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  • 1. The minority puts a dogmatic view in place of thecritical, and an idealist one in place of the materialist. Theyregard mere discontent, instead of real conditions, as thedriving wheel of revolution. Whereas we tell the workers:You have to go through 15, 20, 50 years of civil wars andnational struggles, not only in order to change conditionsbut also to change yourselves and make yourselves capableof political rule; you, on the contrary, say: "We mustcome to power immediately, or else we may as well go tosleep." Whilst we make a special point of directing theGerman workers attention to the underdeveloped state ofthe German proletariat, you flatter the national feeling andthe status-prejudice of the German artisans in the crudestpossible way - which, admittedly is more popular. Just asthe word "people" has been made holy by the democrats,so the world "proletariat" has been made holy by you. Karl Marx - on the 1850 split in the German Communist League3rd EditionOriginally published under the title "Mythology of the White Proletariat: A Short Course in UnderstandingBabylon"Published by the Morningstar Press. O 1989. Additional copies available from the Cooperative DistributionService, Rm. 1409-93,s N. Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL 60602. Single copies are $8.95, all postage and handlingincluded. Price for Prisoners is $2.00. Bulk orders of ten copies or more, 50% discount. Payment must accom-pany all orders. Orders without full payment cannot be filled.
  • 2. Introduction One day a friend introduced me to a young New Afrikan brotherwho was selling things on the sidewalk outside a large office building.When our talk turned to this book, the young brother looked up proudlyand said: "I already know everything about the White Man, and he knowsnothing about me." As we were talking away I couldnt help thinking howmany people had the same thought. Because they know that the whiteman is completely racist and treacherous, they wrongly assume that theyknow all about his society. This is really the point that this book beginsfrom. In, fact, the 1960s breakthrough of "ethnic studies programs" atuniversities has been dialectically turned around and used against us. Weare getting imperialist-sponsored and imperialist-financed "Asian studies,""Black studies," "Puerto Rican studies," "Indian studies," "ethnic studies"pushed back down our throats. Some of the most prominent Third-Worldintellectuals in the U.S. Empire are getting paid good salaries by the impe-rialists to teach us our histories. Why?
  • 3. U.S. imperialism would rather that all Third-World people in theirEmpire remain totally blank and ignorant about themselves, their nations,their cultures, their pasts, about each other, about everything except goingto work in the morning. But that day is over. So instead they oppose enlightenment by giving in to it in form,but not in essence. Like ju-jitsu, our original demand that our separate andunique histories be uncovered and recognized is now being used to throwus off our ideological balance. The imperialists promote watered-downand distorted versions of our pasts as oppressed Third-World nations andpeoples. The imperialists even concede that their standard "U.S. histo-ry" is a white history, and is supposedly incomplete unless the long-suppressed Third-World histories are added to it. Why? The key to the puzzle is that Theirstory (imperialist Euro-Amerikan mis-history) is not incomplete; it isnt true at all. Theirsto-ry also includes the standard class analysis of Amerika that is put for-ward into our hands by the Euro-Amerikan Left. Theirstory keepssaying, over and over: "You folks, just think about your own history;dont bother analyzing white society, just accept what we tell you about it." b l l a r e r : I,eonsd L i t t l e r h e l l . 1.eun.d John Prlti6.r. John Yellos H o k . I.ronanl Y i l l i n m r DExRlPnON bge: 00. born SEvcenhrr 12. 194.1. (;rand forks. S m h nnkula (net supported hs hltth rt.mrd*l u.1gh1: S~II* eras: nn,.~~ WelghP: IN pounds Cen~lerl.a: Yrdwa Build: Munrulnr R#C @: Indian *air: Illock I~ t l * a r l i h . : Arnctirsn O e e r r a t i n s : C n r p ~ n t u r .r ~ m p l t ~ y e t mwnrgt*r. hod cawirr ~nl Sears md Me*s: Airlh l a r k on rrrht chmk: *car 033 len side of neck: Tmtioos: n r o s v oa uwrr nu;a!r rtyht am,. 1,ronard on upprr twler Itn rrm Saclal Secrrlly I a m b e r r Used: 51:l-50-5511; 511-50-5117 r l ~ g e n l l n Ct8sdlbtan*n: t -!)-- C :lo R 0 1 1 l i - npr: :30 1 20 W 0 0 1 24 RCIC: l~C;l~~~fl!~lll~l~ll!Ol6I~lll CAUTION It.f.Tlt:H IS ilt;I(; % I (;)IT I ((:El l l O NIT!! T I I E ,ATlbUPTEI! W HIII<H (1. IOLICE O F I I C E I I . if,)YSlIlER .H!tI! .-I! EXTHEME1.Y DAS(;YHCVJ
  • 4. a representative from Zimbabwe, at Pine Ridge In other words, its as if British liberals and "socialists" had told Afrikan anti-colonial revolutionaries in Ghana or Kenya to just study their own "traditions" --but not to study the British empire. Theirstory is not in- complete at all. Its a series of complete lies, an ideological world-view cleverly designed to further imperialist domination of the oppressed. This work throws the light of historical materialism on Babylon it- self. For so long the oppressed have been the objects of investigation by Euro-imperialist sociology, anthropology, psychology, etc. - all to fur- ther pacifying and controlling us (anthropology, for example, had its ori- gins as an intelligence service for European colonialization of the world). Now it is time to scientifically examine the oppressor society.
  • 5. The final point we must make is that this document - while itdeals with aspects of our history within the U.S. Empire - is nothing likea history of Asians here. Nor is it a history of Indian nations, the AfrikanNation, Aztlan, or other Third-World nations or peoples. While we discussThird-World struggles and movements, this is not a critical examination ofthese political developments. This is a reconnaissance into enemy territory.
  • 6. I. THE HEART OF WHITENESS 1. The Land is the Basis of Nationhood The key to understanding Amerika is to see that it its psychological importance to people in whose mindswas a chain of European settler colonies that expanded in- land had always been identified with security, success andto a settler empire. To go back and understand the lives the good things of life. "(3)and consciousness of the early English settlers is to see theembryo of todays Amerikan Empire. This is the larger It was these "younger sons", despairing of owningpicture that allows us to finally relate the class conflicts of land in their own country, who were willing to gamble onsettler Euro-Amerikans to the world struggle. the colonies. The brutal Enclosure Acts and the ending of many hereditary tenancies acted as a further push in the The mythology of the white masses holds that same direction. These were the principal reasons given onthose early settlers were the poor of England, convicts and the Emigration Lists of 1773-76 for settling in Amerika.(4)workers, who came to North Amerika in search of So that participating in the settler invasion of North"freedom" or "a better way of life". Factually, thats all Amerika was a relatively easy way out of the desperatenonsense. The celebrated Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock, for class struggle in England for those seeking a privilegedexample, didnt even come from England (although they life.*were English). They had years before emigrated as areligious colony to Holland, where they had lived in peace Then, too, many English farmers and artisansfor over a decade. But in Holland these predominately couldnt face the prospect of being forced down into themiddleclass people had to work as hired labor for others. position of wage-labor. Traditionally, hired laborers wereThis was too hard for them, so they came to North considered so low in English society that they ranked farArnerika in search of less work and more money. At first, below mere failures, and were considered degraded out-according to the rules of their faith, they farmed the land casts. Many English (including the "Levellers", the anti-in common and shared equally. Soon their greed led them capitalist revolutionary outbreak of the 17th Century)into fighting with each other, slacking off at assigned thought wage laborers should lose their civil rights andtasks, etc., until the Colonys leaders had to give in to the English citizenship. Public opinion was so strong on thissettlers desires and divide up the stolen land (giving "to that the early English textile factories were filled with Irish.every family a parcel of landV).(l) and Welsh immigrants, children from the poorhouses and single women. So jumping the ocean in search of land was This is typical of the English invasion forces. A not some mundane career decision of comparing dollarsstudy of roughly 10,000 settlers who left Bristol from and cents to these Englishmen-it was a desperate venture1654-85 shows that less than 15% were proletarian. Most for continued status and self-respect.(5)were youth from the lower-middle classes; Gentlemen &Professionals 1 To; Yeomen & Husbandmen 48%; Artisans The various colonies competed with each other in& Tradesmen 29%.(2) The typical age was 22-24 years. In offering inducements to new settlers. In the South theother words, the sons and daughters of the middle class, "headright" system gave each new settler 50 acres forwith experience at agriculture and craft skills, were the transporting themselves from England. Eventually Penn-ones who thought they had a practical chance in Amerika. sylvania and the Carolinas offered even more land per set- tler as a lure. And land was "dirt cheap" for Europeans. What made North Amerika so desirable to these In Virginia ten shillings bought a tract of one hundredpeople? Land. Euro-Amerikan liberals and radicals have acres; in Pennsylvania the best land sold per acre at what ararely dealt with the Land question; we could say that theydont have to deal with it, since their people already haveall the land. What lured Europeans to leave their homes -- --and cross the Atlantic was the chance to share in conquer- *It is hard for us to imagine how chaotic and difficulting Indian land. At that time there was a crisis in England English life was in that transitional period. The coming ofover land ownership and tenancy due to the rise of capitalism had smashed all the traditional securities andcapitalism. One scholar of the early invasion comments on values of feudal England, and financed its beginnings withthis: the most savage reduction of the general living standard. During the course of the Sixteenth Century wages in the Land hunger was rife among all classes. Wealthy building trades went down by over half, while the price ofclothiers, drapers, and merchants who had done well and firewood, wheat and other necessities soared by five times.wished to set themselves up in land were avidly watching By encouraging this outflow the British ruling class boththe market, ready to pay almost any price for what was of- furthered their empire and eased opposition at home tofered. Even prosperous yeomen often could not get the their increasing concentration of wealth and power. Andland they desired for their younger sons... It is com- the new settlers, lusting for individual land and property,monplace to say that land was the greatest inducement the were willing to endure hardships and uncertainties for thisNew World had to offer; but it is difficult to overestimate prized goal. They were even more willing to kill for it.
  • 7. carpenter would earn in a day. When new communities of a tract of land and settle on it as a farmer."(7)invaders were started on the edges of conquered areas, thesettlers simply divided up the land. For example, when Where land was not available, settlers refused toWallington, Conn. was founded in 1670 each settler family come. Period. This is why the British West Indies, withgot between 238-476 acres. This amount was not unusual, their favorable climate, were less attractive to these settlerssince colonial Amerika was an orgy of land-grabbing. In than wintry New England. As early as 1665 a member offact, much of the land at first wasnt even purchased or the Barbados Assembly complained, noting that therented-it was simply taken over and settled. As much as limited space of that island had already been divided up:two-thirds of the tilled land in Pennsylvania during the "Now we can get few English servants, having no lands to1700s was occupied by white squatters, protected by settler give them at the end of their time, which formerly was theirsolidarity .(6) main allurement." And British servants, their terms up, would leave the Indies by the thousands for Amerika.(8) So central was the possession of land in the per-sonal plans of the English settlers that throughout the col- It was this alone that drew so many Europeans toonial period there was a shortage of skilled labor. Richard colonial North Amerika: the dream in the settler mind ofMorris study of labor in colonial Amerika concluded: "In each man becoming a petty lord of his own land. Thus, thethe main, the ultimate economic objective of colonial tradition of individualism and egalitarianism in Amerikaworkmen was security through agriculture rather than in- was rooted in the poisoned concept of equal privileges fordustry.. .As soon as a workman had accumulated a small a new nation of European conquerors.amount of money he could, and in many cases did, take up 2. The Foundations of Settler Life The life of European settlers-and the class struc- waiting with a "VACANT" sign on the door for the firstture of their society-was abnormal because it was depen- lucky civilization to walk in and claim it. Theodoredent upon a foundation of conquest, genocide, and Roosevelt wrote defensively in 1900: "...the settler andenslavement. The myth of the self-sufficient, white settler pioneer have at bottom had justice on their side; this greatfamily "clearing the wilderness" and supporting continent could not have been kept as nothing but a gamethemselves through their own initiative and hard labor, is a preserve for squalid savages. "(9)propaganda fabrication. It is the absolute characteristic ofsettler society to be parasitic, dependent upon the super-exploitation of oppressed peoples for its style of life. Neverhas Euro-Amerikan society completely supported itself.This is the decisive factor in the consciousness of all classesand strata of white society from 1600 to now. Settler society was raised up, above the level ofbackward Old Europe, by a foundation of conquest. Thisconquest was a miracle drug for a Europe convulsed withthe reaction of decaying feudalism and deadly capitalism.Shot into the veins of the Spanish feudal nation, for in-stance, the miracle drug of "New World" conquest gaveSpain the momentary power to overrun North Africa,Holland, and Italy before her historical instant waned. Forthe English settlers, this conquest made real the bourgeoisvision of building a whole new European society. Likemany such "fixes", for Euro-Amerikans this conquest wasaddicting; it was habit-forming and rapidly indispensable,not only culturally, but in the mechanism of an oppressorsociety whose lifeblood was new conquest. We will ex-amine this later, in the relationship of settlerism to im- It is telling that this lie is precisely the same lie putperialism. For now, it is enough to see that this conquest is forward by the white "Afrikaner" settlers, who claim thata material fact of great magnitude, an economic and social South Africa was literally totally uninhabited by anyevent as important as the emergence of the factory system Afrikans when they arrived from Europe. To universalor the exploitation of petroleum in the Middle East. derision, these European settlers claim to be the only rightful, historic inhabitants of South Afrika. Or we can We stress the obvious here, because the Euro- hear similar defenses out forward by the European set-Amerikan settlers have always made light of their invasion tlers of Israel, who claim that much of the Palestinian landand occupation (although the conquered territory is the and buildings they occupy are rightfully theirs, since theprecondition for their whole society). Traditionally, Euro- Arabs allegedly decided to voluntarily abandon it all dur-pean settler societies throw off the propaganda ing the 1948-49 war. Are these kind of tales any lesssmokescreen that they didnt really conquer and dispossess preposterous when put forward by Euro-Amerikan set-other nations-they claim with false modesty that they tlers?merely moved into vacant territory! So the early Englishsettlers depicted Amerika as empty-"a howling Amerika was "spacious" and " sparselywilderness", "unsettled", "sparsely populatedH-just 6 populated" only because the European invaders destroyed
  • 8. whole civilizations and killed off millions of Native hunting grounds", we know that these are just code-Amerikans to get the land and profits they wanted. We all phrases to refer politely to the most barbaric genocide im-know that when the English arrived in Virginia, for exam- aginable. It could well be the greatest crime in all of humanple, they encountered an urban, village-dwelling society far history. Only here the Adolph Eichmanns and Heinrichmore skilled than they in the arts of medicine, agriculture, Himmlers had names like Benjamin Franklin and Andrewfishing-and government.*(lO) This civilization was Jackson.reflected in a chain of three hundred Indian nations andpeoples stretched from the Arctic Circle to the tip of South The point is that genocide was not an accident,America, many of whom had highly developed societies. not an "excess", not the unintended side-effect of virileThere was, in fact, a greater population in these Indian na- European growth. Genocide was the necessary andtions in 1492 than in all of Western Europe. Recent deliberate act of the capitalists and their settler shock-scholarly estimates indicate that at the time of Columbus troops. The "Final Solution" to the "Indian Problem"there were 100 million Indians in the Hemisphere: ten was so widely expected by whites that it was openly spokenmillion in North America, twenty-five million in Central of as a commonplace thing. At the turn of the century aMexico, with an additional sixty-five million elsewhere in newspaper as "respectable" as the New York Times couldCentral and Southern America.(l 1) editorially threaten that those peoples who opposed the new world capitalist order would "be extinguished like theThese numbers have long been concealed, since they give North American Indian."(l4) Only a relative handful ofrise to the logical question of what happened to this great Indians survived the time of the great extermination cam-mass of people. The European invaders-Spanish, Dutch, paigns. You see, the land wasnt "empty" after all-andEnglish, Portuguese, and French-simply killed off for Arnerika to exist the settlers had to deliberately makemillions and millions to safeguard their conquest of the the land "empty".land and provide the disposable slave labor they needed tolaunch their "New World". Conservative Western The second aspect of Colonial Amerikas founda-historical estimates show that the Spanish "reduced" the tion was, of course, slavery. It is hardly necessary to reDeatIndian population of their colonies from some 50 million here the well-known history of that exploitation. What isto only 4 million by the end of the 17th Century.(l2) necessary is to underline how universally European capitalist life was dependent upon slavery, and how this ex- And from the 10 million Indians that once in- ploitation dictated the very structure of Euro-Amerikanhabited North America, after four centuries of settler inva- society.sion and rule there were in 1900 perhaps 200,000-300,000surviving descendants in the U.S.A.(13) That was the very The mythology of the white masses pretends thatsubstantial down-payment towards the continuing bloodprice that Third-World nations have to pay to sustain theEuro-Arnerikan way of life. * The first government of the new U.S.A., that of the Ar- ticles of Confederation, was totally unlike any in So when we hear that the settlers "pushed out the autocratic Europe, and had been influenced by theIndians" or "forced the Indians to leave their traditional Government of the Six-Nation Iroquois Confederation.
  • 9. while the evil planter and the London merchant grew fat main cash export item was Indian slaves. Armed expedi-on the profits of the slave labor, the "poor white" of the tions, made up largely of Indian puppet soldiers alreadySouth, the Northern small farmer and white worker were addicted to rum and other capitalist consumer goods,all uninvolved in slavery and benefited not at all from it. scoured the countryside for Indians to capture and sell.The mythology suggests that slavery even lowered the liv- The total sold away is unknown, but large. We do knowing standard of the white masses by supposedly holding that in just six years after 1704, some 12,000 Indian slavesdown wages and monopolizing vast tracts of farmland. were sold out of Charleston to the West Indies.(l8)Thus, it is alleged, slavery was not in the interests of thewhite masses.* Additional uncounted thousands of Indian slaves were exported from the other settlements of the Middle Yet Karl Marx observed: "Cause slavery to disap- and New England Colonies. Indian slaves in large numberspear and you will have wiped America off the map of na- were very difficult to deal with, since the settlers were try-tions."(l5) Marx was writing during the zenith of the cot- ing to hold them on terrain that was more theirs than theton economy of the mid-1800s, but this most basic fact is invaders. Usually, the minimum precaution would be to intrue from the bare beginnings of European settlement in effect swap Indian slaves around, with New England usingAmerika. Without slave labor there would have been no slaves from Southern Colonies-and vice-versa. In mostAmerika. It is as simple as that. Long before the cotton cases the slave catchers killed almost all the adult Indianeconomy of the South flourished, for example, Afrikan men as too dangerous to keep around, only saving theslaves literally built the City of New York. Their work women and children for sale.(l9)alone enabled the original Dutch settlers to be fed andsheltered while pursuing their drinking, gambling, fur- But by 1715 the "divers conspiracies, insurrec-trading and other non-laboring activities. Afrikans were tions ..." of rebellious Indian slaves had reached the pointnot only much of early New Yorks farmers, carpenters, where all the New England Colonies barred any further im-and blacksmiths, but also comprised much of the Citys ports of Indian slaves.(20) The Pilgrims of New Englandguards. had seen that the most profitable and safe use of their In- dian slaves was to sell them abroad. Indeed, the wife and The Dutch settlers were so dependent on Afrikan nine year-old son of "King Philip", the great leader of thelabor for the basics of life that their Governor finally had 1675 Indian uprising, were sold into West Indian captivityto grant some Afrikan slaves both freedom and land in (as was even then customary with many captured Indians).return for their continued food production. The Afrikan-owned land on Manhattan included what is now known as Thus, the early settlers were not just the passiveGreenwich Village, Astor Place, and Herald Square. beneficiaries of a far-off Afrikan slave trade-theyLater, the English settlers would pass laws against Afrikan bankrolled their settlements in part with the profits of theirland ownership, and take these tracts from the free own eager explorations into Native slave trading. TheAfrikans. Manhattan was thus twice stolen from oppressed point is that White Amerika has never been self-sufficient,peoples. (16) has never completely supported itself. Indian slavery died out, and was gradually lost in the great river of Afrikan Indian slavery was also important in supporting slavery, only because the settlers finally decided to exter-the settler invasion beachhead on the "New World". From minate the heavily depopulated Indian nations altogether.New England (where the pious Pilgrims called them"servants") to South Carolina, the forced labor of Indian The essence is not the individual ownership ofslaves was essential to the very survival of the young Col- slaves, but rather the fact that world capitalism in generalonies. In fact, the profits from the Indian slave trade were and Euro-Amerikan capitalism in specific had forged athe economic mainstay of the settler invasion of the slave-based economy in which all settlers gained and tookCarolinas. In 1708 the English settlements in the Carolinas part. Historian Samuel Eliot Morison, in his study of Thehad a population of 1,400 Indian slaves and 2,900 Afrikan European Discovery of America, notes that after repeatedslaves to 5,300 Europeans. Indian slaves were common failures the Europeans learned that North Amerikan settlerthroughout the Colonies-in 1730 the settlers of Kingston, colonies were not self-sufficient; to survive they neededRhode Island had 223 Indian slaves (as well as 333 Afrikan large capital infusions and the benefits of sustained tradeslaves). As late in 1740 we know that some 14,000 Indian with Father Europe.(21) But why should the Britishslaves labored in the plantations of South Carolina.(l7) aristocracy and capitalists invest in small family farms-and how great a trade is possible when what the The recorded number of Indian slaves within Col- settlers themselves produced was largely the very rawonial English settlements was only a small indication of the materials and foodstuffs they themselves needed? Slaverylarger picture, since most Indian slaves were sold to throughout the "New World" answered these questions. ItJamaica, Barbados and other West Indian colonies. One was the unpaid, expropriated labor of millions of Indianreason for the depopulation of the once numerous Indian and Afrikan captive slaves that created the surpluses onpeoples of the Southern Colonies was the unrestrained which the settler economy floated and Atlantic traderavages of the slave trade. In the first five decades of the flourished.English settlement of the Carolinas, it appears that the So all sections of white settler society-even the ar- tisan, worker, and farmer-were totally dependent upon* Similar arguments relative to today are advanced by the A f r i k a n slave l a b o r : t h e f i s h e r m a n whosebDont-Divide-The-Working-Class" revisionists, who low-grade,"refuse fish" was dried and sold as slave mealwant to convince us that the Euro-Amerikan masses are in the Indies; the New York farmer who found his market"victims of imperialism" just like us. for surpluses in the Southern plantations; the forester
  • 10. whose timber was used by shipyard workers rapidly turn- In Virginia, it appears that an overwhelming ma-ing out slave ships; the clerk in the New York City export jority of the skilled workers-carpenters, ship pilots,house checking bales of tobacco awaiting shipment to Lon- coopers, blacksmiths, etc.-were Afrikans. Nor was it justdon; the master cooper in the Boston rum distillery; the nonmarket production for direct use on the plantation;young Virginia overseer building up his "stake" to try and Afrikan artisans produced for the commercial market, andstart his own plantation; the immigrant German farmer were often hired out by their masters. For example, werenting a team of five slaves to get his farm started; and on know that George Washington was not only a planter butand on. While the cream of the profits went to the planter also what would today be called a contractor-buildingand merchant capitalists, the entire settler economy was structures for other planters with his gang of Afrikan slaveraised up on a foundation of slave labor, slave products, carpenters (the profits were split between "The Father ofand the slave trade. Our Country" and his slave overseer).(24) The Afrikan presence in commerce and industry was widespread and Nor was it just slavery within the thirteen Colonies all-pervasive, as one labor historian has summarized:alone that was essential. The commerce and industry ofthese Euro-Amerikan settlers was interdependent with "Some of the Africans who were brought totheir fellow slave-owning capitalists of the West Indies, America in chains were skilled in woodcarving, weaving,Central and Southern America. Massachusetts alone, in construction, and other crafts. In the South, Black slaves1774, distilled 2.7 million gallons of rum-distilled from were not only field hands; many developed a variety ofthe molasses of the West Indies slave plantations.(22) Two skills that were needed on a nearly self-sufficient planta-of the largest industries in Amerika were shipbuilding and tion. Because skilled labor of whatever color was in greatshipping, both creatures of the slave trade. Commerce with demand, slaves were often hired out to masters who ownedthe slave colonies of not only England, but also Holland, shops by the day, month, or year for a stipulated amount.Spain and France, was vital to the young Amerikan Some were hired out to shipmasters, serving as pilots andeconomy. Eric Williams, Walter Rodney and others have managers of ferries. Others were used in the maritimeshown how European capitalism as a whole literally trades as shipcaulkers, longshoremen, and sailmakers. Acapitalized itself for industrialization and world empire out large number of slaves were employed in Northern cities asof Afrikan slaverv. It is important to see that all classes of house servants, sailors, sailmakers, and carpenters. NewEuro-Amerikan settlers were equally involved in building a York had a higher proportion of skilled slaves than anynew bourgeois nation on the back of the Afrikan colonial other Colony-coopers, tailors, bakers, tanners,proletariat. goldsmiths, cabinetmakers, shoemakers, and glaziers. Both in Charleston and in the Northern cities, many ar- By the time of the settler War of Independence, tisans utilized slave labor extensively."(25)the Afrikan nation made up over 20% of the non-Indianpopulation - one Afrikan colonial subject for every four Afrikans were the landless, propertyless, perma-settlers. Afrikan slaves, although heavily concentrated in nent workers of the U.S. Empire. They were not just slavesthe plantation Colonies, were still represented throughout - the Afrikan nation as a whole served as a proletariat forthe settler territories. Their proportion in the non-Indian the Euro-Amerikan oppressor nation. This Afrikan colonypopulation ranged from 2-3% i? upper New England to supported on its shoulders the building of a Euro-8% in Rhode Island, to 14% in New York, and to 41% and Amerikan society more " prosperous," more60% respectively in Virginia and South Carolina. (23) "egalitarian," and yes, more "democratic" than any inWhile they mainly labored as the agricultural proletariat, semi-feudal Old Europe. The Jeffersonian vision ofAfrikan labor played a crucial role in all the major trades Amerika as a pastoral European democracy was rooted inand industries of the times. The colonized Afrikan nation, the national life of small, independent white landowners.much more than the new Euro-Amerikan settler nation, Such a society had no place of a proletariat within its rankswas a complete nation - that is, possessing among its peo- - yet, in the age of capitalism, could not do without theple a complete range of applied sciences, practical crafts labor of such a class. Amerika imported a proletariat fromand productive labor. Both that colonized nation and the Afrika, a proletariat permanently chained in an internalIndian nations were self-sufficient and economically colony, laboring for the benefit of all settlers. Afrikanwhole, while the Euro-Amerikan invasion society was workers might be individually owned, like tools and draftparasitic. While the class structure of the new Afrikan na- animals, by some settlers and not others, but in their col-tion was still in a formative stage, distinct classes were visi- onial subjugation they were as a whole owned by the entireble within it well before the U.S. War of Independence. Euro-Amerikan nation. 3. Euro-Amerikan Social Structure When we point out that Amerika was the most and property ownership the normal guiding star of thecompletely bourgeois nation in world history, we mean a white masses. 4. Amerika is so decadent that it has no pro-four-fold reality: 1. Amerika had no feudal or communal letariat of its own, but must exist parasitically on the col-past, but was constructed from the ground up according to onial proletariat of oppressed. nations and national-the nightmare vision of the bourgeoisie. 2. Amerika began minorities. Truly, a Babylon "whose life was death".its national life as an oppressor nation, as a colonizer ofoppressed peoples. 3. Amerika not only has a capitalist rul- The settler masses of Colonial Amerika had aing class, but all classes and strata of Euro-Arnerikans are situation totally unlike their cousins back in Old Europe.bourgeoisified, with a preoccupation for petty privileges 9 For the privileges of conquest produced a nonproletarian
  • 11. society of settlers. The large majority of settlers were of the Royston of Calvert County, Maryland, who died in 1740property-owning middle classes (insofar as classes had yet with an estate worth 81 £ (which places her well in thebecome visible in the new society): tradesmen, self- middle of the small-medium farmers). That sumemployed artisans, and land-owning farmers. Every Euro- represented the value of 200 acres of farmland, 31 head ofpean who wanted to could own land. Every white .settler cattle, 15 of sheep, 29 pigs, 1,463 lbs. of tobacco stored forcould be a property owner. No wonder emigration to the market, 5 feather beds, 2 old guns, assorted furniture,"New World" (newly conquered, newly enslaved) was so tools and kitchen utensils, and the contract of an 8 year-popular in Old Europe. No wonder life in Amerika was old indentured child servant. No wealth, no luxury, but aspoken of almost as a fable by the masses of Old Europe. life with some small property, food, shelter, and a cashYoung Amerika was capitalisms real-life Disneyland. crop for market.(28) Certainly a far reach upwards Tram the bitter, bare existence of the colonial Afrikan pro- The Euro-Amerikan class structure at the time of letariat (or, for that matter, the British or French pro-the 1775 War of Independence was revealing: letariat of the period). P 10% - Capitalists: Great Planters, large merchants, etc. Although there were Euro-Amerikan craftsmen80% bourgeois 20% - Large farmers, professionals, and workers they never coalesced into a proletariat because& 4 tradesmen & other upper-middle they were too privileged and transitory in condition. It ispetit-bourgeois elements. important to grasp firmly that the mere presence of settler 40% - Small land-owning farmers craftsmen and workers doesnt automatically mean that 10% - C Artisans: blacksmiths, coopers, they were a conscious class. With their extra-proletarian carpenters, shipwrights, etc. living standard and their future in the propertied middle 15010 - Temporary workers, usually classes, most settler workmen had no reason to develop a soon moving upwards into the proletarian consciousness. Further, the rapid turnover of ranks of the small farmers settlers in these strata left no material basis for the forma- 5% - Laborers(26) tion of a class. Not only was the bourgeois class itself quite large, We can see this more clearly when we examine thebut some 70% of the total population of settlers were in details of work and wages. Rather than the mass-the various, propertied middle classes. The overwhelming production factory, the Colonial-era workshop was a set-majority were landowners, including many of the artisans ting for the highly-skilled, piece-by-piece, hand productionand tradesmen, and an even larger portion of the Euro- of a few craftsmen. Even a shipyard customarily onlyAmerikans were self-employed or preparing to be. The employed five to ten artisans and workers of all types,small "poor" element of lumpen and permanent laborers total. The workshop was a business owned and managedwas only 5% of the settler population, and without in- by the Master artisan, who might employ in his workshopfluence or cohesion in such a propertied society. We can one or two journeymen artisans and several apprentices,see why Virginias Gov. Fauquier complained in 1759, servants or slaves.(29) It is easy to grasp how, in small set-while bemoaning his inability to attract settler recruits for tler communities, social and class lines were blurred andthe militia: "Every man in this colony has land, and none still unformed. For example, most of the settler artisansbut Negroes are laborers. " (U.S. imperialism still has this were also small farmers who grew some or all of their ownsame problem of white military recruitment today.)(27) food. The plantation areas, which were obviously the While some artisans never advanced, others weremost dominated by a small elite owning a disproportionate already becoming small capitalists, since the historic exten-share of the wealth, showed no lesser degree of general set- sion of the craft workshop was capitalist manufacture. Thetler privilege and unification. South Carolina was the state most famous Colonial-era settler artisan, Paul Revere, waswith the highest degree of large plantation centralization; not only a silversmith and an artist-engraver, but also ayet there, too, no settler working class development was dentist and the small capitalist operator of a copper foun-evident. The South Carolina settler class structure shows dry. In the Colonial era the majority of Euro-Amerikan ar-only an intensification of the same bourgeois features evi- tisans and wage-laborers eventually bought farmlanddent at the national level: and/or business property and rose into the middle strata. i 3 % - Great Planter elite (above 1,000 The special and non-proletarian character of set- acres landholding) tler artisans and workers (which has been so conveniently86% 15% - planters (500-999 acres) forgotten about by todays Euro-Amerikan radicals) wasbourgeois 8% - merchants & shopowners well known a century ago by Europeans such as Marx and& 5% - Professionals Engels. In 1859 Marx wrote of "...the United States ofpetit-bourgeois 42% - Middle & small farmers (under North America, where, though classes already exist, they 500 acres) have not yet become fixed, but continually change and in- 10% - Artisans terchange their elements in constant flux..."(30) What 14% - Laborers (majority only tem- Marx saw in this class fluidity was the ultimate privilege of porary) settler society-the privilege of having no proletariat at all. He later pointed out: "Hence the relatively high standard of wages in the United States. Capital may there try its ut- When we speak of the small, land-owning farmer most. It cannot prevent the labor market from being con-as the largest single element in settler society, it is impor- tinuously emptied by the continuous conversion of wagestant to see what this means. An example is Rebecca 10 laborers into independent, self-sustaining peasants. The
  • 12. position of wages laborer is for a very large part of the ship. For example, as early as 1629 almost one member outAmerican people but a probational state, which they are of six of Virginias House of Burgesses was a former in-sure to leave within a shorter or longer term."(27) And dentured servant. Much of Pennsylvanias prosperousMarx was writing not about a momentary or temporary German farming community originally emigrated thatphase, but about basic conditions that were true for well way.(36) Christopher Hill, the British Marxist historian,over two centuries in Amerika. directly relates the European willingness to enter servitude to the desire for land ownership, describing it as "a tem- Those settlers never had it so good! And those porary phase through which one worked ones way toEuropeans who chose or were forced to work for wages got freedom and land-ownership."(37)the highest wages in the capitalist world. The very highest.Tom Paine, the revolutionary propagandist, boasted that This is important because it was only this bottomin Amerika a "common laborer" made as much money as layer of settler society that had the potential of proletarianan English shopkeeper!(32) We know that George class consciousness. In the early decades of VirginiasWashington had to pay his white journeyman carpenter tobacco industry, gangs of white indentured servants i€ 40 per year, plus 400 lbs. of meat, 20 bushels of corn, worked the fields side-by-side with Afrikan and Indianand the use of a house and vegetable garden. Journeymen slaves, whom in the 1600s they greatly outnumbered. Thistailors in Virginia earned i€ 26-32 per year, plus meals, was an unstable situation, and one of the results was alodging, laundry service, and drink.(33) number of joint servant-slave escapes, strikes and con- spiracies. A danger to the planter elite was evident, par- In general, its commonly agreed that Euro- ticularly since white servants constituted a respectable pro-Amerikan workers earned at least twice what their British portion of the settler population in the two tobacco Col-kinfolk made-some reports say the earnings gap was five onies-accounting for 16% in Virginia in 1681 and 10% inor six times what Swedish or Danish workers earned.(34) Maryland in 1707 .(38)Even a whole century later, the difference was still so largethat Marx commented: The political crisis waned as the period of bound "Now, all of you know that the average wages of white plantation labor ended. First, the greater and more the American agricultural laborer amount to more than profitable river of Afrikan labor was tapped to the fullest, double that of the English agricultural laborer, although and then the flow of British indentured servants slacked the prices of agricultural produce are lower in the United off. The number of new European servants entering States than in the United Kingdom.. . "(35) Virginia fell from 1,500-2,000 annually in the 1670s to but 91 in 1715.(39) However, the important change was not in It was only possible for settler society to afford numbers but in social role.this best-paid, most bourgeoisified white work forcebecause they had also obtained the least-paid, most pro- Historian Richard Morris, in his study ofletarian Afrikan colony to support it. Colonial-era labor, says of European indentured servants on the plantations: "...but with the advent of Negro Many of those settler laborers were iddentured ser- slavery they were gradually supplanted as field workersvants, who had signed on to do some years of unpaid labor and were principally retained as overseers, foremen or(usually four) for a master in return for passage across the herdsmen."(40) In other words, even the very lowest layerAtlantic. It is thought that as many as half of all the of white society was lifted out of the proletariat by thepre-1776 Europeans in Amerika went through this tem- privileges of belonging to the oppressor nation.porarily unfree status. Some settler historians dwell on thisphenomenon, comparing it to Afrikan slavery in an at- Once these poor whites were raised off the fieldstempt to obscure the rock of national oppression at the and given the chance to help boss and police captivebase of Amerika. Harsh as the time of indenture might be, Afrikans, their rebellious days were over. The importancethese settlers would be free-and Afrikan slaves would of this experience is that it shows the material basis for thenot. More to the national difference between oppressor lack of class consciousness by early Euro-Amerikanand oppressed, white indentured servants could look workers, and how their political consciousness was directlyhopefully toward the possibility of not only being free, but related to how much they shared in the privileges of theof themselves becoming landowners and slavemasters. larger settler society. Further, the capitalists proved to their satisfaction that dissent and rebelliousness within the For this initiation, this "dues" to join the op- settler ranks could be quelled by increasing the colonial ex-nressor nation, was a rite of Dassage into settler citizen- ploitation of other nations and peoples.
  • 13. 11. STRUGGLES & ALLIANCES The popular political struggles of settler noted, great encouragers and assisters, and it was one inAmerika-the most important being the 1775-83 War of which demands for ~olitical reform along democratic linesIndependence-gave us the first experience of alliances formed a central feature of the movem&t."(l)between Euro-Amerikan dissenters and oppressed peoples.What was most basic in these alliances was their purely tac-tical nature. Not unity, but the momentary convergence ofthe fundamentally differing interests of some oppressorsand some of the oppressed. After all, the national divisionbetween settler citizens of emerging Amerika and their col-onial Afrikan subjects was enormous-while the distancebetween the interests of Indian nations and that of the set-tler nation built on their destruction was hardly any less.While tactical alliances would bridge this chasm, it is im-portant to recognize how calculated and temporary thesejoint efforts were. We emphasize this because it it necessary to refutethe settler propaganda that Colonial Amerika was built outof a history of struggles "for representative government","democratic struggles" or "class struggles", in whichcommon whites and Afrikans joined together. No one, wenote, has yet summoned up the audacity to maintain thatthe Indians too wished to fight and die for settler"democracy". Yet that same claim is advanced forAfrikan prisoners (slaves), as though they either had morecommon interests with their slavemasters, or were morebrainwashed. To examine the actual conflicts and condi-tions under which alliances were reached totally rips apartthese lies. A clear case is Bacons Rebellion, one of the twomajor settler uprisings prior to the War of Independence.In this rebellion an insurgent army literally seized statepower in the Virginia Colony in 1676. They defeated theloyalist forces of the Crown, set the capital city on fire,and forced the Governor to flee. Euro-Amerikans of allclasses as well as Afrikan slaves took part in the fighting,the latter making up much of the hard core of therebellions forces at the wars end. Herbert Aptheker, the Communist Party USAsexpert on Afrikans, has no hesitation in pointing to thisrebellion as a wonderful. heroic exam~le all of us. He forclearly loves this case of an early, anti-capitalist uprising Bacon challenges Qov. B e r k e l e ywhere "whites and Blacks" joined hands: It makes you wonder how a planter came to be "...But, the outstanding example of popular leading such an advanced political movement? Aptheker isuprising, prior to the American Revolution itself, is not the only Euro-Amerikan radical to point out the im-Bacons Rebellion of 1676...a harbinger of the greater portant example in this uprising. To use one other case: Inrebellion that was to follow it by exactly a century. The 1974 a paper dealing with this was presented at a NewVirginia uprising was directed against the economic subor- Haven meeting of the "New Left" Union of Radicaldination and exploitation of the colony by the English Political Economists (U.R.P.E.). It was considered irnpor-rulers, and against the tyrannical and corrupt ad- tant enough to be published in the Cambridge journalministrative practices in the colony which were instituted Radical America, and then to be reprinted as a pamphletfor the purpose of enforcing that subordination. Hence, by the New England Free Press. In this paper Theodore W.the effort, led by the young planter, Nathaniel Bacon, was Allen says of early Virginia politics:multi-class, encompassing in its ranks slaves, indentured ,servants, free farmers and many planters; it was one in "...The decisive encounter of the people againstwhich women were, as an anti-Baconite contemporary 12 the bourgeoisie occurred during Bacons Rebellion, which
  • 14. began in April, 1676 as a difference between the elite and Virginia militia returned in August with reinforcementssub-elite planters over Indian policy, but which in from the Maryland militia. This new settler army of 1,100September became a civil war against the Anglo-American men surrounded the Susquehannock fort. Five Susquehan-ruling class. ...The transcendent importance of this record nock leaders were lured out under pretense of a parley andis that there, in colonial Virginia, one hundred and twenty- then executed.nine years before William Lloyd Garrison was born, thearmed working class, black and white, fought side by side Late one night all the besieged Susquehan-for the abolition of slavery."(2) nock-men, women and children-silently emptied out their town and slipped away. On their way out they cor- Aptheker and Allen, as two brother settler rected five settler sentries. From then on the Susquehan-radicals, clearly agree with each other that Bacons nock took to guerrilla warfare, traveling in small bandsRebellion was an important revolutionary event. But in and ambushing isolated settlers. Nathaniel Bacon, Jr. wasAllens account we suddenly find, without explanation, an avid "hawk", whose lust for persecuting Indians grewthat a dispute over "Indian policy" between some planters even greater when Indian guerrillas killed one of his slavetransformed itself into an armed struggle by united white overseers. To Bacon that was one injury too many.and Afrikan workers to end slavery! That is a hard story tofollow. Particularly since Bacons Rebellion is a cherished At that time the Virginia settlers had becomeevent in Southern white history, and Bacon himself a polarized over "Indian policy", with Bacon leading thenotable figure. There is, in fact, an imposing "Memorial pro-war faction against Governor Berkeley. EstablishedTablet" of marble and bronze in the Virginia State English policy, which Governor Berkeley followed, calledCapital, in the House of Delegates, which singles out for temporary alliances with Indian nations and temporaryBacon as "A Great Patriot Leader of the Virginia restraints on settler expansionism. This was not due to anyPeople".(3) So even Virginias segregationist white politi- Royal humanitarianism, but was a recognition of overallcians agreed with Aptheker and Allen about this strategic realities by the English rulers. The Indian nations"democratic" rebellion. This truly is a unity we should not held, if only for a historical moment, the balance of powerforget. in North America between the rival British, French and Spanish empires. Too much aggression against Indian ter- Behind the rhetoric, the real events of Bacons ritories by English settlers could drive the Indians into ally-Rebellion have the sordid and shabby character we are so ing with the French. It is also true that temporary peacefamiliar with in Euro-Amerikan politics. It is, however, with nearby Indians accomplished three additional ends:highly instructive for us. The story begins in the summer of The very profitable fur trade was uninterrupted; Indians1675. The settlers of Virginia Colony were angry and tense, could be played off against each other, with some spyingfor the alarms of "King Philips RebellionM-the famed and fighting for the settlers; Indian pledges could be gottenIndian struggle-had spread South from Massachusetts. to return runaway Afrikan slaves (although few were everFurther, the Colony was in an economic depression due to returned). So under the peace treaty of 1646 (after Indianboth low tobacco prices and a severe drought (which had defeats in the 1644-46 war), nineteen Indian tribes incut crop yields down by as much as three-quarters).(4) Virginia accepted the authority of the British Crown. These subject Indians had to abide by settler law, and were One of the leading planters on the Colonys fron- either passive or active allies in settler wars with Indians tier was Nathaniel Bacon, Jr., the newest member of the further West.Colonys elite. Bacon had emigrated just the year before,swiftly purchasing two plantations on the James River. He By the time Bacons overseer was corrected by theand his partner, William Byrd (founder of the infamous no-longer friendly Susquehannock, the political disputeVirginia planter family), had also obtained commissions between Bacon and Governor Berkeley had boiled over in-from Governor Berkeley to engage in the lucrative Indian to the public view. Earlier, Bacon and Byrd had secretlyfur trade. All this was not difficult for Bacon, for he came suggested to Governor Berkeley that they be given afrom a wealthy English family-and was cousin to both monopoly on the Indian fur trade.(5) Corrupt as theGovernor Berkeleys wife and to Nathaniel Bacon, Sr. (a planters were, this move was so crudely self-serving that itleading planter who was a member of Virginias Council of was doomed to rejection. Berkeley dismissed their greedyState). proposal. Then, Bacon was wiped out of the fur trade altogether. In March, 1676, the Virginia Assembly, reac- In the Spring of that year, 1675, Governor ting to rumors that some traders were illegally selling gunsBerkeley honored young Bacon by giving him an appoint- to the Indians, permanently suspended all the existingment to the Council of State. As events were to prove, traders and authorized commissioning a wholesale replace-Bacons elite lifestyle and rapid political rise did but throw ment by new traders. Bacon was outraged, his pride andmore fuel on the fires of his arrogance and unlimited ambi- pocketbook stung, his anger and ambition unleashed.tion. The dispute between Bacon and Governor In July of 1675 war broke out between the settlers Berkeley was very clear-cut. Both favored war against theand the Susquehannock Indians. As usual, the war was formerly-allied Susquehannock. Both favored warring onstarted by settler harassment of Indians, climaxing in a any Indians opposing settler domination. But Berkeleymilitia raid which mistakenly crossed the border into believed in the usefulness of keeping some Indian sub-Maryland-and mistakenly attacked the Susquehannock, jects-as he said: "I would have preservd those Indianswho were allied to the settlers. The Susquehannock that I knew were hourely at our mercy to have beene ourresisted, and repelled the Virginians attack. Angry that spies and intelligence to find out the more bloudy En-the Indians had dared to resist their bullying intrusion, the I 3 nimies. " Bacon disagreed, scorning all this as too meek,
  • 15. . , , in short what wee did in that short time and poor condition wee were in was to destroy the King of the Sus- quahamocks and the King of Oconogee (i.e., Occaneechee} and the Manakin King with a IOO men, besides what (was?} unknown to us. The Kings daughter wee took Prisonner with some others and could have brought more, But in the heat of the Fight wee regarded not the advantage of the Prisoners nor any plunder, but burnt and destroid all. And what we reckon most ma- terial! is That wee have left all nations of Indians [where wee have bin) ingaged in a civil1 warre amongst themselves, soe that with great ease wee hope to manadge this advantage to their utter Ruine and destruction. - - from Nathaniel Bacons report on the 1676 expedition against the Indianstoo soft, almost treasonous; he believed in wiping out all Bacons force should rest while the Occaneeche wouldIndians, including allied and subject Indians. As he put it defeat the Susquehannock for them. Naturally, Baconin his "Manifesto": "Our Design " was "to ruin and extir- agreed. Using treachery the Occaneeche overran the Sus-pate all Indians in General". Thus did Bacons Rebellion quehannock, killing some thirty of them. The survivingdefine its main program. This was a classic settler liberal- prisoners were either publicly executed or given to Baconconservative debate, which still echoes into our own times, as that between Robert F. Kennedy vs. George Wallace,O.E.O. vs. KKK, C.I.A. vs. F.B.I., and so on. But this did not end the battle, for Bacon and his vigilante band had really come to kill and enslave all the Bacon had been denied a militia officers commis- Indians. The Occaneeche were rumored to have a store ofsion by Gov. Berkeley on the grounds that he refused to beaver furs worth some d 1,000. At least some of Baconsfollow British policy. But in May, 1676, Bacon refused to men later confessed "that the great designe was to gett thebe blocked by Gov. Berkeley any longer. He had become a beaver ..." In any case, Bacon demanded that the Oc-charismatic leader among the frontier settlers, and he and caneeche give him all the loot from the Susquehannockhis neighbors were determined to reach a "Final Solution" camp plus additional friendly Indians as slaves. Even atto their Indian problem. This was an increasingly popular that, the servile Occaneeche leader tried to temporize, of-program among the settler masses, since it also promised fering to give him hostages. Suddenly Bacons forceto end their economic depression by a new round of assaulted the unprepared Occaneeche. Most of the Indianslooting Indian lands and goods. Nothing raises more en- inside the fort were killed, although they did stand off thethusiasm among Euro-Amerikan settlers than attacking settler assault. The surprised Occaneeche outside their fortpeople of color-they embrace it as something between a were helpless, however. As Bacon proudly reported, histeam sport and a national religion. Thus did the Rebellion heroic settler comrades yell upon the men, woemen andwin over the settler masses. children without, disarmed and destroid them all..." Bacons Rebellion had won its first important victory, and In May, 1676, word came to the settlers on the he and his men marched homeward, loaded with loot andfrontier from their Occaneechee Indian allies that a band new slaves, as heroes.of Susquehannock had camped near the Occaneechee forton the Roanoke River. Bacon and his friends formed a Bacon was now the most popular figure in thevigilante group, against government orders, and promptly Virginia Colony, famed and respected as an Indian killer.rode off to begin their war against all Indians. This marks Berkeleys refusal to grant him a military commissionthe beginning of Bacons Rebellion. meant nothing, for Bacon was acclaimed as "The Peoples General". He, much more than any Governor or Coun- When Bacon and his men arrived at the Oc- cilor, commanded the loyalty of the settler masses. Nor didcaneeche fort they were exhausted, out of food, and clearly he find any trouble attracting armed volunteers to d o hisin no shape to fight. The fawning Occaneeche treated the bidding. Wiping out and looting all the Indians aroundsettlers to a festive dinner. They even proposed that 14 was a program many whites could relate to, particularly
  • 16. since Governor Berkeley, under popular pressure, had servants entering the scene. Without an army. with almostforced the subject Indians to turn in their muskets and all of the planters turned against him, an exiled Gov.disarm. Killing disarmed oppressed people is much more Berkeley outbids Bacon for support. Berkeley promisessatisfying to Euro-Amerikans than having to face armed freedom to white indentured servants of the Baconites, iffoes. In fact, as one historian pointed out: "Bacon and his they will desert their masters and take arms with themen did not kill a single enemy Indian but contented loyalist forces of the Crown. He also authorizes looting,themselves with frightening away, killing, or enslaving with every white servant sharing in the confiscated estatesmost of the friendly neighboring Indians, and taking their of the Baconites. Aided by the lucky recapture of threebeaver and land as spoils." armed ships, Gov. Berkeley soon rebuilt his military forces. Now Bacon was on the offensive against GovernorBerkeley and his clique as well. Over and over he publicly On Sept. 7 1676 the loyalists arrived atdamned Berkeley as a traitor to settlers. Bacon was swing- Jamestown. Gov. Berkeley shrewdly offered a general par-ing from his heels, aiming at nothing less than state power. don to all rebel settlers except Bacon and his two chiefHis big gun against the Governor was the charge that lieutenants. Although they still commanded the fortifiedBerkeley was a secret "friend" to the Indians. No charge capital, Bacons men abandoned their positions in im-could have been more damaging. As we all know, when mediate flight, without any pretense of battle. Most eager-Euro-Amerikans really get serious about fighting each ly took up Berkeleys offer of pardon.other the most vicious accusation they can hurl at oneanother is that of "nigger-lover" or "Indian-lover" or Now it was Bacons turn to find himself virtuallysome such. armyless, deserted by many of his followers. It appears as though a good number of settlers rallied to and deserted Bacon charged that the Governor was literally a from the various sides depending on how the tide of for-traitor who had secretly sold the Indians guns so that they tune was running. They had an opportunistic regard forcould attack the settlers. We can see the parallels to the their immediate gain as the main contour in their minds. 1960s, when white liberals were widely charged with giv- Just one month before, Bacon had been confidently sket-ing Third-World militants money, legal aid, and even ching out how sister rebellions could easily be ignited inweapons so that they could kill whites. Berkeley, charged Maryland and South Carolina, and how if London refusedBacon, had so intimidated the settlers "that no man dare their demands then an independent nation could be form-to destroy the Indians...until I adventured to cutt the ed. This, incidentally, is why Jefferson and the other 1776knott, which made the people in general1 look upon mee as patriots considered Bacon one of the first architects of thethe countries friend." Bacons wife, whose ardent support United States.(7) But now his situation was perilous.for the Rebellion led some of todays Euro-Arnerikanradicals to see feminist stirrings in it, cried "Thanks bee to In his extreme need, refusing to swallow the bitterGod" that her husband "did destroy a great many of the dose of either compromise or defeat, Bacon followed Gov. Indians.. . "(6) Killing, enslaving and robbing was the exact Berkeleys example-but did him one better. Baconcentral concern of this movement-which Euro- recruited not only the white servants of his opponents, butAmerikans tell us is an example of how we should unite also their Afrikan slaves. Hundreds of new recruits flockedwith them! Theres a message there for those who wish to to his army. On Sept. 19, 1676, Baconite forces recaptured pick it up. Jamestown. Once again there was no battle. Berkeleys forces deserted him as swiftly as Bacons had, and the for- Bacon had been proscribed as a lawbreaker and tified capital was abandoned. Bacon, ever the masterrebel, but he still easily won election to the Assembly which psychologist, had skillfully barricaded his besieging ram-was to meet on June 5, 1676. He typically chose to ensure parts with the bodies-of both his new Indian slaves and thehis control of the Henrico County elections by capturing captured wives of loyalists. That night he triumphantlythe site with his vigilantes. Even though Bacon was for ordered Jamestown put to the torch, and the fires that con-repealing the 1670 Assembly decision denying propertyless sumed the capital were dramatic evidence that he was oncefreeman voting rights, these votes and assemblies were just again master of Virginia.window-dressing to his dictatorial ambitions. But then Bacon died suddenly from an unexpected On June 7, 1676 the Rebellion suffered its first illness. His successor as "General" of the Rebellion lostreverse. Bacon was captured as he and fifty of his armed heart, and made a secret deal with the Crown to disarm theband tried to slip into Jamestown, the capital of Virginia rebel forces. The last die-hards were some 80 AfrikanColony. Then began a dizzying series of maneuvers, coups slaves and 20 white servants, who refused to surrender to aand countercoups. Preferring shame to execution, Bacon fate they knew all too well. They were tricked into comingbegged Gov. Berkeleys pardon on bended knee in front of aboard a ship, taken out to the middle of the river, andthe crowded Assembly. He was quickly pardoned-and forced to disarm at cannonpoint. As quickly as it hadeven restored to his position on the Council of State. begun, Bacons Rebellion was over.Young Bacon just as quickly fled Jamestown, returning onJune 23, 1676 with over 500 armed supporters. He easily Out of the debris of this chaotic dispute we cancaptured the capital, Governor and all. But now he in turn pick out the central facts. First, that there was nohad to release Gov. Berkeley and his loyal supporters, for democratic political program or movement whatsoever.they invoked their settlers right to return home to defend Bacons Rebellion was a popular movement, representingtheir plantations and women against the Indians. a clear majority of the settlers, to resolve serious economic and social problems by stepping up the exploitaton of op- It was at that point that we find white indentured 15 pressed peoples. Far from being "democratic", it was
  • 17. more nearly fascistic. Bacon was the diseased mind of the How meaningful is a "democratic" extension of votingmost reactionary faction of the planters, and in his am- rights amidst the savage expansion of a capitalist societybitious schemes the fact that a few more freemen or ex- based on genocide and enslavement? Would voting rightsslaves had paper voting rights meant little. Far from for white ranchers have been the "democratic" answer atfighting to abolish slavery, the Rebellion actually hoped to Wounded Knee? Or "free speech" for prison guards theadd to the number of slaves by Indian conquest. answer at Attica? And, finally, there was no "Black and White uni- The truth is that Euro-Amerikans view thesety" at all. Needing fighting bodies, Bacon at the very end bourgeois-democratic measures as historic gains because tooffered a deal to his opponents slaves. He paid in the only them they are. But not to us. The inner content, the essencecoin that was meaningful-a promise of freedom for them of these reforms was the consolidation of a new settler na-if he won. Those Afrikans who signed up in his army tion. Part of this process was granting full citizenship indidnt love him, trust him, view him as their leader, or the settler society to all strata and classes of Euro-anything of the kind. They were tactically exploiting a con- Amerikans; as such, these struggles were widespread intradiction in the oppressor ranks, maneuvering for their Colonial Amerika, and far more important to settlers thanfreedom. It is interesting to note that those Indians who mere wage disputes.did give themselves up to unity with the oppressors,becoming the settlers lackeys and allies, were not pro- The early English settlers of Virginia Colony, fortected by it, but were destroyed. example, were forced to import German, Polish and Armenian craftsmen to their invasion beachhead, in order We can also see here the contradiction of to produce the glass beads used in the fur trade (as well as"democratic" reforms within the context of settler pitch used in shipbuilding, etc.). Since these "foreign"capitalism. Much has been made of the reforms of craftsmen were not English, they were considered subjects"Bacons Assembly" (the June, 1676 session of the and not members of the Colony. So in 1619 thosc Curo-Virginia Assembly, which was so named because of its pean artisans went on strike, quickly winning full citizen-newly elected majority of Baconites and their sym- ship rights-"as free as any inhabitant therepathizers). Always singled out for praise by Euro- whatsoever."(9)Arnerikan historians was "Act VII" of the Assembly,which restored voting rights to property-less freemen. The Similar struggles took place throughout the Col-most eminent Euro-Amerikan radical labor historian, onial Era, in both North and South. In 1689 LeislersPhilip S. Foner, has written how: Rebellion (led by a German immigrant merchant) in New York found the settler democrats ousting the British gar- "...the rebellion.. .gained a number of democratic rison from Albany, and holding the state capital forrights for the people. The statute preventing propertyless several years. The New York State Assembly has its originsfreemen from electing members to the House of Burgesses in the settler legislature granted by the Crown as a conces-was repealed. Freeholders and freemen of every parish sion after the revolt had been ended. The Roosevelt familygained the right to elect the vestries of the church. None of first got into settler politics as supporters of Leisler.(lO)these democratic reforms remained after the revolt wascrushed, yet their memories lived on. Bacon was truly theTorchbearer of the Revolution, and for generations after We need to see the dialectical unity of democracyany leader of the common people was called a and oppression in developing settler Amerika. The winningBaconist. "(8) of citizenship rights by poorer settlers or non-Anglo-Saxon Europeans is democratic in form. The enrollment of the It is easy to see how contemptible these pseudo- white masses into new, mass instruments of repres-Marxist, white supremacist lies are. When we examine the sion-such as the formation of the infamous Slave Patrolsentire work of that legislature of planter reforms, we find in Virginia in 1727-is obviously anti-democratic and reac-that the first three acts passed a involved furthering the N tionary. Yet these opposites in form are, in their essence,genocidal war against the Indians. Act 111legalized the set- united as aspects of creating the new citizenry of Babylon.tler seizure of Indian lands, previously guaranteed by trea- This is why our relationship to "democratic" strugglesty, "deserted" by Indians fleeing from Bacons attacks. among the settlers has not been one of simple unity. AW A M . Wm Ch l
  • 18. This was fully proven in practice once again by the While some patriots, such as Samuel Adams, had1776 War of Independence, a war in which most of the In- for many years been certain of the need for settler in-dian and Afrikan peoples opposed settler nationhood and dependence from England,-the settler bourgeoisie was, inthe consolidation of Arnerika. In fact, the majority of op- the main, conservative and uncertain about actual war. Itpressed people gladly allied themselves to the British forces was the land question that in the end proved decisive inin hopes of crushing the settlers. swaying the doubtful among the settler elite. This clash, between an Old European empire and By first the Proclamation Act of 1763 and then thethe emerging Euro-Amerikan empire, was inevitable Quebec Act of 1773, the British capitalists kept trying todecades before actual fighting came. The decisive point reserve for themselves alone the great stretches of Indiancame when British capitalism decided to clip the wings of land West of theAlleghenies.This was ruinous to the settlerthe new Euro-Amerikan bourgeoisie-they restricted bourgeoisie, who were suffering from the first majoremigration, hampered industry and trade, and pursued a Depression in Amerikan history. Then as now, real estatelong-range plan to confine the settler population to a con- speculation was a mania, a profitable obsession to thetrollable strip of territory along the Atlantic seacoast. They Euro-Amerikan patriots. Ben Franklin, the Whartons andproposed, for their own imperial needs, that the infant other Philadelphia notables tried to obtain vast acreagesAmerika be permanently stunted. After all, the European for speculation. George Washington, together with theconquest of just the Eastern shores of North America had Lees and Fitzhughs, formed the Mississippi Company,already produced, by the time of Independence, a popula- which tried to get 2.5 million acres for sale to new settlers.tion almost one-third as large as that of England and Heavily in debt to British merchant-bankers, the settlerIreland. They feared that unchecked, the Colonial tail bourgeoisie had hoped to reap great rewards from seizingmight someday wag the imperial dog (as indeed it has). new Indian lands as far West as the Mississippi River.(ll) The British Quebec Act of 1773, however, attach- ed all the AmerikabMidwest to British Canada. The Thir- teen Colonies were to be frozen out of the continental land grab, with their British cousins doing all the looting. And as for the Southern planter bourgeoisie, they were faced with literal bankruptcy as a class without the profits of new conquests and the expansion of thc slavc systcm. It was this one issue that drove them, at the end, into the camp of rebellion.(l2) Historian Richard G. Wade, analyzing the relation of frontier issues to the War of Independence, says of British restrictions on settler land-grabbing: "...settlers hungered to get across the mountains and resented any ef- forts to stop them. The Revolution was fought in part to free the frontier from this confinement."(l3) Like Bacons Rebellion, the "liberty" that the Amerikan Revolutionists of the 1770s fought for was in large part the freedom to conquer new Indian lands and profit from the commerce of the slave trade, without any restrictions or limitations. In other words, the bourgeois "freedom" to oppress and exploit others. The successful future of the settler capitalists demanded the scope of in- dependent nationhood. But as the first flush of settler enthusiasm faded into the unhappy realization of how grim and bloody this war would be, the settler "sunshine soldiers" faded from the ranks to go home and stay home. Almost one-third of the Continental Army deserted at Valley Forge. So enlist- ment bribes were widely offered to get recruits. New York State offered new enlistments 40q acres each of Indian land. Virginia offered an enlistment bonus of an Afrikan slave (guaranteed to be not younger than age ten) and 100 acres of Indian land. In South Carolina, Gen. Sumter used a share-the-loot scheme, whereby each settler volunteer would get an Afrikan captured from Tory estates. Even these extraordinarily generous offers failed to spark any sacrificial enthusiasm among the settler masses.(l4) APPROXIMATE FRONTIER LINE OF THE COLONIES IN 1774 It was Afrikans who greeted the war with great en- 17 thusiasm. But while the settler slavemasters sought
  • 19. "democracy" through wresting their nationhood awayfrom England, their slaves sought liberation by overthrow-ing Amerika or escaping from it. Far from being eitherpatriotic Amerikan subjects or passively enslaved neutrals,the Afrikan masses threw themselves daringly and pas-sionately into the jaws of war on an unprecedentedscale-that is, into their own war, against slave Amerikaand for freedom. The British, short of troops and laborers, decidedto use both the Indian nations and the Afrikan slaves tohelp bring down the settler rebels. This was nothing uni-que; the French had extensively used Indian militaryalliances and the British extensively used Afrikan slaverecruits in their 1756-63 war over North America (called"The French & Indian War" in settler history books). Butthe Euro-Amerikan settlers, sitting on the dynamite of arestive, nationally oppressed Afrikan population, were ter-rified-and outraged. Am~rlkanpropapanda--1ndlana alllad to the ~rltfrhmurd.r a r.tt1.r woman This was the final proof to many settlers of King Governor Benjamin Harrison lost thirty of "my finestGeorge 111s evil tyranny. An English gentlewoman travel- slaves"; William Lee lost sixty-five slaves, and said two ofing in the Colonies wrote that popular settler indignation his neighbors "lost every slave they had in the world";was so great that it stood to unite rebels and Tories again. South Carolinas Arthur Middleton lost fifty slaves.(l9)(15) Tom Paine, in his revolutionary pamphlet CommonSense, raged against "...that barbarous and hellish power Afrikans were writing their own "Declaration ofwhich hath stirred up Indians and Negroes to destroy Independence" by escaping. Many settler patriots tried tous."(16) But oppressed peoples saw this war as a wonder- appeal to the British forces to exercise European solidarityful contradiction to be exploited in the ranks of the Euro- and expel the Rebel slaves. George Washington had to de-pean capitalists. nounce his own brother for bringing food to the British troops, in a vain effort to coax them into returning the Lord Dunmore was Royal Governor of Virginia in Washington family slaves .(20) Yes, the settler patriotsname, but ruler over so little that he had to reside aboard a were definitely upset to see some real freedom get loosedBritish warship anchored offshore. Urgently needing rein- upon the land.forcements for his outnumbered command, on Nov. 5,1775 he issued a proclamation that any slaves enlisting in To this day no one really knows how many slaveshis forces would be freed. Sir Henry Clinton, commander freed themselves during the war. Georgia settlers were saidof British forces in North America, later issued an even to have lost over 10,000 slaves, while the number ofbroader offer: Afrikan escaped prisoners in South Carolina and Virginia was thought to total well over 50,000. Many, in the disrup- "I do most strictly forbid any Person to sell or tion of war, passed themselves off as freemen andclaim Right over any Negroe, the property of a Rebel, who relocated in other territories, fled to British Florida andmay claim refuge in any part of this Army; And I do pro- Canada, or took refuge in Maroon communities or withmise to every Negroe who shall desert the Rebel Standard, the Indian nations. It has been estimated that 100,000full security to follow within these Lines, any Occupation Afrikan prisoners-some 20% of the slave popula-which he shall think proper."(l7) tion-freed themselves during the war.(21) Could any horn have called more clearly? By the The thousands of rebellious Afrikans sustained thethousands upon thousands, Afrikans struggled to reach British war machinery. After all, if the price of refugeBritish lines. One historian of the Exodus has said: "The from the slavemaster was helping the British throw downBritish move was countered by the Americans, who exer- the settlers, it was not such a distasteful task. Lord Dun-cised closer vigilance over their slaves, removed the able- more had an "Ethiopian Regiment" of ex-slaves (whobodied to interior places far from the scene of the war, and went into battle with the motto "Liberty to Slaves" sewnthreatened with dire punishment all who sought to join the on their jackets) who helped the British capture and burnenemy. To Negroes attempting to flee to the British the Norfolk, Va. on New Years Day, 1776.(22) That must havealternatives Liberty or Death took on an almost literal been sweet, indeed. Everywhere, Afrikans appeared withmeaning. Nevertheless, by land and sea they made their the British units as soldiers, porters, road-builders, guidesway to the British forces."(18) and intelligence agents. Washington declared that unless the slave escapes could be halted the British Army would The war was a disruption to Slave Amerika, a inexorably grow "like a snowball in rollingW.(23)chaotic gap in the European capitalist ranks to be hit hard.Afrikans seized the time-not by the tens or hundreds, but It was only under this threat-not only of defeat,by the many thousands. Amerika shook with the tremors but defeat iil part by masses of armed ex-slaves-that theof their movement. The signers of the Declaration of In- settlers hurriedly reversed their gears and started recruitingdependence were bitter about their personal losses: Afrikans into the Continental U.S. Army. The whole con-Thomas Jefferson lost many of his slaves; Virginias 18 tradiction of arming slaves and asking them to defend their
  • 20. slavemasters was apparent to many. Fearing this disrup- his life as a slave. He, ironically enough, is known totion of the concentration camp culture of the planta- historians as an exceptionally dedicated "patriot", super-tions-and fearing even more the dangers of arming loyal to the new settler nation.(27)masses of Afrikans-many settlers preferred to lose totheir British kith and kin rather than tamper with slavery. What was primary for the Afrikan masses was aBut that choice was no longer fully theirs to make, as the strategic relationship with the British Empire against set-genie was part-way out of the bottle. tler Amerika. To use an Old European power against the Euro-Amerikan settlers-who were the nearest and most On Dec. 31, 1775, Gen. Washington ordered the immediate enemy-was just common sense to many.enlistment of Afrikans into the Continental Army, with 65,000 Afrikans joined the British forces-over ten forthe promise of freedom at the end of the war. Many set- every one enlisted in the Continental U S ranks.(28) As ..tlers sent their slaves into the army to take their place. One Lenin said in discussing the national question: "TheHessian mercenary officer with the British said: "The masses vote with their feet". And in this case they votedNegro can take the field instead of the master; and against Amerika.therefore, no regiment is to be seen in which there are notNegroes in abundance ..." Over 5,000 Afrikans served in Secondarily, on an individual level Afrikans serv-the Patriot military, making up a large proportion of the ed with various forces in return for release from slavery.most experienced troops (settlers usually served for only There was no real "political unity" or larger allegiance in-short enlistments-90 days duty being the most common volved, just a quid pro quo. On the European sides as well,term-while slaves served until the wars end or death).(24) obviously. If the British and Patriot sides could have pur- sued their conflict without freeing any slaves or disrupting For oppressed peoples the price of the war was the slave system, they each gladly would have done so. Justpaid in blood. ~fiikancasualties were heavy (one-half of as the slave enlistments in Bacons Rebellion demonstratedthe Afrikans who served with the British in Virginia died in only the temporary and tactical nature of alliances betweenan epidemic).(25) And the Indian nations allied to the oppressed and oppressor forces, so the alignment of forcesCrown suffered greatly as the tide of battle turned against in the settler War of Independence only proved that the na-their side. The same was true of many Afrikans captured in tional patriotic struggle of Euro-Amerikans was oppositeBritish defeats. Some were sold to the West Indies and to the basic interests and political desires of the oppressed.others were executed. A similar heavy fate fell on thoserecaptured while making their way to British lines. The set- Even in the ruins of British defeat, the soundnesstler mass community organizations, such as the infamous of this viewpoint was born out in practice. While the"Committees of Correspondence" in New York and jubilant Patriots watched the defeated British armyMassachusetts, played the same role up North that the evacuate New York City in 1783, some 4,000 AfrikansSlave Patrols played in the South, of checking and ar- swarmed aboard the departing ships to escape Amerika.resting rebellious Afrikans.(26) Another 4,000 Afrikans escaped with the British from Savannah, 6,000 from Charleston, and 5,000 escaped aboard British ships prior to the surrender. (29) Did these Even those who had allied with the victorious set- brothers and sisters "lose" the war-compared to thosetlers did not necessarily find themselves winning anything. still in chains on the plantations?Many Afrikans were disarmed and put back into chains atthe wars end, despite solemn settler promises. John Han- Others chose neither to leave nor submit. All dur-cock, President of the Continental Congress, may have ing the war Indian and Afrikan guerrillas struck at the set-presented Afrikan U.S. troops with a banner - which tlers. In one case, three hundred Afrikan ex-slaves foughtpraised them as "The Bucks of America" - but that an extended guerrilla campaign against the planters in bothdidnt help Afrikans such as Captain Mark Starlin. He was Georgia and South Carolina. Originally allied to thethe first Afrikan captain in the Amerikan naval forces, and British forces, they continued their independent campaignhad won many honors for his near-suicidal night raids on long after the British defeat. They were not overcome untilthe British fleet (which is why the settlers let him and his 1786, when their secret fort at Bear Creek was discoveredall-Afrikan crew sail alone). But as soon as the war ended, and overwhelmed. This was but one front in the truehis master simply reclaimed him. Starlin spent the rest of democratic struggle against Amerika.
