Sunday, October 23, 2016

NOT BLACK POWER - NOT WHITE POWER - BUT PEOPLE'S POWER

Prejudice against African Americans was first spread by Southern capitalists to serve their economic interests. To ensure itself a pool of cheap and unresisting labour for menial tasks and field work, the Southern ruling class decades ago enacted Jim Crow segregation laws. One of the bitter fruits of these laws was the inferior education for black workers, adequate for cotton picking, but not for most industrial occupations. Then African American workers migrated to urban centers by the hundreds of thousands. The Southern agricultural capitalists, in their hunger for ever higher profits, had displaced them with machines and cast them adrift. Northern capitalists soon joined them in exploiting the black man's colour to form a pool of cheap labour. The racial antagonisms today convulsing America are nourished by the bitter competition for jobs. White workers believe they benefit from the exclusion of black workers from large areas of the job market. And there are black workers who want to make the same mistake: they hope to benefit from the creation of a separate African American economy that excludes white workers.

Both overlook a basic fact: The United States is not "two nations, one white, the other black"! It is a capitalist nation in which the line of division is economic, one of class. The American people are split into two social classes, one of which owns the industries, and the other does not. The former are the capitalists, the latter are the workers. The capitalist owners, black and white, have interests in common that are directly opposed to those of all workers, whatever their color. Between capitalists and workers, there is a class struggle that cannot be appeased. Racism, far from benefiting either white or black workers, benefits their capitalist exploiters by dividing the working class.

The hideous conditions of life in the slums, the soul-searing humiliations that are the everyday punishment inflicted on African American workers and workers of other racial minorities, the endless frustrations that defeat the strongest wills of black workers caught in the racial dead ends called ghettos -- these are facts that need no repeating here. What is needed is to emphasize that resistance is the logical consequence of capitalism's inability to change or even ameliorate these conditions. With all the sympathy that it is possible for a humane mankind to summon for the suffering, anguish, and despair of our fellow African American fellow-workers, brutalized victims of criminal capitalism, understanding their anger and bitterness and agreeing that their anger and bitterness are justified, the Socialist Party nevertheless urges all who are inclined to listen to the advocates of violence to reflect, and to reflect soberly. No one should doubt that riot and disorder would cause enormous damage and bloodshed and that damage will be in your own neighbourhoods themselves. And it will be inflicted by minions of capitalist law, many of whom are ready, willing and eager to wage war on those whom they fear and hate.

Revolution is absolutely necessary if the horrible conditions of daily life and all the problems of our cities and of society are to be ended. But such a revolution cannot be accomplished only by black people alone. Indeed, it can only be achieved by the working class in its entirety. his follows because it is only the working class (black, brown and white, male and female, skilled and unskilled, young and old, able-bodied or not so fit) that can complete the all-important constructive phase of building society on socialist lines. Only the workers, organized in the World Socialist Party, can avert paralysis and chaos. And they will do it, not with guns, but with the ballot. We shall be secure, healthy and happy human beings living in peace, harmony and freedom, in marked contrast to the capitalist jungle of strife, misery, and insecurity in which we live today. African American, Hispanic and white workers alike must face the fact that the task confronting them is to organise their political and economic power - not to demand merely the amelioration of the horrible conditions of their lives, but to demand the abolition of the capitalist system of wage slavery. 

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