By Tom “Big Warrior” Watts 3/1/2018
There was a time when you could be a “revolutionary nationalist,” when progressive nationalism lead inevitably to liberal democracy and socialism. This was the period of rising capitalism, when it was in contradiction with dying feudalism and dying colonialism. But now we are in the period of neoliberalism and neo-colonialism (i.e. dying capitalism,) and nationalism is an anachronism. All nationalism, and particularly racial nationalism, is reactionary. How can one be a “black nationalist” without being a “white nationalist” and vice versa? Quite simply, you can’t!
Clearly, “white nationalism” came first, and “black nationalism” was a reaction to it, since black people weren’t welcomed into the “white American” nation, even after the end of slavery, objective conditions formed them into a defacto “black nation” in the internal colony of the “Black Belt” South. This fact was recognized by the Communist International (Comintern) in 1928. Both Lenin and Stalin recognized the importance of the “Negro Question” in relation to building the Communist movement in the United States.
But even as the newly formed Communist Party was campaigning for self-determination for the “Black Belt Nation,” conditions were changing as masses of former black sharecroppers were migrating away from the South and “Jim Crow” segregation was on its way out. Fundamentally, the neo-feudal conditions of sharecropping were being erased by the advance of industrialized capitalism. New conditions of defacto segregation in urban ghettos was becoming the dominant context of black oppression.
Black nationalists like Marcus Garvey were objectively and actually in alignment with the Ku Klux Klan trying to preserve the old conditions of “Jim Crow” segregation and white nationalism. This gave traction to his “Back to Africa” campaign and his opposition to black workers allying with white workers to build strong industrial unions for economic advancement, greater social integration and a unified Black Movement for social change. Revolutionary black nationalists and pan-Africanists of the time, like the African Blood Brotherhood, opposed Garvey on all these points and eventually merged with the emerging Communist movement.
However, as modern revisionism grew within the Communist movement, and most particularly after the death of Stalin and his denunciation by Nikita Khrushchev, the CPUSA lost interest in black liberation (as well as building a revolutionary workers movement) and effectively attached itself to the left-wing of the Democratic Party. Black people quit the Communist Party in droves. Only as the former “Dixiecrats” switched to the Republican Party in the 1960s did the Democrats win a solid base among the black masses in the South. The Civil Rights movement had the ear of Kennedy and Johnson, so long as it did not challenge the capitalist system, but a new factor emerged with the rise of the Black Panther Party.
Like Dr. King and Malcolm X (before their assassinations), the Panthers saw the root of the problem of racial oppression as the capitalist system and identified with the global anti-imperialist struggle. At its high point, the BPP formulated the “Theory of Revolutionary Intercommunalism,” articulated by Huey P. Newton in his “Speech at Boston College” in 1970. As Huey explained:
“In 1966 we called our Party a Black Nationalist Party. We called ourselves Black Nationalists because we thought that nationhood was the answer. Shortly after that we decided that what was really needed was revolutionary nationalism, that is, nationalism plus socialism. After analyzing conditions a little more, we found that it was impractical and even contradictory. Therefore, we went to a higher level of consciousness. We saw that in order to be free we had to crush the ruling circle and therefore we had to unite with the peoples of the world. So we called ourselves Internationalists. We sought solidarity with the peoples of the world. We sought solidarity with what we thought were the nations of the world. But then what happened? We found that because everything is in a constant state of transformation, because of the development of technology, because of the development of the mass media, because of the fire power of the imperialist, and because of the fact that the United States is no longer a nation but an empire, nations could not exist, for they did not have the criteria for nationhood. Their self-determination, economic determination, and cultural determination has been transformed by t id do to Internationalism, if I understand the word, means the interrelationship among a group of nations. But since no nation exists, and since the United States is in fact an empire, it is impossible for us to be Internationalists. These transformations and phenomena require us to call ourselves ‘intercommunalists’ because nations have been transformed into communities of the world. The Black Panther Party now disclaims internationalism and supports intercommunalism.”
There is still a need to unite the peoples of the world to crush the ruling circle of monopoly capitalists and carry forward the World Proletarian Socialist Revolution, but it is evident that we need a new type of revolutionary vanguard than the old style national-based communist parties, primarily based among the industrialized workers or the rural peasants. We are in a new period and it calls for new strategies and a fresh application of revolutionary class analysis based upon dialectical materialism, “the science of revolution.” We must ask ourselves: What are the characteristics of this new period?
First of all, monopoly capitalism has become thoroughly globalized and largely centralized. But not completely so, and hence the principle contradiction in the world is between the need of the monopoly capitalist ruling class centered in the U.S. to consolidate its global hegemony and the chaos and anarchy—including the threat of a third world war—it is unleashing by attempting to do so. We have to face some facts, if the U.S. imperialists will not allow little North Korea with its scant natural resources, that is armed to the teeth (including a few nuclear weapons), to continue to function as an independent nation, what wouldn’t it do to prevent a separatist black nation forming and winning independence in its home territory?
