The XXI Century American Revolution- Part 3
Chapter VI Katrina
"There will be neither rest nor tranquility in the United States until the Negro is guaranteed his rights as a citizen. The whirlpools of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the splendid day of justice emerges"
Martin Luther King. Discurso "I Have a Dream" Washington, 28 de agosto de 1963
August 29, 2005, a tropical cyclone hitting the southern and central
United States that was part of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season made
landfall on the Louisiana coast. With
Category 5, and sustained winds of 280 kilometers per hour, Hurricane
Katrina hit the coasts, produced torrential rains that overflowed and
broke defenses, caused extensive damage, material damage and flooding in
Florida, Alabama, Bahamas, Louisiana and Mississippi, and after its
passage, it left a number of deaths equivalent to 70% of those of 9/11. As Katrina approached Louisiana, George Bush spent his vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Days before the arrival of the cyclone, he told the press: "We are fully prepared" (1)
However, in New Orleans, the city that was the epicenter of the
disaster, was 85% underwater, with floods of 7 meters. deep,
uninhabitable in many areas, public services suspended, lack of food and
a desperate situation for the population.
In New Orleans, 1,400 died, of the 1,833 people who died in the five states. The
city suffered losses estimated at more than $81 billion, making Katrina
one of the most devastating hurricanes, and perhaps the largest
disaster in history. New
Orleans was for a long time the fourth city in the United States, the
largest in the south of the country, the largest trading point for
slaves destined for the southern United States. After
the Civil War that abolished slavery, New Orleans, due to its high
black composition, was captured by Union forces without much resistance,
did not suffer the destruction of the rest of the South, and became the
city with the largest number of free African American citizens.
Although it was a slave state, Louisiana in general and New Orleans in particular always had, due to its French origins, a more tolerant attitude toward people of color than other states in the Deep South. Since the year 1700, New Orleans had recognized a third class of free people of color, in French, free gens de couleur called "Creoles" freed descendants of European fathers and African mothers. Although Louisiana, like most southern states, had laws against slave marriage, it allowed free people of color, whites, and gens de couleur to marry, testify in court against whites, and, in some cases, inherit property from his parents. Some became slave owners, and even accumulated property.
Katrina almost completely destroyed the City of the First Quarter, as they call New Orleans, inhabited mostly by African Americans, the largest in the state of Louisiana, the main port on the Mississippi River, a symbol and emblem of black culture and tradition. indigenous, birthplace of Jazz, the city of Louis Armstrong and Tennessee Williams. New Orleans suffered such a blow that the population decreased considerably due to evacuations or deaths. The city was saved by the population, and is recovering thanks to the daily struggle of millions of residents who sustain it. The Bush Administration's management of Katrina, racist, outrageous, brutal, with contempt for racial minorities and humble people, was what allowed the catastrophe to reach the magnitude it did, and endangered the multicultural nature of New Orleans. : African, Spanish, Hispanic-American, French, and North American. And in turn, this racist and brutal policy of the Bush Administration in the face of the ordeal that New Orleans was suffering, earned the repudiation of vast sectors of the population throughout the country.
Katrina was not a natural disaster
exposed the serious problems that racial minorities have suffered for
decades in the country, how the Bush Administration's policy aggravated
the situation of African Americans. The
years 2002 and 2003 had been the years of political and military
triumphs for the Bush Administration, they had achieved great
objectives: They had imposed the Patriot Act regime, they had crushed
the Taliban in Afghanistan, they had defeated the Palestinian Intifada,
they had triumphed. in Iraq, they had captured Saddam Hussein and had
installed a government functional to their interests in Iraq. But since 2004 the dark clouds were advancing over the PNAC.
Iraqi resistance was gradually spreading and strengthening, and the invasion had received global condemnation. Within the country, the curtailment of democratic freedoms that the Patriot Act regime entailed had caused a growing rejection of the population, the popularity of the Bush Administration was on the decline and resistance was growing, especially among the most neglected and oppressed sectors, sectors of the population that New Orleans represented. The Bush Administration's horrific management of Katrina only aggravated the discontent.
On August 23, 6 days before the hurricane, the Bush Administration had precise information, given by the National Hurricane Center, that a tropical depression, originating in the southeast of The Bahamas, would threaten the coast of Florida. Hurricane Katrina was named, and authorities verified that it was increasing in category, becoming increasingly dangerous. When it hit part of the Florida coast on the morning of August 25, it had become a Category 2 hurricane, with speeds of 92 kph. That day, it caused 11 deaths in Florida, and interrupted power for a small number of people. But then Katrina veered off course, veering toward the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi. The situation in New Orleans was especially serious, given that it was the most exposed city because it was approximately two meters below sea level. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco declared a state of emergency on August 26, and the Governor of Mississippi did the same the following day.
That same day, Governor Blanco asked Bush to declare a federal state of emergency. She
explained that the expected disaster was of such magnitude that it
exceeded the state's ability to deal with it and requested that the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) begin to take action. FEMA
had participated in the investigation of the fall of the Twin Towers on
9/11, and in January 2003 had moved into the orbit of Homeland
Security, as the Bush Administration began to build the Patriot Act
regime. Tom Ridge was head
of HS, until February 15, 2005, when he was replaced by Michael
Chertoff who had co-authored the Patriot Act. Bush appointed Michael Dewayne Brown as head of FEMA who received millions of dollars to combat terrorism.
FEMA's motto was "A Nation Prepared." Only when Governor Kathleen Blanco requested it, the Bush Administration declared a federal emergency on 8/27, and gave HS and FEMA the authority to address the needs derived from the hurricane. "We are prepared," Brown also said, before CNN cameras. But on the 27th, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin declared a state of emergency and ordered the evacuation of low-lying areas of the city. The next day, the 28th, Katrina was raised to category 5. Given the prospects of a catastrophe, the Mayor ordered a general evacuation. This implied a serious problem: A sector of the population could leave in their cars, the richest layer of the city, mostly white, but around 100,000 people, mostly black and poor, had no means to leave. of the city, 90% of the population did not have a car. The authorities designated shelters, insufficient for the estimated population, the Super Domo stadium and the Convention Center.
of people began to stand in long lines with their belongings in bags,
hoping to take refuge there, others did so in their homes, and thus the
population waited for Katrina, which finally reached New Orleans on
Monday, August 29, 2005, with hurricane-force winds. and rains that hit
the city harshly. Hundreds of thousands of people spent almost an entire day under the scourge of the hurricane. In
the Superdome, Katrina's violence opened holes and blew off parts of
the roof, and water began to fall on those sleeping in the stands. However, the worst of the disaster was not on the 29th day when the hurricane made landfall.
The worst came later. The rising waters of Lake Pontchartrain overcame the multiple failures of the levees. This caused the city to begin flooding. The PNAC and the Patriot Act Regime had sealed the fate of New Orleans: the local newspaper Times Picayune between 2004 and 2005 had warned with nine articles that the budget of millions of dollars in engineering at Lake Pontchartrain had been cut by 80% and diverted to war. That contributed to the levees breaking and flooding the city. The meager dike repair projects had not been completed and it was known that due to the state they were in, they could not withstand a Category 5 Hurricane.
But complaints from the citizens of New Orleans indicate that things got worse, not only because of the levees, but because along with the failures of the levees, many residents heard explosions, after which water fell on the population. Complaints about the levee blasting grew and multiplied, such as that of John Mullen III, a school teacher who lived in the Lower Ninth Ward, who reported that the levee blasting had been planned in some way to keep the levees dry. the wealthy neighborhoods of the French Quarter and Garden District, at the expense of poor, black neighborhoods like the Lower Ninth Ward. The suspicion was heard from many other black survivors. In director Spike Lee's documentary, "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, " Mid City resident Gina Montana claims to have heard the explosions , Same thing as Uptown resident Harry Cook, Lower Ninth Ward resident Joycelyn Moses and Michael Knight, Ninth Ward resident Sylvester Francis or Gentilly resident Audrey Mason.
First there was racism, and then, discrimination of the most humble social classes, when it came to evacuating the city. The rich and white people were able to come out and save themselves. But
when the water entered, racism and discrimination deepened: water was
diverted through explosions towards poor neighborhoods to save those of
the rich. There had
already been precedents of other floods in which the levees were also
intentionally broken through explosions, for example with the floods
caused by Hurricane Betsy in 1965. But now, the explosions were felt
again that criminally diverted the waters and buried to more than
From a technical point of view, Katrina was a "dam tragedy" , whose construction was abandoned, and whose repair and preparation plans were slowed by budget cuts resulting from the diversion of funds that the PNAC strategy implied. This caused the dikes to give way in the middle of the hurricane, and exposed a population that did not know the danger that threatened it. But the authorities and the Bush Administration knew perfectly well what was going to happen. From there, a Dantesque situation occurred: the city was under water, with people trapped in their homes.
The New Orleans Holocaust
As flood levels rose, people had to climb onto the roofs; He began to suffer hunger, the sick could not be rescued; The disabled, children and the elderly had no way to defend themselves. The weakest and most unprotected sectors of the population began to die from hunger and disease. The waters were transformed into a lethal mixture of dirt, chemicals, fecal matter, remains of materials, and floating corpses, a toxic matter that coursed through the city. Due to the deaths, the smell of corpses filled the houses, and gas leaks caused explosions and fires. As the waters rose and rose, the inhabitants no longer knew where to flee, they had to make holes in the roof to save themselves, those who couldn't drowned. The same was with domestic animals. An ACLU report says that when the hurricane hit, authorities left thousands of inmates at the Orleans Parish prison locked in cells as the waters rose.
Very soon there was news of the terrible conditions in which the refugees found themselves in the Superdome and the Convention Center, overcrowded, with deplorable health and hygienic conditions. The authorities said that the rescues would begin, but on August 30, the first day after the hurricane, and after the first 24 hours, the people who were waiting for rescue did so in vain. The rescue never came. Thousands and thousands of citizens of New Orleans were crowded into their houses, on their roofs, without water to drink, without anything to eat. Without hygiene, surrounded by waters that were a lethal container of diseases, with very high temperatures, without water or food. People remained surrounded by the disaster in their homes, and also in the neighborhoods to which the waters had not reached. The second day after the hurricane passed, August 31, 48 hours later, the rescuers did not appear either.
The situation was desperate. In those dramatic hours, people waved flags on the roofs and balconies of the houses, which said "Help", "Help". In many areas of New Orleans, dairy, milk, medicine and food remained in stores, warehouses and supermarkets. The population needed them, but the businesses that the owners and managers closed when fleeing the city remained closed. These goods began to decompose due to the heat and could be lost, so it was urgent to distribute them. The authorities were able to do so, but that did not happen. Since help never arrived and no one distributed the goods, the looting began. People had no choice, it was that or die, because the hours passed and the crisis worsened.
But when the residents of New Orleans began to stock up on supplies to survive, the brutal and bloody repression began. The
police began to shoot at the desperate citizens, and spent hours
defending the businesses, that is, between the population's need to
survive and the defense of private property, the repressive forces of
New Orleans had the priority of defending private property. When
a crowd of citizens, babies in cars, people on crutches, elderly people
with canes and in wheelchairs, walked for miles to cross the bridge
that separates New Orleans from the city of Gretna, seeking to save
their lives, the police formed a line along the end of the bridge and
began shooting at people.
The crowd dispersed, deceived, because they were walking towards there because they had been told that there were buses waiting for them. The evacuation of New Orleans began slowly. The rescue arrived 6 days after Katrina, on Saturday, September 3, when the first citizen rescue operations began to take place. However, this constituted a terrible nonsense given that specialists and experience with disasters indicate that the first 72 hours after a disaster are crucial to combat its consequences. But in those crucial 72 hours, help for New Orleans never arrived. That is to say, the fact that the rescue began to be organized after the crucial 72 hours put the lives of thousands of New Orleans citizens in danger. For example, the food and water supply was seriously affected, which made it clear that the state of the world's leading economic and military power, with the capacity to place thousands of soldiers in any region of the planet in a matter of hours, was not to rescue a population that was dying 965 miles from Washington.
Militarization against working-class and popular New Orleans
The pumps to remove water from the city only began to operate on the 7th day, and when the water began to recede, a parade of horror scenes began: Hundreds of corpses, everywhere, in streets, squares, houses, corners. , of children, young people, the elderly or disabled. And next to the corpses, the drama of the missing people and the parade of relatives in search of them, parents looking for children, children looking for parents, women looking for their partners, men for their wives, their girlfriends, grandmothers, people of all ages. ages, carrying signs, searching.
Many people began the slow return to their homes, to find them destroyed, in terrible condition, impossible to live in, having lost all their belongings. The resources to act on New Orleans and rescue its population were concentrated in the Federal Government and specifically in its specific arm, FEMA, but the thousands of inhabitants of New Orleans were left waiting for supplies, food, water, transportation. to rescue them, debit cards for their expenses, all the things that were promised by FEMA. The management of FEMA expressed the policy of the Bush Administration, insensitive, criminal and racist.
