Excerpts from “Revolutionary Integration” — Black leadership: prerequisite for everyone’s liberation

1960 — SNCC student organizers plotting the next course of action in Atlanta, Ga. Photo: The Gary Davis Collection
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The following excerpts from the book Revolutionary Integration explain the theory and practice of revolutionary integration and how it developed. Part I of the book was researched and formulated by Richard Fraser and Clara Fraser in 1963 at the height of Black revolt against the southern police state. It describes the heroic history and reformist shortcomings of the first decade of the Civil Rights movement. It analyzes major theoretical and organizing struggles such as Black nationalism, and poses radical strategies for the southern revolt.

Racial segregation: A unique oppression. Great Black scholars such as O.C. Cox, E. Franklin Frazier, James W. Johnson, and Alain Locke consistently maintain that the Black Question is a unique race question, that the kind of oppression suffered by Blacks in the United States is unique in history, and that never before on earth has a group been persecuted purely because of skin color, i.e., race… Race exploitation … has no necessary relation to any mode of production. A system of exploitation and discrimination revolving around the axis of skin color, it is arbitrary and perverted, and serves no progressive function whatsoever. It has caused American society to become organized around race relations, and, therefore, around prejudice.

The race question and the National Question. The Black Question is not merely different from the National Question, it is diametrically opposed to it. The historic drive of oppressed nations is towards separatism; the historic drive of U.S. Blacks is against separatism and segregation. … For an oppressed nation to become integrated is a reactionary concession to the status quo, a defeat; integration for Blacks is revolutionary, because American capitalism incorporates segregation in its fundamental structure and cannot survive without it. …

The unique feature of racial oppression is its organization around segregation. However determined may be the desires of some Blacks for a politically independent republic based on racial-cultural ties, the Black movement can grapple with oppression under capitalism only by attacking segregation. Separatism, by its very nature, cannot participate in this real struggle.

The impact of Black culture on American society. Among the oldest nonnative inhabitants of this country, Black people have contributed a huge share to U.S. wealth, progress and world preeminence. … Blacks have played heroic and sometime decisive roles in all the important developments of the country. Precisely because this is their homeland, prejudice and discrimination are infuriating. … An exclusive Black culture today is impossible, for it has no geographical base; though born in the ghetto, it swiftly escapes and becomes everybody’s.

And while this phenomenon is resented by some people of both races, it is precisely Black cultural expression in music, literature, speech, dress, dance, sports, style, and theatre that originally attracts many whites to the Black cause and the human cause. White youth especially feel passionately involved; they have to help, and how long they “stay on the train” will be determined by the level and momentum of the struggle.

Part 2 of the book was written by Tom Boot in 1982. As Guerry Hoddersen, who travelled to Mississippi in 1965 to test local observance of the new law banning segregation in public accommodations, writes in her introduction: the second half begins with “the Black movement of 1963 poised to move in a revolutionary direction against the southern police state, but lacking a leadership with a viable theory and bold perspective. Boot examines the contenders for radical Black leadership.”

The surging 1960s. Black mass revolt at the height of the civil rights era — the ’60s and early ’70s —stunned the bourgeoisie, exposed and confronted its racist police state system, and made huge cracks in the pillars of racist capitalism.

But the movement was literally smashed at its height by the frenetic defense posture of the government. Hired gun for the bourgeoisie, the government killed, beat, and maimed scores of movement leaders and activists. Blacks were exiled, jailed, harassed, and intimidated en masse; Black churches were bombed by government-coddled provocateurs out to wreak havoc within and upon the movement.

The retreat of the movement was caused by both objective and subjective phenomena. Its own internal weaknesses — lack of radical leadership and program — were magnified by its lack of true allies. Organized labor and white workers generally abstained from support, and the Left gave support, but played little of a vanguard political role. White radicals’ cheerleading of Black nationalism, coupled with their treatment of all movements as mutually separate, operated to stall what might have been a vast united front.

Ruinous sexism. Women were the organizational driving force behind the administration of SNCC’s (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) day-to-day activities. … Black women contended for leadership within SNCC at a staff meeting in 1964. Stokeley Carmichael, then ascending to SNCC leadership, responded with his infamous and destructive answer: “The only position for women in SNCC is prone.”

SNCC soon after declared itself to be a Black nationalist organization, and it slowly finished its degeneration. A powerful, militant and radical Black leadership organization had gone under, a victim of race/sex and class contradictions that it could not — or would not — solve.

Permanent Revolution. Permanent Revolution is the worldwide, uninterrupted and uninterruptible struggle of all oppressed people, led by the proletariat, for economic, social, and political equality. Running like a connecting thread through the fabric of Permanent Revolution is irrepressible Black protest and revolution.

The theory of Permanent Revolution first formulated by Marx and later extended and enriched by Lenin and Trotsky, states in essence that the unfinished tasks of bourgeois democracy can only be completed by proletarian socialist revolution.

Further, the Permanent Revolution is international in character and scope, and all democratic struggles are indissolubly bound up with the success of workers’ revolution in the advanced industrial countries.

Permanent Revolution today takes aim at the capitalist state, its institutions, and the entire system of racist, sexist, and homophobic relations which hold bourgeois rule in place. It is a total revolution — at once economic, social, and political. Nothing less will free us once and for all from capitalism.

Black revolt. Black liberation in the U.S. and world socialist revolution are mutually interdependent.

Black people’s struggle for equal rights in this country is a democratic struggle par excellence. But it cannot fully succeed within the framework of capitalism, which has from the beginning subsisted on racist inequality. There is no way that capitalism can allow Black equality. Black liberation and survival are thus inextricably tied to the success of socialist revolution. But, in turn, the revolution cannot succeed without Black struggle and leadership.

The U.S. Black movement is overwhelmingly a workers’ movement inside the heartland of world imperialism. Black people are, and always have been, among the most oppressed and most militant of U.S. workers. Their struggle is a central rallying point for labor unity and, by that fact alone, is a death threat to capitalism.

The Black movement, moreover, inspires oppressed people all over the world: other people of color movements in this country, the feminist and lesbian/gay movements in every country, the nationally and racially oppressed from Northern Ireland to South Africa and Australia, and the socialist and labor movements in Asia, Latin America, Europe, and Africa.

In the U.S. and across the globe, at a thousand different points, Black liberation and Permanent Revolution mutually strengthen and enhance one another.

It is the intrinsic, necessary, and natural internationalism of American Blacks that will, in the final analysis, prove to be the salvation of society.

The theory and practice of Revolutionary Integration — assimilation into revolution — is the Bolshevik feminist contribution to the theory and practice of global revolt! It is fundamental to the program of the Freedom Socialist Party.

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