  • 21. 111. THE CONTRADICTIONS OF NATION & CLASS 1 Crisis Within the Slave System The slave system had served Amerika well, but as one that would have bankrupted not only the planters butthe settler nation matured what once was a foundation the entire settler society as well.stone increasingly became a drag on the growth of the newEuro-Amerikan Empire. The slave system, once essential President Jeffersons solution to this dilemma wasto the life of white society, now became worse than an to take all Afrikan children away from their parents foranachronism; it became a growing threat to the well-being compact shipment to the West Indies and Afrika, whileof settler life. While the settler masses and their bourgeois keeping the adults enslaved to support the Amerikanleaders still intended to exploit the oppressed to the fullest economy for the rest of their lives.* This wouldextent, increasingly they came to believe that one specific theoretically generate the necessary profits to prop up theform of exploitation-Afrikan slavery-had to be shat- capitalist economy, while still moving towards an all-whitetered. Amerika. Jefferson mused: "...the old stock would die off in the ordinary course of nature...until its final disap- Nothing is gained without a price. As "natural" pearance. " The President thought this Hitlerian fantasyand "Heaven-sent" as the great production of Afrikan both "practicable" and "blessed".slave labor seemed to the planters, this wealth was boughtat the cost of mounting danger to settlers as a whole. For It is easy to understand why this fantastic: plauthe slave system imported and concentrated a vast, enemy never became reality: the oppressor will never willinglyarmy of oppressed right in the sinews of white society. This remove his claws from the oppressed so long as there arewas the fatal contradiction in the "Slave Power" so clearly still more profits to be wrung from them. Jefferson himselfseen by early settler critics of slavery. Benjamin Franklin, actively bought more and more slaves to maintain hisfor example, not only gave up slave-owning himself, but in pseudo-Grecian lifestyle. As President he signed the 18081755 wrote that slavery should be banned and only Euro- bill allegedly banning the importation of new slaves inpeans permitted to live in North America.(l) Twenty years part, we suspect, because this only raised the price he couldlater, as the Articles of Confederation were being debated, obtain from his slave-breeding business.South Carolinas Lynch stated that since Afrikans wereproperty they shouldnt be taxed any more than sheep Jefferson gloated over the increase in his wealthwere. Franklin acidly replied: "Sheep will never make in- from the birth of new slaves: "...I consider the labor of asurrection! "(2) breeding woman as no object, and that a child raised every two years is of more profit than the crop of the best labor- Thomas Jefferson of Virginia probably per- ing man." It sums matters up to note that President Jeffer-sonified this contradiction more visibly than any other set- son, who believed that the planters should restrict and thentler. He is well-known in settler history books as the liberal wipe out entirely the Afrikan colony, ended his days own-planter who constantly told his friends how he agonized ing more slaves than he started with.(4)over the immorality of slavery. He is usually depicted as anexceptional human being of great compassion and much The Northern States had slowly begun abolishingintellect. What was pushing and pressuring his capitalist slavery as early as Vermont in 1777, in the hopes that themind was the contradiction between his greed for the easy numbers of Afrikans could be kept down. It was also wide-life of the slave-master, and his fear for the safety of his ly believed by settlers that in small numbers the "child-settler nation.(3) like" ex-slaves could be kept docile and easily ruled. The explosive growth of the number of Afrikans held prisoner He knew that successful revolution against settler within the slave system, and the resultant eruptions ofrule was a possibility, and that in a land governed by ex- Afrikan struggles in all spheres of life, blew this settler illu-slaves the fate of the former slave-masters would be hard. sion away. ...As he put it: " a revolution of the wheel of fortune, anexchange of situation is among possible events.. . " That is The Haitian Revolution of 1791 marked a decisivewhy, as U.S. President in 1791, he viewed the great Haitian point in the politics of both settler and slave. The newsRevolution led by Toussaint LOuverture as a monstrous from Santo Domingo that Afrikan prisoners had risen anddanger. His Administration quickly appropriated relief successfully set up a new nation electrified the entirefunds to subsidize the French planters fleeing that island. Western Hemisphere. When it became undeniably true that Afrikan peoples armies, under the leadership of a 50 Jeffersons agile mind came up with a theoretical year-old former field hand, had in protracted war out-solution to their "Negro problem"-gradual genocide.He maneuvered and outfought the professional armies of theestimated that returning all slaves to Afrika would costAmerika $900 Million in lost capital and transportation ex-penses-a sum 45 times the annual export earnings of the * Although Jefferson never admitted it, most of thesesettler economy at the time! This was an impossible cost, 20 children would probably never survive.
  • 22. for them. The situation became more acute as the develop- ing capitalist economy created trends of urbanization and industrialization. In the early 1800s the Afrikan popula- tion of many cities was rising faster than that of Euro- Amerikans. In 1820 Afrikans comprised at least 25% of the total population of Washington, Louisville, Baltimore, and St. Louis; at least 50% of the total population in New Orleans, Richmond, Mobile, and Savannah. The percen- tage of whites owning slaves was higher in the cities than it was in the countryside. In cities such as Louisville, Charleston, and Richmond, some 65-75% of all Euro- Amerikan families owned Afrikan slaves. And the com- merce and industry of these cities brought together and educated masses of Afrikan colonial proletarians-in the textile mills, mines, ironworks, docks, railroads, tobacco factories, and so on.(6). In such concentrations, Afrikans bent and often broke the bars surrounding them. Increasingly, more and mroe slaves were no longer under tight control. Illegal grog shops (white-owned, of course) and informal clubs flourished on the back streets. Restrictions on even the dai- ly movements of many slaves faltered in the urban crowds. Contemporary white travelers often wrote of how alarmed they were when visiting Southern cities at the large numbers of Afrikans on the streets. One historian writes of New Orleans: "It was notunusual for slaves to gather on street corners at night, for example, where they challenged whites to attempt to pass...nor was it safe to accost them, as many went armed with knives and pistols in flagrant de- fiance of all the precautions of the Black Code."(7) A Louisville newspaper editorial complained in 1835 that "Negroes scarcely realize the fact that they are Toussaint LOuverture solent, intractable.. . "(8)Old European Powers, the relevancy of the lesson to It was natural in these urban concentrations thatAmerika was intense. Intense. slave escapes (prison breaks) became increasingly com- mon. The Afrikan communities in the cities were also The effect of Haitis great victory was felt im- human forests, partially opaque to the eye of the settler, inmediately. Haitian slaves forcibly evacuated from that which escapees from the plantations quietly sought refuge.island with their French masters helped spread the word During one 16 month period in the 1850s the New Orleansthat Revolution and Independence were possible. The new settler police arrested 982 "runaway slavesw-a numberHaitian Republic proudly offered citizenship to any In- equal to approximately 7% of the citys slave population.dians and Afrikans who wanted it, and thousands of free In 1837 the Baltimore settler police arrested almost 300Afrikans emigrated. This great breakthrough stimulated Afrikans as proven or suspected escapees-a number equalrebellion and the vision of national liberation among the to over 9% of that citys slave population.(9)oppressed, while hardening the resolve of settler society todefend their hegemony with the most violent and naked And, of course, these are just those who wereterror. caught. Many others evaded the settler law enforcement apparatus. Frederick Douglass, we remember, had been a The Virginia insurrection led by Gabriel some nine carpenter and shipyard worker in Baltimore before escap-years later, in which thousands of Afrikans were involved, ing Northward to pursue his agitation. At least 100,000as well as that of Nat Turner in 1831, caused discussions slaves did escape to the North and Canada during thesewithin the Virginia legislature on ending slavery. The 1831 years.uprising, in which sixty settlers died, so terrified them thatpublic rallies were held in Western Virginia to demand an Nor should it be forgotten that some of the largestall-white Virginia. Virginias Governor Floyd publicly en- armed insurrections and conspiracies of the period involv-dorsed the total removal of all Afrikans out of the state.@) ed the urban proletariat. The Gabriel uprising of 1800 wasIf such proposals could be entertained in the heartland of based on the Richmond proletariat (Gabriel himself was athe slave system, we can imagine how popular that must blacksmith, and most of his lieutenants were other skilledhave been among settlers in the Northern States. workers). So many Afrikans were involved in that planned uprising that one Southern newspaper declared that pro- The problem facing the settlers was not limited to secutions had to be halted lest it bankrupt the Richmondpotential uprisings on the plantations. Everywhere Afrikan capitalists by causing "the annihilation of the Blacks inprisoners were pressing beyond the colonial boundaries set 21 this part of the country".(lO)
  • 23. The Charleston conspiracy of 1822, led by Den- the wake of the Vesey conspiracy, for instance, themark Vesey (a free carpenter), was an organization of ur- Charleston City Council urged that the number of maleban proletarians- stevedores, millers, lumberyard Afrikans in the city "be greatly diminished".(l2) And theyworkers, blacksmiths, etc.. Similarly, the great conspiracy were.of 1856 was organized among coal mine, mill and factoryworkers across Kentucky and Tennessee. In its failure, Throughout the South much of the Afrikansome 65 Afrikans were killed at Senator Bells iron works population was gradually shipped back to the plantations,alone. It was particularly alarming to the settlers that those declining year after year until the Civil War. In NewAfrikans who had been given the advantages of urban liv- Orleans the drop was from 50% to 15% of the city popula-ing, and who had skilled positions, just used their relative tion; in St. Louis from 25% t o only 2% of the city popula-mobility to strike at the colonial system all the more effec- tion.(l3) The needs of the new industrial economy were fartively.(ll) less important to the bourgeoisie than breaking up the dangerous concentrations of oppressed, and regaining a From among the ranks of free Afrikans outside safe, Euro-Amerikan physical domination over the key ur-the South came courageous organizers, who moved ban centers.through the South like guerrillas leading their brethren t ofreedom. And not just a few exceptional leaders, such as One Northern writer traveling through the SouthHarriet Tubman; in 1860 we know that five hundred noted in 1859 that the Afrikans had been learning toounderground organizers went into the South from Canada much in the cities: "This has alarmed their masters, andalone. On the plantations the Afrikan masses resisted in a they are sending them off, as fast as possible, to theplanta-conscious, political culture. A letter from a Charleston, tions where, as in a tomb, no sight or sound of knowledgeS.C. plantation owner in 1844 tells how all the slaves in the can reach them. "(14) In addition to the physical restric-area secretly celebrated every August 1st - the anniversary tions, the mass terror, etc. that we all know were imposed,of the end of slavery in the British West Indies.(ll) it is important to see that settler Amerika reacted to the growing consciousness of Afrikans by attempting to isolate Abolishing slavery was the commonly proposed and physically break up the oppressed communities. It is aanswer to this increasing instability in the colonial system. measure of how strongly the threat of Revolution was ris-The settler bourgeoisie, however, which had immense ing in the Afrikan nation that the settlers had to restructurecapital tied up in slaves, could hardly be expected to take their society in response. The relative backwardness of thesuch a step willingly. One immediate response in the 1830s Southern economy was an expression of the living con-was to break up the Afrikan communities in the cities. In tradictions of the slave system. 2. Slavery vs. Settlerism Slavery had become an obstacle to both the con- awaited, that could only be held by millions of loyal set-tinued growth of settler society and the interests of the tlers. After Haiti, it was increasingly obvious that a "thin,Euro-Amerikan bourgeoisie. It was not that slavery was white line" of a few soldiers, administrators and plantersunprofitable itself. It was, worker for worker, much more could not safely hold down whole oppressed nations. Onlyprofitable than white wage-labor. Afrikan slaves in in- the weight of masses of oppressors could provide the Euro-dustry cost the capitalists less than one-third the wages of Amerikan bourgeoisie with the Empire they desired. Thiswhite workingmen. Even when slaves were rented from was a fundamental element in the antagonistic, but sym-another capitalist, the savings in the factory or mine were biotic, relationship of the white masses to their rulers.still considerable.For example, in the 1830s almost one-third of the workers at the U.S. Navy shipyard at Norfolk The slave system had committed the fatal sin ofwere Afrikans, rented at only two-thirds the cost of white restricting the white population, while massing greatwage-labor.(l5) numbers of Afrikans. In the 1860 Census we can see the disparity of the settler populations of North and South. But the Amerikan capitalists needed to greatly ex- Excluding the border States of Delaware and Maryland,pand their labor force. While the planters believed that im- the slave States had a median population density of a bareporting ney millions of Afrikan slaves would most pro- 18 whites per sq. mile. The most heavily populated slavefitably meet this need, it was clear that this would only add State-Kentucky-had a population of only 31 whites perfuel to the fires of the already insurrectionary Afrikan col- sq.mile. In sharp contrast, Northern States such as Ohio,ony. Profit had to be seen not in the squeezing of a few New Jersey, and Massachusetts had populations of 59, 81,more dollars on a short-term, individual basis, but in terms and 158 whites per sq. mile respectively.(l6) This disparityof the needs of an entire Empire and its future. And it was was not only large, but was qualitatively significant for thenot just the demand for labor alone that outmoded the future of the Euro-Amerikan Empire.slave system. It is no surprise that the planter bourgeoisie view- Capitalism needed giant armies of settlers, waves ed society far differently than did the New York banker orand waves of new European shock-troops to help cofiquer Massachusetts mill owner. The thought of an Amerikaand hold new territory, to develop it for the bourgeoisie, crowded with millions and millions of poverty-strickenand garrison it against the oppressed. The Mississippi European laborers, all sharing citizenship with theirValley, the Plains, the Northern territories of Mexico, the mansion-dwelling brothers, horrified the planter elite.Pacific West-a whole continent of land and resources 22 They viewed themselves as the founders of a future
  • 24. Amerika that would become a great civilization akin to would inevitably, they thought, divide white society, sinceGreece and Rome, a slave Empire led by the necessarily the privileged life of settlerism could only stretch so far. Orsmall elite of aristocratic slave-owners. in other words, too many whites meant an inevitable squabble over dividing up the loot. These retrogressive dreams had definite shape inplans for expansion of the "Slave Power" far beyond the In 1836 Thomas R. Dew of William & Mary Col-South. After all, if the Spanish Empire had used armies of lege warned his Northern cousins that importing Euro-Indian slaves to mine the gold, silver and copper of Peru peans who were meant to stay poor could only lead to classand Mexico, why could not the Southern planter war: "Between the rich and the poor, the capitalist and thebourgeoisie colonize the great minefields of New Mexico, laboror...When these things shall come-when theUtah, Colorado, and California, with millions of Afrikan millions, who are always under the pressure of poverty,helots sending the great mineral wealth of the West back to and sometimes on the verge of starvation, shall form yourRichmond and New Orleans? These superprofits might numerical majority, (as is the case now in the old countriesfinance a new world Empire, just as they once did for semi- of the world) and universal suffrage shall throw thefeudal Spain. political power into their lands, can you expect that they will regard as sacred the tenure by which you hold your Why could not the plantation system be ex- property?"(l7)tended-not just to Texas, but to swallow up the West,Mexico, Cuba, and Central America? If masses ofAfrikans already sweated so profitably in the factories, These were prophetic words, but in any case themills and mines of Birmingham and Richmond, why deadlock between these two factions of the settlercouldnt the industrial process be an integral part of a new bourgeoisie meant that both sides carried out their separateslave Empire that would bestride the world (as Rome once policies during the first half of the 1800s. While the mer-did Europe and North Afrika)? chant and industrial capitalists of the North recruited the dispossessed of Europe, the Southern planters fought to The planter capitalists who tantalized themselves expand the "Slave Power". Edmund Ruffin, the famouswith these bloody dreams had little use for great numbers Virginia planter, smugly boasted that: "One of the greatestof pennyless European immigrants piling up on their benefits of the institution of African slavery to thedoorstep. While Northerners saw the increasing dangers of Southern states is its effect in keeping away from our ter-a slave economy, with its mounting, captive armies of ritory, and directing to the North and Northwest, theAfrikans, the planters saw the same dangers in importing a hordes of immigrants now flowing from Europe."(l8)white proletariat. The creation of such an underclass Such is the blindness of doomed classes. . .- - ..~ - ~ EQUAL TO ANY IN THE W O R L D ! !1 M A Y BE PROCURED At FROM $8 to $12 PER A C R a Near Yarkets, Schools, Railroadr, Churcher, and all .the blerringr of Civiliution. 1,200,000 Acrea, in Farms o f 40,80, 120, 160 Acre8 and upwar&, in ILLINOIS, the Garden State of Amerioa, Tlie Illinois Central Railroad Company o D r , ON LONG CREDIT,the beautflu1 and lertilr PRAIRIE U N D S lying along tire whole litkc of their Railroad, 700 MILES IN L E N G T H , u n the m t Faoorabk r T, l o r enabling Yamaer.~,Jl.n~acturm.s,Yechonicr. and - to nmh J m thcmrclver and their fnnbiliu a competcnn~, and a HOME t y can call T H E I R O W N , as will a p r from the Jolloying dalnnotts: 23
  • 25. IV. SETTLER TRADE- UNIONISM 1. The Rise of White Labor Settler Amerika got the reinforcements it needed slaveowners as so many succeeded in doing...But the dayto advance into Empire from the great European immigra- of the farmer began to wane rapidly after 1850. If he hadtion of the 19th Century. Between 1830-1860 some 4.5 not already obtained good land, it became doubtful heMillion Europeans (two-thirds of them Irish and German) could ever improve his fortunes. All the fertile soil that wasarrived to help the settler beachhead on the Eastern shore not under cultivation was generally held by speculators atpush outward.(l) The impact of these reinforcements on mounting prices."(2)the tide of battle can be guessed from the fact that theynumbered more than the total settler population of 1800. While in the cities of the North, the small, localAt a time when the young settler nation was dangerously business of the independent master craftsman (shoemaker,dependent on the rebellious Afrikan colony in the South, blacksmith, cooper, etc.) was giving way step by step to theand on the continental battleground greatly outnumbered large merchant, with his regional business and his capitalistby the various Indian, Mexican and Afrikan nations, these workshop/factory. This was the inevitable casualty list ofnew legions of Europeans played a decisive role. industrialism. At the beginning of the 1800s it was still true that every ambitious, young Euro-Amerikan appren- The fact that this flood of new Europeans also tice worker could expect to eventually become a master,helped create contradictions within the settler ranks has led owning his own little business (and often his own slaves).to honest confusions. Some comrades mistakenly believe There is no exaggeration in saying this. We know, for ex-that a white proletariat was born, whose trade-union and ample, that in the Philadelphia of the 1820s craft masterssocialist activities placed it in the historic position of a actually outnumbered their jn~lrneymenemployees by 3 toprimary force for revolution (and thus our eventual ally). 2-and that various tradesmen, masters and professionalsThe key is to see what was dominant in the material life were an absolute majority of the Euro-Amerikan maleand political consciousness of this new labor stratum, then population. (3)and now. But by 1860 the number of journeymen workers The earlier settler society of the English colonies compared to masters had tripled, and a majority of Euro-was relatively "fluid" and still unformed in terms of class Amerikan men were now wage-earners.(4) Working for astructure. After all, the original ruling class of Amerika master or merchant was no longer just a temporarywas back in England, and even the large Virginia planter stepping-stone to becoming an independent landowner orcapitalists were seen by the English aristocracy as mere shopkeeper. This new white workforce for the first timemiddle-men between them and the Afrikan proletarians had little prospect of advancing beyond wage-slavery.who actually created the wealth. To them George Unemployment and wage-slashing were commonWashington was just an overpaid foreman. And while phenomena, and an increasing class strife and discontentthere were great differences in wealth and power, there was entered the world of the settlers.a shared privilege among settlers. Few were exploited in thescientific socialist sense of being a wage-slave of capital; in In this scene the new millions of immigrant Euro-fact, wage labor for another man was looked down upon pean workers, many with Old European experiences ofby whites as a mark of failure (and still is by many). Up un- class struggle, furnished the final element in the hardeningtil the mid-1800s settler society then was characterized by of a settler class structure. The political development wasthe unequal but general opportunities for land ownership very rapid once the nodal point was reached: From artisanand the extraordinary fluidity of personal fortunes by Old guilds to craft associations to local unions. NationalEuropean standards. unions and labor journals soon appeared. And in the workers movements the championing of various socialist This era of early settlerism rapidly drew to a close and even Marxist ideas was widespread and popular, par-as Amerikan capitalism matured. Good Indian land and ticularly since these immigrant masses were salted withcheap Afrikan slaves became more and more difficult for radical political exiles (Marx, in the Inaugural Address toordinary settlers to obtain. In the South the ranks of the the 1st International in 1864, says: "...crushed by the ironplanters began tightening, concentrating as capital itself hand of force, the most advanced sons of labor fled inwas. One historian writes: despair to the transatlantic Republic.. .") "During the earlier decades, when the lower South All this was but the outward form of proletarianwas being settled, farmers stood every chance of becoming class consciousness, made all the more convincing becauseplanters. Until late in the fifties (1850s-ed.) most those white workers subjectively believed that they wereplanters or their fathers before them started life as proletarians-"the exploited", "the creators ofyeomen, occasionally with a few slaves, but generally all wealth", "the sons of toil", etc. etc. In actuality thiswithout any hands except their own. The heyday of these was clearly untrue. While there were many exploited andpoor people lasted as long as land and slaves Gere cheap, poverty-stricken immigrant proletarians, these new Euro-enabling them to realize their ambition to be planters and 24 Arnerikan workers as a whole were a privileged labor
  • 26. stratum. As a labor aristocracy it had, instead of a pro- reform movements of the settler masses. The reason is easyletarian, revolutionary consciousness, a petit-bourgeois to grasp: Everywhere in the North, the pre-Civil Warconsciousness that was unable to rise above reformism. popular struggles to enlarge the political powers of the set- tler masses also had the program of taking away civil rights This period is important for us to analyze, because from Afrikans. These movements had the public aim ofhere for the first time we start to see the modern political driving all Afrikans out of the North. The 1821 New Yorkform of the Euro-Amerikan masses emerge. Here, at the "Reform Convention" gave all white workingmen thevery start of industrial capitalism, are trade-unions, labor vote, while simultaneously raising property qualificationselectoral campaigns, "Marxist" organizations, nation- for Afrikan men so high that it effectively disenfranchisedwide struggles by white workers against the capitalists, ma- the entire community. By 1835 it was estimated that onlyjor proposals for "White and Negro" labor alliance. 75 Afrikans out of 15,000 in that state had voting rights.(6) What we find is that this new class of white This unconcealed attack on Afrikans was in pointworkers was indeed angry and militant, but so completely of fact a compromise, with Van Buren restraining thedominated by petit-bourgeois consciousness that they white majority which hated even the few, remaining shredsalways ended up as the pawns of various bourgeois of civil rights left for well-to-do Afrikans. Van Buren paidpolitical factions. Because they clung to and hungered for this in his later years, when opposing politicians (suchafter the petty privileges derived from the loot of empire, as Abraham Lincoln) attacked him for letting anythey as a stratum became rabid and reactionary supporters Afrikans vote at all. For that matter, this new, expandedof conquest and the annexation of oppressed nations. The settler electorate in New York turned down bills to let"trade-union unity" deemed so important by Euro- Afrikans vote for many years thereafter. In the 1860 elec-Amerikan radicals (then and now) kept falling apart and tions while Lincoln and the G.O.P. were winning Newwas doomed to failure. Not because white workers were York by a 32,000 vote majority, only 1,600 votes sup-racist (although they were), but because this alleged ported a bill for Afrikan suffrage. Frederick Douglass"trade-union unity" was just a ruse to divide, confuse and pointed out that civil rights for Afrikans was supported bystall the oppressed until new genocidal attacks could be "neither Republicans nor abolitionists".(7)launched against us, and completely drive us out of theirway. These earlier popular movements of settler work- ingmen found significant expression in the Presidency of This new stratum, far from possessing a revolu- Andrew Jackson, the central figure of "Jacksoniantionary potential, was unable to even take part in the Democracy". This phrase is used by historians to designatedemocratic struggles of the 19th century. When we go back the rabble-rousing, anti-elite reformism he helped in-and trace the Euro-Amerikan workers movements from troduce into settler politics. His role in the early politicaltheir early stages in the pre-industrial period up thru the stirrings of the white workers was so large that even todayend of the 19th Century, this point is very striking. some Euro-Amerikan "Communist" labor historians proudly refer to "the national struggle for economic and In the 1820s-30s, before white workers had even political democracy led by Andrew Jackson."(8)developed into a class, they still played a major role in thepolitical struggles of "Jacksonian Democracy". At that Jackson did indeed lead a "national struggle" totime the "United States" was a classic bourgeois enrich not only his own class (the planter bourgeoisie) butdemocracy-that is, direct "democracy" for a handful of his entire settler nation of oppressors. He stood at a criticalcapitalists. Even among settlers, high property qualifica- point in the great expansion into Empire. During his twotions, residency laws and sex discrimination limited the administrations he personally led the campaigns to abolishvote to a very small minority. So popular movements, bas- the National Bank (which was seen by many settlers as pro-ed among angry small farmers and urban workingmen, tecting the monopolistic power of the very few toparose in state after state to strike down these limita- capitalists and their British and French backers) and to en-tions-and thus force settler government to better share sure settler prosperity by annexing new territory into thethe spoils of empire. Empire. In both he was successful. In New York State, for example, one liberal land- The boom in slave cotton and the parallel rise inmark was the "Reform Convention" of 1821, where the immigrant European labor was tied to the removal of thesupporters of Martin Van Buren swept away the high pro- Indian nations from the land. After all, the expensiveperty qualifications that had previously barred white work- growth of railroads, canals, mills and workshops was onlyingmen from voting. This was a significant victory for possible with economic expansion-an expansion thatthem. Historian Leon Litwack has pointed out that the could only come from the literal expansion of Amerika1821 Convention "has come to symbolize the expanded through new conquests. And the fruits of new conquestsdemocracy which made possible the triumph of Andrew were very popular with settlers of all strata, North andJackson seven years later." Van Buren became the hero of South. The much-needed expansion of cash export cropsthe white workers, and was later to follow Jackson into the (primarily cotton) and trade was being blocked as the settl-White House.(S) ed land areas ran up against the Indian-U.S. Empire borders. In particular, the so-called "Five Civilized Na- Did this national trend "for the extension and not tions" (Creeks, Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, andthe restriction of popular rights" (to quote the voting Seminoles), Indian nations that had already been recogniz-rights committee of the Convention) involve the unity of ed as sovereign territorial entities in U.S. treaties, heldEuro-Amerikan and Afrikan workers? No. In fact, the much of the South: Northern Georgia, Western Northfree Afrikan communities in the North opposed these l5 Carolina, Southern Tennessee, much of Alabama and two-
  • 27. Cherokee Nation on "Trail of Tearsw--1838thirds of Mississippi.(9) pean settlers. In magnitude this was as sweeping as Hitlers grand design to render continental Europe "free" of Jews. The settlers were particularly upset that the Indian Under Jacksons direction, the U.S. Army committednations of the Old Southwest showed no signs of collaps- genocide on an impressive scale. The Cherokee Nation, foring, "dying out" or trading away their land. All had instance, was dismantled, with one-third of the Cherokeedeveloped stable and effective agricultural economies, with population dying in the Winter of 1838 (from disease,considerable trade. Euro-Amerikans, if anything, thought famine, exposure and gunfire as the U.S. Army marchedthat they were too successful. The Cherokee, who had them away at bayonet point on "The Trail of Tears9).(l 1)chosen a path of adopting many Western societal forms,had a national life more stable and prosperous than that of So the man who led the settlers "national strugglethe Euro-Amerikan settlers who eventually occupied those for economic and political democracy" was not only aAppalachian regions after they were forced out. A bourgeois politician, but in fact an apostle of annexationPresbyterian Church report in 1826 records that the and genocide. The President of "The Trail of Tears" was aCherokee nation had: 7,600 houses, 762 looms, 1488 spin- stereotype frontiersman-a fact which made him popularning wheels, 10 sawmills, 31 grain mills, 62 blacksmith with poorer whites. After throwing away his inheritance onshops, 18 schools, 70,000 head of livestock, a weekly drinking and gambling, the young Jackson moved to thenewspaper in their own language, and numerous libraries frontier (at that time Nashville, Tenn.) to "find his for-with "thousands of good books". The Cherokee national tune". Thats a common phrase in the settler historygovernment had a two-house legislature and a supreme books, which only conceals the reality that the only "for-court.(lO) tune" on the frontier was from genocide. Jackson even- tually became quite wealthy through speculating in Indian Under the leadership of President Jackson, the land (like Washington, Franklin and other settlers beforeU.S. Government ended even its limited recognition of In- him) and owning a cotton plantation with over one hun-dian sovereignty, and openly encouraged land speculators dred Afrikan slaves. The leader of "Jacksonianand local settlers to start Seizing Indian land at gunpoint. A Democracyw had a clear, practical appreciation of howU.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding Cherokee sovereign- profitable genocide could be for settlers.ty vs. the state of Georgia was publicly ridiculed byJackson, who refused to enforce it. In 1830 Jackson finally First as a land speculator, then as slavemaster, andgot Congress to Pass the lkmoval Act, which authorized finally as General and then President, Jackson literallyhim to use the army to totally relocate or exterminate all spent the whole of his adult life personally involved inIndians east of the Mississippi River. The whole Eastern genocide. During the Creek War of 1813-14 Jackson andhalf of this continent was now to be completely cleared of his fellow frontiersmen slaughtered hundreds of unarmedIndians, every square inch given over to the needs of Euro- 2(j women and children-afterwards skinning the bodies to
  • 28. make souvenirs*.(12) Naturally, Jackson had a vicious The decisive Second Seminole War began in 1835hatred of Indians and Afrikans. He spent the majority of when the Seminole Nation, under the leadership of thehis years in public office pressing military campaigns great Osceola, refused to submit to U.S. removal toagainst the Seminole in Florida, who had earned special Oklahoma. A key disagreement was that the settlers in-enmity by sheltering escaped Afrikans. U.S. military cam- sisted on their right to separate the Seminole from theirpaigns in Florida against first the Spanish and then the Afrikan co-citizens, who would then be reenslaved and putSeminole, were in large part motivated by the need to on the auction block. When the Seminole refused, Jacksoneliminate this land base for independent Afrikan regroup- angrily ordered the Army to go in and "eat (Osceola) andment. his few". Fighting a classic guerrilla war, 2000 Seminole and 1000 Afrikan fighters inflicted terrible casualties on The Seminole Wars that went on for over 30 years the invading U.S. Army. Even capturing Osceola in a falsebegan when Jackson was an army officer and ended after truce couldnt give the settlers victory.he had retired from the White House-though he still sentWashington angry letters of advice on the war from his Finally, U.S. Commanding General Thomas Jesupretirement. They were as much Afrikan wars as Indian conceded that none of the Afrikans would be reenslaved,wars, for the escaped Afrikans had formed liberated but all could relocate to Oklahoma as part of the SeminoleAfrikan communities as a semi-autonomous part of the Nation. With this most of the Seminole and Afrikan forcessheltering Seminole Nation.(l3) surrendered and left Florida.* Those who refused to sub- mit simply retreated deeper into the Everglades and kept The first attacks on these Afrikan-Seminole took ambushing any settlers who dared to follow. In 1843 theplace in 1812-14, when Georgia vigilantes invaded to U.S. gave up trying toaroot the remaining Seminole guer-enslave the valuable Afrikans. Afrikan forces wiped out rillas out of the swamps.almost all of the invaders (including the commandingGeorgia major and a U.S. General). Two years later, in The settlers lost some 1,600 soldiers killed and ad-1816, U.S. naval gunboats successfully attacked the ditional thousands wounded or disabled through disease.Afrikan Ft. Appalachicola on the Atlantic Coast; two hun- The war-which Gen. Jesup labelled "a Negro, not an In-dred defenders were killed when a lucky shot touched off dian, warw-cost the U.S. some $30 Million. That wasthe Afrikan ammunition stores. The next year, in 1817, ar- eighty times what President Jackson had promised Con-my troops under Jacksons command invaded Florida in gress he would spend in getting rid of aN Indians East ofthe First Seminole War. The Afrikans and Seminoles evad- the Mississippi. By the time he left office, Jackson was in-ed Jacksons troops and permanently withdrew deeper into furiated that the Seminole and Afrikans were resisting theCentral Florida. armed might of the Empire year after year. He urged that the Army concentrate on finding and killing all the enemy women, in order to put a final, biological end to this stub- born Nation. He boasted that he had used this strategy quite successfully in his own campaigns against Indians.(l4) Time and again Jackson made it clear that he favored a "Final Solution" of total genocide for all In- dians. In his second State of the Union Address, Jackson reassured his fellow settlers that they should not feel guilty when they "tread on the graves of extinct nations", since the wiping out of all Indian life was just as "natural" as the passing of generations! Could anyone miss the point? After years and decades soaked in aggression and killing, could any Euro-Amerikan not know what Jackson stood for? Yet he was the chosen hero of the Euro-Amerikan workers of that day. While Hitler never won an election in his life-and had to use the armed power of the state to violently crush the German workers and their organizations-Jackson was swept into power by the votes of Euro-Amerikan workmen and small farmers. His jingoistic expansionism was popular with all sectors of settler society, in particular with those who planned to use Indian land to help solve settler economic troubles. Northern workers praised him for his opposition to the old colonial elite of the Federalist Party, SWEEP OF THE NATIONAL DEMOCRACY. T H E ELECTORAL VOTE IN 1828 his stand on the National Bank, and his famous "Equal Protection Doctrine". The later piously declaimed that governments duty was not to favor the rich, but through * While some of Hitlers Death Camp officers are said to have made lampshades out of the skins of murdered Jews, * Even in the Oklahoma Territory, repeated outbreaks of the practicalities of frontier life led Jackson and his men to guerrilla campaigns by Afrikan-Seminole forces were make bridle reins out of their victims skins. 27 reported as late as 1842.
  • 29. taxation and other measures to give aid "alike on the high disappearing in the regimented workshop, etc.-thoseand low, the rich and the poor ..." of settler society.(l5) Euro-Amerikan workers saw their hope for salvation in non-proletarian special privileges and a desperate clinging Jackson was the historic founder of todays to petit-bourgeois status. At a time when the brute labor ofDemocratic Party; not only in organization, but in first the Empire primarily rested on the backs of the unpaid,welding together the electoral coalition of Southern captured Afrikan proletariat, the white workers of theplanters and Northern "ethnic" workers. He was the first 1830s were only concerned with winning the Ten-HourPresident to claim that he was born in a log cabin, of lowly Day for themselves. In the 1840s as the Empire annexedcircumstances. This "redneck" posture, enhanced by his the Northern 40% of Mexico and by savage invasionbloody military adventures, was very popular with the reduced truncated Mexico to a semi-colony, the only issuemass of small slave-owners in his native South-and with to the white workingmens movement was how large wouldNorthern workers as well! Detailed voting studies confirm their share of the looting be? It is one thing to be bribed bythat in both the 1828 and 1832 elections, Jackson received the bourgeoisie, and still another to demand, organize,the overwhelming majority of the votes of immigrant Irish argue and beg to be bribed.and German workers in the North.(l6) White workmenjoined his Democratic Party as a new crusade for equality The dominant political slogan of the whiteamong settlers. In the New York mayoral election of 1834, workers movement of the 1840s was "Vote Yourself Aorganized white labor marched in groups to the polls sing- Farm". This expressed the widespread view that it wasing: each settlers right to have cheap land to farm, and that the ideal lifestyle was the old colonial-era model of the self- "Mechanics, cartmen, laborers employed craftsmen who also possessed the security of be- Must form a close connection, ing part-time farmers. The white labor movement, most And show the rich Aristocrats, particularly the influential newspaper, Working Mans Their powers at this election... Advocate of New York, called for new legislation under which the Empire would guarantee cheap tracts of Indian "Yankee Doodle, smoke em out and Mexican land to all European settlers (and impoverish- The Proud, the banking faction. ed workmen in particular).*(19) The white workers literal- None but such as Hartford Feds ly demanded their traditional settler right to be petit- Oppose the poor and Jackson... "(17) bourgeois-"little bourgeois", petty imitators who would annex their small, individual plots each time the realUnderneath the surface appearance of militant popular bourgeoisie annexed another oppressed nation. It shouldreform, of workers taking on the wealthy, these be clear that the backwardness of white labor is not a mat-movements were only attempts to more equally distribute ter of "racism", of "mistaken ideas", of "being trickedthe loot and privileges of Empire among its citizens. Thats by the capitalists" (all idealistic instead of materialist for-why the oppressed colonial subjects of the Empire had no mulations); rather, it is a class question and a nationalplace in these movements. question. The line between oppressors and oppressed was This stratum came into being with its feeton topunmistakeably drawn. Afrikan and Indian alike opposed of the proletariat and its head straining up into the petit-this "Jacksonian Democracy". The English visitor Ed- bourgeoisie. Its startling how narrow and petty its con-ward Abdy remarked that he "never knew a man of color cerns were in an age when the destiny of peoples and na-that was not an anti-Jackson man0.(l8) On their side, the tions was being decided, when the settler Empire was try-white workingmen of the 1830s knowingly embraced the ing to take into its hands the power to decree death toarchitects of genocide as their heroes and leaders. Far from whole nations. We keep coming back to genocide, thein-joining the democratic struggles around the rights of the escapable center of settler politics in the 19th Century. Sooppressed, the white workers were firmly committed to to fully grasp the politics of emerging white labor, we mustcrushing them. penetrate to the connection between their class viewpoint and genocide. Even as they were gradually being presseddownward by the emerging juggernaut of industrialcapitalism - faced with wage cuts, increasing speed-up of * The Homestead Act of 1851 was one result of this cam-machine-powered production, individual craft production paign. 2. The Popular Appeal of Genocide By 1840 most of the Indian nations of the East had tradictions within the fragmented settler bourgeoisie, bet- been swept away, slaughtered or relocated. By 18W the ween planter and mercantilehndustrial ~apital~contradic- Empire had consolidated its grip on the Pacific Coast, tions which were reflected in all facets of settler society. overrunning and occupying Northern Mexico. The Empire The tremendous economic expansion of the conquests was had succeeded in bringing the continent under its control. a catalyst. These victories produced that famous "opportunity" that the new waves of European immigrants were coming for. The ripping open of the "New South" to extend But these changes also brought to a nodal point the con- 28 the plantation system meant a great rise of Afrikan slaves
  • 30. on the Western frontier. These new cotton areas becameprimarily Afrikan in population. And the ambitiousplanter bourgeoisie started seeding slave labor enterprisesfar outward, as tentacles of the "Slave Power". So at asalt mine in Illinois, a gold mine in California, a plantationin Missouri, aggressive planters appeared with their"moveable factories" of Afrikan slaves. Southern adven-turers even briefly seized Nicaragua in 1856 in a prematureattempt to annex all of Central Amerika to the "SlavePower". If the clearing away of the Indian nations hadunlocked the door to the spread of the slave system, so tooit had given an opportunity to the settler opponents of theplanters. And their vision was not of a reborn Greekslaveocracy, but of a brand-new European empire,relentlessly modern, constructed to the most advancedbourgeois principles with the resources of an entire conti-nent united under its command. This new Empire wouldnot only dwarf any power in Old Europe in size, but wouldbe secured through the power of a vast, occupying army ofmillions of loyal settlers. This bourgeois vision could hard-ly be considered crackpot, since 20th Century Amerika isin large part the realization of it, but the vision was of anall-European Amerika, an all-white continent. We can only understand the deep passions of theslavery dispute, the flaring gunfights in Missouri and interesting that the concept of Afrikans as foreign "im-"Bloody Kansas" between pro-slavery and anti-slavery migrants9-a concept which tacitly admits separatesettlers, and lastly the grinding, monumental Civil War of Afrikan nationality-keeps coming to the s u race uver ar~d ~1861-1865, as the final play of this greatest contradiction in over. Legal measures to force Afrikans out by denyingthe settler ranks. It was not freedom for Afrikans that them the vote, the right to own land, use public facilities,motivated them. No, the reverse. It was their own futures, practice many professions and crafts, etc. were passed intheir own fortunes. Gov. Morton of Ohio called on his many areas of the North at the urging of the white mobs.fellows to realize their true interests: "We are all personal- White labor not only refused to defend the democraticly interested in this question, not indirectly and remotely as rights of Afrikans, but played a major role in these newin a mere political abstraction-but directly, pecuniarily, assaults.and selfishly. If we do not exclude slavery from the Ter-ritories, it will exclude us." Periodic waves of mass terror also were used everywhere against Afrikan communities in the North. The To millions of Euro-Amerikans in the North, the Abolitionist press records 209 violent mob attacks in theslave system had to be halted because it filled the land with North between 1830-1849. These violent assaults were notmasses of Afrikans instead of masses of settlers. To be the uncontrolled outpouring of blind racism, as often sug-precise: In the 19th Century a consensus emerged among gested. Rather, they were carefully organized offensives tothe majority of Euro-Amerikans that just as the Indian na- achieve definite. goals. These mobs were usually led bytions before them, the dangerous Afrikan colony had to be members of the local ruling class (merchants, judges,at first contained and then totally eliminated, so that the military officers, bankers, etc.), and made up of settlersland could be filled by the loyal settler citizens of the Em- from all strata of society.(21) The three most commonpire. goals were: 1) To reverse some local advance in Afrikan organization, education or employment 2) To destroy the This was a strategic view endorsed by the majority local Abolitionist movement 3) To reduce the Afrikanof Euro-Amerikans. It was an explicit vision that required population. In almost every case the mobs, representinggenocide. How natural for a new Emprie of conquerors both the local ruling class and popular settler opinion,believing that they had, like gods, totally removed from were successful. In almost no cases did any significantthe earth one family of oppressed nations, to think nothing number of Euro-Amerikans interfere with the mobs, saveof wiping out another. the start was to confine Afrikans to to "restore order" or to nobly protect a few lives after thethe South, to drive them out of the "Free" states in the violence had gained its ends.North. Indeed, in the political language of 19th Centurysettler politics, the word "Free" also served as a code- But to most settlers in the North these attacks werephrase that meant "non-Afrikan." just temporary measures. To them the heart of the matter was the slave system. They thought that without the The movement to confine Afrikans to the Slave powerful self-interest of the planters to "protect"South took both governmental and popular forms. Four Afrikans, that Afrikans as a whole would swiftly vanishfrontier states-Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Oregon-pass- from this continent. Today it may sound fantastic thated "immigration" clauses in their constitutions which bar- those 19th Century Euro-Amerikans expected to totallyred Afrikans as "aliens" from entering the state.(20) Its 29 wipe out the Afrikan population. Back then it was taken as
  • 31. gospel truth by most settlers that in a "Free" society, fought to reserve the new territories and states of the Westwhere Afrikans would be faced with "competition" (their for Europeans only. This was the main forerunner of thephrases) from whites, they as inferiors must perish. The Republican party of 1854, the first settler political partycomparison was usually made to the Indians-who "died whose platform was the defeat of the "Slave Power".out" as white farmers took their land, as whole villageswere wiped out in unprovoked massacres, as hunger and The Republican Party itself strongly reflected thisdisease overtook them, as they became debilitated with ad- ideology of an all-White Amerika. Although most of itsdiction to alcohol, as the survivors were simply driven off leaders supported limited civil rights for Afrikans, they didto concentration camps at gunpoint. Werent free Afrikans so only in the context of the temporary need for Empire tolosing their jobs already? And werent there literally treat its subjects humanely. Sen. William Seward of Newmillions of new European farmers eager to take the York was the leading Republican spokesman before thefarmland that Afrikans had lived on and developed? Civil War (during which he served as Lincolns Secretary of State). In his famous Detroit speech during the 1860 Nor was it just the right-wingers that looked for- campaign, he said: "The great fact is now fully realizedward to getting rid of "The Negro Problem" (as all whites that the African race here is a foreign and feeble element,referred to it). All tendencies of the Abolitionists contain- like the Indian incapable of assimilation... " Both would,ed not only those who defended the human rights of h e promised his fellow settlers, " altogetherAfrikans, but also those who publicly or privately agreed disappear. " Lincoln himself said over and over againthat Afrikans must go. Gamaliel Bailey, editor of the ma- during his entire political career that all Afrikans wouldjor abolitionist journal National Era, promised his white eventually have to disappear from North America. Thereaders that after slavery was ended all Afrikans would theme of Afrikan genocide runs like a dark thread, nowleave the U.S. The Norths most prominent theologian, hidden and now visible in the violent weaving of theRev. Horace Bushnell, wrote in 1839 that emancipation future, throughout settler political thought of that day.would be "one bright spot" to console Afrikans, who were"doomed to spin their brutish existence downward into ex- It should be remembered that while most Northerntinction..." That extinction, he told his followers, was on- settlers opposed Afrikan slavery for these reasons by thely Divine Will, and all for the good. Rev. Theodore Parker 1860s, even after the Civil War settlers promoted Indian,was one of the leading spokesmen of radical abolitionism, Mexicano and Chinese enslavement when it was useful toone who helped finance John Browns uprising at Harpers colonize the Southwest and West. One settler account ofFerry, and who afterwards defended him from the pulpit. the Apache-U.S. wars in the Southwest reveals the use ofYet even Parker believed in an all-white Amerika; he firm- slavery as a tool of genocide:ly believed that: "The strong replaces the weak. Thus, the white man kills out the red man and the black man. When "More than anything else, it was probably the in-slavery is abolished the African population will decline in cessant kidnapping and enslavement of their women andthe United States, and die out of the South as out of Nor- children that gave Apaches their mad-dog enmity towardthampton and Lexington. "(22) the whites... It was officially estimated that 2,000 Indian slaves were held by the white people of New Mexico and While many settlers tried to hide their genocidal Arizona in 1866, after 20 years of American rule - unof-longings behind the fictions of "natural law" or "Divine ficial estimates placed the figure several times higher...Will", others were more honest in saying that it would Get them back for us, Apaches begged an Army officerhappen because Euro-Amerikans were determined to make in 1871, referring to 29 children just stolen by citizens ofit happen. Thus, even during the Civil War, the House of Arizona; our little boys will grow up slaves, and our littleRepresentatives issued a report on emancipation that girls, as soon as they are large enough, will be diseased pro-strongly declared: "...the highest interests of the white stitutes, to get money for whoever owns them.. . Prostitu-race, whether Anglo-Saxon, Celt, or Scandinavian, require tion of captured Apache girls, of which much mention isthat the whole country should be held and occupied by made in the 1860s and 1870s, seemed to trouble thethese races alone." In other words, they saw no contradic- Apaches exceedingly."(24)tion between emancipation and genocide. The leadingeconomist George M. Weston wrote in 1857 that: "When So that at the same time that the U.S. was sup-the white artisans and farmers want the room which the posedly ending slavery and "Emancipating" Afrikans, theAfrican occupies, they will not take it by rude force, but by U.S. Empire was using slavery of the most barbaric kind ingentle and gradual and peaceful processes. The Negro will order to genocidally destroy the Apache. It was colonialdisappear, perhaps to regions more congenial to him, rule and genocide that were primary.perhaps to regions where his labor can be more useful,perhaps by some process of colonization we may yetdevise; but at all events he will disappear."(23) National political movements were formed by set-tlers to bring this day about. The Colonization movement,embodied in the American Colonization Society, organiz-ed hundreds of local chapters to press for national legisla-tion whereby Afrikans would be removed to new coloniesin Afrika, the West Indies or Central America. U.S.Presidents from Monroe in1817 to Lincoln in 1860 endors-ed the society, and the semi-colony of Liberia was startedas a trial. Much larger was the Free Soil Party, which 30
  • 32. 3. White Labor Against the Oppressed The great democratic issues of that time could only dangerous concentrations of Afrikans in the metropolitangrow out of this intense, seething nexus of Empire and col- centers.ony, of oppressor nation and oppressed nations. Nothingtook place that was not a factor on the battleground of Frederick Douglass said in 1855: "Every hour seesEmpire and oppressed. Nothing. Everyone was caught up us elbowed out of some employment to make roomin the war, however dimly they understood their own posi- perhaps for some newly arrived immigrants, whose hungertion. The new millions of immigrant European workers and color are thought to give them a title to especial favor.were desperately needed by the Empire. By 1860 half of the White men are becoming house-servants, cooks andpopulations of New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh and St. stewarts, common laborers and flunkeys to our gentry ..."Louis were new immigrant Europeans. These rein- The Philadelphia newspaper Colored American said asforcements were immediately useful in new offensives early as 1838 that free Afrikans "have ceased to beagainst the Indian, Afrikan and Mexicano peoples. While hackney coachmen and draymen*, and they are nowthe settler economy was still absolutely dependent upon the almost displaced as stevedores. They are rapidly losingforced labor. of the Afrikan proletariat (cotton alone ac- ---- --- .-counted for almost 60% of U.S. export earnings in 1860), *carriers-those who hauled goods around the city for athe new reinforcements provided the means to reverse the 31 fee.
  • 33. their places as barbers and servants." In New York City But its petit-bourgeois confusions let the capitalists easilyAfrikans were the majority of the house-servants in 1830, outmaneuver it, each time herding it back to resentful ac-but by 1850 Irish house-servants outnumbered the entire quiescence with skillful applications of "the carrot and theAfrikan population there.(25) The Empire was swiftly stick".moving to replace the rebellious and dangerous Afrikanproletariat by more submissive and loyal Europeans. What was the essence of the ideology of white labor? Petit-bourgeois annexationism. Lenin pointed out Even in the Deep South, urban Afrikan pro- in the great debates on the National Question that the heartletarians were increasingly replaced by loyal European im- of national oppression is annexation of the territory of themigrants. In New Orleans the draymen were all Afrikan in oppressed nation(s) by the oppressor nation. There is1830, but by 1840 were all Irish.(26) One historian points nothing abstract or mystical about this. To this new layerout: "Occupational exclusion of Blacks actually began of European labor was denied the gross privileges of thebefore the Civil War. In an unpublished study, Weinbaum settler bourgeoisie, who annexed whole nations. Even thehas demonstrated conclusively such exclusion and decline particular privileges that so comforted the earlier Euro-(of skilled Afrikan workers-ed.) for Rochester, New Amerikan farmers and artisans-most particularly that ofYork, Blacks between 1840 and 1860. My own work shows "annexing" individual plots of land every time their Em-a similar decline in Charleston, S.C., between 1850 and pire advanced-were denied these European wage-slaves.1860. And these trends continued in Southern cities during But, typically, their petit-bourgeois vision saw forReconstruction. A crucial story has yet to be told. The themselves a special, better kind of wage-slavery. The1870 New Orleans city directory, Woodward pointed out, ideology of white labor held that as loyal citizens of thelisted 3,460 Black carpenters, cigarmakers, painters, Empire even wage-slaves had a right to special privilegesshoemakers, coopers, tailors, blacksmiths, and foundry (such as "white mans wages"), beginning with the right tohands. By 1904, less than 10 per cent of that number ap- monopolize the labor market.peared even though the New Orleans population had in-creased by more than 50 per cent."(27) Beneath the great We must cut sharply through the liberalevents of the Civil War and Reconstruction, the genocidal camouflage concealing this question. It is insuffi-restructuring of the oppressed Afrikan nation continued cient-and therefore misleading-to say that Europeanyear after year. workers wished to "discriminate against" or "exclude" or were "prejudiced against" colored workers. It was the This was clearly the work of the capitalists. But labor of Afrikan and Indian workers that created thewhere did the new stratum of Euro-Amerikan workers economy of the original Amerika; likewise, the economystand on this issue? The defeat of the Slaveocracy, the of the Southwest was distilled from the toil of the In-political upheavals of the great conflict, and the enormous dian/Mexicano workers, and that of Northern Californiaexpansion of European immigration had stirred and and the Pacific Northwest was built by Mexicano andheartened white labor. In both North and South local Chinese labor. Immigrant European workers proposed tounions revived and new unions began. New attempts enter an economy they hadnt built, and annex, so as toemerged to form effective national federations of all white speak, the jobs that the nationally oppressed had created.workers. Between 1863-73 some 130 white labornewspapers began publication.(28) The Eight Hour Day Naturally, the revisionists always want to talkmovement "ran with express speed" from coast to coast in about it as a matter of white workers not sharing equallythe wake of the war. During the long and bitter Depression enough-as though when a robber enters your home andof 1873-78, militant struggles broke out, ending in the takes everything youve earned, the problem is that thisfamous General Strike of 1877. In this last strike the white thief should "share" your property better! Since theworkers won over to their side the troops sent by the ideology of white labor was annexationist and predatory,government or defeated them in bloody street fighting in it was of necessity also rabidly pro-Empire and, despitecity after city. White labor in its rising cast a long shadow angry outbursts, fundamentally servile towards theover the endless banquet table of the bourgeoisie. bourgeoisie. It was not a proletarian outlook, but the degraded outlook of a would-be labor aristocracy. Truly, white labor had become a giant in size.Even in a Deep South state such as Louisiana, by the 1860 We can grasp this very concretely actually in-census white laborers made up one-third of the total settler vestigating the political rising of European labor in thatpopulation.(29) In St. Louis (then the third-largest period in relation to the nationally oppressed. Even todaymanufacturing center in the Empire) the 1864 census show- few comrades know how completely the establishment ofed that slightly over one-third of that citys 76,000 white the Empire in the Pacific Northwest depended uponmen were workers (rivermen, factory laborers, stevedores, Chinese labor.* In fact, the Chinese predate the Amerikanetc.). In the Boston of the 1870s fully one-half of the total settler presence on the West Coast by many years.(31)white population were workers and their families, mostly When the famous Lewis & Clark expedition sent out byIrish.(30) In some Northern factory towns the proportion President Jefferson reached the Pacific in 1804, they arriv-was even higher. ed some sixteen years after the British established a major shipyard on Vancouver Bay- shipyard manned by a The ideological head on this giant body, however, Chinese shipwrights and sailors.still bore the cramped, little features of the old ar-tisadfarmer mentality of previous generations. When this For that matter, the Spanish further South ingiant was aroused by the capitalists cuts and kicks, its - -- -.angry flailings knocked over troops and sent shock-waves *As well as the later waves of Japanese, Filipino andof fear and uncertainty spreading through settler society. 32 Korean workers.
