STUDY GUIDE

Revolutionary Integration: A Marxist Analysis of Black Liberation by Richard Fraser and Tom Boot

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Text available through Google Books.

This study guide is based on questions originally developed by the New York and Bay Area FSP branches.

Please be sure study group reads the explanatory footnotes at the back of the book.

INTRODUCTION TO THE 2004 EDITION (page 9)

  1. What is the historical relationship between the Socialist Workers Party and the Freedom Socialist Party?
  2. What was the role played by Revolutionary Integration in the different paths taken by these two parties?

PART 1. DIALECTICS OF BLACK LIBERATION

PREFACE (page 15)

  1. Where did the Black movement stand politically when “Revolutionary Integration: Dialectics of Black Liberation” was written in 1963?
  2. Why was the Robert Williams movement in Monroe, North Carolina so important?
  3. What happened in Birmingham in 1963, and what was its significance?
  4. What new weapon was needed by the Black movement
  5. Why is class solidarity important to achieving the goals of the Black movement – and vice versa?
  6. Describe the conditions that led to the rise of the Black Muslims. What are contradictory aspects of the Muslims?
  7. What leadership forces existed in the Black movement?

THE COMING SOUTHERN REVOLUTION (page 20)

The southern police state (page 20)

  1. Describe the southern police state.
  2. What does it mean to say that “modern capitalist rule takes form in either bourgeois democracy or fascism”?
  3. What is the difference between a police state and a fascist state?

The role of the government in the South (page 22)

  1. Why will the U.S. government never bring the legal equality of the North to the South?
  2. How does the disenfranchisement of the southern working class figure in the political stability of capitalist rule nationwide?

Federal troops to the South (page 23)

  1. Explain why Eisenhower and then Kennedy sent troops to the South.

The southern labor party (page 26)

  1. What is a political revolution? Why did Fraser feel it was needed in the South?
  2. How did the rise of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party confirm the need for a workingclass party in the South? (Footnote 10)
  3. How will the emergence of a labor party in the South be different than in the North?

The strategic power of northern labor (page 27)

  1. Why is northern labor necessary for the success of the developing Southern revolution?
  2. What is the key task of northern Blacks in this scenario?
  3. Why are strikes and boycotts not enough to win democratic rights in the South?

THE NORTH: PROLONGED CRISIS OF LEADERSHIP AND QUEST FOR A PROGRAM (page 30)

The reformist leadership (page 30)

  1. Describe the northern sector of the Black movement. How was it different than the southern movement?
  2. What is reformism?
  3. Where did radical awareness develop in the North? What was it lacking? How was it expressed?
  4. Explain the protracted crisis of leadership in the northern Black movement and its effects.
  5. What are the conservatizing social forces in the Black community?
  6. Describe the conflict between class and racial interests among middleclass Black professionals and the lack of such conflict among workingclass Blacks.
  7. How did the militant anti-capitalist direction of the Black movement become blunted?

The nationalist alternative to reformism (page 33)

  1. Discuss the Leninist definition of a nation and how the criteria apply to current national liberation movements.
  2. What can be learned about nationalism from the history of the Russian Revolution?
  3. What is wrong with the SWP definition of national consciousness?
  4. How do the questions on page 36 reflect a concrete, objective approach to the question of Black nationhood?

Racial segregation: A unique oppression (page 37)

  1. Define race. What is the role of race in the development of U.S. society?
  2. How did racism survive the Civil War? Explain.
  3. Why is race irrational? What are the consequences of this? Why are some social categories historically necessary?

The race question and the National Question (page 38)

  1. Explain how the Black Question and the National Question are opposites.
  2. Give examples of how Blacks have been an integral part of historically important developments in the U.S.
  3. Explain why African Nationalism could more accurately be called African Internationalism.

Black separatism (page 41)

  1. What conditions gave rise to the American Colonization Society? What brought about its demise?
  2. What were the three key sources of Garvey’s “Back to Africa” movement? Explain the contribution of each.
  3. What distinguished the Garvey movement from the program and action of the American Colonization Society?
  4. Why did the Garvey movement have such an appeal to Blacks in the 1920s?
  5. Why did A. Phillip Randolph’s Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters come to replace the Garvey movement? What does this illustrate?
  6. What caused the demise of both the Colonization movement and Garveyism? What does this illustrate about separatism as an historical trend in the Black freedom struggle?
  7. What factors gave rise to the popularity of the Black Muslims in the 1960s?
  8. Describe the appeal of the Muslims.
  9. What does it mean to describe their goals as ambiguous and Utopian? Explain.
  10. Describe the Muslims’ attitude toward the 1963 Birmingham mobilization?
  11. Summarize the comparison between the Black Muslims and the Garvey movement.

