Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

October League (Marxist-Leninist)

For Working Class Unity and Black Liberation – Resolution of the Second Congress of the October League on the Afro-American People’s Struggle


Adopted: July 1973.
First Published: July 1974.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The following resolution was adopted by the October League (Marxist-Leninist) at its Second National Congress in July 1973. Rather than viewing it as a complete analysis of this important question, it should be seen as a summation of the experiences and the study of our organization up to that point.

We are publishing it at this time because we feel that it can make a contribution to the current discussion within the young and growing communist movement, a movement which is in the process of developing the ideological and practical foundations upon which a new Communist Party will soon be built.

No question is more central to the program of any working class party than the national question. The Afro-American question in particular has a special place in the development of the strategy and tactics of proletarian revolution here in the United States. It is here, on this question, that revolutionaries in the U.S. have stood or have fallen.

From the social-chauvinists in the early days of the Civil War, who failed to support the emancipation of Negro slaves, through the Socialist Party; from the Browderites in the Communist Party to the present pack of modern revisionists who now lay claim to that Party, one can trace the record of betrayal through every opportunist grouping in the history of the country.

Counterposed to this we have the glorious examples of the early socialist Weydemeyer who commanded a whole regiment in battle against the slave system; John Brown; and the CPUSA in its revolutionary period, which first correctly put forth the view that the Afro-American people constitute an oppressed nation in the former slave areas of the South and are therefore entitled to the full right to self-determination. The present-day communists, who are breaking from the revisionist party, are the inheritors of this internationalist stand.

The present period is a decisive one in the sense that the theoretical foundations now being laid will have a deep effect upon the whole course of the working class struggle for decades to come. Out of the present sharp ideological struggle between the various revolutionary trends, a clear, scientific program will be established, a program which combines the scientific principles of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought with the concrete conditions in the United States.

The development of such a program requires a break with opportunism on the national question, which lies at the heart of the strategic outlook of any communist group here in the home of U.S. imperialism.

Lenin, writing about the Russian movement which was going through similar struggles and similar stresses at the turn of the century, placed the highest importance upon the theoretical struggle. In combating the economists of his time, who were fond of blurring over theoretical differences and paid attention only to the immediate, narrow spontaneous struggles, Lenin said:

Under these circumstances, what at first sight appears to be an ’unimportant’ mistake may lead to most deplorable consequences, and only shortsighted people can consider factional disputes and a strict differentiation between shades inopportune or superfluous. The fate of Russian Social-Democracy for many, many years to come may depend on the strengthening of one or other ’shade.’ (What Is To Be Done?)

It is only right that the same firm approach to the present struggle be taken by those of us working to build the Party in opposition to the various opportunist trends today. Furthermore it is only natural that the national question, especially in regards to the struggle of the Afro-American people in the U.S. should provide a primary focus for this ideological struggle. For it is on this very question that opportunism has always made its toughest stand. It is precisely because the national question has always been and continues to be a touchstone in determining genuine (internationalists) from sham (chauvinist) Marxist-Leninists that the utmost care must be taken in resolving the question in a way which unites the working class with the oppressed nations and people, especially here in the imperialist country.

Speaking about imperialism, Lenin pointed to the complete division of the world between the oppressed and oppressor nations as one of its basic characteristic features. He showed how in this era, opportunism had become directly bound up with national oppression and the bribing of the upper strata of oppressor-nation workers with the super-profits robbed from the oppressed nations. He said:

Because the advanced countries have been creating their culture by the opportunity they have of living at the expense of billions of oppressed people. Because the capitalists of these countries obtain a great deal more than they would have been able to obtain in the shape of profits resulting from the robbery of the workers in their own countries.


It goes without saying that out of this tidy sum it is possible to throw at least a half a billion as a sop to the labour leaders in order to bribe them in various ways. (The International Situation and the Fundamental Tasks of the Communist International)

This development under imperialism lies at the basis for the split in the movement for socialism into a chauvinist and an internationalist wing and of the merger of modern revisionism with the worst chauvinist features of imperialism. The main target of these great-nation chauvinists is the right of self-determination for those peoples oppressed by their own imperialists.

