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The New International, March 1946


David Coolidge

Negroes and the Labor Movement

An Answer to F. Forrest


From New International, Vol.12 No.3, March 1946, pp.89-92.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

The National Committee of the Workers Party is conducting this discussion in The New International for educational purposes, for the education of the party and the working class readers of the party press: white and black. This is the primary consideration. In order for the discussion to be educational and informative, however, it is incumbent on all participants to practice the utmost in intellectual integrity. Any other procedure is impermissible and would only serve to confuse and not enlighten those who are interested in this extremely important question. Not only an important question but one filled with complexity and all manner of difficulties. This is not a question on which it is permissible merely to attempt to score a point against one’s opponent, to ask “lawyer’s questions” or even try to score more “points” than the other side. This is not the road to clarification, particularly, in any discussion of the road to political activity among Negroes in the United States. This is not to say that the discussion should not be conducted in a vigorous manner and with the greatest intellectual rigor of which the participants are capable. This manner of proceeding is indicated by the fact that the question under discussion has many facets to it. It is a historical question, it is a scientific question and it is, of course, for the Workers Party a political and organizational question.

These preliminary remarks are prompted by a reading of the discussion article by Comrade F. Forrest in the May 1945 number of The New International. [1] I will illustrate now what I mean in part. Comrade Forrest does some quoting from the resolution adopted by the National Committee of the Workers Party. From one section of the resolution, she quotes as follows:

“While even violent struggles may take place around such issues [equality], the aim of the WP must be to lead the struggle out of these narrow confines (page 9, col. 2. My emphasis – F.F.)”

Comrade Forrest then proceeds:

“Not only are these democratic struggles, according to Comrade Coolidge, hemmed in by ‘narrow confines,’ he displays a disregard of their significance except to the degree that they are integrated into the general class struggle.”

Party Intervenes in Struggle

It is necessary to quote the whole passage referred to by Comrade Forrest in her quotation she left out a pertinent part of the passage, the part which gives it meaning. This omission distorts the meaning of the passage from which the quotation is taken. Here is the whole passage:

“While the struggle for socialism and against capitalism is implicit in the demand for equality, it is at the same time – in a sense – a struggle for immediate demands. This is especially true so far as the thinking of the masses of Negroes goes. This is demonstrated in the manner in which their demands are concretized. They make demands for jobs, for promotion to skilled classifications, for equality of treatment in the military service, against accommodation and against residential segregation.”

Comrade Forrest leaves out that part of the passage beginning with “They make demands ...”

This passage is necessary for an understanding of what follows. The passage then goes on to say that

“While even violent struggles may take place around such issues ... (that is, ‘jobs,’ etc.) the party must aim to lead the struggle for democratic rights out of these narrow confines, just as the party aims to do in the wider arena of the whole working class struggle.”

That is the party does not confine its propaganda among the working class to the struggle for “immediate demands” but intervenes in the struggle for immediate demands in order to heighten the class struggle and give the struggle a distinctly political coloration.

Proceeding on the basis of the distorted meaning, Comrade Forrest attempts to use the passage quoted as a sort of whipping boy for all sorts of notions. “Are the tremendous struggles that Negroes are carrying on today... to be looked down upon because of the ‘narrow confines’?” (bottom of page 119, left column). What does she mean by “looked down upon”? We will discuss these “tremendous struggles later but right now we are concerned with Comrade Forrest’s method of debate. She lifts out a phrase, and applies it to any part of the NC resolution that suits her purpose.

On page 121, right column, Comrade Forest continues her method. She writes: “The WP will approach Negroes and Negro organizations with an appeal directed primarily to the proletarians.” The passage continues with the statement that we want to break the wage earners away from the class collaborationist Negro leadership. “This is the first step in creating a class rupture between the proletarian Negroes and the Negro leader clique – servitors of the white bourgeoisie.” But Comrade Forrest leaves out a pertinent part of the passage and gives the reader no indication that she has done so. Preceding the word “the WP” is the following: “In view of these considerations ...” Forrest puts in the “the” but she capitalizes the “T,” thus giving the impression that this is the beginning of the sentence. (NI, January, 1945, page 9, left column at top.)

The Main Strategy of the WP

What are the considerations which lead the WP to approach the proletarians in the Negro organizations? The resolution states them in the paragraph before the one Forrest has quoted. This paragraph reads in part:

“The main strategy of the WP in the struggle for democratic rights and in the Negro organization is to promote the class independence of the Negro proletarian masses ... to win the Negro toilers to the class struggle, class consciousness, the struggle for socialism and the Workers Party ... The party will have as its aim, therefore, the transformation of this struggle into the struggle for complete workers’ democracy.”

