The struggle of Black people for their liberation has reached unprecedented heights. Beginning with the 1964 Harlem uprising, millions have engaged in open-and frequently armed-resistance to ruling-class oppression. Black rebellions represent the most advanced aspect of class struggle in the U.S. at the present time. They have shaken the ruling class as have no other events in the past 30 years.
Despite government claims, conditions of life for most Black people have worsened over the years. This is true for the entire working class, but because of the special oppression of Black people it is worse for them. They bear the brunt of the contradictions of U.S. imperialism.
U.S. imperialism has received many important setbacks around the world. Two in particular have created enormous problems for the U.S. ruling class: the People’s War in Vietnam, and such increasing competition from other imperialist countries that the U.S. can no longer completely dominate Western Europe and Japan.
The resulting loss of profits has forced this country’s rulers to bear down even harder on their workers, as they must if they are to continue to make the maximum profits necessary to maintain capitalism. For that system can only survive by seeking not just the average but maximum profits. This is the reason for the oppression of Black workers at home and the oppression of the people in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Nor is such oppression an aberration of capitalism or the work of particularly deranged imperialists; it is the normal and necessary operation of imperialism.
Exploitation and systematic robbery of Black workers at home is the most profitable and most vital domestic business of U.S. imperialism. By discriminating against Black people the ruling class is able to force on them a per capita income of $1,000 less per year than that of white people. When that figure is multiplied by the 22 million Black people it becomes clear that racism earns the bosses $22 billion each year. Because the ruling class is able to depress Black workers’ wages, it forces down wages of all workers. Who can calculate the billions amassed by bosses each year by this method? Additional billions are saved each year by bosses who limit the life-giving social services available to Black people. Then there is the robbery of higher food prices and higher rents for inferior housing, all of which shows the enormity of Black oppression.
The cruel meaning of this for Black workers is more unemployment, lower wages, and worse living conditions. It means worse schools, worse medical facilities, more garbage on the streets, little or no decent low-rent housing, more and worse slums, high infant mortality, lower life expectancy and more police terror to prevent or contain the inevitable resistance to this state of affairs.
Such has been the treatment meted out to Black people for over 350 years, first as slaves, then as wage slaves. If one could calculate the hundreds of billions in profits derived from the super-exploitation of Black workers during the last three and a half centuries, one would see that imperialism relies on these profits for its vigor. Similarly the plunder of colonial nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America is the most profitable external business of U.S. imperialism, which explains the fierceness of the Vietnam War and the lengths to which the U.S. will go to retain its influence and control there.
The imperialists use racist ideas to justify their brutal exploitation of national minorities at home and workers and oppressed people abroad. They do this in order to set one group of workers against another and so cover up the fact that the basic and common enemy of all workers is the class of big businessmen and the imperialist system of private ownership.
Only when this imperialist system is eliminated, the government* that protects it smashed and the working class in absolute control will all the workers, for the first time, be able to lead a decent life. This means building socialism, because imperialism can only be replaced by socialism.
*By “government” we mean the entire state power-every repressive force on every level of government that can be used to blunt and defeat the workers’ fight for their class interests: the army; National Guard; state, county and city police; courts; jails; laws (injunctions, martial law, etc.).
Imperialism exists to the degree that it can continue racist exploitation. Three and a half centuries of drumming home to Black and white workers the myth of Black inferiority enables the ruling class to continue its oppression; and unless the working class learns to reject racism it cannot end that oppression. No worker, Black or white, should have any illusion that U.S. imperialism can ever grant full equality to Black workers. To do so would end the maximum profits made possible only by Black exploitation.
Black rebellions are currently the most advanced expression of class struggle. They are a serious threat to the ruling class, which, after the Harlem rebellion, prepared a massive effort to suppress future Black rebellions. It well understood that Black working people were not going to take their worsening conditions lying down. Though the ruling class acted to pacify some leaders and militants with the “War on Poverty” programs, it realized the limits of its economic resources. It could bribe a few leaders and co-opt many others, but 95 per cent of the 22 million Black people are part of the working class; and you can’t buy off that many people! So the ruling class moved a massive police and army apparatus into action to prevent or smash the Black working people’s rebellions. Ruling-class strategy, as always, was to use the dual tactic of bribery and, ultimately, terror.
In each city across the country and in many rural areas the ruling class has mustered a huge army of police, National Guard and regular Army units to suppress the forces of ever-threatening Black rebellion. In addition, the ruling class, finding itself weak, feels it necessary to augment these agencies of state power with “unofficial” vigilante groups. This serves the purpose of diverting Black and white workers from fighting the ruling class to fighting each other.
U.S. imperialism, therefore, is faced with a serious second military front at home. This limits what it can throw against other oppressed people in Asia, Africa, Latin America and socialist China and Albania. Black rebellions help the fight of all people who try to free themselves from U.S. domination. And, in turn, the efforts of any people around the world who fight the U.S. rulers help Black workers at home, since U.S. imperialists must weaken themselves trying to put down these rebellions.
Unquestionably, the heroic efforts of the Vietnamese people inspired the battle of Black workers at home. Millions of Black workers now identify with the struggles of the Vietnamese people, and many recognize that U.S. imperialism is their common enemy. Recently, in response to the statement of Mao Tse-tung in support of the Black Liberation Movement, revolutionary forces all over the world added their voices in support of Black liberation.
The revolution in Vietnam has exposed the myth of U.S. “democracy,” thereby spurring millions around the world to organize against U.S. imperialism, weakening and isolating it politically. Even a U.S. deal in Vietnam made with the help of revisionists in Hanoi and Moscow cannot perfume the stench of U.S. democracy.
Shatters U.S.A. Myth
Because Black worker rebellions occur in the heart of U.S. imperialism, they directly affect both the class struggle at home and the international class struggle. Because of this simultaneous attack on its maximum profits, U.S. rulers repress them violently, despite the political consequences. But this repression by the U.S. rulers is another blow to their phony democratic image. Black action exposes the actual character of the U.S. imperialists. This political awareness will eventually lead to even sharper efforts against the U.S. bosses at home and abroad.
The action of millions of Black workers is also a shattering blow to the myth of U.S. invincibility. Black rebellion destroys the idea of “American exceptionalism” – the idea that U.S. imperialism is “enlightened” and can master its internal contradictions. Black rebellions have pointed up the possibilities for revolution. They show the ruling class is not omnipotent, and easily panics in the face of sharp struggle. Black rebellions finish forever the racist notion that Black people are docile, servile, trained by their circumstances to endless passivity.
[PDF continues on pages 248-267, headings included below.]
Black Workers’ Key Role
Elements of Program
White chauvinism – the idea that being white makes one superior – is rampant among white workers. The struggle of white workers lags behind Blacks. Certainly white workers have not begun to grasp the Marxian truth that the worker in the white skin can never be free until the worker in the Black skin is free.
The Ford Fraud
Revisionism Means Slavery
About Our Party
The Question of Black Women
While this special exploitation of women is true in general, it is more brutal when applied to Black women; they must face super-exploitation as workers who are Black, together with the additional burden of being women. The super-exploitation of women and the triple-exploitation of Black women workers can only end with the destruction of imperialism and the construction of a workers’ dictatorship. It is precisely because of the special position of women and the brutal exploitation of Black women that they therefore are the most potentially revolutionary section of the working class; they are the most oppressed and therefore will fight back the hardest.
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