Lenin consistently upheld this democratic right and Leninists have always stood in the forefront of the struggle for all-around democracy and equality. The revisionist leaders of the CPUSA liquidated this right of self-determination in regards to the Afro-American people as one of the initial steps in their degeneration into a social-imperialist party (“socialist” in word, imperialist in deed.)

Their greatest fear, which they share with their imperialist friends, is the alliance and merger of the two great revolutionary forces, the working class and the oppressed nations. It is this alliance here in the U.S. as Mao Tsetung wrote, between the Black people and the American workers movement, which “will eventually end the criminal rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class.” When this happens it will mean the destruction of the very life blood, which all these parasites feed upon, national oppression under imperialism.

The present period is marked by great turbulence and upheaval around the world. This is a good thing because it signifies the crumbling of imperialism and the emergence of a new high tide of revolutionary struggle throughout the world. It is under these conditions that the young communist movement in the U.S. has been spawned and is growing strong.

But upheaval can also mean confusion, if one’s feet aren’t firmly planted in the working class and in the science of Marxism-Leninism. This confusion is enhanced because the revisionists in their abandonment of Marx-ism-Leninism have invented “new” theories which undermine the fundamental principles of communism.

These, new, revised theories of Marxism are aimed at spreading confusion and always liquidate the revolutionary character of the class struggle along with the national movements of the oppressed peoples. They inevitably lead to the conclusion that capitalism can be “peacefully’ transformed and that the system is capable of resolving its most basic contradictions and saving itself.

There are also those “leftists” who have come forth, seemingly in opposition to revisionism, only to parrot quotes and phrases without making any attempt to learn about the present conditions under imperialism.

To these dogmatists, the national movement is something backwards, in direct opposition to the workers’ movement and they too invent theories in order to liquidate the national question. From both the right and the “left” the opportunists make their target the key strategic alliance between the oppressed nations and the working class movement.

In our theoretical and practical efforts to make a contribution to the resolving of the Afro-American question, we have applied the basic principles of scientific socialism on the national question to the particularities of the struggle of Black people. We have also hit hard at the various forms of opportunism.

Standing up in defense of the principle of the right of self-determination for the Afro-American people in their historic homeland, we have tried to give some strategic and tactical guidance in our views on the Black United Front and the revolutionary alliance between the national and class struggles.

Aside from hitting the chauvinist line of the CPUSA we also deal with other opportunist theories, including that of the “Proletarian nation of a new type” as put forth by the Revolutionary Union and “Free the Negro nation” as put forth by the Communist League. There are other new variations on these old themes which aren’t dealt with in the resolution which is now a year old. We will come to terms with these in the pages of our newspaper THE CALL.

Without this struggle on the national question in general and the Afro -American question in particular, all the schemes and calls for a new party in the “next few months” or in the “next brief period” don’t mean a thing.

We hope that all of our friends and comrades will study the 14 points of the resolution along with the supplementary material and send us their comments and criticisms.

Afro-American Commission, October League (Marxist-Leninist)
July, 1974



1) Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, has as its characteristic feature the division of the world into a large number of oppressed nations and nationalities and an insignificant number of oppressor nations which possess a vast amount of wealth and maintain their power on the strength of armed might. The contradiction between imperialism and the oppressed nations and colonies is one of the main contradictions in the contemporary world and has given rise to the revolutionary struggle on the part of the majority of the world’s peoples. The nations of the Third World in Asia, Africa and Latin America, have been transformed, since World War II, into storm centers of anti-imperialist struggle.

The totally reactionary character of U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism can be seen primarily in their colonial policies towards the oppressed nations and colonies, which have been marked by genocide, slavery and a super-structure based on total lack of democracy and with white supremacy as their main ideological bulwark.

Today, the national question has become a component part of the proletarian revolution and the national struggle a component part of the class struggle. Prior to World War I (during the period of the Second International), the national question was mainly an internal problem within the individual capitalist countries. Today, however, with the victory of socialism in several countries, especially in the People’s Republic of China (itself a former colony) and with the growth of Marxist-Leninist parties around the world, the development of a proletariat within many of the oppressed nations, and with the reactionary alliance which has been built between imperialism and feudalism, the national question has to be seen as a component part of the world proletarian revolution. It is only with the defeat of imperialism in revolutionary struggle led by the proletariat, that national oppression can be ended and real equality of nations won.

