WSF (1996): “Farrakhan: No Solution For Black Workers And Poor”
From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 2, number 1, first quarter 1996. Complete PDF is here
Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the American based “Nation of Islam” arrived in South Africa on January 28 . He is here on a “friendship tour” to spread his message of black responsibility and “self- sufficiency”.
Farrakhan has been criticised by white racists and capitalists. They oppose Farrakhan’s call for black pride and separatism. Workers’ Solidarity rejects these hypocrites. We support black pride and defend the right of oppressed groups to organise separately.
But we do not support Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. Farrakhan is conservative and provides no solution to the racism, poverty and unemployment which poor and working class black Americans face. They claim to fight racism but in reality their policies only defend the rights of a small black elite at the expense of Black workers, women and other minority groups!
RACISM IN THE USA
Capitalism and the State created racism. Racism is used to divide workers. By refusing to give Blacks political and social rights the bosses can pay super- exploit black workers. US blacks face low wages, poverty, unemployment and racist police attacks. Progressive Black organisations like the Black Panther Party have been repressed by the US government.
SEPARATE BLACK STATE
The Nation of Islam say US Blacks must form a separate Muslim state to end racism. But the “black nation” they promote will be based on reactionary values. The Nation of Islam’s “Muslim Program” states that they oppose intermarriage, “race mixing”, divorce, abortion and gay rights.
We defend the right of oppressed groups to organise separately. But oppressed groups should not put their faith in governments (even separate states) to end oppression. States are coercive institutions built to defend an exploiting minority of bosses and rulers. Farrakhan’s ideal state is an example of this. The government he dreams of will oppress black women, gays and workers.
Farrakhan realises that it would be almost impossible for US Blacks to set up a separate state. Therefore he calls for “practical steps” to be taken against racism in the form of promoting black capitalism.
But black capitalism will only result in a few black capitalists getting richer while most black workers and poor people remain exploited and oppressed. Racism can not be ended through capitalism and the State. Capitalism and the state created racism to divide and super exploit workers. They cannot end racial oppression. In South Africa we have learnt this lesson. While it was a great victory to replace the racist dictatorship with a parliamentary democracy, only a few black families have got richer. The rest of us still face bad wages, no jobs and homelessness. Racism against immigrants has also increased massively.
HATRED OF OTHER GROUPS
Farrakhan has been called a racist because he promotes hatred towards other groups. He says that Koreans, Jews and whites are racially inferior to black people. The Nation of Islam say Koreans and Jews are “blood suckers of the black nation” because of their perceived role as money lenders and small businessmen. But like black people, Jews and Koreans are also objects of racial prejudice in America. Most Jews and Koreans are also working class and poor.
We must fight against all racism to end racism. There is no scientific evidence that there are “inferior” and “superior” races. There is only one race- the human race. Conspiracy theories about “the Jews” controlling American are hateful slanders that hide the reality of bosses rule.
The Nation of Islam holds very conservative views about women. They want women to play a subordinate role in their movement and fight against racism. They oppose women’s self- determination and full liberation. Farrakhan urged women to stay at home and look after the children, while men were called to join a Million Man March in October 1995.
But poor Black women have to face a triple oppression of class, race and sexism. They must be central to the fight against racism to ensure that the specific problems that they face are not ignored. In the fight against racial oppression, a Black women’s place is on the battle field and not in the home.
There is strong evidence that Farrakhan was actively involved in the assassination of Malcolm X. Malcolm X broke with the Nation of Islam because be believed that their policies were preventing mass organising against USA racism. Malcolm X wrote, “Those Muslims talk though but never do anything unless somebody bothers Muslims.”
When Malcolm broke from the Nation of Islam, Farrakhan wrote in its newspaper that “The die is set and Malcolm shall not escape.. such a man as Malcolm is worthy of death.” Malcolm’s widow strongly believes that Farrakhan was involved in the assassination of her husband.
The Nation of Islam argues that militant mass action will not improve the situation of oppressed US Blacks. Farrakhan says that increased individual responsibility, self improvement and self- sufficiency (i.e. Black business) will end poverty, crime and unemployment. Farrakhan called the Million Man March the “Day of Atonement” and told marches to commit themselves to “repentance, responsibility and reconciliation.”
Of course people should be responsible but Farrakhan has bought the white racists lies that blame crime, poverty and unemployment on Black men.. But poverty and unemployment are caused by the bosses and crime is the out come of these conditions.
THE WAY FORWARD
The Nation of Islam has some positive aspects but offers no way forward against racism.
– It promotes racial divisions amongst the working class and the poor. We call for international working class unity.
– It promotes sexist and homophobic ideas. We fight for the destruction of all oppression.
– It calls for Black “atonement” and “responsibility”. We call for mass struggle against the racists.
– It promotes capitalism and the State. We say racism can only be defeated by a working class revolution to create a free stateless socialist society.