England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

Revolutionary Ideas Festival: The struggle for black liberation then and now

Labour in the white skin can never free itself as long as labour in the black skin is branded.

Karl Marx

From the slave trade to Jim Crow, apartheid in South Africa to the Windrush scandal and the “hostile environment” – the division of the working class by the ruling capitalist class along racial lines has always been a fundamental bed rock of the capitalist system. Imperialist countries such as Britain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands (to name a few) are wedded to and built upon colonialist pasts and much of their wealth and global standing comes as a result of this. The recent Black Lives Matter movement shone a much-needed light on this colonialist history, an example being the tearing down of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol. As well as this, the revelations in 2018 that British taxpayers were still paying off compensation to former slave owners as late as 2015 – which surfaced again earlier this year- were rightly met with public disbelief and anger.

The global Black Lives Matter protests this year must be seen as a continuation of past struggles for black liberation which include (but are not limited to) – The Haitian revolution, the German coast uprising, the Montgomery bus boycott and the American civil rights movement. In the US the demand to defund the police – and in the UK demands around de-colonising education, as well as a national conversation around racist police tactics like stop and search – have taken hold as the next step in the struggle for black liberation. These demands must be supported, however as Malcolm X rightly pointed out – “you can’t have capitalism without racism”. As such, any movement for black liberation must also be a movement for socialism and vice versa. Black working class and young people must play a leading role in creating a united working class movement that can defeat the ruling class and achieve not only black liberation but a socialist society offering genuine equality and freedom for all.

The following sessions will be part of the Revolutionary Ideas Online Festival of Resistance and Socialism:

The revolutionary history of the struggle for black liberation 11am Saturday 28 November

Statues, the police and Covid-19: the fight for black lives today 11am Sunday 29 November

Register now!

Recommended reading:

Marxism And The Fight For Black Freedom

Solidarity With Minnesota, Building The Anti-Racist Fight In Britain

The Haitian revolution and the abolition of slavery

“Dripping with blood and dirt”: How British capitalism relied on slavery


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