The articles published in this pamphlet were originally presented at the Marxist-Leninist School on the Afro-American National Question, held in September, 1982, in the Black Belt. Participating in the conference were members of three organizations – the Amilcar Cabral/Paul Robeson Collective, the Revolutionary Political Organization/Marxist-Leninist, and the Red Dawn Collective – as well as other anti-imperialist fighters. The conference was called in order to reaffirm and clarify the position of the Afro-American people as an oppressed nation and to defend the slogan of the right of self-determination for the Afro-American Nation, i.e., the right to secede from the United States and to establish an independent state.
The recognition of the Afro-American people as an oppressed nation is not a new position – indeed, Lenin, Stalin, the Communist International, and the Communist Party U.S.A., in its revolutionary period, all upheld this view. Revolutionary petty bourgeois Afro-American nationalists have also, throughout the history of the Afro-American liberation struggle, demanded the right to an independent state. However, there has been tremendous resistance to this view, emanating in the first place from the Anglo-American imperialist bourgeoisie which insists that the borders of the United States are immutable, "one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all."
The chauvinist view of the Anglo-American bourgeoisie has been defended with determination by the revisionists of the CPUSA as well as the other revisionist organizations that have emerged over the last decade. These chauvinists cover their defense of the subjugation of the Afro-American Nation with elaborate arguments on why the Afro-American people are not a nation and therefore have no national rights, and some even theorize away the Afro-American Nation and its struggle under the slogan, "For a United Struggle for Socialism." thus, the fight for socialism itself, in the hands of the revisionists, is used to attack the fight for self-determination of the oppressed nation. The overwhelming chauvinism that has pervaded the "left" in the United States has not helped to unite the U.S. proletariat, as is claimed by the revisionists, but instead has helped to perpetuate national oppression, national conflicts and antagonisms.
The necessity for advancing a thoroughly democratic and Marxist-Leninist line on the Afro-American national question is becoming more pressing with every passing day. The world-wide economic and political crisis of capitalism is creating conditions of grave political instability and growing unrest among the working class and oppressed peoples. The Anglo-American bourgeoisie is mounting an all-sided attack on the working class and the oppressed nations, including the Afro-American Nation, in order to place the burden of this crisis on the backs of others. Thus, we see growing and intensifying political tyranny and suffering inflicted upon the Afro-American Nation, manifested in the revival of the fascist movement, the KKK, the Moral Majority, etc., using the doctrine of white supremacy as its main tenet. The years ahead promise a great sharpening of both the national and class conflicts in this country. The ruling class is working to incite what it calls "race war" in order to undermine and defeat both the class war of the proletariat and the war of national liberation of the Afro-American people.
There is no question but that only a strong Marxist-Leninist movement, which recognizes and fights for the right of the oppressed nations to secede and form their own national states, can make proletarian unity possible. Only such a movement can guarantee that the struggle of the Afro-American people for liberation and the class struggle of the workers are united and not split apart and derailed.
Recognizing the necessity of reaffirming and further developing the Marxist-Leninist position on the Afro-American national question in preparation for the struggles ahead, the Amilcar Cabral/Paul Robeson Collective and the Revolutionary Political Organization/Marxist-Leninist organized this school. The groups and individuals that participated all uphold the right of the Afro-American Nation to self-determination and also share unity on a number of other questions of principle. They came together to reach agreement on the critical questions of political line involved in the Afro-American national question, and to establish a program of common action. The conference was characterized by a comradely spirit and frank, vigorous discussion and participation.
It should be noted that there are still differences outstanding on several very important points: (1) the role of mass organizations established along national lines and the attitude of Marxist-Leninists towards this form of organization; (2) the revolutionary capacity of the Anglo-American section of the U.S. proletariat and the effect of the bribery of the labor aristocracy on this section. Despite this, however, the conference was marked by the agreement of the organizations on critical questions of political line and by the enthusiastic agreement on the part of all of the participants to carry out joint work to implant the Marxist-Leninist position on the Afro-American national question. The publication of this pamphlet is the first step in this work.
The first article in this pamphlet reviews the general line of Marxism-Leninism on the national question. It brings to the reader's attention the most important teachings of Lenin and Stalin on the national question, teachings which have been distorted or ignored by the revisionists.
The second article outlines the history, formation and characteristics of the Afro-American Nation. It refutes the baseless arguments and sophistry used by the revisionists to deny the national characteristics and national rights of the Afro-American people.
The third article specifically exposes the history of revisionism on the Afro-American national question. Starting with the roots of this revisionism in the CPUSA, it goes on to criticize the various manifestations of this chauvinist line today, both subtle and blatant, in a number of revisionist organizations.
A fourth article was added to the papers following the school. It reviews bourgeois census statistics which show that the Black Belt remains an area of stable and, in fact, growing Afro-American population.
A final article outlines the views of the Red Dawn Collective on the Afro-American national question, reaffirming its unity with the demand for self-determination.
Resolutions which were adopted by the participants follow the papers.
A paper presented at the school on the history of the Afro-American liberation movement will be published at a future date.
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