The reelection of President Ronald Reagan in 1984 was not a watershed in American electoral history, but it did accelerate deep trends in popular political culture which could produce an authoritarian social order in the very near future. This chapter is an examination of various political currents and social blocs competing for power within the bourgeois state apparatus. Although there is a brief overview of the political dynamics of the Democratic Party primaries, the emergence of the Rainbow Coalition of Jesse Jackson, and the general election, my principal concern here is to examine the increased racial polarization within elements of both the American left and right as part of a broader process of electoral political realignment of the party system. Most Marxists seriously underestimate the presence of racism as an ideological and social factor of major significance in the shape of both American conservative and liberal centrist politics — in the pursuit of US foreign policies, particularly in the Caribbean and Africa, and as an impediment to the development of a mass left alternative to the Democratic and Republican parties. Although class prefigures all social relations, the burden of race is a powerful and omnipresent element that has helped to dictate the directions of contemporary politics.
The experiences of women of colour in left-wing anti-austerity movements in Britain and the Black Lives Matter movements in the United States highlight the persistent problem of our erasure in these supposedly radical democratic spaces. Women of colour’s struggles to have our intersectional social justice claims taken seriously by ‘allies’ exposes the fragility, and in some cases, the impossibility, of building solidarity across race, class, gender, sexuality and other categories of difference in protest movements.
(Photograph: Liberated Souls Wordpress)
Adam Elliott-Cooper discusses how Britain's role as a major imperial power not only brought about mass migration, but has united an otherwise extremely heterogeneous Black population in struggle through their common experience of colonial violence. The 'diversity in unity' of such experience, and the memory od past struggles, are essential resources for the ongoing fight to tear down the structures of racial oppression which persist in Britain today.
Recently, we have seen anti-racist resistance organised against racist border controls in solidarity with refugees and migrants. Amongst other actions, Black Dissidents, Sisters Uncut, London Latinxs and other activists blocked the Eurostar departures in St Pancras Station on Friday 16th October.
Originally published in 1978, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman caused a storm of controversy. Michele Wallace blasted the masculine biases of the black politics that emerged from the sixties. Here, she describes how women remained marginalized by the patriarchal culture of Black Power, demonstrating the ways in which a genuine female subjectivity was blocked by the traditional myths of black womanhood.
The Black Power Movement did yield certain gains—jobs, grants, scholarships, poverty programs, etc.—but many of these things are in the process of being lost, and weren't worth the price that was paid for them in any case. As long as black people are dealing in jobs and titles and grants, and not factories and land and department stores, anything they have achieved has got to be subject to the whims of the dominant white power structure and beneficial only for a select few. The majority of blacks are left with only the booby prize of an outmoded manhood that mocks their powerlessness.
Reni Eddo-Lodge looks at legacy of the Black Panther movement, explored by Stanley Nelson's new documentary Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (Dogwoof Films), and its conflicts with women's liberation. The great potential of Black Lives Matter, she argues, is to overcome the androcentrism of previous struggles.