The Black nationalism of white radicals (page 49)

  1. Explain how the radical movement in the U.S. was integrationist in the first two decades of the 20th century.
  2. How did the Garvey movement and the rise of Stalinism distort the understanding of the Black freedom struggle within the largely white radical movement?
  3. Why was Trotsky suspicious of U.S. Trotskyists who thought Blacks were not a national minority?
  4. What were the political consequences of the Left’s confusion on the issue of integration?
  5. What is the meaning of the slogan of the right of nations to self-determination?
  6. What’s the problem with white radicals putting a question mark on the historical thrust of the Black movement?

Separatism and the freedom struggle (page 55)

  1. How can a socialist state accommodate specially oppressed groups that are not nations?
  2. How does separatism fail to address the central issue of Black oppression?

THE BLACK MOVEMENT (page 56)

  1. Describe the characteristics of the upsurge of the Black movement in the early 1960s. In what sense was it nationalist?
  2. How was the Black movement independent but not nationalist?

The impact of Black culture on American society (page 57)

  1. What were the characteristics of Black slave culture?
  2. Why was this Black culture so influential in U.S. history?
  3. What happened to progressive features of American culture when Reconstruction was overturned?
  4. What revived American culture?
  5. What causes the feeling of cultural alienation among Blacks?
  6. Describe some aspects of Black culture.
  7. How did reformist integrationists of the 1960s view their own Black culture?
  8. Why do Blacks reject assimilation?

A vanguard of the class struggle (page 61)

  1. What obstacles do Blacks face in the trade unions?
  2. How has race intersected with the history of U.S. labor unions from the rise of the CIO to the merger with the AFL and the political subjugation of unions to the Democratic Party?
  3. How have racism and red-baiting worked to undermine the power of labor? What effect did this have on Blacks in the labor movement?
  4. Why are Black unionists so strategic to making fundamental change?

Blacks and independent politics (page 64)

  1. Why do Blacks remain tied to the Democratic Party despite their class-consciousness?
  2. What is the problem with an all-inclusive Black unity party? Why would such a party inevitably be reformist?
  3. How would an independent anti-capitalist party advance the Black movement?
  4. Why is it important to maintain the united front of the Black community? How would a Black unity party undermine this?
  5. What would be the contributions of a radical Black vanguard party?

THE REVOLUTIONARY MARXIST PARTY IN THE BLACK STRUGGLE (page 68)

The record (page 68)

  1. What are the tasks of a Marxist party in the Black struggle? Give examples of each task.
  2. How would you characterize the 25-year record of the SWP’s intervention in the Black struggle?

Theory

  1. What were the three main SWP views on the Black movement identified by Dan Roberts?

Black nationalism for white radicals

Why did Black nationalism remain subordinate and unstated in the party?

What were the consequences of this theory for the Black members of the party?

The Black Question as an appendage of trade unionism

State the problems of interpreting the civil rights movement as an appendage of the union movement.

Economic determinism

What is economic determinism? What makes this theory mechanical?

The activists

Describe the dilemma for the Black members of the party.

The official compromise resolution

Explain what it means to assert that the SWP has no fundamental theory at all.

Revolutionary Integration

Explain the statement that “the demand for integration produces a struggle that is transitional to socialism.”

Politics and propaganda (page 73)

  1. What is at the root of the SWP’s hands-off policy toward the Black movement?
  2. How was the SWP paternalistic in its orientation to the Black movement?
  3. What are the consequences of this?

Organization and cadre (page 77)

  1. How did the SWP compensate for its abstention from debate in the Black movement? What were the consequences?
  2. Why did recruitment of Blacks virtually stop at the height of the Black movement?

The source (page 78)

Trotsky and the Black struggle (page 78)

  1. How did the SWP misuse Trotsky’s comments on self-determination?
  2. What issues raised by Trotsky does the SWP choose to ignore?

Black nationalists in the Marxist movement (page 81)

  1. What was Robert Vernon’s analysis of the problem in the SWP? How was he right? How was he wrong?
  2. How was the SWP isolated? How did it contribute to its own isolation?

Blacks in relation to the working class (page 82)

  1. What would be the political consequences for the U.S. working class if Black separatism were implemented?
  2. Why is the Black Question the key question for the U.S. working class?
  3. How does this section explain the C.L.R. James statement on the bottom of page 81 that wrong attitudes and ideas among white radicals are “not a matter of prejudice,” but are a “political problem”?