It is “in view of these considerations” and for these reasons that the WP will “approach Negroes and Negro organizations.” (NI, January 1945, page 9, left column, last paragraph.) No one could possibly get what it is that Forrest is objecting to from her manner of quoting. It is permissible to disagree as violently as one wishes with a position but one must be careful to quote in such a way as not to confuse and mislead the reader.

On page 121, left column, Comrade Forrest does another bit of impermissible quoting. She quotes: “The Negroes in the United States must lay their case before the trade unions. Not as outsiders seeking a united front, but from the inside as an integral and integrated part of the labor movement.” In the resolution the sentence “quoted” above does not begin with “The.” It begins with the word “Consequently.” (January NI, page 10, col.2.) Even if F.F. had not garbled the quotation textually, its content would have been distorted by her manner of quoting. Context had no meaning for Forrest. The whole passage reads:

“Throughout history, the main current in the struggle for democratic rights has been the organizations of the toilers. This hold no less today than for the past. Consequently (italics not in resolution) the Negroes in the United States must,” etc., etc.

The passage goes on to say that in the labor movement therefore the Negroes will be able to pose the question of democratic rights for the Negro “as a part of the struggle for the emancipation of the whole working class.” Furthermore, “...for the first time Negroes will be consciously a component part of active and organized class struggle.”

Questions of Forrest

Does Forrest deny this? Is it her opinion that the working class today is not the “main current in the struggle for democratic rights for the oppressed ...”? Does she deny that this should be the locus of the activities of the Negro masses? If not here, then where? Forrest or anyone else has the right to disagree with the resolution, but they do not have the right to lift a sentence out of a passage and ignore the argument which motivates the sentence in question. This is not the way to conduct an educational discussion.

Although it is very vaguely stated, Forrest does seem to have a position contrary to that of the resolution. That is her right, but why be so vague and indirect about it? She writes apropos the sentence she misquotes above:

“Since World War I the Negro has experienced a phenomenal proletarianization and urbanization. In addition to this, he has, since the organization of the CIO, experienced a tremendous unionization. This, however, has not solved the Negro problem because the more integrated into the trade union movement, the more the Negro resents and struggles against his segregation outside of it. This is an organic part of the Leninist conception of the national question. Comrade Johnson has drawn from this the following conclusion: ‘This dual movement is the key to the Marxist analysis of the Negro question in the USA.’”

What is Forrest talking about here? The entry of Negroes into the labor movement “has not solved the Negro problem ...” Has entry into the labor movement solved the problem of the white worker? The Workers Party is preaching day in and out to workers in the unions that their problems cannot be solved by the unions alone, that the main problems before the working class today are political and not even the beginnings of a solution can be made without the formation of an independent Labor Party. Furthermore, the WP has said again and again that the problems of the proletariat call for the revolutionary solution and the leadership of the revolutionary socialist party. The resolution of the National Committee opens with the position:

“For the furtherance of its revolutionary aims (not its trade union aims, as Forrest seems to think – D.C.) and in order to extend its proletarian orientation to the most exploited section of the population, the Workers Party must turn its face resolutely to the Negro masses in the United States.”

And further the resolution of the National Committee says:

“We seek to win the Negro toilers to the class struggle, class consciousness, the struggle for socialism and the Workers Party ... [through] the ordeal of agitation for democratic rights and the economic struggle of the Negro proletarians in the trade unions is provided the best means for bringing the Negro workers into class struggle and class consciousness.”

I ask Forrest, is this the language the Marxist uses when he is describing the trade union and the trade union struggle? The resolution says further: “We must win over the white and black workers, arm them with our program and principles and inspire them to march arm in arm against the common foe.” What “program and principles” does Comrade Forrest think is meant in the resolution of the National Committee? The program of the trade unions? We are talking about the program and principles of the Workers Party. Why does the resolution emphasize this? Because, being a revolutionary Marxist party, the Workers Party is fully conscious of the fact and understands clearly that “unionization” will not solve “the Negro problem” any more than “unionization” will solve the problem of the white worker.