The strategy for victory is the United Front Against Imperial-ism, a strategy based upon proletarian internationalism. Proletarian internationalism today necessitates the closest unity between the working class in the capitalist and revisionist countries and the peoples of the oppressed nations. This unity can only be forged by the proletariat and its organizations giving full support to the anti-imperialist struggles of the oppressed nations and colonies.


2) In the U.S. today, the national question stands at the center of the revolutionary struggle against the imperialist ruling class. The U.S. is a “prison house of nations” and U.S. imperialism “arose and throve with the enslavement of Negroes and the trade in Negroes. . . ” (Mao Tsetung). The U.S. has within its borders some 25 million Black people, 17 million Latinos as well as several millions of Asians and nearly a dozen other nationalities, all of whom suffer from discrimination and a denial of basic rights. The reactionary policies of imperialism within its own borders is most clearly seen by looking at the vicious treatment of its minorities.

While slavery was formally abolished more than a hundred years ago, the Afro-American people still suffer from the yoke of the plantation system which carries the stench of the slave market into the industrial centers of the North and South. In the rural areas of the South, the share-cropping system still keeps thousands chained to the land like cattle, completely at the mercy of the white landowners. The chain gang and other forms of forced slave labor are common experiences to Black people there, especially the ones prone to rebellion.

While the last thirty years have witnessed the proletarianization of millions of Black people as well as the rise of industry and the mechanization of agriculture, the remnants of the slave system maintained by the imperialists have caused the broad masses of Afro-American people to be deprived of their democratic rights, and untold thousands have been victims of police and KKK brutality and lynchings.

This tradition of white supremacy and slavery has led to a general and severe weakening of the labor movement in the South, just as the semi-enslaved history of the Mexican and Chicano people in the Southwest has done. In both of these areas, the trade union movement is the weakest and the working class subject to the most naked super-exploitation at the hands of the monopolists.

In the urban centers, the minorities are driven into ghettoes and are the victims of “Jim Crow” segregation. It is the Chinese, Mexican, Filipino, Puerto Rican and Black workers who fill the sweat shops and even worse, the swelling ranks of the unemployed. Even in the giant factories, discrimination in hiring, promotions and pay is still a common occurrence, even in the unionized plants.


3) Within the U.S., the Afro-American people’s struggle plays a special role in the development of the revolutionary movement. The enslavement of the Afro-American people was one of the most important foundations of the imperialist dictatorship of U.S. capitalism. It was in the slave trade of Black people that the U.S. monopolists were able to accumulate enormous sums of capital which they used to force their way into the mainstream of world capitalism. It was during this 350-year period of slavery, civil war and reconstruction, as well as capitalist development in the South, that Black people were forged into a nation. It was here that these millions of people of African descent, torn from their ancient societies, customs and traditional ways of life, historically developed into a “STABLE COMMUNITY OF PEOPLE, FORMED ON THE BASIS OF A COMMON LANGUAGE, TERRITORY, ECONOMIC LIFE, AND PSYCHOLOGICAL MAKE-UP, MANIFESTED IN A COMMON CULTURE. ” (J. V. Stalin, Marxism and the National Question.) In other words, a Black nation was forged out of the chains of Negro slavery.

While a great bond still links the Afro-American people together with the peoples of Africa and African descent throughout the world in the struggle against white supremacy, discrimination, apartheid and colonialism, it would be wrong to consider these peoples to be of one nation. This error has often led to de-legitimizing the genuine national aspirations of Black people in the U.S. and to substituting African counter-culture for anti-imperialist struggle.

Furthermore, it was in the Black Belt area of the South, especially during the period preceding the Civil War and during Reconstruction, that the Black Nation developed a cohesive internal class structure (common economic life) including a proletariat, a small and then medium-sized bourgeoisie, as well as a peasantry.