"George Bush doesn't care about black people," said rapper Kanye West at the "Concert for Hurricane Relief," a benefit concert for recovery efforts. The phrase said live on national television was a shock that shook the country. West's challenge to Bush was already an expression of a deep process of discontent and repudiation of his administration: millions thought the same as West, and discontent was beginning to be expressed publicly. Meanwhile in New Orleans, a profound political and social process was developing. Thousands of desperate residents began to organize on their own to fight for their lives. Assemblies and meetings began to obtain supplies. Hundreds of neighbors organized for rescues and in camps, they camped on the highway, and at the doors of the Superdome. In the camps, tasks were divided, medical care for children, the disabled, the elderly, the distribution of food and necessary goods. A process of self-organization flourished throughout the city that turned on the red lights in the Bush Administration.
The population threatened by disappearance huddled together and organized to resist. Put on the ropes, the people of New Orleans began to take destiny into their own hands, unleashing a process that the Bush Administration detected as extremely dangerous, since a self-organized commune could emerge in the South of the United States, headed by the working class of New Orleans. As Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky who were trapped in New Orleans tell it: "... the real heroes and heroines who carried out the relief efforts were the working class of New Orleans. The maintenance workers who used a forklift to transport the sick and disabled. The engineers who set up, powered and kept the generators running. The electricians who improvised thick extensions of cables across blocks to share the electricity we had in order to free the cars that were stuck (...) The nurses who became mechanical ventilators and spent many hours manually administering air to unconscious patients to keep them alive... The janitors who rescued people who were stuck in the elevators (...) The hospital workers refinery who entered the area of the boats and "stole" them to rescue their neighbors who remained on the roofs in the middle of the floods. The mechanics who helped "jump" whatever cars they could find to get people out of town. And the food service workers who scrubbed commercial kitchens improvising community meals for hundreds of homeless people. Most of these workers had lost their homes and had no news of their family members..." (2)
And this process of self-organization had the support and sympathy of all the American people, moved by what was happening in New Orleans. Chains of solidarity flourished in all states, letters, communications, money collections, recitals, all kinds of events in unions, neighborhood organizations, universities, and communities in support of New Orleans. The government had to prevent the process from taking place, and to achieve this it declared a state of siege and militarized the city. The Bush Administration, Congress, the Republican and Democratic Parties, had abandoned 100,000 people trapped in the city without electricity, drinking water or food. And now that the population was organizing to survive, they began to declare the existence of an "anarchy" in New Orleans and sent the National Guard, arguing that it was necessary to stop the "looting" and "generalized violence." . Governor Kathleen Blanco requested the sending of soldiers, who began to arrive in New Orleans, but the priority of the armed forces that arrived was not rescue, but, in the words of the governor herself: "We are going to restore public order . .. These troops know how to shoot to kill and are very willing to do so if necessary, and I hope they do" (3)
Jeremy Scahill is an investigative journalist and author of the bestseller: " Blackwater: The Rise of the World 's Most Powerful Mercenary Army ", about the rise of the private military company during the Bush Administration. According to Jeremy Scahill's report in The Nation he also made his entry into New Orleans, Blackwater and established a headquarters in the center of the city with automatic rifles, pistols strapped to his legs, and pockets full of ammunition. "When asked under what authority they were operating ," Scahill reported , "one man said, "We are under a contract with Homeland Security (HS)." New Orleans had become an armed camp, patrolled by thousands of agents. Brigadier General Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard's Joint Task Force, told the newspaper : "This place is going to look like a little Somalia. We're going to go out and take this city back. It's going to be a combat operation to get this city under control" (4) Among the mercenary bodies were troops belonging to the companies DynCorp, Intercon, American Security Group, Blackhawk, Wackenhut, and an Israeli company called "Instinctive Shooting International" (ISI). What were these mercenary corps trained to combat the "counterinsurgency" in Iraq doing in New Orleans?
They were not there to assist the population, but to repress it. Police confiscated weapons from civilians, including legally registered ones classified as "dangerous" in the hands of villagers struggling to survive. Since
the Civil War, the troops of the US Armed Forces had not occupied a
Southern state, but now a very important sector of the state of
Louisiana was occupied by the National Guard and a privatized army, that
of the Blackwater Corporation that began to take control of the largest
city in the state of Louisiana, New Orleans. This
movement was motivated by the horror that the Bush Administration
caused by the fact that assemblies and organizations built from below by
neighbors and activists had spontaneously emerged everywhere, such as
the "Common Ground Collective " one of the organizations that emerged to provide aid and medical
care to the population, whose leader was Malik Rahim, a Vietnam veteran
and former community activist who organized the group.
Both the organization led by Rahim, as well as many others that emerged from below, were treated by the army as criminals or "insurgents" (5) according to Malik Rahim told Jeremy Scahill. The organizations that arose from below, organized by the population of New Orleans itself, neighbors, workers, young people, and housewives, managed, despite the obstacles placed on them by the army, to serve more than half a million people, to put into operation premises to provide food to the community, the opening of free health and legal clinics, and later the reconstruction of houses and the planting of trees.
But "not a cent" ever came from the federal government, Rahim told Scahill. Other organizations emerged "Save Ourselves ", or " Bayou Relief of Freedom ", among others. What would happen if all these civil and social organizations began to take control of the city into their hands? What would happen if, in the face of the lack or complete absence of the Federal State, which had abandoned the population of New Orleans to their fate, the organizations formed by workers and popular sectors made decisions about health, education, aid, money? , security and weapons? This process had begun. Faced with the danger of the emergence of a working-class, popular, black and self-organized commune in New Orleans, the Bush Administration decided that it could not allow the social and political dynamics that it entailed.
For this reason, the government's response to the incipient process that was beginning to develop was brutal, and they had to nip it in the bud. This regime showed its racist and anti-worker face in New Orleans, imposing with full force the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) law, and proceeding to violate the Posse Comitatus. But with a twist, now the regular army forces were joined by a privatized army with legal security to act as Occupation Troops within New Orleans, in the same way they acted in Iraq and Afghanistan. Army troops shot at alleged "looters", murdered and imprisoned activists, workers, and young people, who organized the community with the excuse of being promoters of " anarchy" and "looting."
The organizations that emerged as the "Collective of Mutual Interest",
with a greater or lesser degree of organization, were seen as a threat
by the Pentagon, and this is how the Ministry of Defense, while showing
itself incapable of saving people from death on rooftops or
neighborhoods, he was quickly very capable of building a jail, in what
was the city's abandoned bus terminal, called "Greyhound Field." Citizens accused of "promoting anarchy" were crowded there , awaiting trial for months, because there were not enough people employed in the judicial system. Greyhound Field was filled with mostly African-American citizens, activists, young people, accused of being "looters." Along
with militarization, the imposition of Martial Law, the persecution,
murder and imprisonment of activists and fighters for the survival of
New Orleans, the Pentagon, with the excuse of providing welfare to those
who had lost their homes, organized the evacuation of the city, that
is, the dispersal and expulsion of thousands of people from New Orleans.
More than 140,000 people were distributed in 44 states with one-way tickets, without knowing where they were going, mostly in the states of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. The population of New Orleans was horribly dispersed, scattered, and the army helicopters, which took an eternity to arrive to help the trapped people, moved quickly to transport the population to neighboring states, separating families, parents and children, strong of weak. Many lost contact with their loved ones. The "Second New Orleans Evacuation ", ordered by Ray Nagin, involved a number of displaced people equivalent to those evacuees in Fallujah.
The President, Congress, and the leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties learned quickly from Katrina. The Bush Administration sent to Congress the National Defense Act or John Warner Act, HR 5122, which was approved on September 29, 2006, a law that allows the Executive Branch, after a natural disaster, to declare martial law under review of the Acts of Insurrection. The Warner Law generalizes and legalizes the application of the State of Siege, for all cases in which, in the face of a natural disaster, the people decide to take the means to defend themselves in their hands, and organize for that purpose. Without a doubt, the mobilization of the workers and people of New Orleans had worried the political parties, and the brave rebellion of working-class and popular New Orleans was betrayed by the parties of the regime, above all, the leaders of the Democratic Party, for whom the population of N. Orleans felt mostly sympathy.
The leaders of the Democratic Party turned their backs on the workers and people of New Orleans in the most dramatic moment of their existence. Only self-organization allowed them to survive the racist crushing they suffered. But their struggle remained isolated, abandoned by all of the country's union and political leaderships: They only had the support of workers, housewives, students, intellectuals, artists, and even the people of the world who, moved by the tragedy, they immediately sympathized with his heroic resistance and fight to survive. But the masses of the United States and the world did not have a political tool that would allow them to unite this brave mobilization until they triumphed. That gave the Bush Administration air to stifle the fighting, repress the population, resume the offensive by declaring Martial Law, invade the city with the army, disperse the population and then enact Law HR 5122.
The "ethnic cleansing" of New Orleans and business
In total, and according to information from the Red Cross, as of September 10, 2005, a total of 145,613 people had been evacuated from New Orleans. Naomi Klein explained in several articles that the demographic change after Katrina was so dramatic that she described it as "ethnic cleansing." (6) When Mayor Ray Nagin called for a second evacuation, the people returning to the dry areas were mostly white, but those who could not return, or did not have homes, were overwhelmingly black. As Klein explains in her article, the rich were able to return because they had bought their houses in the high areas and dry areas such as the French Quarter, 90% white, the Garden District 89% white; or Audubon 86% white. In some dry areas, like Algiers, that did have an African-American population, the population could not return because they were low income, and there was no budget to bring them back from where they were sent. Thousands of empty houses and apartments, enough for the 70,000 evacuees, were never delivered.
unfortunate consequence of this situation was the increase in suicides
in New Orleans, driven by the depression suffered by thousands due to
the consequences of the disaster. It is estimated that the suicide rate rose to double or more than the national average. The
population had to begin the fight for housing, although their demand
came up against the businesses that flourished immediately after the
disaster. The Bush
Administration awarded the New Orleans reconstruction contracts to
Bechtel, Fluor, Haliburton and Shaw, some of the same companies that
were designated for the reconstruction of Iraq. Thus, the "reconstruction business" united Baghdad with New Orleans. The
Corporations took advantage of urban projects for the banks of the
Mississippi River, Chevron, Coca Cola and other companies began to
receive packages of tax exemptions, subsidies and very generous lax laws
so that they invest and settle, with the argument of " reconstruction ".
Groups linked to Neocon, officials from the Heritage Foundation, and the far-right Church of Scientology appeared, which according to Klein, spread across shelters throughout Louisiana. The port of New Orleans is too important to the United States and without the city of New Orleans there is no port of New Orleans. The port is in the Gulf of Mexico, whose oil production is equivalent to 30% of the national total, implies the marketing of 20% of the natural gas production, 60% of the country's imports, in addition, 50% of the Oil refineries are installed in the area and a good part of the country's agricultural exports leave through the Gulf ports.
The Katrina disaster was also linked to environmental deterioration, global warming and its effect on the Arctic and Antarctic poles, which are suffering from the reduction of ice sheets. For the year Katrina occurred, the Kyoto Protocol was in force, which establishes that industrialized nations must reduce their gas emissions in the period 2008-2012, but the Bush Administration refused to sign it, claiming that compliance would be too costly. for the economic growth of the country. Without a doubt, more costly for the economy, and for the most important element of the development of productive forces, which are human beings and nature, has been that the US governments do not take any measures to prevent the environmental crisis. , which is mostly produced by US corporations and companies.
The environmental disaster had a lot to do with Katrina, an issue for which governments such as Japan, Australia, India and China are also responsible. The environmental crisis that surrounds the region surrounding New Orleans is also due to the emptying of the swamps, in turn the result of a century and a half of unbridled oil exploitation. For years, scientists have been announcing the catastrophe and advising at the same time. a rational treatment for the Mississippi River delta, as well as strengthening the levees, eroded in their lower part. But successive governments preferred to defend the interests of the oil companies, instead of the interests of the people, especially considering that the latter are, in this region, essentially black.
The racial issue and racism occupies a central episode in the life of the country, but it is worth asking: What is race? As Richard Fraser and Tom Boot explain: "What is race? It is not a biological category. It is a social relationship. Thus did capitalism need to justify the slave trade and human ownership of slavery in a Western world that simultaneously he discovered the inalienable "Rights of Man" and social justice. Then the fiction of racial superiority-inferiority and the non-human nature of blacks was invented" (6) The question of the black race was forever placed as a central element of the political history of the country. As Howard Zinn explains: " There is no country in world history in which racism has played such a large role and for as long as in the United States. The problem of the "race barrier" or color line - in the words of WEB Du Bois - still alive. And the fact is to ask: How did it start?" (7) The black race arrived in the country through one of the largest forced exoduses in the history of humanity.
Through the slave trade of the 15th and 19th centuries, the English, Portuguese, Dutch, French and Spanish Trading Companies produced a horrific kidnapping of millions of inhabitants of Africa. The primitive communist tribes that inhabited the region were kidnapped en masse, a true holocaust that occurred in what is today the territory of Angola, Senegal, Mozambique, Congo, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin, Zimbabwe, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon. They were kidnapped to be sold as slaves. The term " Maafa " means terrible event, or great tragedy and refers to the African Holocaust or Slavery Holocaust of millions of indigenous people that occurred in those centuries, the term was popularized by the anthropologist at the University of Chicago Marimba Ani, whose name Birth is Dona Richards and she used the term " Maafa" to define the African holocaust, the slave trade from the 15th to the 19th centuries, based on imperialism, colonialism, racism, oppression, and exploitation.