Effects of Joining Unions

Forrest says that the more the Negro becomes integrated into the labor movement the more he resists and struggles against segregation. That is a million times correct. That is precisely one of the main reasons why the party advocates the entry of Negroes into the labor movement. That is precisely why the party urges white workers to go into the labor movement: to struggle against the oppression of the working class by the ruling class. Why is it, I ask Comrade Forrest, that the struggle of the Negro against segregation is increased the more he is “integrated into the trade union movement”? Forrest attempts a reply and a queer one it is. According to her, this resentment of the Negro at segregation “... is an organic part of the Leninist conception of the national question.” This may impress people who have never heard of the “national question” or of Lenin. I think that it is also acceptable to Garveyites, other American advocates of Negro nationalism, as well as those who hold that the Negro in the United States is a nation. But Comrade Forrest does not put forth this position in her article. In his resolution, Comrade Johnson writes: “The Negroes do not constitute a nation ...” but he holds, for reasons which he gives, “their problem becomes the problem of a national minority. The Negro question is a part of the national question and not of the ‘national’ question.”

We should have an explanation from Forrest as to what she means by “the Leninist conception of the national question” in connection with the struggle of Negroes in the United States against “segregation” or any of the rest of their social, political or economic disabilities? If this discussion is not to sink into mere jargon and verbiage we must have more clarification and less mumbo-jumbo.

Finally on this point I should like to ask: What is this “dual movement” used in Comrade Johnson’s resolution and quoted approvingly by Forrest, which is the “key to the Marxist analysis of the Negro question in the USA”? Does the resentment of militant Negroes in the unions, against segregation represent a “dual movement”? What is it over against or parallel to? The trade union movement? Does Comrade Forrest approve of a “dual movement” of Negroes inside the trade union movement? Just what is it to be? Also what is and where is her evidence for the existence of such a “dual movement” in the trade unions? Although Forrest produces no evidence, she does produce something and it is something very incorrect. Commenting on the passage in the National Committee resolution about the necessity for Negroes in the US to lay their case before the trade unions (page 121, col.1), Comrade Forrest writes:

“It is a fact, however, isn’t it, that in Detroit, where the Negroes are most integrated into the trade union movement, the riots occurred. Precisely because the significance of this escapes Comrade Coolidge, he falls into subjectivism.”

This is an amazing statement to come from one who speaks of “Marxist analysis.” What is Forrest’s argument? Simply this, it seems to me: The Negroes are integrated into the labor movement in Detroit. But it was in Detroit that the riots occurred. Therefore the Negro problem cannot be solved by unionization. Or, therefore, it is not correct to say that Negroes should lay their case before the unions.

The Detroit Riots and the Unions

Before one ventures into analysis, Marxian or any other type of analysis, one must not only establish some facts but must be guided by the facts after they are established. Otherwise “Marxist analysis” is like the incantations of a primitive Siberian shaman. It has been said over and over that Marxists say what is. Marxists must be concerned not only with the facts, but first of all with the relevant facts. If Comrade Forrest had been aware of this important rule, which is a part of the methodology of modern science, and of Marxism, she would have learned that one of the relevant facts in connection with the Detroit riots was that the disturbance did not penetrate the plants and the local unions. There was no appreciable interruption of friendly working class relations between Negro and white workers at the plant or in the locals. The riot was an extra-union affair and probably fomented by anti-union elements such as the KKK. This fact is certainly a necessary one to be included in a “Marxist analysis.” It is significant to be sure that a riot occurred in Detroit, where the CIO is exceedingly strong. This needs further analysis. It was done in part by the WP in Labor Action right after the riots occurred. But Comrade Forrest’s “Marxist analysis” isn’t very helpful. It is necessary to point out also that Detroit is not unique. There have been many riots in the US during the past 25 years similar to the Detroit riot.

Comrade Forrest writes that “... Coolidge ... falls into subjectivism.” Where? When? What is subjective about the position that it is the organization of the workers that must take the lead in the struggle for democracy, that Negroes must become “a component of active and organized class struggle,” that “the white worker must take the lead and the offensive in the struggle for the Negro’s democratic rights,” that “the organized labor movement must join in this struggle of the Negro for democratic rights,” that “Negroes can only attain the strength and confidence necessary, to break through the thick walls of Jim Crow to the degree that they are supported by and integrated into the working class and its organizations.” (NC resolution, page 10, col.2.) Isn’t this the genuine Marxist analysis of the situation? What is Comrade Forrest’s “Marxist analysis”? But she continues: “Duality of propaganda in his hands becomes a duality of blame.” What is the meaning of this jargon?