The very best that can be said about this kind of Black Nationalism is that it is insane and suicidal in this period. At worst it is a deliberate attempt to sidetrack the Black liberation struggle onto a dead end cul-de-sac in the interests of continuing the capitalist system and the status quo of white supremacy. Pan Afrikanism still makes sense, so long as we bear in mind that the imperialists now have their own plan to unite Afrika under their neo-colonial domination—because to more effectively loot the continent and exploit its peoples and resources, they need to invest in building a more modern infrastructure, and they need to impose their unified military command (AFRICOM) and sweep away the remnants of old-style colonialism tied to the former colonial powers and the corrupt and unstable puppet regimes and replace them with a centralized neoliberal establishment responsive to their interests and domination.
A “New Road” of socialist pan-Afrikanism needs to be blazed that will unite Afrika as a stepping stone to achieving global liberation from capitalist-imperialism and a socialist world economy. Afrika is rich in mineral resources and arable land, and the imperialists won’t ever concede to its escaping their grasp, but as part of a worldwide united front of struggle against capitalist-imperialism, the Afrikan peoples can deal powerful blows against the empire and achieve their liberation. Close solidarity between the Afrikan Diaspora and the struggle to liberate the Afrikan homeland is needed, but this too should be built in the context of global revolutionary intercommunalism.
White nationalism is obviously racist and reactionary, but it does appeal to some sections of the working class. For one thing, it is deeply rooted in American history and tradition. People were raised in racist households by racist parents and grandparents. Their “mental picture” of America is all about white people. Not just white people, but Christian white people who don’t have foreign accents, or even different regional accents. It’s damn near tribalism. Capitalism has always played one section of the exploited class against another, using “outsiders” as “strikebreakers” and to lower wages.
Patriarchy encourages racism, and the idea of “our women”—as possessions—not to be “shared” with “outsiders.” The idea that people belong to separate and distinct “races” leads to fear that somebody is going to “pollute” “our race” by “mixing” with “our women.” Then “our race” might become “extinct.” This thought makes “racial nationalists” fearful and angry. In extreme cases, it makes them violent. White nationalist groups like the KKK build themselves by sowing fear and hatred towards black people, other “people of color,” foreigners in general and non-Christians. While the members of such groups may be working class or lower middle class, the groups themselves serve the agenda of the ruling class to keep the masses ignorant, bigoted, petty and prejudiced—and most importantly—divided.
Neoliberal “identity politics” is a refinement of the ages old tactic of “divide and rule.” While it may dspeople by and reduces them to stereotypes based on their color, sexual orientation, gender, and so forth dividing and “tribalizing” people in a dehumanizing way that is inimical to build class unity and intercommunal solidarity. “Left” and right-wing “identity politics” both practice the “Willie Lynch” tactic of “divide and rule” that serves the interests of the exploiting class.
“Panther Love” is an essential component of “Pantherism” or “revolutionary intercommunalism.” It recognizes diversity and differences as a good thing and seeks to embrace what is “essentially human” in all of us. Black Panthers, Brown Panthers and White Panthers are all working together to build the United Panther Movement, to promote revolutionary culture and the elimination of class divisions and all oppression in society. We look on bad ideology as a product of the “Epoch of Exploitation” of which capitalism is the highest stage and neoliberalism is the final phase—capitalism in its moribund death throes. Instead of playing the “blame game” with people, we seek to “cure the sickness to save the patient.”
Nationalist are on the wrong side of history because nations aren’t a part of humanity’s future, they don’t even have substance in the present. They are ghosts from the past that disappear in the light of day because they exist only in our minds. Communities are real. We live and work together in communities, and our communities are oppressed and under attack by monopoly capitalism. Capitalism sucks the lifeblood out of our communities by commodifying and privatizing everything. It is all about the money and squeezing the working class and society as a whole to create more profits for the already super wealthy. We are at a stage where poverty can be eliminated and we have the capacity to provide everyone on the planet with a decent and comfortable standard of living, with free quality healthcare, free education and so on—and at the same time end the ecological destruction of the environment being caused by monopoly capitalism and its ruthless drive to maximize the rate of profit.
We can not only eliminate poverty but war and the insanity of rampant militarism. What are we fighting for? Why does more than half of the wealth we produce go to feed the military-industrial complex? If we socialize ownership of the already socialized and globalized means of production and reorder society based upon principles of equality and social justice for all, everything will work out fine. All our needs can be satisfied and the future will be bright. What’s wrong with basing society upon the highest interests of humanity? Isn’t that the intelligent thing to do? Communism isn’t scary, it’s common sense. It is living together as a global community that treats everybody’s needs as human rights.
DARE TO STRUGGLE DARE TO WIN—ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!