  • 34. California had even earlier imported skilled Chinese popularly called the Iron Chink". The fish itself (salmon,workers. We know that Chinese had been present at the squid, shrimp, etc.) was often caught and brought in byfounding of Los Angeles in 1781. This is easy to unders- Chinese fishermen, who pioneered the fishing industry intand when we see that California was closer to Asia than the area. Chinese junks were then a common sight inNew York in practical terms; in travel time San Francisco California harbors, and literally thousands of Chinesewas but 60 days sail from Canton-but six months by seamen lived in the numerous alllchinese fishing villageswagon train from Kansas City. that dotted the coast from San Diego up to Oregon. As late as 1888 there were over 20 Chinese fishing villages just in The settler capitalists used Chinese labor to found San Francisco and San Pablo Bays, while 50% of thevirtually every aspect of their new Amerikan economy in California fishing industry was still Chinese. Farms andthis region. The Mexicano people, who were an outright vineyards were also founded on Chinese labor: in themajority in the area, couldnt be used because the settlers 1870s when California became the largest wheat growingwere engaged in reducing their numbers so as to con- state in the U.S. over 85% of the farm labor was Chinese.solidate U.S. colonial conquest. During the 1830s, 40sand 50s the all-too-familiar settler campaign of mass ter- Chinese workers played a large part as well in br-ror, assassination, and land-grabbing was used against the inging out the vast mineral wealth that so accelerated theMexicanos. Rodolfo Acuna summarizes: growth of the U.S. in the West. In 1870 Chinese made up"During this time, the Chinese were used as an 25% of all miners in California, 21% in Washington, 58%alternative t o t h e Chicanos as Californias in Idaho, and 61% in Oregon. In California the speciallabor force. Chicanos were pushed t o t h e monthly tax paid by each Chinese miner virtually sup-southern half of the state and were literally forced out of ported local government for many years-accounting forCalifornia in order to escape the lynching, abuses, and col- 25-50% of all settler government revenues for 1851-70.onized status to which they had been condemned."(32) Throughout the area Chinese also made up a serviceThus, the Chinese were not only victims of Amerika, but population, like Afrikans and Mexicanos in other regionstheir very presence was a part of genocidal campaign to of the Empire, for the settlers. Chinese cooks, laun-dismember and colonize the Mexican Nation. In the same drymen, and domestic servants were such a common partway, decades later Mexicano labor-now driven from the of Western settler life in the mines, cattle ranches and citiesland and reduced to colonial status-would be used to that no Hollywood "Western" movie is complete withoutreplace Chinese labor by the settlers. its stereotype Chinese cook. The full extent of Chinese labors role is revealing. But their greatest single feat in building theThe California textile mills were originally 70-80% economy of the West was also their undoing. Between 1865Chinese, as were the garment factories. As late as 1880, and 1869 some 15,000 Chinese b borers carved the farChinese made up 52% of all shoe makers and 44% of all Western stretch of the Transcontinental rail line out of thebrick makers in the state, as well as one-half of all factory hostile Sierra and Rocky Mountain ranges. Through severeworkers in the city of San Francisco.(33) The fish canneries weather they cut railbeds out of rock mountainsides,were so heavily manned by Chinese-over 80Q-that blasted tunnels, and laid the tracks of the Central Pacificwhen a mechanical fish cleaner was introduced it was 33 Railroad some 1,800 miles East to Ogden, Utah. It was and
  • 35. is a historic engineering achievement, every mile paid for inblood of the Chinese who died from exposure and avalan-ches. The reputation earned by Chinese workers led themto be hired to build rail lines not only in the West, but inthe Midwest and South as well. This Transcontinental raillink enabled the minerals and farm produce of the West tobe swiftly shipped back East, while giving Eastern industryready access to Pacific markets, not only of the West Coastbut all df Asia via the port of San Francisco. The time-distance across the continent was nowcut to two weeks, and cheap railroad tickets brought aflood of European workers to the West. There was, ofcourse, an established settler traditon of terrorism towardsChinese. The Shasta Republican complained in its Dec. 12,1856 issue that: "Hundreds of Chinamen have beer,slaughtered in cold blood in the last 5years...the murder ofChinamen was of almost daily occurrence. " Now the newlegions of immigrant European workers demanded aqualitative increase in the terroristic assaults, and the1870s and 1880s were decades of mass bloodshed. The issue was very clear-cut-jobs. By 1870, some42% of the whites in California were European im-migrants. With their dreams of finding gold boulders lyingin the streams having faded before reality, these newcrowds of Europeans demanded the jobs that Chineselabor had created.(34) More than demanded, they weredetermined to "annex", to seize by force of conquest, allthat Chinese workers had in the West. In imitation of thebourgeoisie they went aboilt plundering with bullets andfire. In mining camps and towns from Colorado toWashington, Chinese communities came under attack.Many Chinese were shot down, beaten, their homes andstores set afire and gutted. In Los Angeles Chinese wereburned alive by the European vigilantes, who also shot andtortured many others. In perverse fashion, the traditional weapons of trade unionism were turned against the Chinese workers in this struggle. Many manufacturers who employed Chinese were warned that henceforth all desirable jobs must be fill- ed by European immigrants. Boycotts were threatened, and in some industries (such as wineries and cigar fac- tories) the new white unions invented the now-famous 9 "union label -printed tags which guaranteed that the specific product was produced solely by European unions. In 1884, when one San Francisco cigar manufacturer began replacing Chinese workers (who then made up 80-85% of the industry there) with European immigrants, the Chinese cigarmakers went on strike. Swiftly, the San Francisco white labor movement united to help the capitalists break the strike. Scabbing was praised, and the Knights of Labor and other European workers organiza- tions led a successful boycott of all cigar companies that employed Chinese workers. Boycotts were widely used in industry after industry to seize Chinese jobs.(35) In the political arena a multitude of "Anti-Coolie" laws were passed on all levels of settler government. Special taxes and "license fees" on Chinese workers and tradesmen were used both to discourage them and to support settler government at their expense. Chinese who carried laundry deliveries on their backs in San Francisco had to pay the city a sixty-dollar "license
  • 36. fee" each year.(36) Many municipalities passed laws order- ing all Chinese to leave, enforced by the trade union mobs. The decisive point of the Empire-wide campaign to plunder what the Chinese had built up in the West was the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. Both Democratic and Republican parties supported this bill, which barred all Chinese immigration into the U.S. and made Chinese in- eligible for citizenship. The encouragement offered by the capitalist state to the anti-Chinese offensive shows the forces at work. In their frenzy of petty plundering, Euro- pean labor was being permitted to do the dirty work of the bourgeoisie. The Empire needed to promote and support this flood of European reinforcements to help take hold of the newly conquered territories. As California Gov. Henry Haight (whose name lives on in a certain San Francisco neighborhood) said in 1868: "No man is worthy of the name of patriot or statesman who countenances a policy which is opposed to the interests of the free white laboring and industrial classes...What we desire for the permanent benefit of California is a population of white men...We ought not to desire an effete population of Asiatics ..."The national bourgeoisie used the "Anti-Coolie" movement and the resulting legislation to force individual capitalists to follow Empire policy and discharge Chinese in favor of Europeans. Now that the Chinese had built the economy A WORD OF CACTIOX TO OUR FRIESDS, THE CIGAR-MAKERS. of the Pacific Northwest, it was time for them to be strip- Tnmugh t i c rnokc it ir cnay to tee the ( ~ p p o o c h Chi>tcae chcnp labor. o f ped and driven out. The passage of the 1882 Act was taken as a "green-light", a "go-ahead" signal of approval to im- migrant European labor from Congress, the White House and the majority of Euro-Amerikans. It was taken as a license to kill, a declaration of open looting season on Chinese. Terrance Powderly, head of the Knights of Labor (which boasted that it had recruited Afrikan workers to help European labor) praised the victory of the Exclusion Act by saying that now the task for trade unionists was to finish the job-by eliminating all Chinese left in the U.S within the year!(36) The settler propaganda kept emphasizing how pure, honest Euiopeans had no choice but "defend" themselves against the dark plots of the Chinese. Wanting to seize ("annex") Chinese jobs and small businesses, European immigrants kept shouting that they were only "defending" themselves against the vicious Chinese who were trying to steal the white mans jobs! And in case any European worker had second thoughts about the coming lynch mob, a constant ideological bombardment surround- ed him by trade union and "socialist" leaders, bourgeois journalists, university professors and religious figures, politicians of all parties, and so on. Having decided to "annex" the fruits of the Chinese development of the Nor- thwest, the unusal settler propaganda about "defending" themselves was put forth. Nor was Euro-Amerikan racial-sexual hate pro- paganda neglected, just as bizarre and perverted as it is about Afrikans. In 1876, for example, the New York Tzmes published an alleged true interview with the Chinese.E THE ARGUMENT OF NATIONALITY. operator of a local opium den. The story has the reporter5 ES~ITXD B-" m dont wn#tt nny chenp-labor foreig,:oa irlr,roir,g r,po,i MO e sf ratio<. asking the "Chinaman" about the "handsome butz A G I . ~citizeltd." ~ squalidly dressed young white girl" he sees in the opium den. The "Chinaman" allegedly answers: "Oh, hard time in New York. Young girl hungry. Plenty come here.
  • 37. Chinaman always have something to eat, and he like young When we say that the petit-bourgeois con-white girl, He! He!"* A womans magazine warned their sciousness of European immigrant labor showed that itreaders to never leave little white girls alone with Chinese was a degraded stratum seeking extra-proletarianservants. The settler public was solemnly alerted that the privileges, we arent talking about a few nickels and dimes;Chinese plot was to steal white workers job and thus force the issue was genocide, carrying out the dirty work of thethe starving wives to become their concubines. The most capitalists in order to reap some of the bloody fruits of na-telling sign of the decision to destroy the Chinese com- tional oppression. It is significant that the organizationalmunity was the settler realization that these Chinese looked focus of the early anti-Chinese campaign was the so-calledjOst like Afrikans in "womens garments"! Working Mens Party of California, which was organized by an Irish immigrant confidence-man named Dennis The ten years after the passage of the Exclusion Kearney. Kearney was the usual corrupt, phrase-makingAct saw the successful annexation of the Chinese economy demagogue that the white masses love so well ("I am theon the West Coast. Tacoma and Seattle forced out their voice of the people. I am the dictator... I owe the peopleentire Chinese populations at gunpoint. In 1885 the in- nothing, but they owe me a great deal.")*famous Rock Springs, Wyoming massacre took place,where over 20 Chinese miners were killed by a storm of This sleazy party, built on the platform of wipingrifle-fire as European miners enforced their take-over of out Chinese labor and federal reforms to aid white workersall mining. Similar events happened all over the West. In and farmers, attracted thousands of European1886 some 35 California towns reported that they had workers-including most of the European "socialists" intotally eliminated their Chinese populations. California. Before falling apart from corruption, thugism and factionism, Kearneys party captured seats in the State On the coast Italian immigrants burned Chinese Assembly, the mayoralty in Sacramento, and controlledships and villages to take over most of the fishing industry the Constitutional Convention which reformed theby 1890. By that same year most of the Chinese workers in California Constitution. Even today settler historians.the vineyards had been replaced by Europeans. By 1894 the while deploring Kearneys racism, speak respectfully of thebulk of Chinese labor on the wheat and vegetable farms partys role in liberal reforms! Even revisionist CPUSAhad been forced out. Step by step, as fast as they could be historians apparently feel no shame in praising this gang ofreplaced, the Chinese who once built the foundation of the de@nerates for "arousing public support for a number ofregions economy were being driven out. important labor demands.. .forcing old established parties to listen more attentively to the demands of the common Who took part in this infamous campaign? Vir- people."(40) What this shows is that if the "respectable"tually the whole of the Euro-Amerikan labor movement in Euro-Amerikan trade-unionists and "Maruiqtq" werethe U.S., including "socialists" and "Marxists". Both of scrabbling on their knees before the bourgeoisie along withthe two great nationwide union federations of the 19th known criminals such as Kearney, then they must have hadCentury, the National Labor Union and the later Knights much in common (is it so different today?).of Labor, played an active role.(37) The Socialist LaborParty was involved. The leading independent white labor The monopoly on desirable jobs that Europeannewspaper, the Workingmans Advocate of Chicago, was labor had won in the West was continually "defended" byedited by A. C. Cameron. He was a leader of the National new white supremacist assaults. The campaign againstLabor Union, a respected printing trades unionist, and the Chinese was continued long into the 20th century, par-delegate from the N.L.U. to the 1869 Switzerland con- ticularly so that its momentum could be used againstference of the Communist First International. His paperregularly printed speeches and theoretical articles by KarlMarx and other European Communists. Yet he loudly call-ed in his newspaper for attacks on the immigrant "Chinamen, Japanese, Malays, and Monkeys" from Asia.Even most "Marxists" who deplored the crude violence ofthe labor mobs, such as Adolph Doubai (one of the leadingGerman Communist immigrants), agreed that the Chinesehad to be removed from the U.S.(38) It is easy to predictthat if even European "Marxists" were so strongly pulledalong by the lynch mobs, the bourgeois trade union leadershad to be running like dogs at the head of the hunt. An-drew Furuseth, the founder of the Seafarers Internation Union, AFL-CIO, Pat McCarthy, leader of the San Fran-cisco Building Trades Council, Sam Gompers, leader ofthe cigarmakers union and later founder of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), were just a few of the many who openly led and incited the settler terror.(39)*Similar "news" stories are very popular today, remindingthe white masses about all the runaway white teenagerswho become "captives" of Afrikan "pimps and dopedealers". When we see such themes being pushed in the -bourgeois media, we should know whats behind it. 36 *Unfortunately, we have Kearneys of our own.
  • 38. Japanese, Filipino and other Asian immigrant labor. The Euro-Amerikan labor; it was a central rallying issue forAFL played a major role in this. Gompers himself, a many, a point around which immigrant European workersJewish immigrant who became the most powerful and other settlers cound unite. It was a campaign in whichbourgeois labor leader in the U.S., co-authored in 1902 a all the major Euro-Amerikan labor federations, trade-mass-distributed racist tract entitled: Some Reasons For unions and "socialist" organizations joined together. TheChinese Exclusion: Meat vs. Rice, American Manhood vs. annexation of the Chinese economy of the West during theAsiatic Coolieism-Which Shall Survive? In this crudely later half of the 19th Century was but another expressionracist propaganda, the respected AFL President comforted of the same intrusion that Afrikans met in the South andwhite workers by pointing out that their cowardly violence North. All over the Empire immigrant European labor wastoward Asians was justified by the victims immoral and being sent against the oppressed, to take what little we had.dangerous character: "The Yellow Man found it natural tolie, cheat and murder". Further, he suggested, in attacking At times even their bourgeois masters wished thatAsian workers, whites were just nobly protecting their own their dogs were on a shorter leash. Many capitalists saw,white children, "thousands" of whom were supposed to be even as we were being cut down, that it would be useful toopium-addicted "prisoners" kept in the unseen back preserve us as a colonial labor force to be exploitedrooms of neighborhood Chinese laundries: "What other whenever needed; but the immigrant white worker had nocrimes were committed in those dark, fetid places, when use for us whatsoever. Therefore, in the altered geometrythose little innocent victims of the Chinamens wiles were of forces within the Empire, the new Euro-Amerikanunder the influence of the drug are too horrible to working masses became willing pawns of the most viciousimagine ..."(41) Whats really hard "to imagine" is how elements in the settler bourgeoisie, seeing only advantagesanyone could believe this fantastical porno-propaganda; in in every possibility of our genocidal disappearance. And intruth, settlers will eagerly swallow any falsehoods that this scramble upwards those wretched immigrants shed,seem to justify their continuing crimes against the oppress- like an old suit of clothes, the proletarian identity anded. honor of their Old European past. Now they were true Amerikans, real settlers who had done their share of the The Empire-wide campaign against the Chinese killing, annexing and looting.national minority played a major role in the history of 4. The Test of Black Reconstruction If Euro-Amerikan labors attitude towards the resolution of bitter struggle in the oclonial South, butChinese labor was straightforward and brutal, towards the merely the opening of a whole new stage.Afrikan colony it was more complex, more tactical. In-deed, the same Euro-Amerikan labor leaders who spon- We have to see that there were two wars going on,sored the murderous assaults on Chinese workers kept tell- and that both were mixed in the framework of the Civiling Afrikan workers how "the unity of labor" was the first War. The first conflict was the fratricidal, intra-settler warthing in their hearts! between Northern industrial capitalists and Southern planter capitalists. We use the phrase "Civil War" because Terrance Powderly, the Grand Master Workman it is the commonly known name for the war. It is more ac-of the Knights of Labor (who had personally called for curate to point out that the war was between two settler na-wiping out all Chinese in North America within one year), tions for ownership of the Afrikan colony - and ultimate-suddenly became the apostle of brotherhood when it came ly for ownership of the continental Empire. The secondto persuading Afrikans to support his organization: "The was the protracted struggle for liberation by the colonizedcolor of a candidate shall not debar him from admission; Afrikan Nation in the South. Neither struggle ended withrather let the coloring of his mind and heart be the the military collapse of the Confederacy in 1865. For tentest."(42) This apparent contradiction arose from the uni- years, a long heartbeat in history, both wars took focusque position of the Afrikan colony. Where the Chinese around the Reconstruction governments.workers had been a national minority whose numbers atany one time probably never exceeded 100,000 (roughly The U.S. Empire faced the problem that its owntwo-thirds of the Chinese returned to Asia), Afrikans were split into two warring settler nations had provided thean entire colonized Nation; on their National Territory in long-awaited strategic moment for the anti-colonial risingthe South they numbered some 4 millions. This was an op- of the oppressed Afrikan Nation. Just as in the 1776 Warponent Euro-Amerikan labor had to engage more careful- of Independence, both capitalist factions in the Civil Warly. hoped that Afrikans would remain docilely on the sidelines while Confederate Amerika and Union Amerika fought it The relationship between Euro-Amerikan labor out. But the rising of millions of Afrikans, striking offand Afrikan labor cannot be understood just from the their chains, became the decisive factor in the Civil of the mine and mill. Their relationship was not As DuBois so scathingly points out:separate from, but a part of, the general relation of op-pressor nation to colonized oppressed nation. And at that "Freedom for the slave was the logical result of atime the struggle over the Afrikan colony was the storm crazy attempt to wage war in the midst of four millioncenter of all politics in the U.S. Empire. The end of the black slaves, and trying the while sublimely to ignore theCivil War and the end of chattel Afrikan slavery were not 37 interests of those slaves in the outcome of the fighting.
  • 39. While marching through a region, the black troops would sometimes pause a t a plantation, ascertain from the slaves the name of the "meanest" overseer in the neighborhood, and then, if he had not fled, "tie him backward on a horse and force him to accompany them." Although a few masters and overseers were whipped or strung up by a rope in the presence of their slaves, this appears to have been a rare occurrence. More commonly, black soldiers preferred to appor- tion the contents of the plantation and the Big House among those whose labor had made them possible, singling out the more "notorious" slavehold- ers and systematically ransacking and demolishing their dwellings. "They gutted his mansion of some of the finest furniture in the world," wrote Chaplain Henry M. Turner, in describing a regimental action in North Carolina. Having been informed of the brutal record of this slaveholder, the soldiers had resolved t pay him a visit. While the owner was forced to look o on, they went to work on his "splendid mansion" and "utterly destroyed every thing on the place." Wielding their axes indiscriminately, they shat- tered his piano and most of the furniture and ripped his expensive carpets to pieces. What they did not destroy they distributed among his slaves. --Leon F. Littwack, Been in the Storm So LongYet, these slaves had enormous power in their hands. politically. Unless halted, this rapid march could quicklySimply by stopping work, they could threaten the Con- lead to mass armed insurrection against the Union and thefederacy with starvation. By walking into the Federal formation of a New Afrikan government in the South.camps, they showed to doubting Northerners the easy Events had suddenly moved to that point.possibilities of using them as workers and as servants, asfarmers, and as spies, and finally, as fighting soldiers. And The most perceptive settlers understood this verynot only using them thus, but by the same gesture depriv- well. The Boston capitalist Elizur Wright said in 1865:ing their enemies of their use in just these fields. It was the "...the blacks must be enfranchised or they will be readyfugitive slave who made the slaveholders face the alter- and willing to fight for a government of their own. " Note,native of surrendering to the North, or to the Negroes." "a government of their own. " For having broken the back of the Confederacy, having armed and trained themselves Judge John C. Underwood of Richmond, contrary to settler expectations, the Afrikan masses were inVirginia, testified later before Congress that: "I had a con- no mood to passively submit to reenslavement. And theyversation with one of the leading men in that city, and he desired and demanded Land, the national foundations thatsaid to me that the enlistment of Negro troops by the they themselves had created out of the toil of three hun-United States was the turning point of the rebellion; that it dred years. DuBois tells us: "There was continual fear ofwas the heaviest blow they ever received. He remarked that insurrection in the Black Belt. This vague fear increasedwhen the Negroes deserted their masters, and showed a toward Christmas, 1866. The Negroes were disappointedgeneral disposition to do so and join the forces of the because of the delayed division of lands. There was aUnited States, intelligent men everywhere saw that the natural desire to get possession of firearms, and allmatter was ended. "(43) through the summer and fall, they were acquiring shotguns; muskets, and pistols, in great quantities." The U.S. Empire took advantage of this risingagainst the Slave Power to conquer the Confederacy - but All over their Nation, Afrikans had seized the landnow its occupying Union armies had to not only watch that they had sweated on. Literally millions of Afrikansover the still sullen and dangerous Confederates, but had were on strike in the wake of the Confederacys prevent the Afrikan masses from breaking out. Four The Southern economy - now owned by Northern Capitalmillions strong, the Afrikan masses were on the move 38 - was struck dead in its tracks, unable to operate at all
  • 40. against the massive, stony resistance of the Afrikan citizenship as the answer to all problems. Instead of na-masses. This was the greatest single labor strike in the en- tionhood and liberation, the neo-colonial agents told thetire history of U.S. Empire. It was not done by any AFL- masses that their democratic demands coud be met byCIO-type official union for higher wages, but was the following the Northern settler capitalists (i.e. themonumental act of an oppressed people striking out for Republican Party) and looking to the Federal GovernmentLand and Liberation. Afrikans refused to leave the lands as the ultimate protector of Afrikan interests.that were now theirs, refused to work for their formerslavemasters. So all across the Afrikan Nation the occupying Union Army - supposedly the "saviors" and "eman- U.S. General Rufus Saxon, former head of the cipators" of Afrikans - invaded the most organized, mostFreedmens Bureau in South Carolina, reported to a Con- politically conscious Afrikan communities. In particular,gressional committee in 1866 that Afrikan field workers in all those communities where the Afrikan masses had seizedthat state were arming themselves and refusing to "submit land in a revolutionary way came under Union Army at-quietly" to the return of settler rule. Even the pro-U.S. tack. In those areas the liberation of the land was a collec-Afrikan petit-bourgeoisie there, according to Saxon, was tive act, with the workers from many plantations holdingafraid they were losing control of the masses: " will tell I meetings and electing leaders to guide the struggle. Armedyou what the leader of the colored Union League...said to resistance was the order of the day, and planter attempts tome: they said that they feared they could not much longer retake the land were rebuffed at rifle point. The U.S. Em-control the freedmen if I left Charlesto wn... they feared the pire had to both crush and undermine this dangerousfreedmen would attempt to take their cause in their own development that had come from the grass roots of theirhands."(44) colony. The U.S. Empires strategy for reenslaving their In August, 1865 around Hampton, Virginia, forAfrikan colony involved two parts: 1. The military repres- example, Union cavalry were sent to dislodge 5,000sion of the most organized and militant Afrikan com- Afrikans from liberated land. Twenty-one Afrikan leadersmunities. 2. Pacifying the Afrikan Nati.on by neo- were captured, who had been "armed with revolvers,colonialism, using elements of the Afrikan petit- cutlasses, carbines, shotguns." In the Sea Islands off thebourgeoisie to lead their people into embracing U.S. 39 south Carolina coast some 40,000 Afrikans were forced
  • 41. off the former plantations at bayonet point by Union Afrikans were participants and leaders in government:soldiers. While the Afrikans had coolly told returning Afrikan jurors, judges, state officials, militia captains,planters to go - and pulled out weapons to emphasize Governors, Congressmen and even several Afrikan U.S.their orders - they were not able to overcome the U.S. Ar- Senators were In 1865 and 1866 the Union occupation disarmed andbroke up such dangerous outbreaks. The special danger to This regional political role for Afrikans producedthe U. Empire was that the grass-roots political drive to S. results that would be startling in the Empire today, and byhave armed power over the land, to build economically the settler standards of a century ago were totallyself-sufficient regions under Afrikan control, would in- astonishing. The white supremacist propagandist Jamesevitably raise the question of Afrikan sovereignty. Pike reports angrily of state government in South Carolina, the state with the largest Afrikan presence in Afrikan soldiers who had learned too much for the government:U.S. Empires peace of mind were a special target (of bothUnion and Confederate alike). Even before the Wars end "The members of the Assembly issued forth froma worried President Lincoln had written to one of his the State House. About three-quarters of the crowdgenerals: " can hardly believe that the South and North I belonged to the African race. They were such a lookingcan live in peace unless we get rid of the Negroes. Certainly body of men as might pour out of a market-house or athey cannot, if we dont get rid of the Negroes whom we courthouse at random in any Southern state. Every Negrohave armed and disciplined and who have fought with us, I type and physiognomy was here to be seen, from thebelieve, to the amount of 150,000 men. I believe it would genteel serving-man, to the rough-hewn customer from thebe better to export them all ..." rice or cotton field. Their dress was as varied as their countenances. There was the second-hand, black frockcoat Afrikan U.S. army units were hurriedly disarmed of infirm gentility, glossy and threadbare. There was theand disbanded, or sent out of the South (out West to serve stovepipe hat of many ironings and departed styles. Thereas colonial troops against the Indians, for example). The was also to be seen a total disregard of the proprieties nfU.S. Freedmens Bureau said in 1866 that the new, secret costume in the coarse and dirty garments of the field.white terrorist organizations in Mississippi placed a specialpriority on murdering returning Afrikan veterans of the "The Speaker is black, the Clerk is black, theUnion Army. In New Orleans some members of the U.S. doorkeepers are black, the little pages are black, the Chair-74th Colored Infantry were arrested as "vagrants" the day man of the Ways and Means is black, and the chaplin isafter they were mustered out of the army. Everywhere in coal black. At some of the desks sit colored men whosethe occupied Afrikan Nation an emphasis was placed on types it would be hard to find outside the Congo. It wasdefusing or wiping out the political guerrillas and militia of not all sham, nor all burlesque. They have a genuine in-the Afrikan masses. terest and a genuine earnestness in the business of the assembly which we are bound to recognize and The U.S. Empires second blow was more subtle. respect.. .They have an earnest purpose, born of convictionThe Northern settler bourgeoisie sought to convince that their conditions are not fully assured, which lends aAfrikans that they could, and should want to, become sort of dignity to their proceedings."citizens of the U.S. Empire. To this end the 14th Amend-ment to the Constitution involuntarily made all Afrikanshere paper U.S. citizens. This neo-colonial strategy offered This dramatic reversal outraged the ConfederateAfrikan colonial subjects the false democracy of paper masses - who saw their former "property" now risencitizenship in the Empire that oppressed them and held over them. The liberal Reconstruction governments swepttheir Nation under armed occupation. away the social garbage of centuries, releasing modern reforms throughout Southern life: public school systems, While the U.S. Empire had regained its most integrated juries, state highway and railroad systems, pro-valuable colony, it had major problems. The Union Ar- tective labor reforms, divorce and property rights formies militarily held the territory of the Afrikan Nation. women, and so on.But the settlers who had formerly garrisoned the colonyand overseen its economy could no longer be trusted; even What was most apparent about Black Reconstruc-after their attempted rival empire had been ended, the tion was its impossible contradictions. Now we can saySouthern settlers remained embittered and dangerous that while it was a bold course for the Empire to embarkenemies of the U.S. bourgeoisie. The Afrikan masses, upon, it so went against the structure of settler society thatwhose labor and land provided the wealth that the Empire it could only have been temporary. Afrikans were organiz-extracted from their colony, were rebellious and unwilling ed politically into the loyalist Union Leagues (which wereto peacefully submit to the old ways. The Empire needed a often armed), organized militarily into state militia com-loyalist force to hold and pacify the colony. panies, and all for the purpose of holding down some Euro-Amerikan settlers both for themselves and for the The U.S. Empires solution was to turn their U.S. Empire. Yet, at the same time the Empire wantedAfrikan colony into a neo-colony. This phase was called Afrikans disarmed and disorganized. This neo-colonialBlack Reconstruction.* Afrikans were promised bourgeois government of Black Reconstruction wasdemocracy, human rights, self-government and popular doomed from its first day, since it promised that Afrikansownership of the land - but only as loyal "citizens" of the would share the land and the power with settlers.U.S. Empire. Under the neo-colonial leadership of somepetit-bourgeois elements, Afrikans became the loyalist The Afrikan petit-bourgeois leadership in govern-social base. Not only were they enfranchised en masse, but 40 ment made every effort to stabilize relations with the
  • 42. ,former planter ruling class, and, in fact, to cement rela- Scabs were beaten and taken prisoner, and even the localtions with all classes of settlers. They openly offered police were overpowered by the armed strikers. But thethemselves as allies of the planters in return for settler ac- Afrikan U.S. Congressman Robert Smalls led the stateceptance of the new neo-colony. But in vain. militia in and pacified the angry workers, ending the strike. In Mississippi when the armed planter takeover drowned The Reconstruction politicians hoped for a the 1876 elections in a sea of blood, Afrikan U.S. Con-bourgeois democratic reconcilation, wherein the Northern gressman John Lynch (who had just lost his seat throughindustrialists, they and even the former slave-masters vote fraud at gunpoint) reminded everyone to remain loyalcould all harmoniously unite to prosper off the labor of the to the Empire:Afrikan proletariat. Beverly Nash, one of the Afrikanleaders in the South Carolina legislature, told his people: "You certainly cannot expect.. .to resort to mob"We recognize the Southern white man as the true friend law and brute force, or to use what may be milderof the black man...It is not our desire to be a discordant language, inaugurate a revolution. MY opinion is thatelement in the community, or to unite the poor against the revolution is not the remedy to be applied in such The white man has the land, the black man has the Our System of government is supposed to be one of lawlabor, and labor is worth nothing without capital." Nash and order...there is patriotism enough in this country andpromised the banned ex-Confederates that he would fight sufficient love of justice and fair play in the hearts of theto not only get their voting rights restored, but to get "our American people ..."first men" (the former Confederate leaders) back in theircustomary places in Congress and the judges bench. This In 1876-77, the final accommodation betweendesire to be accepted by the planter elite was far too com- Northern Capital and the Southern planters was reached inmon. Henry Turner, the "most prominent" Afrikan the "Hayes-Tilden deal". The South promised to acceptpolitician in Georgia, opposed seizing tax-delinquent the dominance of the Northern bourgeoisie over the entireplanter estates and campaigned to free Jefferson Davis Empire, and to permit the Republican candidate Ruther-from prison! ford B. Hayes to succeed Grant in the U.S Presidency. In return, the Northern bourgeoibie agreed tu let the planters But Reconstruction fell, its foundations eroded have regional hegemony over the South, and to withdrawaway by the ever-growing mass terror against the Afrikan the last of the occupying Union troops so that the Klanpopulation by settler reaction. It was militarily overthrown could take care of Afrikans as they wished. While theby the secret planter para-military groups of the Ku Klux guarded remnants of Reconstruction held out here andKlan, White Caps, White Cross, White Legion and so on. there for some years (Afrikan Congressmen were electedIn town after town, county and parish one after another, from the South until 1895), the critical year of 1877 mark-then in state after state, Reconstruction was broken in ed their conclusive defeat.bloody killings. During these fateful years, when the central During the 1868 elections in Louisiana, for exam- political issue in the Empire was the war in the Afrikan col-ple, some 2,000 Afrikans were thought to have been killed ony, the white labor movement lined up on the side of theor wounded, with many more forced to flee. In Shreveport KKK terror - and against the Afrikan masses. Even thea gang of Italian fishermen and market venders called neo-colonial society of Black Reconstruction was hated by"The Innocents" roamed the streets for ten days before white labor, since it involved giving Afrikans at least anthe elections, literally killing every Afrikan they could outward form of democratic rights and governmentfind. Some 297 Afrikans were murdered in New Orleans. power. Even nee-colonialism was too good for Afrikans inIn Bossier Parish "One hundred and twenty corpses were the opinion of white labor.found in the woods or were taken out of the Red Riverafter a Negro hunt ..." Although it took ten years for Some may consider it unusual that white workersReconstruction to be finally defeated (and another twenty opposed Black Reconstruction; particularly since Blackyears before its advances were all erased), the guerrilla war Reconstruction not only bent over backwards to treat thebetween planter and Afrikan forces was disastrously one- entire white community, from planters to Poor whites,sided. The war could only have had one end, since with great respect, but introduced social reforms whichAfrikans were disarmed militarily and politically. gave a real boost upwards to poor whites. Poor whites were able to send their children to the new public schools, By 1874 only four states-Mississippi, Louisiana, and for the first time in much of the South they were ableSouth Carolina, and Florida-still remained in the hands to vote and hold minor public offices (during the "Slaveof Reconstruction. The end was in sight. Secret con- Power" reign stiff property qualifications barred manyferences of the planter leadership mapped out the final whites from having political rights). These gifts failed todrive to tear out the heart of Black Reconstruction, and to win the gratitude of poor whites.begin the long, hundred-year night of absolute, terroristicrule. The White League was organized as the armed united Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels saw that thefront of the KKK and all the other planter organizations. "mean whites" (as they called them) of the South wereWithin months it had 40,000 members. The white violence hopeless politically. They felt that nothing could be doneintensified. with them but to render them powerless until they died out of old age. This was not a unique observation. Wendell Even at this late date the Afrikan petit-bourgeois Phillips, the great Radical abolitionist, bluntly pleaded inleaders of Reconstruction remained true to their loyalty 1870: "Now is the time.. .to guarantee the South againstto the Empire. In 1876 there was a militant strike wave the possible domination or the anger of the white race. Weamong the Afrikan plantation laborers in South Carolina. 41 adhere to our opinion that nothing, or not much, except
  • 43. hostility, can be expected of two-thirds of the adult white leaving the land open to white labor. Or he could murdermen. They will go to their graves unchanged. No one of too successful freedmen."them should ever again be trusted with political rights.And all the elemental power of civilization should be com- North or South, East or West, Euro-Amerikanbined and brought into play to counterwork the anger and workingmen were intent on driving out or pushing furtherplots of such foes."(45) down all subject labor-whether Afrikan, Mexicano or Chinese. In fact, despite the divisions of the Civil War No sooner had the planter Confederacy been there were few qualitative differences between Northernstruck down, then poor whites began responding to the ap- and Southern white labor. In part this is because there waspeals of the KKK and the other planter guerrilla organiza- considerable merging through migration within the Em-tions. This was a mass phenomena. Their motivation was pire.obvious: they desired to keep Afrikans as colonial subjectsbelow even wage-labor. DuBois relates: So when Euro-Amerikan labor, greatly revived by the massive reinforcements immigrating from Old Europe, "When, then, he faced the possibility of being reorganized itself during the Civil War, it was not anyhimself compelled to compete with a Negro wage laborer, strengthening of democratic forces; rather, it added newwhile both were hirelings of a white planter, his whole soul formations of oppressors, new blows being directedrevolted. He turned, therefore, from war service to guer- against the oppressed. Just as the petit-bourgeois work-rilla warfare, particularly against Negroes. He joined ingmens movements of the 1840s and 1850s, these weresecret organizations, like the Ku Klux Klan, which fed his "white unions" for settlers only. So that when thevanity by making him co-worker with the white planter, representatives from eight craft trades met in Louisville inand gave him a chance to maintain his race superiority by 1864 to form the short-lived "International Industrialkilling and intimidating niggers; and even in secret forays Assembly of North America", there was no mention of theof his own, he could drive away the planters black help, emancipation of Afrikan labor.
  • 44. Similarly, when the National Labor Union was embraced Afrikan workers in all spheres of production,formed in 1866, most of its members and leaders clearly in- North and South. Longshoremen, carpenters, tenanttended to simply push aside Afrikan labor. The N.L.U. farmers, printers, waiters, barbers, construction laborers,was the first major labor federation of white workers, the etc. were all united within it. Eventually it would haveforerunner of todays AFL-CIO. Delegates from 59 trade locals in 23 states.unions and craft organizations took part in its firstBaltimore meeting, with observers from much of the rest Clearly, Euro-Amerikan labor was feeling theof the settler craft unions joining into the heady talking heat. Their colonial competitors were "out of control",and planning. The most "advanced" settler unionists building their own organizations to further their own in-strongly argued for "unity" with Afrikan workers. It was terests. This had to be fought! The immediate decision wasrepeatedly pointed out how the capitalists had used to warmly invite these Afrikan unions to join the whiteAfrikan workers to get around strikes and demands for N.L.U., so that the settler unionists could mislead andhigher wages by white workmen. Rather than let Afrikans undermine them. So at the 1869 N.L.U. Convention, forcompete in the job market against settlers, it was urged to the first time, nine Afrikan union delegates were seated. Asrestrain them by taking them into the N.L.U. we might expect, the speeches and pledges of eternal brotherhood flowed like some intoxicating drink. In a As DuBois pointed out: "Here was a first halting scene reminiscent of the festive ceremonies that marked thenote. Negroes were welcome to the labor movement, not signing of the early "peace" treaties between settlers andbecause they were laborers but because they might be com- Indians, the convention became imbued with the spirit ofpetitors in the market, and the logical conclusion was unity. So much that an amazed New York Times reportereither to organize them or guard against their actual com- wrote:petition by other methods. It was to this latter alternativethat white American labor almost unanimously turned." "When a native Mississipian and an ex-In other words, settler trade-unionists preferred to limit confederate officer, in addressing a convention, refers to ajob competition between whites and Afrikans by driving colored delegate who has preceded him as the gentlemanthe latter out of the labor market. All motions to admit from Georgia, when a native Alabamian, who has for theAfrikans to the N.L.U. were defeated, as the settler trade- first time crossed the Mason and Dixon line, and who wasunionists continued following the capitalists long-range from boyhood taught to regard the Negro simply as chat-plan to use them to replace Afrikan labor. It should be tle, sits in deliberate consultation with another delegateremembered that in all these deeds, Euro-Amerikan labor, whose ebony face glistens with African sheen, and signsno matter how much it huffed and puffed itself up, was the report of his colored co-delegate, when an ardent andjust servilely following the genocidal strategies of the in- Democratic partisan (from New York at that*) declaresdustrial bourgeoisie-for which service the cgipitalists had with a rich Irish brogue that he asks for himself noimported them in the first place, rewarding their pawns privilege as a mechanic or a citizen that he is not willing towith the customary mixture of table scraps and kicks. concede to every other man, white or black-when, I say, these things can be seen or heard at a national convention, But note, the radical/conservative difference of called for any purpose, then one may indeed be warrantedopinion within the ranks of settler unionism was just like in asserting that time works curious changes."(46)that between Gov. Berkeley and Bacon; a difference bet-ween following cooptive strategies of genocide or seeking But the celebration of unity was short-lived. Thean immediate "final solution" through overwhelming white trade-unionists were, of course, only attempting toforce. These two opposites in the eternal settler debate are deceive Afrikan workers. Their invitation to "join" theobviously inseparable and interwoven. By the National N.L.U. simply meant that Afrikans would promise toLabor Unions 1869 Convention the advocates of tactically honor all white strikes and organizing drives; in return,embracing Afrikan workers had gained the upper hand, they would have the privilege of being consoled as whitefor there was serious trouble. Afrikan labor had gotten labor savagely and relentlessly annexed their jobs. The se-"out of control." cond aspect of this "unity" was that Afrikans would be ex- pected to follow European labor in opposing democratic Throughout the Empire - but especially in their demands in the South and helping to restore the chainsNation - Afrikan workers were organizing their own around their legs. The "integration" of the N.L.U. meantunions, following their own leaders, launching their own not only submission to European hegemony, but was vir-strikes. In Richmond, Va. there were strikes by Afrikan tually suicidal. Small wonder that Afrikans quickly partedstevedores and railroad workers and tobacco factory ways with the N.L.U.(47)workers. On the heels of the 1867 strike wave throughoutthe South, Afrikan unions formed in city after city. In While the N.L.U. had granted Afrikan organiza-Savannah, Ga. the 1867 strike of Afrikan longshoremen tions the privilege of affiliating with it as a federation,forced the city government to lift a $10 poll tax. .In Afrikans themselves were barred out of the individualCharleston, S.C., they formed the powerful Colored white trade-unions. Every advance, therefore, of Euro-Longshoremens Protective Union Association, the pean trade-unionism meant the "clearing" of Afrikanstrongest and most respected labor organization in that workers out of another mill, factory, railroad, warehousestate. After winning a strike for better wages, the or dock. The capitalist attack on Afrikan labor, begun inC.L.P.U.A. started helping other unions of Afrikan pro-letarians get organized. By 1869, state conventions of * The reporter remarks on this because the DemocraticAfrikan unions were being held, following the call for the Party was the pro-slavery party, and New York was in-December, 1869, first convention of the National Colored famous as the seat of some of the most vicious and violentLabor Union. This federation was intensely political, and 4 3 anti-Afrikan mass sentiment.
  • 45. the early 1830s, continued and gathered momentum. In and the problems of Afrikans (saying that anyway thatthe most celebrated single case, Lewis Douglass (the son of issue "is practically solved").(50) Much more typical wasFrederick Douglass) was repeatedly denied admission to the St. Louis Daily Press, again an alternative newspaperthe Typographers Union. A printer at the Government started by local printers during a strike. The Press wasPrinting Office, Douglass was not only denied by the local, quite "progressive"; that is, it advocated the Eight-Hourbut his appeals were turned down by two successive con- Day, the Irish Revolution, equal rights for white women,ventions of the Typographers Union - and even by the the unity of European workers around the world-evenentire N.L.U. convention. printing long Marxist documents sent by the First Interna- tional in Europe. It also opposed democratic rights for It is important to realize how strongly and over- Afrikans, and called on white labor to drive "the niggers"whelmingly Euro-Amerikan workers in the Civil War out of all desirable jobs.(51)period supported the concept of a settler Empire-par-ticularly as applied to guaranteeing white workers the right No one is above the reality of history. Even theto annex the jobs that Afrikan, Chinese, Mexicano, and masses themselves are tested in the crucible, forged,other oppressed labor had created. Of the 130 labor tempered or broken in the class struggle. And not in sidenewspapers started between 1863-73, in the great upsurge skirmishes or paper debates either, but in great battlesof white labor, exactly one (1) supported even bourgeois upon which the future waits. The attempted rising of thedemocratic equality for Afrikans.(49) These insurgent Afrikan colonial masses - protracted, bitter, involvingjournals represented the "best," the most advanced trade- millions of desperate combatants - was such a pivotalunionists in the settler Empire. Yet only one out of one- event.hundred-and-thirty supported democratic rights forAfrikans. As the war raged on, carrying with it the hopes of whatever democratic forces existed within the Empire, That lone journal, the Boston Daily Evening Voice thousands upon thousands of Afrikans gave their lives. Inof the Boston printing trades, opposed President Johnson, the growing defeats eventually the entire Afrikan Nationsupported Afrikan admission to the unions, backed the de- paid the blood price of reenslavement. How should we bemand for free land for Afrikans, and so on. Such principl- impressed, then, when we learn that in that h o w Northerned views lost them so many subscribers that, in a last vain white labor was trying to tell everyone that the real, maineffort to stay afloat, the editors promised their readers that issue was-a shorter work day! If it were not so cowardlythe newspaper would stop writing about Reconstruction and treacherous, it would pass as comic relief.
  • 46. 5. The Contradictions of White Labor The issue of a shorter work day spread en- agreements or laws. The white trade-unionists found theirthusiastically among the white workers between 1866 and hours of toil increasing while their pay was steadily slash-1873. During these years the Eight-Hour Day struggle held ed. Not until the C.I.O. and New Deal in the 1930s wouldfirst place in the activities of white labor. With con- white workers attain their goal of the Eight-Hour Day.siderable foresight, the leaders of the National LaborUnion had seen the need for such a single issue to unite and Defeat, however, is not the same thing as failure;discipline their immature followers. At the founding Con- the Eight-Hour campaign was a success for white labor. Itvention of the N.L.U. in Baltimore, on August 20, 1866, was a new stage of unity, the first, Empire-wide, coast-to-the call was sent forth for all white workingmen in every coast political campaign. As such it marked the historicregion, trade and industry to combine on this one front: point where the swelling settler masses emerged upwards ". .. the firsr and great necessity of the present to free the from their earlier, pre-industrial, small craft con-labor of this country from capitalistic slavery is the passing sciousness-and entered the industrial age.of a law by which eight hours shall be the normal workingday in a states of the American union. "(52) N That campaign was the first time white labor ac- tually achieved a broad, national unity in action. This was Throughout the 60s and early 70s the Eight-Hour evident at the time. Alexander Kennady, head of the SanDay Movement grew, with immigrant German socialists Francisco Trades Assembly and a leader of both the Eight-playing a leading role in organizing "Eight Hour Leagues" Hour campaign and the National Labor Union, said:in all the major cities of the Empire.(53) Literally millions "...By far the most important result of this eight hourtook part in the strikes, parades and rallies. By 1868 six agitation-to those who look forward to the day whenstates, led by California, a number of cities, and the labor, organized and effectively drilled, shall assume itsFederal government had passed Eight-Hour Day laws (the legitimate sphere in the body politic-is visible in thelast only applying to Federal employees). In 1872, when marked improvement in the character of the men engagedthe New York City building trades won a three-month in the movement. A few years ago the working populationstrike for the Eight-Hour Day, a festive parade of 150,000 of California were in a chaotic state-disorganized, and atwhite workmen took over the main streets of the city.(54) the mercy of the capitalists-with very rare exceptions. To- day, nearly every branch of skilled industry has its own But this campaign folded like wet cardboard dur- union, fixing its own rate of wages, and regulating itsing the Depression of 1873-78, when it turned out that the domestic differences. A spirit of independence, and a feel-capitalists had no intention of honoring any promises, 45 ing of mutual confidence inspire its members.. ."(55)
  • 47. dustries, trades, and nationalities-it became the first truly international campaign of European workers, as the First International spread it to England, France and all of Europe. The largest single Eight-Hour demonstration was not in Europe or the U.S., however, but was in Manila; Filipino workers defied the Spanish colonial authorities and struck in a massive rally of one million. Many Afrikan, Mexicano and Chinese workers responded militantly to the call for the Eight-Hour struggle, and in some areas Afrikan workers took an early lead in stirring up action. But the campaign, instead of uniting working people, furthered disunity. It was no coincidence that no sooner had the early victories of the Eight-Hour campaign unified and strengthened white labor in California then they began stepping up the attack against Chinese workers. Nor is it78-Hour Day Movement, New York--1872 true that the Eight-Hour campaign was the work of noble, Of course, when Kennady talks about "the work- class-conscious trade-unionists, while the anti-Chinese anding population" he isnt refering to Mexicanos, Chinese, anti-Afrikan campaigns were the work of some totallyIndians, or Afrikans-he is only discussing white settlers. separate bands of declassed hoodlums and bigots. BothWhen he proudly points out how "every branch of skilled were the acts of the same hands. All of the individual craftindustry has its own union", he means unions of white unions, the large federations such as the National Laborworkers. While he refers to these new unions taking care of Union and the Knights of Labor, the local trades"domestic differences", it is interesting that he fails to assemblies, the labor press, the left organizations such asmention the trade-union role in the primary labor conflict the Socialist Labor Party and the Communist-led Generalof the time-the drive by the white unions to annex the German Working Mens Association, were involved injobs of oppressed workers. This is a curiously right-wing these white supremacist offensives.result from such a supposedly "class-conscious" laborcampaign. Unlike the experience of other nations, the Eight- Hour campaign in the U.S. Empire had an anti-democratic This contradiction sums up the Eight-Hour strug- character, consolidating the settler masses around pro-gle (and the great strike wave of 1873-77). The Eight-Hour capitalist politics. In regard to the pivotal struggle of Blackdemand was not only righteous, but it was a demand that Reconstruction, it is clear that the overwhelming majorityhit home to working people across the widest variety of in- of the Eight-Hour Day activists wcrc in the camp of the Anti-Chinese cartoon by Thomas Nast, famous "reform" cartoonist--1870 46
  • 48. enemy. while "only" a minority of a few hundreds of roots in the middle position of these white masses in thethousands were personally active in killing and reenslaving class structure. It is important to see why white labor couldAfrikans, they committed their crimes with the support of only unite on a petit-bourgeois and opportunistic basis.the rest of their white kith and kin. Those "advanced"workers (particularly the German socialist and radical ex- While white labor had tacked together ailes) who loudly sympathized with the plight of the ex- precarious political unity based on the commonalities ofslaves, didnt stop for one hour in their headlong rush to wage-status and settlerism, it was as yet so divided that itunite with the white supremacist mobs. It was as if witness did not even constitute a class. In brief, we can point toto a criminal attack were to loudly bemoan the injuries four main aspects of this: 1) White workingmen weredone to the victim-while trying to convince the criminals sharply divided by nationality 2) The upper stratumthat they should become partners! The Eight-Hour cam- of workmen, which contained most of the native-bornpaign, the "Anti-Coolie" and anti-Afrikan campaigns Americans", had a definite petit-bourgeois character 3)were not separate and unconnected events, but linked Even the bottom, most exploited layer-who were largelychapters in the development of the same movement of new European immigrants-were politically retarded bywhite labor. the fact that their wages were considerably higher than in Old Europe 4) Immigrant labor did not constitute a single; This young movement, for all its anti-capitalist united proletarian class itself because they were part ofnoises, was unable to resist being drawn deeper and deeper separate national communities (German, Swedish, etc.)into bourgeois politics. As the National Labor Union was each headed by their own bourgeois leaders.having its first convention and first issuing the call for theEight-Hour campaign, five representatives of the new The "native-born" settlers, as the citizen descen-organization were meeting with President Andrew dants of the original English invasion force, still kept forJohnson to solicit his support. And when he threw out a themselves a high, general level of privileges. They stillgesture towards white labor by ordering the workday for thought of themelves as the only true "Americans", whileGovernment printers cut to eight hours, he was hailed as considering the non-Anglo-Saxon, new immigrants asthe true friend of the white masses. The leading union "foreigners" only a step better than Afrikans or Mexicans.newspaper National Workman of New York City praised Among these "native-born" settlers petit-bourgeois,his "practical sympathy with labor". The Philadelphia property-owning and small tradesman status was theTrades Council described his administration as "...for the norm, and even wage-laborers confidently expected tobenefit of the working classes". When the N.L.U. attack- move upwards once they mastered the knack of exploitinged Black Reconstruction, it ws clearly carrying out its part others. Engels noted in 1886:of an unholy alliance with President Johnson-who wasthe newfound champion of the defeated planter class.(56) "There were two factors which for n long t i m ~ prevented the inevitable consequences of the capitalist If the National Labor Union had begun life with system in America from being revealed ir? their true uncertain attitude towards class struggle-and a desire These were the access to ownership of cheap land and thefor the quick "fix" of bourgeois political deals-by 1872 it flood of immigrants. They enable the great mass of in-was wholely given over to these illnesses. It completely digenous Americans, for years on end, to retire fromabandoned mass struggle; instead, the N.L.U. promoted a wage-labor at an early age and to become farmers, dealers,"National Labor Reform Party" to compete with the or even entrepeneurs, whereas the hard lot of the wage-Democrats and Republicans. This abortive party was so laborer with his status of proletarian for life, fell mostly onopportunistic and malformed that it nominated Charles the immigrant."(58)OConnor, a well-known advocate of slavery, as itsPresidential candidate in the 1872 elections.(57) The Thus the Irish, Polish, Italian, etc. immigrants hadN.L.U. itself perished in this fiasco. But the class outlook the honor of replacing Afrikans, Mexicanos, Indians andit represented continued and flourished. Asians as the primary labor force of the U.S. Empire in the North. But the position of "native-born", Anglo-Saxon In this period white labor, although still young, settlers changed little if at all. The "native-born" settlertook definite shape. Euro-Amerikan labor increasingly masses were still above the nationally-differentiated pro-found itself pressed to organize, to fight the employers, to letarians, still small property-owner!: and smalldemand from the bourgeois state some relief from ex- businessmen, still foremen, overseers, and skilled craft-ploitation and some democratic rights. At the same time, smen.these white workingmen were also a part of settler society, and felt their welfare tied up with the supremacy of the The European immigrant workers, who were pro-Empire. Further, pressed downward by Capital, they moted to be the new, more loyal proletariat of the U.S.sought to establish a stranglehold on jobs by ruthlessly Empire, were themselves very divided and confused.degrading or eliminating colonial labor. This con- Amerika as it entered the industrial age was a literal Towersciousness was very sharply manifested in the 1870s, when of Babel. In the hellish brutality of the mines, mills andthese white workingmen became the eager tools of various factories, the bourgeoisie had assembled gangs of workersfactions in the bourgeoisie in the mass drives to reenslave from many different nations-torn away from their nativeAfrikans and drive out Chinese-at the same time engag- lands, desperate, and usually not even speaking a com-ing in the most vigorous and militant strike waves against mon language with each other. Engels noted the impor-the bourgeoisie. tance of these national barriers: This was a middle position-between the colo- "...immigration.. .divides the workers intonial proletariat and the settler bourgeoisie-and it had its 47 groups - native-and foreign-born, and the latter into: (1)
  • 49. Irish, (2) German, and (3) many small groups, the business- and property-ownership. The vast farming landsmembers of each of which can only understand one of the upper Midwest and the Plains states were in largeanother, namely, Czechs, Poles, Italians, Scandinavians, measure settled by these two nationalities-the 1900 censusetc. And then we must add the Negroes...Sometimes there revealed that there were 700,000 German- andis a powerful klan; however, the bourgeoisie need merely Scandinavian-owned farms in the Empire then, more thanhold out passively for the heterogeneous elements of the three times the number owned by "native-born" Anglo-working masses to fall apart again."(59) Saxon Amerikans.(62) And as wretched and bitter as life in Amerika was The question of the bourgeois leadership of im-for white workers on the bottom of settler society, it was migrant workers is very clearly shown by the Irish here.stillfar, far better than life back in Old Europe. The Irish, Nor was this disconnected with settlerism. The communityfor example, who became the bulk of the unskilled white leaders of the Irish national minority here were not revo-labor, were used up under virtually inhuman conditions. lutionary proletarians, but ward politicians, police chiefs,Contemporary accounts of the 19th century usually em- mayors, the Roman Catholic Church, etc.. It is hardly aphasize how Irish laborers on the New York canals, the secret that during the mid-1800s the Irish workers of thecoal pits of Pennsylvania, the railroads across the Plains North, under the leadership of the Church and otherstates, etc. were kept drunk on cheap whiskey by the labor bourgeois elements, were surpassed by none in theircontractors and overseers, so that they could endure their vicious hatred of Afrikans. The Archdiocese of New Yorkmiserable lives. Along the Mississippi gangs of Irish City, for example, publicly opposed Emancipation and un-laborers drained malarial swamps and built levees for one doubtedly helped create the anti-Afrikan riots that tookdollar per day and whiskey. An overseer explained: "It thousands of lives during the Civil War.was much better to have the Irish do it, who cost nothingto the planter if they died, than to use up good field-hands It is interesting that Irish patriots, themselvesin such severe employment."(60) While it is hard for us to- engaged in the bloody armed struggle to throw off Britishday to imagine that this could be better than life in colonial colonialism, saw from across the Atlantic that their coun-Ireland, it was. In 1846 alone some one million Irish died trymen here were being led into taking the reactionaryfrom famine. Those who emigrated did so under sure road. In 1841 some 70,000 Irish patriots signed a revolu-sentence of death as the alternative. tionary petition to Irish-Amerikans: "Irishmen and Irishwomen, treat the colored people as your equals, as Even for those on the bottom stratum of white brethren. By all your memories of Ireland, continue to lovewage-labor the actual wages were significantly higher than Liberty-hate Slavery-Cling by the Abolitionists-and inin Old Europe. Rural farm laborers, usually the worst-paid America you will do honor to the name of Ireland."(63)of workers, earned a much better wage in the U.S. Empire. Despite mass meetings organized to generate support forMarx, as we remember, pointed out in this period that: this message of international solidarity, the full weight of"Now, all of you know that the average wages of the the Catholic Church, and Irish ward politicians and trade-American agricultural laborer amount to more than dou- union leaders kept the Irish immigrant masses firmly loyalble that of the English agricultural laborer ..." to reaction. Further, as European immigrants or poor Euro- There was, of course, then as now a powerful na-Amerikans they were still eligible for the privileges of set- tional tie here towards their captive homeland. Twice thetlerism-and if not for them, then for their children. While Fenian Brotherhood tried military invasions of Canada (inthis was markedly true for poor whites in the South, it ap- 1866 and 1870), trying to force loose the British deathgripplied with a few modifications throughout the Empire. on Ireland.(64) Even after many defeats, Irish patriots andDuBois points out: funds continued to pour into "the Cause". The modern submarine, for example, was developed by the secret Irish "It must be remembered that the white group of Clan here, and only later turned over to the U.S. Navy.laborers, while they received a low wage, were compen- Irish P.0.W.s exiled to Australia were liberated in a spec-sated in part by a sort of public and psychological wage. tacular raid across the Pacific. So wide-spread was the en-They were given public deference and titles of courtesy thusiasm for this daring attempt in the Irish-Amerikanbecause they were white. They were admitted freely with community here than an Irish-Amerikan U.S. Senator of-all classes of white people to public functions, public fered to get a U.S. Customs ship for the raid if no privateparks, and the best schools. The police were drawn from vessel could be obtained!(65) This only underlines the pro-their ranks, and the courts, dependent upon their votes, cess at work. The genuine national feeling towards colonialtreated them with such leniency as to encourage Ireland was taken over by bourgeois elements, who shapedlawlessness. Their vote selected public officials, and while it in bourgeois nationalist directions, and who used the ap-this had small effect upon the economic situation, it had peal of "the Cause" to promote their own political careersgreat effect upon their personal treatment and the and pocketbooks. This is still true today.deference shown them.. ."(61) What international solidarity means can be seen by The other powerful moderating force upon the the actions of the Patricio Corps, the hundreds of Irishbottom, immigrant layers of white wage-labor is that they soldiers in the U.S. Army who broke with the Empire dur-were part of immigrant, national-minority communities ing the Mexican-Amerikan War. Revolted at the barbarichere in the "New World". And these communities had invasion of 1848, they defected to the Mexican forces andtheir own culture, class structure and leadership. The Ger- took up arms against the U.S. Empire. In contrast, theman and Scandinavian immigrant communities were on struggle of the Irish-Amerikan community here for equali-the whole fairly prosperous, with a very high degree of 48 ty with other settlers was nothing more nor less than a push
  • 50. to join the oppressor nation, to enlist in the ranks of the loyal, privileged settlers. As the tremendous pressures of Empire. The difference is the difference between revolu- industrial capitalism started molding them into a new pro- tion and reaction. letariat-which we will examine in the next section-a fun- damental crisis was posed for Amerikan capitalism. The victorious U.S. Army inflicted barbaric punishment on any of these European soldiers who had The experience of early trade-unionism in the U.S. defected that they later caught. Some eighty Irish and is extremely valuable to us. It showed that: other Europeans were among the Mexican Army prisoners 1. Trade-unionism cannot bridge the gap between op- after the battle of Churubusco in 1847. Of these eighty the pressor and oppressed nations. victorious settlers branded fifteen with the letter "D," fif- 2. Moreover, that even among Euro-Amerikans, teen were lashed two hundred times each with whips, and unionism, political movements, etc.inescapably have a na- then forced to dig graves for the rest who were shot tional character. down.(66) 3. The organization of nationally oppressed workers into or allied with the trade-unions of the settler masses was on- The U.S. Empire, then, at the dawn of in- ly an effort to control and divide us. dustrialization, had two broad strata of white wage-labor: 4. That the unity of the settler masses is counter- one a true Euro-Amerikan labor aristocracy, totally petit- revolutionary, in that the various privileged strata of the bourgeois in life and outlook; the second, an "ethnic," white masses can only find common ground in petty self- nationally-differentiated stratum of immigrant Europeans interest and loyalty to settler hegemony. and poor whites of the defeated Confederacy, who were 5. That whatever "advanced" or democratic-minded both heavily exploited and, yet given the bare privileges of Euro-Amerikans do exist need to be dis-united from their settlerism to keep them loyal to the U.S. Empire. Once fellow settlers, rather than welded back into the whole nationally-oppressed labor was under the bourgeoisies lock-stepping, reactionary white mass by the usual reform brutal thumb, then white wage-labor could be put into its movements. "proper" place. In the wake of the great strike wave of 6. That trade-unionism became a perverted mockery of its 1873-77, the white unions were severely repressed and original self in a settler society, where even wage-labor broken up. The mass organizations of white iabor, once so became corrupted. The class antagonism latent within the sure of their strength when they were dining at the White settler masses had, in times of crisis, been submerged in the House and attacking Afrikan, Mexicano and Chinese increased oppression of the colonial peoples. Capitalistic labor at the bidding of the capitalists, now found settlerism drastically reworked the very face of the land. A themselves powerless when faced with the blacklist, the continent that was at the dawn of the 19th Century lock-out, and the deadly gunfire of company police and primarily populated by the various oppressed nations was the National Guard. at the end of the 19th Century the semi-sterilized home of a "New Europe". And in this cruel, bloody transformation, In taking over the tasks of the colonial proletariat, history forced everyone to choose, and thus to c o m ~ l e t e1 the new white laboring masses found themselves increas- the realization of their class identity. Class is not like a ingly subject to the violent repression and exploitation that brass badge or a diploma, which can be carried from Old capitalism inexorably subjects the proletariat to. Thus, the Europe and hung on a wall, dusty but still intact. Class industrial age developed here with this crucial contradic- consciousness lives in the revolutionary struggles of the op- tion: The U.S. Empire was founded as a European settler pressed-or dies in the poisonous little privileges so eagerly society of privileged conquerers, and the new white masses sought by the settler servants of the bourgeoisie. could not be both savagely exploited proletarians and also
  • 51. On the other hand, there is the tendency of thebourgeois and the opportunists to convert a handful ofvery rich and privileged nations into "eternal" parasites onthe body of mankind, to "rest on the laurels" of the ex-ploitation of Negroes, Indians, etc., keeping them in sub-jection with the aid of the excellent weapons of extermina-tion provided by modern militarism. On the other hand,there is the tendency of the masses, who are more oppress-ed than before and who bear the whole brunt of imperialistwars, to cast off this yoke and to overthrow thebourgeoisie. It is in the struggle between thrse two tenden-cies that the history of the labor movement will now in-evitably develop. V.I. Lenin El Grito de Lares, 23 de septiembre 1868 50
  • 52. V. COLONIALISM, IMPERIALISM & LABOR ARISTOCRACY 1. The "Bourgeois Proletariat" Communism has always had to fight against not their alleged "right" to exploit the colonial worldonly the bourgeoisie, but also the very real opposition of "...There is no workers party here...and the workers gailysome strata and masses of workers who have become cor- share the feast of Englands monopoly of the world marketrupted and reactionary. Thus, the hostility revolutionary and the colonies."trends face here is neither new nor a puzzle for communisttheory. In England, South Afrika, etc. the communist In 1858 Engels sarcastically described the tamedforces have had to recognize this opposition. Marx, British workers in the bluntest terms: "The English pro-Engels, Lenin - all emphasized how important this ques- letariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois, sotion was. It is an essential part of the world fight against that this most bourgeois of all nations is apparently aimingimperialism. ultimately at the possession of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat alongside the bourgeoisie. For a na- To begin with, our criticism of the historically tion which exploits the whole world this is to a certain ex-negative role of the settler masses here is no more pointed tent justifiable." (2) Britain was the Imperial Rome, thethan Friedrich Engels statements a century ago about the Amerikan Empire of that day - a nation which "feasted"English working class. Communists have never believed on the exploitation of colonies around the entire world.that the working class was some "holy," religious object Engels, as a communist, didnt make lame excuses for thethat must be enshrined away from scientific investigation. corrupted English workers, but exposed them. He held theLenin on his own part several times purposefully reminded English workers accountable to the world proletariat forhis European comrades that the original "proletariat" - their sorry political choices.of Imperial Rome - did not work, but was supported bythe surpluses of slave labor. As the lowest free class of This was not a matter of English factory handsRoman citizens, their only duty was to father new soldiers suddenly wearing gold jewelry and "designer jeans." Thefor the Roman Legions (which is why they were called change was historic: it raised the English masses past the"proletarii" in Latin) while they lived off government sub- bare floor of survival. As we discussed earlier, in the earlysidies. (1) The political consciousness and material class stages of capitalist development the bourgeoisie exploitedrole of the masses of any given nation cannot be assumed the English workers to the point of early death. Workers,from historic generalizations, but must be discovered by women and children in particular, were overworked andsocial investigation and scientific analysis. starved as disposable and easily replaced objects. The phenomenon of the various capitalist ruling The change didnt mean that English workers as aclasses buying off and politically corrupting some portions whole werent exploited - just that their exploitation wasof their own wage-laboring populations begins with the lightened in the golden flow of colonial profits. In 1840 theEuropean colonial systems. The British workers of the wages of an "ordinary laborer" in England were 8 shillings1830s and 1840s were becoming increasingly class- per week, while it cost some 14 shillings per week to live onconscious. An early, pre-Marxian type of socialism a minimal but stable basis. By 1875 both the common(Owenism) had caused much interest, and the massive wages and the cost of living were up to 15 shillings perChartist movement rallied millions of workers to demand week - an event that historian Arnold Toynbee points todemocratic rights. Alarmed at this - and warned by the as the first time in British capitalist history that unskilledarmed, democratic insurrections in 1848 in both France laborers earned enough to survive. At the same timeand Germany - the British capitalists grudgingly decided reform legislation sponsored by the big factory ownersthat the immense profits of their colonial empire allowed placed restrictions on the use of child labor. The length ofthem to ease up slightly on the exploitation at home. the working day declined. At both Jarron Shipyards and the New Castle Chemical Works, for example, workers This tossing of a few crumbs to the British workers succeeded in lowering the work week from 61 to 54 hours.resulted in a growing ideological stagnation, conservatism (3)and national chauvinism. Engels was outraged anddisgusted, particularly at the corrupt spectacle of the In 1892 Engels explained that the prolonged con-British workers slavishly echoing their bourgeoisie as to 51 servatism of the English workers was due to this generaliz- /
  • 53. ed bribery: "The truth is this: during the period of pire. Under the leadership of the aristocracy of labor -Ellglands industrial monopoly, the English working class who were looked up to as the most "successful," best-have, to a certain exfenr, shared in the benefits of monopo- organized and most unionized layer of the class - thesely. These benefits were verjl unequally parcelled our ordinary laborers increasingly indentified their own pro-amongst thern; the privileged r71inority pocketed most, but gress with the progress of "their" British empire.even the great mass had, at leasr, a temporary share nowand then. And rhar is the reason w7.v, since rhe dying out Engels felt in the late 1890s that this might be onlyof Owenism, there has been no socialism in England." (4) a temporary phenomenon - and one limited to England by and large. He thought that with the growth of rival in- Engels divides the workers into two groups - the dustrial empires and the sharpening of European capitalist"privileged minority" of the labor aristocrats, and the competition, the super-profits that supported this bribery"great mass" of common wage-labor. While the labor might dwindle. Exactly the reverse happened, however.aristocracy engages in wage-labor and grows up out of the With the coming of imperialism and the tremendous rise ofworking class, it is n o longer exploited. Rather, the the most modern colonial empires, the trend of socialbourgeoisie shares with this privileged layer a part of the bribery of the working classes spread from England tosuperprofits from colonial exploitation. Typically, these France, Germany, Belgium, etc. Between the fall of thelabor aristocrats are trade-union officials, certain white- Paris Commune of 1871 and the eve of World War I incollar employees, foremen, the well-paid members of the 1913, real per capita income in both England and Germanyrestrictive craft unions, etc.. They often supervise or de- doubled. (5)pend upon the labor of ordinary workers, while they In 1907 Lenin wrote:themselves d o little or no toil. "The class of those who own nothing but d o not labor either is incapable of overthrowing the exploiters. This stratum can also include groupings of Only the proletarian class, which maintains the whole ofworkers who are employed directly by the state, who work society, has the power to bring about a successful socialin the colonial system, in war industries, etc. and who revolution. And now we see that, as the result of a far-therefore have a special loyalty to the bourgeoisie. The reaching colonial policy, the European proletariat hasaristocracy of labor have comfortable lives, and in general partly reached a situation where it is nor its work thatassociate with the petit-bourgeoisie. maintains the whole of society but that of the people of the ~0lonies who are practically enslaved. The British bourgeoisie, for example, derlves more profit from the The "great mass"of English workers were, in con- many milllions of the population of India and other col-trast, certainly exploited. They lived lives of hardship. Yet, onies than from the British workers. In certain countriesthey had in their own lifetimes seen an uneven but upward these circumstances create the material and economic basistrend in their wages and working conditions - a rise for infecting the proletariat of one country or another withdependent upon the increasing profits of the overseas em- colonial chauvinism." (6)
  • 54. Imperialism allowed the European workers - INDIAN LAND WITHIN UNITED STATESonce much more exploited and revolutionary than their I n 1492,541 Indian nationsAmerikan cousins - t o catch up in privileges and -approximately 10 million people -degeneracy. Lenin said that imperialism gives the lived in what is now the United Srntes.bourgeoisie enough "super-profits" to "devote apart (and The U . S . government ratified 371 treaties withno1 a small one at that!) to bribe their own workers, to these Indian nations between 1776 and 1871. Chief Red Cloud o the Lnkota said: fcreate something like an alliance.. .her ween the workers of "They made many promises to us,a given narion and their capiralisrs.. . " but they only kept one: they promised to take our land, and they took it." The pro-imperialist labor aristocracy - which in The modern American Indian Movement1914 Lenin estimated at roughly 20% of the German work- has sought to restore the Indian land baseing class - were the leaders of the German trade-unions, by demanding that the United States honorthe "socialist" party, etc..Using their state-sanctioned its treaty obligations with the Indian nations.positions they led millions of workers in the more pro-letarian strata. This labor aristocracy succeeded insabotaging the revolutionary movements in WesternEurope, and disrupting unity between the anti-colonialrevolutions and the workers of the oppressed nations. We can sum up key lessons in this theoreticaldevelopment of analyzing social bribery in the imperialistoppressor nations:1. Lenins insistence on a total break with those"socialists" who were unwilling to support the anti-colonial revolutions in deeds was proven correct. Theshallow argument that "racist" European workers wouldbe brought t o revolutionary enlightenment by union activi-ty and reformist economic movements (the samearguments preached here in Amerika) was proven to betotally untrue. While in every mass there are those who havebackward or chauvinistic prejudices in the yet-to-be-cleaned corners of their minds, Lenin insisted that this wasnot the primary problem. Under imperialism "racist"politics were an outward manifestation of a class"alliance" with the imperialists.2. This labor aristocracy of bribed workers is not neutral,but is fighting for its capitalist masters. Therefore, theymust be combatted, just like the army or police (who arethe military base of the imperialists, while the laboraristocracy is its social base). Lenin told his comrades:"No preparation of the proletariat for the overthrow ofthe bourgeoisie is possible, even in the preliminary sense,unless an immediate, systematic, extensive and open strug-gle is waged against this stratum.. ."3. When the new communist movement was formed, it wasgreatly outnumbered and out-organized everywhere inEurope outside of Russia. Lenins answer was concise: "real masses" of imperialism. Near the end of his life,Since the bribed, pro-imperialist masses were primarily the noting the unexpected setbacks in revolutionizing Westernupper, privileged layers of workers, the communists in Europe, Lenin remarked that in any case of the future oforder to combat them had to "go down lower and deeper, the world would be decided by the fact that the oppressedto the real masses." And again he noted: "...the suffer- nations constitute the overwhelming majority of theings, miseries, and revolutionary sentiments of the ruined worlds population.and impoverished masses"; he pointed to "...particularlythose who are least organized and educated, who are most 4. The analysis of the labor aristocracy under imperialismoppressed and least amenable to organization." (We might helps deepen the understanding of our own varied strug-say that he shared the same perception that Malcolm X had gles, and the evolution of the U.S. Empire in general.of where t o find a base for revolution.) As the U.S. Empire jumped into the imperialist On the global scale Lenins strategy of "go down "scramble" for world domination at the turn of the 20thlower and deeper, to the real masses" meant that the com- century, its Euro-Amerikan workers were the mostmunist movement became truly internationalist, organiz- privileged in the entire capitalist world. In 1900 labor ining the masses of Asia, Latin Amerika and Afrika - the 53 Amerika was sharply divided into three very separate and I
  • 55. narionally-disrincf strata (literally, of different nations - bourgeoisie for every little privilege they got. The settlerEuro-Amerikan, European and oppressed nations). masses of the South, in the tradition of the slave patrols, the Confederate Army and the K.K.K., were still in the On top was the labor aristocracy of Euro- main the loyal garrison over occupied New Afrika.Amerikan workers, who dominated the better-paid crafttrades and their restrictive A.F.L. unions. This "privilegedstratum" of "native-born" citizens comprised roughly Even though the Empire tried to use industry to25% of the industrial workforce, and edged into the ranks build up a settler occupation population, Afrikan laborof their petit-bourgeois neighbors, (foremen, small was necessary as the super-exploited base of Southern in-tradesmen, and so on). dustry. In lumber they made up the bottom half of the Below them was a new proletarian stratum just im- workforce. In the coal mines of Alabama they were 54%ported from Eastern and Southern Europe, who comprised of the miners at the turn of the century. In the Southern50-75% of the Northern industrial workforce. They were iron and steel mills we find that in 1907 Afrikans stillpoorly paid and heavily exploited, the main factory pro- made up 40% of the workers. (8)duction force of the North. Largely unorganized, theywere systematically barred from the craft unions and the In the Mexicano Southwest the same basic founda-better-paying factory jobs. This stratum was composed of tion of oppressed nation labor was present (together withnon-citizens, was only a generation old here, and had no Asian labor). Native Amerikan workers were present throughout the region - on cattle and sheep ranches, inprevious existence. The very bottom, upholding everything the fields and in the mines. Navaho miners, for example,else, were the colonial proletariats of Afrikan, Mexicano, played an active role in building the Western Federation ofIndian and Asian workers. Miners local at the great Telluride, Colorado mines. Asian labor played an equally important role. Although much of Even as modern industrialization and the Nor- the Chinese national minority had been driven by repres-thern factory boom were in full swing, it was still true that sion out of the U.S. or to retreat into the "ghetto"the "super-profits" wrung from the oppressed nations economy of laundries, food service, etc., new waves of(plus those wrung from imported labor from Asia) were Asian workers were being recruited from Japan, thethe foundations of the Empire. Everything "American" Philippines and Korea. By the many thousands they toiledwas built up on top of their continuing oppression. on the railroads, the urban "service" economy, in can- In the Afrikan South cotton was still "king." The neries, and above all, in the fields.Afrikan laborers (whether hired, renter or share-cropper)who produced the all-important cotton still supported the Much less industrialized and economicallyentire settler economy. Between 1870-1910 cotton produc- developed than the North (or even the South), thetion had gone up by three times, while domestic cotton Southwestern economy rested on agriculture and mining.usage had gone up by 600% - and "king cotton" still was The migrant farm laborers of the "factories in the fields"the leading U.S. export product (25% of all exports). The were not marginal, but the economic mainstay of thenumber of Afrikan men in agriculture in agriculture had Southwest. In the key agricultural area of Southernincreased, and in 1914 some 50% of all Afrikan workers California the majority of farm labor was Chicano-labored in the fields. Afrikan women not only worked in Mexicano.the fields, as did their children, but they involuntarily con- Because the Southwest was much more recentlytinued cleaning, cooking, washing clothes and child-raising conquered than other regions of the continental Empire,for the upper half of Euro-Amerikan families. Over 40% the labor situation was far less developed in a modern in-of the entire Afrikan workforce was still bound into dustrial sense. Armed Chicano-Mexicano resistancedomestic labor - maintaining for the Southern settlers organizations against settler rule continued well into thetheir conquest lifestyle. 1920s. The Euro-American settlers were in general wary of concentrating masses of Mexicanos, and long into the 20th The growing Euro-Amerikan masses in the South century the main interest of many "Anglo" settlers washad benefited from the fact that Afrikans had been the continuing, terroristic seizure of the remaining landsgradually forced out of industry and the skilled trades. and water-rights of the Chicano-Mexicano and Indian na-While roughly 80% of all skilled workers in the South hadbeen Afrikan in 1868, by 1900 those proportions had been tions. Thus, the settler economy in the Southwest even inreversed. In the more localized construction trades the imperialist era was still concentrated in the conquestAfrikans still hung on (comprising 15% of carpenters and and looting stage. Here the conquered Chicano-Mexicanos36% of masons), but in the desirable mechanical trades, were necessary to the settlers as ranch labor and domesticassociated now with rising industry, they were excluded. labor (just as in the rural South with Afrikans).Only 2% of machinists in the South, for example, wereAfrikan. On the Southern railroads, where Afrikans once But at the turn of the century the development ofpredominated - and as late as 1920 still accounted for railroad systems, of large-scale commerical agriculture,20-25% of all firemen, brakemen and switchman - the and of extensive mining were also creating the imperialist1911 Atlanta Agreement between Southern railroads and need for increased masses of cheap laborers. Thousandsthe A.F.L. Railroad Brotherhoods called for the gradual and then tens of thousand of Mexicano workers werereplacement of all Afrikans by settlers. (7) brought Northward to fill this need. By 1909 on both the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroads some 98% of the crews working west of Albuquerque were Chicano- Even the jobs in the new textile mills were reserved Mexicano. While varying mixtures of Mexicano, Indian,for "poor whites" forced off the land. So that settler labor and immigrant European nationalities were used in thein the South - however exploited - was grateful to the 54 mines. Mexicano labor played the largest role. In mines
  • 56. closest to the artificial "border," Mexicano workers were common to earn one-half of "white mans pay."often a large majority - such as in the major coppercenter of Clifton, Arizona. Once driven out of much of the Onc step up from this was the Nut lhern industrialWest by settler terrorism, Mexicanos were now being proletariat from Eastern and Southern Europe - newlybrought back to their own national land as "immigrant" created, heavily exploited, but whoce ultimate relationshipor "contract" labor. Mexicanos became 60% of the to the imperialists was still uncertain. The "Hunky" andminers, 80% of the agricultural workers, and 90010 of the "Dago" c o n ~ ~ n o n l y earned $6-10 per week in the earlyrailroad laborers in the West. (9) Thus, in the West the im- 19001s, for six and ceven day work weeks.portance of colonial labor was rapidly growing. One giant level up from there was the "privileged In terms of income and lifestyle it is easy to see the stratum" of Euro-Amerikan labor aristocrats (skilledgulf between the labor of the oppressor nation of settlers, workers, foremen, office staff). They usually earnedimported European national minorities, and the colonial $15-20 per week, with the majority being homeowners andlabor of the oppressed nations and minorities. The Afrikan voting citizens of the Empire.tenant family usually lived in debt slavery, laboring as afamily for little more than some food, a few clothes and This top stratum dominated the trade unions anduse of a shack. Those Chicano-Mexicano families trapped the socialist organizations, consistently supporting thein the Texas peonage system earned just as little. U.S. Empire. Bribed and helped to be the imperialist leadership of all white workers as a whole, they sabotaged One Texas rancher testified in 1914: "I was paying any militant outbreaks in the industrial ranks. Always theyPancho and his wl?ole family 60 cents a day.. . Tliere were prevented any internationalist unity between white workersno hours; he worked from sun to sun. " As late as the 1920s and the colonial proletariats. It is with this backgroundAfrikan farm laborers in the South earned 75 cents per day (and being able to trace the continuing role of socialwhen employed. For both Afrikans and Mexicanos at the bribery) that we can begin to examine settler mass politicsturn of the century, even in industry and mining it was in the imperialist era.