Lenin wrote in “Sociology and Statistics”, describing the national question in the western democracies:

In the United States, the Negroes (and also the Mulattoes and Indians) account for only 11.1%. They should be classed as an oppressed nation, for the equality won in the Civil War of 1861-1865 and guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic was in many respects increasingly curtailed in the chief Negro areas (South) in connection with the transition from the progressive, pre-monopoly capitalism . . . to the reactionary monopoly capitalism. ”

The common psychological make-up and culture which unites the Afro-American people developed during the years of slavery in the plantation areas. These common bonds were forged, particularly, through the fierce resistance on the part of the Black slaves in rebellions, through their decisive role in winning the Civil War, and in the century of heroic struggle since then. Out of this has come a consciousness of “peoplehood”, or being “one people”.

Today, it is our recognition of the Afro-American question as a National Question that distinguishes us from those opportunists who, under the mantle of Marxism, have sided with the millionaires in their onslaught against Black people and who parrot the imperialist phrase that “industrialization has done away with national differences.” It is based upon this recognition that we in the October League must take on our revolutionary responsibilities to UPHOLD THE RIGHT OF SELF-DETERMINATION, UP TO AND INCLUDING SECESSION, OF THE AFRO-AMERICAN PEOPLE IN THE BLACK BELT SOUTH. This slogan is one aimed at the U.S. workers, particularly the white workers, and its aim is to break them from the chauvinist policies which chain them to the bourgeoisie.


4) With the rapid growth of northern industry around the turn of the century and the beginning of the first World War, thousands of Black people embarked on a massive migration to the North, leaving behind them their rural surroundings. Between the years of 1900 and 1924, nearly 3 million Black people left the South; some in search of better jobs in war industry, some to escape the white terror of the Klan; some because any chance of leading a decent life, owning their own piece of land, or surviving at all under the primitive economic conditions in the South rapidly disappeared after the betrayal of Reconstruction by the Northern industrialists.

Having migrated from their historic homeland, forced into rat-infested ghettoes and subject to the most intensive assault by the white supremacists, Black people in the North became an oppressed national minority. By 1930 they made up close to 40% of the work force in basic industries like meat packing, mining, and transportation.

Betrayed by the chauvinist union leadership and organized only in some cases by communist-led union drives, the Black workers were forced into the lowest paying, dirtiest jobs. When cheap labor was needed, Black people were increasingly driven from the South. During WWII thousands more made their way North. Today, nearly 47% of all Afro-American people have come to live outside the South. The great majority of them, even in the South, are urban dwellers and proletarians. This movement, rather than eliminating national oppression, intensified it, and the fight for national rights and equality became a battle cry heard both North and South, in the factories as well as on the plantations.

The shift of millions of Black people from being rural dwellers and small farmers to becoming primarily urban workers has had a profound effect not only upon the struggle of the Afro-Americans for their rights, but upon the entire working class movement. The fighting spirit of Black people, gained through centuries of hardship and the anti-slavery struggle, carried over into the working class movement. From the communist-led packing house workers’ strike, to the building of the CIO in the 30’s and 40’s, to the present labor struggles of auto workers in Detroit and miners in West Virginia, the Black worker has stood at the center of the working class movement.

Together with the demand for the RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION there must be a massive struggle built in support of FULL DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS FOR ALL BLACK PEOPLE, NORTH AND SOUTH.

Today, the focus of the struggle by Black people against national oppression has been the battle against the daily abuses of discrimination, ghetto conditions, police terror, and inequality in all spheres of life. This is the context in which communists must raise the demand for the right to self-determination. Self-determination is the highest form of democratic rights and every victory in the democratic struggle is a step towards the realization of self-determination for the Afro-American nation.


5) The super-exploitation of the Black workers has meant billions of dollars in profits for the monopolists and has served as a deadly weapon in splitting the working class movement. Under similar conditions in England, Marx wrote a friend about the Irish question;

The ordinary English worker hates the Irish worker as a competitor who lowers his standard of life. In relation to the Irish worker he feels himself a member of the ruling nation and so turns himself into a tool of the aristocrats and capitalists of his country against Ireland, thus strengthening their domination over himself. He cherishes religious, social and national prejudices against the Irish worker. His attitude towards him is much the same as that of the “poor whites” to the “niggers” in the former slave states of the U.S.A. The Irishman pays him back with interest in his own money. He sees the English worker at once the accomplice and stupid tool of the English domination in Ireland. – Letter to S. Meyer and A. Vogt, 4/9/1870

Marx called upon the International to rally the English workers in support of the national emancipation of Ireland, not as a question of humanitarian sentiment but as “the first condition to their own social emancipation.”

