A tribute to Sam Marcy by a Black communist

By Monica Moorehead

How can anyone begin to sum up the remarkable 70-year legacy of a Marxist leader like Sam Marcy in one article, or even a series of them?

It is a difficult task. For Comrade Sam was not only a brilliant interpreter of Marxist-Leninist thought, but was at his best when applying materialst theory to the most complicated issues, especially during periods of political reaction.

Comrade Sam instilled within each cadre of Workers World Party the basic truth that correct revolutionary theory goes hand in hand with revolutionary practice. Many a demonstration, rally, picket line or news conference, big and small, was initiated by Comrade Sam and other founding members of our Party. These actions were shaped as vehicles to help advance the struggle for socialism and to help ignite class unity within the multinational working class.

Comrade Sam’s writings were outstanding on many questions, domestic and international. But his writings on the paramount importance of fighting racism and national oppression distinguished him from many other Marxist leaders of his generation.

Comrade Sam was the first white Marxist leader to defend the Nation of Islam and its right to self-determination, including separation, when that organization came under racist attack from the U.S. government in the late 1950s. Workers World Party was the only multinational left party in the United States to defend the Black Panther Party, the Young Lords, Deacons of Defense and other revolutionaries when they were being brutally targeted for extinction by Cointelpro repression by the FBI.

Workers World Party stood virtually alone on this defense as others on the left unfortunately characterized the Panthers’ strong stance on their right to self-defense against the armed state apparatus as "adventurism" and "recklessness." Sam’s objective but optimistic leadership during tumultuous periods like the 1960s led to Workers World Party today being in the forefront of the most revolutionary current inside the United States.

The accompanying article by Sam Marcy—"National Oppression and the Class Struggle"—appeared in the Dec. 8, 1983, issue of Workers World newspaper. It was inspired by the first presidential candidacy of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who ran on the Democratic Party ticket.

The Black masses along with key sectors from the Latino, Asian, labor, gay and student movements were being aroused by the Jackson campaign, which was openly challenging the entrenched racist leadership of the Democratic National Committee.

Once again, Workers World Party stood alone relative to the other U.S. left parties by providing critical support to the Jackson campaign. What was the basis of this support?

The Jackson campaign had become a catalyst, especially for the nationally oppressed peoples, in the ongoing struggle to complete the unfinished bourgeois-democratic revolution by extending and winning political and social rights for Black and other disenfranchised sectors in society. These are rights that white males won when British colonial rule was overthrown.

Despite Jackson’s bourgeois program and the parliamentary form of the campaign, WWP viewed his campaign as a progressive vehicle for fighting racism and national oppression.

Comrade Sam’s article serves as a clear, uncompromising lesson for all progressives, revolutionaries and communists who continue to strive to be the best fighters against the hated bourgeoisie. This article brings up to date many vital points raised by Lenin in his piece "On the National and Colonial Questions" written during World War I.

Here, Comrade Sam reminds us that the national question is part and parcel of the class struggle. Therefore it would be erroneous to think that you could put such a critical issue on the back burner until after the socialist revolution is achieved.

What is astounding about this article is that its lessons can apply to any anti-racist struggle today.

Fighting racism and national oppression has to find its way into the forefront of every struggle under capitalism—from defending the Iraqi people against U.S. imperialism to fighting against police brutality and slave labor in New York and elsewhere. This is the only way real unity between white workers and Black, Latino and other oppressed nations will be forged.

Comrade Sam Marcy died suddenly on Feb. 1—the first day of Black History Month. It seems appropriate to reprint this particular article by this towering revolutionary figure, whose profound words and actions will inspire liberation fighters of all nationalities today and in the future to overthrow this hated system until a better world of socialism is finally in birth.

Sam Marcy, Presente!

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