The Second American Revolution [The U.S. Civil War] was a tremendous step forward, but it never realized its promise to Black Americans. The real winners in the Civil War were the Northern capitalists who opened up new markets and obtained a huge new supply of dirt-cheap labor. Nearly a century and a half after the abolition of slavery in the U.S.A., we are very far from achieving genuine equality for all, regardless of race, color or sex. Despite a number of advances achieved through the struggles of black people in the 1960s, the position of black Americans remains one of clear disadvantage. Originally published in the book Marxism and the USA, published by and available from Wellred.
· About 20 percent of young black men between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four are neither in school nor working – compared with only 9 percent of young white men. Despite the “economic boom” of the nineties, this percentage has not fallen substantially over the last ten years.
· In 1993, white households had invested nearly three times as much in stocks and mutual funds and/or IRA and Keogh accounts as black households. Since then, the stock market has more than doubled its value.
· Black heart attack patients are far less likely than whites to undergo cardiac catheterization, a common and potentially lifesaving procedure, regardless of the race of their doctors. Black and white doctors together referred white patients for catheterization about 40 percent more often than black patients.
· Whites are five times more likely than blacks to receive emergency clot-busting treatment for stroke.
· Black women are four times more likely than white women to die while giving birth.
· Black levels of unemployment have been roughly twice those of whites since 1954.
· In the first nine months of 2002, the U.S. unemployment rate averaged 5.7 percent, compared with the first nine months of 2000, when it averaged 4 percent. About 2.5 million more workers are unemployed now than in 2000. But the unemployment rate for African-Americans has risen about 60 percent faster than for all workers. Some 400,000 more are now out of work than were out of work in 2000, a two-year rise of 30 percent.
Capitalism has failed all Americans, with the exception of the tiny minority that own and control the means of production and treat the country and its government as their private property. But the biggest losers are the twenty percent at the bottom of the pile, and of these the biggest majority are blacks and Latinos. Despite the attempts to disguise this situation by the kind of tokenism that allows a handful of privileged blacks like Colin Powell or Condoleeza Rice to figure prominently on the stage, the position of the great majority of working class and poor black people has not been substantially improved.
The conclusion is clear. The only way to eliminate racism is by pulling it up by the roots. The black slaves were first brought into the U.S.A. as a form of cheap labor serving the wealthy Southern planters. As a result of the Second American Revolution, they are formally free. But they remain as before cheap labor at the disposal of Big Business. The link between racism and capitalism was eventually clearly understood by Malcolm X and the Black Panthers, who attempted to organize on class lines and link the struggle of blacks for advancement to the general struggles of the American working class. This represented a deadly menace to the establishment that has thrived for so long on the policy of divide and rule. That is why the Black Panthers and Malcolm X were targeted and ruthlessly hunted down and killed.
Marxists consider the basic principles of the American Revolution to represent a great historic advance, but also consider that the only way to breathe life into these great principles is by overthrowing the rule of the big banks and monopolies that exercise a dictatorship over the people and have turned the idea of democracy into an empty shell. The overthrow of the dictatorship of Big Business demands the utmost unity in struggle of all working people – black and white, Native American and Irish, Hispanic and Asian, Arab and Jewish, white and blue collar, men and women, old and young. We make no distinction on grounds of color, sex or creed. It is necessary to unite all the oppressed, underprivileged and exploited people under the banner of the labor movement and socialism.
On the basis of a genuine socialist society –which has nothing to do with dictatorship or totalitarianism – the idea of the Rights of Man and Woman will cease to be an empty phrase and become a reality. Not only life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but a genuine freedom to develop the potential of human beings to the full – this is the meaning of socialism.