In the U.S. today, the class collaborationist policies of the labor lieutenants who stand in the leadership of the most powerful trade unions have merged with the ruling class and their policies of national chauvinism in general and white supremacy in particular.

Today it has become common to hear abstract cries of the Trotskyites and revisionists of various stripes to “smash the trade union leadership!” But unless the struggle against the labor aristocracy becomes linked directly to the struggle for equality and rights of the minority workers, it is meaningless.

It is our task today, as representatives of the entire working class, to win the white workers to break with the social-chauvinist policies of the trade union bureaucrats and revisionists and to stand side-by-side with the Black workers, not out of abstract justice or humanitarian sentiment, “but as the first condition of their own emancipation.”


6) The national movement of the Afro-American people and the general movement of the U.S. working class have a common interest and a common destiny. Both movements have the same enemy, the monopoly capitalist ruling class. Neither one can be victorious without the other and without the defeat of the imperialists throughout the entire territory of the United States.

Of the 25 million Afro-American people in the U.S., 90% of them are workers. They are becoming a significant percentage of industrial proletarians, especially in the areas of auto and steel, where they along with other minorities make up 30-40% of the workforce. In the past decade, the struggles of the Afro-American workers, often combining the struggle for national rights with the day-to-day demands for better wages and working conditions, have pushed forth the entire movement of the working class, adding militancy and a higher level of political consciousness to it. Organizations and caucuses of Black workers have often been a motive force in building class unity and pushing the entire working class movement forward.

More and more white workers are joining with their fellow minority workers. For them it is either this or standing with the boss. Examples of Black-white unity within the labor movement are increasing, especially where communists are present to point the way. Rank-and-file organizations of a multi-national character are springing up and, most importantly, unity between communists of various nationalities is being forged organizationally.


7) The Afro-American peoples’ struggle is a component part of the general struggle of the world’s people against imperialism.

The Afro-American struggle is not only a struggle waged by the exploited and oppressed Black people for freedom and emancipation, it is also a new clarion call to all the exploited and oppressed people of the United States to fight against the barbarous rule of the monopoly capitalist class. – Mao Tsetung

The armed rebellions in the largest major cities in the U.S. from 1964 to 1968 shook U.S. imperialism at its very foundations and gave great inspiration to the movements of anti-imperialist fighters around the world. The Afro-American people’s struggle, together with the millions of oppressed nationalities within the U.S., constitute a powerful anti-imperialist army of fighters who have nothing to lose but their chains. In close alliance with the U.S. working class, they form the core of the anti-imperialist united front in this country; meaning the most consistent and revolutionary forces among the American people. On the basis of their militant unity, it is possible to forge the broadest united front against the monopolists, uniting all who can be united to oppose the ruling class policies of war, aggression, fascism, as well as the system itself.

Owing to its crucial role in the U.S. class struggle, the Afro-American movement has a special role to play in this revolutionary united front.

Black labor has traditionally stood as a bridge between the movements of the nationally oppressed peoples and the general workers movement. Black labor is a leading force in bringing about the alliance and merger of the two movements.

The special significance of the Black liberation struggle in the U.S. in no way detracts from the unity of all other oppressed minorities. All the nationally oppressed peoples in the U.S. share a common enemy, the U.S. imperialists. They also share many common forms of oppression under imperialist rule, while each retains their own particular features.


8) The Afro-American struggle is a national struggle also in the sense that it encompasses nearly all classes and strata of Black people, who must be united into a common front. It has recently become a fad among certain “leftists” to describe the Afro-American people as a “proletarian nation” or a “nation of a new type” meaning that the national question is confined to workers only. This formulation is unscientific, because there can be no “proletarian nation.” A nation is made up of various classes. In an oppressed nation, each class – the proletariat, the peasantry, the urban petty-bourgeoisie, the intelligentsia, etc. – is drawn into the national movement for their own reasons with their own views about the character and aims of the struggle, each one trying its utmost to influence the character of that movement.

