This article revisits an historic exchange between two black ex-communists, Harold Cruse and Harry Haywood, a debate that prefigured many of the central contradictions of the black-power era. Their exchange followed Cruse’s influential 1962 essay for Studies on the Left, ‘Revolutionary Nationalism and the Afro-American’, which declared that the American Negro was a ‘subject of domestic colonialism’. Written against the prevailing liberal integrationist commitments of the civil-rights movement, his essay called for black economic and political independence, and inspired many of the younger activists who would give birth to the black-power movement. In a series of essays for the Bay Area black radical journal Soulbook, Haywood criticised Cruse’s mishandling of class politics among blacks, and his retreat from anti-capitalism. This forgotten episode is important on its own terms, for what it says about the character and limitations of left-political thinking during the sixties, and equally for understanding and contesting those commonsensical notions of African-American public life in our times which too often remain rooted in the vanished social context and political realities of the twentieth-century racial ghetto.
DavisHenry Vance‘Conversations with Harold Wright Cruse, February 23, 1993 and March 9, 1993’2001available at: <https://web.archive.org/web/20040611093450/http://orion.ramapo.edu/~HDAVIS/the_cruse_interviews.htm>
JamesWinston‘Postscript – Harold Cruse and the West Indians: Critical Remarks on The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual’Holding Aloft the Banner of Ethiopia: Caribbean Radicalism in Early Twentieth-Century America1998LondonVerso
LeninVladimir IlyichRiddellJohn‘Theses on the National and Colonial Question’Workers of the World and Oppressed Peoples Unite! Proceedings and Documents of the Second Congress 19201991New YorkPathfinder
ReedTouré F.‘Why Liberals Separate Race from Class’Jacobin2015aAugust22accessed 22 August 2015available at: <https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/08/bernie-sanders-black-lives-matter-civil-rights-movement/>
ReedTouré F.‘Why Moynihan Was Not So Misunderstood at the Time: The Mythological Prescience of the Moynihan Report and the Problem of Institutional Structuralism’Nonsite2015bSeptember4accessed 4 September 2015available at: <http://nonsite.org/article/why-moynihan-was-not-so-misunderstood-at-the-time>