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Leon Trotsky on Black Nationalism and Self Determination Paperback – February 1, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Pathfinder Pr (February 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0873485572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0873485579
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,931,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David Salner on November 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book from the 1930s pierces right to the heart of American politics today. In these discussions with communists active in the labor movement, Trotsky defended the ideas of Black nationalism long before they were understood by American political activists. Trotsky emphasized that for good reason many Black workers saw white workers as part of the system of oppression. Communists-white and Black-must be in the front ranks of the fight for Black rights, up to and including support for a Black party that fights for an independent Black nation. He pointed out that an independent Black nation is not a threat to workers who are white-- it is a threat to the common enemy, imperialism. His language is quite strong on this point. He said that no worker who fears or shrinks from the Black fight for self-determination can rightly call him or herself a communist. In the late 1930s, Trotsky predicted the vanguard role of Black workers and the emergence of leaders of the caliber of Malcolm X. If not available from Amazon, booksfrompathfinder will have it. Click on "new and used" near the top of the page.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Carl Weinberg on November 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
When the great Black revolutionary leader Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam in 1964, he stated that he and his followers were ready to join hands with anyone, no matter what their skin color, to rid the earth of the miserable system of oppression and exploitation that had kept Black people down. The Socialist Workers Party and Young Socialist Alliance, known then as Trotskyists, were eager to do so. Whereas the Trotskyists appreciated Malcolm's politics and publicized his speeches in the Militant newspaper and later through Pathfinder Press, the Stalinized Communist Party was hostile to Black nationalism. This book does a great job of showing how Trotsky helped lead his supporters in the US to a proper appreciation of the importance of viewing Blacks as an oppressed nation within the US. In the 1930s, the largely white and better-paid workers in the Socialist Workers Party found it difficult to see clearly how important the question of the oppression of Blacks was. They tended to assume that once capitalism was overthrown, racism would just fade away. It took Bolshevik leaders from thousands of miles away to set them on the right course. Trotsky argued that Blacks had to decide for themselves what their destiny would be as an oppressed nation, just as the Bolsheviks supported the right of oppressed peoples within former Czarist Russia to self-determination. As the result of conversations between US revolutionaries and Trotsky, when Malcolm X came along, over twenty years later, these revolutionaries were ready to join hands with him.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Lariscy on November 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
"We can and we must find a way to the consciousness of the Negro workers, the Chinese workers, the Indian workers and all the oppressed in the human ocean of the colored races to whom belongs the decisive work in the development of mankind."- Leon Trotsky, June, 1932.
This book is the record of meetings that Trotsky, leader of the opposition to Joseph Stalin, held in exile in Turkey and Mexico with his followers. Their purpose was to hammer out a Marxist position on the struggle for Black liberation in the U.S. and to campaign against the racism that divided the working class.
Readers of this book can gain an understanding of the historical depth of Black oppression, and how an alliance of white and Black workers can be won. Trotsky was in agreement with Lenin on the defense of the right of oppressed nations to self-determination.
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By Ashtar Command on December 13, 2013
Format: Paperback
“Leon Trotsky on Black Nationalism and Self-Determination” is a book published by the U.S. Socialist Workers' Party. Originally published in 1967, this is the corrected and currently “official” edition from 1978. The SWP supported Malcolm X (the front cover shows Malcolm talking to a protest rally), community control, Black self-determination, and moves to create an independent Black political party. Various super-orthodox Trotskyist groups, such as the Spartacist League and the Workers League, criticized the SWP for “political adaptation to Black nationalism”. The publication of this book was meant to counter such accusations. It contains transcripts of discussions between Trotsky, Caribbean anti-Stalinist Marxist C L R James and various American Trotskyists, in which Trotsky takes essentially the same position as that later adopted by the SWP. The SWP's super-Trotskyist opponents, who loved to quote the Old Man's writings as Holy Writ, probably didn't know what hit them! I readily admit that I was somewhat surprised myself by Trotsky's clear stand in support of Black “nationalism”.

In his discussion with Arne Swabeck, Trotsky takes the same position as the Stalinist Communist Party: Blacks are an oppressed nation, and therefore have the right to form their own independent state, presumably somewhere in the American South. (This was also Lenin's position.) He even says that Blacks speak their own language, perhaps a reference to Gullah. Swabeck, by contrast, takes the “integrationist” position more typical of latter-day Trotskyists. In a later discussion, the topic shifts from the South to the North, where Trotsky and James (at the time a supporter of the Trotskyist movement) wanted to create an independent Black political organization, a kind of civil rights movement.
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