must be broken up and 
re-laid, or all of our blood and treasure have been spent in vain.”

Presidential Reconstruction under Andrew Johnson, a Democrat, would 
immediately undermine any means to this end, as he restored defeated 
Confederates to citizenship and gave them free rein to impose laws, like 
the Black Codes, which sought to reestablish the economic and social 
conditions of slavery. But Republicans in Congress were eventually able 
to wrest control of Reconstruction from the administration, and just as 
importantly, black Americans were actively taking steps to secure their 
political freedom against white reactionary opposition. Working through 
the Union Army, postwar Union Leagues and the Republican Party, freed 
and free blacks worked toward a common goal of political equality. And