While it is true that today, the main mass of the Afro-American people are no longer peasants and small farmers, as they were 40 years ago, there are still millions of semi-proletarian Black people who suffer under the yoke of racial discrimination and national oppression, in whose interest lies the defeat of imperialism. It is impossible to build unity with the Black workers without taking up the struggle for the right of Black people to own businesses and to contend as equals with white capitalists.

The basic component of our strategy for Black liberation therefore, is the BLACK UNITED FRONT, led by the working class, in close alliance with the general workers’ movement in the U.S. It is the Black workers, who make up 90% of the Black population, who constitute the main and leading force in this united front. At the same time, special policies and demands must be adopted in order to unite with other non-proletarian forces.


9) ”Combat all national oppression? Yes, of course! Fight for any kind of national development, for ’national culture’ in general? Of course not.”

With these words, Lenin distinguished the position of Marxism from that of the bourgeois nationalists. Bourgeois nationalism, while emanating from a class that is small in numbers, is now and has often been the most influential force within the leadership of the Black liberation movement.

Because the Black bourgeoisie includes the educated Blacks and the few with any influence at all among the ruling class, Black workers have many times looked to them for guidance and leadership, as articulate representatives of the Afro-American people who could translate their national aspirations into words.

Using the Black workers as a base, the Black bourgeoisie uses its position as “leader” of the democratic struggle in an attempt to corner the home market and become the exploiters of the Black workers. In many cases they have pushed national exclusiveness and narrow nationalism. This more separatist wing has often confused enemies with friends and made the white workers (“rednecks”) out to be the main enemy, rather than the imperialists opposing the efforts of workers, Black and white, to unionize, strike, etc. The integrationist wing of the Black bourgeoisie continues to call for a “bigger piece of the pie” and preaches reliance on the liberal wing of the Democratic party, rather than the laboring people.

In either case, the Black bourgeoisie advances reformist ideology and schemes as the solution to the problems of the Afro-American masses. Their inconsistency, vacillations and lack of determination to thoroughly destroy the racist system of imperialism have led to many defeats and sell-outs.

Our policy towards the Black national bourgeoisie should be one of unity and struggle. We should recognize that its interests are not completely merged with that of the monopolists. They suffer from lack of democracy and therefore can be drawn into the united front to one degree or another. On the other hand, we must oppose all aspects of narrow nationalism, reformism and anti-labor ideology, which can only drive a wedge into the heart of the united front. As Lenin said,

The bourgeois nationalism of any oppressed nation has a general democratic content that is directed against oppression, and it is this content that we unconditionally support. At the same time, we strictly distinguish it from the tendency towards national exclusiveness. – Right of Nations to Self-Determination


10) While supporting the right of the Black nation to self-determination we, at this time, oppose secession. The overwhelming majority of Afro-Americans are workers, living in industrial centers. Tremendous strides forward have been taken in forging unity between Black and white workers and revolutionary prospects in the U.S. have never been better, making the slogan of ”independence for the Negro Nation” a backward slogan that objectively pushes the national bourgeoisie into the leadership and divides the Afro-American struggle from the general workers movement.

Lenin wrote: “The proletariat cannot support any consecration of nationalism, on the contrary, it supports everything that helps to obliterate national distinctions and remove national barriers ...” – Critical Remarks on the National Question

The present cries from those who demand secession (the bourgeois nationalists) or from those who so over-estimate the strength of the imperialists that they see secession as a prerequisite for revolution in the U.S. as a whole (ultra-leftists), show clearly the unity between the left and right deviations on the national question.

Other deviations of this character include the line that “the nation is everywhere” and that Black people are not a part of the U.S. working class and the people of the U.S. but rather a separrate nation in every urban ghetto. This view makes class unity impossible and feeds various forms of cultural nationalism. Another important aspect of this “dispersed nation” theory is that it covers over all distinctions between North and South, blotting out a 350-year history of development and the scars of the slave system.

