Cold Truth, Liberating Truth: How This System Has Always Oppressed Black People, and How All Oppression Can Finally Be Ended


Why do we say that the solution is proletarian revolution? Why is proletarian revolution the only thing that can deal with all this--the only all-the-way revolution?

The answer is that there is only one group of people in society, only one class, whose interests demand the complete overthrow of the capitalist system, the complete ending of all relations of exploitation and of all divisions in society which are the basis for discrimination, inequality, and oppression. That class is the proletariat--those of us, of whatever race or nationality, who are poor and exploited under this system, who are the modern-day slaves, and who have nothing to lose from rising up to overthrow this system . . .nothing to lose but our chains. In this country there are millions and tens of millions of us, and in the world as a whole we number in the hundreds of millions.

The proletarian revolution means emancipation for us--but beyond that it means emancipation for all of human society--emancipation from any conditions in which people face each other as oppressors and oppressed. In place of this, in its final victory proletarian revolution will bring about a whole new world--a communist world--a world of freely cooperating human beings. A very important part of this is overcoming and eliminating any situation where one nation dominates and oppresses another. In the U.S., ending the oppression of the Black nation and really bringing about justice and equality for Black people is a burning question and a big part of what proletarian revolution is all about.

But let's back up a second and speak to the question: Why do the interests of the proletariat, and only the proletariat, demand the complete overthrow and elimination of all relations of exploitation and oppression? The answer has to do with the nature of the proletariat as a class and with the way human society has developed up to the present. Let's break that down.

Human society has not always been divided into exploiters and exploited. In fact, for a very long period of early human existence no such division existed. Early human societies may not have been "highly developed," people may have lived at a very basic level, but they had not yet come to be divided into different classes.

The fundamental division into masters and slaves finally came about when people had developed the means--the tools and such (the productive forces)--to have surpluses of things, beyond what people needed just to survive. But with this came the private appropriation of these surpluses--there wasn't enough for everybody to have a lot, and a few people were able to take most of the surplus for themselves. With this came the development of different classes in society. Those few who controlled most of the wealth and productive forces became the ruling class. The rest were forced to work for them and be exploited and oppressed by them.

Throughout human history since that time different systems have come and gone--different classes have risen up, overthrown the old order and set themselves up as the new ruling class. But one thing remained the same: society was ruled by a small circle of people who had a monopoly on the wealth of society--and the means to create wealth (land, machines, and so on)--and therefore had a monopoly on political power and armed force. And that is still the case today, not just in this country but in the world as a whole.

But something is different today--something that makes all the difference. In all earlier times, as society developed from one stage to another--as one system of exploitation replaced another--this was because the tools and machinery and so on (the productive forces) were developed enough to produce increasing wealth so that a few could live far beyond mere survival, but the productive forces were not developed enough to make it possible for everyone to live above the barest survival level. In the world today that is no longer the case.

Now, for the first time in human history, the productive forces have been developed to the point where scarcity and the mere struggle for individual existence is no longer necessary. Now the division of society into different classes, with the few exploiting the many, is not only a cause of great suffering--it also lacks any historical justification. It stands directly in the way of moving society forward to a new stage where human beings can make the most rational use of their productive forces (including their own abilities) without any class divisions, without any exploitation or oppression.

The proletariat is the main exploited class in today's society. A class, in this basic sense, is a group of people who are defined by whether they are owners or non-owners of the means to make wealth, by what role they play in the process of producing wealth, and by what share they get in the distribution of wealth. In all parts of this, the proletariat is on the bottom in modern capitalist society. It produces the greatest share of the wealth but it receives the smallest share: proletarians get just enough to keep alive and keep working--if they get that. But there is something special about the proletariat--something that makes it different from all previous exploited classes in history. The proletariat can put an end to its own exploitation only by putting an end to all exploitation.

For the proletariat to free itself it must overthrow capitalism and move on to change society, from bottom to top. It must eliminate the basis for inequality and oppressive divisions in society, or else the capitalist system will arise again and the proletariat will lose power and once more be exploited. The proletarian revolution must be carried out until capitalism has been uprooted worldwide, so that there is no longer any basis, anywhere, for capitalism to corrupt things or to make a comeback. In carrying out this revolution the proletariat will resolve the maddening contradiction between what existence could be for the whole human race and the suffering and torture it is today for the great majority of humanity. The point is: It is the proletariat, because of its position in today's society, that has the greatest interest and the greatest potential power to make this revolution a reality.