The future (page 83)

  1. What is the importance of materialism in arriving at a correct theory of Black liberation?
  2. What do you think of the demands proposed for the Southern civil rights struggle?
  3. What alternatives exist if Black radicals are too distrustful to join with whites in socialist parties?
  4. How should white comrades and comrades of color work together in the union movement?
  5. Why was the Black struggle a test of the SWP’s ability to Americanize Marxism?

PART 2. REVOLUTIONARY INTEGRATION: YESTERDAY AND TODAY

OVERVIEW (page 91)

  1. What is Permanent Revolution?
  2. What has been the general trend of the Black struggle throughout U.S. history?
  3. Discuss the five points summarizing the basic premises of Revolutionary Integration.
  4. Although the Black movement was approaching a revolutionary stage in the 1960s and 1970s, this didn’t happen. Explain why.
  5. What was the state of the Black movement at the time Part 2 was written in the early 1980s? How have things changed today?

THE COMINTERN ADDRESSES THE BLACK QUESTION (page 95)

  1. How did various segments of the Left deal with the problems of Black workers in the first decades of the 20th century?
  2. Who were the Bolsheviks? What was the Comintern/Third International?
  3. How did the Comintern view the Black Question? What did the American Communist Party do about this question?
  4. How did John Reed’s view of Blacks differ from Lenin’s?
  5. Why did Lenin see Blacks as a revolutionary vanguard? Give examples of Blacks leading whites and other working people in struggle.
  6. What were the contributions of the Fourth Congress of the Comintern in relation to colonized people and Blacks?

LENIN ON THE NATIONAL/COLONIAL QUESTION (page 101)

  1. What is the Leninist definition of nationhood?
  2. Use Lenin’s criteria to discuss whether the following groups constitute nations: Palestinians, Kurds, Jews, Irish, U.S. Blacks, Native Americans, Quebecois, Gypsies/Romany, Cajuns.
  3. Explain the right of nations to self-determination. Should Marxists always support self-determination? Is this the same as promoting separation?

STALIN’S BLACK BELT DICTUM (page 104)

  1. What was the impact of Stalinism on the Communist movement?
  2. How did the Left Opposition in the U.S. Communist Party develop?
  3. What is the “Black Belt” thesis? On what basis did the Sixth Congress of the Comintern decide on this policy?

DEBATE IN THE FOURTH INTERNATIONAL (page 107)

  1. What was the Communist League of America’s approach to the Black Question?
  2. What position did Trotsky take on Black self-determination in the U.S.? What did Swabeck and the CLA have to say on the issue?
  3. What political events delayed the U.S. Trotskyists’ discussion on the Black Question and led to the formation of the SWP?
  4. What was C.L.R. James/J.R. Johnson’s view of the Black Question?
  5. Why did Trotsky adhere to the right of self-determination for U.S. Blacks?
  6. What was the SWP’s 1939 position on the Black Question? What was wrong with it?
  7. How did conditions for Blacks change in the 1940s?
  8. Characterize the political strengths and weaknesses of A. Philip Randolph?
  9. Contrast the work done by the SWP and CP for Black freedom in the 1940s.
  10. How did the SWP’s contradictory stance on the Black movement reveal itself?
  11. What was the dual nature of the Black movement as formulated by C.L.R. James/J.R. Johnson?
  12. Why was the SWP’s refusal to take a stand on the character of the Black movement a concession to nationalism?

EMERGENCE OF THE REVOLUTIONARY INTEGRATION POSITION (page 123)

  1. Explain and give concrete examples of the definition of Revolutionary Integration at the top of page 124.
  2. Discuss Daniel Guerín’s analysis of the Black struggle. How does this support or differ from Revolutionary Integration?
  3. What role did James P. Cannon play in the debate in the SWP?
  4. Why did so many Blacks leave the SWP?
  5. What were the problems with Martin Luther King’s political orientation?
  6. What prompted the change in the SWP’s position in 1963?
  7. What were Clara Fraser’s criticisms of the Black Muslims?
  8. What exposed the SWP’s error in supporting the Muslims?
  9. What were the contradictions in the SWP’s position on the Black movement? How was it in conflict with the realities of the Black movement at that time?

REVOLUTIONARY INTEGRATION IN THE TURBULENT 1960s (page 133)

  1. What objective criteria caused the retreat of the Black movement? What subjective phenomena?

The Black reformists (page 134)

  1. What was Martin Luther King’s class orientation? What in his later years pushed him toward increased militancy?
  2. Why is reformism tenuous?

