Friday, December 13, 2013

Black Liberation and the Communist International

The influence of the Communist International was decisive in the early 1920s in winning a generation of black revolutionaries to Marxism. On this the historians agree. But what did this influence consist of, and how was it exerted?

This question was posed by a comment posted to this website last month by Barry Sheppard. Over the last decades, Barry noted, Marxists have debated whether blacks in the U.S. constitute an oppressed nationality. Many of those opposing this concept have referred to a statement written by Joseph Stalin in 1913, and approved at the time by the Bolsheviks, that nations are characterized by the existence, among other things, of a common national territory. (For the full quote from Stalin, see “The Russian Revolution and National Freedom” on this website.) This statement seems to imply that U.S. blacks are not a nationality.

Barry asks how Stalin’s definition relates to the Bolsheviks’ and the Comintern’s developing views following the revolution.

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