Millions of Africans were exported as merchandise to distant lands, suffering long marches to the coast, housed in warehouses, waiting to be shipped. They were torn from their families, affections, towns, traditions, customs and cultures, chained by rings around their necks and feet, kept disgusting, mistreated, transported on ships in horribly hygienic, overcrowded conditions, below deck. For months they did not see the Sun or the Moon, eating a portion of raw corn or millet and a small jug of water every 24 hours. They received horrible punishments with sticks, whippings and mistreatment from the foremen.
The historic struggle of black people
Millions died during the crossings. The abduction and enslavement of millions of indigenous Africans was a capitalist enterprise, a horrific trade that was part of their emergence as a social and political system, not only in the United States, but throughout the world. The commercial companies that developed the slave trade amassed enormous profits, practicing human trafficking, as George Novack explains : "The history of slavery in North America must be divided into two distinct periods. The first period extended from the introduction of slavery to the New World by the Spanish and Portuguese in the early 16th century through its development in the West Indies and the coast of North America to its decline in the British and French colonies in the late 18th century. The second period covers the emergence, growth and decline of the Cotton Kingdom in the United States during the first part of the 19th century. These two eras of slavery were the offspring of two different stages in the development of capitalist society. In its initial phase , American slavery was a collateral branch of commercial capitalism, in its final stage it was an integral part of industrial capitalism" (8)
Slavery began promoted by the Empires of Portugal and Spain, whose commercial companies trafficked and exploited slaves with the endorsement of the Catholic Church and the Holy Inquisition. Portugal first began under the aegis of Pope Nicholas V, who legitimized the slave trade in his bull "Dum Diversas" of June 18, 1452, in which he authorized Alfonso V of Portugal to conquer non-believing countries, and make the war on the infidel Saracens and pagans to consign them to indefinite slavery. Isabel Soto Mayedo explained who were the bankers and capitalist businessmen who were behind the exploitation of the slavery business: "...the slave trade to the Caribbean began formally around February 12, 1528 with the approval of the king. of Spain. According to the Cuban historian, José Luciano Franco, two German merchants, Henri Ehinger and Jérome Sayler, agents of the Welsers, bankers who dominated the finances of the Spanish crown along with the Fuggers, were the first beneficiaries of that authorization. Since then, Portugal lost the monopoly on the marketing of human beings taken from Africa, while other European nations created their own mechanisms to participate in the lucrative business." (9)
As Novack explains: " From 1520, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch and English ships poured blacks in an endless stream into the West Indies. Sanctified by religion and legalized by the crown, the African slave trade became the most profitable of commercial enterprises. One of the favorite Flemish companies of Charles V of Spain obtained the exclusive right to import 4,000 blacks annually into the West Indies and sold the patent for 25,000 ducats to Genoese merchants who established the first commercial route. normal movement from Africa to America" (10) This is how Howard Zinn explains it: " In the year 1619, a million black people had already been transported from Africa to South America and the Caribbean, to the Portuguese and Spanish colonies, to work as slaves. Fifty years before Columbus' voyage, the Portuguese brought ten black Africans to Lisbon, and thus began the regular slave trade." (11)
However, the institution of slavery was not established in the territories that would later become part of the United States, based solely on the black race. The Trading Companies sought to enslave the Indians, and the poor whites of Europe through the contract that created the category of "Redemptioners." This contract established that the Shipping Company could sell into servitude white people who were willing to come to America, working as serfs for a period that could range from 4 to 7 years, to pay the cost of the transatlantic voyage. In turn, businessmen tried to enslave the Indians of North America in the same way that the Spanish enslaved the natives of Mexico or Peru.
This is how Howard Zinn explains it: " In England, the development of commerce and capitalism in the 16th and 17th centuries, plus the enclosure of land for wool production, filled the cities with vagrants. Beginning with the reign of Elizabeth, They introduced laws to punish them, lock them in forced labor workshops or deport them. In the 17th and 18th centuries, due to forced exile, deceptions, promises, lies and kidnappings, together with the urgent need to escape from the living conditions In their native country, the poor who sought a passage to America became a source of income for merchants, merchants, ship captains, and, finally, for their masters in America" (12)
This is how Novack put it: "More than a hundred One thousand men, women and children were captured by English troops and sent to the West Indies, where they were sold as slaves on tobacco plantations...the servant trade took on the horrible characteristics of the slave trade. Gangs of kidnappers roamed the streets of English ports and combed the highways and byways of Great Britain and Ireland... the homes of the poor were invaded. Husbands were torn from their wives, fathers from their families, children from their parents..." (13) To the extent that the Commercial Companies considered the indigenous labor of little use, they proceeded to kill them on the spot or drive them towards the west, which caused the institution of the Redemptioner contract, or similar to flourish.
But the attempt to enslave both the Indians and the poor whites of Europe did not prosper, or was directly considered a failure, which is why the Commercial Companies were oriented towards the search for labor from black people from the Africa. This is how Novack put it: "...However, the white Redemptioners were not sufficiently reliable nor had a satisfactory supply of workers. They could not be kept in a permanent condition of slavery...if they fled they could not easily be distinguished from their fellows." free or their masters. As production expanded, it became increasingly urgent to find new, more abundant and more reliable sources of labor" (14) The Trading Companies assessed that the primitive communist tribes of Africa supplied population on a large scale necessary for these crops, which required an associated labor force of considerable proportions.
The kidnapped African American tribes were in a stage of development that put them in unfavorable conditions compared to the European Empires and Commercial Companies that used their technical and military superiority to terrorize African American communities, with infinitely superior resources, putting them in unfavorable conditions. to facilitate its exploitation. As Howard Zinn explains: " ...they had been torn from their land and their cultural environment. They were forced to live in a situation in which little by little their linguistic habits, their way of dressing, their traditions and their family relationships... they had gone through a hell that, if it had not killed them, had to have left them in a state of total psychological and physical defenselessness - can anyone wonder that these blacks were ripe to be slaves? (15)
The first shipload of 20 Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1620 on a Dutch ship, and by the end of the 17th century black slaves began to displace white serfs as the main body of the working population in Virginia and Maryland. African slaves better resisted the production conditions in both the tropical and semi-tropical regions of the Caribbean and the southern colonies suitable for the production of corn, wheat and other foods. As Holland and England emerged as capitalist powers, they displaced Spain and Portugal and took control of the business. England was the one who developed the slavery business in the colonies that would later make up the United States, as Novack explains: "Possession of the slave trade was one of the richest prizes at stake in the war of succession The Treaty of Utrecht that concluded the war in 1713 granted the monopoly of the slave trade to England. Their majesties organized a company to carry out the trade: a quarter of the population was taken by Philip of Spain, and another by the Queen Anne of England, and the remaining half was divided among her subjects...Thus, the sovereigns of Spain and England became the largest slave traders in the world" (16)
The emergence of England in the business is explained this way by Isabel Soto Mayedo: "... English slave traders burst onto the Caribbean scene between 1562 and 1569... the Royal African Company emerged in 1672. The new company, whose shareholders were members of the English royalty, transported to the Spanish colonies in America, especially the Caribbean ones, around 46,396 African slaves in just 9 years...The war waged by the Succession of the Spanish throne radically modified relations of force in Europe and gave England and its allies, Portugal and Holland, absolute hegemony over the slave trade in the Caribbean islands...The peace agreement signed in Madrid, on March 27, 1713, and ratified by one of the articles of the Treaty of Utrecht, ceded to the English the monopoly of the slave trade in the area for 30 years. The South Sea Company, founded in London, concentrated a large part of the advantages of that commercial license..." ( 17)
History shows how slavery was an essential component in the development and evolution of capitalism. The capitalist system was still going through the stage called primitive accumulation, that is, the stage of gathering elements to begin its takeoff as an economic, political and social system. The elements that historians, scientists and analysts provide about the horrific business of the slave trade show that the capitalist system was born built on the basis of slavery. After the manufacturing bourgeoisie satisfied its demand for labor power through the capture and commercialization of slaves, most of the accumulated capital was the basis of the subsequent development of industrial capitalism, that is, the slave trade provided the resources that financed the Industrial Revolution as Karl Marx explained: "The discovery of gold and silver in America, the crusade of extermination, enslavement and burial in the mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and plunder of the East Indies, and the conversion of the African continent into a den for the commercial hunting of black furs signaled the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production" (18)
This is also explained by Howard Zinn: " ... in the primitive capitalist states of Europe there was a real madness to find gold, slaves and products of the land to pay the shareholders and bondholders of the expeditions, to finance the emerging monarchical bureaucracies of Europe West, to promote the growth of the new monetarist economies emerging from feudalism and to participate in what Karl Marx would later call "the primitive accumulation of capital... By 1795, Liverpool already had more than one hundred slave ships and controlled half of the entire slave trade of Europe...In 1800, between 10 and 15 million black people had already been transported as slaves to the Americas,... It is estimated that in those centuries, which we consider the beginning of modern Western civilization, Africa lost approximately 50 million human beings." (19)
Let us remember that the predominant Forms of Accumulation (20) in that stage of capitalism were Manufacturing and Commercial Companies, which acted jointly and in combination between the 16th and 17th centuries, their economic activity was largely based on slave labor. The years between 1780/90 were the decade of maximum activity in the transatlantic slave trade, in the territory of North America, the massive importation of African Americans left a balance of 95% of black people living in the south. , 40% of the population of the slave states and colonies. The situation of slaves in manufacturing, cotton, tobacco or sugar fields established in the Southern states was as horrible as on trips.
Long days of super-exploitation, working from dawn to dusk, exhausting days, living in tapas or ranches in difficult conditions, without the right to the slightest expression or organization. The best hope for a slave was to flee. And if they managed to escape, the fugitives lived poorly in the depths of the forests, or alongside Indian tribes. However, this does not mean that in the Northern states they had nothing to do with slavery. As shown in the documentary "Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North", filmed by Katrina Browne, one of Rhode Island's richest families, the The DeWolf family was the largest group of slave traders in US history. The film tells the story of the DeWolf ancestors of Katrina herself, the film's director.
As Howard Zinn explains: " ... Some New England Americans signed up for the business, and in 1637 the first American slave ship, called Desire, sailed from Marblehead . " (21) The case of the DeWolf family is an example of how a commercial bourgeoisie emerged in the New England region that continued the slave trade business carried out by the English. Thus, the businesses of this commercial bourgeoisie of the North became intertwined with those of the oligarchic capitalist class of slave owners of the South. The production of cotton for the English textile industry was a formidable business based on exploiting slave labor of African origin and became the accumulation pole of the region's economy.
In turn, African American slave labor was provided by European Trading Companies and New England merchants, who developed the formidable business of human trafficking. But as millions of slaves accumulated, slavery abolitionist rebellions, organizations and leaders also began to emerge. There is abundant documentation of mutinies and insurrections of slaves on ships and on plantations, fighting for their freedom even in the most desperate conditions. In 1787 Thomas Clarkson founded the Anti-Slavery League in Great Britain, while similar associations emerged in European and American countries. Leaders like Josiah Henson, an African-American born in Maryland, or Frederick Douglass in the first decades of the 19th century, did so in the country as the first black leaders.
Douglass was born a slave in Maryland, and developed abolitionist activities alongside various organizations, writing in the weekly anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator by William Lloyd Garrison, who in 1832 founded the New England Anti-Slavery Society. A year later, Garrison founded the American Anti-Slavery Society, which launched the "Project 100" campaign in 1843 , a 6-month tour of saloons across the eastern and midwestern United States. The fight for the rights of African Americans and women was united in the activity of other leaders such as Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis, and Julia Ward Howe, who worked to promote health and social security issues for working women, and during the war of secession organized groups of women to care for the wounded. Jarvis promoted a day to commemorate the work of working mothers, which later gave rise to Mother's Day celebrated around the world. Julia Ward fought against high infant mortality, slavery, and war.
The organization called the " Underground Railroad" was an underground network organized in the 19th century that helped slaves escape to free states, or Canada. The name of the Underground Railroad comes from the fact that its members used railroad terms metaphorically to refer to their activities, for example, the conductors or engineers were the ones who helped the fugitive blacks by providing them with costumes, maps, and instructions. They were very bold activists, because at that time helping runaway slaves was punishable by death. Throughout its existence, the "Underground Railroad" managed to free thousands of slaves and gain supporters for the abolitionist cause.