  • 57. 2. Settler Opposition To Imperialism There have always been significant contradictions positions, while the U.S. troops held only a token 600among the settlers, and even in the earliest stages of im- yards of front line. (11) More and more U.S. troops arriv-perialism we have seen conflicts between the monopoly ed, even after the hopeless Spanish surrendered on Dec.capitalists and their settler base. While the U.S. was an em- 10, 1898. Finally, on Feb. 4, 1899, the reinforced U.S.pire just as soon as it started to breathe, the "Spanish- "allies" moved to wipe out the Filipino forces, even order-American War" of 1898 marked this early settler empires ing that no truces or ceasefires be accepted.transition into Imperialism. The pivotal nature of this im-perialist war was well-understood by the settler citizenry of The Filipino people defended their nation with thethat earlier day, and it caused not only a great public most heroic and stubborn resistence. It took over threedebate but an angry split in the settler ranks. The well years of the most bitter combat before the guerrillaorganized mass movement of settlers opposed to im- patriots were overcome. And defeated then only because:perialism then foreshadowed the Anti-Vietnam War move- 1. The bourgeois nationalist Filipino leaders hadment of our times. These are important contradictions. treacherously purged the armed movement of the most ad- vanced proletarian elements, while they themselves In the brief 1898 war, the U.S. easily removed vacillated in trying to reach an accommodation with thePuerto-Rico, the Philippines, and Cuba from the feeble U.S. invaders. 2. Over half of the total U.S. Army (1.2hands of the aging Spanish Empire. This armed robbery million troops) were eventually poured into the Philip-was so effortless because the Spanish bourgeoisie had pines, with weapons and organization far advanced overalready lost most of their former power over these col- the former Spanish foes. 3. The Filipino people were un-onies. due to both their own weakness and to the rise of na- prepared for the brutal effectiveness of the genocidaltional liberation movements. On Sept. 23, 1868, at Lares, strategy used by the U.S. invaders.Puerto Rican patriots proclaimed the first Republic ofPuerto Rico amidst an armed uprising against the Spanishoccupiers. Although crushed, the "cry of Lares" marks THE NAVY - 1 * aithe start of an unbroken history of patriotic warfare by thePuerto Rican people. NEEDS YOU! DONT READ i) I L Increasingly, the Puerto Rican forces controllednot only the mountains, but also the rural areas right up tothe towns of the isolated Spanish garrisons. Finally, in1897, the desperate Spanish empire agreed in negotiationswith Puerto Rican representatives to a Charter ofAutonomy. This recognized the power of the Puerto Ricannation to set up its own currency, fix tariffs on imports,negotiate trade agreements with other nations, and veto ifthey wished any Spanish diplomatic treaties applying toPuerto Rico. The end of Spanish rule was evident. (10)Similar concessions were won by Cuban and Filipinorebels. The U.S. bourgeoisie had to move quickly if it wasto annex these colonies. In addition to the possibility thatBritain or some other great power would make a grab forthem, there was the certainty that the oppresed nations ofthe Spanish Empire were raising the beacon of National In-dependence and anti-colonialism - as had Haiti a centurybefore. So that on April 25, 1898, the U.S. declared war onSpain while moving to invade Puerto Rico, Cuba, and thePhilippines. It was just in the nick of time as far as U.S.Imperialism was concerned. In the Philippines the liberation struggle hadalreadv reached the formation of a new Filipino Govern-ment.-s p urred on by the Katipunan, the secret armedorganization of workers and peasants, the revolutionaries The last became an international scandal when thehad created a large peoples army. By the time the first full details became known, shaking even some settlers.U.S. troops landed on June 30, 1898, the Filipino revolu- Unable to cope with the guerrilla tactics of the Filipinotionaries had already swept the Spanish Colonial Army revolutionaries, the U.S. Army decided to starve them intoand administration out of virtually the whole of the Philip- disintegration by destroying their social base - thepines, besieging the last isolated holdouts in the old walled Filipino population. The same genocidal "Populationcity of Manila. Under the pretext of being "allies" of the Regroupment" strategy (as the C.I.A. calls it today) thatFilipinos, U.S. troops landed and joined the siege of the settlers first used against the Indian nations was revived inSpanish remnants. It is a fact that in the siege the Filipino the Philippines - and would be used again in Vietnam inpatriots held 15% miles of the lines facing the Spanish our times. The general outlines of U.S. strategy called for
  • 58. destroying all organized social and economic life in guer- The atrocities committed by U.S. troops in therilla areas. Villages would be burned down, crops and Philippines were denounced on moral and humanitarianlivestock destroyed, diseases spread, the People killed or grounds. But the League was very careful to point out thatforced to evacuate as refugees. Large areas were declared their support for Philippine independence did not meanas "free fire zones" in which all Filipinos were t o be killed that they believed in any equality of colonial peoples withon sight. (12) Europeans. Congressman Carl Schurz, the German im- migrant liberal who played such a prominent role in sup- Of course, even Euro-Amerikan settlers needed porting Reconstruction during the 1860s and 1870s, was asome indoctrination in order to daily carry out such leading spokesman for the League.crimes. Indiscriminate killing, looting and torture werepublicly encouraged by the U.S. Army command. In his speech "The Policy of Imperialism," SchurzAmerikan reporters were invited to witness the daily tor- began by defining Filipinos as "[he strongest and forerrlostture sessions, in which Filpinos would be subjected to the tribe"of the region. He then said: "We need not praise the"watercure" (having salt water pumped into their Filipinos as in every way the equals of the embattledstomachs under pressure). The Boston Herald said: farmers of Lexington and Concord...but there is an abun- dance of testimony, some of it unwilling, that the Filipinos "Our troops in the Philippines ...look upon all are fully the equals, and even the superiors, of the CubansFilipinos as of one race and condition, and being dark and Mexicans." The patronizing arrogance of even thesemen, they are therefore niggers, and entitled to all the settlers showed that it was possible for them to be againstcontempt and harsh treatment administered by white the new imperialism - and also be white supremacists andoverlords t o the most inferior races." (13) supporters of capitalism. That this was an impossible con- tradiction didnt occur to them. U.S. Imperialism took the Philippines by literally The class content of the League becomes very clearturning whole regions into smoldering graveyards. U.S. as Schurz continued: "Now, it may well be that the annex-Brig. Gen. James Bell, upon returning to the U.S. in 1901, ation of the Philippines would pay a speculative syndicatesaid that his men had killed one out of every six Filipinoson the main island of Luzon (that would be some one of wealthy capitalists, without at the same time paying themillion deaths just there). It is certain that at least 200,000 American people at large. As to the people of our race,Filipinos died in the genocidal conquest. In Samar pro- tropical countries like the Philippines may be fields of pro-vince, where the patriotic resistance to the U.S. invaders fit for rich men who can hire others to work for them, butwas extremely persistent, U.S. Gen. Jacob Smith ordered not for those who have to work for themselves." (17) Inhis troops t o shoot every Filipino man, woman or child other words, the League was articulating the interests ofthey could find "over ten" (years of age). (14) the liberal petit-bourgeoisie. The settler anti-imperialist movement that arose in Settler labor was appealed t o on an explicitlyopposition to these conquests focussed on the Philippines. white-supremacist basis. Congressman George S.It was not a fringe protest by a few radicals. Many of its Boutwell, the President of the League, reminded the whiteleaders were men of wealth and standing, many of them workers that they had just finished robbing and driving outold veterans of the abolitionist cause. The author Mark Chinese workers - a campaign that he had supported.Twain, Gov. Pingree of Michigan, former U.S. Secretary Now, he told white workers, a new menace had arisen ofof Agriculture J. Sterling Morton, and steel magnate An- "half-civilized races" from the Philippines. If their landdrew Carnegie were but a few of the "notable" settlers in- were to be annexed to the U.S. Empire, then in the nearvolved. future these Asians would be brought to Amerika by the From its center in New England, the movement capitalists. He said:spread coast-to-coast, and then organized itself into theAmerican Anti-Imperialist League. The League had over "Does anyone believe, that with safety, we can40,000 members in some forty chapters, with hundreds of receive into this Union the lnillions of Asia, who have nothousands of settler supporters. (15) It was also closely tied bonds of relationship with us...The question before thist o the reform wing of the Democratic Party, and to the country shall be this: Should the laboring and producingPresidential election campaign of William Jennings Bryan. classes of America be subjected to a direct and never-Just as Senator George McGovern would run against ending conlperition with the underpaid and half-cladPresident Nixon on an anti-war platform in 1972, Bryan laborers of Asia.. . ?" (18)was running against the entrenched Republicans with aplatform calling for an end to Asian conquests. The politics of the League did not support national liberation; they .were not anti-capitalist or even anti-racist. The politics of the League were well developed,with an explicit class orientation. The League opposed im- The heart of their movement was the appeal of a false past,perialism in the first place because they correctly saw that of the picture of Amerika as an insular European society,it represented the increased power of monopoly capital. of an economy based on settlers production,in small farmsWhen they raised their slogan - "Republic or Empire" - and workshops. They feared the new imperialist world ofthey meant by it that Amerika should be a republic of free giant industrial trusts and banks, of international produc-European settlers rather than a world empire, whose mixed tion where the labor of oppressed workers in far-flung col-populations would be subjects of the monopoly capitalists. onies would give monopoly capital a financial whip overThey feared that the economic power gained from ex- the common settler craftsman and farmer. They believed,ploiting these new colonies, plus the permanent armed incorrectly, that the settler economy could be sustainedforce needed to hold them, would be used as home to without continuing Amerikas history of conquest and an-smother the "democracy" of the settler masses. (16) 57 nexation.*
  • 59. His political thought was that whereas the old an- nexations of settlerism provided land and resources for the invading Europeans to occupy and become the dominant population (with the aid of genocide, of course), these new annexations in Asia and the Caribbean brought only new millions of colonial subjects into the U.S. Empire - but in distant colonies that the Euro-Amerikan masses would never populate. Schurz continues: "The schetlie of Americanizing our new possessions it7 that serise is therefore absolutely hopeless. The irnrwutable ,forces of nature are against it. Whatever we rpiay d o for their ir??prover??ent, people of the the Spanish Antilles will rernain.. . Spanish Creoles and Negroes, m?d the people of the Pllilippines, Filipinos, Malays, Tagals, arid so on.. .a hopelessly heterogeneous element - in sorne respects rnore hopeless even than the colored people now living among us." (19) These settlers were opposing imperialism from the ideological standpoint of petit-bourgeois settlerism. It is significant that the League refused to take a stand on the Boer War going on in South Afrika, or on the dispatch of U.S. Marines to join other Western Powers in crushing the We can see the very sharply defined case the "Boxer Rebellion" in China. And, obviously, the LeagueLeague made for counterposing the interests of settlers vs. had no objection to colonialism "at home," in the annex-their bourgeoisie. In his convocation address at the Univer- ed and settled territories of Mexico, the Indian nations,sity of Chicago in 1899, Carl Schurz takes up the issue of and New Afrika.explaining why the old conquests of the U.S. Empire were By 1901 the American Anti-Imperialist Leagueso "good," while the new conquests were "bad": was a spent force. Bryan and the Democrats had lost the 1900 elections by a large margin. More decisively, the "Has riot the cat*eer.o,f the Republic alrriost .from Filipino, Puerto Rican and Cuban patriots had beenits very beginning beer1 orie qf territorial expunsiori? Hus it defeated, and the issue of the U.S. expanding from a con-not acquired Cal!fornia, Florida, Texas, the vast countries tinental North Amerikan empire into a world empire hadthat came to us through the Mexican War, and Alaska, been decided.and has it not digested then1 well? If the Republic coulddigest the old, why not the new?" There were other waves of petit-bourgeois settler Schurz then gives five reasons why the old annexa- reaction against the domination of monopoly capital. Thetions worked out so well for the settlers: 1. They were all most significant was the Populist Party, which broke theon this continent 2. They were not in the tropics, but in "color line" in the South uniting "poor whites" andtemperate climates "where democratic institutions thrive, Afrikans in voting for new government programs ofand where our people could migrate in mass" 3. They were reform. With heavy strength in the rural counties, thevirtually "without any population" 4. Since only Euro- Populist Party got almost one-third of the vote in eightAmerikans would populate them, they could become ter- Northern states west of the Mississippi in 1892; in theritories and then states and become fully integrated into South its strength was less but still important. (20) Led byWhite Amerika. 5. No permanent increase in the military the demagogue Tom Watson of Georgia, the Populistswas needed to defend them from "probable foreign proposed that Afrikan sharecroppers should unite withattack." small white farmers in forcing Big Business to give them both a better economic deal. It was the "bread and butter" coalition of two exploited forces from different nations. But frustrated at their inability to reach their goals through this electoral coalition, the Populist leadership*Lenin commented: "In the United States, the imperialist sharply shifted course after 1902. Watson and his cronieswar waged against Spain in 1898 stirred up the opposition had discovered that the tactical position of the "poorof the anti-imperialists, the last of the Mohicans of whites" in the bourgeois elections might be improved ifbourgeois democracy, who declared this war to be they drove out Afrikan voters (a conclusion the im-criminal ... But while all this criticism shrank from perialists were glad to encourage). C. Vann Woodwardrecognizing the inseverable bond between imperialism and comments: "With the Negro vote eliminated Watson andthe trusts, and, therefore, between imperialism and the the Populists stood in much the same relation toward thefoundations of capitalism, while it shrank from joining two factions of the Democratic Party as the Negro had oc-forces engendered by large scale capitalism and its develop- cupied towards the Populists and the Democrats: they heldment - it remained a pious wish." (Itnperialisrn, the the balance of power." (21)Highest Stage of Capitalisni. Peking, 1970. p. 134) Watson himself, still the captivating spokesman of 58 the "cracker" and "redneck," therefore moved rapidly to
  • 60. the right. He encouraged new waves of terrorism against Just as in the anti-imperialism of the League, theAfrikans: "Lynch law is a good sign: it shows that a sense settler-Afrikan coalition of the Populists had nothing to doof justice lives among the people." In 1904 Watson started with any real unity of settlers with the oppressed. Rather,campaigning for disenfranchisement of the one million these poor but still-privileged settlers were tacticallyAfrikan voters in Georgia. With flamboyant rhetoric, maneuvering to improve their position relative to theWatson supported the 1905 Russian Revolution at the monopoly capitalists - and recruiting Afrikans to givesame time he swore that the key to a movement of "poor their settler party a boost. Historian Michael Rogin pointswhites" in Amerika was disenfranchising Afrikans: "The out: "Populism, however, was a movement of the farm-white people dare not revolt so long as they can be in- owning proprietors, not property-less workers. It attemp-timidated by the fear of the Negro vote. " (22) ted to reassert local community control against the economic and political centralization of corporate Not surprisingly, these stands only increased Wat- capital ..." (23)sons popularity as a leader of the "poor whites." In 1920,shortly before his death, he was finally elected to the U.S.Senate. At his death Eugene Debs, leading figure of the These two movements did not cross the lines ofEuro-Amerikan Socialist Party, hailed Watson as a true battle between the empire and the oppressed nations; theirhero of the white workers: limitation - and their special importance - is that they represented the eruption of class contradictions within the "He was a great man, a heroic soul who fought the camp of the enemy. The Vietnam War controversy of thepower of evil his whole life long in the interests of the com- 60s, the strange Watergate scandal that forced Presidentmon people, and they loved him and honored him." Nixon out of power, are both evidence that the effects of these contradictions are considerable. And will be in the By that time, naturally, Watson had become a future. If we become confused about their basic nature, wewealthy plantation owner and publisher. The Populists damage our strategic self-reliance. If, like the Vietnamesehad faded away as a party, to become just another comrades, we can make these contradictions serve us, we"pressure group" lobby within the Democratic Party. will have seized an essential element of revolution. 3. The U.S. And South Afrikan Settlerism The same contradictions between imperialism and War definitely reflected the existing strains between theits settler garrison troops appeared elsewhere, most strong- monopoly capitalists and their own settler base. The in Afrika. At the same time as the American Anti- bourgeoisie and its political agents were strongly pro-Imperialist League was denouncing the annexation of the British. Allied to the British mining interests, they sup-former Spanish colonies, the Boer settlers in South Afrika ported British imperialism as the power that would openwere being invaded by the forces of the British Empire. up Southern Afrika for imperialist exploitation in general.The 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War became a political issue And, like the British, they saw the backward Southamong settlers in Amerika. African Republic of the original Boer settlers from Holland as an obstacle to profits. The Boer society stressed There is a historic relationship between Euro- settler family agriculture, a n d opposed any proletarianiza-Amerikan settlers and the colonization of South Afrika. tion of the Afrikan peoples - while it was only with mass, enforced integration of Afrikan labor into the corporateAmerikan mercenaries, engineers and technologies played economy that the Western imperialists could fully exploita major role in the European exploitation of South Afrika South Afrika. The British imperialists had to take state- and, obviously, still do. The diamond and gold mines power out of the hands of those narrow, theocratic Boerswhich were the economic center of British South Afrikan and bring all of South Afrika into their colonial empire.colonization were virtually run by the experienced Euro-Amerikans from ~alifornia and colorado. Euro-Amerikans were heavily involved in the 1895 Gardner Williams, the U.S. consular agent in Jameson Raid, the "private" British military expedition ofKimberley, was the manager of the DeBeers Diamond imperialist Cecil Rhodes. In the aftermath of the Raidsmines. John Hays Hammond was the chief engineer for well-publicized failure at overthrowing the Boer Govern-the British South Africa Corporation. By 1896 one-half of ment, the facts of Euro-Amerikan involvement came out.all the mines were run by Euro-Amerikan mine experts. The weapons used had been smuggled into South AfrikaMuch of the equipment, as well, came from the U.S. Em- by Euro-Amerikan mining executives, seven of whom werepire. One U.S. company alone - Fraser & Chalmers - arrested by the Boers.supplied 40% of the machinery at the Rand gold fields.(24) When the second and decisive war broke out between The defense of the seven became big news back inthe Boer South African Republic and the British Empire, the U.S. Mark Twain visited them in jail, afterwards sup-Euro-Amerikans became heavily involved. porting them as men who were innocently trying to bring about "reform." Eventually, due to diplomatic pressure, The difference in Amerika over the Ango-Boer 59 the seven were freed. Gardner Williams simply paid his
  • 61. fine and resumed his post as U.S. consular agent. John rhe black miners would have increased the desire of theHays Hammond was ousted from the colony, however, mine-owners to reduce the sratus o the white miners, since fand returned to a heros welcome in the U.S. He later any increase in black wages would have ro be met either bybecame National Chairman of the Republican Party. (25) a reduction in white wages or by a reducrion o profiw. f Such was rlie reality o rhe siruarion which the white f When the war broke out in 1899 the U.S. Govern- workers, consciously or nor, understood very well." (31)ment openly sided with the British. The RepublicanMcKinley Administration approved the sale of much- Imperialism knows no gratitude, not even towardsneeded provisions and munitions to the British forces. Per- its servants. From 1907 on the mining companies keptmission was even given for the British t o recruit pushing at the white miners, kept trying to graduallymercenaries here. (26) Just as, covertly, the white "Rhode- replace white miners with low-paid Afrikans, to reducesians" obtained military reinforcements here in the 1970s. white wages, and t o reduce the total numbers of expensive white miners. In response, from 1907-1922 there was a But many Euro-Amerikan settlers identified with series of militant white strikes. Finally, in 1922 thethe Boers - who were, after all, just fellow European set- Chamber of Mines announced that the companies hadtlers ruling occupied lands like themselves - and saw the repudiated the existing labor agreements and had decidedBoers as losing their "rights" to greedy monopoly capital. to lay off 2,000 white miners. (32)The parallel to the U.S. was very close in many minds. Andif the Republican Administration in Washington was This touched off the great Rand Revolt of 1922, inpublicly championing the British side, still there were which an eight-week strike escalated into a general strike ofothers who identified with the Boer "Davids" against the all white workers, and then into a week of armed revoltBritish "Goliath." There was so much popular sympathy with fighting between the "Red Guards" of white minersfor the Boer settlers among the U.S. settlers that the 1900 and the imperialist troops. The main slogan of this amaz-Democratic Party platform saluted: "...the heroic Burgers ing explosion was "For A White South Africa!" The whitein their unequal struggle to maintain their liberty and in- "communists" marched through the streets with bannersdependence." (27) reading "Workers of rhe World Fighr and Unite for a White Sourh Africa!" (33) The main demand was obvious. Much of the most impassioned support in the U.S.for the Boers came, to no surprise, from the Irish com- The white miners (who were Boer, British, Scottishmunity. They saw the Boers not only as fellow European and Welsh) gained the support not only of the other whitesettlers, but as fellow rebels fighting for nationhood workers, but of the whole Boer people as well. As theagainst British colonialism. An "Irish Brigade" was ac- strike grew, the armed "Red Guards" of the miners startedtually assembled and sent to the Transvaal to join the Boer attacking Afrikan workers. Between the production haltsarmy. (28) and the attacks thousands of Afrikans had to evacuate the Rand. In recognition of the reactionary character of the As the eventual defeat of the Boers loomed closer revolt, all the leading Afrikan political organizations,public settler sympathy for them only increased. The states churches and unions denounced it. (34)of Texas, New Mexico and Colorado formally offeredtheir welcome and free land (stolen from the Indians and The violent upheaval of settler discontent cor-Mexicanos) to any Boers who wished t o immigrate (just as rected the erring course of imperialism in South Afrika. In 1924 the rigidly pro-company Smuts govcrnmcnt wasthe Governor of South Carolina in 1979 officially invited voted out by the settler electorate. The new "Afrikaner"the losing "Rhodesian" settlers fleeing Zimbabwe to come government granted the white workers all they wanted, ex:settle in that state). (29) So the present U.S. imperialist in- cept for driving out the Afrikan population wholesale. Thevolvement in South Afrika has a long history - as does the "Color Bar" act was passed, which legally enforced theEuro-Amerikan settler solidarity with their "Afrikaner" settler monopoly on highly-paid wage labor. Toil was nowcounterparts. Once these two trends were counter-posed, to be reserved for the Afrikan proletariat. "Afrikaner"now they are joined. wage-labor had stabilized its position as a subsidized, non- exploited aristocracy of labor. South Afrika played out, in a form much condens-ed, the same pattern of relations between settler workers The main function of the "Afrikaner" masses wasand Afrikan labor as in the U.S. Afrikan laborers not onlyconducted strikes, but starting with the July 1913 mine no longer to produce and support society, but only t o servestrike Afrikans tried honoring the strikes of the white as the social base for the occupation garrison that im-workers. Indeed, in the mines a strike by white workers perialism needed to hold down the colonial peoples. In-alone would hardly have stopped production. But in every deed, today it is evident that South Afrikan mining, in-case the white workers themselves refused in return t o sup- dustry and agriculture are all the products of colonialport Afrikan strikes, customarily serving as scabs and Afrikan labor alone. "Afrikaner" workers, far from sup-"special constables" (volunteer police) to put down porting society, are themselves supported by the suDef-Afrikan struggles. The December 1919 Cape Town strike exploitation of the oppressed nation of Afrikans. There 1sby Afrikan longshoremen and the Feb. 1920 Afrikan no longer, in any meaningful terms, any working class struggle within settler society there.miners strike were both broken by the authorities with thehelp of white labor. (30) One Afrikaner radical comments: "But the whire workers believed rhar rhey hadnothing in common wirh the blacks.. .the whire minersearned ten times as much as /he blacks, that many of thememployed black servanrs in /heir homes, ihat a victory of
  • 62. VI. THE U.S. INDUSTRIAL PROLETARIAT 1. "The Communistic and Revolutionary Races" The industrial system in the U.S. came into full essential - an industrial proletariat. The key to the evenstride at the turn of the century. In 1870 the U.S. steel in- greater army of wage-slaves was another flood of emigra-dustry was far behind that of England in both technology tion from Old Europe. This time from Southern andand size. From its small, still relatively backward mills Eastern Europe: Poles, Italians, Slovaks, Serbs,came less than one-sixth of the pig iron produced in Hungarians, Finns, Jews, Russians, etc. From the 1880s toEngland. But by 1900 U.S. steel mills were the most highly the beginning of the First World War some 15 millions ofmechanized, efficient and profitable in the world. Not only these new emigrants arrived looking for work. And theydid they produce twice the tonnage that England did, but came in numbers which dwarfed the tempo of the old Irish,in that year even England - the pioneering center of the German and Scandinavian immigration of the mid-1800siron and steel industry - began to import cheaper Yankee (and that was 3 M times as large as the Anglo-Saxon, Ger-steel. (1) That-year the U.S. Empire became the worlds man and Scandinavian immigration of the 1898-1914leading industrial producer, starting to shoulder aside the period). (3)factories of Old Europe. (2) They had a central .role in the mass wage-labor of Such a tidal wave of production needed markets the new industrial Empire. The capitalists put together theon a scale never seen before. The expansion of the U.S. raw materials and capital base extracted from the earlierEmpire into a worldwide Power tried to provide those. Yet colonial conquests, the labor of the Euro-Amerikan craft-the new industrial Empire also needed something just as 61 sman, and the new millions of industrial production
  • 63. workers from Southern and Eastern Europe. The 9th Special Reporr of the Federal Bureau of Labor revealed that immigrant Italian workers in Chicago In 1910 the U.S. Immigration Commission said: had average earnings of less than $6 per week; 57% were"A large portion of the Southern and Eastern immigrants unemployed part of the year, averaging 7 months out ofof the past twenty-five years have entered the manufactur- work. (7) For the new mass-production system found iting and mining industries of the eastern and middle more profitable to run at top speed for long hours whenwestern states, mostly in the capacity of unskilled laborers. orders were high, and then shut down the factory com-There is no basic industry in which they are not largely pletely until orders built up again. In 1910, a year of highrepresented and in many cases they compose more than 50 production for the steel industry, 22% of the labor forceper cent of the total numbers of persons employed in such was unemployed for three months or longer, and over 60%industries. Coincident with the advent of these millions of were laid off for at least one month. (8)unskilled laborers there has been an unprecedented expan-sion of the industries in which they have been employed." Even in an industry such as steel (where the work(4) week at that time was seven days on and on), the new im- migrant workers could not earn enough to support a fami- In the bottom layers of the Northern factory the ly. In 1910 the Pittsburgh Associated Charities proved thatrole of the new, non-citizen immigrants from Eastern and if an immigrant steel laborer worked for 365 straight daysSouthern Europe was dominant. A labor historian writes: he still could "not provide a-family of five with the barest"More than 30,000 were steelworkers by 1900. The necessities."newcomers soon filled the unskilled jobs in the Northernmills, forcing the natives and the earlier immigrants up- And these were men who earned $10-12 per week.ward or out of the industry. In the Carnegie plants* of In the textile mills of Lawrence, Massachusetts, the 15,000Allegheny County in March, 1907, 11,694 of 14,539 com- immigrant youth from age 14 who worked there earned on-mon laborers were Eastern Europeans." (5) ly 12 cents per hour. A physician, Dr. Elizabeth Shapleigh, wrote: "A considerable number of boys and girls die This was not just the arithmetic, quantitative addi- within the first two or three years after starting work ...36tion of more workers. The mechanization of industrial out of every 100 of all men and women who work in theproduction qualitatively transformed labor relations, mills die before reaching the age of 25." (9)reshaping the masses themselves. Instead of skilled craft-smen using individual machines as tools to personally The proletarian immigrants did not see Amerika asmake a tin sheet or an iron rod, the new mass-production a "Land of Freedom" as the propaganda says, but as afactory had gangs of unskilled workers tending semi- hell of Satanic cruelty. One historian reminds us:automatic machines and production lines, with the workercontrolling neither the shape of the product nor the everin- "The newcomers harbored no illusions aboutcreasing pace of production. This was the system, so well America. There in Pittsburgh, people say, the dear sunknown to us, whose intense pressures remolded peasants never shines brightly, the air is saturated with stench andand laborers into an industrial class. gas, parents in Galicia wrote their children. A workman in the South Works* warned a prospective immigrant: If he This new industrial proletariat - the bottom, wants t o come, he is not to complain about me for inmost exploited foundation of white wage-labor - was na- America there are neither Sundays nor holidays; he must go to work. Letters emphasized that here in America onetionally distinct. That is, it was composed primarily of the must work for three horses. There are different kinds ofimmigrant national minorities from Southern and Eastern work, heavy and light, explained another, but a manEurope. Robert Hunters famous expose, Poverty, which from our country cannot get the light. An Hungarianin 1904 caused a public sensation in settler society, pointed churchman inspecting Pittsburgh steel mills exclaimed bit-this national distinction out in very stark terms: terly: Wherever the heat is most insupportable, the flames most scorching, the smoke and soot most choking, there "In the poorest quarters of rnany great A117erican we are certain to find compatriots bent and wasted withcities and industrial co11111tunities is struck by a lnost one toil. Returned men, it was said, were worn out by theirpeculiar fact - the poor are al~nost entirely foreig11 born. years in America." (10) In South Works nearly one-Great colonies, foreign in language, customs, habits, and quarter of the new immigrant steelworkers were injured orinstitutions, are separated frorn each other and fro117 killed on the job each year. (1)distinctly Anierican groups on narional and raciallines... These colonies often rnake up the l~iairlportion of In the steel mill communities - company towns -bur so-called slums. In Baltimore 77 percent of the total these laborers in the pre-World War I years were usuallypopulation of the slums was, in the year 1894, of foreign single, with even married men having been forced to leavebirth or parenrage. I11 Chicago the foreign elelnent was 90 their families in the "old country" until they could eitherpercent; in New York, 95 percent; and in Philadelphia, 91 return or become more successful. They lived crowded intopercent... " (6) squalid boarding houses, owned by "boarding-bosses" who were fellow countrymen and often as well the foremen who hired them (different nationalities often worked in separate gangs, so that they had a common language.). *The Carnegie Steel Company was the leading firm in the Sleeping three or four to a room, they spent muchindustry. In 1901, under the guidance of J.P. Morgan, it of their free time in the saloons that were their solace. Asbecame the main building block in the first of the gianttrusts (which was named the U.S. Steel Corporation). 62 *U.S. Steel South Works in Chicago, Illinois.
  • 64. in all oppressed communities under capitalism, cheap eagerly encouraging their influx when the economy wasdrink was encouraged as a pacifier. Immigrant mill com- booming. It was often stated that these "races" were pro-munities would fester with saloons - Gary, Indiana had ne to extreme and violent political behavior that the calm,more than one saloon for every one hundred inhabitants. business-like Anglo-Saxon had long since outgrown. OneOf course, the local police and courts preyed on these writer in a business journal said: "I am no race worship-"foreigners" with both abuse and shakedowns. They had per, but ...if the master race of this continent Is subor-few democratic rights in the major urban centers, and in dinated to or overrun with the communistic and revolu-the steel or mining or rubber or textile company towns they tionary races it will be in grave danger of social disaster."had none. (15) In the U.S. Empire nationality differences have One answer - and one that became extremely im-always been disguised as "racial" differences (so that the portant - was to "Americanize" the new laboring masses,Euro-Amerikan settlers can maintain the fiction that theirs to tame them by absorbing them into settler Amerika, tois the only real nation). The Eastern and Southern Euro- remake them into citizens of Empire. The Big Bourgeoisie,pean national minorities were widely defined as non-white, which very much needed this labor, was interested in thisas members of genetically different (and backward) races solution. In November, 1918 a private dinner meeting offrom the "white" race of Anglo-Saxons. This pseudo- some fifty of the largest employers of immigrant laborscientific, racist categorizing only continued an ideological discussed Americanization (this was the phrase used at thecharacteristic of European capitalist civilization. The time). Previous social work and employer indoctrinationEuro-Amerikans have always justified their conquest and campaigns directed at.the immigrants had not had muchexploitation of other nationalities by depicting them as success.racially different. This old tactic was here applied even toother Europeans. It was agreed by those capitalists that the spread of "Bolshevism" anlong the industrial immigrants was a real So Francis A. Walker, President of M.I.T. (and danger, and that big business should undercut this trendthe "Dr. Strangelove" figure who as U.S. Commissionerof Indian Affairs developed the Indian reservationsystem), popularized the Social Darwinistic theory that thenew immigrants were "beaten men from beaten races;representing the worst failures in the struggle forexistence ..." Thus, as double failures in the "survival ofthe fittest," these new European immigrants were onlycapable of being industrial slaves. The wildest assertions of "racial" identity werecommon. Some Euro-Amerikans claimed that these"swarthy" Europeans were really "Arabs" or "Syrians."U.S. Senator Simmons of North Carolina claimed that theSouthern Italians were t h e degenerale progeny of theAsiatic hordes which, long cenrlrries ago, overran [lie .shores of the Mediterranea~i.." (12) The St. Paul, Minnesota District Attorney arguedin Federal court that Finns shouldnt receive citizenshippapers since "a Finn a Mongolian and not a white per-son." Scientists were prominent in the new campaign.Professor E.A. Hooton of Harvard University claimedthat there were actually nine different "races" in Europe,each with different mental abilities and habits. As late as1946, in the widely-used textbook, New Horizons InCriminology, Prof. Hootons pseudo-science was quotedby police to "prove" how Southern Italians tended to"crimes of violence," how Slavs "show a preference forsex offenses," and so on. (13) A widely-read Sarurday Everiing Post series of1920 on the new immigrants warned that unless they wererestricted and kept segregated the result would be "ahybrid race of people as worthless and futile as the good-for-nothing mongrels of Central America andSoutheastern Europe." (14) On the street level,newspapers and common talk sharply distinguished bet-ween "white Americans" and the "Dago" and "Hunky"- who were not considered "white" at all. The bourgeoisie had a dual attitude of fearingthese new proletarians during moments of unrest and
  • 65. and "Break u p the narionalisric, racial groups by combiti- York, Connecticut, Michigan, Wyoming, Arizona andiny [heir members for America." (16) It was thus well New Mexico barred non-citizen immigrants from com-understood by the bourgeoisie that these European peting with the settler professionals in medicine, phar-workers consciousness of themselves as oppressed na- macy, architecture, engineering, and so on. (18) Under thetional minorities made them open to revolutionary ideas - banner of anti-Catholicism, various right-wing organiza-and, on the other hand, their possible corruption into tions attempted to mobilize the settler masses against theAmerikan citizens would make them more loyal to the new immigrants. One such group, the Guardians of Liber-U.S. Imperialism. ty, was headed bv retired U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Nelson Miles (who had commanded the military respres- The meeting formed the Inter-Racial Council, with sions at both Wounded Knee and later in the invasion ofcorporate representatives and a tactical window-dressing Puerto Rico). The Loyal Legion, the Ku Klux Klan andof conservative, bourgeois "leaders" from the immigrant other secret para-military groups were also heavily involv-communities. T. Coleman DuPont became the chairman. ed in attacks on immigrants, particularly when theyFrancis Keller, the well-known social worker and reformer became active in socialist organizations or went out onbecame the paid coordinator of the Councils programs. It strikes. (19)sounded just like so many of the establishment pacify-the-ghetto committees of the 1960s - only the "races" being"uplifted" were all European. Most significantly, the settler trade-unions themselves started picturing these new proletarians as the The Councils main efforts were directed at pro- enemy. The unions of the American Federation of Laborpaganda. The American Association of Foreign Language (A.F.L.) were heavily imbued with the labor aristocracyNewspapers (in actuality a private company that placed viewpoint of the "native-born" settlers. This was true evenAmerikan big business advertising in the many foreign though an earlier wave of German and Irish immigrantslanguage community newspapers) was purchased. With had played such a large role in founding those control over the all-important major advertising, the Now they fought to bar the "Dago" and "Hunky" fromCouncil began to dictate the political line of many of those the better-paid work, from union membership, and evennewspapers. Anti-communist and anti-union articles were from entering the U.S. In New York, the Bricklayerspushed. Union got Italians fired from public works projects. A.F.L. President Samuel Gompers united with right-wing The Council also, in concert with government U.S. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge in campaigning to ex-agencies and private capitalist charities, promoted tend the anti-Asian immigration bars to the "nonwhite"Americanization "education" programs (i.e. political in- Eastern and Southern Europeans as well. (20)doctrination): "adult education" night schools for im-migrants, state laws requiring them to attend Americaniza-tion classes, laws prohibiting the use of any language ex- This process was very visible in the steel mills. Itcept English in schools, etc., etc. The Americanization became socially unacceptable for "white" settlers to workmovement had a lasting effect on the Empire. The Inter- with the Slavs and the Italians on the labor gangs. Increas-Racial Council was dropped by the capitalists in 1921, ingly they left the hard work to the European nationalsince by then Americanization had its own momentum. minorities and either moved up to foreman, skilled posi-(17) tions - or out of the mills. The companies pushed the separation. Euro-Amerikans applying for ordinary labor At the same time, national chauvinism and the jobs were told: "only Hunkies work on those jobs, theyrespecific class interests of the Euro-Amerikan petit- too damn dirty and too damn hot for a white man ...Nobourgeoisie and labor artistocracy led ro campaigns white American works in steel-plant labor gang unless heagainst the new immigrants. Sta,te licensing acts in New 64 nuts or booze-fighter." A steel labor history tells us:
  • 66. "The English-speaking workman was in general So the imperialist era had begun with Euro-content to ignore the immigrants. Outside the mill he rare- Amerikan wage-labor still a privileged, upper stratumly encountered them or entered their crowded streets. But dominated by a petit-bourgeois viewpoint. And althoughindifference often edged into animosity...Disdain could be the new industrial proletariat was overwhelmingly Euro-read also in the stereotyped Dago and Hunky in the short pean in origin, it was primarily made up of the oppressedstories that appeared in labor papers, and in the frankly national minorities from Eastern and Southern Europe -hostile remarks of native workers. "foreigners" widely considered "nonwhite" by the set- tlers. The U.S. Empires policy of relegating the work of "Eager to dissociate himself from the Hunky, the "supporting society," of carrying out the tasks of the pro-skilled man identified with the middlinp group of small letariat, to oppressed workers of other nationalities, wasshopkeepers and artisans, and with them came to regard thus continued in a more complex way into the 20th cen-the merchants and managers as his models. Whatever his tury. At the same time the capitalists were raising theinterests may have been, the English-speaking steelworker possibility of buying off political discontent by offeringhad a psychological commitment in favor of his these proletarians Americanization into settler society.employer. " (2 1 ) 2. Industrial Unionism As U.S. imperialism stumbles faster and faster in-to its permanent decline, once again we hear the theory ex-pressed that some poverty and the resulting mass economicstruggles will create revolutionary consciousness in Euro-Amerikan workers. The fact is that such social pressuresare not new to White Amerika. For three decades - from1890 to 1920 - the new white industrial proletariat in-creasingly organized itself into larger and larger struggleswith the capitalists. The immigrant European proletarians wanted in-dustrial unionism and the most advanced among themwanted socialism. A mass movement was built for both.These were the most heavily exploited, most proletarian,and most militant European workers Amerika has everproduced. Yet, in the end, they were unable to go beyonddesiring the mere reform of imperialism. The mass industrial struggles of that period wereimportant in that they represented the highest level of classconsciousness any major stratum of European workers in Solidarity, August 4, 1917,the U.S. has yet reached. And even in this exceptionalperiod - a period of the most aggressive and openly anti-capitalist labor organizing - European workers were workers, cowboys, hotel workers, farm laborers, and evenunable to produce an adequate revolutionary leadership, the unemployed). It was based on the European immigrantunable to defeat the settler labor aristocracy, unable to op- proletarians and the bottom stratum - usually migrant -pose U.S. imperialism, and unable to unite with the anti- of "native-born" Euro-Amerikan workers.colonial movements of the oppressed nations. We can sumup the shortcomings by saying that they flirted with The I.W.W. saw itself as not only winning bettersocialism - but in the end preferred settlerism. wages, but eventually overthrowing capitalism. It was a syndicalist union (the "One Big Union") meant to com- The Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.) bine workers of all trades and nationalities literally aroundwas the most important single organization of this period. the world. This was a period in the development of theFrom its founding in 1905 (the year of the first Russian world proletariat where these revolutionary syndicalistRevolution) until 1920, the I.W.W. was the center of in- ideas had wide appeal. The immature belief that workersdustrial unionism in the U.S. It was the form in which the needed no revolutionary party or leadership, but merelyNorthern and Western white industrial proletariat first had to gather into industrial unions and bring downemerged into mass political consciousness. Unlike the capitalism by larger and larger strikes, was a passingrestrictive craft unions of the A.F.L.., the I.W.W. organiz- phase. In 1900 these revolutionary syndicalist unions wereed on a class basis. That is, it organized and tried to unite popular in Spain, France, Italy - as well as briefly in theall sections of the white working class (copper miners, auto 65 U.S. Empire.
  • 67. While the I.W.W. was backward in many respects, the I.W.W. In fact, at the 1916 I.W.W. Convention thein others it displayed great strengths. It was genuinely pro- A.W.O. actually had a majority of the votes (252 out ofletarian. As an effective mass labor organization, it show- 335 votes). (23)ed a fighting spirit long since vanished from white workers.We are referring to an open anti-Amerikanism. TheI.W.W. urged workers to reject any loyalty to the U.S. But by 1920 the I.W.W. had declined sharply. NotUnlike the majority of Euro-Amerikan "Socialists," the from failure in an organizational sense, but from both itI.W.W. linked "American" nationalism with the and the strata that it represented having reached the limitsbourgeois culture of lynch mob patriotism. Just as the of their political consciousness. The I.W.W. was able toI.W.W. was the last white union movement to be socialist, build industrial unions of the most exploited white workersit also represented the last stratum of white workers to be and to win many strikes, but past that it was unable to ad-in any way internationalist. vance. Its local unions usually fell apart quickly, and many of its victories were soon reversed. The landmark 1909 steel industry victories at McKees Rocks and Hammond, Great boldness relative to the usual settler trade- Indiana were reversed within a year. The 1912 Lawrence,unionism characterized the I.W.W. First, it promoted uni- Mass. textile strike - the single most famous strike in U.S.ty on the broadest scale then attempted, in the U.S. in- trade union history - was also a great victory, and thecluding not only the "Dago" and "Hunky" but also ex- I.W.W. also crushed there by the next year. This was theplicitly declaring that industrial unionism meant the inclu- general pattern.sion of Mexicanos, Asians, Afrikans, Indians and all na-tionalities. Second, it undertook the most militant cam- The external difficulties faced by the I.W.W. werepaigns of union organization and struggle, expressing the far greater than just the straight-forward opposition of thedesperate needs of the most exploited white workers. factory owners. The Euro-Amerikan aristocracy of laborThird, the I.W.W. was able to advance industrial unionism and its A.F.L. unions viciously fought this upsurge fromhere by learning from the more advanced and experienced below. During the great 1912 Lawrence, Mass. textileimmigrants from Old Europe. strike, the A.F.L.s United Textile Workers Union scabbed throughout the strike. The A.F.L. officially backed the mill owners. In McKees Rocks, Pa. the skilled workers of Because of this, the I.W.W. was able t o launch the A.F.L. Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steelstrikes and unionization drives on a scale never seen before Workers used guns to break a second I.W.W. the U.S. In the years after 1905 the "Wobblies" led anescalating explosion of union struggles: Hotel workers inArizona, lumberjacks in Washington, textile workers inMassachusetts, seamen in ports from Chile to Canada,auto workers in Detroit, and so on. And there were manynotable victories, many successful strikes. It must be em-phasized that to workers used to seeing only defeats, the1.W.Ws ability to help them win strikes was no small mat-ter. For example, in 1909 the I.W.W. helped the im-migrant workers at the McKees Rocks, Pa. plant of thePressed Steel Car Co. (a subsidiary of the U.S. Steel trust)win their strike. This was of national importance, since itwas the first time that workers had won a strike against themammoth Steel Trust. That strike, which taught so muchto union militants here, was led by an underground"Unknown Committee" representing both the I.W.W.and the various European nationalities. The "Unknown I rbotage neanr to push back. 1pull out or break off the fangs of Capitalism WDH . .+ I And the factories and mines were not isolated, butCommittee" had the knowledge of veterans of the 1905 were part of settler Amerika, where the masses of petit-Russian Revolution, the Italian labor resistance, the Ger- bourgeois farmers, small merchants and professionalsman Metal Workers Union, and the Swiss and Hungarian joined the foremen, skilled craftsmen and supervisors inrailway strikes. It is clear that through the I.W.W. the backing up the bosses. The European immigrantsmore experienced and politically educated European represented perhaps only one-seventh of the white popula-workers taught their backward Amerikan cousins how to tion, and were greatly outnumbered.look out after their class interests. (22) The I.W.W.s weaknesses, however, primarily In 1914 the I.W.W.s Agricultural Workers reflected its inner contradictions. The syndicalist outlook,Organization (A.W.O.) pulled off an organizing feat une- while sincerely taken by many, was also a convenient coverqualled for fifty years. They established the "worlds to avoid dealing with the question of settlerism. Using thelongest picket line," running 800 miles from Kansas up to ultra-revolutionary sounding syndicalist philosophy theRapid City, South Dakota. In distant railroad yards I.W.W. could avoid any actual revolutionary work. InI.W.W. strongarm squads maintained a blockade, in fact, despite its anti-capitalist enthusiasm the I.W.W.which non-union workers were kept out. Confronted with never even made any plans to oppose the U.S. Governmenta critical labor shortage at harvest time, the growers had to - and never did. Similarly, its Marxist vision of all nationsgive in. This was the biggest agricultural labor drive in the and peoples being merged into "One Big Union" coveringU.S. until the 1960s. The A.W.O. itself grew to almost the globe only covered up the fact that it had no intention70,000 members, becoming the largest single union within 66 of fighting colonialism and national oppression.
  • 68. If the I.W.W. had fought colonialism and national them becoming finally integrated into settler citizens of the oppression, it would have lost most of its white support. Empire. In changing Amerika they themselves wereWhat it did instead - laying out a path that the CIO decisively changed. Some one-third of the immigrantwould follow in the 1930s - was to convince some white workers went back to Europe, with many of the most mili-workers that their immediate self-interest called for a tant being deported or forced to, tactical cooperation with the colonial proletariats.Underneath all the fancy talk that "In the I.W.W. the col- Looking back this underlying trend can be seen inored worker, man or woman, is on an equal footing with thelifeof the I.W.W. Whilethe1.W.W. fancieditself a s aevery other worker," was the reality that the I.W.W. was a dangerous revolutionary organization, in reality it waswhite organization for whites. nothing more nor less than the best industrial union that class conscious white workers could build to "improve their condition." It was a public, fully legal union open to While this new immigrant industrial proletariat all. It was, therefore, just as dependent upon bourgeoiswas thrown together from many different European na- legality and government toleration as the A.F.L. Thetions, speaking different languages and having different I.W.W. could be very strong against local employers orcultures and class backgrounds, they were united by two even the municipal government; against the imperialistthings: their exploited state as"foreign" proletarians and state it dared only to submit in unhappy confusion. Thetheir desire to achieve a better life in Amerika. The resolu- national I.W.W. leadership understood this unpleasanttion of these pressures was in their Americanization, in fact in an unscientific, pragmatic way.
  • 69. As the Great Powers were drawn into World War I "The owners of these factories are makingthe central issue in the European oppressor nation socialist millions out of the murderfest in Europe-their slavesmovements was the opposition to imperialist war. Not should likewise improve the opportunity to get a littleprimarily because of the mass bloodshed, but because in a something for themselves.war for expanding empires it was the absolute duty of alloppressor nation revolutionaries to oppose the aggression "The point may be made here, that we should allof their own empire, to work for the defeat of their own be interested in stoppir~gthe production of war munitions.bourgeoisie, and for the liberation of the oppressed na- Yes, of course, but thats only a the only thingtions. This is the issue that created the international com- the workers in these factories can do is to try to improvemunist movement of the 20th century. their condition.. . " (28) On this most important struggle the I.W.W. was The line was very clear. Far from fighting U.S. im-revealed as being immature and lacking as a revolutionary perialism, the I.W.W. was spreading defeatism among theorganization. It was simply unwilling to directly oppose workers and urging them to concentrate only on getting aU.S. imperialism. The I. W. W. verbally criticised the war bigger bribe out of the imperialist super-profits. Themany times. At the 1914 convention they said: "We, as I.W.W. is often praised by the settler "left" as verymembers of the industrial army, will refuse to fight for any "American," very "grass roots." We can say that theirpurpose except for the realization of industrial freedom." cynical, individualistic slant that workers can "only get a(24) But when U.S. imperialism entered the war to grab little something for thernselves" out of the slaughter ofmore markets and colonies, the I.W.W. became frantic to millions does represent the essence of Amerikan settlerprove to the bourgeoisie that they wouldnt oppose them in degeneracy. In Russia the Bolsheviks were telling the Rus-any way. sian workers to "Turn the Imperialist War into a Revolu- tionary War" and overthrow the Imperialists-which they The surface problem was that since the I.W.W. did.was a totally legal and public union, it was totally unableto withstand any major government repression. Therefore, The I.W.W.s pathetic efforts to avoid antagoniz-the leadership said, regardless of every class-conscious ing the Bourgeoisie did them little good. The U.S. Empireworkers opposition to the war the I.W.W. dare not fight tired of these pests, viewing the militant organization ofit. Walter Nef, head of the I.W.W. Agricultural Workers immigrant labor as dangerous. Finally cranking its policeOrganization, said: "We are against the war, but not machinery up, the imperialist state proceeded to smash theorganized and can do nothing. " (25) Imagine, a revolu- defense-less I.W.W. clear into virtual non-existence. Ittionary organization that built for twelve years, with a wasnt even very difficult, since throughout the Westmembership of over 100,000, but was "not organized" to vigilante mobs of settlers declared an open reign of terroroppose its own bourgeoisie. against the I.W.W. In Arizona some 1,300 miners suspected of I.W.W. involvement were driven from the The many requests from I.W.W. members for state at gunpoint.guidance as to how to fight the imperialist war wentunanswered. Even "Big Bill" Haywood, the angry andmilitant I.W.W. leader, had t o back off: "I am at a loss as In July 1918, 101 I.W.W. leaders past and present were convicted in Chicago Federal Court of sabotaging theto definite steps to be taken against the War." (26) Finally, Imperialist War effort in a rigged trial that dwarfed thethe I.W.W. decided to duck the issue as much as possible. "Chicago Conspiracy Trial" of the Vietnam War-era. TheThe word went out to white workers to stick to local political verdict was certain even though the prosecutioneconomic issues of higher wages, etc. and not oppose the was unable to prove that the I. W. W. had obstructed thegovernment. "Organize now.. .for the postwar struggle war in any way!. Only one defendant out of 101 hadshould be the watchword." (27) This surface political violated the draft registration laws. While the I.W.W.retreat only revealed the growing settler sickness at the unions had led strikes that disrupted war production inheart of the I.W.W., and sabotaged the most advanced Western copper and timber, the government was forced toand revolutionary-minded white proletarians within their admit that of the 521 disruptive strikes that had takenranks. place since the U.S. Empire entered the war, only 3 were by the I.W.W. (while 519 were by the pro-government A.F.L. They never organized to oppose U.S. imperialism unions). (29)because thats not what even the immigrant proletarianmasses wanted - they wanted militant struggle to reach Federal raids on the I.W.W. took place fromsome "social justice" for themselves. During the July, coast-to-coast. Immigration agents held mass round-ups1915 A.F.L. strike at the Connecticut munitions plants, which resulted in long jail stays while undergoing deporta-the charge was made that the whole strike was a plot by tion hearings. In 1917 the Federal agents arrested 34German agents - with the strike secretly subsidised by the I.W.W. organizers in Kansas, who eventually got prisonKaisers treasury. In a lead editorial in its national journal, terms of up to nine years. In Omaha, Nebraska, the 64Solidarity, the I.W.W. hurried to put itself on record as I. W. W. delegates at the Agricultural Workers Organiza-not opposing the war effort. While admitting that they had tion Convention were arrested and held 18 months withoutno proof that the strike was a German conspiracy, the trial. In 21 states "criminal syndicalism" laws were passed,I.W.W. urged the strikers to "settle quickly." The directed at the I.W.W., under which thousands were ar-editorial angrily suggested that the strike leaders might rested. In California alone between 1919-1924 some 500move to Germany. Then they came to the main point, I.W.W. members were indicted, 128 of whom ended upwhich was undermining the anti-imperialist sentiment serving prison terms of up to 14 years. (30) The I.W.W.among the workers, and urging them to think only of get- never recovered from these blows, and from 1917 onting more money for themselves: 68 quickly declined.
