For more than twenty years I refused on principle to use the phrase “the white left.” I did not want to give any credence to the view, commonly expressed among black activists in the late 1960s and after, that the leftist critique of American society was somehow white people’s property.
Three years ago, after the Black Panther Party had recanted and returned to the Baptist Church, the only self-styled ‘Marxist political tendency to be found on this side of the veil was that embodied in the Black Workers Congress which, according to its somewhat generous self-assessment, was not only ‘Marxist-Leninist’ but ‘Maoist’ as well. Every other tendency among black people was hostile to Marxism. The arguments scarcely need to be recalled : “Marx and Engels were Europeans; what can racist Europeans have to say that is useful to us?” “Why do you have to depend on the white man for your ideology; can’t we develop something new of our own?” etc. Of course there was also a great deal of red-baiting going on and even more self-righteous posturing.