The Civil War and the abolition of slavery: The Second American Revolution
In the 19th century, many abolitionists contributed to literature, with seminal works such as the book " Uncle Tom's Cabin". The novel by the writer Harriet Beecher Stowe, a declared abolitionist activist, caused an enormous impact after being published on March 20, 1852. The book, which tells a story centered on the story of Uncle Tom, an African-American slave, dramatizes the harsh reality of slavery, and sold 300,000 copies, a publishing "boom" for the time. In 1859, John Brown, a supporter of abolitionism, had tried to start a slave rebellion in Virginia by attacking an army ammunition depot, but he was captured, tried, and sentenced to hang. Tensions between the North and the South were extreme, and in the presidential election of 1860 Abraham Lincoln, candidate for the Republican Party, defeated Stephen Arnold Douglas, the candidate for the Democratic Party. This was rejected by the Southern states, as Howard Zinn explains: "When Lincoln was elected, seven Southern states seceded from the Union. And when Lincoln began hostilities in an attempt to retake the federal base at Fort Sumter in Carolina of the South, four more states separated and the Confederacy was formed; the Civil War was ready. (23)
The states that seceded from the Union formed a new nation called the Confederacy of the United States, made up of the eleven southern states, with its own Constitution, institutions and army that claimed a territory of 1,995,392 km² and a population of 9,103. 332 inhabitants, of which 3,521,110 were slaves, according to the 1860 census. Although the European governments did not officially recognize this Confederation, only the Holy See in a letter sent to Jefferson Davis by Pope Pius IX and the United Kingdom of Great Britain Britain and Ireland gave them recognition.
The Civil War raged between 1861 and 1865, and at the beginning some Union commanders thought they should return escaped slaves to their owners. But already in 1862 it became clear that the war would be long, and the debate about what to do with the slaves became very important. The Southern economy and the supply of the Southern army depended on slave labor, so it began to seem irrational for the Federal Government to protect slavery. Lincoln expressed his fear that a premature declaration of emancipation would mean the loss of border states that had a dual attitude towards slavery, which is why he initially rejected the emancipation attempts proposed by his Secretary of War, Simon Cameron. The hesitations of the Lincoln Administration left it in an alley, with no way out. But the magnitude of the conflagration pushed Lincoln to take measures going beyond what he postulated in his original program.
At the beginning of the Civil War, the Confederate armies had hit hard and obtained partial victories, so the crisis settled within the Republican Party. Lincoln saw his power liquefy, which led him to rely on the most radical wing of his party, which argued that the development of the war could only be changed with measures that liquidated the economic base of the Confederacy. This radical wing of the Republican Party was led by Senate leaders Charles Sumner and House leaders Thaddeus Stevens, who demanded an end to slavery. Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation to members of his government on July 21, 1862, but Secretary of State William H. Seward asked Lincoln to wait for a military victory before approving the proclamation.
In September 1862 the bloody Battle of Antietam, which ended with a slight advantage for the Union, offered Lincoln the opportunity to announce the plan. The Lincoln Administration announced on January 11, 1863, in the second year of the war, the Emancipation Proclamation, in which all slaves in the Confederate States were free. Based on the President's war powers, it only included the territories held by the Confederates at the time, however, the Proclamation was a shock, and hundreds of thousands of slaves set out to free themselves, escaping the South to the lands occupied by the Confederates. the North. The Proclamation unleashed a process that had been taking place in the Southern states, where an attempt was made to impose strict labor discipline on the plantation upon realizing that its economy could not withstand the war effort for more than a year.
If strict labor discipline was not imposed on the plantation and the slaves were not made to work harder, the fate of the Confederacy was cast. State governments and plantation owners created armed bands of vigilantes who patrolled plantations and cities. But the slaves resisted and continued to lead rebellions and uprisings, murdering supervisors, guards or soldiers. Desertions, which were another form of resistance, multiplied and large groups of slaves, often several families, fled from the plantations, in many cases reaching the lines of the Northern military forces.
The Emancipation Proclamation caused a mass flight of African Americans from the Southern states to the North. There were so many blacks fleeing slavery that commanders had to create camps and schools for the nearly 200,000 slaves who joined the Union troops as soldiers and sailors. At the same time, the Union Army became an army of liberation, granting freedom to millions of slaves as it advanced, in each state it entered and took control of, the Union Army freed African Americans. In contrast, the Confederate army proceeded to enslave black soldiers captured in combat, and most Southern leaders opposed arming slaves as soldiers, because that would mean, in effect, recognizing them as equals. They were 2 armies that embodied 2 completely different ways of life for African Americans: The Confederate army meant slavery and greater repression, the Union army, freedom.
The Emancipation Proclamation was a political coup, which helped define the course of the war. The Proclamation reduced the Confederacy's ability to obtain aid from the United Kingdom and France, and at the same time, provided a legal framework for the emancipation of nearly 4 million slaves, who were freed as the Northern army advanced. But in addition, the Proclamation committed the union to ending slavery, which was a controversial decision, even in the North. As the end of the war approached, abolitionists realized that although the slaves had been freed, the institution of slavery had not been made illegal, it remained legal.
This situation led to the promulgation of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution on December 18, 1865, which officially abolished and prohibits slavery in the United States to this day. The War Civil was a huge revolutionary process that unified the nation and freed millions of slaves. On November 29, 1864, Karl Marx wrote to Abraham Lincoln, on the occasion of his re-election as President: "When the oligarchy of 300,000 slaveholders dared for the first time in the annals of the world to write the word 'slavery'...the class "The working class of Europe suddenly understood... that the fanatical intervention of the upper classes in favor of the confederated aristocrats would serve as a sinister warning... the rebellion of the slaveholders would sound like a challenge to the general crusade of property against work." (24)
The triumph of the Civil War was the Second American Revolution, as Novack explains: " American society was disfigured for three hundred years by the slave trade, an anachronistic mode of production that had largely disappeared in Europe before it was reborn and revitalized. on the other side of the Atlantic, under the spur of its need for commercial capitalism for the collection of raw materials, such as sugar and tobacco. The first American Revolution failed to eradicate it and a second was necessary to free the United States from power "slavery" (25) The advances that African Americans and the people achieved were enormous, thanks to the Second North American Revolution.
abolition of slavery, and the XIII, XIV and XV amendments were
revolutionary achievements and democratic freedoms achieved at the cost
of blood, struggle and sacrifice. The
Civil War produced 1,030,000 casualties, equivalent to 3% of the
population, including 620,000 soldiers killed by battle and disease,
more deaths than all previous United States wars combined. Approximately 4 million black slaves were freed between 1861 and 1865. As Ferdinand Lundberg explains: " When
a series of political defeats at the hands of Northern industrialists
and merchants turned into an eventual ominous foreboding, the Southern
planter faction did not "he hesitated to draw his sword. The Civil War
began as a counterrevolution, but ended as a revolution" (26)
The Second North American Revolution accomplished another task of great importance: The national unity of the United States, a young and small nation torn by profound contradictions, the most important of which was the existence of 2 completely different economies, that of the north and the south, and the existence of 2 possessing classes that respectively dominated each of those economies, which gave the nation the appearance of 2 different countries that could hardly federate. The triumph of the North unified the nation, an enormously progressive task, which thus allowed a strong development of productive forces.
The "Reconstruction Period" and the dictatorship of the "Jim Crow regime"
After the Civil War ended, a brief period of improvement opened for African Americans in the country, as Howard Zinn described it: " With these laws, with the protective presence of the Union army in the South, and with a civilian army of civil servants In the Freedman's Bureau to help them, the blacks of the South reactivated themselves, voted, formed political organizations and expressed themselves decisively on those issues that interested them." (26) But that period was very brief. The period known historically as the "Reconstruction Period" lasted just 12 years between 1865 and 1877.
This short period in the country's history was closed to the extent that the capitalist bourgeoisies of the North and South put aside their bitterness, and united to liquidate the conquests obtained by the people. The Republican Administration of Abraham Lincoln had gone beyond its program to win the Civil War, and had been forced to take radical measures to win the war. But from then on, a series of agreements began to be established between the capitalist oligarchy of the South, displaced from its former power, and the new capitalist oligarchy of the North. These political agreements led to the constitution of a reactionary regime in the country: The "Jim Crow regime." We are now going to analyze how the "Reconstruction Period " developed , and how the process evolved by which, after the historic triumph of the Second North American Revolution, a semi-fascist, dictatorial regime was imposed, a true " apartheid" that Millions of people suffered based on the repression and terror of the state.
The process that led from the Second American Revolution to the "Jim Crow regime" began at the very moment of the end of the Civil War. As soon as the last shots stopped ringing, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865, 5 days after Confederate Army commander Robert E. Lee surrendered his troops to General Ulysses Grant. Lincoln was assassinated while the Confederacy was retreating on the military ground, and its defeat was in sight, on April 3, 9 days before Lincoln's assassination, Richmond, the capital of the Confederates had been captured and on April 9, the army of Northern Virginia, the main Confederate force, had surrendered after the Battle of Appomattox. Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his defeated government had fled, and just at that moment Lincoln was assassinated, which constituted a severe blow to the revolutionary process that was triumphing.
His death hit the town hard, he was loved and considered a hero. He was mourned across the country, and crowds accompanied the funeral procession that left Washington and carried his remains by train 1,700 miles before arriving in his hometown of Springfield, Illinois. The southern oligarchy began its fight to recover its situation as a privileged social class, and to do so, it used all possible tactics: negotiation, terrorism, extortion, or crime. Its political tool was the Democratic Party, which brought together the aspirations of the worst of white segregationism, the southern oligarch bourgeoisie, and the displaced lumpen elements of the people of the Southern states.
Vice President Johnson had been chosen by Lincoln in the re-election campaign as his running mate, because with the Lincoln-Johnson formula the Republican Party had tried to present a candidacy of "national unity" , but after Lincoln's death, Johnson acted as true Democrat and man of the South with a program focused on undermining the conquests achieved by the Second North American Revolution. Johnson promoted conventions and elections to rebuild civil governments, revoke secession mandates, ignore war debt, and draft new state constitutions, appointed governors for each of the former Confederate states, and restored political rights through presidential pardon. of the old Confederate leaders, which allowed the slaveholders their return to political activity.
In the state legislatures of the South, former Confederate leaders promoted "codes" to regulate freed African Americans, which, although they differed from state to state, had provisions in common that threatened civil liberties because they required them to sign annual labor contracts with sanctions in case of non-compliance. The children of freed slaves were subjected to compulsory apprenticeship and corporal punishment, and vagrants could be sold into private service if they could not afford to pay heavy fines. Many Republican leaders saw the measures of Johnson and the southern states as an attempt to reestablish slavery and ignore the Union victory in the Civil War.
In reality, the so-called "Reconstruction Period " began based on a dynamic of great rise of the mass movement in the Southern states, a product of the momentum caused by the triumph of the Second North American Revolution that opened the floodgates of life and freedom for millions of blacks, poor whites, farmers, and sectors of the nascent working class who had offered their lives to destroy the horrible slave regime of the Southern states. Now these sectors saw it as something natural to claim the rights that legitimately corresponded to them. Black people came out to demand all their rights, freedom, citizenship, the vote, work. The peasants demanded the land, all the workers demanded rights and salaries, all in short improvements in the quality of life.
The emergence of the mass movement in the post-civil war was expressed superstructurally in the country's state institutions, and in the emergence of worker, peasant, and popular organizations of all kinds in all regions. He also spoke in Parliament with a wing of the Republican Party that sought to stop President Johnson's reactionary policies. Under the leadership of Thaddeus Stevens, congressmen known as "Radical Republicans " refused to recognize the old Confederate leadership as elected senators and representatives. This political sector began to develop a plan for the reconstruction of the south that obtained broad popular support, very different and opposed to Johnson's, which is why a process of confrontation between Johnson and Congress began, which escalated more and more. acute.
The Republican leaders swept the 1866 elections for Congress and with a consolidated majority in both chambers, they promoted their own vision of Reconstruction. By July 1866, Congress had already passed a civil rights bill, and established a new Bureau of the Freedmen to prevent racial discrimination in southern legislatures. Through the Reconstruction Act of March 1867, Congress disavowed the governments that had been established in the southern states, and established military occupation of the former Confederate states to protect African Americans and their rights. He divided the region into 5 military districts administered by two generals of the Union, and at the same time, approved the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which declared that "every person born or naturalized in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction will be a citizen of United States and the state in which you reside.
Only those former Confederate states that instituted a civil government, ratified the 14th Amendment, and granted suffrage to African Americans could be saved from military intervention. All southern state legislatures, except Tennessee, refused to ratify the amendment and some opposed it by unanimous vote, even President Johnson opposed the 14th amendment which was ratified in 1868. The 15th Amendment, was approved by Congress the following year and ratified in 1870 by the state legislatures, which provided that "neither the United States nor any state of the Union may deny or abridge the right of American citizens to suffrage on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude". The reforms introduced by Parliament allowed freedmen to exercise their right to vote and access political office. Some state constitutions were reformed, a system of free and universal public education was created, and more rights were achieved for women. However, President Johnson vetoed legislation that protected newly freed African Americans, and deprived former Confederate leaders of the right to hold public office.
But Congress was irritated by Johnson's conduct, his opposition policies, and the violent language he used in criticizing Congress's actions, so it passed laws for the first time in the country's history to restrict the president's power. Johnson responded by vetoing them, and attempted to fire Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who was a staunch ally of Congress. Not only Johnson opposed the advance of democratic freedoms, but also the most retrograde and reactionary sectors of the southern bourgeoisie, lumpen sectors and old slave-owning soldiers who developed terrorist organizations such as the Yellow Jackets, the Red Caps of Tennessee, or the most notorious, the so-called Ku-Klux-Klan (KKK), which was founded by veterans of the Confederate army, on December 24, 1865. Its name was composed by the fusion of the Greek kýklos ("circle"), and "clan" in memory of the ancestral family groups, and the group wrote everything with a K to give more notoriety to the organization.
