(reprinted from The Organizer Weekly Newsletter No. 2 — June 25, 2020)
The current situation of heightened police terror against Black people across the United States has raised to a new level the need for the labor movement and the communities of the oppressed to break with the Democratic Party — one of the twin parties of the bosses and the graveyard of social movements. It has placed at the center of the discussion on independent working-class politics the call issued by the Ujima People’s Progress Party, among other Black organizations, for a Black Workers Party linked to the fight for a Labor Party.
Our Revolutionary Heritage
Socialist Organizer stands in continuity with the political positions on the Black question developed by the Socialist Workers Party in the late 1930s in close collaboration with Leon Trotsky — positions that were later amplified in the SWP’s 1963 “Freedom Now” resolution.
Basing itself on what Trotsky described as the “dialectical development of the Black struggle for self-determination,” the SWP’s 1963 resolution stated that Blacks as such would have to “divide” from the white workers and form their own independent political party in order to then “unite with the white working class in the overall struggle against capitalism.”
The resolution noted that “while the Black population is predominantly proletarian, the Black people are more than just another heavily exploited section of the working class, and the Black movement is more than just a part of the general working class movement. As an oppressed nationality … their position in society is special, their consciousness is influenced by racial and national, as well as class factors.”
The 1963 resolution goes on to note that “the labor and Black movements march along their own paths,” but it went on to underline the fact that they [the Black and labor movements] march to a common destination, and the freedom of the Blacks from oppression and of the workers from exploitation can be achieved only through the victory of their common struggle against capitalism. … Blacks cannot win their goal of equality without an alliance with the working class.”
Noting further on that the “tempos of development of the two movements are uneven,” the SWP resolution stressed the need for “Blacks to … first unite in their own party” in order that they could be able to “bring about an alliance of equals, where they [the Blacks] can be reasonably sure that their demands and needs cannot be neglected or betrayed by their allies.”
“Working Together for Common Ends”
Finally, the resolution pointed out that there is no contradiction between supporting a Black Party, or Black Workers Party, and advocating a Labor Party: “Our support of such a Black Party in no way conflicts with our … continued advocacy of a Labor Party. On the contrary, we believe that a Black Party and a Labor Party would find much in common from the very beginning, would work closely together for common ends, and would tend in the course of common activity to establish close organizational ties or even merge into a single or federated party.”
In fact, the SWP resolution states elsewhere that if a Black Party were to be formed first, it would be a major spur for the development of a Labor Party: “The creation of a Black Party running its own candidates would rock the whole political structure to its foundation. … Advocates of a labor break with the old parties would get a bigger and better hearing from the ranks. Thus the creation of a Black Party would benefit not only the Blacks but also their present and potential allies.”
In continuity with this revolutionary tradition, Socialist Organizer maintains that you cannot fight effectively against racism if you don’t wage the most resolute fight against capitalism; conversely, you cannot fight effectively against capitalism if you don’t place front and center the fight against racism. That is why we support the formation of a Black Workers Party linked to the struggle for a Labor Party. — The Editors