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A socialist revolution isn't legitimate if it isn't anti-colonial

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The most important and most often overlooked aspect of the debate over how to achieve socialism in the continent now called "America" is the colonial question. This is because the ongoing genocide against colonized peoples quite obviously needs to be addressed. Yet the Party for Socialism and Liberation, which is one of the biggest and most credibly Marxist-Leninist organizations in the country, doesn't include decolonization in its list of goals. And this signals a broader impulse from communist organizing spaces to overlook these kinds of issues.

In 2018, one former PSL member articulated a few of the ways that this organizing culture systematically pushes out the voices of the colonized:

Some of these failures are organizational and others ideological. Those on ideological grounds concern primarily the chauvinism I have witnessed... white chauvinism and male chauvinism... from several individual members, which the party has failed to correct and tacitly allows. In online discourse (remember, I am currently in Britain, physically quite far from the party's real-life spaces), I have seen what I would characterize as racist opportunism in reaction towards concerns regarding the place of national liberation, decolonization, and reparations in the revolutionary movement raised by Black and Indigenous comrades.

These expressions of hostility that have appeared when anti-colonialism is brought up reveal something about many socialists who live in the imperial core: that they see colonialism as an abstract and dismissible issue compared to the issue of class. The fact that the United States, Canada, and the other colonial states exist because of the theft from and genocide of indigenous peoples is seen as a mere historical detail. The idea of decolonizing the continent is therefore seen as absurd or "impractical". The proposal that the indigenous First Nations get all of their land back is seen as antithetical to socialist revolution, even though there would be nothing stopping these autonomous nations from developing towards socialism on their own accord. The very concept of taking special steps to rectify the atrocities of colonialism, whether returning indigenous land or paying reparations to colonized Africans, is ridiculed as counter-revolutionary identity politics.

All of this sounds familiar if you've encountered the anti-LGBT stance of the Communist Party of Great Britain, which has used similar logic to dismiss and antagonize gender-nonconforming people. Their promotions of bigoted rhetoric about transgender people comes from a party line that vilifies "identity politics", and therefore from the belief that the specific types of oppression that certain groups experience aren't worth focusing on; like the American socialists who oppose decolonization, they view the struggles of different oppressed groups as impediments to class struggle.

This is all going to produce a big clashing of interests within the socialist movement as our revolutionary crisis continues. Those who think that we can create an "American socialism", who envision a "USSA", will be met with opposition by those whose priority is anti-colonialism. Hopefully the PSL will take the side of the latter group by putting decolonization into their party line, but we can't count on it to, especially given the experiences that colonized peoples have had with the organization. Socialists need to look to black and indigenous-dominated organizations for leadership in how to carry forth the revolutionary line that fits the continent's material conditions, which is a line of both socialist and anti-colonial revolution.

This line has partly been provided by the African People's Socialist Party, which states that it seeks "reparations and true democratic integration into a U.S. society that has come to a just resolution with the indigenous populations that still suffer U.S. settler colonialism", to work "in democratic, anti-colonial unity with the indigenous peoples of the U.S., seek reparations and a land base within U.S. borders upon which to establish an independent African government", and to help those who "wish to return to Africa to contribute to its liberation, unification and development".

The only missing part of this program is the abolition of U.S. borders amid decolonization, which the party understandably doesn't feel the need to call for; decolonization is the business of indigenous First Nations people, and slavery reparations and the establishment of an independent African government are the business of colonized Africans. To carry out both of these goals, Marxist-Leninists will need to unite behind the leadership of both kinds of colonized people.

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Rainer Shea is writing articles that counter the propaganda of the capitalist/imperialist power establishment, and that help move us towards a socialist revolution. Donate to me on Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=11988744

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