The KKK quickly spread through the southern states, unleashing a "reign of terror": They tortured and hanged hundreds of African Americans, murdered and persecuted opposition leaders of all racial backgrounds, congressmen and constitutionalists. The danger and crisis caused by the criminal actions of these terrorist gangs between 1870 and 1871, pushed Parliament to sanction the Compliance Law by which those who tried to deprive the freed African-Americans of their civil rights would be rigorously punished. . But the great enemy faced by the aspirations and interests of the mass movement, the blacks, the poor whites, and the peasants, were not only the far-right terrorist organizations such as the Ku-Klux-Klan. What began to threaten the freedoms achieved in the "Reconstruction Period " was the agreement that the leaders of the Republican Party began to establish, representatives of the powerful industrialists of the North and the Democratic Party, representative of the slave oligarchy, which at that time He was in crisis, but was beginning to recover.
The Compromise of 1877 between Democrats and Republicans
Along with the development of industry throughout the period prior to the civil war, the working class had made its appearance and in the "Reconstruction Period" the workers' battalions multiplied, with which their political and union presence became increasingly more important. By the mid-1870s, the working class was developing its demands and organizations, demanding the eight-hour day and organizing against the bankers, railroad, steel and oil magnates. Waves of labor strikes in Chicago, Ohio and Pennsylvania characterized the life of the country in the decades of the '70s and '80s. And this process was linked to the rise of African Americans and their triumphs in the South.
Federal laws were to be applied by federal, state, and local governments to reorganize the former rebel states, for which Congress had established Reconstruction governments and freedmen and whites participated in them, backed by the presence of the Federal Army. Violent pro-confederation groups were suppressed and there were pilot projects of giving land to freedmen. But the great interests of the Northern bourgeoisie, the railroad businessmen, bankers and other industrial companies that controlled the Republican Party did not want to end the plantations and implement a program of land redistribution for freedmen and landless whites. The industrial bourgeoisie of the North felt its interests threatened and sought social stability to preserve its own power and profits, which is why it began to turn towards an agreement with the southern bourgeoisie. This entire process of social changes led both bourgeoisies to seek the possibility of a political and social agreement.
Ulyses Grant, Civil War hero, won the Republican Party nomination, and in the presidential election of 1868 he became president. Re-elected in 1872, his second term was marked by a high level of unpopularity, due to the multiple cases of corruption in which his cabinet and his own family were involved, linked to the construction of railways, and to the great economic crisis of 1873, a crisis which also led to accentuate the shift of the Northern bourgeoisie towards agreement with the Southern oligarchy. These problems allowed the Democrats to regain control of the House of Representatives in 1874. The impact of the change was felt in the Republican Party, and the most radicalized wing of that party was left in the air, without support.
In 1875 Charles Sumner and Benjamin F. Butler presented the Civil Rights Act, which established guarantees for everyone, regardless of their race and ethnic origin, but they no longer had support from their party, which turned to an agreement with the Southern oligarchy. The Civil Rights Act of 1871 sought to protect African Americans in the southern states who were being victims of abuses and excesses by organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, but it had little impact, and shortly after it was enacted, the Supreme Court ruled that It was unconstitutional. To the extent that the leadership of the Republican Party turned towards an agreement with the South, the party entered into crisis and divided: Charles Sumner and other Republican leaders broke with Grant, harshly denouncing him, after which the Liberal Republican Party emerged. a split from the Republican Party.
The budding agreement between the leadership of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party changed the political conditions of the country completely. The KKK continued its terrorist activity with impunity, breaking into black community religious sessions, invading family homes, stealing firearms under the pretext of disarming black civil war veterans, and intimidating school teachers. , and the employees of the Federal Office of Refugees, Released and Abandoned Lands. They acted armed and disguised in long white robes, like a paramilitary force that served the governments of the Democratic Party, counting on the impunity offered by the local and state authorities of the Southern states, who rarely acted against them. In lynching cases, white defendants were almost always acquitted; even if they were found guilty, they were almost never convicted.
The terrorist activity of the KKK caused such outrage and scandal that it forced President Grant in 1871 to sign a law according to which federal troops were to exercise public force, and members of the KKK were to be legally prosecuted in federal court, instead of local and state courts. However, the Southern oligarchy stopped supporting the activities of the Klan because it preferred to reach a political agreement with the North that included the withdrawal of federal troops from their states, and the terrorist activities of the KKK gave a pretext to the federal troops. to remain active in the Southern states. In May 1872, Congress, with the change in its composition, approved a general Amnesty Law that completely restored the political rights of all former slave leaders of the former Confederate army. Little by little, the southern states began to elect members of the Democratic Party to public office, intimidating African Americans to abstain from voting or seeking public office, so that by 1876, only three southern states still had Republicans in office. can.
It took many years for all elements of the KKK to cease their activities during this period, as demonstrated by the Colfax Massacre of 1873 in Louisiana, which cost the lives of 150 African Americans. The south remained a region devastated by war, and burdened by debts incurred by its governments. The claims of the peasants who were promised to give every free man "40 acres and a mule", a kind of agrarian reform, never came to fruition, and the best lands were generously granted to the railroad magnates, in addition to the Republican economic program for the freedmen was shattered by the economic crisis of 1873, caused by the collapse of the credit bubble inflated by excessive railroad expansion and leading to a worldwide depression that lasted five years. To respond to the crisis, the industrial barons needed to relaunch the capitalist economy, for which it was necessary to maintain the super-exploitation of the freed black workers, and thereby pressure an increase in the exploitation of the rest of the country's workers.
interests of the very wealthy northern bourgeoisie sought to increase
the exploitation of the country's nascent working class, and found in
the oppression of black people an effective tool to achieve this
objective. The need to
provide stability to the businesses and the thirst for profits of the
capitalist oligarchies of the North and the South was going to imply a
new agreement or pact between them. This was finalized towards the end of the '70s through the so-called "Compromise of 1877",
a political agreement established in the presidential elections where
they faced Rutherford Hayes for the Republican Party, and Samuel J.
Tilden for the Democratic Party.
These gave a very close and controversial result, the disputes in the Electoral Colleges, gave a narrow victory to Hayes but an agreement was reached between both parties: Tilden would accept defeat in exchange for an agreement that established a virtual co-government. of the Democratic and Republican parties that established the withdrawal of federal government troops that still remained in the Southern States, and instituted appointing at least one southern Democrat in Hayes' cabinet, among other demands.
Although in 1876 only Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida were still under military occupation, the agreement hastened the end of this situation. The Compromise of 1877 was a reactionary agreement that allowed the establishment of a totalitarian regime, a dictatorship based on the forces of repression, and the fascist gangs of the KKK so that the former white elite of the South, stripped of their privileges after the Civil War , will regain full power in state governments. The agreement also gave the Democratic Party an important base of popular support among white voters that gave rise to what they called the "Solid South"
black population, newly freed from slavery since 1863, lost the
protection of the federal government, and were practically abandoned
before the Democratic leaders who had been supporters of the Confederate
army. Slowly over the country's black population, a dense and solid "apartheid" was woven with laws that established racial segregation for blacks and other ethnic groups.
The southern states consolidated as totalitarian, or dictatorial, states, as explained by Richard Fraser and Tom Boot: "Capitalist rule basically takes shape as democracy or dictatorship; various levels and combinations of police or military dictatorships serve as a transition. When a If the state cannot protect capital and gain public acceptance it must crush all official channels of political expression and resort to its repressive forces...Such a state is a police state, not only quantitatively but qualitatively different from democratic forms of power. Even For white workers in the South, there is no meaning in the right to vote and there is no true freedom of speech, assembly or press. Elections are plebiscites, like under Hitler or Mussolini...union organizing is virtually impossible...this one regime is not just a totalitarian police state, it includes definite characteristics of fascism, i.e. supported by the middle class but this base is so deteriorated that the state can only be described as "fascist-type" in recognition of its retention of a portion of mass support that allows terrorism...the description of the writer Truman Nelson...: "there is a recognition (by blacks) that the municipal government is a type of lines of military troops that occupy and control an enemy town or colonial" (27)
Democrats took over Southern state governments in the 1870s and dominated them for nearly 100 years, primarily as a result of disenfranchising most blacks through statutes and constitutions, along with semi-legalized terrorism of the KKK. The origin of the phrase "Jim Crow", an adjective attributed to the laws passed in the former Confederate states, is attributed to the 1832 cartoon musical show number "Jump Jim Crow " performed by white actor Thomas Dartmouth ("Daddy") Rice , who painted his face black to ridicule African Americans. The establishment of this set of laws meant a reactionary change in the country's political regime. Now different legislations coexisted in the country suppressing elementary rights for an entire sector of the population, given that the establishment of the "Jim Crow" laws recognized freedom and citizenship for African Americans, but not their rights.
Between 1887 and 1892 nine states passed laws requiring the separation of public transportation such as streetcars and railroads, and imposed fines and even jail terms on railroad employees who did not enforce them. Five of the states also handed out criminal fines or imprisonment to passengers who attempted to sit in cars from which their race excluded them. Schools, work areas, bars, swimming pools, parks, water fountains, bathrooms, hospital waiting rooms, the army, etc. were segregated. Then From 1890 to 1910 the Democrats passed laws that made it difficult to register and participate in elections through new constitutions or amendments that effectively deprived the right to vote, through a combination of taxes that had to be paid, literacy tests, and text comprehension tests. documents, residency requirements, and registration in the registry, all of which established a set of obstacles that stripped the right to vote from an entire sector of the population, most of them black, and tens of thousands of poor whites as a result of the lack of access to education, the lack of economic means, of documents, which led thousands of African American citizens to be deprived of the opportunity to vote.
Companies, political parties, and unions also created their own Jim Crow arrangements, preventing blacks from buying homes in certain neighborhoods, buying or working in certain stores, or working in certain trades, and interracial marriage was outlawed. This led to blacks, other racial minorities, and poor whites losing their political and social rights. The incorporation of Jim Crow laws was not a peaceful process: It was a violent process that involved the killing, persecution and murder of all those who opposed the imposition of these dictatorial regimes.
Thousands of black people suffered beatings, persecution, lynchings, hangings, a whole process of terror, a product of the abandonment they suffered from the federal institutions that left them in the hands of the racist Democratic oligarchs. In this way, as a result of the establishment of true police states, or semi-dictatorships in the Southern states based on the police, right-wing terrorist parapolice forces such as the KKK, the establishment of Jim Crow laws and the implementation of racial segregation, There was a change in the political regime of the country. Now a series of new reactionary institutions had emerged that curtailed and constituted a permanent threat to democratic freedoms.
The "Jim Crow regime" of oppression and discrimination against African Americans had emerged , which was legalized and formalized by state laws and finally instituted at the national level with the Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), who coined the infamous phrase: "Separate but equal" . The imposition of the Jim Crow regime was made possible by the Compromise of 1877 between the leadership of the Republican and Democratic Parties, which ended the so-called "Reconstruction Period", in which the masses had obtained important social and civil achievements after the triumph. of the Second North American Revolution.
The imposition of the "Jim Crow regime" was made possible by the betrayal of the Republican Party to the Second American Revolution. This
party had led the revolution and taken radical measures to win the war,
but it was the party of the great northern oligarchy, which is why it
had to retrace its steps. Although
slavery never returned, imposing segregation involved a hard path not
exempt from struggles, disputes, and political crises, which began with
Lincoln's assassination itself, after which Andrew Johnson took office
However, it should be noted that the Compromise of 1877 was also a product and expression of the profound social and economic changes that were operating in the country's capitalism. These changes also explain the historical decline of the Republican Party. Until that moment, the predominant Form of Capitalist Accumulation in the country and the world was industry, but thanks to the phenomenal process of destruction of productive forces that the Civil War implied, a Form of Capitalism was emerging in the country from the ruins of the war. of Capitalist Accumulation that surpassed and contained the industry: The Monopolies.
With the emergence of these new Forms of Accumulation, a new capitalist oligarchy emerged: The class of the owners of the Monopolies, the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers, the Mellons, the Carnegies or the Morgans, oligarchs who headed giant companies that began to dominate a branch of production at the country level, structured in leagues or unions of companies called trusts, which from an economic point of view was a novelty for the time. Now there was a huge country, reunified by the War, which allowed the development of enormous monopolies that began to dominate branches of production, commerce and finance, which allowed the US to advance towards a higher stage of development of capitalism. The Republican Party was not only the political expression of the industrial bourgeoisie, but was also beginning to be an expression of the monopolistic bourgeoisie and the " robber barons . "
Fight against the "Jim Crow regime": First stage of the Civil Rights Movement
The fight against the "Jim Crow"
regime began with a first period consisting of a series of legal
battles that were preparatory to the period of great struggles and
important organizations. An
example was the legal fight against the Separate Automobile Law in the
state of Louisiana, a humiliating law against which the Association for
Citizens' Rights led a legal battle carried out by lawyers Tourgée,
Martinet and Walker. African
Americans found allies in other class sectors that fought against the
white oligarchy of the southern states among both white and African
American farmers, who, faced with the conditions of the crisis of the
1880s and 1890s, began to unite against the large landowners and
In 1890, some 3 million white farmers founded the "Southern Farmers' Alliance" organization, while 1.25 million southern black farmers organized into the "National Colored Farmers' Alliance", organizations that together with the Farmworker unions served as the basis for the rise of the Populist Party, founded in St. Louis in 1892. The Populists denounced the two major parties as "tools of the capitalists," and adopted a broad political platform that proposed changes in the monetary system and loans that would help farmers and workers affected by debt. He sought a reduction in the working day for industrial and rural workers, state ownership of public services; income taxes and democratic reforms such as the right to referendums and women's suffrage.
