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The Limits Of Nationalism

PEOPLE say: “Only black people know what black people face, and only black people can figure out how to change it.


We have to get our own struggle together first, and go forward from there.”
But many people who came into the liberation struggle movements were  prompted by their direct experience of oppression.
   But that experience alone cannot illuminate the deeper sources of this oppression and the potential pathways to eliminate all this.
   No matter how hard people have tried, “getting it together” as a people it cannot happen under this system. At every stage since its formation, the development of the black nation has been deformed and subjugated within the larger US oppressor nation, and the same essential dynamics are at work today, in new forms.
   At the same time, there are different classes — people with different social positions and outlooks — among black people.
Whilst there is a shared oppression among black people –– even this oppression is experienced differently by people occupying different positions within the overall society –– there is no one unified outlook representing all black people. No “black” or “African” ideology can be attributed with representing all black people in some special and unique way, apart from other oppressed people — and any claim to such an ideology and attempt to put this forward as representing all black people, will only lead to the outlook of the more bourgeois forces holding sway, as this is more in line with and in many ways is reinforced and supported by the functioning of this system and the outlook and the means of molding public opinion that are served and controlled by the dominant bourgeois ruling class.
Nationalism also leaves unaddressed the whole question of the emancipation of women, which can only be achieved together with the eventual abolition of exploitation and oppression.
Ironically, coming just from within the desire to assert the rights of the black nation is too narrow a framework even from which to break this nation out from under the domination it faces today.
It is only coming from the farthest horizons of the socialist future that the streams of struggle against all of these forms of oppression can be powerfully linked together in revolutionary struggle.
It is also only the revolutionary proletariat, with a solid core that understands that its emancipation as a class requires the abolition of all forms of oppression, that can lead such a revolutionary struggle.

From The Oppression of Black People, the Crimes of This System, and the Revolution We Need, Revolution #144, (October 5, 2008).

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