Saturday, December 26, 2009

*On The Slogan- "For A Freedom/Workers Party"- A Note For Discussion

Click on the title to link to the "End U.S. Wars" Web site for ex-Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney's address (scroll down) that is related to the commentary below.

The following note, although written on December 20, 2009, belongs with the entry for Cynthia McKinney’s speech below, originally posted on December 17, 2007, because a point I made in that entry is the focus of the comment here. Thanks, Internet blogger technology for this one.

Markin comment:

Note: December 20, 2009-Someone with whom I shared this entry on another blog that I belong to questioned me on the formulation of a “freedom/workers party” when I, off-handedly, called on Cynthia McKinney to break from all bourgeois parties and come over and work with us. He noted that on all previous occasions when I had evoked the “workers party fighting for a workers government” slogan there was not “freedom” used as part of the formulation. The comrade had a good point and I want to expand on it here.

Frankly, part of the use of the word “freedom”, in addition to the traditional fighting slogan of building a workers party that fights for a worker government, was a somewhat sloppy, cryptic and not fully thought out way of expressing a concept that I think is worth thinking about for the future as we fight for a class-struggle workers party, for socialist revolution, and for the goal of a classless international communist society. As I have repeatedly emphasized in this space a black working class-led trans-class black liberation struggle will be an important component in the fight for the coming American socialist revolution. That strategic perspective still holds true today, perhaps more so.

That said, I do not think that raising the slogan under discussion over the past few decades would have made political sense. The "freedom" idea brings back memories of civil rights days, and while that battle was narrowly centered on democratic rights, and, ultimately, did not finish the black liberation struggle, not by a long way, the central focus thereafter became bringing that liberation as a part of general propaganda for the communist program. However, some of the factors that underlined that perspective have eroded somewhat over the past few decades since the civil rights days, mainly the hellish effects that the deindustrialization (and de-unionization, which went hand and hand with it) of the American economy has had on the black, and now, other minority populations like Hispanics and immigrants.

Centered on the historic black question particularly, by almost every statistic from unemployment rates, net worth, educational opportunities, foreclosure rates and prison incarcerations rates (always a sure way to tell the real status of blacks, especially young black males) the black population has taken it on the chin. Although those conditions have been addressed in the general propaganda previously I think we need to think about bringing in an additional concept again that reflects that social reality today.

Formulations placing a special emphasis on the black question have a rather rich, if somewhat spotty, history in the American communist movement going back to the founding of the party back in 1919. Some of it centered on the black struggle in the South in the 1920s and 1930s when, despite the erroneous “third period” Stalinist Communist International policy of calling for a truncated form of national self-determination for blacks in some mythical “black belt”, the American Communist Party was in the vanguard of the black liberation struggle. My sense of the use of the slogan, however, does not go back that far. I am thinking more of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, when it was being led (or rather misled) by the black preachers and other middle class black elements (supported by, mainly, Northern white liberals, including me) whose strategy was a total political reliance on the good offices of the racist Democratic Party, a party in turn dependent for its national majorities on the hard segregationist South.

The most graphic example of this reliance came at the 1964 Democratic Convention in Atlantic City where Lyndon Johnson sought to be crowned the candidate of that party in his own right. The most burning question of the convention, however, was the seating of the traditional racist Mississippi Democratic Party. The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, led by the heroic civil rights militant Fannie Lou Hamer, was pieced off there by the national Democratic Party in the interests of… winning in 1964 against the arch-villain, Senator Barry Goldwater. Sound familiar? With those civil rights struggles still in progress (and in desperate need of some socialist intervention, not the abstention, or worst, of the Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party) it was a natural spot to call for a “Freedom/Workers Party”, putting class and race issues together in a very algebraic way. And that brings us to the present.

Obviously, the exact conditions and questions posed today are not the same as then. However, I would argue that with the economic and social conditions in the black communities today (think, most graphically, of New Orleans, Los Angeles and, tragically, the decimation of black working class Detroit) that this slogan is due for a 21st century reincarnation. As an effective propaganda tool when confronting the first black elected president of the American imperium, Barack Obama, who has gone out of his way to avoid the burning issues of the black communities, I do not think I am being outlandish.

As for the call for Cynthia McKinney to break with the bourgeois parties in order to pose this slogan at this time. That was something of a convenient ruse. If Cynthia McKinney, personally, came over on our programmatic basis fine. If not- we still stand for a “freedom/workers party”. This question, I think, is still at the discussion stage. I, for example, am not sure that "freedom" is the right word for a shorthand way to address the crying need for a communist solution to the black liberation struggle. Nor are the special issues to be raised etched in stone, Although one should center on physically saving the mainly black inner-cities with massive public works at union rates. More on this later. What do you think?

No comments:

Post a Comment