In 1892 James B. Weaver, the presidential candidate of the People's Party, received 1,041,028 votes, 8.5%, of the electorate. More than 1,500 populist candidates won election to state legislatures, but southern elites, through fraud, bribery, intimidation, violence and terror, denied the Popular Party's advances and stole its electoral victories. But to neutralize the emergence of the Popular Party, brutality and fraud were not the only tools that were used: The Democratic Party made a turn in 1896, and put William Jennings Bryan as a presidential candidate with a speech critical of the big capitalists and the monopolies, along with which they had a policy of co-opting the populists, taking advantage of the internal problems of the Popular Party.
The populists, victims of the maneuvers, and prisoners of their contradictions, were led to defeat. The white segregationists took advantage of the disappearance of the Popular Party, and launched a reaction and repression, a constant and permanent racial discrimination against African Americans. The defeats suffered by African Americans and the oppressed of the South, and the harsh repression they suffered with which the Reconstruction period closed after the Civil War, caused many African American leaders to have political positions of acceptance of the Jim Crow regime and its inferiority condition. This was the case with Booker T. Washington, as explained by Richard Fraser and Tom Boot: "Booker T. Washington reflected the sad loss of hope after the agonizing and bloody defeat of Reconstruction. Adapting to the reaction, he proclaimed the acceptance of segregation...in the absence of any channel for mass struggle, he accepted black inferiority and the Southern race structure premise as a virtue. He urged education to "accommodate" blacks and called for integration a "madness". (28)
Booker Taliaferro Washington promoted the so-called "Atlanta Compromise ," an agreement that called for southern blacks to work submissively and submit to white political domination, while southern whites ensured that blacks received basic educational and economic opportunities. As a result of his acceptance of the conditions imposed, he was very successful in his relationships with the Rockefeller family, which sponsored Booker T. Washington's education with thousands of dollars, as well as hundreds of public schools for black children in the South, all of which It allowed Booker T. Washington to be received with honors at Dartmouth College, Harvard University and he was the first black invited with honors to the White House.
Booker T. Washington's proposals were rejected by an entire sector of the African-American community at the beginning of the 20th century when social organizations began to emerge that led the fight against the Jim Crow regime, based on the fusion of small groups, such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) founded on February 12, 1909 after the race riots of 1908 in Springfield, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln's hometown. As Richard Fraser and Tom Boot explain: "Those (Booker T Washington's) concepts were quickly denied by William Monroe Trotter and WEB Du Bois, who eloquently rejected the doctrine of separatism and argued that it came from that of the oppressors. Du Bois organized black intellectuals to lead the movement, and they shocked white liberals with their revelations of the horror of the New South, and built a legal and propaganda apparatus for the movement, the NAACP in 1909" (29 )
Edward Burghardt Du Bois sociologist, historian, civil rights activist,
author and editor, had promoted the Niagara Movement alongside Ida B.
Wells, Archibald Grimké, Henry Moskowitz, Maria Ovington Blanco, Oswald
Garrison Villard, William Walling, and Charles Edward Russell, and
insisted on the demand for civil rights, in a movement that also
included Jews and other representatives of racial minorities. In
the early years, the NAACP focused on using the courts to overturn Jim
Crow laws, such as the 1915 Guinn v. United States cases against
discrimination in Oklahoma voter registrations, or the Buchanan case.
vs. Warley of 1917, to prevent segregation in residential districts.
At that time, of the 10 million African Americans who lived in the country, 9 million were in the South, an issue that began to change after World War I, as Richard Fraser and Tom Boot explain: "In World War I The shortage of jobs caused in the South caused the migration of blacks to the North where industrial jobs greatly increased their incomes. Harlem became the center of the black world. The black movement, beyond an agrarian body of former slaves terrorized by the KKK, began to regain its social energy" (30) In the first 5 years of the " Great Migration " 750,000 African Americans from the South moved north to cities such as New York, Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland.
In 1913, Woodrow Wilson, a Southern Democrat and self-confessed admirer of the KKK, became president, bringing segregation to the federal government, appointing Southern segregationists as members of his cabinet, introducing segregation in federal offices, and also showing the first outlines of an imperialist government. In 1914 he ordered the invasion of Mexico to force the coup general Victoriano Huerta to resign and put Venustiano Carranza in his place. In 1915 he ordered the invasion of Haiti once President Sam was assassinated to land American troops and companies. In 1916, he ordered the invasion of the Dominican Republic, leaving a government sympathetic to the investments of the country's capitalist oligarchy. Wilson praised the 1915 release of the film " The Birth of a Nation," which was a tribute to the KKK by director David Griffith, which promoted white supremacy and heroism of KKK members.
The NAACP organized protests at the premiere with rallies and marches in various cities, while also organizing opposition to President Woodrow Wilson and his policy of introducing segregation in the federal government. In 1914, the NAACP had 6,000 members and 50 branches, and began conducting a study and survey of racial riots and executions, investigating 30 years of lynchings, and seeking federal legislation against them. This entire stage of legal battles was preparatory to the period of great struggles and important organizations that opened between 1915 and 1920, when thousands of African-American workers who migrated to the North joined the ranks of the North American working class.
The leadership of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) refused to organize black and white workers together in the same unions, and several AFL unions placed exclusion clauses and color bans built into their charters, "Jim Crow unions. " , a policy that was as racist as that of the political and business leaders. As Howard Zinn explained : " For the American Labor Federation, racism was practical. The exclusion of women and foreigners was also practical, because these were mostly unskilled workers, and the AFL, by monopolizing the supply of skilled workers, could obtain better conditions for themselves, leaving the majority of workers in the lurch. AFL employees earned good salaries, rubbed shoulders with bosses, and even hung out in high society. They were safe from criticism through tightly controlled assemblies, and by squads of gorillas - hired thugs - who were initially used against scabs, but over time served to intimidate and beat opponents within the union. (31)
task of uniting black and white workers was carried out by the
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) union, which organized workers
without regard to race, sex, ethnicity or other divisions. But
around 1918, with the end of the First World War, the economy slowed
down, and in the recessionary situation, employers first laid off
African Americans and women, the most defenseless sectors of the working
class. At the same time,
black soldiers returning from World War I found racism stronger than
ever: They were denied admission to army parades, they were denied
promised jobs and rights.
This situation sparked a wave of racial riots in Charleston, South Carolina, Longview, Texas, Washington DC, Omaha, Nebraska, Knoxville, Tennessee, and Chicago. Faced with the mobilization of African Americans to protest, big businessmen and politicians incited the racist reaction, and mobs began such as those of July 1917 in East St. Louis and throughout the country in 1919, which forced African American communities to organize self-defense. In the Chicago riot of 1919, militias were organized to defend communities from racist and police attacks, and in July 1919 black farmers in Phillips County, Arkansas, organized a union, armed themselves, and carried out an insurrection against the white landowners.
At that time, a shock shook the world, the Russian Revolution in 1917, which was a great inspiration for millions of workers around the world. Under his influence, important detachments of the world working class and the United States began to look with sympathy on the Bolsheviks and the Communist Party. This revolution was viewed with fear by the industrialists and the government who saw a new revolutionary awakening of the working class and its departure to fight. In 1919, the Seattle general strike and the steel strike followed one another in which more than 4 million workers went on strike. This entire era of riots, great struggles and mobilizations of African Americans is remembered as the " Red Summer ", which the government and big businessmen called "Red Terror" or " Red Menace". launching a new wave of repression, and accusing those leading the protests of being Bolsheviks and communists.
1917, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) emerged,
founded in New York by leader Marcus Garvey, whose main motto was:
"Africa for Africans at home and abroad . " . Its program of activities included marches and rallies and it also had a newspaper, "Negro World" which was very popular. In
1918 the "African Blood Brotherhood for the Liberation of Africa and
Redemption" (ABB) had emerged, founded by the journalist Cyril Briggs
who was established in 1919 in New York City, based on a socialist
movement for liberation. of the blacks in the Harlem neighborhood who
edited the newspaper "El Cruzado".
These organizations, after achieving mass influence and notoriety, quickly disappeared. UNIA peaked in 1920 with between 300,000 and 500,000 members, but in 1922 it fell back. The failure of these organizations was the result of their formulating a program called "black nationalism", based on the call to form an "African Nation", separate from the rest of the country. Garvey met with the KKK to agree on the independence of the black race in a different nation, with the rights to separate from the country.
Black Nationalism program renounced fighting for the rights of African
Americans within the country, since what African Americans demanded was
to be integrated into society with full rights and equality with whites.
This policy of "Black Nationalism" led organizations such as UNIA and ABB to crisis. Also
the Communist Party, to which ABB and Cyril Briggs were linked, had a
completely wrong policy regarding the question of the black race, first
considering it a " secondary issue
" in relation to the struggle of the working class against capitalism,
and then VI Congress of the Communist International in 1928 adopting a
policy of national self-determination for African-Americans living in
the Black Belt of the American South, under the slogan
"self-determination for the Black Belt."
This policy was similar policy to that of UNIA and Garvey. It was not even based on demographic trends since the African American presence was not limited to the "Black Belt" of the southern states. The great migration of African Americans to northern cities had begun more than 10 years ago, so proposing the self-determination of the "Black Belt " left the thousands of African Americans who resided outside Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama out of the claims. , Georgia and the Carolinas.
After the "Red Summer" period, a reactionary counteroffensive occurred that opened a difficult stage for social and popular organizations. The world situation was going through a different moment than the global revolutionary upsurge that occurred with the Russian Revolution of 1917. Now it was fascism, Nazi ideas and racism that were strengthening in Europe. With the advent of the fascist regimes of Franco, Hitler and Mussolini, and at the same time, in the USSR with the dictatorial regime of Stalin, reaction reared its head throughout the world. The NACCPP, Garvey, Briggs and the ABB were investigated by police and federal agencies, infiltrated, persecuted, and repressed; Racism, the persecution of blacks, Jews, and racial minorities worsened.
The KKK restarted its activities, carried out a large recruitment and established branches throughout the country, repeating the ideological formula that the black race was responsible for the problems of the common citizen, but now incorporating the Jews and the communists into its approach. Although it remained a southern movement and of the Democratic Party, the KKK managed to strongly penetrate the Republican Party. In the 1920s and 1930s, a faction of the KKK called the Black Legion gained notoriety for murdering socialists and communists and organizing lynchings of black soldiers. Many government officials were KKK sympathizers, such as the governments of Tennessee, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Oregon, and some legislatures in southern states. In 1924, the Democratic Party held its national convention in New York, with a notable participation of KKK delegates, who pressed for a political platform favorable to their interests and candidates.
In 1926, the leader of the Alabama branch of the KKK, Bibb Graves, was elected governor and a wave of terror was unleashed in the state in 1927 when the fight known for the "freedom of the Scottsboro's Boys " occurred, a of the most important battles against racism of the '30s and '40s. The fighting began when on March 25, 1931, 9 black youths, ages 13 to 21, got into a fight with white youths aboard the train bound for Alabama, and were arrested. There were trumped-up rape charges, and two weeks later, the Scottsboro Boys had been charged, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Faced with such injustice, crowds surrounded the prison from the beginning, and the National Guard had to intervene to prevent a massive insurrection.
the NAACP remained outside the defense of the Scottsboro Boys, the
Communist Party launched a national campaign in their defense, and put
its lawyers at the service of the demand for their freedom. The
mobilization was so great that it led the US Supreme Court to order the
suspension of death sentences indefinitely, which kept the young men
alive, and although they were found innocent, they were only recently
removed. the charges against all the Scottsboro boys in 1950. During
those years a score of former Governors and former senators from the
South, called the "Dixiecrats"
openly took the helm to crush the democratic rights of African
Americans, and within the framework of the Great Depression of the
1930s, black workers suffered the worst, suffering unemployment that
reached 50%, compared to about 30% among whites, and with wages 30%
lower than those of white workers.