  • 70. Such an unwillingness to fight U.S. imperialism that there was: " race problem. There is only a classcould hardly come from those with anti-imperialist problem. The economic interests of all workers, be theypolitics. The reason we have to underline this is that for white, black, brown or yellow, are identical, and all are in-obvious ends the settler "Left" has been emphasizing how cluded in the I.W.W. It has one program for the entirethe I.W.W. was a mass example of anti-racist labor unity. working class - "the abolition of the wage system." (32)This poisoned bait has been naively picked up by a number The I.w.w.s firm position of not fighting the lynchof Third-World revolutionary organizations, and used as mobs, of not opposing the colonial system, allowed themone more small justification to move towards revisionist- to unite with the racist element in the factories - andintegrationist ideology. helped prepare the immigrant proletariat for becoming loyal citizens of the Empire. It must never be forgotten There is no doubt that much of the I.W.W. ge- that the I.W.W. contained genuinely proletarian forces,nuinely despised the open, white-supremacist persecution some of whom could have been led forward towards revolution.of the colonial peoples. Unlike the smug, privileged A.F.L.aristocracy of labor, the I.W.W. represented the voice ofthose white workers who had suffered deeply and thus We can see this supposed unity actually at work incould sympathize with the persecuted. But their inability to the I.W.W.s relationship to the Japanese workers on theconfront the settleristic ambitions within themselves reduc- West Coast. In the Western region of the Empire the settlered these sparks of real class consciousness to vague sen- masses were deeply infected with anti-Asian hatred. Muchtiments and limited economic deals. of this at that time was directed at the new trickle of Japanese immigrant laborers, who were working mainly in agriculture, timber and railroads. JOE L % H U T R O M iBSd These Japanese laborers were subjected to the Protest Meetink! most vicious persecution and exploitation, with the bourgeois politicians and press stirring up mob terror against them constantly. Both the Socialist Party of Eugene Debs and the A.F.L. unions helped lead the anti- elom tk Ebud Asian campaign among the settler masses. In April 1903, B o f Padom, he "0PCoftbtcLicl m d d one thousand Japanese and Mexicano sugar beet workers wid: "Idont w u t uamt L tbe dcjrl struck near Oxnard, California. They formed the Sugar rpudoa,orreon- of justice ir the muW.io8, I wret r " "d " e Beet & Farm Laborers Union, and wrote the A.F.L. asking u w b L I o r ~ kc. If my life wir belp some other % ,the 25 bW.- - C ~ u k r , u , for a union charter of affiliation. w o r k i m to r A.F.L. President Samual Gompers, in his usual frir*lu+y treacherous style, tried in his reply to split the ranks of the 9 g~ve If by bv- IL my life 1 u oppressed: "Your union must guarantee that it will under 3 ocLar to cLc f&mudaicdw. r c r r l t d ir Hill- Bas m i i v%a no circumstances accept membership of any Chinese or I have rot lived L *r&loQu- Japanese." vrLn irk wicked rrd !IT0 & P C P . ~ The unions Mexicano secretary (the President was wmk: Imgag to L v e r m i ud Japanese) answered Gompers for his people: "In the past adieyir. ILm we have counseled, fought and lived on very short rations IivedILcrMY with our Japanese brothers, and toiled with them in the mdIrY(cIL. m lMiltL fields, and they have been uniformly kind and considerate. HILu?wm We would be false to them, and to ourselves and to the - cause of unionism if we now accepted privileges for Sunday, Nov. 14th I8:Oo P M.1 ourselves which are not accorded to them. We are going to stand by men who stood by us in the long, hard fight which ended in victory over the enemy." (33) The I.W.W. never attempted to educate the mostexploited white workers to unite with the national libera- Japanese workers were not only unable to findtion struggles. Instead, it argued that "racial" unity on the unity with the settler unions, but had to deal with them asjob to raise wages was all that mattered. This is the ap- part of the oppressor forces. There was a high level ofproach used by the AFL-CIO today; obviously, its a way organization among us, expressed usually in small, local,of building a union in which white-supremacist workers Japanese national minority associations of our own. Thetolerate colonial workers. This was the narrow, economic news, therefore, that the new I.W.W. was accepting Asianself-interest pitch underneath all the syndicalist talk. The workers as members was quite welcome to us.I.W.W. warned white workers: "Leaving the Negro out-side of your union makes him a potential, if not an actual, In 1907 two white I.W.W. organizers went to thescab, dangerous to the organized workers... " (31) These office of the North American Times, a Japanese-languagewords reveal that the I.W.W.s goal was to control col- newspaper in Seattle. They asked the newspaper to publishonial labor for the benefit of white workers - and that an announcement of a forthcoming meeting. As theAfrikans were viewed as "dangerous" if not controlled. newspaper happily informed its readers: "... every worker, no matter whether he is Japanese or Chinese, is invited ... So that even in 1919, after two years of severe This new organization does not exclude you as others do,"race riots" in the North (armed attacks by white workers but they heartily welcome you to join. Dont lose thison Afrikan exile communities), the I. W. W. kept insisting 69 chance." (34)
  • 71. The I.W.W. publicly criticised those "socialists" well-publicized struggle that launched the I.W.W.s farmwho were part of the anti-Asian campaign. In a special worker organizing drive in that state. That year the Durstpamphlet they appealed to white workers to see that Asians Ranch hired 2,800 migrant workers at below-marketwere good union men, who would be helpful in winning wages, and forced them to toil in isolated near-slavery.higher wages: "They are as anxious as you, to get as much I.W.W. organizers soon started a strike in which theas possibie. This is proven by the fact that they have come Japanese, Mexicano, Greek, Syrian, Puerto Rican andto this country." (35) other nationalities were strongly united. The strike led to a national defense campaign when the sheriff, after shooting But while scattered Japanese workers joined the two striking workers, arrested the two main I.W.W.I.W.W., in the main we did not. The reason, quite simply, organizers as the alleged that while the I.W.W. wanted our cooperation, they didnot want the hated Japanese workers inside the I.W.W. In Although the strike was victorious - and led toorder to keep amicable relations with the mass of white- bigger organizing drives - the Japanese workers hadsupremacist settlers in the West, the I.W.W. limited their disappeared. We were persuaded to withdraw (while stillrelationship to us. Some Asians would be acceptable, but honoring the picket lines) in order to help the I.W.W.,any conspicuous mass recruitment of Japanese was too since "...the feeling of the working class against thecontroversial. A sympathetic writer about the I.W.W. at Japanese was so general throughout the state that thethe time noted: association of the Japanese with the strikers would in all probability be detrimental to the latter." The I.W.W. tried " At the Third Convention, George Speed, a to justify everything by saying that move was on the in-delegate from California, quite accurately expressed the itiative of the Japanese workers - and then praising it assentiment of the organization in regard to the Japanese an act of "solidarity." Notice that while the JapaneseQuestion. The whole fight against the Japanese, he said, laborers lived, and worked, and went out on strike with theis the fight of the middle class of California, in which they others, that the I.W.W. statement separates "theemploy the labor faker to back it up. He added, however, Japanese" from "the strikers. "that he considered it practically useless.. . under presentconditions for the I. W. W. to take any steps to organize T k I.W.W. considered it "solidarity" for op-the Japanese.. " (36) pressed Asian workers to be excluded from their own struggle, so that the I.W.W. could get together with the This position was seen in action at the 1914 Hop open racists. It should be clear that while the I.W.W.Pickers Strike near Maryville, California; which was the 70 hoped to establish the "unity of all workers" as a princi-
  • 72. ple, they were willing to sacrifice the interests of colonial workers union it had no political program, no practicaland oppressed workers in order to gain their real goal - answers for the problems of the colonial proletariat. Andthe unity of all white workers. insofar as it tried to convince everyone that there was a solution for the problems of colonial workers separate While it was advantageous for the I.W.W. to keep from liberation for their oppressed nations, it did aAsians at arms length, in occupied New Afrika there was positive disservice.*literally no way to build industrial unions without winningthe cooperation of Afrikan workers. In the South the The I.W.W. lived, rose and fell, at the same timeAfrikan proletariat was the bed-rock of everything. The as the great Mexican Revolution of 1910 just across the ar-I.W.W. experience there highlights the strategic limitations tificial "border." For this syndicalist organization to haveof its political line. reached out and made common cause with the anti- colonial revolutions would have been quite easy. On In 1910 an independent union, the Brotherhood of November 27, 1911 the Zapatistas proclaimed the Plan ofTimber Workers, was formed in Louisiana and Mississip- Ayala, setting forth the agrarian revolution. It was frompi. This was to become the main part of the I.W.W.s Deep the U.S.-occupied territory of El Paso that Francisco VillaSouth organizing. These Southern settler workers were on and seven others began the guerrilla struggle in Chihuahuathe very bottom of the settler world. They were forced to on March 6, 1913. Hundreds of thousands of peasantslabor for $7-9 per week - and that mostly not in cash, but joined Zapatas Liberator Army of the South and Villasin "scrip" usable only at the company stores. Their very Division of the North. Even the Villistas, less politicallyexploited lives were comparable to that of the "Hunky" developed than their Southern compatriots, were socialand "Dago" of the Northern industrial towns. In other revolutionaries. Villa, a rebel who had taught himself towords, they lived a whole level below the norm of settler read while in prison, was openly anti-clerical at a timesociety. when Roman Catholicism was the official religion of Mex- ico. He called the Church "the greatest superstition the For that reason the settler timberworkers were world has ever known." The Villista government indriven to build themselves a union. And because half of Chihuahua founded fifty new schools and divided the landthe workforce in the industry was Afrikan, they had to up among the peasants.recruit Afrikans as well. Half of the 35,000 BTW memberswere Afrikan - organized into "seg" lodges and not ad-mitted to the settler union meetings, of course. It was not a This popular uprising spread the spirit of rebellioncase of radicalism or idealism: the settler worker was across the artificial "border" into the U.S.-occupied zone.literally forced by practical necessity to gain the coopera- One California historian writes: The dislocation caused bytion of Afrikan workers. In a major pamphlet in which he the Mexican Revolution of 1912-191 led to an increasingly 7calls on settler timberworkers to join up with the I.W.W.,the BTWs secretary, Jay Smith, reminds them that the militant political attitude in Los Angeles. This led to acontroversial policy of integrating the union existed solely Chicano movement to boycott the draft. Vicente Carilloto keep Afrikans under control: led a drive to protest the draft and to use mass meetings to focus attention upon Mexican-American economic pro- "As far as the negro question goes, it means blems." Again, it is easy to see that the I.W.W. didntsimply this: Either the whites organize with the negroes, or have far to look if they wanted alliances against the U.S.the bosses will organize the negroes against the whites ..." Empire.(38) Proposals were even made that the I.W.W. and Mexicano workers join in armed uprisings in the In 1912 the BTW joined the I.W.W., after in- Southwest. Ricardo Flores Magon, the revolutionary syn-tegrating its union meetings at the demand of "Big Bill" dicalist who was the first major leader of MexicanoHaywood. The I.W.W. now had a major labor drive going workers, had ties to the I.W.W. during his long years ofin the Deep South. But a few months later the BTW was exile in the U.S. His organization, the Partido Liberaltotally crushed in the Merryville, La. strike of 1912. In a Mexicano (PLM), led thousands of Mexicano miners infour-day reign of terror the local sheriff and company strikes on both sides of the artificial "border." Magon wasthugs beat, kidnapped and "deported" the strike activists. imprisoned four times by the U.S. Empire, finally beingThe BTW was dissolved by terror as hundreds of members murdered by guards to prevent his scheduled release fromhad to flee the State and many more were white-listed and Ft. Leavenworth. His proposal for the I.W.W. to joincould no longer find work in that industry. forces with the Mexicano proletariat in armed struggle fell on deaf ears. Although some "Wobblies" (such as Joe The 1.W .W.s refusal to recognize colonial oppres-sion or the exact nature of the imperialist dictatorship over Hill) went to Mexico on an individual basis for periods ofthe occupied South, meant that it completely misled the time, the I.W.W. as a whole rejected such cooperation.strike. Industrial struggle in the Deep South could notdevelop separate from the tense, continuous relationshipbetween the settler garrison and the occupied Afrikan na-tion. The I.W.W. in the South swiftly fell apart. They wereunable to cope with the violent, terroristic situation. *It is interesting to note that even on the Philadelphia waterfront, where the Afrikan-led I.W.W. The I.W.W. had a use for oppressed colonial Marine Transport Workers Union No. 8 was the mostworkers, and it certainly didnt conduct campaigns of mob stable local in the entire I.W.W., the Afrikan workersterror against us. It publicly reminded white workers of the eventually felt forced to leave the I.W.W. due to "slander , Jsupposed rights of the colonial peoples; but as a white baseless charges and race-baiting. "
  • 73. Magon once angrily wrote his brother from at the end of this period show not only these weaknesses,prison: "The norteamericanos are incapable of feeling en- but emphasize the significance of what this meant.thusiasm or indignation. This is truly a country of pigs...Ifthe norteamericanos do not agitate against their own This was evident in the 1919 steel strike, for exam-domestic miseries, can we hope they will concern ple, in which for the first time fifteen A.F.L. unions calledthemselves with ours?"(39) an industry-wide strike. On Sept. 22, 1919 some 365,000 steelworkers walked out. But while the mass of nonu- nionized, immigrant European laborers held firm, the unionized Euro-Amerikan skilled workers were a weak ele- In outlining these things we are, of course, not just ment. Capitalist repression had an effect - most notablydiscussing the I.W.W. Primarily we are looking at the for- in Gary, Indiana, where a division of U.S. Army troopsming consciousness and leadership of a new class: the broke thestrike - but the defeat was due to the incrediblywhite industrial proletariat. The same general weaknesses bad leadership and the betrayal by the better-paid settlerof this class can be seen outside the I.W.W. even more workers. The disaster of the strike shows why even the in-sharply: lack of revolutionary leadership, inability to adequate politics of the I.W.W. looked so good to the pro-withstand the sabotage of the labor aristocrats of the letarians of that day."native-born" Euro-Amerikan workers, opposition to theanti-colonial struggles. The great industrial battles in steel 72 Many of the skilled Euro-Amerikan workers never
  • 74. joined the strike at all in places like Pittsburgh. And many arisen a national movement of settler workers to barwho had struck started trickling back to work, afraid of Afrikans from Northern industry by terroristic attacks.losing their good jobs. In early November their union, the Between 1917-19 there had been twenty major campaignsAmalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers, by settler mobs against Afrikan exile communities in thebroke from the strike and started ordering its members North. The July, 1917, East St. Louis "race riot" wasback to work. By late November the mills had 75-80% of organized by that steel citys A.F.L. Central Trades Coun-their workforce back. On January 2, 1920, the strike was cil, which had called for "violence" to remove the "grow-officially declared over. Some of the most determined ing menace" of the Afrikan exile community. In two daysmilitants had to leave the industry or return to Europe. of attacks some 39 Afrikans were killed and hundreds in-(40) jured. The hand of the capitalists was evident when the Chicago Tribune editorially praised the white attackers, While the treachery of the labor aristocracy was and told its readers that Afrikans were "happiest when thevery evident in this defeat, the most important event took white race asserts its superiority. " (43) Again, we see theplace after the strike. During the strike some 30,000 organized Euro-Amerikan workers as the social troops ofAfrikan workers from the South had been imported by the one faction or another of the imperialists.steel companies. There was a strong tendency among thewhite steelworkers to blame the defeat of the strike onAfrikan "scabs" or "strikebreakers." And all the more so As the steel campaign was gathering steambecause the 10% of the Northern steel workforce that was throughout 1919 the terroristic attacks on Afrikans in-Afrikan refused to join the strike. The bourgeoisie was creased as well. In Chicago this was to climax in the in-guiding the white workers in this. Company officials pass- famous July 1919 "race riot," just two months before theed the word that: "Niggers did it." In Pittsburgh one mill strike began. Spears Black Chicago recounts:boss announced: "The Nigger saved the day for us." (41) "Between 1917 and 1919, white athletic clubs In fact, although this was widely accepted, it was assaulted Negroes on the streets and neighborhood im-clearly untrue. To begin with, 30,000 Afrikan workers provement societies bombed Negro homes. During thefresh from the South could hardly have replaced 365,000 Summer of 1919, the guerilla warfare in turn gave way tostrikers. There also was by all accounts a tremendous tur- open armed conflict - the South Side of Chicago becamenover and desire to quit by those Afrikan workers, and a battleground for racial war.. .the bombing of Negrowithin a few months supposedly few if any of them re- homes and assaults on Negroes in the streets and parksmained. became almost everyday occurrences."(44) The reason is that most of them were not On July 27, 1919, an Afrikan teenager was stoned"strikebreakers", but workers who had been systematical- to death on the 29th St. beach, and after Afrikans attackedly deceived and brought to the mills by force. Thats why his murderers generalized fighting broke out. It lasted sixthey left as soon as they could. The testimony during the days, until the Illinois National Guard was called in. 23strike of 19 year-old Eugene Steward of Baltimore il- Afrikans were killed and 342 wounded, with over 1,000lustrates this. He was recruited along with 200 others (in- homeless after arson attacks (white losses were 15 killedcluding whites) to work in Philadelphia for $4 per day. But and 178 wounded). Afrikans were temporarily trapped inonce inside the railroad car they found the doors locked the "Black Belt," unable to go to work or obtain food.and guarded by armed company police. They were taken Assisted by the police, Irish, Italian and other whitewithout food or water to Pittsburgh, unloaded under workers would make night raids into the "Black Belt;"guard behind barbed wire, and told that they were to work homes were often attacked. When Afrikans gathered,at the mills. Seeing that a strike was going on, many of police would begin firing into the crowds.them wanted to quit. The guards told them that anyAfrikans attempting to leave would be shot down. Stewarddid succeed in escaping, but was found and forcibly return-ed by the guards. It was only after a second attempt that hemanaged to get free. It is obvious that the Afrikan"strikebreakers" were deliberate propaganda set up by thecapitalists - and swallowed wholesale by the whiteworkers. In regard to the Afrikan steelworkers already atwork in the North (and who declined to join the strike), itshould be remembered that this was a white strike. Manyof the striking A.F.L. unions did not admit Afrikans;those that did so (solely to get Afrikans to honor theirstrikes) usually kept Afrikans in "seg" locals. The Euro-Amerikan leadership of the strike had promised Afrikansnothing, and plainly meant to keep their promise. That is,this strike had a definite oppressor nation character to itand was wholely white-supremacist. Nor did the white steel strike develop separatefrom the continuous struggle between oppressor and op-pressed nations. During the two previous years there had 73 A Mississippi lynching, captt~redby fhr camera.
  • 75. The authorities did not move to "restore order," No longer was it just a question of some Afrikansincidentally, until after Afrikan World War I vets broke not following the orders of the white labor. Now Fosterinto the 8th Illinois Infantry Armory, and armed was openly saying that the entire Afrikan "race" was thethemselves with rifles to take care of the white mobs. (45) enemy. Could the imperialists have asked for more, than to have the leading "communist" trade-union leader help This was the vigorous "warm-up" for the steel them whip up the oppressor nation masses to repress thestrike. It was not surprising that the Afrikan exile com- Afrikan nation?munities were less than enthusiastic about supporting thestrike of the same people who had spent the past two years The Cossacks were the hated and feared specialattacking them. Given the history of the A.F.L. it was military of the Russian Czar, used in bloody repressionspossible that an outright triumph of the A.F.L. unions against the people. Only the most twisted, Klan-like men-might have meant renewed efforts to drive Afrikan labor tality would have so explicitly compared the oppressedout of the mills altogether. It was typical settleristic think- Afrikan nation to those infamous oppressors. And wasing to make Afrikans responsible for the failure of a white this message not an incitement to mob terror andstrike, which was never theirs in the first place. genocide? For the poor immigrants from Eastern Europe (much of which was under the lash of Czarist tyranny) to Both the strike leadership and the bourgeoisie kill a Cossack was an act of justice, of retribution. Thecleverly promoted this hatred, encouraging the European threat was easy to read.immigrant and "native-born" settler alike to turn all theiranger and bitterness onto the Afrikan nation. Perhaps the In case Afrikans didnt get Fosters threat (whichmost interesting role was played by William Z. Foster, the was also being delivered in the streets, as we know), Fosterchief leader of the strike. He was one of the leading made it even more plain. He said that if Afrikans failed to"socialist" trade-unionists of the period, and in 1920 obey the decisions of settler labor: "It would make our in-would become a leader in the new Communist Party USA. dustrial disputes take on more and more the character of - -From then on until his death he would be a leadinn figure race wars, a consummation that would be hinhlv iniuriousof settler "communism." Even today young recruits in theCPUSA and Mao Zedong Thought organizations areoften told to "study" Fosters writings in order to learnabout labor organizing. William Z. Foster had, as the saying goes, "pulleddefeat out of the jaws of victory." Foster based the strikeon the A.F.L. unions, despite their proven record oftreachery and hostility towards the proletarian masses.That alone guaranteed defeat. He encouraged whitesupremacist feeling and thus united the honest elementswith the most reactionary. Despite the great popular sup-port for a nation-wide strike and the angry sentiments ofthe most exploited steelworkers, Foster and the otherA.F.L. leaders so sabotaged the strike that it went down todefeat. The one "smart" thing he did was to cover up hisopportunistic policies by following the capitalists in usingAfrikans as the scapegoats. In his 1920 history of the strike, Foster (the sup-posed "communist") repeated the lie that Afrikan workershad "lined up with the bosses. " In fact, Foster even saidthat in resolving the differences between Euro-Amerikanand Afrikan labor "The negro has the more difficultpart"since the Afrikan worker was becoming a professionalstrike-breaker. " And militant white workers knew whatthey were supposed to do to a "professional strike-breaker." Fosters lynch mob oratory was only restrained bythe formality expected of a Euro-Amerikan "communist"leader. His white-supremacist message was identical to butmore politely clothed than the crude rants of the Ku KluxKlan. He warned that the capitalists were groomingAfrikans as "as race of strike-breakers, with whom to holdthe white workers in check; on much the same principle asthe Czars used the Cossacks to keep in subjugation thebalance of the Russian people. " Its easy to see how Fosterbecame such a popular leader among the settler workers. During the 1919 race riots, a white mob chases a Negro into his home- and then stones him to death with bricks. He is dead by the time the police arrive. 74
  • 76. to the white workers and eventually ruinous to the In the steel mills, Mexicanos and Afrikans madeblacks. " (46) up perhaps 25% of the workers in Indiana and Illinois by 1925. They were the bottom of the labor there, making up The threat of a genocidal "race war" against for the immigrant European who had moved up or left forAfrikans unless they followed the orders of settler labor better things. A steel labor history notes:makes it very clear just what kind of "unity" Foster andhis associates had in mind. We should say that once Fosterstarted dealing with the problem of how to build the Euro-Amerikan "Left," he discovered that it was much more ef- "Mean while, the Eastern Europeans were occupy-fective to pose as an anti-racist and use "soft-sell" in pro- ing the lesser positions once held by the English-speakingmoting a semi-colonial mentality in oppressed na- workmen. As they rose, the numbers of Slavs in the millstionalities. Foster the "communist" declared himself an shrank. A t one time 58 percent of the Jones and Laughlinexpert on Civil Rights, poverty in Puerto Rico, Afrikan labor force, the immigrants comprised o n b 31 per cent inhistory, and so on. 1930. There were 30 per cent fewer Eastern Europeans in Illinois Steel Company mills in 1928 than in 1912. Now The tragic failure of the new white industrial pro- largely the immediate bosses of the Negroes and Mexicans,letariat to take up its revolutionary tasks, its inability to the immigrants disdained their inferiors much as therise above the level of reform, is not just a negative. The natives had once disliked them.failure was an aspect of a growing phenomenon - theAmericanization of the "foreign" proletariat from "The bad feeling generated by the Red ScareEastern and Southern Europe. By the later part of World abated only gradually. In Gary, the Ku Klux Klan flourish-War I it was possible to see that these immigrants were ed. But the respectable solidity of the immigrant com-starting the climb upwards towards becoming settlers. munities in time put to rest unreasoning fear. The childrenRevolutionary fervor, as distinct from economic activity, were passing through the schools and into business anddeclines sharply among them from this point on. higher jobs in the mills. Each year the number of homeowners increased, the business prospered, and the This was not a smooth process. The sharp repres- churches and societies became more substantial. The im-sion of 1917-1924, in which not only government forces migrants were assuming a middling social and economicbut also the unleashed settler mob terror struck out across position in the steel towns." (49)the U.S. Empire, was a clean-up campaign directed at theEuropean national minorities. Thousands were forced out The U.S. Empire could afford gradually expan-or returned home, many were imprisoned, killed or ter- ding the privileged strata because it had emerged as the bigrorized. Historians talk of this campaign as a "Red winner in the First Imperialist World War. Scott NearingScare," but it was also the next-to-final step in purifying pointed out how in 1870 the U.S. was the fourth rankedthese "foreigners" so that Amerika could adopt them. capitalist economy; by 1922 the U.S. had climbed to No. 1 position: "...more than equal to the wealth of Britain, The Chairman of the Iowa Council of Defense Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Belgium and Japan com-said: "We are going to love every foreigner who really bined." (50) Successful imperialist war was the key tobecomes an American, and all the others we are going to Americanization.ship back home." A leader of the Native Sons of theGolden West said that immigrants "must live for the Throughout the Empire this movement of the im-United States and grow an American soul inside of him or migrant proletarians into the settler ranks was evident. Aget out of the country." (47) history of Mexican labor importation notes: "In the beet fields of Colorado, as elsewhere in the West, other im- The offer was on the table. The "Hunky" and migrant groups, such as the Italians, Slavs, Russians, or"Dago" could become "white" (though barely) through Irish, found that they could move up from worker or te-Americanization if they pledged their loyalty to the U.S. nant to owner and employer through the use of MexicanEmpire. In the steel mills World War I meant wholesale migrants." (51)Americanization campaigns. "Hungarian Hollow," theimmigrant slum quarter in Granite City, Ill. was renamed This point marks a historic change. Never again"Lincoln Place" at the prompting of the steel companies would white labor be anti-Amerikan and anti-capitalist.(with festive ceremonies and speeches). By 1918 the Gary, Although it would organize itself millions strong into giantInd. U.S. Steel Works had over 1,000 men enrolled in unions and wage militant economic campaigns, whiteevening citizenship classes. Liberty Bond drives and Army labor from that time on would be branded by its servileenlistment offices in the plants were common. Immigrants patriotism to the U.S. Empire. As confused as the I.W.W.were encouraged by their employers to join the U.S. Army might have been about revolution, its contempt for U.S.and prove their loyalty to imperialism. (48) national chauvinism was genuine and healthy. It was only natural for an organization so strongly based on im- Americanization was not just a mental process. To migrant labor - many of whose best organizers were notbecome a settler was meaningless unless it was based on the U.S. Citizens and who often spoke little or no English -promise of privileges and the willingness to become to feel no sympathy for the U.S. Empire. It was a tragedyparasitic. As "nativeborn" Euro-Amerikans continued to that this strength was overturned, that this socialistleave the factories, the immigrant Europeans could now possibility faded into a reinforcement for settlerism. Andadvance. And the importation of hundreds of thousands yet the contradiction between the reality of exploitation in(soon t o be millions) of Mexicano, Afrikan, Puerto Rican the factories and the privileges of settlerism still remained.and other colonial workers into Northern industry gave the The immigrant masses could not be both settler and pro-Americanized Europeans someone to step up on in his letarian. This was the historic challenge of the CIO andclimb into settlerism. 75 New Deal.
  • 77. VII. BREAKTHROUGH OF THE C.I.O. It is a revealing comparison that during the 1930s their despotic control over industrial life.the European imperialists could only resolve the socialcrisis in Italy, Germany, Spain, Poland, Finland, The Eastern and Southern European immigrantRumania, and so on, by introducing fascism, while in the national minorities won the "better life" thatU.S. the imperialists resolved the social crisis with the New Americanization promised them. They became full citizensDeal. In Germany the workers were hit with the Gestapo, of the U.S. emtire. and, with the rest of the white in-while in Amerika they got the C.I.O. industrial unions. dustrial proletariat, won rights and privileges both inside and outside the factories. In return, as U.S. imperialism In that decade the white industrial proletariat launched its drive for world hegemony, it could dependunified itself, pushed aside the dead hand of the old upon the armies of solidly united settlers serving im-A.F.L. labor aristocracy, and in a crushing series of sit- perialism at home and on the battlefield. To insure socia!down strikes won tremendous increases in wages and stability, the new government-sponsored unions of theworking conditions. For the first time the new white in- C. I.O. absorbed the industrial struggle and helpeddustrial proletariat forced the corporations to surrender discipline class relations. 1. Unification of the White Workers The working class upsurge of the 1930s was not ac- Iron and Steel Workers, whose 24,000 members in 1891 ac-cumulated discontents. This is the common, but shallow, counted for 2/3rds of all craftsmen in the industry, hadview of mass outbreaks. What is true is that material con- dwindled to only 6,500 members by 1914. (4)ditions, including the relation to production, shape andreshape all classes and strata. These classes and strata then Mechanization also wiped out whole sections ofexpress characteristic political consciousness, the very bottom factory laborers, replacing shovels withcharacteristic roles in the class struggle. mechanical scoo~s. wheelbarrows with electric trollevs and cranes. Both t o p and bottom layers of the &ctory The unification of the white industrial workforce workforce were increasingly pulled into the growing mid-was the result of immense pressures. Its long-range dle stratum of semi-skilled, production line assemblers andmaterial basis was the mechanization and imperialist machine operators. In the modern auto plants of the 1920sreorganization of production. In the late 19th century it some 70% were semi-skilled production workers, while on-was still true that in many industries the skilled craftsmen ly 10% were skilled craftsmen and 15% laborers.(5) Theliterally ran production. They - not the company - political unification of the white workers thus had itswould decide how the work was done. Combining the material roots in the enforced unification of labor in thefunctions of artisan, foreman, and personnel office, these modern factory.skilled craftsmen would directly hire and boss their entirework crew of laborers, paying them out of a set fee paid bythe capitalist per ton or piece produced (the balance being The 1929 depression was also a great equalizer andtheir wage-profit). a sharp blow to many settlers, knocking them off their conservative bias. During the 1930s roughly 25% of the The master roller in the sheet metal rolling mill, U.S. Empire was unemployed. Office clerks, craftsmen,the puddler in the iron mill, the buttie in the coal mine, the and college students rubbed shoulders with laborers andcarriage builder in the early auto plant all exemplified this farmers in the relief lines. Many divisions broke down, asstage of production. The same craft system applied to gun midwestern and Southern rural whites migrated to the in-factories, carpet mills, stone quarries etc. etc. (1) It was dustrial cities in search of jobs or relief. In 1929 it wasthese highly privileged settler craftsmen who were the base estimated that in Detroit alone there were some 75,000of the old A.F.L. unions. Their income reflected their lofty young men (the "Suitcase Brigade") who had come frompositions above the laboring masses. In 1884, for example, the countryside to find jobs in the auto plants. (6)master rollers in East St. Louis earned $42 per week (a thenvery considerable wage), over four times more than The depression not only helped unite the settlerlaborers they bossed.(2) workers, but the social catastrophe pushed large sections of other settler classes towards more sympathy with social This petit-bourgeois income and role gradually reform. Small farmers were being forced wholesale intocrumbled as capitalists reorganized and seized ever tighter bankruptcy and were conducting militant struggles of theircontrol over production. A survey by the U.S. Bureau of own. Professionals, intellectuals, and even many smallLabor found that the number of skilled steel workers earn- businessmen, felt victimized by corporate domination ofing 606 an hour fell by 20% between 1900-1910.(3) the economy. Militancy and radicalism became teinporari-Mechanization cut the ranks of craftsmen, and, even ly respectable. When white labor started punching out itwhere they remained, their once-powerful role in produc- would not only be stronger than before, but much of set-tion had shrunk. The A.F.L. Amalgamated Association of 76 tler society would be sympathetic to it.
  • 78. 2. Labor Offensive From Below Citizenship in the Empire had very real but still laid off experienced workers and replaced them withlimited meaning so long as many white workers remained newcomers at a fraction of the old wages. Ford Motor"industrial slaves" of the corporations. The increasing Company, which advertised that it was the highest payingcentralization of monopoly capitalism repeated aspects of company in the U.S., allegedly paid production workers afeudalism on a higher level. Both inside and outside the minimum of $7 per day (with inflation less than it paid infactory gates the settler workers were subject to heightened 1914). On the contrary, some thousands of Euro-Americanregimentation. During the 1920s it was not unusual for the Ford employees in the 30s found their pay down as low aspersistent speed-up by management to double production $1.40 per day; that was roughly what Afrikan womenper worker, even without taking mechanization into ac- domestics had earned in Chicago. (9) It takes no genius tocount. see that settler workers would not passively accept being reduced to a colonial wage. Companies in Detroit, Pitt- At Ford, perhaps the most extreme of the in- sburgh, etc. advertised widely in the South for workers,dustrial despots, every tenth employee was also a company wishing even larger pools of jobless to intimidate andspy. Workers overheard making resentful remarks would discipline their beaten up right on the production line by the ever-present guards. (7) In the U.S. Steel plants at Homestead, The A.F.L. unions were not only loyal to im-Pa. the constant spying gave rise to a common saying: "If perialism, but in their weakened state heavily dependent onyou want to talk in Homestead, you must talk to enjoying the continued favors of individual corporationsyourself." (8) by opposing any real struggle. It was for that reason that The Depression and the massive unemployment the old Amalgamated Association had betrayed the 1919only threw more power into corporate hands. Not only steel strike. In that same year A.F.L. President Gomperswere wages cut almost everywhere, but many companies 77 actually told the U.S. Senate that Prohibition was a
  • 79. danger, because alcohol was needed to get the workers with physical destruction of their factories if they tried anyminds off rebellion. In the new auto industry the A.F.L. repression. After so much abuse and powerlessness, mili-was receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes tant young workers discovered great pleasure in temporari-from the auto manufacturers (usually via expensive adver- ly taking over. In some strikes unlucky bands of forementisements in labor newspapers or "donations" to anti- and company officials trapped in plant offices wouldcommunist campaigns). (10) become union prisoners for a few hours or days. But when the dam broke, the pent-up anger of While 1935 and 1936 saw Sit-Down strikes in themillions of Euro-Amerikan industrial workers was a rubber plants in Akron, Ohio, in auto plants in Detroit,mighty force. New organizing drives and new strikes had Cleveland and Atlanta, it was the Dec. 1936 Flint,never completely stopped, even during the repressive Michigan Sit-Down strike against GM that became the1920s. Defeat was common. But in 1934 two city-wide pivotal labor battle of the 1930s. Flint was the central for-general strikes in San Francisco and Minneapolis, and a tress of GM production, their special company town wherenear-general strike in Toledo stunned capitalist Amerika. GM carefully kept both Afrikans and foreign-born im- migrants to a minimum. Wages in the many Flint GM The victory of longshoremen in San Francisco and plants were relatively high for the times.teamsters in Minneapolis were important, but the Toledoauto workers strike - in which thousands of unemployed Still many enthusiastic Flint auto workers organiz-supporters of the auto workers drove the Ohio National ed themselves around the new C.I.O. United AutoGuard off the streets in direct battle - was the clearest Workers union, and seized both Fisher Body No. 1 andsign of things to come. The victory in the Auto-Lite parts Chevy No. 4 plants. Thousands of CIO militants from allplant was immediately followed by union victories at all over Michigan demonstrated in the streets as the Sit-the other major factories in town. Toledo became in 1934 Downers, armed with crowbars and bats, barricadedthe first "union city" in industrial Amerika. The tidal themselves into the plants. Since the first plant was the on-wave of labor unrest affected all parts of the U.S. and all ly source of Buick, Olds and Pontiac bodies, and the se-industries. cond plant was the only source of Chevrolet engines, the CIO Sit-Down strangled all GM car production. (11) The new Sit-Down strikes became a rage. It wascustomary strategy for employers to break strikes by keep- After 90 days of intense struggle around the seizeding the plants going with scabs, while hired thugs and plants, General Motors gave in. They recognized the UAWpolice repressed the strike organization. But in the Sit- as the union representation in seventeen plants. This wasDowns the workers simply seized and occupied the plants, the key victory of the entire Euro-Amerikan labor upsurgenot only stopping production but threatening the bosses of the 1930s. It was obvious that if General Motors, the
  • 80. strongest corporation in the world, was unable to defeat life. In the great 1937 Jones & Laughlin steel strike in Ali-the new industrial unions, then a new day had come. Prac- quippa, Pa. - a company town ruled over by a near-tical advances by workers in auto, steel, rubber, elec- fascistic company dictatorship - one striker commentedtronics, maritime, meat-packing, trucking and so on, prov- on his union dues after the victory: "Its worth $12 a yeared that this was so. to be able to walk down the main street of Aliquippa, talk to anyone you want about anything you like, and feel that The new union upsurge, which had begun in 1933, you are a citizen. " (14)continued into the World War I1 period and the immediatepost-war years. The number of strikes in the U.S. jumped White Amerika reorganized then into the form wefrom 840 in 1932 to 1700 in 1933,2200 in 1936, and 4740 in now know. The great 30s labor revolt was far more than1937. By 1944 over 50% of auto workers took part in one just a series of factory disputes over wages. It was aor more strikes during the year. As many settler workers historic social movement for democratic rights for the set-were taking part in strikes in 1944 as in 1937, at the height tler proletariat. Typically, these workers ended industrialof the Sit-Downs. (12) serfdom. They won the right to maintain class organiza- tions, to expect steady improvements in life, to express The defiant mood in the strongest union centers their work grievances, to accumulate some small propertywas very tangible. On March 14, 1944, some 5,000 Ford and to have a small voice in the local politics of their Em-workers at River Rouge staged an "unauthorized" wildcat pire.strike in which they blockaded the roads around the plantand broke into offices, "liberating" files on union In the industrial North the CIO movement reform-militants. (13) It was common in "negotiations" for ed local school boards, sought to monitor draft exemp-crowds of auto workers to surround the company officials tions for the privileged classes, ended company spyor beat up company guards. systems, replaced anti-union police officials, and in myriad ways worked to reorganize the U.S. Empire so that the The substantial increases in wages and im- Euro-Amerikan proletariat would have the life they ex-provements in hours and working conditions were, for pected as settlers. That is, a freer and more prosperous lifemany, secondary to this new-found power in industrial than any proletariat in history has ever had. 3. New Deal & Class Struggle The major class contradictions which had been another imperialist war, and the U.S. Empire intended todeveloping since industrialization were finally resolved. be the victor.The European immigrant proletariat wanted to fullybecome settlers, but at the same time was determined to This social reunification could be seen in Presidentunleash class struggle against the employers. Settler Roosevelts unprecedented third-term victory in the 1940 elections. Pollster Samuel Lube11 analyzed the landslideworkers as a whole, with the Depression as a final push, election results for the Saturday Evening Post:were determined to overturn the past. This growingmilitancy made a major force of the settler workers. While "Roosevelt won by the vote of Labor, unorganiz-they were increasingly united - "native-born" Euro- ed as well as organized, plus that of the foreign born andAmerikan and immigrant alike - the capitalists were in- their first and second generation descendants. And thecreasingly disunited. Most were trying to block the way to Negro.needed reform of the U.S. Empire. The New Deal administration of President "It was a class-conscious vote for the first time inFranklin Roosevelt reunited all settlers old and new. It American history, and the implications are portentous.gave the European "ethnic" national minorities real in- The New Deal appears to have accomplished what thetegration as Amerikans by sharply raising their privileges. Socialists, the I.W.W. and the Communists never couldNew Deal officials and legislation promoted economic approach ..." (15)struggle and class organization by the industrial proletariat- but only in the settler way, in government-regulated Lubells investigation showed how, in a typicalunions loyal to U. S. Imperialism. President Roosevelt situation, the New Deal Democrats won 4 to 1 in Bostonshimself became the political leader of the settler pro- "Charlestown" neighborhood; that was a working classletariat, and used the directed power of their aroused and small petit-bourgeois "ethnic" Irish community. Ofmillions to force through his reforms of the Empire. the 30,000 in the ward, almost every family had directly and personally benefited from their New Deal. Perhaps Most fundamentally, it was only with this shake- most importantly, the Democrats had very publicly up, these modernizing reforms, and the homogenized unity "become the champion of the Irish climb up the American of the settler masses that U.S. Imperialism could gamble ladder." While Irish had been kept off the Boston U.S. everything on solving its problems through world domina- Federal bench, Roosevelt promptly appointed two Irish tion. This was the desperate preparation for World War. lawyers as Federal judges. Other Irish from that The global economic crisis after 1929 was to be resolved in 79 neighborhood got patronage as postmasters, U.S. mar-
  • 81. Millions of settlers believed that only an end to traditional capitalism could make things run again. The new answer was to raise up the U.S. Government as the coordinator and regulator of all major industries. To restabilize the banking system, Roosevelt now insured con- sumer deposits and also sharply restricted many former, speculative bank policies. In interstate trucking, in labor relations, in communications, in every area of economic life new Federal agencies and bureaus tried to rationalize the daily workings of capitalism by limiting competition and stabilizing prices. The New Deal consciously tried to imitate the sweeping, corporate state economic dictator- ship of the Mussolini regime in Italy. The most advanced sections of the bourgeoisie - such as Thomas Watson of IBM and David Sarnoff of RCA - backed the controversial New Deal reforms. But for most the reaction was heated. The McCormick familys Chicago Tribune editorially called for Roosevelts assassination. Those capitalists who most stubbornly resisted the changes were publicly denounced by the New Dealers, who had set themselves up as the leaders of the anti-capitalist mass sentiment. The contradictions within the bourgeoisie became so great that a fascist coup detat was attempted against the New Deal. A group of major capitalists, headed by Irenee DuPont (of DuPont Chemicals) and the J.P. Morgan banking interests, set the conspiracy in motion in 1934. The DuPont family put up $3 million to finance a fascist stormtrooper movement, with the Remington Firearms Co. to arm as many as 1 million fascists. Gen. Douglas MacArthur was recruited to ensure the passive support of the U.S. Army. The plan was to seize state power, with a captive President Roosevelt forced to of- ficially turn over the reins of government to a hand-picked fascist "strong-man." As their would-be Amerikan Fuhrer the capitalists selected Gen. Smedley Butler, twice winner of the Congres-shals, collector of customs, and over 400 other Federal sional Medal of Honor and retired Commandant of thepositions. U.S. Marine Corps. But after being approached by J.P. Morgan representatives, Gen. Butler went to Congress and Irish workers in the neighborhood got raises from exposed the cabal. An ensuing Congressional investigationthe new Federal minimum wage and hours law. Unemploy- confirmed Gen. Butlers story. With the conspiracy shotment benefits went to those who were still jobless. 300-500 down and keeping in mind the high position of the ineptIrish youth earned small wages in the National Youth Ad- conspirators, the Roosevelt Administration let the matterministration, while thousands of adult jobless were given just fade out of the headlines.temporary Works Progress Administration (WPA) jobs.Forty per cent of the older Irish were on U.S. old-age During the 1936 election campaign one observerassistance. 600 families got ADC. Many received food recorded the New Deals open class appeal at a Democraticstamps. Federal funds built new housing and paid for park Party rally in Pittsburghs Forbes Field. The packed crowdand beach improvements. The same process was taking was whipped up by lesser politicians as they expectantlyplace with Polish, Italian, Jewish and other European na- awaited the Presidential motorcade. State Senator Warrentional minority communities throughout the North. Roberts recited the names of famous millionaires, pausing as the crowds thundered boos after each name. He orated: It was not just a crude bribery. The Depression "The President has decreed that your children shall enjoywas a shattering crisis to settlers, upsetting far beyond the equal opportunity with the sons of the rich. " Then Penn-turmoil of the 1960s and 1970s. It is hard for us to fully sylvania Gov. Earle took the microphone to punch at thegrasp how upside-down the settler world temporarily Republican capitalists even more:became. In the first week of his Administration, for exam-ple, President Roosevelt hosted a delegation of coal mine "There are the Mellons, who have grownoperators in the White House. They had come to beg the fabulously wealthy from the toil of the men of iron andPresident to nationalize the coal industry and buy them all steel, the men whose brain and brawn have made this greatout. They argued that "free enterprise" had no hope of city; Grundy, whose sweatshop operators have been theever reviving the coal industry or the Appalachian com- shame and disgrace of Pennsylvania for a generation; Pew,munities dependent upon it. 80 who strives to build a political and economic empire with
  • 82. himself as dictator; the DuPonts, whose dollars were earn- Nor was this limited to Euro-Amerikans. Colemaned with the blood of American soldiers; Morgan, financier Young (Mayor of Detroit), John Conyers (U.S. Con-of war." gressman), and many other Afrikan politicians got their start as young CIO staff members. In Hawaii, the Thousands of boos followed each name. Then, J a p a n e s e w o r k e r s in t h e C I O I n t e r n a t i o n a lwith the crowds worked up against their hated exploiters, Longshoremens and Warehousemens Union became thethe Presidential motorcade drove into the stadium to fren- active base of the Democratic Partys takeover ofzied cheering. The observer wrote of Roosevelts entry: Hawaiian bourgeois politics after the war. The CIO unions"He entered in an open car. It might have been the chariot became an essential gear in the liberal reform machine ofof a Roman Emperor. " (17) the Democratic Party. (18). So it was not just the social concessions that the A significant factor in the success of the 1930sgovernment made; the deep allegiance of the Euro- union organizing drives was the U.S. Governments refusalArnerikan workers to this new Leader and his New Deal to use armed repression against it. No U.S. armed repres-movement was born in the feeling that he truly spoke for sion against Euro-Amerikan workers took place fromtheir class interests. This was no accident. Nations and January, 1933 (when Roosevelt took office) until the June,classes in the long run get the leadership they deserve. 1941 North American Aviation strike in California. The U.S. Government understood that the masses of Euro- Amerikan industrial workers were still loyal settlers, com- mitted to U.S. Imperialism. To overreact to their economic mm WORK struggles would only further radicalize them. Besides, why should President Roosevelt have ordered out the FBI or U.S. Army to break up the admiring supporters of his own Democratic Party? Attempts by the reactionary wing of the bourgeoisie to return to the non-union past by wholesale repression were opposed by the New Deal. In the 1934 West Coast longshore strike (which in San Francisco became a general strike after the police killed two strikers), In order to end the company-town feudalism of President Roosevelt refused to militarily intervene, despitetheir communities, the CIO unionists took their new-found the fact that the governors of Oregon and Washington re-strength into the bourgeois political arena. The massed quested that he do base of the new unions was the bedrock of the NewDeal in the industrial states. The union activists themselves In speaking for the shipping companies andmerged into and became part of the imperialist New Deal. business interests on the Coast, Oregon Gov. MeierBob Travis, the Communist Party militant who was the telegraphed Roosevelt that troops were needed because:organizer of the Flint Sit-Down, proudly told the 1937 "We are now in a state of armed hostilities. The situationUAW Convention: is complicated by communistic interference. It is now beyond the reach of State authorities.. .insurrection which if not checked will develop into civil war." Roosevelt "We have also not remained blind to utilizing the publicly scorned this demand. It is telling that at the mostcitys political situation to the unions advantage, violent period of the strike a picture of President Rooseveltwhenever possible. In this way, for five months after the hung in the longshoremens union office in San Francisco.strike, we were able to consolidate a 5-4 pro-labor majoritybloc in the city commission, get a pro-labor city managerappointed, and bring about the dismissal of a viciouspolice chief, notorious as a strike-breaker." By 1958, Robert Carter, the UAW Regional Direc-tor for Flint-Lansing, could resign to become Flint CityManager. Things had come full circle. Once outsiderschallenging the local establishment, then angry reformers,the union was now part of the local bourgeois politicalstructure. This was the universal pattern in the industrialareas. In Anderson, Indiana, the auto workers at GMGuide Lamp took over the plant in a 1937 Sit-Down. By1942, strike leader Riley Etchison was a member of thelocal draft board. Another Sit-Downer was the newsheriff. John Mullen, the Steelworkers union leader atU.S. Steels Clairton, Pa. works, went on to become theMayor, as did Steelworkers local leader Elmer Maloy inDuQuesne, Pa. Everywhere the young CIO activists in-tegrated into the local Democratic Party as a force forpatriotic reform.
  • 83. President Roosvelt privately said in 1934 that therewas a conspiracy by "the old conservative crowd" to pro-voke general strikes as a pretext for wholesale repression.The Presidents confidential secretary wrote at the timethat both he and U.S. Labor Secretary Francis Perkinsbelieved that: "...the shipowners deliberately planned toforce a general strike throughout the country and in thisway they hoped they could crush the labor movement. Ihave no proof but I think the shipowners were selected toreplace the steel people who originally started out to dothis job." (19) The reactionary wing of the bourgeoisie were nodoubt enraged at the New Deals refusal to try and returnthe outmoded past at bayonet point. Almost three yearslater, in the pivotal labor battle of the 1930s, the New Dealforced General Motors to reach a deal with their strikingFlint, Michigan employees. GM had attempted to end theFlint Sit-Down with force, using both a battalion of hiredthugs and the local Flint police. Lengthy street battles withthe police over union food deliveries to the Sit-Downersresulted in many strikers shot and beaten (14 were shot inone day), but also in union control over the streets. In thefamous "Battle of Bulls Run" the auto workers, fightingin clouds of tear gas, forced the cops to run for their lives.The local repressive forces available to GM were unequalto the task. From the second week of the strike, GM had of-ficially asked the government to send in the troops. Butboth the State and Federal governments were in the handsof the New Deal. After five weeks of stalling, MichiganGov. Frank Murphy finally sent in 1,200 National Guard-smen to calm the street battles but not to move againsteither the union or the seized plants. Murphy used the no such attempt was made during the even more turbulentleverage of the troops to pressure both sides to reach a 1930s. President Roosevelt himself turned to CIO leaders,compromise settlement. The Governor reassured the CIO: in the words of the N. Y. Times,"for advice on labor pro-"The military wiN never be used against you. " The Na- blems rather than to any old-line A.F.L. leader." (21)tional Guard was ordered to use force, if necessary, to pro-tect the Sit-Down from the local sheriff and any right-wing There was a heavy split in the capitalist class, withvigilantes. many major corporations viewing the CIO as the Red Menace in their backyards, and desperately using lock- The Administration had both the Presidents outs, company unions and police violence to stop them.Secretary and the Secretary of Commerce call GM of- Not all, however. Years before the CIO came into being,ficials, urging settlement with the union. Roosevelt even Gerald Swope of General Electric had told A.F.L. Presi-had the head of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. call his friend, dent William Green that the company would rather dealthe Chairman of GM, to push for labor peace. The end of with one industrial union rather than fifteen different craftGMs crush-the-union strategy came on Feb. 11, 1937, unions. And when the Communist Party-led United Elec-after President Roosevelt had made it clear he would not trical Workers-CIO organized at GE, they found that theapprove repression, and told GM to settle with the union. company was glad to make a deal.GM realized that the fight was over. (20) While some corporations, such as Republic Steel, The important effect of the pro-CIO national tolerated unionization only after bloody years of conflict,strategy can be seen if we compare the 30s to earlier others wised up very quickly. U.S. Steel tried to control itsperiods. Whenever popular struggles against business grew employees by promoting company unions. But in planttoo strong to be put down by local police, then the govern- after plant the company unions were taken over by CIO ac-ment would send in the National Guard or U.S. Army. tivists. (23) It was no secret that the New Deal was pushingArmed repression was the drastic but brutally decisive industrial unionization. In Aliquippa, Pa., Jones &weapon used by the bourgeoisie. Laughlin Steel Co. had simply made union militants "disappear" - one Steelworkers organizer was later And the iron fist of the U.S. Government not only found after having been secretly committed to a state men-inspired terror but also promoted patriotism to split the tal hospital. New Deal Gov. Pinchot changed all that, evensettler ranks. The U.S. Army broke the great 1877 and assigning State Police bodyguards to protect CIO1894 national railway strikes. The coast-to-coast repressive organizers.wave, led by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, against the I.W.W.during 1917-1924 effectively destroyed that "Un- In Homestead, where no public labor meeting hadAmerican" movement - even without Army troops. Yet, 82 been held since 1919, 2,000 steelworkers and miners
  • 84. the corporation subsidiaries, during a very difficult period, Steel Workers! have been entirely free of labor disturbance of any kind." (26) Now is the time to join with steel worken everywhen to win higher wages, a square deal. and security. The By holding back the, iron fist of repression, by en- law says you have a right to organize into a genuina couraging the CIO, the New Deal reform government cut union under your own control. down "labor disturbance" among the Euro-Amerikan The powerful backing of the Committee for Industrial proletariat. Organization will help you build a strong union in accordance with the law. The C. I. 0. will assist your efforts to get a wage agreement with the steel It should be kept in mind that the New Deal was companies. ready to use the most direct repression when it was felt necessary. All during the 1930s, for example, they directed A union can end favoritism, protect you against the speed-up, and end unfair lay-offs. I an ever-increasing offensive against the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico. Unlike the settler workers, the liberation I Stand up for your rights! Safeguard your childrens struggle of Puerto Rico was not seeking the reform of the future! America is a land of great wealth. Sw that U.S. Empire but its ouster from their nation. The speed you have your just sham. with which the nationalist fervor was spreading through Get in touch with the Steel Workers Organizing Com- the Puerto Rican masses alarmed U.S. Imperialism. mittee. 3600 Grant Building. Pittaburgh. Pennsylvania; 1900 Engineering Building, 205 West Wacker Drive. So the most liberal, most reform-minded U.S. Chicago; 1418 Comer Building, Birmingham, Alabama. Government in history repressed the Nationalists in the most naked and brutal way. By 1936 the tide of pro- Independence sentiment was running high, and Don Publication Bo. 5. July. 1936 Price, 5c each; 12 for 3Oc; 180 for $2.00 Committee for I Albizu Campos, President of the Nationalist Party, was without doubt the most respected political figure among both the intellectuals and the masses. School children were starting to tear the U.S. flag down from the school flagpoles and substitute the Puerto Rican flag. In the city Industrial Organization of Ponce the school principal defied a police order to take 45 Rust Building the Puerto Rican banner down. The New Deal response 1001 15th St. N.W. Washington, D C. . was to directly move to violently break up the Nationalist center.gathered in 1936 in a memorial to the pioneering 1892 In July, 1936 eight Nationalist leaders were suc-Homestead Strike against U.S. Steel. The memorial rally cessfully tried for conspiracy by the U.S. Government.was protected by State Police, and Lt. Gov. Kennedy was Since their first trial had ended in a dead-locked jury, theone of the speakers. He told the workers that the State government decided to totally rig the next judge and juryPolice would help them if they went on strike against U.S. (most of the jurors were Euro-Amerikans, for example).Steel. (24) That done, the Nationalist leaders were sentenced to four to ten years in federal prison. Meanwhile, general repres- With all that, it is understandable that U.S. Steel sion came down. U.S. Governor Winship followed a policydecided to reach a settlement with the CIO. Two weeks of denying all rights of free speech or assembly to the pro-after the Flint Sit-Down defeated GM, U.S. Steel suddenly Independence forces. Machine guns were placed in theproposed a contract to the CIO. On March 2, 1937, the streets of San Juan.Steelworkers Union became the officially acceptedbargaining agent at U.S. Steel plants. The Corporation not On Palm Sunday, 1937 - one month after Presi-only bowed to the inevitable, but by installing the CIO it dent Roosevelt refused to use force against the Flint Sit-staved off even more militant possibilities. The CIO Down Strike - the Ponce Massacre took place. A Na-bureaucracy was unpopular in the mills. Only 7% of the tionalist parade, with a proper city permit, was met withU.S. Steel employees had signed union membership cards. U.S. police gunfire. The parade of 92 youth from theIn fact, Lee Pressman, the Communist Party lawyer for Cadets and Daughters of the Republic (Nationalist youththe Steelworkers Union, said afterwards that they just groups) was watched by 150 U.S. police with rifles anddidnt have the support of the majority: machine guns. As soon as the unarmed teen-agers started marching the police began firing and kept firing. Nineteen There is no question that we could not have filed a Puerto Rican citizens were killed and over 100 wounded.petition through the National Labor Relations Board or Afterwards, President Roosevelt rejected all protests andany other kind of machinery asking for an election. We said that Governor Winship had his approval. The goal ofcould not have won an election ..." (25) paralyzing the pro-Independence forces through terrorism was obvious. (27) At the U.S. Steel stockholders meeting the follow-ing year, Chairman Myron Taylor explained to his in- Similar pressures, although different in form, werevestors why the New Deals pro-CIO approach worked: used by the New Deal against Mexicano workers in the West and Midwest. There, mass round-ups in the Mex- "The union has scrupulously followed the terms icano communities and the forced deportation of 500,000of its agreement and, in so far as I know, has made no un- Mexicanos (many of whom had U.S. residency or citizen-fair effort to bring other employees into its ranks, while 83 ship) were used to save relief funds for settlers and, most
  • 85. importantly, to break up the rising Mexicano labor and n& munist Party leader of the 1937 Flint Sit-Down, reportedtional agitation. In a celebrated case in 1936, miner Jesus only months after besting General Motors:Pallares was arrested and deported for the "crime" of "Despite this terrifically rapid growth in member-leading the 8,000-member La Liga Obrera De Habla ship we have been able to conduct an intensive educationalEspanola in New Mexico. (28) campaign against unauthorized strikes and for observation The U.S.Government used violent terror against of our contract and in the total elimination of wild-cat ac-the Puerto Rican people and mass repression against the tions during the past 3 months." (29)Mexicano people during the 1930s. But it did nothing like that to stop Euro-Amerikan workers because it didnt have Fortune, the prestigious business magazine,to. The settler working class wasnt going anywhere. said in 1941: In the larger sense, they had little class politics of "...properly directed, the UAW can hold mentheir own any more. President Roosevelt easily became together in an emergency; it can be made a great force fortheir guide and Patron Saint, just as Andrew Jackson had morale. It has regularized many phases of production; itsfor the settler workmen of almost exactly one century shop stewarts, who take up grievances on the factory floor,earlier. The class consciousness of the European im- can smooth things as no company union could ever suc-migrant proletarians had gone bad, infected with the set- ceed in smoothing them. " (30)tler sickness. Instead of the defiantly syndicalist I.W.W.they now had the capitalistic CIO. The Euro-Amerikan proletariat during the 30s This reflected the desires of the vast majority of had broken out of industrial confinement, reaching forEuro-Amerikan workers. They wanted settler unionism, freedoms and a material style of life no modern proletariatwith a privileged relationship to the government and had ever achieved. The immense battles that followed"their" New Deal. Settler workers accepted each new obscured the nature of the victory. The victory they gainedlabor law passed by the imperialist government to stabilize was the firm positioning of the Euro-Amerikan workinglabor relations. But unions regulated, supervised and class in the settler ranks, reestablishing the rights of allreorganized by the imperialists are hardly the free working Europeans here to share the privileges of the oppressor na-class organizations called by that name in the earlier tion. This was the essence of the equality that they won. This bold move was in the settler tradition, sharing theperiods of world capitalism. Amerikan pie with more European reinforcements so that One reason that this CIO settler unionism was so the Empire could be strengthened. This formula had par-valuable to the imperialists was that in a time of labor tially broken down during the transition from the Amerika upheaval it cut down on uncontrolled militancy and even of the Frontier to the Industrial Amerika. It was thehelped calm the production lines. Even the "Left" union brilliant accomplishment of the New Deal to mend thismilitants were forced into this role. Bob Travis, the Com- break. CAREY MCWILLIAMS WATCHES A MASS DEPORTATION I w t c k d the first shipment of "repatriated Mexicans leave L a Angeks in February, I 931.The loading process began a six oclock int morning. Repatriadm arrived hy the truckload k - men. women. , - and children with dogs, cats, and goats, half-open suitcases, r& of - , and lunchbaskerr. I t cost the County of Los Angeles $77.249.29 to repatriate one trainload, but t k savings in nlicf mowued to $347468.41 for this one shipment. I n I932 alone over ekven thousad Mexicams were repatriated from La Angeles. . .. The strikes in California in the thirties, moreover, wen duplicated wherever Mexicans were employed in agriculture. Mexican field- workers ~ r w k Ariama,- in l & h o and Washington; in Colorado; in in Michigatt; and in t k Lower Rio Grand Valley in Texas. When Mexi- uin shrrpshcarers want on strike in west Texas in 1934,one of the skepmcn nuuie a speech in which he s i : "We are a pretty poor ad bunch of white men if we are going to sit here and kt a bnnch of Mexicans tell us what to do."... With scarcely an exception, every strike in which Mexicans portici- pted in t k borderlands in the thirties wa.r broken by the use of v i e knce and was f d 1 ~ t t . d deportations. I n most of these strikes, by Mexican workers stood alone; thol is, they were not supported by organized labor, for their organizationr, for t k most part, were aflC iorrd neither with the CIO nor the AFL. Carey McWilliams, North from Mexico 4 84
  • 86. 4. The CIOs Integration & Imperialist Labor Policy The CIO played an important role for U.S. im- Each night found the Illinois Central railroad wen-perialism in disorganizing and placing under supervision ding its way Northward through Louisiana, Mississippithe nationally oppressed. For the first time masses of Third and Tennessee, following the Mississippi River up to theWorld workers were allowed and even conscripted into the "Promised Land" of Gary or Chicago. Instead ofsettler trade unions. This was the result of a historic ar- sharecropping or seasonal farm labor for "Mr. John,"rangement between the U.S. Empire and nationally op- Afrikan men during World War I might get hired for thepressed workers in the industrial North. "elite" Chicago jobs as laborers at Argo Corn Starch or International Harvester. Each week the Chicago Defender, On one side, this limited "unity" ensured that in the 20s the most widely-read "race" newspaper even inThird World workers didnt oppose the new, settler in- the South, urged its readers to forsake hellish Mississippidustrial unions, and were safely absorbed as "minorities" and come Northward to "freedom." One man remembersunder tight settler control. On the other side, hungry Third the long, Mississippi nights tossing and turning in bed,World proletarians gained significant income advances dreaming about the fabled North: "You could not rest inand hopes of job security and advancement. It was an ar- your bed at night for Chicago."rangement struck out of need on both sides, but one inwhich the Euro-Amerikan labor aristocracy made only tac- The refugee communities were really small Newtical concessions while strengthening their hegemony over Afrikan cities, where the taut rope of settler dominationthe Empires labor market. had been partially loosened. Spears Black Chicago says: "In the rural South, Negroes were dependent upon white So while the old A.F.L. craft unions had controll- landowners in an almost feudal sense. Personal supervi-ed Third World labor by driving us out of the labor sion and personal responsibility permeated almost everymarket, by excluding us from the craft unions or by con- aspect of life...In the factories and yards (of the North) onfining us to small, "seg" locals, the new CIO could only the other hand, the relationship with the boss was formalcontrol us by absorbing us into their settler unions. The and impersonal, and supervision limited to workingimperialists had decided that they needed colonial labor in hours." (31)certain industries. Euro-Amerikan labor could not,therefore, drive the nationally oppressed away in the old While there was less individual restriction, Afrikanmanner. The colonial proletarians could only be controlled refugees were under tight control as a national group. Theby disorganizing them - separating their economic strug- free bourgeois labor market of Euro-Amerikans didntgles from the national struggles of their peoples, separating really exist for Afrikans. Their employment was not in-them from other Third World proletarians around the dividual, not private. They got work only when a companyworld, absorbing them as "brothers" of settler unionism, consciously decided to use Afrikan labor as a group. Soand placing them under the leadership of the Euro- that Afrikan labor in the industrial North still existedAmerikan labor aristocracy. The new integration was the under colonial conditions, driven into specific workplacesold segregation on a higher level, the unity of opposites in and specific jobs.everyday life. Afrikans were understood by the companies as We can see how this all worked by reviewing the dynamite - extremely useful and potentially veryCIOs relationship to Afrikan workers. Large Afrikan dangerous. Their use in Northern industry was the start,refugee communities had formed in the major Northern in- though little understood at the time, of gradually bringingdustrial centers. Well over one million refugees had fled the new European immigrants up from proletarians to realNorthwards in just the time between 1910-1924, and new settlers. Imperialism was gradually releasing the "Hunky"thousands came every month. They were an irritating and "Dago" from laboring at the very bottom of the fac-presence to the settler North; each refugee community was tories. Now even more Euro-Amerikans were being pusheda foreign body in a white metropolis. Like a grain of sand upward into the ranks of skilled workers and an oyster. And just as the oyster eases its irritation by And if the Afrikan workers were paid more than theirencasing the foreign element in a hard, smooth coating of usual colonial wages in the South, they still earned lesspearl, settler Amerika encapsulated Afrikan workers in the than "white mans wages." Even the newest European im-hard, white layer of the CIO. migrant on the all-white production lines could look at the Afrikan laborers and know his new-found privileges as a Despite the "race riots" and the hostility of Euro- settler.Amerikans the Afrikan refugees streamed to the North inthe early years of the century. After all, even the troubles The ca~italists also knew that too many Afrikansof the North seemed like lesser evils to those fleeing the ter- might turn a useful and super-profitable tool into aroristic conditions of the occupied National Territory. dangerous force. Afrikan labor was used only in a con-Many had little choice, escaping the revived Ku Klux Klan. trolled way, with heavy restrictions placed upon it. One In-Increasingly forced off the land, barred from the new fac- diana steel mill superintendent in the 1920s said: "Whentories in the South, Afrikans were held down by the ter- we got (up to 10% Black) employees, I said, No more col-roristic control of their daily lives. 85 ored without discussion. I got the colored pastors to send
  • 87. colored men whom they could guarantee would notorganize and were not bolsheviks." This was at a timewhen the Garvey Movement, the all-Afrikan labor unions,and the growth of Pan-Afrikanist and revolutionary forceswere taking place within the Afrikan nation. The Northern factories placed strict quotas on thenumber of Afrikan workers. Not because they werent pro-fitable enough. Not because the employers were "prejudic-ed" - as the liberals would have it - but because the im-perialists believed that Afrikan labor could most safely beused when it was surrounded by a greater mass of settlerlabor. In 1937 an official of the U.S. Steel Gary Works ad-mitted that for the previous 14 years corporate policy hadset the percentage of Afrikan workers at the mill to 15%.(32) The Ford Motor Co. had perhaps the most exten-sive system of using Afrikan labor under plantation-likecontrol, with Henry Ford acting as the planter. A specialdepartment of Ford management was concerned withdominating not only the on-the-job life of Afrikanworkers, but the refugee community as well. Ford hiredonly through the Afrikan churches, with each church beinggiven money if its members stayed obedient to Ford. ~ h ; just arrived in Chicago from the Southcompany also subsidized Afrikan bourgeois organizations.His Afrikan employees and their families constitutedabout one-fourth of the entire Detroit Afrikan communi-ty. Both the NAACP and the Urban League were singing Overall, Afrikan workers-employed in the in-Fords praises, and warning Afrikan auto workers not to dustrial economy were concentrated in just five industries:have anything to do with unions. One report on the Ford automotive, steel, meat-packing, coal, railroads. The firstsystem in the 1930s said: four were where settler labor and settler capitalists were about to fight out their differences in the 1930s and early "There is hardly a Negro church, fraternal body, 1940s. And Afrikan labor was right in the middle.or other organization in which Ford workers are notrepresented. Scarcely a Negro professional or business In a number of industrial centers, then, the CIOman is completely independent of income derived from unions could not be secure without controlling AfrikanFord employees. When those seeking Ford jobs are added labor. And on their side, Afrikan workers urgently neededto this group, it is readily seen that the Ford entourage was improvement in their economic condition. A 1929 study ofable to exercise a dominating influence in the the automobile industry comments:community. " (33) "As one Ford employment official has stated, The Afrikan refugee communities, extensions of Many of the Negroes are employed in the foundry and doan oppressed nation, became themselves miniature col- work that nobody else would do. The writer noticed inonies, with an Afrikan bourgeois element acting as the one Chevrolet plant that Negroes were engaged on the dir-local agents of the foreign imperialists. Fords system was tiest, roughest and most disagreeable work, for example,unusual only in that one capitalist very conspicuously took in the painting of axles. At the Chrysler plant they are usedas his role that which is usually done more quietly by a exclusively on paint jobs, and at the Chandler-Clevelandcommittee of capitalists through business, foundations plant certain dangerous emery wheel grinding jobs wereand their imperialist government. given only to Negroes." (35) In virtually all auto plants Afrikans were not allowed to work on the production lines, and were This colonial existence in the midst of industrial segregated in foundry work, painting, as janitors, driversAmerika gave rise to contradiction, to the segregation of and other "service" jobs. They earned 35-38 cents perthe oppressed creating its opposite in the increasingly im- hour, which was one-half of the pay of the Euro-Amerikanportant role of Afrikan labor in industrial production. production line workers. This was true at Packard, at GM,Having been forced to concentrate in certain cities and cer- and many other companies. (36)tain industries and even certain plants, Afrikan labor at theend of the 1920s was discovered to have a strategic role in The CIOs policy, then, became to promote in-Northern industry far out of proportion to its still small tegration under settler leadership where Afrikan labor wasnumbers. In Cleveland Afrikans comprised 50% of the numerous and strong (such as the foundries, the meat-metal working industry; in Chicago they were 40-50% of packing plants, etc.), and to maintain segregation and Jimthe meat packing plants; in Detroit the Afrikan auto Crow in situations where Afrikan labor was numericallyworkers made up 12% of the workforce at Ford, 10% at lesser and weak. Integration and segregation were but twoBriggs, 30% at Midland Steel Frame. (34) 86 aspects of the same settler hegemony.