“Where he does not blame the bourgeoisie for its ‘plots,’ he blames the Negro working class for its ‘delusion’ and he appeals to the white proletariat ‘to wipe out the blot on labor’s escutcheon by the shabby treatment labor has accorded the Negro since emancipation’.”

Of course we do not “blame” the bourgeoisie for its plots, in the course of a theoretical analysis. We analyze and interpret. We explain and clarify the role of the bourgeoisie and seek to educate the working class in the understanding of how and why the ruling class functions the way it does. We explain to the proletariat that the bourgeoisie functions and orients itself in the direction of the defense of its class interests. We only “blame” the bourgeoisie in the course of an agitational procedure when we are attempting to arouse the proletariat to immediate action. In that case it is only a tactical procedure. Where does the resolution of the NC “blame” the Negro working class for its “delusion”?

On Placing Blame

The resolution of the NC points out what the bourgeoisie did in connection with the Negro after emancipation. “The debasement of the Negro in the United States has itsroots in slavery ... The conscious plan of the Northern bourgeoisie was to hold the Negro in reserve in the lowest paid and meanest jobs... to provide capitalism with a mass of cheap labor... the Northern bourgeoisie” desired “to establish the ex-slave barons as an appendage of Northern capitalism ... for seventy years the Negro was debased by a bourgeois-democratic government apparatus ...” Does Comrade Forrest deny this? Are these instances of where the resolution “does not blame the bourgeoisie for its ‘plots’”? Where does the resolution blame the Negro working class for its “delusion”? Where does Comrade Forrest get this quoted word from? The resolution reads:

“The masses of Negroes today are triply deluded. They are beguiled by white politicians, traduced by the industrial overlords and misled by the Negro leaders ...”

Does Comrade Forrest deny this? Is this her conception of blaming Negroes for their “delusion”? What is wrong with appealing to the “white proletariat to wipe out the blot on labor’s escutcheon”? Isn’t there a blot there?

Comrade Forrest has a theory of what she calls the “Bolshevik solution.” She writes:

“The greatness of the Bolshevik solution lies precisely in knowing how to meet the danger of the division in the labor movement.”

And how do we do this?

“We go to meet it by class struggle, and by stimulating the independent mass movement of the Negroes and turning it against the bourgeoisie. Didn’t the independent activity of the Negroes stimulate the UAW to fight for Negro housing in Detroit and have a united front with labor in the elections? Independent mass activity of the Negroes is the best instrument for educating both the white and Negro workers and mobilizing the white workers in the fight for Negro emancipation.” (NI, May 1945, page 121, col.1.)

First I want to discuss what Forrest calls the “Bolshevik solution.” The class struggle solution of the problem of race conflict and oppression and of “division in the labor movement” is not original with Bolshevism. The entire analysis of such questions and proposals for their solution had been made by Marx and Engels long before the emergence of the theory and practice of Bolshevism. “The greatness of the Bolshevik solution” lies rather in its contribution to the solution of the entire problem of class relations. Bolshevism is the theory and practice of the proletarian revolution in the period of capitalist decline. It is the theory and practice of the Marxist party leading the masses. Probably the greatest single contribution of Lenin to Marxist theory and practice was his conception that the working class must be organized and led by a certain kind of party, that the party is primary and that without the party, organized and disciplined for the conquest of the masses, there can be no solution to the problem of the masses.

Negro Mass Activity

What does Comrade Forrest mean by “stimulating the independent mass movement of the Negroes and turning it against the bourgeoisie?” How will Negroes carry on “independent mass activity?” What organizational form will it take? For instance the Garvey Movement was an independent mass movement of Negroes. Does Forrest agree with Comrade Johnson’s resolution where it says that “The Harlem demonstration was no ‘minor’ strike. It was ... an organized demonstration, a Negro nationalist protest ...” Does she accept Comrade Johnson’s statement that: “The Harlem demonstration, like the miners’ strike, represents a significant stage in the development of the struggle against capitalism?” How will the hundreds of thousands of Negroes in the trade unions function in the “independent mass movement of the Negroes?” These questions require a more definitive – and above all, a more precise answer than Comrade Forrest has given them.