The National Recovery Act (NRA) issued by President Roosevelt, although its stated objective was non-discriminatory hiring and an equal minimum wage for whites and blacks, was not applied in practice, which resulted in the NRA public works rarely employed blacks. Racist pay differences remained. Although the leadership of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) led by William Green claimed to support civil rights and oppose Jim Crow laws, it did nothing to enforce this in the affiliated unions, African Americans continued to be excluded, and forced to organize. in independent unions.
a new wave of labor struggles that began in 1934 in Toledo, Minneapolis
and San Francisco opened a new moment for the industrial union movement
that began to organize mass production workers, including black ones. This
opened a violent debate at the 1935 AFL convention, at which a group of
unionists led by United Mine Workers president John L. Lewis, formed
the Committee on Industrial Organization (CIO), with the goal of
self-unionizing. , steel and other industries, seeking to establish
black organizing as a priority. The CIO turned out to be a spectacular success because it allowed African Americans to enroll massively. Before the appearance of the CIO, only 100,000 were unionized, and that number jumped to half a million in 1940.
African Americans joined the CIO as a way to fight extreme poverty and racism often convinced by the courageous militant anti-racism of many CIO organizers, especially the socialists and communists who stood up to the KK, the thugs of the companies and police violence. A brilliant example of those who collaborated with the struggle of the black race was William Stetson Kennedy, a writer and activist who infiltrated the ranks of the Ku Klux Klan to later expose its secrets to the authorities and public opinion, which led to the 1947 revocation by the state of Georgia of the Klan's status as a national association.
The fight against the "union Jim Crow" continued and reached a chapter of great national and international impact in the period after the Second World War. Throughout
this first stage of the fight for the rights of the black race, 2
organizations had been the vanguard: The Communist Party (PC), and the
Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). With the start of World War II, both organizations supported the Democratic Party, as did the Socialist Party, and the NACCP. That
is to say, all African American leaderships began to support the party
that for 70 years was the main repressor and oppressor of African
Americans in the country, and that just 10 years before had held a
National Convention with members of the KKK.
for Roosevelt's candidacy left the struggle of African Americans in the
hands of the Democratic Party, which was a serious capitulation by the
leaders of the CIO, who reduced the fight against racism with the
argument of putting it "for the sake of unity. " in the war effort." The
Communist Party, for its part, made public its policy of support for
Roosevelt at a rally held in Madison Square Garden in New York on May
20, 1936. There the party leader Earl Browder expressed in his speech:
"The main enemy
of the American people today is the clique of the Republican Party, the
Liberty League and Hearst. We must put at the center of our work within
the electoral campaign the need to combat this reactionary bloc and
defeat their plans in 1936."
The support of the 2 most important leaderships, the PC and the CIO, to the Democratic Party, as well as the support of other leaderships such as Randolph, the Socialist Party, the AFL to the Democratic Party, which was the most important racist organization in the country since the end of the Civil War, closed this entire first stage in the fight for the rights of African Americans. With the end of the Second World War, another one would open, with new protagonists and leaders.
The second stage of the Civil Rights Movement was characterized by the fact that, in the face of the capitulation to the Democratic Party of leaderships such as the NACCP, the AFL, Randolph, the CIO, the Socialist Party or the Communist Party, the defense of the The rights of African Americans fell to the churches and religious leaders. Starting in the '50s, black church leaders supported and promoted the rebellions of black workers and peasants, mainly in the southern states of the country. The defeat of Nazism and the fascist regimes in the Second World War was an enormous revolutionary achievement, which had immediate repercussions: it strengthened the aspirations and demands of the African-American movement, and the movement for the rights of the black race began to challenge most frequently the segregation system. The defeat of the Nazis loosened the screws of the domination of the ruling classes throughout the world and in the United States it meant a revolutionary eruption with the return of triumphant troops to the country.
In 1941, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and other activists planned a march on Washington calling for an end to discrimination in the military, a call that garnered overwhelming support and promised to be massive. This put pressure on President Franklin D. Roosevelt to issue Executive Order 8802 prohibiting racial discrimination in the military, in response to the massive arrival of 360,000 African Americans returning from the front in 1945, who were convinced that they had won. equal rights because they had taken up arms on equal terms with the whites in the fight against Nazism. Randolph again took up the demand for military segregation, and reached an agreement with the Democratic Administration led by President Harry Truman, which sanctioned Executive Order 9981 desegregating the armed forces. But the concessions made by the Democratic government to the African-American community opened a crisis in the Democratic Party: The States' Rights Democratic Party, known as the "Dixiecrats", emerged in 1948, a segregationist break determined to retain Jim's laws. Crow, and white supremacy, a break that was brief because its leaders generally returned to the Democratic Party.
At that time, Truman launched the so-called "Truman Doctrine", an anti-communist policy that within the framework of the "Cold War"
unleashed historic repression and persecution, a witch hunt against
communism led by Senator Joseph Raymond McCarthy, who From the
presidency of the Senate Commission on Government Operations, he accused
any progressive and democratic movement that defended civil liberties or was linked to the left of "espionage" and "collaboration with the communists." With the implementation of the "Truman Doctine"
the government no longer spoke about civil rights, and promoted
repression in the '50s from the state: Libraries banned pro-civil rights
literature, and left-wing materials, WEB DuBois In 1952 at the age of
82 he was arrested on charges of being a "foreign agent."
Henry Wallace, defender of civil rights and presidential candidate of the Progressive Party, was accused of being a communist, the NAACP was denounced as subversive, artists, intellectuals, writers, union leaders, students, women, joined the blacklists of McCarthyism, under suspicion of "communists" and "enemies of the country." The National Negro Labor Council (NNCL), a union organization founded in 1950 by black and white activists who had belonged to the AFL and the CIO, demanded permanent federal employment for African Americans, and more presence of black union leaders.
The leaders of the CIO and the AFL described the NNLC as a "communist front",
with which the NNCL, abandoned by its peers, repressed and persecuted,
disappeared in 1955. The AFL and the CIO, which were beginning to unite
in the AFL-CIO , expelled nearly a million of their own members in the
effort to rid themselves of "communist" influence. The NAACP carried out a similar purge and did not hesitate to expel one of its founders, WEB DuBois. But
despite the capitulation of their leaders, African Americans made their
way, conquered spaces thanks to their struggles, their sacrifices,
tenacity and individual efforts in all areas, science, entertainment,
work, education, even in the world of sports. : boxers, baseball
players, basketball players and track athletes.
All of these victories were partial, they appeared as small concessions to the demands of the African-American community, without fundamentally changing the issue. Both the Jim Crow regime and segregation and racism were consolidated and strengthened by McCarthyism, which pushed religious leaders to support the rebellions of black workers and peasants. The church was practically the last place in which African Americans could organize, criticize Jim Crow, and share the miseries and sadness of everyday life. Black church leaders were part of a small middle class removed from the terrible conditions suffered by their followers.
to the extent that repression intensified, reaching unsustainable
limits, blacks were forced to take refuge in churches, and religious
leaders found themselves strongly subjected to pressure from the workers
and peasants who were their parishioners. The churches promoted the line of "peaceful resistance" and "non-violent" struggle against segregation. But
this line came face to face with the reality of the brutal repression
and violence to which the African-American community was subjected,
enduring murders, shootings, beatings, lynchings, on a permanent basis. Much
of the debate about how to confront the Jim Crow regime developed
around how to confront the state violence of this regime, among those
who postulated "nonviolent" resistance against
those who did not hesitate to take up arms and organize self-defense to
confront the gangs. racist repression of the state and the KKK. In 1953, the "boycott"
of buses in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, began when authorities ignored the
successful claim of local black leaders that they had achieved the end
of an ordinance that required blacks to travel standing on buses. the
The claim was that there was a right to sit on buses, but Louisiana's attorney general struck down the ordinance because it conflicted with state segregation laws. Black leaders announced a boycott, Theodore Judson Jemison, a preacher coordinated the boycott through the Urban Defense League (UDL), a federation of Baton Rouge churches. The struggle brought together thousands during the 6-day boycott, and although the agreement reached with the City Council was partial and highly criticized by some sectors of blacks, the mass action had achieved more in a week than the legal actions of the NAACP. they had achieved in years. Another Black preacher who a year later would be named pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist in Montgomery, Alabama, named Martin Luther King, who launched a similar movement. The state of Alabama had effectively banned the NAACP, requiring in 1956 a list of all its members and blocking its operations for refusing to provide it. Although the United States Supreme Court overturned the decision, for some years the NAACP was unable to function, and local churches and grassroots organizations filled the void left by the banning of the NAACP, even showing more radicalization, energy, and mobilization capacity.
On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka carried out a landmark court ruling that declared that state laws establishing separate schools for African-American and white students denied equal educational opportunities. . The ruling was handed down unanimously by 9 votes to 0 by the Court and in effect, overturned existing precedents since " Plessy v. Ferguson" in 1896, which was the legal basis for racial segregation. The ruling paved the way for racial integration and achieving civil rights for African Americans. The Supreme Court ruling fell like a bomb among the racist oligarchy of the South who felt the threat of this change in the status quo, and in reaction, The most important groups of the southern oligarchy formed the White Citizens' Councils, a racist organization designed to defend segregation.
Under the leadership of Robert B. Patterson the Citizens Council was formed on July 11, 1954 in Indianola, Mississippi at a 100-member meeting that included the city's mayor and civic attorney, but later expanded to other states such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Missouri. This movement of racists attracted middle to upper class civilians, most of them politicians, doctors, lawyers, teachers, bankers and businessmen, who tried to differentiate themselves from the KKK by presenting themselves as a non-violent organization, but in reality they constituted a powerful pressure group that pushed all kinds of economic, social and political extortions to oppress African Americans and their followers.
By 1957 membership in the Citizens Council exceeded 250,000 people, included 253 Councils and an extension to 30 states to form the Citizens Council of America with the goal of preserving racial segregation and "maintaining the rights of our States to regulate the public health, morals, marriage, education, peace and good order in the United States, according to the Constitution of the United States." The American Citizens Council boasted a strong board of advisors, including Senator James O. Eastland and Representative John Bell Williams of Mississippi, Senator J. Strom Thurmond, Representative L. Mendel of South Carolina, Governor Marvin Griffin of Georgia, as well as well-known racist leaders such as Judge Thomas Pickens Brady, Earl Johnson, State Attorney General Eugene Cook of Georgia, Talmadge, Governor Ross Barnett of Mississippi, Montgomery Mayor WA Gayle, the Dr. M. Ney Williams advisor to Governor Ross Barnett, Jackson Mayor Allen C. Thompson, Fielding Wright, and Griffin, among others. All of them segregationists who even established alliances with leaders always suspected of sympathizing with fascism such as Rumely or Mervin K. Hart.
The White Citizens' Councils merged into the Federation of Constitutional Government, and as their movement began to move toward extreme racist attitudes, intimidation, direct violence, and their support for violence carried out by the KKK, they were called the " Klan "country club " or "uptown Klan" , given that the funds that financially supported the organization came from the rich. In February 1956, Martin Luther King wrote to President Dwight D. Eisenhower to ask him to investigate the violence of the Citizens Council who, on July 16, 1956, pressured the Louisiana State Legislature to pass a law mandating racial segregation. in almost every aspect of public life, a bill that was signed into law by Governor Earl Long on July 16, 1956, and went into effect on October 15, 1956.
However, on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, who was an NAACP activist, refused to leave her seat on a public bus and was arrested, tried, and sentenced for disorderly conduct and violating a local law. But Parks along with Edgar Nixon had convinced Martin Luther King to lead the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-1956. The Montgomery Improvement Association created to lead the boycott managed to maintain it for 382 days, until the local segregation law was abolished. When a federal court ordered the city of Montgomery to desegregate its buses, success in Montgomery made King a national figure. Leaders of King's organization, the Reverend Ralph Abernathy, joined with other leaders and formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957.
The SCLC offered training and other anti-segregation assistance, making nonviolence its central pillar and primary method of confronting racism. In this a controversy arose with another powerful movement that emerged in 1952: the Nation of Islam. This had among its main leaders an African American recently released from prison: Malcolm Little Norton, who changed his name to Malcolm - violent" and demanded more radicalized and uncompromising methods for the fight against segregationists. One of the most important events of the Civil Rights Movement was that of the "Little Rock 9" when nine students from Little Rock, Arkansas on September 4, 1957 went to class at Little Rock Central High School, they were followed by crowds under threats of lynching, and Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus called in the Arkansas National Guard on September 4 to prevent them from attending the institute.
Faubus's order put him at odds with President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was determined to carry out the orders of the federal courts. Eisenhower, although he was not very enthusiastic about desegregating public schools, ordered the governor's National Guard to return to their barracks, and deployed elements of the Army's 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock to protect students who were able to attend the institute. Eisenhower's attitude did not have much to do with the defense of Civil Rights, but instead sought to help white racists who were suffering the possibility of serious defeat as explained by Richard Fraser and Tom Boot: "Eisenhower only dispatched troops to Little Rock at the Mayor's insistence, given that the black community was an armed camp prepared to sacrifice to the stubborn klan" (32) The students entered although in order to enter, they had to pass through a wall of white people insulting and spitting on them who harassed them all year .