  • 88. Three other imperatives shaped CIO policy: 1. To ious to get support from Afrikan workers for the comingmaintain settler privilege in the form of reserving the skill- big strike, Mortimer arranged for a secret meeting:ed crafts, more desirable production jobs, and the opera-tion of the unions themselves to Euro-Amerikans. 2. Any "A short time later, I found a note under my hoteltactical concessions to Afrikan labor had to conform to the room door. It was hard to read because so many grimyCIOs need to maintain the unity of Euro-Amerikans. 3. hands had handled it. It said, "Tonight at midnight,"The CIOs policy on Afrikan labor had to be consistent followed by a number on Industrial Avenue. It was signed,with the overall colonial labor policy of the U.S. Empire. "Henry." Promptly at midnight, I was at the number heWe should underline the fact that rather than challenge had given. It was a small church and was totally dark. IU.S. imperialisms rules on the status and role of colonial rapped on the door and waited. Soon the door was openedlabor, the CIO as settler unions loyally followed those and I went inside. The place was lighted by a small candle,rules. carefully shaded to prevent light showing. Inside there were eighteen men, all of them Negroes and all of them To use the automobile industry as a case, there was from the Buick foundry. I told them why I was in Flint,considerable integration within the liberal United Auto what I hoped to do in the way of improving conditions andWorkers (UAW-CIO). That is, there was considerable raising their living standards. A question period followed.recruiting of Afrikan labor to help Euro-Amerikan The questions were interesting in that they dealt with theworkers advance their particular class interests. The first unions attitude toward discrimination and with what theDetroit Sit-Down was at Midland Steel Frame in 1936. The unions policy was toward bettering the very bad condi-UAW not only recruited Afrikan workers to play an active tions of the Negro people. One of them said, "You see, werole in the strike, but organized their families into the CIO have all the problems and worries of the white folks, andsupport campaign. Midland Frame, which made car then we have one more: we are Negroes."frames for Chrysler and Ford, was 30% Afrikan. Therethe UAW had no reasonable chance of victory without "I pointed out that the old AFL leadership wascommanding Afrikan forces as well as its own. gone. The CIO had a new program with a new leadership that realized that none of us was free unless we were all free. Part of our program was to fight Jim Crow. Our pro- But at the many plants that were overwhelmingly gram would have a much better chance of success if thesettler, the CIO obviously treated Afrikan labor different- Negro worker joined with us and added his voice andly. In those majority of the situations the new union sup- presence on the union floor. Another man arose and ask-ported segregation. In Flint, Michigan the General Motors ed, "Will we have a local union of our own?" 1 replied,plants were Jim Crow. Afrikans were employed only in the "We are not a Jim Crow union, nor do we have anyfoundry or as janitors, at sub-standard wages (many, of second-class citizens in our membership!"course, did other work although still officially segregatedand underpaid as "janitors"). Not only skilled jobs, but "The meeting ended with eighteen applicationeven semi-skilled production line assembly work was cards signed and eighteen dollars in initiation fees col-reserved for settlers. lected. I cautioned them not to stick their necks out, but quietly to get their fellow workers to sign application cards While the UAW fought GM on wages, hours, civil and arrange other meetings.. ." (38)liberties for settler workers, and so forth, it followed thegeneral relationship to colonial labor that GM had laiddown. So that the contradiction between settler labor and Mortimers recollections are referred to over andsettler capitalists was limited, so to say, to their oppressor over in Euro-Amerikan "Left" articles on the CIO as sup-nation, and didnt change their common front towards the posed fact. In actual fact there was little Afrikan supportoppressed nations and their proletariats. for the Flint Sit-Down. Onlyfive Afrikans took part in the Flint Sit-Down Strike. Nor was that an exception. In the At the time of the Flint Sit-Down victory in 1937 Sit-Down at Chryslers Dodge Main in Detroit onlyFebruary, 1937, the NAACP issued a statement raising the three Afrikan auto workers stayed with the strike. Duringquestion of more jobs: "Everywhere in Michigan colored the critical, organizing years of the UAW, Afrikan autopeople are asking whether the new CIO union is going to workers were primarily sitting out the fight between settlerpermit Negroes to work up into some of the good jobs or labor and settler corporations. (39) It was not their nation,whether it is just going to protect them in the small jobs not their union, and not their fight. And the results of thethey already have in General Motors." (37) UAW-CIO victory proved their point of view. That was an enlightening question. Many UAW The Flint Sit-Down was viewed by Euro-Amerikanradicals had already answered "yes." Wyndham Mor- workers there as their victory, and they absolutely intendedtimer, the Communist Party USA trade union leader who to eat the dinner themselves. So at Flints Chevrolet No. 4was 1st Vice-President of the new UAW-CIO, left behind a factory the first UAW & GM contract after the Sit-Downseries of autobiographical sketches of his union career contained a clause on "noninterchangibility" reaffirmingwhen he died. Beacon Press, the publishing house of the settler privilege. The new union now told the Afrikanliberal Unitarian-Universalist Church, has printed this workers that the contract made it illegal for them to moveautobiography under the stirring title Organize! In his up beyond being janitors or foundry workers. That was theown words Mortimer left us an inside view of his secret - fruit of the great Flint Sit-Down a Jim Crow labor con-negotiations with Afrikan auto workers in Flint. tract. (40) The same story was true at Buick, exposing how empty were the earlier promises to Afrikan workers. Mortimer had made an initial organizing trip toFlint in June, 1936, to start setting up the new union. Anx- 87 This was not limited to one plant or one city. A
  • 89. practiced segregation on a broad scale, it was equally prepared to use integration. When it turned after cracking GM and Chrysler to confront Ford, the most strongly anti- union of the Big Three auto companies, the UAW had to make a convincing appeal to the 12,000 Afrikan workers there. So special literature was issued, Afrikan church and civil rights leaders negotiated with, and - most important- ly - Afrikan organizers were hired by the CIO to directly win over their brothers at Ford. The colonial labor policy for the U.S. Empire was, as we previously discussed, fundamentally reformed in the 1830s. The growing danger of slave revolts and the swelling Afrikan majority in many key cities led to special restric- tions on the use of Afrikan labor. Once the mainstay of manufacture and mining, Afrikans were increasingly mov- ed out of the urban economy. When the new factories spread in the 1860s, Afrikans were kept out in most cases. The general colonial labor policy of the U.S. Empire has been to strike a balance between the need to exploit col- onial labor and the safeguard of keeping the keys to modern industry and technology out of colonial hands. On an immediate level Afrikan labor - as colonial subjects - were moved into or out of specific industries as the U.S. Empires needs evolved. The contradiction bet-history of the UAW notes: " A s the UAW official later ween the decision to stabilize the Empire by giving moreconceded.. .in most cases the earliest contracts froze the ex- privilege to settler workers (ultimately by deproletarianiz-isting pattern of segregation and even discrimination." ing them) and the need to limit the role of Afrikan labor(41) At the Atlanta GM plant, whose 1936 Sit-Down strike was just emerging in the early 20th still pointed to by the settler "Left" as an example ofmilitant "Southern labor history," only total white- So the CIO did not move to oppose open, rigidsupremacy was goed enough for the CIO workers. The vic- segregation in the Northern factories until the U.S.torious settler auto workers not only used their new-found Government told them to during World War 11. Until thatunion power to restrict Afrikan workers to being janitors, time the CIO supported existing segregation, while accep-but did away altogether with even the pretense of having ting those Afrikans as union members who were already inthem as union members. For the next ten years the Atlanta the plants. Thi-s was only to strengthen settler unionismsUAW was all-white. (42) power on the shop floor. During its initial 1935-1941 organizing period the CIO maintained the existing op- So in answer to the question raised in 1937 by the pressor nation/oppressed nations job distribution: settlerNAACP, the true answer was "no" - the new CIO auto workers monopolized the skilled crafts and the mass ofworkers union was not going to get Afrikans more jobs, semi-skilled preoduction line jobs, while colonial workersbetter jobs, an equal share of jobs, or any jobs. This was had the fewer unskilled labor and broom-pushing posi-not a "sell-out" by some bureaucrat, but the nature of the tions.CIO. Was there a big struggle by union militants on thisissue? No. Did at least the Euro-Amerikan "Left" - there For its first seven years the CIO not only refusedbeing many members in Flint, for example, of the Com- to help Afrikan workers fight Jim Crow, but even refusedmunist Party USA, the Socialist Party, and the various to intervene when they were being driven out of the fac-Trotskyists - back up their Afrikan "union brothers" in a tories. Even as the U.S. edged into World War I1 manyprincipled way? No. corporations were intensifying the already tight restrictions on Afrikan labor. Now that employment was picking up with the war boom, it was felt not only that Euro- It is interesting that in his 1937 UAW Convention Amerikans should have the new jobs but that Afrikansreport on the Flint Victory, Communist Party USA mili- were not yet to be trusted at the heart of the imperialist wartant Bob Travis covered up the white-supremacist nature industry.of the Flint CIO. In his report (which covers even such Robert C. Weaver of the Roosevelt Administra-topics as union baseball leagues) there was not one word tion admitted: "When the defense program got under way,about the Afrikan GM workers and the heavy situation the Negro was only on the sidelines of American industry,they faced. And if that was the practice of the most ad- he seemed to be losing ground daily." Chrysler hadvanced settler radicals, we can well estimate the political decreed that only Euro-Amerikans could work at the newlevel of the ordinary Euro-Amerikan worker. Chrysler Tank Arsenal in Detroit. Ford Motor Co. was starting many new, all-settler departments - while rejec- Neither integration nor segregation was basic - ting 99 out of 100 Afrikan men referred to Ford by theoppressor nation domination was basic. If the UAW-CIO 88 U.S. Employment Service. And up in Flint, the 240
  • 90. Afrikan janitors at Chevrolet No. 4 plant learned that GM During World War I1 the CIO completed in-was going to lay them off indefinitely. During 1940 and tegrating itself by picking up many hundreds of thousandsearly 1941, while settler workers were being rehired for war of colonial workers. Many of these new members, weproduction in great numbers, Afrikan labor found itself should point out, were involuntary members. Historically,under attack. (43) the overwhelming majority of Afrikans who have belonged to the CIO industrial unions in the past 40 years never join- Those Afrikan workers employed in industry ed voluntarily. Starting with the-first Ford contract incould not defend their immediate class interests through 1941, the CIO rapidly shifted to "union shop" contracts.the CIO, but had to step out of the framework of settler In these contracts all new employees were required to joinunionism just to defend their existing jobs. In the Summer the union as a condition of employment. The modern im-of 1941 there were three Afrikan strikes at Dodge Main perialist factory in most industries quickly became highlyand Dodge Truck in Detroit. The Afrikan workers at Flint unionized - whether any of us liked it or not.~hevroletNo.4 staged protest rallies and eventually wontheir jobs. As late as April 1943 some 3,000 Afrikanworkers at Ford went out on strike for three days toprotest The U.S. Government, depending on the CIO as aFords hiring policies. The point is that the CIO opposed key element in labor discipline, encouraged the "unionAfrikan interests because it followed imperialist colonial shop." The U.S. War Labor Board urged corporations tolabor policy - and when Afrikan workers needed to de- thus force their employees to join the CIO: "Too oftenfend their class interests they had to do so on their own, members of unions do not maintain their membershiporganizing themselves on the basis of nationality. because they resent discipline of responsible leadership." (45) While this applied to all industrial workers, it applied It was not until mid-1942 that the CIO and the cor- most heavily to colo~lial labor.porations, maneuvering together under imperialist coor-dination, started tapping Afrikan labor for the productionlines. As much as settlers disliked letting masses of The government and the labor aristocracy wereAfrikans into industry, there was little choice. The winning impatient to get colonial workers safely tied up. If theyof the entire world was at stake, in a "rule or ruin" war. were to be let into industry in large numbers they had to beAs the U.S. Empire strained to put forth great armies, split up and neutralized by the settler unions - voluntarilynavies and air fleets to war on other continents, the supply or involuntarily. In the Flint Buick plant, where 588 of theof Euro-Amerikan labor had reached the bottom of the 600 Afrikan workers had been segregated in the foundrybarrel. To U.S. Imperialism, if the one-and-half million despite earlier CIO promises, the union and GM expectedAfrikan workers in war industry helped the Empire con- to win them over by finally letting them work on the pro-quer Asia and Europe it would well be worth the price. duction.lines. To their surprise, as late as mid-1942 the ma- jority of the Afrikan workers still refused to join the CIO. The U.S. War Production Board said: "We can- (46) The Afrikan Civil Rights organizations, the labornot afford the luxury of thinking in terms of white mens aristocracy, and the liberal New Deal all had to "educate"work." So the numbers of Afrikan workers on the produc- resisting workers like those to get in line with the settlertion lines tripled to 8.3% of all manufacturing production unions.workers. Now the CIO unions, however unhappily, joinedthe corporations in promoting Afrikans into new jobs - The integration of the CIO, therefore, had nothingeven as hundreds of thousands of settler workers were pro- to do with increasing job opportunities for Afrikans ortesting in "hate strikes." The reality was that settler building "working class unity." It was a new instrument ofworkers had government-led, imperialist unions, while col- oppressor nation control over the oppressed nation pro-onial workers had no unions of their own at all. (44) letarians.
  • 91. VIII. IMPERIALIST WAR & THE NEW AMERIKAN ORDER 1. G.I. Joe Defends His Supermarket FULL COOPERATION of organized labor in efforts to win World War I1 was enlisted by President Roosevelt. Roosevelt insisted that labor be represented on the War Labor Board as equals with business to help maintain both production and labor standards and to settle disputes. Labors drive to sell revenue-raising war bonds was symbolized in this poster presentation to Roosevelt at the White House by then AFL President William Green and Sec.-Treas. George Meany. "The Saturday Evening Post ran a series by G.1.s Although wars are made of mass tragedy andon What I Am Fighting For. One characteristic article sacrifice, this most successful of all Amerikan wars was abegan: I am fighting for that Big House with the bright happy time for most settlers. Thats why they look back ongreen roof and the big front lawn. " ( I ) it with so much nostalgia and fondness (even with a pathological TV comedy about "fun" in a Nazi P.O.W. World War I1 was the answer to every settlers camp). We could say that this was their last big frontier.prayer - renewed conquest and renewed prosperity. The Historian James Stokesbury notes in his summation of theNew Deals domestic reforms alone could not get war:capitalism going again. And even though the CIO had wonlarge wage increases in basic industry, the peace-timeeconomy was incapable of providing enough jobs and pro- "One of the great ironies of the American war ef-fits. As late as early 1940, the unemployment rate for fort was the way it was born disproportionately by aEuro-Amerikan workers was still almost 18%. (2) Expan- relatively few people. In spite of the huge numbers of mension of the Empire was the necessary basis of new prosperi- in service, second only to Russia among the Allies, only aty. 90 limited number of them saw combat...For the vast majori-
  • 92. ty of Americans it was a good war, if there can be such a characterized Amerikan society all the way up to the 1970sthing. People were more mobile and prosperous than ever began right there, in the war economy of WWII. The warbefore. The demands of the war brought the United States years were such a prosperous upturn from the Depressionout of a deep depression, created new cities, new in- that the necessary propaganda about "sacrificing for thedustries, new fortunes, a new way of life." (3) war effort" had a farcical air to it. Lucky Strike, the big- gest selling cigarette, caught the settler mood perfectly. Isolated in its Western Hemispheric Empire far when it changed its package color from green to white -from the main theatres of fighting, U.S. imperialism suf- and then announced nonsensically in big ads: "Luckyfered relatively little. As the Great Powers were inevitably Strike green is going off to war!"pulled into a global war of desperation, each driven tosolve its economic crisis by new conquests, Amerika hung Average family income went up by 50% comparedback. It hoped, just as in World War I, to wait out much to the Depression years. In New York City, average familyof the war and slip in near the end to take the lions share income rose from $2,760 to $4,044 between 1938-1942.of the kill. Nor was this just a paper gain. A historian of the wartime culture writes: "Production for civilian use, while The millions of civilians who died from bombing diminishing, remained so high that Americans knew noraids, disease and famine in war-torn Europe, Asia, North serious deprivations...At the peak of the war effort inAfrika and the Middle East have never been fully counted. 1944, the total of all goods and services available toThe full death toll is often put at an unimaginable 60 civilians was actually larger than it had been in 1940." (5)million lives. Amerika was spared all this, and emergedtriumphant at the wars end with citizenry, colonies and in- The number of supermarkets more than tripleddustry completely intact. Even U.S. military forces suf- between 1939 and 1944. Publishers reported book sales upfered relatively lightly compared to the rest of the world. 40% by 1943. The parimutuel gambling take at the raceMilitary deaths for the major combatants are revealing: tracks skyrocketed 250% from 1940 to 1944. Just betweenGermany-7 million; Russia-6 million; Japan-2 million; 1941 and 1942 jewelry sales were up 20-100% by areas. ByChina-2 million; Great Britain-250,000; U.S.A.-400,000. 1944 the cash and bank accounts held by the U.S. popula-More Russian soldiers died in the Battle of Stalingrad tion reached a record $140 Billion. That same year Macysalone than total U.S. military casualties for the whole war. department store in New York City had a sale on Pearl(4) Harbor Day - which produced their most profitable business day ever! (6) Once again, the exceptional life of settler Amerika was renewed by war and conquest. This is The war boom kicked Depression out. Factories the mechanism within each Amerikan cycle of internalwere roaring around the clock. The 16 million soldiers and conflict and reform. The New Deal was Hiroshima andsailors in the armed forces had left places everywhere for Nagasaki as well. Consumeristic Amerika was erected onthe unemployed to fill. The general prosperity that top of the 60 million deaths of World War 11. 2. The Political Character of the War "In the U.S., World War 11 was the principal "The audience consists of the vast MAJORITY ofcause of the total breakdown of the working-class move- those who happen to be NON-WHITES.ment and its revolutionary consciousness.. .Resistance to "They have NO FAVORITE, because it makesthe war would have seemed like simple common sense. If NO DIFFERENCE to them which party WINS the fight.Stalin gave the order to support the U.S. war effort he was "They are ONLY interested in the bout takinga fool. In any case, the old vanguards support should have place AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.been for the peoples struggle inside the U.S. " "The audience knows that the destruction of white George Jackson civilization means the EMANCIPATION of colored peo- ple, and that explains why they eagerly await the opening gong. In its March 29, 1939 issue the Pittsburgh Courier, "The democracies which now CONTROL theone of the major Afrikan newspapers, ran an editorial on dark world have never extended DEMOCRACY to thethe coming world war that summed up what most colonial dark world.peoples in the world thought about it: "THEIR meaning of democracy is for WHITE PEOPLE only, and just a EEW of them. "The democracies and the dictatorships are "The dictatorships FRANKLY DECLARE that ifpreparing to do BATTLE in the near future. they win THEY will do as the democracies HAVE DONE "The referee is IMPERIALISM, who stands ready in the award the decision to the victor. "The democracies as frankly declare that IF they "The stake is the right to EXPLOIT the darker win they will CONTINUE to do as they HAVE BEEN do-peoples of the world. 91 ing." (7)
  • 93. This remarkable editorial was accurate (however late as April 1943, Soviet forces were fighting 185 Naziunscientific its way of putting it) as to the real world situa- divisions while the U.S. and British Empires were togethertion. The "War to Save Democracy" was an obvious lie to fighting 6. The heart and muscle of the German Army,those who had none, whpse nations were enslaved by U.S. almost 250 divisions, got destroyed on the Eastern frontimperialism. While there was no real support for either against the Russian people. Thats why the RussianGerman or Japanese imperialism, there was considerable military lost 6 million troops fighting Germany, while thesatisfaction among the oppressed at seeing the arrogant U.S. lost 160,000.Europeans being frightened out of their wits by their sup-posed "racial" inferiors. One South Afrikan Boer The Soviet Unions burden in the alliance againsthistorian recalls: German imperialism was so visibly disproportionate that "It seemed possible that the Japanese might cap- some Western imperialists were concerned. South Afrikanture Madagascar and that South Africa itself might be at- Gen. Jan Christian Smuts warned in 1943: "To the or-tacked. The Cape Colored people were not at all alarmed dinary man it must appear that it is Russia who is winn-at the prospect. Indeed, they viewed the Japanese victories ing the war. If this impression continues, what will be our post-war position compared to that of Russia?with almost open jubiliation. Their sympathies and hopeswere with the little yellow skinned men who had provedtoo smart for the British and Americans." (8) Finally, in the last six months of the war, the Allies landed 2 million soldiers in France in order to get in on the Nor was this feeling just in Afrika. In colonial In- German surrender and control as much of Europe as possi-dia the sight of the British "master" suddenly begging his ble. Those U.S. and British divisions faced a vastly inferiorsubjects to help save him from the Japanese armies, reveal- German opposition (only 40% as large as the Allied force),ed to many that their oppressor was a "paper tiger." The because the bulk of Hitlers forces were tied up with theBritish generals soon learned that their Indian colonial main war front against Russia.troops were more and more unwilling to fight for theBritish Empire. The Communist Party USA was so alarm- During the war the Allies kept paratroop divisionsed at Afrikan disinterejt in fighting Asians that it issued a in England, ready to be air-dropped into Berlin if Russiaspecial pamphlet for them recounting the crimes of the finished off the Nazis before Allied armies could even getJapanese Empire against Ethiopia, urging Afrikans to into Germany. (10) U.S. imperialisms main concern washonor "the alliance of the Negro people with the pro- not to "liberate" anyone, but to dominate as much ofgressive sections of the white population, " Europe as it could once the Russian people had, at such terrible cost, defeated Hitler. The sociologist St. Clair Drake relates how even Amerikan war plans included being careful not toamong U.S. Empire forces in the Pacific, Afrikan G.1.s interfere with the Nazis genocidal sterilization of Europe.would loudly root for the Japanese "zero" fighters Indeed, Washington and London appreciated how conve-overhead in the aerial dogfights against U.S. settler nient it was to let Hitler do their dirty work for them -aviators. Robert F. Williams says that as a youth he heard getting rid of millions of undesirable Jews, Communists,many Afrikan veterans returning from the Pacific express socialists, trade-unionists and dissenters.. This cleaned upsympathy for the Japanese soldiers, and even say that the Europe from the iwperialist point of view. And Hitler tookJapanese tried not to fire at Afrikans. And studying the the weight.U.S. propaganda posters of dark-skinned Japanese tryingto rape blond Euro-Amerlkan women, Williams saw a con- The Allies were notorious in blocking Jewishnection to settler propaganda against Afrikans. (9) None evacuation from the path of the oncoming Nazi conquest.of this was any approval for Japanese imperialism, but an Roosevelt refused to lift restrictions on Jewish immigra-expression of disassociation from the Euro-Arnerikan op- tion. As the war approached, on April 23, 1939, the U.S.pressor. To the oppressed masses of the U.S., British, State Dept. announced that quotas were so "filled" thatDutch, French, German, and other Western empires, this Jewish immigration was to be halted except for specialwar was not their war. cases. Desperate German Jews were told that they had a minimum six year wait, until 1945. The New Deals vicious It is important to deal with the nature of the U.S. attitude was displayed in their mocking statement thatinvolvement in the war. Outside of the shallow and ob- Jewish "applicants of Polish origin, even those who spentviously untrue "War for Democracy" propaganda, the most of their life in Germany, will have to wait at least 50two main arguments for the war were: 1. It was a war for years" to obtain entry visas to the W.S.! The same day theEuropean freedom, to defeat the Nazis and save the Soviet Roosevelt Administration announced that no tourist visas to Amerika would be issued to German Jews - only thoseUnion. 2. It was a just war of self-defense after the U.S. Germans with "Aryan" passports could greet the Statue ofmilitary was attacked by the Japanese Empire at PearlHarbor (the main U.S. naval base in its Hawaiian colony). Liberty.Both lines were often used together, particularly by the set- During the war the U.S. rejected pleas from thetler radicals. Jewish underground that they use bombers to knock out perhaps the U.S. lzmpire could have led a the rail lines L the death camps (and even knock out the oUcrusade in E ~ to defeat Nazism, ~ it ~ ~ ~ but didnt. " In Ovens themselves). Yet, On Sept. 13,1944 the U.S. 15th Airstrict fact, German fascism was defeated by the Russian Force bombed the I.G. Farben industrial complex rightpeople. U.S. global strategy clearly called for stalling as next to Auschwitz death camp (a few bombs fell inlong as possible in fighting Hitler, in hopes that Germany Auschwitz itself, killing 15 S.S. men and 40 other fascists).and Soviet Russia would ruin and exhaust each other. As 92 Although this proved the U.S. militarys ability to strike at
  • 94. became certain, Mussolini would have been welcomed by the Allies... " In Italy, Greece and other nations the "liberating" U.S.-British forces put the local fascists back into power while savagely repressing the anti-fascist guerrillas who had fought them. In Greece the British had a problem since the German Army had pulled out in September 1944, harassed by guerrillas who had installed a new, democratic Greek government. The Allies invaded already-liberated Greece in order to crush the independent government; Greece was "liberated" from democracy and returned to being a fascist neo-colony of Britain and the U.S. The mercenary collaborators and the fascist "Security Bat- talions" organized by the German occupation were preserved by the British Army, which used them to con- duct a campaign of terrorism against the Greek people. By 1945 the British were holding some 50,000 anti-fascist ac- tivists in prisons. The Allies killed more Greek workers and peasants than the Germans had. (1 1) The main focus of Amerikas military interest had nothing to do with democratic or humanitarian concerns,the Nazi death camps, U.S. imperialism still refused to in- but with expanding the Empire at the expense of its Ger- man and Japanese rivals. Not only was a stronger positionterfere with the genocide. And this was when the Naziswere feverishly slaughtering as many as possible - at over Europe aimed at, but in the Pacific a show-down wasAuschwitz as many as 24,000 per day! sought with Japanese imperialism. In the 1930s both U.S. and Japanese imperialism sought to become the dominant U.S. imperialism posed as being anti-fascist, but it power over Asia. Japans 1937 invasion of China (Korea was U.S. imperialism which had helped put Nazism in was already a Japanese colony) had upset the Pacific statuspower. Henry Ford was an important early backer of quo; giant China had long been an imperialist semi-colony,Hitler, and by 1924 had started pouring money into the shared uneasily by all the imperialist powers. Japan broketiny Nazi party. Fokds portrait hung on the wall in Hitlers up the club by invading to take all of China for itself. TheParty office. Every birthday until World War I1 Ford had Roosevelt Administration, the main backer of Chiang Kai-sent Hitler his personal greetings (and a gift of money). Sheks corrupt and semi-colonial Kuomintang regime, wasEven during the War the Ford Motor Company delivered committed to a decisive war with Japan from that pointvital parts to the German Army through neutral on.Switzerland. On October 20, 1942 the U.S. Embassy inLondon complained to Washington that Ford was using Both the U.S. Empire and the Japanese Empirehis plants in Switzerland to repair 2,000 German Army demanded in secret negotiations the partial disarmamenttrucks. of the other and a free hand in exploiting China. The Roosevelt Administration and the British had secretly Ford was just one example out of many. GM agreed in mid-1941 for a joint military offensive againstPresident Willian Knudson told a press conference on Oc- Japan, the centerpiece of which was to be a new U.S.tober 6, 1933, that Nazism was "the miracle of the 20th strategic bomber force to dominate the Pacific. We knowcentury." GM in Germany contributed ! of 1 % out of all h that President Roosevelts position was that all-out war inits employees wages as a weekly mass donation to the Nazi the Pacific was desirable for U.S. interests; his only pro-Party. blem was: ". ..the question was how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot ... (12) While the Allied Powers wanted to defeat Ger- Political necessities demanded that Roosevelt be able tomany, it had nothing to do with being anti-fascist. Both picture the war as innocent "self defense."President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister WinstonChurchill favored Mussolini and his Fascist regime in Ita- The New Deal started embargoing strategic warly. Even after the European war broke out in 1939, materials - notably scrap iron and petroleum - going toRoosevelt privately urged Mussolini to be neutral and try Japan. There was a coordinated Western campaign to denyto mediate a British-German detente. Churchill, for his Japanese imperialism the vital oil, rubber and iron its warpart, wanted to preserve the Mussolini Fascist regime since machine needed. With 21 divisions bogged down trying to"the alternative to his rule might we& have been a com- catch up with the Red Army in China, Japanese im-munist Italy. " Churchill saw Fascist Italy as a possible al- perialism had to either capture these necessary resources inly. He later wrote regretfully about Mussolini: new wars or face collapse. The move was obvious. To make sure that this shove would work, "He might well have maintained Italy in a balanc- Roosevelt asked U.S. Admiral Stark to prepare an in-ing position, courted and rewarded by both sides and telligence assessment of the probable Japanese response.deriving an unusual wealth and prosperity from the strug- In his memo of July 22, 1941 (over four months beforegles of other countries. Even when the issue of the war 93 Pearl Harbor), Admiral Stark reassured Roosevelt that
  • 95. Japan would be forced into a "fairly early attack" to seize because the war was also a patriotic war of nationalBritish Malayan rubber and Dutch Indonesian oil, and that defense in some nations. Both China and the U.S.S.R., in-an attack on the U.S. Philippine colony was "certain." vaded and partially occupied by Axis Powers, made(13) alliance with competing imperialists of the Allied Powers. There is nothing surprising or incorrect about that. Taking The New Deal wanted and expected not only an advantage of this the revisionists claimed that democratic-all-out war for the Pacific, but a "surprise" Japanese at- minded people in all nations should therefore support thetack as well. Their only disappointment on Dec. 7, 1941 Allied Powers. But why should the anti-colonial movementwas that instead of concentrating on the Philippines, the in an oppressed nation that was invaded and occupied byJapanese military struck first at Hawaii. There was no the U.S. (or France or Great Britain) support its own op-question of "self-defense" there. The Pacific war was the pressor? One might just as well argue that the Chinese peo-mutual child of imperialist competition and imperialist ap- ple should have supported the Japanese occupation duringpetites. WWII because Mexico was oppressed by U.S. imperialism (in fact, the Japanese Empire advanced such lines of pro- paganda). Contrary to the revisionists, World War I1 was To President Roosevelt the prize was worth the not a war of "democracy vs. fascism," but a complexrisks. China was his first goal, just as it was for Japanese struggle between imperialist powers, and betweenimperialism. A friend of the President recalls: "At the capitalism and socialism.White House, the making of FDRs China policy wasalmost as great a secret as the atom bomb. "Roosevelt saw The New Deal was prepared to do whateverthat the sun had set on the old European colonial rule in necessary to modernize and stabilize U.S. imperialismsAsia, and that the dynamic expansion of the small home base, because it was playing for the biggest stakes inJapanese Empire proved how weak and rotten European the world. In the Pittsburgh Couriers words: "The stakepower was. In his mind, he saw that if China were is the right to EXPLOIT the darker peoples of the world. "nominally free but under U.S. hegemony (via the Kuomin-tang regime), it could be the center for Amerikan takeoverof all Asia.* British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, after *FDR was always appreciative of Chinas potential valuemeeting with Roos.evelt and his staff, wrote a British because of his familys direct connection. Roosevelt oftengeneral in some alarm: "I must enlighten you about the mentioned his familys long "friendship" with China -American view. China bulks as large in the minds of many on his mothers side, the Delano family fortune was madeof them as Great Britain. " (14) through a leading role in the opium trade in 19th century China. Some confusion about the nature of the SecondImperialist World War has arisen among comrades here 3. The War On The "Home Front" As Euro-Amerikan settlers gathered themselves to ing our national sovereignty. " (15) The newspapers on theconquer Asia, Europe, Afrika, and hold .onto Latin Island were afraid to print Nationalist statements for fearAmerika, they started their war effort by attacking the op- of U.S. prosecution - a fear that the U.S. Governmentpressed closest at hand - those already within the U S.. said was well founded. (16)Empire. In Puerto Rico, the colonial occupation tightenedits already deadly hold on the masses, so that their very Some members of the Nationalist Party beganlives could be squeezed out to help pay for the U.S. war ef- openly refusing to register for the draft. Juan Estrada Gar-fort. It is to the eternal honor of the Nationalist Party, cia told the jury when he was tried that his concern was foralready terribly wounded by repression, that it resisted this "the masses who live dying of malaria, hookworm andimperialist mobilization as best it could. tuberculosis for lack of food." (17) This was a just con- cern. Puerto Ricans had the highest death rate in the The Nationalist Party denounced the military con- Western Hemisphere, thanks to the "Yanki" occupationscription of Puerto Rican youth, who were to be cannon that robbed them of everything needed for life. Every yearfodder f ~ the same U.S. Army that was oppressing their r 3,000 died from tuberculosis alone out of a population of 2own nation. On the eve of Selective Service registration in million. Over half were totally destitute, on relief. (18)1940, the Nationalist Party declared: "If Puerto Ricans are 80% of the population had hookworm, and the life expec-the first line of defense of democracy in America, we claim tancy was only 46 years. Small wonder, when even thosethe right to fight in the front line and for that reason we de- lucky ones who had jobs didnt earn enough to ensure sur-mand that democracy b~ a reality in Puerto Rico, recogniz- 94 vival - in 1941, the jibaros (the sugar cane workers)
  • 96. labored for an average of only 14 cents per hour. (19) Juan were also paid for involuntarily by the Puerto Rican people. Further, local taxes had also paid for the construc- The war effort only intensified the misery. The tion of new U.S. military airstrips on Culebra, Islarelative prosperity that delighted Euro-Amerikans with the Grande, Mona Island and elsewhere.war was reversed in Puerto Rico. Starvation grew muchworse. The New Deal W.P.A. jobs program closed down In desperately poor Puerto Rico the local taxesin 1942. Unemployment more than doubled. With food collected by the imperialist occupation forces were used forshipments deliberately restricted, prices soared 53% in less their own military needs rather than clinics or food. Thisthan one year. A Presbyterian woman missionary wrote policy was actually quite common for WWII: for example,Eleanor Roosevelt, the U.S. Presidents wife, in despair both the Nazi and Japanese armies also forced the local in-from Mayagiiez: "The children in this region are slowly habitants in conquered areas to support military construc-starving. " (20) tion for them. (21) The U S imperialists were in good .. company. U.S. Governor Winship made it clear that the NewDeals policy was not only to help subsidize the war effort While it may have seemed like bad propaganda toout of the misery of the Puerto Rican people, but to use so obviously increase misery among the Puerto Rican peo-starvation to beat them into political submission. In his ple, the New Deal believed otherwise. It was economic ter-1939 report, Winship proudly announced that the colonial rorism. U.S. military officials said that the Nationalistadministration was already extracting millions of dollars resistance to the draft had been broken. They admittedfrom starving Puerto Rico for the coming war. that the reason hungry Puerto Ricans were submitting to the draft was that even army rations were p a y and food exceeding prevailing Island wages. " It appeared to t R military, however, that only one-third of the eligible men Ten million dollars worth of valuable land had could be used due to the widespread physical debilitationbeen given by the puppet colonial legislature free to the from disease and malnutrition. (22) Still, Amerikas "WarU.S. Navy for a naval base. Puerto Ricans had paid for to Save Democracy" was off to a good start.dredging out San Juan Harbor so that it was deep enoughfor U.S. battleships. New U.S. Navy repair docks in San The war further accelerated the trend towards set-
  • 97. tler reunification. The stormy conflicts between settlers in for 84% of all Japanese employment). (25) But even thisthe 30s had a healing effect, like draining a swollen wound. little was too much for the settler petit-bourgeoisie on theThe war completed the process. Fascist and West Coast."communist," liberal and conservative alike all joinedhands to follow their bourgeoisie into battle. In one small The Euro-Amerikans not only wanted theCalifornia town the press discovered that the first man in Japanese removed as competitors, but they wanted to takeline to register for the draft was James Remochiaretta, a over and "annex" the agricultural business so painstaking-veteran of Mussolinis fascist Black Shirts, who proudly ly built up by the Japanese farmers. The typical Japanesetold everyone that he was now "100% American." farm of the period was very small, averaging only 42 acres each (less than one-fifth the average size of Euro-American The impact of Amerikas entry into the war snap- farms in California). But these intensively developed ped the Italian and German communities right into line. lands, which comprised only 3.9% of CaliforniasThe Italian-Amerikan petit-bourgeoisie had been both farmland, produced fully 42% of the States fresh fruits loyally pro-U.S. imperialism and pro-fascist Italy. Up to and vegetables. (26) The settler farm lobby wanted our Pearl Harbor 80% of the Italian community newspapers business, which was too valuable to be left to "Japs." had been pro fascist, with almost every Italian store in New York having a prominent picture of the Italian dictator Austin E. Anson, representative of the Shipper- Mussolini. Only the radical political exiles, most of them Grower Association of Salinas, told the public: "Were trade-unionists who fled Italy just ahead of the Black charged with wanting to get rid of the Japs for selfish Shirts, were openly anti-fascist. reasons. We might as well be honest. We do." Through their political influence, these interests got U.S. Sen. But once the U.S. Empire declared war on the Hiram .Tohnsnn to pull together the West Coast congres-Axis, every Italian community newspaper became "anti- sional delegation as a bloc and push through the concen-fascist" overnight. Every Italian was now "100% tration camp program. (27)American." In recognition, Italian citizens in the U.S.were removed from the "enemy alien" category by Presi- By military order, enforced by the U.S. Army, thedent Roosevelt on Columbus Day, 1942. (24) whole Japanese population was forced to leave or sell at give-away prices all we had - houses, land, businesses, This growing, settleristic unity promoted by the cars, refrigerators; tools, furniture, . etc. The Federalwar sharply increased attacks on the nationally oppressed. Reserve Bank loosely estrmated the d~rectproperty lossThis was one of the major social trends of the war period. alone at $400 million 1942 dollars. (28) The real loss was inWhile the tightened oppression of the Puerto Rican masses the many billions - and in lives. But it was no loss to set-was a policy of the imperialists, these attacks came from all tlers, who ended up with much of it. West Coast settlersclasses and sectors of settler society - from top to bottom. had a festive time, celebrating the start of their war by greedily dividing up that $400 million in "Jap" property. On the West Coast the settler petit-bourgeoisie, It was a gigantic garage sale held at gunpoint. This was justprimarily farming interests and small merchants, used set- an early installment in settler prosperity from world war.tler chauvinism and the identification of Japanese asmembers of a rival imperialist Power, to plunder and com-pletely remove the Japanese population. Just as the For Hawaii, a U.S. colony right in the middle ofChinese had been robbed and driven out of mining, Asia, no such simple solution was possible. Early govern-agriculture and industry in the 19th century West, so now ment discussions on removing and incarcerating theJapanese would be driven out. As everyone knows, some Japanese population quickly floundered. Over one-third110,000 of us were forcibly "relocated" into concentration of the working population there was Japanese, andcamps by the U.S. Government in 1942. without their labor the Islands economy might break down. The U.S. Army said that: "...the labor shortage Settler rule had restricted and hemmed in Japanese make it a matter of military necessity to keep the people oflabor into the national minority economy of specialized Japanese blood on the islands." Army and Navy officersagriculture, wholesale and retail food distribution, and proposed that the Japanese be kept at work there for thedomestic labor (in 1940 these three categories accounted U.S. Empire, but treated "as citizens of an occupied Above and right, Burmashave sign read "Slap the Jap with Scrapiron, Burmashave." (National Archives) 96
  • 98. foreign country. " (29) The patriotic Amerikan war spirit congealed itselfinto the usual racist forms. Chinese were encouraged towear self-protective placards or buttons reading "Im NoJap" to avoid being lynched. The Kuomintang-dominatedChinese communities were lauded by the settlers as now"good" Asians. Life ran an article on "How To Tell YourFriends From The Japs": "...the Chinese expression islikely to be more placid, kindly, open; the Japanese morepositive, dogmatic, arrogant...Japanese walk stifflyerect...Chinese more relaxed, sometimes shuffle... " (30) Of course, these imaginary differences only ex-pressed the settler code wherein hostile or just victimizedAsians were "bad," where as those they thought more sub-missive (who "shuffle") were temporarily "good." Everyeffort was made to whip up settler chauvinism and hatred(an easy task). The famous war indoctrination film "MyJapan," produced by the Defense Department, opens toan actor portraying a Japanese soldier bayoneting a baby- with the commentary that all Japanese "like" to killbabies. German fascist propaganda about the "racialcrimes" of the Jews was no more bizzarre than Amerikanpropaganda for its own war effort. The Euro-Amerikan working class, now reinforc-ed by unions and the New Deal, brought the war "home"themselves in their massive wave of "hate strikes." Thesewere strikes whose only demand was the blocking ofAfrikan employment or promotion. They were a majorfeature of militant industrial life in the the war period; areaction to increased wartime employment of Afrikans byU.S. imperialism. In the auto industry (which were the heart of warproduction) the "hate strikes" started in October, 1941.There were twelve major such strikes in auto plants just inthe first six months of 1943. Dodge, Hudson, Packard,Curtis-Wright, Timken Axle and many other plantswitnessed these settler working class offensives. TheUAW-CIO and the Detroit NAACP held a"brotherhood" rally in Detroits Cadillac Square tocounteract the openly segregationist movement. That rallydrew 10,000 people. But shortly thereafter 25,000 Packardworkers went out on "hate strike" for five days. An evenbigger strike staged by UAW Local 190 brought out 39,000settler auto workers to stop the threatened promotion offour Afrikans. (31). These "hate strikes" took place coast-to-coast, ina wave that hit all industries. In Baltimore, BethlehemSteels Sparrows Point plant went out in July, 1943. In thatsame area a major Western Electric plant was so solidlyclosed down by its December, 1943 "hate strike" that theU.S. Army finally had to take it over. The same thing hap-pened when Philadelphia municipal transit workers closeddown the city for six days in August, 1944, to block the hir-ing of eight Afrikan motormen. 5,000 U.S. Army troopswere needed to get transit going again. The U.S. Govern-ment calculated that just in the three Spring months of1943 alone, some 2.5 million man hours of industrial pro-duction were lost in "hate strikes." (32) vicemen. They now constituted an important temporary stratum in settler life, drawn together by the millions and Mob violence against the oppressed was another organized into large units and bases. Attacks by settlerwar phenomenon, particularly by Euro-Amerikan ser- 97 sailors, marines and soldiers on Chicano-Mexicanos,
  • 99. Afrikans and Asians on the West Coast grew larger and They had a clear direction.larger in 1943. The climax came in the "Zoot Suit Riots"in East Los Angeles on the nights of June 2-7th. They were It is easy to see this by contrasting the above eventsso named because Euro-Amerikans were infuriated that to the treatment of the thousands of German P.0.W.sthe "hip" clothing styles of Chicano-Mexicano youth ex- brought to the U.S. after their defeat in North Afrika.pressed disrespect for "American" culture. Groups of set- These enemy soldiers met no mob violence or other attackstler servicemen would beat up and cut the clothing off from "tense" Euro-Amerikans. In fact, the German ArmyChicano-Mexicano men. prisoners were widely treated with hospitality and respect by Euro-Amerikans, and fed and housed like settlers. The June 7th climax involved thousands of settler Many were let out on "work release" to join the civilianG.I.s, who with the protection of the Los Angeles police U.S. economy, with some even going off on their own toand their military commanders invaded the barrio, live on small, Midwestern family farms.destroying restaurants and taking movie theater-goers cap-tive. Street cars were seized, and one Afrikan who was While overseas they were enemies, here inpulled off had both eyes cut out. Finally, the social chaos Amerika they became honorary settlers, since they were- and the intensely angry wave of anti-U.S. feeling in fellow citizens of European imperialist Powers (in contrastMexico - grew so large that the U.S. military ordered to the colonial subjects). Literally, captured Nazi officerstheir troops to stop. (33) were freer than Albizu Campos or the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. One Afrikan in the U.S. Army wrote about Similar incidents took place throughout the U.S. how his unit was sent in 1942 to open Smoky Hill ArmySailors from the Naval Armory near Detroits Belle Isle Air Field in Salinas, Kansas. They discovered to no sur-park joined thousands of other settlers in attacking prise that they were barred from the towns best movieAfrikans, resulting in the city-wide fighting of the 1943 theater, the hotels, restaurants and grills, and so on. Their"Detroit Race Riot." 25 Afrikans and 9 settlers were kill- only real surprise came when they saw a restaurant servinged, and many hundreds seriously wounded. The growing ten German prisoners with "the distinctive high-peakedAfrikan resistance and community self-defense there was caps of Rornmels Afrika Korps. No guard was withalso seen in the August 1, 1943 great "Harlem Race Riot." them. " The owner of the restaurant rushed over to remindOppressed communities in the major urban areas had now them that no Afrikans were allowed inside. Nazi soldiersgrown so large that ordinary settler mob attacks were less ranked far above Afrikan G.1.s as far as settlers were con-and less successful. The New Deal didnt need the Nor- cerned. (34)thern industrial cities burning with insurrection, and somoved to "cool" things. The "race riots" were the war, just on the "home Bourgeois historians in writing about the various front." This was not the only development in the relation-multi-class settler offensives on the "home front," in- ship between the U.S. Empire and the nationally oppress-variably relate them to the "tension" and "uncertainty" ed. Underneath the violent surface, not separated from theof the war. But these government-sponsored attacks and violence but drawing power from it, there grew a trend ofrepressions were not random explosions of "tension." neo-colonialism within the U.S. Empire.
  • 100. IX. NEO-COLONIAL PACIFICATION IN THE U.S. Forcing Native Arnerikans We dont have to look across the world to con- Not only did the Indian nations resist, but thisfront neo-colonialism, since some of the most resistance included the determined refusal of many Indianssophisticated examples are right here. The New Deal to give up their collective land. This rejection of capitalismreforms on the Native Amerikan reservations during the was a hindrance for the oil corporations, the mineral in-1930s are a classic case of neo-colonial strategy. The U.S. terests, and the ranchers. Characteristically, the New DealEmpire has always had a special problem with the Indian decided, in the words of the U.S. Commissioner of Indiannations, in that their varied ways of life were often com- Affairs, that: "...the Indian i given the right oppor- fmunistic. As the U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs said tunities could do what the government had failed to do: Hein 1838: "Common property and civilization cannot co- could arrange a place for himself and his customs in thisexist." (1) The U.S. Government enacted a genocidal cam- modern America. " (3)paign to erase Indian culture - including prison schoolsfor Indian children, suppression of Indian institutions, The New Deal pacification program for the reser-economy and religion. And still the Indian nations and vations was to give Indians capitalistic "democracy" andpeoples survived,, resisted, endured. An A.I.M. comrade "self-government." Under the direction of the U.S.has pointed out: Government, bourgeois democratic (i.e. undemocratic) "tribal governments" were set up, with settleristic "tribal "The Founding Fathers of the United States constitutions," paid elected officials and new layers of In-equated capitalism with civilization. They had to, given dian civil servants. In other words, Indians would be giventheir mentality; to them civilization meant their society, their own capitalistic reservation governments to do fromwhich was a capitalist society. Therefore, from the earliest within what the settler conquests had been unable to com-times the wars against Indians were not only to take over pletely succeed at from the outside.the land but also to squash the threatening example of In-dian communism. Jefferson was not the only man of his This neo-colonial strategy was led by a young,time to advocate imposing a capitalistic and possessive liberal anthropologist, John Collier, who had been ap-society on Indians as a way to civilize them. The bad ex- pointed U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1933 toample was a real threat; the reason the Eastern Indian Na- reform the reservation system. Unlike the openly hostiletions from Florida to New York State and from the Atlan- and repressive pronouncements of his predecessors, Colliertic to Ohio and Louisiana are today so racially mixed is spoke sweetly of how much he respected Indian culturebecause indentured servants, landless poor whites, escaped and how much Indians should be "freed" to changeblack slaves, chose our societies over the white society that themselves. Honeyed words, indeed, covering up for a newoppressed them. assault:"Beginning in the 1890s we have been red-baited "In the past, the government tried to encourage and branded as commies in Congress (see the Congres- economic independence and initiative by the allotmentsional Record) and in the executive boards of churches. system, giving each Indian a portion of land and the rightThat was a very strong weapon in the 1920s and 1930s, to dispose of it. As a result, of the 138,000 acres which In-and in the Oklahoma area any Indian traditional who dians possessed in 1887 they have lost all but 47,000 acres,was an organizer was called a communist or even a Wob- and the lost area includes the land that was most valuable.bly. Further, the government sought to give the Indian the schooling of whites, teaching him to despise his old "So we have always defined our struggle not only customs and habits as a struggle for land but also a struggle to retain ourcultural values. Those values are communistic values. Oursocieties were and are communistic societies. The U.S. "We have proposed in opposition to such a policyGovernment has always understood that very well. It has to recognize and respect the Indian as he is. We think henot branded us all these years as communists because we must be so accepted before he can be assisted to becometry to form labor unions or because we hung out with the something else... " (4)IWW or the Communist Party, but because the U.S.Government correctly identified our political system. It did There is the smooth talk of the welfare ad-not make that a public issue because that would have been ministrator and the colonial official in those words. Noticedangerous, and because it has been far more efficient to that the old law gave Indians only one "right" - the rightsay that we are savages and primitive." (2) 99 to sell their land to the settlers. Having worked that
  • 101. strategy to its limits, the U.S. Empire now needed to switch to end their subsistence farming and move off their landstrategies in order to keep exploiting the rest of the reserva- and into government-built housing projects - and thention lands. Now Washington would pose as the protector lease their "useless" land to the settler businessmen. Thoseof Indian culture in order to change Indians into Euro-Amerikan ranchers pay an average of $3 per acre"something else." Officially, Indian culture would each year to possess Indian land (far cheaper than buyingbecome another respected "ethnic" remnant, like St. it). While the Sioux who insist on staying on their land arePatricks Day parades, that would add "color" to settler deliberately denied water, electricity, seed and livestock, sosociety. But instead of Indian sovereignty, culture, as to pressure them into leaving their land (the Euro-economy and national development, "tribal government Amerikan ranchers who use Indian land receive constantwas local government according to the rules of capitalist government aid and subsidies). Control of the land and itsculture. It was a partial reorganization of reservation life resources still remains a steady preoccupation to the settlerto capitalism. Empire. The 1934 Wheeler-Howard Act repealed the 1887 Even most of the food production of the IndianAllotment Act, authorized elections to pass new "tribal Nations is taken by settlers. In 1968 the Bureau of Indianconstitutions" to set up the new neo-colonial reservation Affairs said that the reservations produced then $170governments, established a $10 million loan fund to sup- million annually in agriculture, hunting and fishing. Ofport the new governments, and officially gave Indians this total the B.I.A. estimated that Indians only consumedpreference for employment with the U.S. Indian Service. $20 million worth, while receiving another $16 million in rent. 75% of the total reservation food production was The campaign to twist Indian arms to accept this owned by settlers. (5)new arrangement was very heavy. U.S. Commissioner Col-lier himself admitted that while the government had the U.S. imperialism literally created bourgeois Indianpower to force the reservations to accept these bourgeois governments on the reservations to give it what it wantedgovernments, for the strategy to work at least some and to disrupt from within the national culture. These arenumber of Indians had to be persuaded to voluntarily take governments led by the Dick Wilsons and Peter Mac-it in. Large numbers of Indians were hired to work in the Donalds, of elements whose capitalistic ideology and in-Indian Service - their numbers reaching 40% of the total come was tied to collaboration with the larger capitalistemployees by 1935. 19,000 Indians were hired to work in world. It is also tclling that those professional 11idia11>various Federal programs, while an additional 14,000 whose well-being is dependent upon foundation grants andworked in the Civilian Conservation Corps relief camps. government programs (such as Vine Deloria, Jr., author ofClose to 20% of a adult Indians were temporarily N the best-selling book, Custer Died For Your Sins) praiseemployed by the Federal Government. the Collier reorganization of the 30s as the best thing that even happened to them. The distrust and resistance were considerable. TheN. Y. Times commented: "This difficulty has been When Native Amerikans overcome the neo-recognized by the creation by the Indian Office of an colonial rule and assert their sovereignty against U.S. im-organizational unit of field agents and special men who perialism (as A.I.M. has) then the fixed ballot hnx i s rein-will cooperate with tribal councils, business committees forced by assassination, frame-ups and even massiveand special tribal commissions in framing the constitutions military repression. The U.S. military moved in 1972 tonow permitted." Still, some 54 reservations, with 85,000 prop up the neo-colonial Dick Wilson regime at PineIndians, voted against the new "tribal governments." Ridge, just as in Zaire the neo-colonial Mobutu regime had to be rescued in both 1977 and 1978 by airborne French History has proved that the main economic func- Foreign Legionnaires and Belgian paratroopers.tion of the neo-colonial reservation governments has beento lease away (usually at bargain prices) the mineral, graz-ing and water rights to the settlers. Great amounts ofnatural resources are involved. A very conservative Euro-Amerikan estimate said: "Indian lands are estimated to contain up to 13per cent of the nations coal reserves, 3 per cent of its oiland gas, and significant amounts of other minerals in-cluding uranium and phosphate." Instead of the old practice of individual sale ofsmall plots of land - which could be blocked by an In-dians refusal to sell - the new, capitalistic "tribal govern-ments" signed wholesale mineral rights leases with majorcorporations. The Navaho "tribal government," led bythe U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, signed leases as late asthe 1960s that gave away Navaho coal for a mere 2% of itsmarket value. So the impact of the 1930s "self-government" reforms was to step up the economic ex-ploitation of Indian nations. At Pine Ridge the Sioux families were encouraged
  • 102. 2. The Rise of the Afrikan Nation "The white boss man said we was making a war on them and was going to take the government, but we was organizing for bread. " One of the Camp Hill, Alabama sharecropper defendants, 1931. The New Afrikan national struggle moveddecisively into the modern period during the 1920s and1930s. It was a key indication of this development thatthousands of Afrikan communists took up the liberationstruggle in those years - years in which many Afrikanworkers and intellectuals dedicated themselves to the goalof an independent and socialist Afrikan Nation. Themasses themselves intensified their political activities andgrew increasingly nationalistic. In this period nationalismstarted visibly shouldering aside aN other political tenden-cies in the struggle for the allegiance of the oppressedAfrikan masses. Armed self-defense activity spread amongthe masses. This was a critical time in the rise of theAfrikan Nation. And a critical time, therefore, for U.S.imperialism. There is an incorrect tendency to confine thediscussion of Afrikan nationalism in the 1920s and 1930sto the well-known Garvey movement, as though it was thesole manifestation of nationalist consciousness. TheGarvey movement (whose specific impact we shall cover ata later point) was but the point of the emerging politics ofthe Afrikan Nation. In labor, in national culture, in strug-gles for the land, in raising the goal of socialism, in allareas of political life a great explosion of previously pent-up national consciousness took place among Afrikans inthe 1920s and 1930s. It was a time of major political offen-sives, and of embryonic nation-building. This outbreak of militant Afrikan anti-colonialismdid not go unnoticed by the U.S. Empire. Even outside theNational Territory itself, U.S. imperialism was increasing-ly concerned about this activity. One 1930s report on"Radicalism Among New York Negroes" noted: "The place of the Negro as a decisive minority in Marcus hloziah Garvey, black nationalist leaderthe political life in America received increasing attention of the twenties, is led to prisonduring the early post-war years. The Department of Justiceissued a twenty-seven page report on Radicalism and Sedi-tion Among Negroes as Reflected in Their Publicationsand the New York State Lusk Committee for the Investiga-tion of Seditious Activities published a complete chapter in The revisionists in general and the Euro-Amerikanits report entitled, Radicalism Among Negroes. The "Left" in particular have falsely portrayed the Afrikangeneral anti-labor, anti-radical offensive of government people within the U.S. Empire as having no independentand employers...was also levelled at the trade union and revolutionary struggle at that time, but only a "civilradical activities of the Negro people. For a time censor- rights" struggle. Falsely they picture Afrikan labor andship of Negro periodicals became so complete that even the Afrikan socialism as only existing as "minority" parts ofmildly liberal magazine Crisis, (of the NAACP - ed.) the Euro-Amerikan labor and social-democraticedited by W.E. Burghardt DuBois, was held up in the movements. While the history of Afrikan politics lies farmails during May 1919. In August 1918, the editors of beyond the scope of this paper, it is necessary to brieflyThe Messenger (the Afrikan trade-union magazine of A. show why U.S. imperialism was threatened by AfrikanPhilip Randolph - ed.) were jailed for three days and anti-colonialism in the 1920s and 1930s. What is central issecond-class mailing privileges were denied the magazine." to grasp the revolutionary nationalist character of Afrikan(8) 101 political trends.