Comrade Forrest writes that Coolidge displays a disregard for the Negro mass struggles “except to the degree that they are integrated into the general class struggle.” We don’t disregard any struggles carried on by Negroes. What the Marxist party must do is to enter the struggle of the Negroes with its class struggle program, direct that struggle into the labor movement (trade union and political) and effect the class solidarity of Negro and white proletarians. It is not that the struggle of the Negro for democratic rights has no significance aside from the class struggle but that these rights cannot be acquired outside the general class struggle. Does Comrade Forrest think they can? How? Comrade Forrest charges that the NC resolution contains “... vague phrases about the revolutionary potentialities of the Negro masses ...” This statement is quite a strain on one’s patience. I quote from the NC resolution.

“The Negroes constitute a vast reservoir of potential revolutionary manpower ... the WP will encourage Negroes to ... [emulate] the Negro martyrs who gave their ... lives for Negro liberation ... This is particularly relevant in the case of the black leaders of the slave rebellions ... The Negroes who stand today in the line of succession are the militant Negroes in the labor movement and the Negroes of the revolutionary political movement. These are the real and rightful inheritors of the tradition of Attucks, Gabriel and Tubman ... The Workers Party is fully aware that the Negro in the US is a force of definite revolutionary potentiality. This political appraisal flows from the proletarian and semi-proletarian character of the Negro race, his role and place in capitalist society, his continuous expression of resentment against his oppression ... through the struggle for democratic rights, through the struggle in unions for economic justice we will strive to attract the weight of the Negro masses to socialism and to enthusiastic support of the workers’ state.”

What is vague about these and like phrases in the NC resolution? If Comrade Forrest were discussing this matter what would she say?

Comrade Forrest quotes Lenin:

“The dialectic of history is such that small nations, powerless as an independent factor in the struggle against imperialism, plays a part as one of the bacilli which help the real power against imperialism to come to the scene, namely, the socialist proletariat.”

Then Comrade Forrest asks:

“Does or does not Comrade Coolidge think that the Negro struggles in America are just such bacilli as Lenin refers to?”

So far as the purpose of this “trick” question is concerned, my answer is: I do not. That isn’t all. Comrade Forrest’s quotation and her question add up to nonsense and spreading of political confusion. Doesn’t Comrade Forrest know what Lenin was talking about and the kind of struggle to which he was really referring? I cannot believe that she does not understand. Are the Negroes in the US a small nation? Is the struggle of the Negroes for democratic rights and equality a struggle against imperialism in the sense of a struggle for national independence? Does Comrade Forrest contend that the struggle of the Negroes in the US is politically and organizationally comparable to the struggle of the Slovaks against the Czechs, the Serbs against Austria, the Croatians against the Serbs, or the impending struggle say, of the Hungarians against Russia? Please answer.

If in saying that the struggles of the Negro in the US are such bacilli as Lenin refers to; Comrade Forrest means that these struggles create or develop class struggle ferment in the ranks of the proletariat, then we are in agreement with her – and with Lenin. This however does not seem to be Comrade Forrest’s meaning. Here again it is imperative that she say what she means in order that there may be no misunderstanding. The resolution of the National Committee is clear. In the sense given above, the resolution emphasizes more than once that the Negro is not a passive force and that under the leadership of the trades unions and the Marxist party Negroes will become one of the potent bacilli of the proletarian revolution.

Aim of Democratic Demands

Comrade Forrest objects to the statement in the NC resolution that “the WP does not consider the struggle for democratic rights an end in itself.” She asks:

“Whoever considered any struggle an end in itself? Why should anyone wish to maintain any organization ‘permanently’?”

It is a fact that the great mass of Negroes conceive of the struggle for democratic rights as an end in itself. The great mass of Negroes today struggle only, only, for equality within the framework of bourgeois society. They are not carrying on a struggle for socialism. To Negroes, democratic rights are an “end in themselves.” The trade unions carry on the economic struggle as an “end in itself.” They do not carry on the trade union struggle in the manner of the Marxist: as a prelude to revolutionary political struggle. Negroes do not carry on the struggle for democratic rights in the manner of the Marxists: as a prelude to revolutionary political struggle. If Comrade Forrest does not understand this, she has no competence at all for dealing with this question.

Comrade Forrest charges the resolution with exalting the trade unions so as “to elevate them to an equal plane with a revolutionary Marxist political party, the WP.” Where is this done? Comrade Forrest is challenged to produce the smallest bit of evidence to support her statement. On the question of the relation of the trade union movement to the struggle of Negroes Forrest writes:

“... Comrade Coolidge conceives of the struggle for democratic rights not as fight against the bourgeoisie but as an appeal to the trade union movement.”