How This Revolution Will End the Oppression of Black People in Actual Fact

Our Party's New Programme speaks to the history of vicious oppression of Black people, and other oppressed nationalities, throughout the history of the USA, and sums up the situation today:

"Discrimination, the denial of democratic rights, violent police repression, suppression and mutilation of their cultures and languages, exploitation and oppression as members of the working class, with the lowest positions, constantly high unemployment, the lowest paid jobs, the worst housing, the worst of bad health care and other social services--all this and more is daily life for the masses of these nationalities in the U.S. today. And it is these conditions that the proletariat in power must and will eliminate." (page 69)

We have underlined the last sentence here to emphasize that the point of analyzing the problem is to move on it.

As the Party's Programme goes right on to say:

"All this, of course, cannot be done in a minute. But much of it can and will be. . . . Discrimination, for example, will be immediately and forcefully banned in employment, housing and all other spheres." And along with this "the army of police which enforces all this [discrimination and oppression] through systematic terror in the ghettos and barrios and other areas where oppressed nationalities are concentrated will have been destroyed, just punishment handed out to its hired thugs, and in its place will be armed and organized militia made up of the masses in these neighborhoods and areas." (pages 69-70)

And further:

"The absurd contradiction represented by the ever-visible sight of masses of unemployed people hanging out on the street of their broken down neighborhoods--this too will be overcome at the stroke of the fist that knocks over capitalism. Instead of being held apart by the law of profits, these unemployed people will be put together with the materials needed and set to work on these neighborhoods. Not only will segregation be outlawed but the financial policies previously employed by the banks and insurance companies which feed and profit off it will have been ended along with their control of financial resources. . . .

"The youth, many of whom turn to crime not only for economic reasons, but because capitalism has offered them nothing, no purpose at all in life, will be given such a purpose--their full participation in the continuing revolution in society and the whole world." (page 76)

The Programme makes clear the right of self-determination of Black people, as we have discussed it here. It points to the importance of land, autonomy rights, and equality of languages and cultures for other oppressed peoples, in particular Native Americans and Mexican-Americans; and it clearly supports independence for Puerto Rico, which is now a colony dominated by U.S. imperialism.

As we have pointed out, Black people and other so-called "ethnic minorities" in the U.S. do not simply suffer "racial discrimination"--they suffer national oppression--oppression as peoples with different national identities from the dominant European-American nation. But, of course, racism--so-called "theories" of "racial differences," of "racial superiority" and "racial inferiority"--have been used throughout the history of this country to justify the enslavement and oppression of these peoples and their domination by the European-American nation. So the fight against this racist (white chauvinist) poison is and will be a crucial part of the fight against national oppression. On this the Party's Programme is very clear: "Obviously this is a protracted process, but the first and major qualitative step will have been taken when the capitalist system that is the source of this sewer, and in turn thrives off it, is swept away." (page 74) But, the Programme points out, this is only the beginning--there is an ongoing struggle to be waged:

"Those who use the chauvinist banner to organize any kind of reactionary, racist movement and attacks on minority nationalities will be ruthlessly crushed. The KKK, Nazis and the like will be wiped out and their members forcefully dealt with, beginning with the leaders, who will be given the ultimate punishment.

"More broadly in society, the proletariat will deal with this problem by promoting education and struggle among the people. Education about the lives, cultures, history of oppression and resistance of all the formerly oppressed nationalities will be widely and deeply carried out. The capitalist source of the problems of all different sections of the oppressed will be constantly unveiled and hit again and again. The common myths among the people will be discussed and debunked, in large part by relying on organized exchange between the masses themselves, and the lies of the bourgeoisie will be ruthlessly and thoroughly exposed. All this will be greatly aided by the constantly closer contact between people of different nationalities as the policies of integrating the workplaces, neighborhoods and schools are carried out, thus breaking down the ignorance-breeding separation in which bourgeois ideology generally feeds." (pages 74-75)

Of course, none of this will come easy. It will only come as the result of tremendous struggle and sacrifice and amidst the great upheaval and even destruction that will be involved in finally overthrowing and doing away with this system. It will come only as the proletariat seizes power and sets out to remake society in accordance with its revolutionary interests, using our Party's Programme as its practical guide in this country. And as that Programme sets forth, much change can be brought about right away as capitalism is overthrown--and the door will finally be opened to even greater change. At long last, struggle and sacrifice will serve to completely sweep away the barriers to equality and emancipation.

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