It is vital that we take these distinctions into account and recognize the special character of the struggle in the South. This is where the heart and soul of the Black liberation movement lies. To say that the “nation is everywhere” or that it is a “dispersed nation” or that it is a “proletarian nation of a new type” revises the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism and liquidates the national question. It turns the right of self-determination into a meaningless phrase because self-determination is impossible in a myriad of scattered ghettoes, isolated from one another, indefensible, with no arable land or ports.

The “proletarian nation” theory is based upon the revisionist theory of the “productive forces.” It was developed by the revisionist CPUSA and echoed later by various Trotskyite groups. It originated in the U.S. movement with the Lovestonites who claimed ”the industrial revolution will sweep away the remnants of slavery in the agricultural South, and will proletarianize the Negro peasantry, so that the Negro question as a special national question, would thereby be presumably solved or could be put off until socialist revolution in America.” (Description of Lovestone’s line taken from the Comintern Resolution on the Negro Question in the U.S.)


11) When we speak of deviations on the national question, we must speak mainly of the CPUSA modern revisionists, the principal ideological enemy we face in the long term struggle for Black liberation.

The degeneration of the CPUSA, from the once proud vanguard of the workers and oppressed peoples, into the social-chauvinist nestling place for betrayers of the Afro-Americans began with Earl Browder (the early revisionist leader in the CPUSA). Browder liquidated the national question of Black people as the first step in smashing the CP as a working class party. Describing Browderism on the Afro-American question, the Communist leader William Z. Foster wrote:

In the work among the Negro masses, Browder’s theory that the Negro people, having abandoned (satisfied) their national aspirations, were now integrated into the white population, threw confusion into the ranks of communists and their sympathizers and undermined their fight for the rights of the Negro people. – History of the Communist Party, U.S.A.

Later in the 50’s, the CPUSA withdrew its earlier rejection of Browderism, dropped the slogan of self-determination, liquidated its independent role in the Afro-American struggle, and withdrew almost all of its cadres from the South. This went hand-in-hand with their adoption of “peaceful transition to socialism” and as Afro-American communist theoretician Harry Haywood pointed out at that time,

Without the perspective of POLITICAL POWER, the Negro people’s movement is reduced to an impotent appeal to the conscience of humanitarian instincts of the country and the world.. The semi-feudal national oppression of the Negro people in the Deep South will not die by itself. It can only be destroyed through mass, revolutionary struggle led by a Marxist-Leninist vanguard.

The line of the CPUSA is the theory of the “productive forces” that the national question disappears peacefully through the development of industry in an oppressed nation. It is the line of the peaceful development of capitalism as the solution to the contradiction – as opposed to political and revolutionary struggle. To the revisionists, the Afro-American people have “already exercised the right of self-determination” and have opted for integration. The CP believes that the problems of the Afro-American people can be resolved under “anti-monopoly rule”, a liberal-led peacefully elected coalition of so-called anti-monopoly forces – in other words they view it as a question of reforms, not revolution.

Their entire program for Black liberation consists of a defensive struggle for democratic rights through a “re-ordering of priorities” to get a bigger piece of the pie through larger government spending. In reality their program in no way differs from that of the Democratic Party liberals with their poverty programs and other schemes to “cool out” ghetto rebellions. Through their misleaders like Henry Winston and Angela Davis, they use every sort of demagogery to cover over their attempts at disarming the Black masses and making them an electoral base for the Democratic party.

Their practice is also characterized by a patronizing and tailing behind the Afro-American movement, often playing it off against the Chicano and Puerto Rican movements in the same fashion as OEO and other government programs do.


12) While the increased proletarianization of the Afro-American people has not liquidated the national question, it has had a profound effect upon the character of the national question. Fifteen million Black workers have added new muscle to the struggle. The Black workers and their organizations are beginning to assume their rightful place at the head of the struggle.

The main thrust of our work on this question must be based on the struggle for an end to discrimination in jobs, housing, education, etc.–not only to bring Black people even with whites but for the democratic rights all people should have. It must include constant exposures of and struggles against all forms of brutality and genocide against Black people, from forced sterilization programs against Black women and men, to “scientific experiments” performed on prisoners and others.