  • 103. In 1921 the African Blood Brotherhood (ABB), Tenants, 1925 the first modern Afrikan communist organization in the U.S. Empire, was formed in New York City. Defining itself as a "revolutionary secret order, " the ABB raised the % of all farmers who were tenants goal of liberating and bringing socialism to the Afrikan Nation in the Black Belt South. The Brotherhood soon claimed 2,500 members in fifty-six "pqsts" throughout more than 90% the Empire. Most of these members were proletarians (as were most of the Garvey movement activists) - miners in Virginia, railroad workers in Chicago, garment workers in New York, etc. These Afrikan communists focused heavily on education work and on "immediate protection pur- poses," organizing armed self-defense units against the KKK revival that was sweeping the Empire. Soon the police and press spotlighted the Brotherhood as the sup- I I less than30% posed secret organizers of Afrikan armed activity during the Tulsa, Oklahoma "riots." (9)It The birth of modern Afrikan communism within MississippiI the U.S. Empire was the most clear-cut and irrefutable evidence that the Afrikan Nation was starting to rise. It was significant that this new organization of Afrikan com- Cycle of Debt munists without hesitation proclaimed the goal of socialism through national liberation and independence. The existence of a socialist-minded vanguard naturally im- plied that at the base of that peak the masses of Afrikans Mav have odd jobs were pushing upwards, awakening politically, creating new possibilities. Much of the present written accounts of Afrikan politics in this period centers around events in the refugee communities of the North - the "Harlem Renaissance," tenants organizations fighting evictions in the Chicago ghetto, Afrikan participation in union drives in Cleveland and Detroit, and so on. All these struggles and events were indeed important parts of the developing political awareness. But they were not the whole of what was hap- pening. The intensity and full scope of the Afrikan struggle can only be accurately seen when we also see the southern region of the U.S. Empire, and particularly the National Territory itself. There, under the terroristic armed rule of the settler occupation, the Afrikan Revolution started to develop despite the most bitterly difficult conditions. While Euro-Amerikan trade-unionism has always tried to restrict Afrikan labors political role, no propagan- da could change the basic fact that in the South, Afrikan labor was the primary factor in labor struggles. Notice that Sharecropping Causes Dependence we say that Afrikan labor was the "primary factor" - not "minority" partners, not passive "students" awaiting the lead of Euro-Amerikan trade-unionism, and certainly not just "supporters" of white trade-unionism. In the South, Afrikan labor was the leading force for class struggle. But gles of the United Mine Workers Union in the Southern that class struggle was part of the New Afrikan liberation Appalachian coal fields, we are led to picture in our minds struggle. "poor white" hillbilly miners walking picket lines with rifles in hands. This is just more settleristic propaganda. Starting in the early 1920s Afrikan labor in the The fact is that modern unionism in the Southern Ap- South struck out in a remarkable series of union organiz- palachian coal fields came from a "Black thing" - mann- ing struggles. This was part of the same explosion of ed, launched and led by Afrikan workers in their 1920s Afrikan consciousness that also produced the Garvey political explosion. In both the initial 1908 strike and the movement, the great breakthroughs in Afrikan culture and great 1920-1921 strikes in the Alabama coal fields the ma- the Afrikan communist movement. These things were not jority of strikers were Afrikan. In fact, in the main completely separate, but linked expressions of the same 1920-1921 strikes fully 76% of the striking miners were historic political upheaval of the whole oppressed Afrikan Afrikan. Those were Afrikan strikes. Much of the severe Nation. anti-unionism and violent repression of strikes in the 1920s South was linked by the imperialists to the need to stop the When we think about the early organizing strug- loz rising of Afrikans. (10)
  • 104. Even outside of Alabama the coal miners union tionalism in America or the Huggins, Kilson & Fox Keyoften depended upon Afrikan struggle. One Afrikan miner Issues in the Afro-American Experience - assure us thatwho worked in the mines of Mercer County, West Virgina by 1930 Afrikans in the U.S. had lost interest in na-for forty-three years recalls: "The white man was scared to tionalism. Nationalism, they tell us, was just a passingjoin the union at first around here. The Black man took phase back then.the organizing jobs and set it up. We went into the bushesand met in secret; and we had all the key offices. A few of On the contrary, we must underline the fact thatthe white miners would slip around and come to our the struggles of Afrikan labor were and are part of themeetings. A,fter they found out that the company wasnt political history of the entire Afrikan nation, and can onlygoing to run them away, why they began to appear more be correctly understood in that context. Those Afrikanoften. And quite naturally, when they became the majori- labor struggles were far more important than we have beenty, they elected who they wanted for their presidents, vice told. In the major 1936-1937 U.S. seamens strike, for ex-presidents, and treasurers. They left a few jobs as ample, Afrikan sailors played the decisive role in reachingsecretaries for the Negroes. But at the beginning, most all victory. That was the strike that finally won union rights of the main offices in the locals were held by Negroes." on all East Coast U.S. shipping. Led by Ferdinand Smith, (1 1) the Jamaican socialist who was vice-president of the Na- tional Maritime Union (NMU-CIO), the 20,000 Afrikan The offensive was not merely about job issues, but seamen who were the majority of the workers in the shipp-was a political outbreak spread among Afrikan workers in ing industry of the Southern and Gulf Coast ports, shutgeneral. In 1919 thousands of Afrikan workers in the down those ports completely until the employers gave in.South formed the National Brotherhood Workers, a com- (13) Afrikan labor was gathering a mightly force in themon Afrikan workers union centered among the dock, South, on its own National Territory.shipyard and railroad workers in Norfolk and NewportNews, Virginia. In 1923 Afrikan postal workers in The colonial contradictions became most inten-Washington, D.C. formed their own union, the National sified when these peoples struggles caught fire in the cot-Alliance of Postal Employees. This offensive of Afrikan ton fields, among the great oppressed mass of Afrikanlabor advanced throughout the 1920s and 1930s. (12) tenants and sharecroppers. There the rawest nerve of the Euro-Amerikan settler occupation was touched, since the In the mines, in the Birmingham steel mills, on the struggle was fundamentally over the land. Revisionism hasdocks, the power in the South of Afrikan labor was being tried in its mis-history to picture these sharecropper strug-unchained. So much information about these struggles, so gles as minor conflicts in a backward sector of agriculture,much of this story, has been obscured and put aside. The allegedly marginal to the main arena of struggle in auto,role of Afrikan labor in shaking the Empire in those years steel and the rest of Northern heavy industry. Thewas much larger than most believe. This is no accident, for sharecropper and tenant struggles were central, however,the main sources for U.S. labor history have been the because they involved the main lahnring fnrce of thevarious works of the Euro-Amerikan "Left." These works Afrikan Nation and because they were fought over theall have in common an oppressor nation chauvinism. In land. Thats why these struggles were fought out at gun-this regard such supposedly conflicting "left" writings as point.the CPUSAs Labors Untold Story (by Boyer andMarais), the Weather Underground Organizations Prairie The Afrikan sharecroppers and tenant farmersFire, the syndicalist labor history book Strike! (by J. struggles did not - and could not - take the public massBrecher) or the Red Papers of the Revolutionary Union dimensions of Northern union organization. Smoldering(now RCP) all commit the same distortions. under the heavy-handed lynch rule of the settler occupa- tion, the Afrikan plantation struggles would suddenly The revisionists take apart, in their mis-history, break the surface in an intense confrontation. While.thewhat was one great tidal wave of anti-colonial rising by op- issues were couched in the forms of pay, rest hours,pressed Afrikans. The pieces of history are then scattered tenants rights, etc., the underlying issue of contention wasso as to leave no visible sign of the giant stature of that the imperialist slavery of colonial oppression. Unlike theAfrikan development. Some pieces are "bleached" (strip- industrial struggles in the coal mines or steel mills, theped of their national character) and "annexed" by the Afrikan struggle on the land immediately and directlyEuro-Amerikan radicals as part of their own history. The threatened the very fabric of Euro-Amerikan society in thehistory of Afrikan industrial workers in the North suffered South. For that reason they were met by unrestrained set-this fate. Some pieces, such as the militant sharecropper tler violence - backed up by the imperialist state.struggle and the leading role of Afrikan coal miners in theAppalachian South, have been buried. In July 1931 the U.S. Empire was electrified by the news that a secret organization of Afrikan sharecroppers Matters as a whole are distorted to shrink the had been uncovered in Camp Hills, Alabama. Even worseAfrikan story. To take one example: the struggle around (from the settler viewpoint) was the fact that thesethe Scottsboro Boys (the Afrikan teenagers framed for sharecroppers had engaged in a shoot-out with the localallegedly raping two settler girls) is always brought up, sheriff and his planter deputies. At a time when an Afrikanwhile the wide-spread excitement and unity in the 1930s man in the South would take his life in his hands just inover the defense cases of armed Afrikans who fought their raising his voice to a local settler, this outbreak created set-settler oppressors is never mentioned. This is just part of tler panic throughout the colony. Especially when itthe general distortion of de-emphasizing the intense rising became known that the sharecroppers had brought inin the Afrikan South itself. And its nationalist character. Afrikan communist organizers.Indeed, many of the most widely used Black Studies texts- such as the Bracey, Meier & Rudwick Black Nu- 103 1 The Alabama Sharecroppers Union had begun
  • 105. secretly organizing in Tallapoosa County in May of 1931. Afrikans hidden in the nearby field sniped at the invadingWithin a month they had gathered over 700 members. settlers; Sheriff Young was "critically wounded" and aUnder settler-colonial rule, this effort was, of course, con- deputy was also shot. (14)spiratorial; members were not only pledged to secrecy, butsworn to execute any Afrikan who betrayed the struggle to This unexpected organized resistance by Afrikansthe settlers. Nevertheless it was felt necessary to risk securi- pushed the settlers into a frenzy of counter-insurgency.ty in order to rally sentiment behind the planned strike. Taft Holmes, one of the arrested sharecroppers, said afterWeekly niass meetings were begun, as secretly as possible, his release: "They blew up the car Gray was brought homeat nights in a local church. But these stirrings had alerted in. They arrested people wherever they found them, atthe police forces. At the sharecroppers second mass home, in the store, on the road, anywhere. All the whitemeeting on July 15, 1931, the gathering was discovered andattacked by armed settlers. Tallapoosa County Sheriff bosses was a sheriff that day and whenever they seen a col-Young and a force of planter deputies broke into the ored man they arrested him or beat him up. I was put inmeeting right at the beginning, beating and cursing. Only jail Friday evening. The boys who were put in Friday mor-the drawn gun held by the chairman of the meeting allowed ning was beat up bad to make them tell - but none ofpeople to escape. them told. " Even those mass arrests, general terrorism and killings failed to break the Afrikan stuggle on the land. The next night, after a feverish day of gathering (15)settler reinforcements, Sheriff and an enlarged group of200 armed settlers went "night-riding" to prevent a plann- We can understand why when we look at Ralphed Afrikan meeting and to assassinate the leaders. Gray himself. His role in the struggle grew out of his own oppression, of his own rejection of the all-embracing col- onial occupation suffocating him. Gray had called on his The settlers first targeted Ralph Gray, one of the brothers and sisters to refuse to do plantation labor for themost militant sharecroppers and one of the main then-prevailing wages in Tallapoosa County - 50 centsorganizers. Gray, who had been out on guard that night, per day for Afrikan men, 40 cents per day for Afrikanwas shot down without parley by the settlers as soon as he women. He and his wife would work over the state line inwas identified. Badly wounded, he told his compatriots Georgia, where plantation wages were slightly higher, leav-that he had emptied his shotgun at the enemy, but had ing the oldest son home to care for their chickens and pigs.become too weak to reload and continue fighting. The set-tler mob left, satisfied that Gray had been finished off. In effect Gray had started a strike of Afrikan plan-Hours later, hearing that the wounded sharecropper had tation labor, urging everyone to withhold their labor untilbeen brought home by car still alive, the settlers regatheredand attacked his house. Gray was killed and his wifes head the settlers raised wages. So Sheriff Young singled Graywas fractured by a beating. But a defense guard of out; he told Gray that he and his family had to come out and chop cotton on the Sheriffs farm. Obviously if Gray submitted then the attempted strike would be undercut. Gray refused. (16) Then Gray had a fistfight with his landlord; while the Grays owned their own shack, they had to rent farmland from the local mail carrier, Mr. Langly. Incidentally, this was very common. Not only the planters and middle classes, but even the "working class" settlers in the Afrikan colony were "bosses" over the Afrikan col- onial subjects. Many landless settlers themselves rented farmland from the banks and the planters, which they then had worked by Afrikan sharecroppers or day laborers. While Afrikan sharecroppers were in theory eligi- ble for New Deal farm loans for seed and fertilizer, the common practice in the South was for the settler landlords to just take the money. When Ralph Grays check arrived his landlord (who was also the postman) had him sign it under the pretext that hed deliver it to the bank for Gray. Of course, the settler just kept the money himself. Gray finally waited for Langly at the mailbox and they got into a fistfight. Gray was a marked man because he was standing up. The colonial oppression was so suffocating that despite any dangers the Ralph Grays of the Afrikan Nation were moving towards revolution. (17) Thats why the embattled sharecroppers secretly wrote away to the communists and asked their help. Afrikans were picking up the gun. That should tell us something about their political direction. Even defense trials of individual Afrikan sharecroppers who had resorted to arms continued to draw attention throughout this period. The Ode11 Waller case in 1942 created newspaper headlines and demonstrations throughout the U.S. Empire. The Richmond Times-Dispatch said: "The
  • 106. most celebrated case in Virginia criminal annals...Odell There were, of course, many Euro-AmerikanWallers case is being watched with interest by groups of sharecroppers and tenants as well in the South. Most ofwhites and Negroes in every State of the Union." (18) them were extremely poor, a poverty whose roots lay in theWaller shot and killed his settler landlord, who had seized original defeat of their abortive Confederate nation. Forthe Waller familys entire wheat crop for himself. Its in- them the possible path of class conscious struggle was visi-teresting that the landlord, Oscar Davis, was not a lan- ble.downer, but a poor white who had Afrikan sharecropperswark part of his rented land for him. A unique union, the Southern Tenant Farmers Union, was formed in Tyronza, Arkansas in 1934 to follow In the Waller case the New York Times editorially this path. The STFU was started by two Southern Euro-called for commuting his execution on tactical grounds: Amerikan Social-Democrats - H.L. Mitchell (who owned"The faith of colored people in their country is deeply in- a dry cleaners) and Henry East (a gas station operator).volved in what happens to Odell Waller.. .Our enemies Their union involved many thousands of sharecroppers,would like to break down this faith. If Governor Darden tried several major strikes, and was notable in the uppergrants the desired commutation he will be helping his rural South of that time for being heavily "integrated."countrys repufarion among all the dark-skinned and Briefly, the STFU was even a part of the national CIOyellow-skinned peoples. " (19) Waller was executed. (before splits between settler radicals led to its ouster), and had the same prominent role in official 1930s U.S. In these defense cases the connection to the larger unionism that the farmworkers (UFW) does in todaysanti-colonial issues was readily apparent. 1.n thg Tee Davis AFL-CIO.defense case in Edmondson, Arkansas (right across theriver from Memphis, Tenn.) in 1943, the Afrikan tenant The STFU failed politically because it could notfarmer was sentenced to ten years in prison for defending resolve the relationship between oppressor and oppressedhis familys house against settlers breaking in. Allegedly nations, could find no other basis for workers unity othersearching for stolen goods, the freshly deputized settlers than reformism under oppressor nation domination. Howwere harassing Afrikan families. When Davis refused to wide the gulf really was on the land can be seen from an in-open his door to unidentified white men, a settler cident in Oklahoma. STFU leader H.L. Mitchell had gone"deputy" started breaking it down. When the "deputy" to Durant, Okla. on an organizing drive. Addressing akicked in the bottom of the door, Tee Davis started group of Choctaw Indian farm workers, Mitchell called onshooting through the door to scare them off.(20) them to "get organized" by joining the STFU. The Choc- taw leader simply ended the discussion by saying: "Indian That harassment was not just spontaneous already organized. When white man and Black man get"racism," but a campaign to drive Afrikans there off the ready to take back the land, we join them."(23)land. That area in Crittenden County had been an Afrikanstronghold after the Civil War. Crittenden was the last The STFUs integrationism was just an effort tocounty in Arkansas in the 19th century to have Afrikan harness and use the militancy of the Afrikan masses tosheriffs and county officials. Edmondson itself was fight battles the poor whites could not sustain themselves.established as an all-Afrikan town in that period with the The Afrikan tenants and sharecroppers were the hard-coreentire population, stores, real estate and farmland being strength of the STFU, their steadfastn~qq alnne permittingAfrikan. Finally, the planters managed to organize a ma- enough organizations to hold together so that the poorjor armed attack on the town. Many of its people were whites had something to cling to. H.L. Mitchell (whodriven out and the Afrikan leaders were deported from the always insisted on settler control of the union) himself hadState. Most of the Afrikan land and homes were stolen by to admit that: "Intimidation moves were generally morethe planters. Desiring only a limited number of Afrikans to successful against the whites than the Negroes. The latterwork the occupied land as laborers, the local capitalists us- have more sense of organization and the value of organiza-ed terror to keep the population down and to stop any tion, a greater sense of solidarity." (24)Afrikans who tried to own land. Even this social-democratic union could not suc- It should be evident that behind these Afrikan cessfully absorb and tame the nationalist energy of itssharecropper and tenant struggles loomed the larger issue Afrikan members. The primary organizer for the STFU inand the larger rising. Despite the savage counterattacks by its formative years was its Afrikan vice-president, the Rev.the settler garrison the Afrikan struggle refused to quiet E.B. McKinney. McKinney related to the STFU and itsdown. In Alabama the 1931 mass arrests, terror and radical Euro-Amerikans only to the exact degree that heassassinations failed to exterminate the Sharecroppers felt Afrikans thereby gained in self-organization andUnion. The next year another shoot-out took place in political strength. This rural preacher turned out to beTallapoosa County. On December 19, 1932 the planter both much better educated than most of the settler uniondeputies killed four Afrikans in an attack on their activists and an Afrikan nationalist. One historianorganization. The brief battle was so intense that the settler remarks: "Though willing to work with whites, he wasattackers were forced to withdraw after they ran low on race-conscious, having been influenced by Marcusammunition. (Four deputies were slightly wounded by Garvey s Negro nationalism, and his people remainedAfrikan return fire.) Five Afrikans were sentenced to 12 to primarily the Negro union members." (25)15 years in the state penitentiary for the shoot-out.(2l) Aslate as 1935 the Alabama Sharecroppers Union was leading Badly wounded by U.S. imperialisms terroristicalmost 3,000 cotton sharecroppers on a strike that had counter-blows, the Afrikan sharecropper struggle in thebegun in bloody Lowndes County on August 19, 1935.(22) late 1930s continued to search for new directions. As lateArmed confrontations on a small scale were taking place as 1939 there was considerable agitation. That year Rev.throughout the South. McKinney quit the STFU in protest, saying that; "The 105
  • 107. Negro is the goat of the STFU. " All thirteen Afrikan te-nant farmer union locals in Arkansas quit the STFU andjoined the rival CIO union as a group. These Afrikansharecroppers were trying to take advantage of Euro-Amerikan labor factional in-fighting, playing those fac-tions off against each other attempting to find a situationwith the most resources and leverage for themselves. In January 1939 thousands of dispossessed,landless Afrikan sharecroppers in Southeastern Missouritook to the highways in a major demonstration. Todramatize their demand for bread and land, the sharecrop-pers set up a "tent city" lining the roadsides of a nationalhighway. This protest, which lasted for months, caughtempire-wide attention and was an early fore-runner to the1960s "freedom marches" and other such actions. It was avery visible sign of the struggle of Afrikans to resist leavingtheir lands, to resist imperialist dispossession. (26) Practice showed that the Afrikan sharecropperand tenant labor struggles not only had a class characterbut were part of a larger national struggle. They were anti-colonial struggles having the goal of removing the bootheelof settler occupation off of Afrikan life and land. In thisstirring the Afrikan masses - rural as well as urban,sharecroppers as well as steelworkers - were creating newforms of organization, trying mass struggles of variedkinds, and taking steps toward revolution. Again, it is im-portant to recognize the meaning of the reality thatAfrikans were picking up the gun. And raising the need forsocialist liberation. This gradually developing struggle was againstU.S. imperialism and had a revolutionary direction. In theThirties Afrikan communism grew, taking root not onlyin the refugee ghettos of the North but in the South as well.Primarily this political activity took form within the Com-munist Party U.S.A. (which the ABB had joined). Whilewe can recognize the CPUSA finally as a settleristic partyof revisionism, it is important to see that in the Deep Southat that time the CPUSA was predominantly anunderground organization of Afrikan revolutionaries. TheCPUSA was accepted not only because of its labor andlegal defense activities, but because in that period theCPUSA was opening espousing independence for the op-pressed Afrikan Nation. Hosea Hudson, an Afrikan steelworker whoplayed a major role in the CPUSA in Alabama in the1930s, points out that the party of his personal experiencewas in reality an Afrikan organization: "Up in the to^years, in 33, 34, 35, the-part y in ~ i r ~ i n g h aand mAlabama was dominated by Negroes. At one time we hadestimated around Birmingham about six or seven hundredmembers. And in the whole state of Alabama it was con-sidered about 1,000 members. We had only a few whites, economic, political and social equality to the Negro peopleand I mean a few whites." and the right of self-determination of the Negro people in the Black Belt...When we got together, we discussed and So that in the Afrikan Nation not just a small in- we read the Liberator. The Party put out this newspaper,tellectual vanguard, not just a handful, but a significant ... the I.ihrrator It was always carrying something about thenumber of Afrikans were illegally organizing for socialist liberation of Black people, something about Africa,revolution and national liberation. Hudson makes it plain something about the South, Scottsboro, etc., etc.that Afrikan communists then had very explicit ideasabout their eventually leading a freed and sovereign Wed compare, wed talk about the right of self-Afrikan Nation in the South. determination. We discussed the whole question of if we established a government, what role we comrades would "Our struggle was around many outstanding play, the about the relationship of the white, of the poorissues in our party program in the whole South: 1) Full 106 white, of the farmers, etc. in this area.
  • 108. ed but went far beyond immediate economic issues. Nothing proved this more clearly than the spontaneous mass movement to support Ethiopia in its war against Italian imperialism. In October 1935 the Italian Empire invaded Ethiopia in a drive to expand its North Afrikan colonies (which at that time included Somali, Eritrea and Libya). Italian imperialists were especially glad at that new inva- sion since it gave them a chance to avenge their humiliating defeat at Adowa in 1896. Ethiopia was then, however feudalistic its society, the only actually independent nation left in Afrika. It had remained independent for the only possible reason, because it had repeatedly maintained its national integrity and had militarily repulsed European in- trusions. The early Portuguese slavers had been driven off. Even when the Italian Army, 40,000 soldiers arm- ed with rifle and artillery, invaded Ethiopia in 1896, the Ethiopian nation defeated them. These Italian divisions were surrounded and wiped out at Adowa by Emperor Meneliks 250,000 Ethiopian soldiers. The humbled Italian Empire was forced after Adowa to publicly recognize the Ethiopian borders and even to pay the Ethiopian govern- ment heavy cash reparations. So in 1935, after some years of preparatory border incidents, the Mussolini regime eagerly sent its tank divisions and airplane squadrons slic- ing into Ethiopia. Afrikans within the U.S. Empire reacted instantly If you had a government in the South - theyd in a great uproar of anger and solidarity. Journalist Roigive you the right of self-determination in the Black Belt - Ottley pointed out that there had been "no event in recentyou got whites there. What would you do with the whites? times that stirred the rank-and-file of Negroes more thanWe say the whites would be recognized on the basis of their the Ztalo-Ethiopian War. " It is important to grasp the fullpercentage, represented on all bodies and all committees. and exact significance of this political upheaval. All overBut the Negroes at all times would be in the the Afrikan continent and in the "New World" Afrikansmajority ..."(27) were being oppressed by the European colonial powers. Why then did this one case call forth such special attention Its revealing that at that time - when Afrikan from Afrikans in the U.S. Empire? Because it involved thecommunism had easily as much strength and numbers in principle of national rights for Afrikans, the defense ofthe South a5 it did in the 1970s - they had a nationalist Afrikan nationhood.program. The goal of national independence very clearlymade sense to the grass roots. And at that time in the early Even the moderate political forces rallied around1930s the overwhelming majority of Afrikan communists this most basic issue to the nationally oppressed.(28) Evenin the South were proletarians. someone such as Walter White, the executive secretary of the NAACP. could angrily write: "Italy, brazenly, has set As we put back together some of the pieces of the fire under the powder keg of white arrogance and greedNew Afrikan story, we see even in incomplete outline that which seems destined to become an act of suicide for thethis struggle had indeed renewed itself and entered the so-called white world. "At its 1935 national convention themodern period. The Afrikan proletariat had stood up, par- NAACP assailed "the imperialistic selfishness of all na-ticularly in the South, and had spear-headed new industrial tions in their shameless aggression upon the sovereignty ofunionism campaigns (with or without the alliances with other nations.. ."white workers). On the plantations the masses were star-ting to organize. Spontaneous resistance to the settler- The defense of Afrikan nationhood was primarycolonial occupation was breaking out. The most politically in everyones mind. Dr. L.K. Williams, President of theconscious of all these were becoming communists, with National Baptist Convention, told a mass rally: "We doAfrikan communism rapidly growing and taking on its not want to see the last black empire in Afrika lose its in-vanguard role. Thousands of Afrikans stepped forward in dependence and culture..." The Fraternal Council ofthose years to commit themselves to armed revolution, Negro Churches, representing the major Afrikanself-government through independence for the Afrikan denominations, issued an official resolution saying:Nation, and socialism. This was a program that had won "Americans of African descent are deeply stirred in theirrespect amongst Afrikan people, particularly in the South. attitudes and sympathies for Ethiopia, a Negroid people, who represent almost the only remaining example of in- The political horizons for Afrikans had opened dependent government by the black race on the continentwide in those years. It is especially important to unders- of Africa ..." So the concern was broadly shared by thetand that masses of Afrikans viewed themselves as part of Afrikan Nation as a whole - not just by some strata ora world struggle, that their aims and concerns encompass- 107 some political sectors.
  • 109. The support movement took many forms. Clearly The "Volunteer Movement" arose spontaneouslythe leading group in the mass mobilization was the Garvey throughout the Nation. Thousands upon thousands ofMovements United Negro Improvement Association Afrikans volunteered to go fight in Ethiopia. The Black(U.N.I.A.). This was, we should recall, the same na- Legion established a military training camp in rural Newtionalist organization that prominent academic historians York, and its leaders urged Afrikans to prepare to re-now assure us was abandoned and unimportant at that nounce U.S. citizenship. While the "Volunteertime. Movement" was blocked by U.S. imperialism, its popular nature shows how powerful were the potential forces be- Captain A.L. King, head of the U.N.I.A. in New ing expressed through the Ethiopian support issue. TheYork, was the chairman of the united Afrikan support two Afrikans from the U.S. Empire who did fight incommittee. J.A. Rogers, the leading intellectual of the Ethiopia (both fighter pilots) were heroes back home,Garvey movement in the U.S., was the main propagandist whose adventures were widely followed by the Afrikanand educator for the support movement. The Afrikan press.united front committee involved not only the UNIA andother nationalist organizations, but the CPUSA, church The conflict was fought out in miniature on theleaders, Afrikan college groupings, and so on. Within streets of Jersey City, Brooklyn and Harlem betweenseveral months after the invasion the Friends of Ethiopia Afrikans and pro-fascist Italian immigrants. The night ofhad 106 local branches both North and South. There were August 11, 1935 over a thousand Afrikans and Italiansmass church meetings, rallies, marches of thousands and fought with baseball bats and rocks on the streets of Jerseypicket lines outside Italian government offices. City. On October 4, 1935 (the day after the main invasion began) thousands of Afrikans attacked Italian shops in Harlem and Brooklyn. On the streets the masses of or- The national character of the movement was dinary Afrikans viewed their fight and the fight in Ethiopiaunderlined by the fact that virtually to the last person as very close.Afrikans boycotted the well-funded and Euro-Amerikan-run international relief efforts. The American Red Cross Its indicative that in 1936 a late-night street corneradmitted that Afrikans refused to join its Ethiopian aid rally of the African Patriotic League, called to protestcampaign; Afrikans insisted on their own all-Afrikan cam- Italian mass executions of Ethiopian patriots, rapidly turn-paign that was highly political. The political counterattack ed into an attack on the police. Smashing Italian store win-by U.S. imperialism struck at this point. Somehow the dows, the crowd of 400 Afrikans marched down I.enoxrumor kept spreading that the Ethiopians thought of Ave. in Harlem looking for a particular policeman whothemselves as "Caucasian" and that they allegedly viewed made a point of arresting nationalists.) In the massAfrikans (most especially in the U.S. Empire) with con- fighting with police that followed, the New York policetempt. There was a demoralizing confusion from this started shooting after the determined crowd charged themrumor. to successfully free one of their number who had been ar- rested. (29) Ethiopia was close to home. To expose this lie representatives of the Ethiopian came to the U.S. At a packed Harlem meetingOf 3000 at Rev. Adam The great outpouring of nationalist sentiment that Jr.s accompanied the Ethiopian war was, we must emphasize, Baptist Church, Ethiopian envoy Tasfaye widespread throughout the U.S. Empire. Afrikan One invoked the "lidarity New orleans resident wrote to the Courier that the Ethio-peoples: "It ,is said that we despise Negroes. In [he first pian crisis proved that .the time is here for the Negro to ., You are not Negroes. Who told you that you were begin to look for the higher things in life - a flag 0 ~ - hisNegroes? You are the sons and daughters of Africa, your own, a government of his own and complete liberty. " Thismotherland, which calls Y O U now to aid her /as/ surviving was the developing consciousness that so threatened black people. " imperialism. r nornvt From l t a ~ ~ a n s BUY iw"Y WHITF. World is trying to C ~ V Yout Et hio11;1 supremilc- 1 strying to ckStnv 1 of White empire in A r c . rherr Y *or" Ih" from the black pt?Clpks of md amd read! deCnd Eth ;I(t ack.-l must ~ n y l r ~ Ffiknw- "aly "( ld iopia, cOiOr to S;l The their forre5 other white nations 108 - haye m,,~t t)ml)in~ ~ -1.8
  • 110. 3. To Disrupt the Nation: Population Regroupment It was only against the rise of the Afrikan Nation together to destroy the economic base of the Afrikan Na-that we could see, in brilliant detail, how the U.S. Empire tion, to separate Afrikans from their lands, and to thuswove together the net of counter-insurgency. We know destabilize and gradually depopulate the Afrikan com-that a period that began around World War I and which munities in and adjacent to the National Territory. Onecontinued through the 1930s, a period in which Afrikan history of U.S. welfare programs notes:nationalism militantly took hold of the masses, ended inthe 1940s with the triumph of pro-imperialist integra- "...many New Deal programs ran roughshod overtionism as the dominant political philosophy in the the most destitute. Federal agricultural policy, for exam-Afrikan communities. U.S. counter-insurgency was the ple, was designed to raise farm prices by taking land out ofhidden factor in this paradoxical outcome. cultivation, an action that also took many tenant farmers and sharecroppers out of the economy. The National In the Philippine War of 1898-1901 the U.S. Em- Recovery Administration, seeking to placate organizedpire openly spoke of its counter-insurgency strategy. The employers and organized labor, permitted racial differen-same was true in Vietnam in the 1960s. But in the Afrikan tials in wages to be maintained. The Tennessee Valleycolony of the 1930s U.S. counter-insurgency was conceal- Authority deferred to local prejudice by not hiring Blacks.ed. It was none the less real, none the less genocidal for All this was done not unknowingly, but rather out of con-having -been done without public announcements. It is cern for building a broad base for the new programs. Itwhen we view what happened in this light, as components was left to FERA (Federal Emergency Relief Act) to succorof a strategy of counter-insurgency, that the political the casualties of the New Deals pragmatic policies. Sinceevents suddenly come into full focus. Blacks got little from (or were actually harmed by) most programs, 30 per cent of the Black population ended up on Usually counter-insurgency involves three prin- the direct relief rolls by January 1935."(30)cipal components: 1. Violent suppression or exterminationof the revolutionary cadre and organizations; 2. Paralyz-ing the mass struggle itself through genocidal population Just as the 30% of the South Vietnamese peopleregroupment; 3. Substituting pro-imperialist bourgeois were forcibly made dependent upon direct U.S. handoutsleadership and institutions for patriotic leadership and in- in the 1960s in order just to eat, so 30% of thc Afrikanstitutions within the colonial society. The terroristic sup- people in the U.S. were similarly reduced by 1935. But notpression of Afrikan militants in the South has been for long. That was only the first stage. In the second, reliefdiscussed, and in any case should be well understood. was turned over to the local planter governments, who pro-What has been less discussed are the other two parts. ceeded to force Afrikans off the relief rolls to drive them out of the region. That history of U.S. welfare continues: POPULATION REGROUPMENT "Under pressure from Southern congressmen, any In Mao Zedongs famous analogy, the guerrillas in wording that might have been interpreted as constrainingPeoples War are "fish" while the masses are the "sea" the states from racial discrimination in welfare was deletedthat both sustains and conceals them. Population regroup- from the Social Security Act of 1935. The Southern statesment (in the C.I.A.s terminology) strategy seeks to dry up then proceeded to use the free hand they had been given tothat "sea" by literally uprooting the masses and disrupting keep Blacks off the rolls." (31)the whole social fabric of the oppressed nation. In Vietnamthe strategy resulted in the widespread chemical poisoning It is important to see that Afrikans were not justof crops and forest land, the depopulation of key areas, the victims of discrimination and blind economic cir-and the involuntary movement of one-third of the total cumstances ("last hired, first fired," etc.). Africans wereSouth Vietnamese population off their lands to "protected the targets of imperialist New Deal policy. We musthamlets" and "refugee centers" (i.e. the C.I.A.s reserva- remember that the archaic, parasitic Euro-Amerikantions for Vietnamese). These blows only show how great planter capitalists were on the verge of final bankruptcyan effort, what magnitude of resources, is expended on im- and literal dissolution in the early years of the Depression.perialist counter-insurgency. Furthei, despite the 1929 Depression there was in fact relatively little agricultureal unemployment among In response to growing political unrest, the U.S. Afrikans in the rich Mississippi River cotton land of theEmpire moved inexorably to drive Afrikans off the land, Delta (the Kush) until the winter of 1933-34. (32) Thenout of industry, and force them into exile. The New Deal these two facts were suddenly reversed.of President Franklin Roosevelt, the major banks and cor-porations, and the main Euro-Amerikan political and The New Deals 1934 Agricultural Adjustment Actsocial organizations (unions, political parties, etc.) worked 109 rescued the ruined planter capitalists, giving them cash
  • 111. These agricultural workers paid $8.00 apiece to be driven by truck to a work camp at Bridgeton, New Jersey, in 1942.subsidies so that they could hold on to the land and con- Afrikan miners and their families were driven out by thetinue serving as U.S. imperialisms overseers in the tens of thousands. The large coal companies and theAfrikan South.* But those U.S. imperialist subsidies United Mine Workers Union (UMW-CIO), while they hadliterally gave the planters cash for each sharecropper and class differences, had oppressor nation unity. The im-tenant farmer they forced off the plantation. The primary perialists had decided to drive rebellious Afrikan labor outeffect, then, was to forcibly de-stabilize and eventually de- of the Southern coal fields, and the pro-imperialist CIOpopulate the rural Afrikan communities. One 1935 evalua- unions eagerly cooperated. Between 1930 and 1940 thetion of the A.A.A. program by the lawyer for the Southern percentage of Afrikan miners in the five Southern Ap-Tenant Farmers Union pointed out. palachian states (Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky) was deliberately cut from 23% to "Before its passage most of the plantations of the 16%. (34) And it would keep on being cut year after year,south .were heavily mortgaged. It was freely prophesied regardless of economic boom or bust.that the plantation system was breaking down under itsown weight and that the great plantations would soon be The drive by capital to strike down Afrikan labor,broken up into small farms, owned by the people who to force the colonial masses out of the main economy, in-cultivate them.. .but by federal aid the plantation system of tensified throughout the 1930s. Between 1930-36 somethe South is more strongly entrenched than it had been for 50% of all Afrikan skilled workers were pushed out ofyears. their jobs. (35) Careful observers at that time made the point that this was not caused by the Depression alone, but "However, this is not the most significant effect of clearly reflected a strategy used by imperialism against thethe federal aid. By it cotton acreage was reduced about 40 Afrikan Nation as a whole. W:E.B. DuBois said in theper cent, andsomething like 40per cent of the tenants were main address of the 1933 Fisk University commencementdisplaced... " (33) ceremony: This displacement was also taking place in the fac- "We do not know that American Negroes will sur-tories and even the coal field, where (as we noted in the vive. There are sinister signs about us, antecedent to andprevious section) Afrikan workers had played a leading unconnected with the Great Depression. The organizedrole in militant unionization. As the coal mines of the might of industry North and South is relegating the NegroSouth gradually became unionized during the 1 9 3 0 ~110 ~ to the edge of survival and using him as a labor reservoir
  • 112. on starvation wage ..." (36) involuntarily dispersed, scattered into the refdgee camps of the Northern ghettoes, removed from established positions In the fields tens of thousands of Afrikan farm in industries and trades that were an irreplaceable part offamilies during the 1930s were driven not only off the land, the modern Nation. It was not just a matter of dollars, im-but out of the South altogether. As we have seen, this was portant as income is to the oppressed; what was happeningclearly not the result of "blind economic circumstances," ravaged the national culture. The "sea" of Afrikan societybut was the genocidal result of imperialist policy (as was stricken at its material base.enacted by the most liberal settler administration in U.S.history). The social disruption and de-population were noless significant for Afrikans than for other dispersed col-onial peoples, such as the Palestinians. *Interestingly enough, the 1934 AAA and the entire pro- gram was administered by FDRs Secretary of Agriculture, The militant struggle on the land and the turn of Henry Wallace. This man was later to become the darlingAfrikan workers toward revolution was not only blunted of the CPUSA, and the 1948 Presidential candidate of theby violent repression; increasingly the Afrikan masses were CPUSA-led "Progressive Party." 4. Neo-Colonialism & Leadership The U.S. Empire has had a long and successful many years the prime employer of the Afrikan petit-history of applying neo-colonialism to hold down the op- bourgeoisie.pressed. In Latin America and in New Afrika during themid-1800s the U.S. Empire utilized neo-colonialism prior Many Afrikan politicians of the 19th Century wereeven to the advent of world imperialism. But in the 1920s consoled by Federal patronage jobs for the lost glories ofand early 1930s U.S. imperialisms neo-colonial in- Reconstruction. U.S. Senator Blanche Bruce fromstruments lost control over the Afrikan masses. In order to Mississippi was the last Afrikan in the Senate. When hisre-establish pro-imperialist leadership over Afrikan term ended in 1881, Mississippi politics were back underpolitics, U.S. imperialism had to forge new neo-colonial planter control and he was replaced. For his loyal exampleinstruments. These neo-colonial instruments were not only the Empire awarded him the position in Washington oftraditional but also radical and even socialistic in outward U.S. Register of the Treasury (for the next thirty-two yearsforin, and had the special task of controlling the modern that post would be reserved for loyal Afrikan leaders).forces of Afrikan trade-unionism and Afrikan socialism Even Frederick Douglass was not immune to thethat had arisen so widely. ideological bent of his class. He was appointed U.S. Mar- shall for the Distfict of Columbia, and later in his life was We should remember that the essence of neo- U.S. Consul to Haiti. Small wonder that the former radicalcolonialism is an outward form of national self- abolitionist spent years preaching how Afrikans shoulddetermination and popular democracy concealing a sub- always remain loyal to the Republican Party, Northernmissive relationship with imperialism on the part of the capital and the Federal bourgeois forces. As Amilcar Cabral pointed outalmost twenty years ago concerning.neo-colonialism: By 1892 the Federal offices in Washington employed some 1,500 Afrikans. While most of these jobs "The objective of the imperialist countries was to were as cleaning women and the lowliest of clerks, a trickleprevent the enlargement of the socialist camp, to liberate of professional and official positions were reserved forthe reactionary forces in our countries which were being hand-picked Afrikan petit-bo.urgeois leaders. Washington,stifled by colonialism and to enable these forces to ally D.C. was then the "capitol" in exile of Afrikans, thethemselves with the international bourgeoisie. The fun- center of "Negro society." Some eight bureaucratic posi-damental idea was to create a bourgeoisie where one did tions with status eventually were reserved for them: D.C.not exist, in order specifically to strengthen the imperialist Municipal Judge, Register of the Treasury, Deputyand the capitalist camp. "(3 7) Register, Assistant District Attorney for D.C., Auditor of the Navy Department, Chief Surgeon at D.C. Freedmans The U.S. Empire had literally done exactly that in Hospital, Collector of Customs at Georgetown and U.S.the 1870s. The neo-colonial stage known as Black Assistant Attorney-General.Reconstruction had qualitatively changed and enlarged theNew Afrikan petit-bourgeoisie. This class, even in defeatby the Euro-Arnerikan planter capitalists, were to a degree In 1913 a journalist light-heartedly labelled these -held up by and patronized by U.S.imperialism and they eight "the Black Cabinet." But what began in jest wasretained like a religion their loyalty and dependence upon eagerly taken up by petit-bourgeois Afrikans inthe Federal government. Washington, D.C, was their Mec- seriousness. The custom began of regarding the "Blackca or Rome. Indeed, the Federal Government was for 111 Cabinet" as the representatives to the U.S.Government of
  • 113. the whole Afrikan population within the U.S. So a petit- bourgeois leadership that it had installed for Afrikans.bourgeois Afrikan national leadership had been created This was the historic movement touched off and led by thewhich was, in fact, both employed by and solely picked by Jamaican Marcus Garvey. Even its enemies conceded thatthe imperialist government.(38) the Afrikan masses were expressing their deep desires through this rebellious movement of Afrikan nationalism. At this time the most prominent Afrikan in thesecircles, standing in reality even above the "Black The Garvey movement at its peak in the earlyCabinet," was Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee In- 1920s was the greatest outbreak of Afrikan political activi-stitute. Washington was viewed by the imperialists as their ty since the Civil War. It said that Afrikans could find theirchief Afrikan advisor, and served them as a leading pro- liberation in building a new, modern Afrikan Nation ofpagandist and apologist for white supremacy and col- their own back on the soil of the Afrikan continent. Theonialism. In return, any Afrikan who sought position or proposed Nation would eventually unite and protectfunds from the imperialists had to be approved by him. Afrikans everywhere - in the U.S. Empire and the WestDuring the Theodore Roosevelt and Taft Administrations Indies as well as on the Afrikan continent itself.even the "Black Cabinet" appointments were cleared firstwith him. Washington had great fame and, acting for the This new nation would expand to liberate allEmpire, some influence over Afrikan education, Afrika from colonialism and unite it into one continentalnewspapers, community institutions, and so on. But, of Afrikan Power. There Afrikans would shape their owncourse, neither he nor the other imperialist-selected destiny in great industries, universities, .agriculturalAfrikan leaders represented the will of the masses. cooperatives and cultural institutions of their own. As a beginning toward the day, Garveyism organized national At the end of World War I an anti-colonial move- institutions here in all spheres of life. However modest,ment of incredible vigor burst forth - seemingly almost these medical, religious, military. economic and otherovernight - that rejected both the U.S. Empire and the organizations were designed to develop Afrikan self- Booker T . Washington in his ofice at Tusk- egee Institute (1906).
  • 114. reliance and national independence. If Garveyism suffered capital, organize industry, join the black centers of thefrom practical short-comings, nevertheless its imposing South Atlantic by commercial enterprise and in this waysweep of vision expressed the burning national aspirations ultimately redeem Africa as a fit and free home for blackof the suppressed Afrikan peoples (and not only within the men. This is true. It is feasible... The plan is not originalU .S., but worldwide). with Garvey but he had popularized it, made it a living, vocal ideal and swept thousands with him with intense Garveyisms great contribution consisted of the belief in the possible accomplishment of the idea1."(39)fact that it raised high for all to see a vision of Afrikan lifethat was completely self-reliant, built around their own na- To the extent that Garveyism was naive abouttional economy and culture, that waited on no European capitalism (which it obviously was) this was a stage ofto "accept" them or "emancipate" them, that was depen- development widely shared by its critics as well.dent solely on Afrikan energies and will. In this Garveyism Garveyisms weakness was that it saw in capitalism - thewas expressing the strongest desires of the Afrikan masses. form of social organization of the colonizer - the in-It is no accident that Garveyism and its successor, the Na- struments that Afrikans could use to free themselves. Sotion of Islam, were the two largest outbreaks of Afrikan that the essence of nation-building was expressed in formsactivity and organization-building within the continental precisely paralleling those of European society -Empire of our century. Even such a self-admitted "skep- businesses, churches, Black Cross, etc., etc. Garveyismstic" as Richard Wright was profoundly moved by predilection for Western titles of nobility ("Duke ofGarveyism in his youth: Nigeria") and full-dress European court uniforms was but a symptom of this. While this made the concept of in- "The one group I met during those exploring days dependent Afrikan nationhood instantly understandable,whose lives enthralled me was the Garveyites, an organiza- it also was a contradiction and a blind alley.tion of black men and women who were forlornly seekingto return to Africa. Theirs was a passionate rejection ofAmerica, for they sensed with that directness of which only Millions of Afrikans responded to the call ofthe simple are capable that they had no chance to live a full Garveys United Negro Improvement Associationhuman life in America. Their lives were not cluttered with (U.N.I.A.), read its newspaper The Negro World, boughtideas in which they could only half believe; they could not stock in its Afrikan business ventures, came out to itscreate illusions which made them think they were living meetings and rallies. In 1920 some 50,000 Afrikans march-when they were not; their daily lives were too nakedly ed in a mass U.N.I.A. rally in Harlem. Garvey claimed 4.5harsh to permit of camouflage. I understood their emo- million members for thc U.N.I.A. His critics charged thattions, for I partly shared them. an examination of the U.N.I.A.s public financial reports revealed that the Garvey Movement had "only" 90,000 members of whom "only" 20,000 were paid up at that "The Garveyites had embraced a totally racialistic time in dues. The U.N.I.A. was so overwhelming that itsoutlook which endowed them with a dignity that I had critics could try to belittle it by saying that it had "only"never seen before in Negroes. On the walls of their dingy 90,000 members. (40).flats were maps of Africa and India and Japan, pictures ofJapanese generals and admirals, portraits of Marcus The U.N.I.A.s international effect was very pro-Garvey in gaudy regalia, the faces of colored men and found. Claude McKay reminds us that: "In the interior ofwomen from all parts of the world. I gave no credence to West Africa new legends arose of an African who had beenthe ideology of Garveyism; it was, rather, the emotional lost in America, but would return to save his people." (41)dynamics of its adherents that evoked my admiration. On the Nigerian coast Afrikans would light great bonfires,Those Garveyites I knew could never understand why I lik- sleeping on the beaches, waiting to guide in the ships ofed them but would never follow them, and I pitied them "Moses Garvey." Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Ho Chitoo much to tell them that they could never achieve their Minh of Vietnam both said that Garvey had been an im-goal... portant "inspiration" for them. "It was when the Garveyites spoke fervently of Clements Kadalie, whose 250,000 member In-building their own country, of someday living within the dustrial & Commerical Workers Union (ICU) was the firstboundaries of a culture of their own making, that I sensed Afrikan working class political organization in Azania,the passionate hunger of their lives, that I caught a glimpse said that he had been much influenced by the U.N.I.A. Inof the potential strength of the American Negro." British Kenya the separationist KiKuyu Christians brought in U.N.I.A. ministers from the U.S. to train and ordain The Garvey Movements ambitious economic ven- their own first ministers - and it was from these congrega-tures - in particular the ill-fated Black Star ship line - tions that much of the Kenya Land & Freedom Army (call-became centers of controversy. There is no doubt, ed "Mau-Mau" by the British) would come a generationhowever, that at the time they were often considered as later. The Garvey Movement, in Nkrumahs words, "rais-very difficult but necessary steps for Afrikan progress. ed the banner of African liberation" on three continents.Even W.E.B. BuBois of the N.A.A.C.P., who was one of (42)Garveys favorite targets for scorn as "a white mans nig-ger," initially spoke out in favor of Garveys program (but In Haiti U.S. Marines violently put down thenot his personal leadership): U.N.I.A. In Costa Rica and Cuba the United Fruit Com- pany used police power to repress it. George Padmore, a "...the main lines of the Garvey plan are perfectly bitter opponent of Garvey, recounts that:feasible. What he is trying to say and do is this: AmericanNegroes can, by accumulating and ministering their own 113 "In certain places the punishment for being seen
  • 115. with a Negro World was five years at hard labor, and in not only by Coretta King and other Afrikan notables, butFrench Dahomey it was life imprisonment. It was sup- by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and AFL-CIO Presidentpressed in such places as Trinidad, British Guiana, Bar- George Meany. Its hard for activists today to view him asbados, etc., in the West Indies and all French, Portuguese, anything but another of the faceless Uncle Toms.Belgian, and some of the British colonies of Africa." This greatly underestimates his historic role. To grasp how useful he was to the U.S. Empire we have to see In the continental U.S. the Garvey Movement was that the young A. Philip Randolph was a radical star in themet with varying degrees of repression (Malcolm Xs Afrikan community. He was an angry, provocativefather, we should recall, was assassinated by the KKK troublemaker with an image as bold as a James Forman orbecause he was an organizer for the U.N.I.A.) But overall a Cesar Chavez. Randolph published the first socialistU.S. imperialism moved against this surprising upsurge Afrikan journal aimed at workers, promoting Afrikanwith some care. After several of Garveys former unionism. The Messenger carried the motto "The Onlylieutenants were suborned by the U.S. Government, the Radical Negro Magazine In America," and had 45,000imperialists had Garvey arrested for alleged mail fraud. readers. He was arrested and briefly held by Federal authorities for speaking out against World War I. The This tactic of posing Garvey as a common criminal New York State Legislatures investigative committee call-was conceived by none other than J. Edgar Hoover, who at ed him "the most dangerous Negro in America." Ran-that time was a rising F.B.I. official. In an Oct. 11, 1919 dolph did his work inside the Afrikan struggle, as a radicalmemorandum Hoover noted that Garvey was: "Agitating mass leader (not as a conservative-talking conciliator sit-the negro movement. Unfortunately, however, he has not ting in a fancy office somewhere).as yet violated any federal law. It occurs to me, however,from the attached clipping that there might be some pro- His long tenure as the lone recognized Afrikanceeding against him for fraud in connection with his Black leader on a "national level" in the AFL-CIO was so strik-Star Line..."(43) Eventually Garvey was convicted, im- ing that it led the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. to query inprisoned in Atlanta Federal Prison and late; deported in an article why:1927. The door, however, had been opened. What was most apparent was that the old, conser- "The absence of Negro trade-union leadership.vative, imperialist-sponsored Afrikan leadership had been 85% of Negroes are working people. Some 2,000,000 areshoved aside and left behind by this outbreak. They could in trade unions, but in 50 years we have produced only oneno longer even pretend to lead or control the Afrikan peo- national leader - A. Philip Randolph." (44) This is aple. It is significant that even the liberal, Civil Rights in- question whose answer will become apparent to us.tegrationists had been overshadowed by the new militantnationalism. At the beginning of Randolphs political career, this ambitious young intellectual was taken in and helped This was a time of rich ideological struggle and by the U.N.I.A. Garvey appointed him as head of thetransformation in the Afrikan Nation. That, however, is U.N.I.A. delegation to the League of Nations conferencenot the precise focus of our investigation. What we are at the end of World War I (Randolph was denied a U.S.looking at is the neo-colonial relationship between the for- passport and was unable to go). When Randolph and hisming petit-bourgeois Civil Rights leadership and U.S. im- close associate Chandler Owen needed assistance for theperialism. We are analyzing how in a time of mass unrestand the beginnings of rebellion among Afrikans, U.S. im-perialism helped promote a neo-colonial Afrikan leader-ship that in outward form was integrationist, protest-oriented, radical and even "socialist." The political attack against the Garvey Movementwithin the Afrikan Nation was most aggressively spear-headed by a young Afrikan "socialist" and labororganiier, Asa Philip Randolph (who used only his first in-itial "A."). Since those years of the early 1920s Randolph,even then one of the leading Afrikan radical intellectuals,would grow in stature and influence. A. Philip Randolphbecame the organizer, and then the President, of theBrotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. He would becomefor decades the most important Afrikan union leader,eventually rising to be the only Afrikan member of theAFL-CIO Executive Council. As the leader of the historic1941 March On Washington Movement, he was creditedwith forcing the Federal Government to desegregate in-dustry. T o most today Randolph is at best a dim namesomehow associated with dusty kvents in the past. In 1969 A. Philip Randolph (1889-). president and general organizer of thehe had an 80th birthday dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Photo of early 1930s; originalHotel in New York, where he was personally congratulated 114 in Chicago Historical Society.
  • 116. Above is the editorial ofice of Crisis, the magazine of the NAACPMessenger, the U.N.I.A. provided them with offices in the against Garvey in his coming mail fraud trial was killed.Harlem building that it owned. (45) The U.N.I.A. attemp- This traitor, Rev. J.W. Easton of New Orleans, hadted to be broadly encouraging to Afrikan ventures, even formerly been a leader in the U.N.I.A., but had beenthose of a socialist nature, so long as they were Afrikan- ousted for embezzlement. The dying Easton had allegedlyrun and oriented. identified his assailants as two workers, a longshoreman and a painter, who were U.N.I.A. security cadre. Randolphs integrationism and ambition led himto break with the U.N.I.A. I t was not, we should ern- The anti-Garvey grouping was seized with fearphasize, only a political struggle within Afrikan ranks that they themselves would be corrected for theiralone. The U.S.oppressor nation was also involved in the treasonous collaboration with the State. On January 15,dispute. While Randolph and his fellow integrationists, 1923, constituting themselves as a "Committee of Eight,"totally impressed with the might of the U.S. Empire, never they wrote to U.S. Attorney General Daugherty beggingbelieved that national liberation could succeed, they feared him to strike down the Afrikan nationalists without anythat the growing mass agitation would antagonize settlers. delay. This historic letter is informative:To these neo-colonialists, settler "good-will" andpatronage was more important than almost anything. Fur-ther, Randolphs immediate career as a would-be laborleader was threatened by Garveyisms hold on the Afrikan "Dear Sir;masses. (1) As the chief law enforcement officer of the nation, we wish to call your attention to a heretofore un- considered menace to a harmonious race relations. There Randolph and his associates were fanatically are in our midst certain Negro criminals and potentialdetermined to destroy Garvey and the U.N.I.A. at any murderers, both foreign and American born, who arecost. They pursued this end using any and every means. In moved and actuated by intense hatred of the white race.their magazine, the Messenger, Garvey was sneeringly These undesirables continually proclaim that all white peo-referred to as "monumental monkey" and "supreme ple are enemies to the Negro. They have become soNegro Jamaican jackass." Randolphs near-racist rhetoric fanatical that they have threatened and attempted thereflected his assertion that Garvey was an "alien" West In- death of their opponents.. .dian and not a true "American Nearo." National s~eakingtours with the NAACP for a ~ a r i e ~ Go" campaigi Must "(2) The movement known as the Universalfailed. (46) Negro Improvement Association has done much to stimulate the violent temper of this dangerous movement. In a telling move, Randolph - the supposed Its President and moving spirit is one Marcus Garvey, an"socialist" - and his integrationist allies turned to the unscrupulous demagogue, who has ceaselessly andU.S. Empire for help. They openly encouraged the repres- assiduously sought to spread among Negroes distrust andsion of the U.N.I.A. In early January 1923 this grouping hatred of all white people.became alarmed when the chief Government witness 11s ***********+**
  • 117. "(5) The U.N.I.A. is chiefly composed of the argued against integrated Civil Rights organizations,most primitive and ignorant element of West Indian and such as the NAACP, on the grounds that only AfrikansAmerican Negroes.. . should decide how their struggle was conducted. But his ************** goal was only to weld Afrikans together as a bloc so that he and his fellow pro-imperialist leaders could demand a price "(25) For the above reasons we advocate that the from the U.S. Empire in return for Afrikan submission.Attorney General use his full influence completely to dis- Randolphs integrationistic "socialism" was used to fill aband and extirpate this vicious movement, and that he void, to ideologically portray a far-off, glittering social vi-vigorously and speedily push the governments case against sion to Afrikan workers that didnt relate to nationalMarcus Garvey for using the mails to defraud ...its future liberation or breaking away from the U.S. Empire.meetings should be carefully watched by officers of the lawand infractions promptly and severely punished." (47) Randolph had been indoctrinated in Euro- Amerikan social-democracy and settler unionism. That is, he shared the Euro-Amerikan reformist view on how social The eight who signed this slavish appeal (Ran- betterment for Afrikans should take place. Randolphdolph dishonestly professed to know nothing about it) argued that Afrikans could be protected by unionism andwere: Civil Rights if they carefully convinced settlers of their nonviolent submissiveness and their desire to be ruled byChandler Owen - Co-editor of the Messenger and Ran- Euro-Amerikans. While the Messenger abused both com- dolphs closest political associate munism and nationalism in print in the most vulgar andWilliam Pickens - Field Secretary of the NAACP crude ways, towards A.F.L. President Samuel Gompers. -Robert Bagnall - NAACP Director of Branches who was a segregationist, an open advocate of whiteRobert Abbott - Publisher of the Chicago Defender supremacy and a public spokesman of the doctrine of theJulia Coleman - "Hair-Vim" cosmetics company "racial" inferiority of Afrikans - Randolph was neverJohn Nail - Real estate broker less than humble and praising. In 1924, when GompersGeorge W. Harris - N.Y. City Councilman, editor of the died, the Messenger cxcused him as a "diplomatically newspaper New York News silent" friend. Randolph feared and hated the GarveyHarry Pace - Pace Phonograph Company Movement, not because of its faults, but because of its vir- tues. It is useful to examine this move. In practice itturned out that Randolphs grouping of moderate"socialists" - supposedly dedicated to overthrowing All this is made abundantly clear by Randolphscapitalism - were blocked with the liberal, pro-capitalist relationship to Gompers successor, A.F.L. Presidentpetit-bourgeois elements of the NAACP, and with themarginal Afrikan business interests who fed off thedegradation of colonial oppression. And that in practice I STRIKE Iall these elenzents looked upon the U.S. Empire as theirultimate protector - against their own people. While it was obviously true that Randolph was anagent of U.S. imperialism, it wasnt true that he was a sim-ple tool just following orders, such as a police informermight be. To understand neo-colonialism we have to seethat Randolph represented a certain class viewpoirit - the To All Pullman Porters and Maidsviewpoint of a Munoz Marin in Puerto Rico or the young -- - - - - -.. -Mike Masaoka in the Japanese-American national minori- On account of the refusal of the Pull-ty. This is a viewpoint of the section of the petit-bourgeois man Company to settle the dispute onthat sees advancement and progress not from leaving the Recognition of Wages and Kules gov-struggle, but from coopting it and using it as a bargaining erning Working Conditions with thetool in winning concessions from the Empire in return for Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porten, aloyal submission. It is only a seeming paradox that these strike has been declared and shall beactivist petit-bourgeois elements encouraged - and needed enforced on all Pullman Cars effective- both democratic struggles and violent repression. Theyare the leaders that U.S. imperialism promotes to ensure [ FRIDAY, JUNE 8th 12 Oclock Noon Ithat even Third-World protest and organization isultimately loyal to it. For further information call Glendale / 6373. You are requested to attend the 1 ! meetings to be held each evening from 4 A. Philip Randolphs career makes us recall Cabrals warning that: "imperialism is quite prepared to / until 6 oclock at 2382 18th street. 1 change both its men and its tactics in order to perpetuate BENNIE SMITH itself.. .it will kill its own puppets when they no longer Fkld oraimin? serve its purposes. If need be, it will even create a kind of socialism, which people may soon start calling neo- socialism. " (48) Randolph became a leading advocate of all- BSCP strike notice. Detroit, June 7 , 1928. Original in Afrikan unionism and political organizations. He publicly 116 Chicago Historical Society.
  • 118. Midd &Ff- IT YW r*0 A INSTEADTHUMe ff ANY- THE ONLY THl- MR. MIT-CHELL WILL R U V 1 1 4 CARD INTHE mOTUERU000 OF SLEEPING C A a FMTLR!?4William Green. Morehouse College Professor BrailsfordBrazeal admitted in his laudatory 1946 book on thePorters Union: "Randolph, although a socialist, had bythis time convinced Green that pullman porters were anx-ious to demonstrate that the Negro would help to furtherthe program of American workers through conventionalchannels. Randolph had condemned the Communists andtheir tactics in the Messenger...AN this niust have reaffirm-ed Greens convictions that here were the man and theorganization that could serve as an instrument for rallyingNegro workers under the hegemony of the Federation. "(49) Bayard Rustin, Randolphs leading disciple, hassaid of him: "...he realized that separatism, whetherespoused by Marcus Garvey or latter day nationalists, isgrounded in fantasy and myth despite its emotional appealto an oppressed people...Black people, he realized, couldnever advanced without the good feelings and assistance ofmany whites." (50) And now we can see the answer to the questionthat Dr. King raised. BSCP cartoon, Messenger (0ct.-Nov., 1925), 35 1. There was only one A. Philip Randolph becauseU.S. imperialism only wanted one. Randolph was pushedforward and made a big leader by his Euro-Amerikan men- and Chandler Owen were approached by a committee oftors. When we look at his magazine, the Messenger, during porters, who were looking for an Afrikan intellectual whothe years when it was fighting Garveyism, we see in issue could help them to organize a union. The porters previousafter issue large "solidarity" advertisement; paid for by attempts had been clumsy. Several efforts had been smash-the Euro-Amerikan radicals who ran the International ed by the company in a series of firings. Randolph took upLadies Garment Workers Union and the Amalgamated the opportunity, and in 1925 the union was formed. TheClothing Workers Union. Social-democratic settler labor Messenger became the official journal of the Brotherhood.was indirectly subsidizing Randolph to attack nationalismfrom within the Afrikan Nation - to be their agent and do In terms of leading labor struggles, Randolph waswhat they from the outside could not. His whole career a peculiar "success." After years of difficult building, thewas similarly aided and arranged. Imperialism needed its new 7,000 member union had called for a coast-to-coastown militant-sounding Afrikan leaders. Pullman strike in 1928. A mood of tense anticipation was prevalent among the porters. Knowing that the settler train A. Philip Randolphs actual record as President of crews wouldnt honor their strike and would try to roll thethe Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters is instructive. He 117 trains anyway, large groups of Afrikan workers began ar-
  • 119. ming themselves and preparing to take over the rail yards note, Afrikan nationalists in the North who were trying toin Oakland and on the East Coast. form unions independent from Euro-Amerikan unionism were subjected to both legal and police disruption.) Under Randolph was upset, for he had never really in- the imperialist-ordered settlement porters wages went uptended to lead a strike. He had not prepared for one, and by 3 5 0 while working hours were cut. Randolph was pro- 0,had told union associates that it was all a bluff. He felt cer- moted as the very successful leader of an all-Afrikantain that the Federal Mediation Board would step in and union, who had gotten his members sizeable rewards in wages and working conditions. His greatest hour of fame lay still ahead - the 1941 March On Washington Movement, when for one month Randolph was the most important Afrikan in the U.S. This was the event that ensured him a place as a na- tional leader of Afrikans for the U.S. Empire. Instead of Booker T. Washington, an avowed "socialist" labor leader was now meeting and advising at the White House. So a new, militant nationalism and a new, protest- oriented integrationism engaged in ideological struggle for leadership of the Afrikan masses. It was not, however, a symmetrical struggle or an equal one (struggle rarely is). The insurgent nationalism had the far greater share of popular support, particularly from the laboring masses. It was also true that Afrikan revolutionaries of that time had not yet developed successful strategies for liberation. The Civil Rights integrationists, however slim their own forces,arrange a negotiated settlement - just as they did for the had the powerful resources of the oppressor nation back-Euro-Amerikan railroad Brotherhoods. As a precaution ing their play. The full range of forces, from the U.S.Randolph had even had a White House meeting with Presi- Department of Justice and the police to the foundations,dent Coolidge and told him of his secret hopes for a the social-democrats and the settler trade unions, all work-Government-sponsored settlement. But as the strike ed in their various ways to promote the hegemony of adeadline neared, the Federal Government refused to in- modernized, neo-colonial leadership allied to the U.S. Em-tervene. The imperialists were unwilling to publicly admit pire.that an Afrikan union could force a "nationalemergency ." As a desperate hope, Randolph then went beggingto A.F.L. President William Green. In a last-minutemeeting he implored Green for A.F.L. support of theporters strike, getting the settler railroads Brotherhoodsto close down the trains. Green told him that: "The publicisnt ready to accept a strike by Negroes." He told Ran-dolph to give up and call off the strike. Randolph sadly Postponedobeyed. On the eve of the first coast-to-coast strike of Strike - set forAfrikan railroad workers the word went out to go back towork, t o offer no resistance to the companies. Disillusioned and confused, the Afrikan porters FRIDAY, JUNE 8th 12 Oclock Noonleft the union by the thousands. Two-thirds of the unions7,000 members quit in the next few months. Randolphs Has been Postponed thisonly plan was for them to wait and wait until Euro- action taken upon advice ofAmerikans decided to finally approve of them. Manyporters were fired by the triumphant company, knowing Wm. GREEN-PRESIDENTthat Randolph had left them defenseless. Dues slowed to a of the American Federationtrickle, and even the Messenger stopped appearing. A. of Labor.Philip Randolph had won acceptance from the A.F.L.leadership but the workers who had followed him paid the Who promises immediatebill. And he had succeeded in defusing a potentially ex- Co-operation.plosive struggle of Afrikan workers. BENNIE SMITH &Id Organhr R S. C. P. Randolphs vindication came with the New Deal, By Order of Strike Committee A PHILIP RANDOLPH l a d H. P. WEBSTERwith the entry into State power of liberal Democratic Partypoliticians who understood him and why he was so useful.In 1937 the National Labor Relations Board ordered thePullman Company to recognize the Brotherhood and give BSCP strike cancellation flyer, Detroit, June 8, to its main demands (during this same period, we should 118 Original in Chicago Historical Society.