The Black radicals (page 136)

  1. What did Malcolm X represent politically?
  2. Characterize SNCC’s politics and impact.
  3. What role did women play in SNCC? How did Black women respond to their treatment in SNCC? How did white women?
  4. What was Daniel Moynihan’s analysis of the Black family? How did it affect relationships between Black men and women?
  5. What happened at the 1965 Atlantic City, New Jersey convention of the Democratic Party?
  6. What caused SNCC’s degeneration?
  7. Why was ambiguous about the Black Power slogan?
  8. What was the major challenge before the civil rights movement according to Clara Fraser?
  9. What were the Black Panthers’ strengths and weaknesses?
  10. What strategy did Robert Williams represent?

Impact of Blacks on labor (page 147)

  1. Explain the two major factors that cause divisions within the U.S. working class. How do they affect labor unions and radical parties?
  2. What historically have been the demands of Black workers? How has the AFL-CIO responded?
  3. What events prompted passage of the 1964 civil rights laws and the 1965 Voting Rights Act?
  4. What was the message of Watts? What new direction did it indicate to Martin Luther King?
  5. What was the striking characteristic of the Charleston hospital strike?
  6. What were the strengths and weaknesses of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers?
  7. What is cultural nationalism?

THE 1970s: CULTURAL NATIONALISM AND BLACK MACHO (page 156)

  1. Historically, when does Black nationalism rise to the fore?
  2. How is cultural nationalism opportunistic?
  3. What is the difference between autonomy and separatism? What is the difference between tactics and principles?
  4. Why does cultural nationalism fail to challenge the capitalist class?
  5. How did the slogans of Black Power and Black Pride change in meaning?
  6. Describe how the “battle of the sexes” was the giant issue of the 1970s Black movement. Discuss the key positions in the debate.
  7. Why do you think Black women were among the first feminist militants?

REBIRTH AND RETREAT OF BLACK FEMINISM (page 161)

  1. Give an example of two Black woman leaders and how their gender-awareness combined with their racial identity to strengthen their political struggles?
  2. What was the reaction to Black feminism?
  3. Why were Black feminists so isolated? What happened to the potential for an interracial alliance of Black and white feminists?
  4. Why are revolutionary politics essential to Black feminism?
  5. What do the FSP and RW offer to the struggles of Black women?

Black lesbians and gay men (page 166)

  1. What did Lorraine Hansberry predict and call for in her letter to The Ladder?
  2. Describe why the National Third World Lesbian and Gay Conference in 1979 was a historic landmark.
  3. Compare the National Lesbian/Gay March in 1979 to previous civil rights protests in Washington, DC.
  4. Give a current example of homophobia or sexism in the Black community and discuss what it reflects.
  5. How does the movement of GLBT people of color offer hope for all the mass movements?

THE 1980s: THE BLACK MOVEMENT IN THE REAGAN ERA (page 172)

  1. What does it mean that the ruling class needs to “make certain that Blacks are too busy trying to stay alive to fight back”?

The Black struggle and the Left (page 173)

  1. What is the basis for effective community organizing, especially where the Black community is concerned?
  2. Compare the different views of the relative importance of racism, sexism and homophobia held by the seven groups described (Communist Party, the Trend, Workers World, Communist Workers Party, African Peoples Socialist Party, Revolutionary Workers League, Spartacist League).
  3. Discuss the positions of these left groups on the Black Question.
  4. How does the “White European” concept encourage anti-Semitism and redbaiting?
  5. How does the work of FSP and RW in the Black community reflect the program of Revolutionary Integration?
  6. Cite a few examples from the book or your own experience that support the idea that the program of the Black cultural nationalists is “a frightening combination of sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Marxism, and anti-workingclass dogma.”
  7. What was the state of Black reformist leadership?
  8. Why was the crisis of leadership in the 1980s worse than in 1965?
  9. What are the signs that the leadership so badly needed in the Black community is “brewing down in the ranks”?
  10. Discuss the National Black Independent Party’s potential for filling the leadership void.

Striking a blow for global freedom (page 191)

  1. How does the Black movement connect to international struggles and movements of other people of color?
  2. What are the consequences of substituting separatist and chauvinist cultural nationalism for class struggle?

Black revolt and Permanent Revolution (page 193)

  1. Give some examples of Permanent Revolution.
  2. How does Revolutionary Integration relate to Permanent Revolution?
  3. Explain why Black liberation and survival are tied to the success of socialist revolution, and why also socialist revolution depends on Black struggle and leadership.

WHAT MUST BE DONE (page 195)

  1. Briefly describe the nine points in “Our general course.”
  2. What role do Black women and Black lesbians have in pushing the Black movement and the socialist movement forward?
  3. What must be the role and make-up of a labor party? How does this compare to the most recent labor party effort in the U.S.?
  4. Do you think the 12 slogans for the struggle are still relevant today? Are there new slogans that should be added?
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