Then she quotes that section of the NC resolution which says that the demand of the WP for equality for Negroes is not directed primarily at the bourgeoisie, but directly to white proletarians in the unions. The quotation above from Comrade Forrest is merely silly. If the Negro’s struggle for democratic rights is not a fight against the bourgeoisie, then who is it a fight against? The white working class? There are Negroes, unfortunately, who believe this. Comrade Forrest asks: “Who oppresses the Negro: is it the bourgeoisie or is it the white working class?” The answer is well-known to all persons, black and white, who have any experience with the problem and knowledge about it. Both oppress the Negro: the bourgeoisie and the white working class oppress them in different ways. The class relation of the Negro to the bourgeoisie is the same, basically, as that of the white worker. That is, the Negro is the victim of class exploitation by the bourgeoisie. In addition to this, however, the Negro is oppressed by the bourgeoisie in a unique way through Jim-Crow, which makes him the victim of a double exploitation. The white worker also oppresses the Negro, oftentimes through the use of physical violence. The fact that the oppression of the Negro by the white worker has its roots in the structure and procedures of capitalist society in the US does not wipe out the responsibility of the white working class for its disgraceful participation in the mistreatment which has been accorded the Negro in the US. This is what makes the struggle of the Negro so difficult and tragic. What Comrade Forrest seemingly cannot understand is precisely what the backward Negro worker cannot understand; that is the necessity for winning the white worker away from his anti-Negro attitudes, the reasons why he has these attitudes and the immediate role of the trade unions in initiating this change.

Attitude of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky

Comrade Forrest puts some questions to Coolidge. What is my attitude to “the Leninist conception of the Negro question?” The answer to this question is the resolution of NC. That resolution is based on the Leninist (Marxist) conception of such questions. Of course, it may be necessary to say that neither Lenin nor Marx ever had a Negro question to deal with such as confronts the WP in the US. She asks what is my view on Trotsky’s conception of the Negro question? I agree with many of the views expressed by Trotsky on the Negro question. I have quoted from them in the resolution. I quote Trotsky’s conception again.

“One of the most important branches of this conflict consists in enlightening the proletarian consciousness by awakening the feeling of human dignity and of revolutionary protest among the black slaves of American capital. This work can be carried out by self-sacrificing and politically-educated revolutionary Negroes. Needless to say, the work is not to be carried on in a spirit of Negro chauvinismbut in the spirit of solidarity of all exploited without consideration of color.” (My emphasis, B.C.)

The whole NC resolution is written in this spirit and with this theoretical foundation.

Comrade Forrest asks whether or not Coolidge believes that Lenin and Trotsky thought the Negroes a nation? It is somewhat difficult to answer this question for the reason that the writings of Lenin and Trotsky on this question are far from extensive or definitive. Neither of them had a very extensive acquaintance with the problem. However, for Marxists who have a more extensive acquaintance with the question it is not necessary to know the views of either Lenin or Trotsky. If it were the view of Lenin and Trotsky that the Negro in the US is a nation, then I reject their views on this aspect of the question under consideration. That is what the NC resolution does; if that was their view. It is certainly recorded in at least one place that Lenin called the Negro in the US a nation and compared them with the Irish. But this is obviously incorrect. Then why should the WP accept it? Because it was said by Lenin? Lenin would certainly have excoriated such sycophancy, such toadying and such political and theoretical subservience. As for disagreement with Trotsky, our Party was founded in disagreement with Trotsky on the question of Russia: not an unimportant question. Comrade Forrest also disagreed with Comrade Trotsky on this question. On the question as to whether or not the Negro in the US is a nation, it is not so much the views of Lenin and Trotsky I am concerned with right now, but the views of Comrade Forrest. Does Comrade Forrest say that the Negroes are a nation? Does she agree with the statement of Lenin that the Negroes in the US are a nation? I hope that Comrade Forrest will answer.

No discussion can be carried on fruitfully or sensibly, as a battle of quotations, no matter what the source of the quotations. Lenin and Trotsky are our teachers, but we dishonor them and ourselves by burning incense in their names. Marxism is not a faith once and for all delivered to the saints. Our doctrine and theory were not delivered to Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky on tables of stone as they communed with some Jehovah on Sinai.



1. Quotations in this article are from the following sources: Resolution of the National Committee of the Workers Party: The New International, January 1945, under the heading Negroes and the Revolution. The resolution of the minority will be found in the same issue of the NI under the same heading. Comrade Forrest’s article is in The New International for May 1945.

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