In the course of this struggle for democratic rights, it is the special duty of communists to show that the root of these problems lies in the nature of the capitalist system itself. Communists must point to socialism and the working class program of the right of self-determination as the ultimate answer to problems of inequality and discrimination. We must work within these struggles to build unity between Black and white, and to push forward the leadership of the working class and communists.


13) For the first time in decades, a significant number of Marxist-Leninist leaders are again emerging from the Black liberation movement, reflecting the growing influence of the Black workers within the united front. These communists represent the highest hopes and aspirations of the Black masses. These comrades have become part of the new, growing communist movement working within multi-national as well as national forms of organizations, dealing real blows, to both white chauvinism and to petty bourgeois nationalism within the revolutionary ranks.

To build and strengthen this unity, it is essential that a consistent fight against white chauvinism be waged both within the O.L. and outside. Because the class struggle within the O.L. reflects, in many ways, the class struggle in society, bourgeois ideology must continuously be fought within our ranks. The main aspect of this bourgeois thinking is white chauvinism, which among revolutionaries is often of the more subtle variety. It eats away at the internal cohesion and fighting capacity of the organization and will drive away the workers from our ranks. It serves to weaken the role of minority comrades and keeps them weak and disunified. It also serves to build narrow nationalism as its by-product.

Only the most determined fight on this question will enable us to play a leading role among the masses. It is only with the training and development of national minority communists within our own ranks that we will be able to lead a real struggle against white chauvinism which is necessary for us to exercise working class leadership.


14) Because of the national question, the Black masses, both North and South, have found national forms of organization valuable for waging their struggle. While our objective is working class unity, we encourage the development of national forms of organization, which often express the highest working class content.

Some national forms of organization are presently based among Black workers or communists. Others are community-based organizations with a united front character encompassing diverse sections of the Afro-American people. In recent years we have seen the development of groups like the League of Revolutionary Black Workers which have pushed forward the whole class struggle. Especially in the South, these national forms, while at times supplying fertile soil for the Black bourgeoisie to spread narrow nationalism and racialism, are in the main, avenues for the Black workers to come into the working class and communist movement.

The communist leader G. Dimitrov wrote: “National forms of the proletarian class struggle and of the labor movement in their individual countries are in no contradiction to proletarian internationalism ...” – United Front Against Fascism

The road to multi-national forms of organization which in many cases are preferable, lies in the winning of the white workers to an internationalist stand. This requires a most consistent battle against white chauvinism.

We hold to the principle that the communist party must be a multi-national party and representative of the entire working class within the borders of the U.S. Temporarily, national forms of communist organization reflect the objective realities of a communist movement which is young and scattered with several centers. This must be recognized as a sign of our primitiveness and not glorified. Particularly at this time, when party building is the central task of communists, uniting communists of different nationalities is an especially urgent task. We must understand that this national division among communists is partly a result of the degeneration of the CPUSA and their abandonment of the Afro-American people’s struggle.

On the other hand, these communist groups, built presently along national lines, should be viewed as equals in the present struggle to forge a new party. We should recognize their role at this time in bringing Marxism-Leninism to a large number of minority workers. Multi-national organizational unity can only be achieved with conscious policies of joint practical work and ideological struggle. The decisive thing in evaluating any communist group is its political line and not its national composition.


Another principle of organization is that the white comrades have a special duty, apart from their responsibility of doing work among the entire working class, to see to it that work among the white workers is adequately done, educating them in the spirit of unity which as whites they can do best. Consistent work must be carried on in fighting chauvinism and winning the white workers to support the just struggles of Black and other nationally oppressed people.

This should be done in the closest cooperation with minority comrades, who in turn have a special responsibility to combat the bourgeois line of exclusiveness and narrow nationalism among the minority workers and peoples, as well as their general tasks of giving leadership to the overall class and national movements.

Within the O.L., we must take up the responsibility of training and developing leaders from the ranks of the oppressed nationalities, not only of the national movements and working class mass organizations, but of the O.L. and the communist movement as well.

In conclusion, communists must become a fighting force within the Black united front and in forging working class unity by working within the Black liberation movement in a day-to-day way to merge it with the general movement of the working class for socialism.