  • 120. 5. World War I1 and Americanization" World War I1 marks a definite point at which na-tional movements of the oppressed within the U.S. Empirewere thrown back, and the growing hegemony of neo-colonial politics firmly established. At home this neo-colonialism took the well-prepared form of "Am-mericanization" - of offering and forcing the coloniallyoppressed to assume supposed "citizenship" in the U.S.Empire in place of national liberation. Of course, while the"Americanization" of the European immigrants duringthe World War I period meant that they voluntarilybecame settlers and Euro-Amerikans, the "Americaniza-tion" of the colonially oppressed meant involuntary con-finement as supposed "minorities" camped on the edgesof settler society. This was the ultimate in Civil Rights. The global war and the U.S. Empires expansionmoved in a new stage in colonial relations. On the onehand, the liberal Roosevelt Administration had gone outof its way to try to convince Third-World peoples that theNew Deal was their "friend" and protector. This was donein a manner by now very familiar to us. T w o vigorous ladies acted as New Deal Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes F.D.R.s deputies in Negro affairs-was an aggressive patron of Civil Rights. Ickes was, in Mary McLeod Bethune, a forthrightfact, the former President of the Chicago NAACP educator w h o served in the "Blackchapter. He and Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, the Presidents Cabinet," and Elcanor Rooseveltwife, arranged for Afrikan intellectuals and professionalsto get Federal appointments. The practices of the "lynch- Afrikans were simply victims of the Depression, sufferingbelt South" were sympathetically deplored. In the urban a heightened version of the commonly-shared joblessness.North welfare programs were opened up for Afrikans, and But by 1940 the voices of DuBois and others who pointedby 1934 some 52% - a majority - of the Afrikan refugee out a genocidal pattern were proven right. In 1940 andpopulation in the North were on relief. (52) This act was 1941 the Depression finally broke. The war in Europe insmoothly performed. Pollster Samuel Lube11 described 1939 had brought new orders for steel, munitions, ships,how it looked to many petit-bourgeois Afrikans who sup- trucks and other industrial products. Factories were ad-ported the New Deal: ding shifts for the first time in years, and Euro-Amerikan unemployment was going down rapidly throughout the last "To the younger Negroes the WPA and relief half of 1940 and in 1941.mean not only material aid but a guaranty that no longermust they work at any salary given them, that they are en- Afrikans were barred from the new production,titled - they emphasize the word - to a living wage. however. Their industrial employment was going down asThrough the WPA, Harlems Negroes have had opened to more and more new jobs opened up. Corporation afterthem white-collar opportunities which before had been corporation issued public statements that their new plantsshut, such as the music and art and writers projects. would be 100% Euro-Amerikan. Led by Colt Firearms,Negroes, too, remember that Mrs. Roosevelt visited Consolidated Aircraft, Chrysler Corporation, NorthHarlem personally, that President Roosevelt has appointed American Aviation and similar industrial giants, Cor-more Negroes to administrative positions.. .than any Presi- porate Amerika openly was saying that patriotism requireddent before him. Each time Roosevelt makes such an ap- keeping Afrikans out. Imperialism itself well recognizedpointment, the Amsterdam News, Harlems leading the boundary between oppressor and oppressed nations.newspaper, headlines it in 72-point type. Every young After the war began the Anaconda Companys wire andNegro gets a vicarious thrill thinking, There may be a steel division in New York ordered a bar on hiring laborerschance up there for me. " (53) from enemy countries - "No Italians, Germans, or Negros. " (54) Colonial Afrikans were untrustworthy from While the liberal Roosevelt Administration kept the viewpoint of imperialism.up a steady propaganda campaign throughout the 1930sand early 1940s, claiming to be "the best friend Negroes The U.S. Government itself reflected thisever had," the period was a time of savage attacks to de- genocidal program once we go past the White Houses pro-stabilize the Afrikan Nation. There was a conspicuous de- paganda campaign. Between October 1940 and April 1941,industrialization of Afrikan employment, as they were the Afrikan percentage of those placed in factory jobs bypushed out of the main imperialist economy. the U.S. Employment Service dropped by over half, from a mere 5.4% down to only 2.5%. (55) The U.S. Navy in- For awhile it appeared on the surface as though 119 stituted a new policy in its shipyards wherein all "Negro"
  • 121. workers would have to wear an arm badge with a big letter Amerikan capitalists and politicians bitterly castigated"N." The Navy rejected an NAACP protest that the "N" their Afrikan allies for having failed to control the masses.badges were just like "the labels used by the Nazis to Everyone agreed that the popular response to the na-designate Jews. " In May 1941 Chairman Arthur Altmeyer tionalists "Jobs for Negroes" campaign was an importantof the Social Security Board issued an official statement factor in the uprising.that the Board would continue to support whitesupremacy. (56) The New York Times, in their obituary on Sufi The liberal, pro-imperialist Afrikan leadership Abdul Hamd, in 1938, gave hostile acknowldgement*:were being pushed to the wall. They had urged Afrikans toremain loyal to the settler Empire and had increasingly lit- "The death of the Sufi ended a career that had af-tle to show for it. While they had taken swift advantage of fected Harlem more deeply than that of any other cultboth repression and the internal contradictions of the na- leader...Sufi put his followers on the picket ling withtionalist movement to gain a political predominance over placards saying Buy Where You Can Work, in front ofAfrikan communities, their top position was unsteady. stores whose proprietors he accused of refusing to hire Negro help. He reached the height of his power in the Many signs indicated that the nationalist political Winter of 1934-35 and his picket lines were a sore trial tocurrent was strong on the streets, at the grass-roots of the Harlem merchants. The tension that resulted from this,Nation. In 1933 the "Jobs For Negroes Movement" combined with other causes of friction, resulted in the fatalspread from Chicago to Harlem. Surprising as it may Harlem race riots of March 1936. " (59)sound today, many of the communitys jobs were held byEuro-Amerikans.* In the retail stores (which were mostly Imperialisms response was to help their hand-Euro-Amerikan owned) all the sales clerks, cashiers, picked Afrikan civil rights leaders take over the issue, withmanagers and secretaries were Euro-Amerikans. Even a big propaganda campaign picturing the liberal integra-75% of the bartenders in Harlem were settlers. Although tionists as the "militant leaders" who had supposedly wonall the customers were Afrikan and the stores were in the new jobs for jobless Afrikans. In 1938 the U.S. SupremeAfrikan community, even the most pathetic white-collar Court ruled the "Jobs" boycotts finally legal. At this ajob was reserved for a Euro-Amerikan only. Particularly big-name, integrationist coalition took over the "Jobs forunder the grim conditions of the Depression, many in the Negroes" struggle in Harlem. The YMCA, the Urbancommunity had angrily pointed out this contradiction. (57) League, the major Protestant denominations, the CIO, the CPUSA all joined to support the new leadership of the A nationalist campaign sprung up around this Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. over the campaign. (60)issue in Harlem, led by a "street-corner agitator" named Newspaper headlines and joyous victory celebrationsSufi Abdul Hamd (sn Eugene Brown). The Sufi was a self- greeted the wave of unprecedented agreements betweentaught Pan-Afrikanist and a teacher of Eastern mystic Powells coalition and business. It appeared as though pro-philosophy. In retrospect it may appear unusual that such imperialist integrationism was the key to bringinga lone political figure could play such an important role, economic improvement to Harlem.but this only underscores the tremendous leadershipvacuum that existed. Together with a core of unemployed What was absolutely true was that while conces-college students the Sufi had recruited, he organized the sions were gained, Afrikans were being fronted off. An ex-picketing and illegal boycotts of Harlem stores. The cam- ample was the "historic" 1938 pact between Powellspaign continued for five years, with merchant after mer- coalition and the Uptown Chamber of Commerce, whichchant having to compromise and hire Afrikans. was hailed in newspaper headlines. "Harlem Compact Gives Negroes Third of Jobs in Stores There." But in the During these years the "Jobs for Negroes Move- fine print there were no specific number of jobs promised.ment" was illegal, subjected to court injunctions and ar- In return for agreeing to end all protests and boycotts, therests, as well as the opposition of both the liberal Civil coalition got a promise that Afrikans would eventually beRights leadership (NAACP, Urban League, Rev. Adam hired for only one-third of the clerical jobs only in theClayton Powell, Jr., etc.) and the CIO and CPUSA. (58) Harlem stores - and even there only as replacementsFor years only the small, grass-roots nationalist groups whenever Euro-Amerikan employees quit.fought for more jobs in a jobless community. While boththe CPUSA and the Harlem churches started "Jobs" com-mittees, these carefully obeyed the law and did nothing ex-cept try to divert support from the nationalist struggle. In a joint statement, Rev. Powell and Col. Philipp of the Chamber of Commerce said. "The settlement reach- In March 1935 the smoldering anger over the ed today is historic. It is the first agreement of its kind...and will help quiet unrest in Harlem because it isgenocidal pressures squeezing Afrikan life burst out in aspontaneous uprising. The early "Harlem Riot" saw tensof thousands of Afrikans taking over the streets for 3 days,attacking police and liberating the contents of stores. The *Its interesting that virtually all histories that mention theliberal, pro-imperialist leadership were helpless and ig- "Jobs" Movement credit its leadership solely to Rev.nored by the people. Indeed, afterwards the Euro- Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., who for it first five years was a vocal opponent of its illegal boycotts. The nationalist role is never mentioned. This is even true of most historical ac-*This was before desegregation, while Afrikans still did counts written by Afrikans (the contemporary account bytheir shopping, dining out, etc. in their own Claude McKay is a notable exception). As late as 1941 thecommunity. 120 nationalists were still the cutting edge of the struggle.
  • 122. proof that white business leaders have a sympathetic in- Our problem is to hitch it up for action on the broadest,terest in the economic problems of the colored race." Even daring and most gigantic scale...shake up Whitemore t o the point the N. Y. Times said that the pact was America. "reached because of year of racial uprisings." (61) Sowhatever jobs were gained were really won by the Afrikan President Roosevelt ignored the M.O.W.masses in violent uprising - and by the grass-roots na- demands. By June of 1941 there were strong signs thattionalism which alone spoke to their needs and interests. masses of Afrikans were preparing to come. Churches were chartering fleets of buses. Worried, the Presidents The tamed and carefully-controlled "Jobs" cam- wife and Mayor LaGuardia met with-Randolph in Newpaign was used to picture Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. York City, urging him to cancel the March. Mrs. Rooseveltand other pro-imperialist leaders as "militants," as leaders told Randolph that there might be repression if the Marchwho really fought the "white power structure" and won all took place. Besides, she said, "Such a march is imprac-kinds of things for Afrikans. In 1941 Powell won a seat on tical. You say you will be able to get 25,000 or morethe N.Y. City Council. His campaign was supported by Negroes to come to Washington. Where will they stay,Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, the Republican Party and the where will they eat?" Washington of 1941 was a Southernradical American Labor Party. (Powell was a prominent city, rigidly Jim Crow, with virtually no public facilitiesmember of this radical settler party.) In 1944 he became a for "colored."U.S. Congressman, where he achieved national fame forleading a fight to desegregate Congressional facilities. In Mrs. Roosevelt had laid down one threat; Ran-the press he was named "Mr. Civil Rights." dolph politely answered with another: "Why, theyll stay in the hotels and eat in the restaurants." Randolph was There were small concessions and cosmetic vic- threatening a massive breaking of the Color Bar, crowds oftories, but there was still no change in the basic situation. Afrikans pushing into "white" areas all over the capital -Afrikans were still being driven off the land, out of the in- and the resultant "race riots" as thousands of Afrikansdustrial economy. Their Nation was being de-stabilized. In and settler police clashed! The stakes were high, and the in-1938 the great, spontaneous movement over the Italo- tegrationist leaders were preparing to have an open con-Ethiopian War swept the dispersed Afrikan Nation. Na- frontation. That alone should tell us how critical theirtionalist politics again revived in the Afrikan mainstream. situation was. The very next day the White House invitedWalter White, head of the NAACP, wrote of 1941: the M.O.W. leaders to come for negotiations on cancelling"Discontent and bitterness were growing like wildfire the March.among Negroes all over the Country. " (62) Randolph and Walter White met with President Roosevelt, who had brought in William Knudson, Chair- man of General Motors, and Sidney Hillman of the CIO. The March On Washington Movement The M.O.W. leaders rejected the offer of the usual study commission. Finally, on June 24, 1941, the White House offered to meet Randolphs demands on employment. The In this situation, their backs against the wall, the next day Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 8802,integrationist leadership was forced to put pressure on which for the first time ordered: "...there shall be notheir imperialist masters. The A. Philip Randolphs and the discrimination in the employment of workers in defense in-Roy Wilkins desperately needed some real concessions that dustries or Government..." For the first time a Fairthey could take back to their community. They also saw Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) was set up tothat it was in a long-range sense in imperialisms own in- pretend to do something about job discrimination. Ran-terest to make concessions, to ease up, to give Afrikan neo- dolph called the March off in a network radio address.colonial leadership a stronger hand against revolutionarysentiments. It was out of this crisis that the March On The threat of touching off the Afrikan masses hadWashington Movement was born. produced a surprising turn-about in public imperialist policy. The breakthrough was credited to Randolph, who In early 1941 A. Philip Randolph, together with became Amerikas officially-endorsed protest leader. HeWalter White of the NAACP, called for a massive Afrikan was showered with awards. The Amsterdam News said:demonstration in Washington, D.C. The goal was to force "A. Philip Randolph, courageous champion of the rightsthe New Deal to integrate the military, and to open up jobs of his people, takes the helm as the nations No. 1 Negroin defense industry and federal agencies. Randolph said: leader...already he is being ranked with the great Frederick"Black people will not get justice until the administration Douglass. "(64)leaders in Washington see masses of Negroes - ten, twen-ty, fifty thousands - on the White House lawn."This was As we know from the 1960s, these official pro-to be the first Afrikan mass march on the Empires capitol. mises of themselves mean very little in the way of realIt was a confrontation between imperialism and its own change. The gathering pressure from the masses below, theAfrikan allies. still unorganized militant nationalist sentiment building among the grass-roots, had crowded, pushed on U.S. im- The March On Washington Movement issued a perialism. A nodal point was being reached. Notice was"Call to Negro America to march on Washington for jobs taken that Afrikans were not willing to be passively starv-and equal participation in a national defense on July 1, ed. Further, U.S. imperialism understood the meaning of1941": the startling fact that even their chosen Afrikan allies could not shrug off the pressure from the Afrikan people on the "Dear fellow Negro Americans, be not dismayed streets, but had to either lead them into struggle or be leftin these terrible times. You possess power, great power. 121 behind. Imperialisms contradiction was that it had to both
  • 123. strike down the Afrikan Nation - and also grant suffi- These jobs were no "gift" from White Amerika, but acient concessions to the Afrikan masses in order to stave necessity forced upon it both by threat of revolt and by theoff rebellion. urgent needs of world conquest. The transformation was dramatic. Robert C. Weaver, We must remember that there was a strong, rising one of Roosevelts "Black Cabinet," wrote that thetide of Afrikan struggle. The armed sharecropper out- various rules that kept Afrikans out of industry werebreaks on the National Territory, the violent uprising that changed because: "..after Pearl Harbor they were tootook over Harlem for three days, the mass anger that final-ly forced even imperialisms loyal Afrikan allies to make costly - too costly for a nation at war to afford. "(65) H ethreats against it, all were convincing signs of even larger noted further:rebellion soon to come. Locked into a "rule-or-ruin"global war, could the U.S. Empire afford to also divert "This occupational pattern was slowly changingtroops and energy to fight major colonial wars at home? by 1942. While the majority of new colored workers wereThis was the heat that finally bent even the iron rule of entering unskilled and janitorial jobs, other Negroes wereEmpire. slowly finding jobs as welders, as riveters, and on other production operations ...Negroes replaced white workers who formerly were employed as cooks, waiters, garage at- tendants ...and who now entered defense work." (66) The Need for Colonial Labor Between 1942 and 1944 the percentage of in- dustrial labor that was Afrikan tripled from 2.5% to 8%. By 1944 the numbers of Afrikan skilled craftsmen had sud- This contradiction was resolved through the denly doubled, as had the numbers of Afrikans in Federalspecific form of "Americanization" imperialism enforced civil service jobs. By 1945 the numbers of Afrikans in theon Afrikans. The genocidal campaign to change the AFL and CIO unions had gone up some 600070, t o 1.25population balance and repressively disrupt the Afrikan million. As Afrikan families left sharecropping and daySouth would continue without letup - but the pill would labor in the rural South and were forced up North, their in-be sugar-coated. In Northern exile Afrikans could sudden- comes rose. Even the lowliest factory job in Detroit orly get not only "democracy" but "integration" into Chicago paid better than the rural plantation. The realmiddle-wage jobs in industrial production. average incomes of Afrikan workers rose by 73% during 1939-1947, the largest gain in Afrikan income since the end The New Deals willingness to "integrate" im- of slavery. (67)perialist industry was a 180"-degree turn-about frompreviously existing policy, and was also a tardy recognitionthat the unprecedented demands of waging a global war re- This was the material basis in mass life for neo-quired the recruitment of colonial labor on a vast scale. colonial "Americanization." This sudden windfall of - El m~un.Ne.I77 THE ATLANTA CONSTITUTION rbl.-mt*J* -&-: : - ~-.EF-C~WTI.G~%U~DAV-- roam^ ~bt~a?iTiq~!-L - ." J ~ ~ ~ ~ L . ~ ~ ~ * . ~ D J , ~ M . H . . . I A v Y A ~ I . . ~ . N ~ M w . --"- z", - =::=- z,v-.:; ROOSEVELT CERTAIN JUSTICE^ DEMANE~MORE TO HALT COLLECTIVE MURDER BY LYNCH LAW
  • 124. "white mans wages" was for some a convincing argument in by military vehicles and placed in living rooms wherethat loyalty to the U.S. Empire made sense. It allowed A. they were mourned and viewed. The mournings never ceas-Philip Randolph and Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. to ed in Salsipuedes! Almost every day I was awakened by the"prove" that their leadership paid off in cash - and that moans and wails of widows, parents, grandparents, andimperialist World War was "good" for Afrikans. And, of orphans whose loved one had died defending their coun-course, this process once again rein forced the neo-colonial try. " (69)idealogy in which Third- World people are told that theymust look to the Federal Government in Washington as The same was true in the Chicano-Mexicanotheir ultimate friend" and protector. Roosevelt just Southwest. Acuna notes that: "The percentage ofreplaced Lincoln on the altar. The process sugar-coated the Chicanos who served in the armed forces was dispropor-forced exodus from the Afrikan South, and even allowed tionate to the percentage of Chicanos in the generalpro-imperialist propaganda to assert that the de- population." He further notes: "Chicanos, however, canpopulation of the Afrikan Nation was a "benefit" to readily remember how families proudly displayed bannersAfrikans. with blue stars (each blue star representing a family member in the armed forces). Many families had as many This "integration" into the main industrial as eight stars, with fathers, sons, and uncles all serving theeconomy, however dramatic its effects, only directly reach- U.S. war effort. Everyone recalls the absence of men bet-ed a minority of the nationally oppressed. For the first ween the ages of 17 through 30 in the barrios. A s the wartime, however, some significant number of colonial progressed, gold stars replaced the blue (gold representingworkers could struggle for the "American" lifestyle, with men killed in action,), giving the barrios the appearance ofhouses, automobiles, appliances, consumer items, college a sea of death." (70)education for the children, and so on. Again, this was asemi-European standard of living - a miniaturized ver- Third-World people were told, in effect, that ifsion of that of Euro-Amerikans, but materially well above they helped the U.S. Empire win its greatest war, then atthat of other colonial peoples in Latin Amerika, Asia and long last they too would get a share of the "democracy" asAfrika. Imperialism cared little that most of the nationally a reward. In every oppressed nation and national minority,oppressed here did not have those middle-wage jobs or the many elements mobilized to push this deal. We shouldnew petit-bourgeois positions opened up by token integra- note that those political forces most opposed to thistion. What was important to imperialism was that these in- ideological "Americanization" were driven under orviting possibilities for some created ideological confusion, rendered ineffective by severe tendencies, and social disunity. They alsowere a magnet to draw people to the Northern industrial Civil Rights leaders fell all over themselves in urg-centers and out of the National Territory. ing their people to go kill and die for the U.S. Empire. The rhetorical contortions were amazing. A. Philip Randolph, the supposed socialist, said that Afrikans should enlist in the admittedly unjust war in order to reform it! He admit- The Dislocation of Imperialist War ted that: "This is not a war for freedom...It is a war het- ween the imperialism of Fascism and Nazism and the im- perialism of monopoly capitalistic democracy." But, he told Afrikan workers, by getting an integrated war effort Amerikas colonies were forced to bear a heavy - "the people can make it a peoples revolution." (71) Anand often disproportionate - share of the human cost of avowed pacifist and advocate of total Afrikan nonviolenceWorld War II. This was no accident. The Roosevelt Ad- in the U.S., Randolph nevertheless said that it was rightministration promoted this "Americanization" of the na- for Afrikans to fight in Asia and Europe.tionally oppressed, pushing and pulling as many PuertoRicans, Indians, Asians, Chicano-Mexicanos, and Following the same "Two Front War" thesis,Afrikans as possible to become involved in the U.S. war ef- Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. enthusiastically agreedfort. Not only because we were needed as cannon fodder that the Japanese attack on "our" base at Pearl Harborand war industry labor, but because mass participation in- forced Afrikans to fight - so long as the Government wasthe war disrupted our communities and encouraged pro- going to give them integration:imperialist loyalties. "On December 7, 1941, America for the first time Close to a million Afrikans alone served in the in its history entered upon two wars simultaneously. OneU.S. military during the 1940s. When we think about what was a world war and the other a civil war. One was to be ait would have meant to subtract a million soldiers, sailors, bloody fight for the preservation and extension ofand airmen from the Empires global efforts we can see democracy on a world basis - the other a bloodlesshow important colonial troops were. In many Third-World revolution within these shores against a bastardcommunities the war burdens were very disproportionate. democracy.The Chinese community in New York, being so heavily un-married men due to immigration laws, saw 40% of its total "The sneak attack of the Japanese upon our mid-population drafted into the military .(68) In colonial Puer- Pacific base was no more vicious than the open attacksto Rico the imperialist draft drained the island; many did that had been waged consistently for four hundred yearsnot return. One Puerto Rican writer recalls of his small against the Declaration of Independence, the Constitutiontown: and the Bill of Rights." (72) "I saw many bodies of young Puerto Ricans in Taking part in the imperialist war was praised ascoffins covered with the American flag. They were brought 123 patriotic - not only to the U.S. but to "the race." By
  • 125. Asians or Chicano-Mexicanos or Afrikans serving in the the Deep South returning Afrikan G.1.s were singled outU.S. military we were supposedly helping our peoples for assassination by the KKK. In the Chicano-Mexicano"earn" full citizenship rights by "proving" our loyalty to Southwest the Empire conducted a genocidal mass depor-Amerika. So the war period saw strange contradictions. tation drive of unequaled severity. Even the savage im- migration raids and deportations of the New Deal were Perhaps the sharpest irony of the "win your outdone by the new imperialist offensive after WWII.freedom" game was that of Japanese-Amerikans. We weredrafted right out of the U.S. concentration camps and toldthat our willingness to fight for U.S. imperialism wouldshow whether or not our people were "disloyal." The all- Believing that the war-time labor shortage had per-Japanese military unit, the 442nd Regimental Combat mitted "too many" Chicano-Mexicanos to live inside theTeam, was used by the U.S. Army as disposable shock occupied territories, the Empire started a gigantic militarytroops to be thrown into every bloody situation in Europe. campaign to partially depopulate and terrorize theThe 442nd had over 9,000 Purple Hearts awarded for a Southwest. Under the cover of the 1952 McCarran-Walter3,000-soldier unit. Immigration and Nationality Act, a reign of armed terror descended upon the Chicano-Mexicano communities. This Ordered to break through and rescue the "Lost was CIA population regroupment strategy in textbookBattalion" of Texas National Guard settlers cut off and form.surrounded by the German Army in France, the 442ndtook more casualties than the number of settler G.1.s sav- Command of the campaign was held by INS Com-ed. One Nisei sergeant remembers how K Company of the missioner Lt. General Joseph Swing (an open racist and a442nd "went in with 187 men and when we got to the Tex- veteran of Gen. Pershings U.S. expedition into Mexico inans, there were 17 of us left. I was in command, because all 1916). Swing organized a series of barrio sweeps, withthe officers were gone. But I Company was down to 8 pedestrians stopped and homes broken into; often withoutmen."(73) hearing or any bourgeois legal formalities, the selected Mexicanos would be taken at gunpoint to trains and The political effects of the war were not simple. It deported. Homes were broken up and communities ter-definitely marked the end of one period and the start of rorized. Some with valid residency papers and U.S.another. The Depression had been replaced by the fruits of "citizenship" were deported. Others, suspected of beingmilitary victory - high employment fueled by new world revolutionaries, were arrested for "immigration" of-markets and U.S. international supremacy. The massive fenses. Virtually all the militant Chicano-Mexicano labordislocation of the war, coming after the harsh repression activists were victims of this campaign.of the 1930s and the war period itself, and the jet-propelled rise of neo-colonial "citizenship" had definitely The overall numbers are staggering. In 1953 Sw-side-tracked many people. Acuna writes of the Chicano- ings para-military units deported 875,000 Mexicanos. InMexicano movement: 1954 the number seized and deported was 1,035,282 - more than were deported throughout the 1930s. Even in "...much of the momentum of the movement of 1955 and 1956, after the main job was done, 256,000 andthe 1930s was lost. Many Chicano leaders entered the 90,000 Mexicanos respectively were deported. How masivearmed forces; many were killed; others, when they return- this was can be seen from the fact that in 1941 an estimateded, were frankly tired of crusades...Understandably, dur- 2.7 million Chicano-Mexicanos lived in the U.S.-occupieding the war and when they returned, many Chicano territories, while the 1953-56 population regroupmentveterans were proud of their records. They believed that drive uprooted and deported 2.2 million rhirnnn-they were entitled to all the benefits and rights of U.S. Mexicanos. This was the fruit of "The War for Demo-citizenship. A sort of euphoria settled among many cracy."Chicanos, with only a few realizing that the communityhad to reorganize. ..Many Chicanos believed the propagan- The Chinese community, which had been largelyda emanating from World Wai I1 about brotherhood and spared during WWII, was the target of a new repressivedemocracy in the United States. They thought that they campaign. The U.S. Empire had discovered that the im-had won their rights as U.S. citizens. For a time, the G.I. perialist contradictions of World War had helped com-Bill of Rights lulled many Chicanos into complacency, munism and national liberation advance. Long sought-with many taking advantage of education and housing after China had stood up and brushed off the clutchingbenefits.. . hands of U.S. imperialism. In 1945 over 50,000 U.S. Marines landed in China to take over Peking, the Kailan "Many Chicanos, because of their involvement in coal mines and the North China railroad lines. By 1946the armed forces, realized that they would never return to there were over 120,000 G.1.s in China, backing up theMexico.. Many also became superpatriots who did not reactionary Kuomintang armies. The Red Army and thewant to be identified with the collective community. In the Chinese people swept these forces away.urban barrio, many parents, remembering their owntribulations, taught their children only English. Middle- During the war years the Empire had professedclass organizations and, for that matter, civic organiza- friendship towards the Chinese community, since Chinations became increasingly integrationist in the face of the itself was an Allied nation in the war against Japan. NowRed-baiting of the 1950s. "(74) the situation reversed itself: Japan was the new U.S. "junior partner" in Asia, while Communist China was The neo-colonial pacification that came out of the hated and feared by imperialism. The FBI and INS movedWWII years was not a calm, but the stillness that came against the Chinese community, breaking up patriotic andafter devastation. We must remember how, once again, in 124 class organizations.
  • 126. The main patriotic mass organization of the 1930s imperialism. Once, in the early years of the century, op-and 1940s, the Chinese Hand Laundry Association, was pressed Mexicano and Japanese workers shared the hard-destroyed. The popular China Youth Club, which had ships of the fields, and naturally shared labor organizingfought gambling, drugs and sexism by introducing a drives. In the abortive 1915 Texas uprising to establish amodern community life, was forcibly dissolved as a "com- Chicano-Mexicano Nation, Japanese were recognized asmunist front." China Daily News, which had been the not only allies but as citizens of the to-be-liberated nation.leading patriotic newspaper, lost most of its advertising But by the 1950s this had changed. Civil Rights hadand readers. In a frameup, the newspapers manager was replaced the unity of the oppressed.imprisoned under the Federal "Trading With the EnemyAct" because the newspaper had accepted an advertise-ment from the Bank of China. The supposedly "silent"Chinese community had actually been a stronghold of ac-tivity for national liberation and socialism - and was The Japanese-Amerikan national minority hadsilenced. (75) been politically broken by the repression of World War 11. Uprooted and recombined into scattered concentration camps, we had faced an intense physical and psychological Imperialist Civil Rights terrorism. The resistance and defiance, even while in the hands of the enemy, was considerable. Many of the camp inmates refused to sign U.S. loyalty oaths. Demonstrations It is also true that this genocidal campaign il- took place behind barbed wire. Some 10% were under evenlustrated how well neo-colonial "Americanization" served 125 harsher incarceration at the Tule Lake Camp for dissidents
  • 127. and resisters. But this popular current of resistance had no Congressman Walter was, of course, a fanaticalstrategic direction to advance along. anti-Communist. Led by Mike Masaoka, the JACL developed a close relationship to Congressman Walter. In The main dissenting political views had been any case, JACL leader Bill Hosokawa called Walter "acrushed. Some Japanese rejected U.S. "citizenship" and strong friend of the JACL. The JACL eventually avethe oppressor nation that had imprisoned them, but sought Walter a special award. Walter and McCarran a%dedtheir identity by looking backwards towards the Japanese clauses in their repressive legislation giving some conces-Empire. Clandestine pro-Imperial groups and propaganda sions to Asians - primarily ending the 1924 Oriental Ex-flourished. Claims of U.S. military advances were denied clusion Act - which made it possible for non-citizenand the day of Japanese Imperial victory eagerly looked Japanese to become U.S. citizens. With this the JACL wasforward to. The unconditional Japanese surrender in 1945, glad to help sponsor this vicious legislation and give coverplus the news of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, made a vain to the reactionary wing of U.S. imperialism. Hosokawa,hope out of this perspective. who has been a senior editor for the Denver Post, writes that the final passage of this repressive law was a supreme The other major dissenting view was communism. triumph" of the JACL. (77) Two million Mexicano men,A number of young Japanese college students and union women, and children, victims of "Migra" terror raids, sawactivists had joined the CPUSA during the 1930s. very well whose "triumph" that was.Japanese-Amerikan communists had been very active inCIO organizing drives in the fish canneries, in opposing Thats why the shallow rhetoric that says all Third-the Imperial invasion of China, and in rallying people to World people automatically "unite against racism" isfight anti-Asian oppression. All this had been smashed on dangerously untrue. Pro-imperialist Civil Rights is a pawnDec. 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor happened. In a panic to in the crimes of the Empire against the oppressed nations.assure their fellow Euro-Amerikans that the CPUSA was The example of the JACL was just the opening wedge of aloyally "American," this revisionist party came out in fuN strategic process in which the Empire was promotingsupport of the governments concentration camp program Asians as a "buffer" between settlers and the oppressedfor Japanese-Amerikans. Even further, the CPUSA nations. We can see this in daily life, by the numbers ofordered its Japanese-Amerikan members to rally the com- Asian professionals and small retailers entering the innermunity for its own imprisonment - and then publicly ex- city. This process began, however, with Japanese-pelled all its Japanese-Amerikan members to show White Amerikans in the years right after World War 11.Amerika that even the "Communists" were against the"Japs. " Communism was completely discredited for anentire generation inside the Japanese-Amerikan communi-ty. A Pause and a Beginning Leadership of the community was left completelyin the hands of the pro-imperialist Japanese-AmerikanCitizens League (JACL), which for forty years has beenthe main civil rights organizaton. The JACL, in the name It may have appeared to some in those years thatof those who suffered in the concentration camps, publicly the U.S. Empire had consolidated its Fortress Amerika,called for and lobbied for the passage of the 1952 that it had won "a supreme triumph." But the streams ofMcCarran-Walter Immigration & Nationality Act. This national consciousness ran deep within the colonialwas in the best tradition of "Americanization," and, for masses. If the Adam Clayton Powells and the Roythat matter, of Civil Rights. Wilkins occupied the public mainstream of Afrikan politics, we can see that nationalism was only forced down In 1952 A. Philip Randolph was saying that civil out of sight. It still lived in the grass-roots and continuedrights meant that Afrikans should go to Korea and help to develop. This pause was historically necessary, sinceU.S.imperialism kill Asians - provided that the Empire anti-colonial struggles and leaders of the 1920s and 1930sgave them equal wages. In the same way, in 1952 the JACL had many strengths, but did not yet have programs forwas saying that so long as Japanese-Amerikans got some liberation that could successfully lead the masses. Now webenefits from it, white supremacist de-population of the can see that this was a stage in development, in opening upChicano-Mexicano communities was fine. This is the sewer new doors. And so we can also see literally everywhere wephilosophy of "Ive Got Mine." choose to look, the "seeds beneath the snow." An Afrikan G.I. named Robert Williams went Having mutilated themselves to fit into Babylon, home from Asia to Monroe, North Carolina, having learn-the JACL is even quite proud of what they did. U.S. ed something about self-defense and world politics. In LosSenator Pat McCarran (D-Nevada) was a white Angeles in the early 40s Chicano teenagers formed thesupremacist, and a known Mexican-hater. He devised his Pachuco youth sub-culture, flaunting "Zoot suits" andnew immigration law to genocidally cut down Third-World openly rejecting Euro-Amerikan culture. Chicano-population in general (and Chicano-Mexicanos in Mexicano historians now see the defiant Pachuco move-specific). He warned White Amerika that unless they ment as "the first large current within the Chicano move-restricted Third-World population "we will, in the course ment towards separatism." An Afrikan ex-convict andof a generation or so, change the ethnic and cultural com- draft resister was building the "Nation of theposition of this nation." In his crusade for settler purity he Lost-Found." The revolutionary explosions of the 1960sjoined forces with Congressman Francis Walter, the Chair- had their seeds, in countless ways, in the submerged butman of the rabid House Un-American Activities Commit- not lost gains and developments of the 1920s, 1930s andtee (HUAC).(76) 126 1940s.
  • 128. X. 1950s REPRESSION &THE DECLINE OF THECOMMUNIST PARTY U.S.A.1. The End of the Euro-Amerikan "Left" The post-World War 1 collapse of the Communist 1 Party U.S.A., the main organization of the Euro- Amerikan "left," was an important indicator of disap- pearing working class consciousness in the oppressor na- tion. It is not true that the Euro-Amerikan "left" was destroyed by the McCarthyite repression of the 1950s. What was true that the anti-Communist repression ef- fortlessly shattered the decaying, hollow shell of the 30s "old left" - hollow because the white workers who once gave it at least a limited vitality had left. The class struggle within the oppressor nation had once again effectively end- ed. Mass settler unity in service of the U.S. Empire was heightened. Looking back we can see the Communist Party U.S.A. in that period as a mass party for reformism that penetrated every sector of Euro-American life. At its numerical peak in 1944-1945 the CPUSA had close to 100,000 members. Approximately one-quarter of the entire CIO union membership was within those industrial unions that it directly led. Thousands of Communist Party trade union activists and officials were present throughout the union movement, from shop stewards up to the CIO Ex- ecutive Council. The Partys influence among the liberal intelligent- sia in the 30s was just as large. Nathan Witt, chief ex- ecutive officer of the Federal National Labor Relations Board during 1937-1940, was a CPUSA member. Tens of thousands of administrators, school teachers, scientists, social workers, writers and officials belonged to the CPUSA. That was a period in which writers as prominent as Ernest Hemingway and artists such as Rockwell Kent and Ben Shahn contributed to CPUSA publications. Pro- minent modern dancers gave benefit performances in Greenwich Village for the Daily Worker. Maxim Lieber, one of the most exclusive Madison Avenue literary agents (with clients like John Cheever, Carson McCullers, John OHara and Langston Hughes), was not only a CPUSA member, but was using his business as a cover to send clandestine communications between New York and Eastern Europe. The CPUSA, then, was a common presence in Euro-American life, from the textile mills to Hollywood. (1) This seeming success story only concealed the growing alienation from the CPUSA by the white workers
  • 129. who had once started it. In the early 1920s the infant higher). By World War I1 50% of the CPUSAs member-Communist Party was overwhelmingly European im- ship was in New York, and the typical member a New Yorkmigrant proletarian. In its first year half of its members City professional or minor trade union official. (2)spoke no English - for that matter, two-thirds of the totalParty then were Finnish immigrants who had left the Joseph Starobin, CPUSA leader, later admitted:Social-Democracy and the I.W.W. t o embrace "In retrospect, the war had been for thousands of Com-Bolshevism. Virtually all the rest were Russian, Polish, munists a great turning point. Many from the cities cameJewish, Latvian and other East European immigrants. The for the first time to grasp Americas magnitude, the im-CPUSA was once a white proletarian party not just inwords but in material fact. mense political space between the labor-democratic- progressive milieu in which the left had been sheltered and The rapid expansion of the Party influence and the real level of consciousness of the millions who weresize during the late 30s and the World War I1 years was an recruited to fight for flag and country. A good part of the Partys cadre never returned to its life and orbit. The warillusion. Euro-Amerikans were not fighting for Revolution was a caesura, a break. Many migrated to other parts ofbut for settleristic reforms, and those years the CPUSA the country, many began to build families and change theirwas just the radical wing of President Roosevelts New lives. Comm&m became a warm memory for some; forDeal. As soon as Euro-Amerikan industrial workers had others it was a mistake." (3)won the settler equality and better life they sought, theyhad no more use for the CPUSA. So we can be certain that there was no repression involved in ending the radical current within the masses of The facts about the changing class base of the Euro-Amerikan workers. Long before McCarthyism wasCPUSA are very clear. Between 1939 and 1942 the number spawned, during the very years of the 1930s when theof CPUSA members in the steel mills fell from over 2,000 CPUSA reached its greatest organizational power, Euro-to 852; the number of CPUSA miners fell from 1,300 to Amerikan workers started voluntarily walking out. By289. Similar losses took place among the Partys ranks in 1945 it was definite. Nor did they leave for other radicalconstruction, garment, auto and textile. And while more parties or more revolutionary activity. This is one of theand more workers drifted away from the Euro-Amerikan reasons why the crudely revisionist policies of CPUSA"left," the CPUSA was swelling up with a junk food diet leaders like Earl Browder and William Z. Foster wereof rapid recruitment from the petit-bourgeoisie. Middle never effectively opposed - the working class supportersclass members composed only 5% of the Party in 1932, but of the Party had lost interest in reformism and were leav-an astonishing 41% in 1938 (a proportion soon to go even ing to occupy themselves with the fruits of settlerism. 2. McCarthyism & Repression The false view that the CPUSA (and the rest of the steadfast and heroic sacrifice against the unleashed im-Euro-Amerikan "left") were crushed by "McCarthyite perialist juggernaut. Len DeCaux, a former CPUSA ac-repression" not only serves to conceal the mass shift away tivist who was Publicity Director of the national CIO,from class consciousness on the part of the settler masses, recalls in self-congratulation:but also helped U.S. imperialism to conceal the violent col-onial struggles of that period. The post-war years were the "...The United States was now officially launchedGolden Age of the U.S. Empire, when it tried to enforce its on a bipartisan Cold War course with the appearance of a"Pax Americana" on a devastated world. popular mandate. Every vote against it was a protest, a promise of resistence. Without this effort, few American We are really discussing three related but different progressives could have held up their heads.. .Like thosephenomena - 1. Cold War political repression aimed at Germans who resisted the advent of Hitlerism, thelimiting pro-Russian sympathies among liberal and radical Americans who opposed Cold War imperialism were over-"New Deal" Euro-Amerikans, 2. the McCarthyite purges whelmned, almost obliterated. Perhaps they were notof the U.S. Government itself in a intra-imperialist policy smart to throw their weak bodies, their strong minds,struggle, and 3. the violent, terroristic counterinsurgency their breakable spirits, against the trampling onrush ofcampaigns to crush revolutionary struggles throughout the reaction. But they did." (4)expanded U.S. Empire. It is a particular trait of Euro-Amerikan "left" revisionism to blur these three This is easy to check out. DeCaux says that he andphenomena together, while picturing itself as the main vic- his CPUSA compatriots were "almost obliterated" justtim of U.S. Imperialism. This is an outrageous lie. "like those Germans who resisted the advent of Hitlerism." Just to throw some light on his comparison, When we actually analyze the repression of the we should note that they casualty rate of the German Com-CPUSA, it is striking how mild it was - more like a warn- munist underground against Nazism was almost from the Great White Father than repression. In con- Hundreds of thousands of German Communists and Com-trast, the Euro-Amerikan "left" pictures its role as one of 128 munists from other European nations died in actual battle
  • 130. against the Nazis and in the Nazi death camps. In Italyalone the Communists lost 60,000 comrades in the 1943-45armed partisan struggle against Fascism. Were DeCauxand his CPUSA compatriots "almost obliterated" likeother Communists who fought imperialism? In 1947 DeCaux was forced out of his comfortablejob as Publicity Director of the CIO (and editor of theunion newspaper "CIO News"). For many yearsthereafter he worked as a paid journalist for the CPUSA inCalifornia. He was never beaten or tortured, never facedassassination from the death squads, never had to outwitthe police, never had to spend long years of his life inprison, never knew hunger and misery, never saw his fami-ly destroyed, never was prevented from exercising hisrights as a settler. Throughout, he went to publicdemonstrations and worked in bourgeois elections.DeCaux was arrested and had to face trial (he won on ap-peal while out on bail), had to give up his prestigious joband salary, and was threatened by U.S. Government disap-proval. Truly, we could say that the average welfare familyin "Bed-Stuy" faces more repression than DeCaux wentthrough. The U.S. Government repression that "almostobliterated" the CPUSA (in DeCauxs words) was a seriesof warnings, of mild cuffs, to push Euro-Amerikans backinto line with imperialist policy against the USSR. Therewere no death squads, no shoot-outs, no long prisonsentences - the CPUSA wasnt even outlawed, andpublished its newspaper and held activities throughout thisperiod. The CPUSA at the time usually called this repres-sion a "witch hunt," because it was a Government cam-paign to promote mass political conformity by singling out"Communists" for public abuse and scorn. It was notrepression of the usual type, in which the Empire tries towipe out, to eliminate through legal and extra-legal forcean entire revolutionary movement. In 1949 some 160 was so great, so large, so historic about the slap that theCPUSAers were arrested and tried under the Smith Act for CPUSA suffered was the loud panic it caused among theadvocating "the overthrow of the U.S. Government pampered Euro-Amerikan "left." "An empty drum makes the loudest noise."through force and violence." Of these 114 were convicted,with 29 CPUSA leaders serving Federal prison sentences of This mild repression knocked the CPUSA clear off2-5 years. Two obscure CPUSA members, Julius and Ethel its tracks. In a panic, their leadership concocted the delu-Rosenberg, were executed amidst world-wide publicity in sional "one minute to midnight" perspective, which heldan "atomic espionage" hysteria. Some 400 non-citizen that world nuclear war and total fascism were about toradicals, most of them Third-World members or allies of happen. Peggy Dennis, wife of party leader Gene Dennis,the CPUSA, were arrested for deportation under the recalls the shambles of their focus on survivalism:McCarran-Walter Immigration Act of 1952. Many of theseradicals later won in court. (5) "The FBI knew, the news media knew, the rem- nants of the Peoples movements knew. Our Party had This warning harassment by Washington totally taken a severe beating under the assaults of McCarthyism,broke the back of a supposedly "Communist" Party thatcounted 70,000 members in its ranks in 1947. In contrast, the Smith Act arrests and imprisonments, the continuingthe American Indian Movement just at Pine Ridge sustain- anti-Communist hysteria. It was reeling on the defensive.ed casualties between 1972-1976 that were quantitatively But the almost fatal blow was self-inflicted when the Partygreater than that of the CPUSA coast-to-coast during the leadership took the whole organization underground, plac-entire 1950s. At Pine Ridge alone AIM has lost over nine- ing control of daily operative financial and politicalty members killed and over 200 imprisoned. The Na- decision-making into the hands of this subterranean struc-tionalist Party of Puerto Rico in 1950-1957 alone suffered ture.many times the losses in dead, injured and imprisoned thanthose borne by the CPUSA during the entire McCarthyiteperiod. For that matter, both SNCC and the BPP alonealso sustained far greater casualties from struggle in the "Thousands of militants - in the labor move-1960s than the whole CPUSA did during the 1950s. What , ment, former anti- fascists, New Dealers, Progressive Party
  • 131. activists, former Communist members - went into per- its settler followers. All had to fall in line. This McCaf-sonal underground, dropping out of all activity, thyism was aimed not so much at the bottom of settlerrebuilding lives in enclaves of suburban and urban obscuri- society but at the middle - at purging the ranks ofty. " (6) generals, educators, congressmen, diplomats, and so on. All Government employees had to sign new loyalty oaths. What was most telling is that for 4 years the We must remember that the infamous U.S. Senator JosephCPUSA structure went underground not to wage renewed McCarthy never harassed revolutionaries. His targets wereand heightened struggle, but to passively hide until full all U.S. Government employees and officials, from Armybourgeois democracy returned. Their whole movement officers to clerks. In a telling statement, the well-knownsurrendered and fell apart under the first pressure from liberal journalist George Seldes wrote at the time:Washington. They never even faced any real repression. "There is fear in Washington, not only among When Russian Prime Minister Khruschev made his Government employees but among the few remainingdisillusioning revelations about Stalins rule at the 1956 liberals and democrats who hoped to salvage something in20th Party Congress of the C.P.S.U., it was just "the icing the New Deal. There is fear in Hollywood...There is fearon the cake." Once a white workers vanguard and later a among writers, scientists, school teachers, among all whomass party for reform within the oppressor nation, the are not part of the reactionary movement." (7)CPUSA had finally been reduced by U.S. imperialism to athoroughly house-broken and frightened remnant. From70,000 members in 1947 the CPUSA evaporated down to So that McCarthyism reflected a power struggle7,000 in 1957. Working class radicalism had effectively within the imperialist ranks between liberal and conser-ceased within the settler society, and its former main vative forces, as well as being part of the general move oforganization had politically collapsed. the Empire to tighten-up and prepare for world domina- tion. In no sense was this 1950s repressive campaign The capitalist newspaper headlines of that day directed at crushing some non-existent revolutionary up-paid little attention to that phenomenon, however, The surge within settler society. At the same time - on frontsmedia of the late 1940s and early 1950s was preoccupied of battle outside of Euro-Amerikan society - U.S. im-with the larger aspects of this same imperialist campaign to perialism was conducting the most bloody counter-whip up Euro-Amerikan society for the global confronta- insurgency campaigns against the colonial peoples. Thistion with communism. The bourgeoisie then demanded on- had little to do with the CPUSA and the rest of the op-ly the most rigid, reactionary and monolithic outlook from pressor nation "left." 3. The Case of Puerto Rico: Clearing the Ground for Neo-Colonialism It is generally known that U.S. imperialism chose Munoz Marin, was told to arrest or kill the Nationalistneo-colonialism as the main form for its expanding Empire leaders. Police pressure on the revolutionaries the immediate post-WWII years. In 1946 the U.S. Nationalist Party leader Don Albizu Campos was openlyPhilippine colony was converted with much fanfare to the threatened. U.S. Congressman Vito Marcantonio com-supposedly independent "Republic of the Philippines" (to plained on October 19, 1949:this day occupied by major U.S. military bases). In 1951the Puerto Rican colony was converted into a "Com- "The home of Pedro Albizu Campos is surround-monwealth" with limited bourgeois self-government under ed day and night by police patrols, police cars, and jeepsstrict U.S. rule. What is less discussed is that neo- with mounted machine guns. When Dr. Albizu Camposcolonialism is no less terroristic than colonialism itself. walks along the streets of Sun Juan, he is closely followedNeo-colonialism, after all, still requires the military sup- by four or five plainclothes policemen on foot, and a loadpression and elimination of the revolutionary and national of fully armed policement in a car a few paces behind.democratic forces. Without this political sterilization afterWWII imperialisms local agents would not have been able "Every shop he enters, every person to whom heto do their job. This was true in the Mexicano-Chicano talks, is subsequently visited by representatives of theSouthwest, in the Philippines, and other occupied ter- police department. A reign of terror descends on theritories. luckless citizens of Puerto Rico who spend a few minutes talking to Dr. Albizu Campos. " (8) The 1950 U.S. counter-insurgency campaign in Puerto Rico is a clear example of this. It also gives us a By late October of that year the colonial police had compariscm to further illuminate the CPUSA by. By 1950 begun a series of "incidents" - of ever more serious ar- U.S. Imperialism had decided that its hold over Puerto rests and raids against Nationalist Party activists on Rico would not be safe until the Nationalist Party was various charges. Finally in one raid police and Nationalists finally wiped out. That year U.S. Secretary of War Louis engaged in a firefight. Faced with certain annihilation Johnson spent three days in Puerto Rico planning the piece-meal by mounting police attacks, the Nationalists counter-insurgency campaign. The puppet Governor, 130 took to arms in the Grito de Jayuya. On October 30, 1950
  • 132. Nationalist forces captured the police station and liberatedthe town of Jayuya. They immediately proclaimed the se-cond Republic of Puerto Rico, as more uprisings broke outall over the island. (9) The defeat of the Second Republic required notonly the police, but the full efforts of the colonial NationalGuard. It was an uprising drowned in blood. Theseriousness of the combat can be seen from the AssociatedPress dispatch: "National Guard troops smashed today atviolently anti-United States Nationalist rebels and drovethem out of two of their strongholds with planes andtanks... "Striking at dawn, troops armed with machineguns, bazookas and tanks recaptured Jayuya, fifty milessouthwest of San Juan, and the neighboring town ofUtuado. Fighter planes strafed the rebels. They had seizedcontrol of the two towns last night after bombing policestations, killing some policemen and setting manyfires...Jayuya looked as if an earthquake had struck it,with several blocks destroyed and most of the otherbuildings in the town of 1,500 charred by fire. AnotherGuard spearhead was racing towards Arecibo to crush theuprising there. " (10) Even in defeat the heroic Nationalist struggle hadgreat effect. In the 1951 referendum for "Common-wealth" status Governor Marin could only muster enoughvotes for passage by falsely promising the people that itwas only a temporary stage leading to national in-dependence. The revolution had exposed the lie that col-onialism was accepted by the Puerto Rican people.Throughout Latin Arnerika mass solidarity with the Puer-to Rican Struggle blossomed. In Cuba the cause of PuertoRican independence had won such sympathy that even thepro-U.S. Cuban President, Carlos Prio Socarras, sent offa public message interceding for the safety of Don AlbizuCampos and the other Nationalists. The Cuban House ofRepresentatives sent a resolution to President Truman ask-ing that the lives of Don Albizu Campos and other cap- attacks, machine guns, mass imprisonment and terror totured leaders be guaranteed. (1) In Mexico, in Central crush the Puerto Rican Nationalists, for they were genuineArnerika, throughout Latin Amerika the 1950 Grito de revolutionaries.Jayuya stirred up anti-imperialist sentiment. What did the CPUSA and the U.S. oppressor na- tion "left" do in solidarity to help their supposed allies in The defeat of the patriotic uprising was followed Puerto Rico? Absolutely nothing and less than an intense reign of terror over all of Puerto Rico. In ad- The CPUSAs main response was to concern itself onlydition to the many martyrs who fell on the field of battle, with saving its own skin. The single Euro-Amerikan im-some 3,000 Puerto Ricans were arrested by U.S. im- prisoned with the Nationalists after Jayuya - the anti-warperialism. Many were sent to prison under the infamous activist Ruth Reynolds - did more in solidarity with the"Little Smith Act" (the 1948 Law 53), which made it a anti-colonial struggle than did the entire CPUSA with itscrime to advocate revolution against the colonial ad- thousands of members.ministration. Many were charged with murder, arson andother crimes. One woman, for example, was sentenced to For years during the 1930s the CPUSA had wonlife imprisonment for having cooked some food for her support from Puerto Ricans in the barrios of the continen-husband and sons before they went to join the uprising. tal U.S. by posing as proponents of Puerto Rican in-The neo-colonial "Commonwealth" scheme was only dependence. In order to win over Puerto Ricans thepossible because of the terroristic violence used by U.S. CPUSA pretended to be allies of the Nationalist Party.imperialism to pacify the patriotic movement and the One Euro-Amerikan CPUSA organizer in New YorksPuerto Rican masses. Spanish Harlem recalls: "The main issues were unemploy- ment and Puerto Rican independence. Viva Puerto Rico It isnt difficult to see that the level of imperialist Libre was the popular slogan. The Nationalist movementrepression inflicted upon the Puerto Rican Nationalists in Puerto Rico, headed by Pedro Albizu Campos,was qualitatively far greater than that used on the CPUSA. dominated the politics of El Barrio. " (12) In 1948It is somewhat obscene to even compare the two. It is CPUSA leader William Z. Foster made a well-publicizedenough to say that U.S. Imperialism had to use tanks, air 31 trip to Puerto Rico, in which he met with Don Albizu
  • 133. Campos. Afterwards, Foster wrote a mass pamphlet on resola and Collazo, and a cowardly assurance that thepoverty in Puerto Rico (The Crime of El Fangito) to show CPUSA joined ranks with the rest of their oppressor na-CPUSA solidarity with the Nationalists. tion in supporting President Truman. The treacherous statement read: But when U.S. Imperialism unleashed its counter-insurgency, when the Revolution joined battle with the CP ASSAILS TERRORISTmighty U.S. Empire, where was the CPUSA? On its knees ATTEMPT IN WASHINGTONproclaiming its loyalty to the U.S. Empire, begging in themost cowardly fashion to be spared by its masters. On "Like all our fellow Americans we CommunistsNovember 1, 1950 - the second day of fighting - two were profoundly shocked by this afternoons report of anPuerto Rican patriots, Griselio Torresola and Oscar Col- attempt to enter Blair House with the apparent purpose oflazo, attacked Blair House in Washington, D.C. (the tem- taking President Trumans life.porary residence of President Truman). This hold. , ----- -sacrificial action against the U.S. tyranny occupied t h i "As is well known, the Communist Party con-headlines in newspapers around t he the rest delnns and rejects assassination and all acts of violence andof t he media the CPUSAs Worker terror. This can only be the act of terrorists, derangedalso made the heroic attack on Blair House its main, front- men, or agents...,, (13)page story. With war raging in Puerto Rico, was it a shock for the struggle to be brought to the front door of im- This issue is completely revealing. Tucked away on perialism? What kind of "Communists" reject "all acts ofits inside pages, as a second-rate story, the CPUSAs Daily violence"? What kind of "anti-imperialists" would joinWorker routinely reported the revolution in Puerto Rico the imperialists in saying that the martyr Griselio Tor-and gave some very routine, luke-warm words of sym- resola, who so willingly gave his life for the oppressed, waspathy. But on its front page it carried an official Party either "deranged" or an "agent "? This disgusting state-statement on the Blair House attack. That statement was ment was transparently begging U.S. imperialism to sparesigned by CPUSA leaders William Z. Foster and Gus Hall. the CPUSA. Far from being thc main victims of the 1950sIt was not only under a major headline, but the full text repression, as they so falsely claim, the Euro-Americanwas printed in extra-large heavy type. And what was the "left" were still house-broken accomplices to the crimes ofmeaning of this obviously very important statement? A U.S. imperialism. They were the U.S. Empires loyal op-cowardly and shameful slander of the heroic patriots Tor- position.
  • 134. XI. THIS GREAT HUMANITY HAS CRIED 99 "ENOUGH! Parasitism is still the principal characteristic of This frenzy of looting has so infected the neo-colonialEuro-Amerikan society. Only now the crude parasitism of Mobutu regime that the Belgians laughingly call their alliesthe early settler conquest society has grown into and merg- a "kleptocracy. " In a typical little amusement during theed its blood with the greater parasitism of world im- Winter of 1982, Zaires President Mobutu and his en-perialism. The imperialist oppressor nations of North tourage of 93 wives, concubines, servants and bodyguardsAmerika, Western Europe and Japan have in the post- spent $2 million visiting Disneyworld. His make-believeWorld War I1 years reached a mass standard of living un- government is perpetually bankrupt, unable to pay even itsparalleled in human history. These nations of the im- phone bills, permanently indebted to Western banks. Andperialist metropolis are choked in an orgy of extravagance, the Afrikan masses, how do they relate to this greatof fetishistic "consumerism," of industrial production wealth? Real wages in Zaire have declined by 80% betweenwithout limit. Even now, in the lengthening shadows of 1960-1978. This is the source of the wealth. (2) In Zaire, asimperialisms twilight, in the confusion of the U.S. Em- in Ghana, Philippines, Mexico and elsewhere in the neo-pires decline, the settler masses still can hardly believe that colonial world, the bottom half live worse than they didtheir revels are drawing to an end. twenty years ago. For that matter, worse than they did five centuries ago. It must be emphasized that Euro-Arnerikan societyis not self-supporting. The imperialist mythology is that The majority of the worlds population, the pro-factories simply multiply themselves, that trains beget letarian and peasant masses of the neo-colonial Thirdairlines and mines beget computers. In other words, that World, exist under conditions of increasing hunger andthe enormous material wealth of the imperialist metropolis landlessness, of increasing terror and dislocation. Millionsis supposedly self-generated, and supposedly comes to have died that Euro-Amerikans may walk on the moon;birth clean of blood. people die of hunger and disease that Euro-Amerikans may overeat. This is the bloody secret at the roots of im- The unprecedented rise in the wealth of the op- perialist technological prosperity.pressor nations is directly and solely based on the increasedimmiseration of the oppressed nations on a global scale. Just as unequal treaties, arrived at through inva-The looting and killing of early colonialism continue in a sion and gunboat diplomacy, were common mechanismsmore sophisticated and rationalized system of neo- of global capital transfer for much of the 19th Century, socolonialism. But continue they do. It was Karl Marx, a today unequal trade in the imperialist world market effec-century and a half ago, who first defined the accumulation tively strips and plunders the neo-colonial world. This isof world capital as rising out of an accumulation of world well known, and we need only discuss it in a brief, generalproletarianization, oppression and misery. way. "The greater the social wealth, the functioning of The amazing, post-World War I1 economiccapital, the extent-and energy of its growth, and therefore, recovery of the imperialist powers was not solely a processalso the absolute mass of the proletariat and the produc- of creation, but also a process of extraction and transfer.tiveness of its labor, the greater is the industrial reserve ar- Western Europe was refertilized and rebuilt in large partmy.. .the more extensive, finally, the Lazarus-layers of the with new capital extracted from the Third World, ex-working class, and the industrial reserve army, the greater tracted under a process of involuntarily tightening tradeis the official pauperism. This is the absolute general law terms. In the 1960s Sekou Toure of Guinea pointed out:of capitalist accumulation...It establishes an accumulationof misery, corresponding with the accumulation ofcapital. " ( I ) "In the course of the last ten years alone, the Zaire, for example, is the richest mineral- prices of industrial goods in international trade have in-producing nation in the entire world, its great mines over- creased by 24%, while the prices of raw materials haveshadowing even such nations as Azania and Canada. The fallen by 5%. In other words, the underdeveloped coun-Belgian, French, British and Euro-Amerikan imperialists tries exporting raw materials were, towards the end of thehave taken literally billions of dollars in copper, diamonds, fifties, purchasing one-third less industrial goods for acobalt and other minerals out of Zaire since the anti- determined quantity of raw materials, as compared withcolonial Lumumba government was destroyed in 1960-61. 133 ten years ago."
  • 135. Toure related this to the fact that the average per less food per capita today than there was 20 years ago,capita income in the U.S., which in 1945 was ten times with sub-Saharan Africa frequently ravaged bygreater than the average income in Asia, Afrika and Latin starvation. " (4)Amerika, had by 1960 become even more extreme - noless than seventeen times as much as the average Third Behind the neo-colonial facade of internationalWorld income! (3) airports, of tourist hotels, of Mercedes-Benz society in the capital cities, is a world of oppressed nations increasingly This extractive process has since 1960 only stepped war-torn, looted and socially disorganized. No less thanup its tempo, driven to new levels by imperialisms crisis of the Wall Street Journal clinically described this in the ex-profitability. The New York Times recently said: "Com- ample of the Dominican Republic:modity prices have in fact reached their lowest levels in 30years.. .For Central Americas agricultural economies, the "Sugar had been like oil to the Dominicanterms of trade - the relative prices of exports and imports Republic, allowing the country to import its needs without- have deteriorated 40 per cent since 1977...the gap bet- learning to develop them locally. Over the past few yearsween t h e richest and poorest n a t i o n s has weve been able to create the illusion of being a developedwidened.. .Moreover, many ruial societies are no longer country - we have the latest computers, automobiles andable to feed themselves. In Africa, for example, there is appliances, says Felipe Vicini. But we arent developed at all. "Stripped of its imported goods, the Dominican Republic is essentially what it was 100 years ago - a plan- tation society with thousands of acres of sugar cane, some bananas and cocoa, and several gold and silver mines. To- day, in this plantation society, about 6% of the population owns 40% of the wealth. Most of the people are peasants, living in areas where unemployment is 50%, illiteracy is 80% and many of the adults and children are malnourish- ed. The impoverished population spills over into urban barrios and in the city streets children beg.. . "In the sugar fields, wages average $3.50 a day, at least during the six-month cutting season when work is available. Much of the cutting is done by Haitians...some In his 1982 Nobel Prize lecture in Stockholm, Col- half million of them roam the Dominican countryside ombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez reminded the often working in conditions approaching slavery." (5) world how in the previous eleven years Latin America has1 suffered from imperialist violence. In 1965, when a reform government was attempted by a faction of the Dominican military, the U.S. promptly "There have been 5 wars and 17 military coups; invaded with 23,000 troops to restore the old order. The there emerged a diabolial dictator who is carrying out, in neo-colonial societies are not, of themselves, stable or Gods name, the first Latin American ethnocide of our viable. To maintain them imperialism subjects the world to time. In the meantime, 20 million Latin American children a never-ending series of search-and-destroy missions. died before the age of one - more than have been born in There is both the "white death" by starvation and disease Europe since 1970. and the literally millions of Third World casualties from endless war. Jon Stewart of the Pacific News Service has "Those missing because of repression number written: nearly 120,000, which is as if no one would account for all the inhabitants of Upsala. Numerous women arrested "According to War In Peace, a new book publish- while pregnant have given birth in Argentine prisons, yet ed in London, about 35 million people have died in 130 nobody knows the whereabouts and identity of their military conflicts in more than 100 countries (all but a children...Because they tried to change this state of things, handful in the Third World) since the end of World War nearly 200,000 men and women have died throughout the 11. In the vast majority of these conflicts, the four original continent, and over 100,000 have lost their lives in three powers of the UN Security Council - Britain, France, the small and ill-fated countries of Central America: United States and the Soviet Union - have played promi- Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatamala. If this had hap- nent direct or indirect roles. pened in the United States, the corresponding figure would be that of 1,600,000 violent deaths in four years. "One thinks especially of Korea, which