From the Communist Party:
By Henry Winston
Now, over a hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1863, racism and oppression are more than ever essential to the ruling class, as U.S. state monopoly capitalism enters a new and more acute phase of the crisis and decline of capitalism. U.S. imperialism, facing a world in which the forces of socialism and class and national liberation are on the ascendancy, and in which foreign imperialist powers are challenging its domination, certainly can’t do today what the slave power was unable to do over 100 years ago — solve its problems through aggression and expansion.
The monopolists are equally unable to solve their problems at home, where they are not only imposing a wage freeze, but are also attempting to impose a far more repressive racist freeze on Black liberation struggles than that of the McCarthy period.
By perpetuating and intensifying racism, monopoly aims to stop the advance of the Black liberation movement, to destroy organized labor and suppress every struggle of the oppressed and exploited.
Monopoly’s New Assault
Monopoly capital, within today’s context, aims to repeat the kind of assault on the people’s rights that led to the betrayal of Reconstruction. Reaction of that period, through racism and violence, prepared the way for the Supreme Court to void the Civil Rights Act of 1875, whose passage had been won by the supporters of Reconstruction to solidify the gains they had made. Reaction’s aim then was to push the country into a long era of segregation and semislavery.
Today state monopoly capitalism seeks to wipe out every trace of the struggles of the recent Civil Rights Decade. The increasing political repression, the attempted frameup of Angela Davis and other political prisoners, Nixon’s racist nominations to the Supreme Court, are all part of monopoly’s attempt to obliterate every advance made through Black and white struggle since Reconstruction was destroyed.
The betrayal of Reconstruction, it should be remembered, was the signal for a three-sided attack against the masses. The Old Slave Codes were replaced by the new Black Codes, and the former chattel slaves were forced into semi-slavery, segregation and racist oppression. At the same time, the escalation of the military plunder and massacre of the Indians was entering a climactic stage. And simultaneously, the courts that upheld the betrayal of Emancipation were declaring that workers, Black and white, did not have the right to organize. In other words, the courts had not only revived Chief Justice Roger B. Taney’s pre-Civil War doctrine that the Black man “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” They had also extended this into another phase of repression — that labor, whatever its color, had no rights that capital was bound to respect.
In 1875, when the robber barons were joining with the former slave owners to prepare for the 1877 betrayal of Reconstruction, Judge Holden Owen, presiding over the trial of striking Pennsylvania miners, declared: “Any agreement, combination or confederation to increase the price of any vendible commodity, merchandise or anything else is a conspiracy under the laws of the U.S.” Of course, this doctrine — like Nixon’s wage-“price” freeze — was applied only to labor, never to the capitalists’ profits.
Because of the perpetuation of racism and the resulting division between the triply-oppressed Black workers and the exploited white workers, it took more than 60 years of struggle against the bosses’ government-supported violence to win the right to organize. Today, the rights of labor are once again under grave attack, and labor’s fate, as in the past, is inseparably bound up with that of the Black liberation movement.