At the end of the '50s, a wave of occupations began, driven by the student movement and youth. Students in Greensboro, North Carolina, Nashville, Tennessee, and Atlanta began "occupying" businesses at lunchtime, sitting blacks and whites together in protest of segregation. This often ended in brutal evictions, but the success of the Greensboro occupations spread throughout the south of the country, and by the early '60s they had spread to every southern state. They had even reached Nevada, Illinois and Ohio, in parks, beaches, bookstores, movie theaters, museums and other public spaces. The activists who led these occupations formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960, convened by Ella Baker, a longtime activist. SNCC set itself the task of ending Jim Crow peacefully, but reality struck it as the most radical of all civil rights organizations.
SNCC launched the " Freedom Rides , " which consisted of bus trips to the Deep South to end segregation. SNCC members were on the front lines of the fight, going to the Deep South to register voters and challenge Jim Crow governors, the police, and the KKK. In 1961, the organization's political experience in the struggle and with the Democratic Party produced a profound ideological change among SNCC activists who began to organize study groups on Marxism and African liberation struggles. The "Freedom Journeys" were an extremely dangerous mission, they suffered fire bomb attacks, attacks, blockades and brutal beatings. When the activists were taken to prison, they were also mistreated, packed into small, dirty cells. In Mississippi, NAACP activist Edgar Mevers was murdered.
Many of the protests ended with serious riots and clashes, resulting in deaths and injuries. In Mississippi, James Meredith successfully sued the University of Mississippi in 1962 to allow him to study there, but the state's governor, Ross R. Barnett, blocked his admission to the University, proclaiming that "no school will be integrated in Mississippi while I be governor." Meredith had to be escorted by United States Army troops to enter the campus on September 30, 1962, but serious riots broke out with deaths and injuries. In November 1961, mass arrests of local high school and college students sparked a riot. great mobilization and the formation of the Albany Movement, with representation from the SCLC, SNCC, the NAACP and local church activists, which achieved significant achievements in the following years.
The campaign continued in Birmingham in 1963, initially focused on the desegregation of downtown Birmingham businesses, including building occupations, protests at local churches, and a march to the county building. The city got a court order to ban all these protests, and King was arrested. King wrote the April 16, 1962, "Letter from Birmingham Jail ," and civil rights supporters put pressure on the Kennedy administration. to improve the reverend's detention conditions. King was then allowed to call his wife who was recovering at home after the birth of their fourth child. King was released on April 19, and the campaign began mobilizing high school students and children in demonstrations.
On May 2, 1963, more than a thousand students left schools to join the demonstrations that would become known as the Children's Crusade. But the response of the authorities was brutal, school buses were used to take them to prison, more than six hundred ended up detained in jail, they were attacked with water shot from fire hoses, and police dogs, which was seen throughout the country because The repression was captured by television cameras and broadcast in all states. The country was horrified by scenes of water jets from fire hoses hitting children and throwing them into the air or dogs attacking defenseless schoolchildren. The pressure broke the repression and faced with a new mobilization on May 5, the firefighters and police disobeyed the orders of the authorities, and let the mobilization pass.
The widespread public outrage in Birmingham forced the Kennedy administration to intervene more decisively in the negotiations between the white business community and the SCLC. On May 10, the warring parties announced an agreement to end segregation in restaurants and other downtown facilities, create a committee to eliminate discriminatory employment practices, release imprisoned protesters, and establish permanent communication mechanisms between black and white leaders. The reaction was violent against the agreement, bombs exploded against the SCLC headquarters, and 4 months later, the KKK bombed the Baptist Church on 16th Street, killing 4 girls. In Alabama, on June 11, 1963, Governor George Wallace attempted to block racial integration at the University of Alabama, forcing JFK to send federal forces to allow the enrollment of 2 black students.
To the extent that the politics of the organizations that promoted "non-violence" faced increasing repression, the currents that called for self-defense and demanded violence to impose their demands grew. The Nation of Islam , led by Malcolm But despite the campaigns against them, the Malcolm Muhammad Ali. The Nation of Islam was also impacted by the development of the triumphant revolutions in Africa, which were a source of inspiration; by 1960, some 17 African countries had obtained independence from European powers.
That is to say, the entire process of struggle of black people in those years was part of a broader global process of struggle of black people and African countries that achieved democratic triumphs that were unthinkable years before for those weak and poor nations that had suffered for centuries. the imperialist yoke. Malcolm Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, and other activists who had planned a march on Washington for the elimination of employment discrimination in 1941, and were now planning the Second March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which they initially proposed for 1962. The Kennedy Administration He put a lot of pressure on the organizers to wait for the new laws and not hold the march. On June 19, 1963, JFK presented the Civil Rights Bill to Congress, but on August 28, 1963, civil rights organizations, the most progressive wing of the labor union movement, women's organizations, and political They decided to carry out the march.
This action on August 28 was a very important point for the Civil Rights Movement, and went down in history for Martin Luther King's speech, "I have a dream." There were enormous divergences and discrepancies within the movement about the program of the march; the Kennedy Administration wanted it to support its bill. The Democratic Party wanted the mobilization not to be independent, and pressed with a policy that divided the Movement by Civil Rights, between those who supported the JFK Project, and those who did not. Malcolm X decided not to support the march. The NAACP wanted it to be supportive of the civil rights project that had been introduced by the Kennedy Administration, while Martin L. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference wanted to accentuate demands for economic and civil rights issues, independently. to JFK.
The NSCC and other organizations considered it a march against JFK, condemning his passivity and lack of support for civil rights for African Americans. Finally all the political and social currents that made up the Civil Rights Movement agreed on 6 points for the march: "significant civil rights laws; a massive federal employment program; for fair full employment; decent housing, exercise of the right to vote; and adequate integrated education." On August 28, more than 2,000 buses, 21 special trains, 10 chartered planes and countless vehicles allowed a mobilization of 300,000 people, who added the demand for Civil Rights to the protests against the Vietnam War. Very important artists participated, such as the singer Bob Dylan who performed several songs, accompanied by the folk singer Joan Baez.
Following the march, King and other civil rights leaders met with President Kennedy at the White House, who pledged to sign the Civil Rights Act into law. The enormous mobilization in Washington crowned decades of struggle by the black race, which was on the verge of achieving a historic victory. Their mobilization forced the Democratic and Republican Parties to vote against segregation, which those same parties had agreed to 80 years ago. Now the mobilization and struggle swept away the vestiges of the Compromise of 1877, laws and agreements that consolidated the segregation of the Jim Crow regime.
But Kennedy could not announce the law since on November 22, 1963 he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. On March 8, 1964, Malcolm SNCC and SCLC launched the "Mississippi Freedom Summer" campaign seeking to establish Free schools, community centers and other initiatives to help the local African-American population and register as many black voters as possible. Mississippi was the most openly racist southern state, where the White Citizens Councils, racist organizations of businessmen, KKK and officials, controlled the state. There arose the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) that challenged the white and segregationist state delegation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, claiming the seats corresponding to the Mississippi delegates since in the election of the official Mississippi delegation All rules had been violated excluding African Americans from voting in the primaries and participating in precinct and county election committees and the state convention.
leadership of the Democratic Party promoted an agreement between both
sectors but the MFDP delegates refused to accept it because it meant
validating a process in which blacks had been denied their
constitutional right to vote and participate in the political process. Mississippi
was governed by the Democratic Administration of Governor Ross Barnett,
over the poorest state in the country, with a huge African-American
population living in rural areas in terrible conditions, and with
constant fear of the terrorism they suffered at the hands of the KKK and
the White Citizens Councils.
Within weeks, racists had killed several local black activists and residents, bombed the offices of civil rights workers, and burned down several black churches connected to the project. During that summer, at least 38 civil rights workers were shot, and three of them, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman, murdered and buried by the KKK. Although the local authorities wanted to cover up the events, six weeks later the bodies were found as a result of the great mobilization and indignation that the events caused. Even so, the murderers were not convicted. This struggle was captured in the film " Mississippi Burning " starring Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe.
Finally, on July 2, 1964, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted, historic legislation promoted by the Administration of Lyndon B. Johnson, Kennedy's successor. The Act eliminated voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools and public places. Discrimination was prohibited in public schools, in government, and in employment, invalidating the Jim Crow laws, making segregation illegal. In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was passed, which prohibited discriminatory practices in the right to vote for African Americans, exactly a century after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the end of the Civil War. , and the enactment of the Fifteenth Amendment.
Despite these enormous historical triumphs the fight against repression and persecution continued, there was a series of very important riots and riots in Harlem in 1964, in Watts, Los Angeles in 1965, in Chicago the Division Street uprising of 1966, in Newark in 1967, and the most important of all, the Detroit uprising that began on July 23, 1967, lasted 5 days and left 43 dead, 1,189 injured, more than 7,200 arrests, and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed. The most important leaders of the African American struggle were persecuted, they became targets of the FBI, their private telephone calls were intercepted, they received false letters, threats, and coercion of all kinds.
Two of the most important leaders were assassinated in the '60s: On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated in New York, and on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King in Memphis, Tennessee. Every year, Martin Luther King's birthday is celebrated, in which both politicians and officials of the country praise King as a hero. But what they do not say in their acts of homage to King is what King thought in the last stretch of his life as a militant and fighter for civil rights. Towards the last years of his life, King became radicalized and took his positions increasingly to the left. From supporting and raising expectations in the Democratic Party, King went on to publicly denounce the Democratic government of Lyndon Johnson.
From working in common with the Democratic Party, King began to shift his positions toward building an independent organization. Political and struggle experience led King to radicalize his positions and distance himself from the Democratic Party. At Harlem's Riverside Church, King spoke about the Vietnam War and made his break with the Democratic Party official: " The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is: My own government." Newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, which had supported him, began to attack him. King began to promote a movement for social justice, independent of the Democratic and Republican Parties, that had strength in the unions. In fact, when he was murdered, he was in Memphis supporting the garbage workers' strike, and promoting a general strike. With the news of his death, riots broke out across the country, covering more than 125 cities, and to stop them, President Lyndon Johnson deployed 73,000 Army soldiers and 50,000
National Guard soldiers, the largest domestic deployment of military forces since the civil War. Malcom. In their final years, both Malcom The second is that to the extent that they turned left and distanced themselves from the Democratic Party, they found that the left-wing organizations in the country supported the Democratic Party. That is to say, they found themselves in a trap in historical terms, both in the political and organizational fields. In 1966, the Black Panther Party emerged in Oakland, California, promoted by leaders Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, and influenced by the thoughts of Malcolm X., as explained by Richard Fraser and Tom Boot: "The Black Panther Party was formed as a direct result of police brutality in the ghettos of the North and West. The most necessary demand of the black community was for self-defense...The Panthers were strongly influenced by the revolutionary persistence of Malcom (33)
FBI and the repressive forces declared them public enemy number one,
they were investigated, infiltrated, repressed and murdered, as Richard
Fraser and Tom Boot explain: "The story
of the Black Panthers is one of flaming courage, of defiance against
the system, and loyalty to the working class and the poor of the black
community. The Panther heroes and heroines fill the pages of black
history and will long be remembered...But during their brief existence
they were gloriously anti-capitalist, internationalist, integrationist
and increasingly anti- - sexist... " (34)
The historic struggle of African Americans had managed to overthrow the Jim Crow regime. Those horrible semi-fascist states in the south of the United States governed by supremacists, based on racial segregation, police and repression forces, the White Citizens Councils, and far-right paramilitary organizations like the Ku Kux Klan, once powerful, disappeared. , became absolutely marginal. The disappearance of the Jim Crow regime was the product of an enormous revolutionary process that eliminated it. But the revolutionary process driven by African Americans did not stop there, it continued to develop new movements.
The anti-war movement, the movement of youth, women, and racial and sexual minorities emerged, and continued to impact the Bonapartist and reactionary institutions of the state. The revolution that began with the Civil Rights movement tore the Klan to shreds. When the Bush Administration carried out its brutal racist policy in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, it did nothing more than summon the old ghosts of the revolution that swept through the United States in the '60s. But now the Bush administration was not only facing the ghosts derived from the African-American revolution of the '60s, but it was awakening another ghost: That of the mobilization against the war, a ghost that had not appeared since Vietnam. The fight against the Iraq war, and its analogies with the movement against the Vietnam war, are part of the development of the next chapter.
(1) BBC world, March 2, 2006
(2) Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky. "Everywhere, the official relief forces were insensitive, inept and racist" Rebellion 09-13-2005
(3) Joseph R. Chenelly " Troops begin combat operations in New Orleans to fight 'insurgents' Army Times September 4, 2005
(4), (5) Jeremy Scahill "Blackwater Down" The Nation 10 de Octubre 2005
(6) Richard Fraser & Tom Boot. "Dialectics of Black Liberation." Revolutionary Integration: A Marxist Analysis of African American Liberation. Richard Fraser and Tom Boot. Red Letter Press 2004
(7) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States". 1980
(8) George Novack. " The Negro Slavery in the USA " New International, October 1939
(9) Isabel Soto Mayedo. " Slave trade and slave monopolies in the Caribbean"
(10) George Novack. " The Negro Slavery in the USA " New International, October 1939
(11) y (12) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States". 1980
(13) and (14) George Novack. " Black Slavery in America " New International, October 1939
(15) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States". 1980
(16) George Novack. " The Negro Slavery in the USA " New International, October 1939
(17) Isabel Soto Mayedo. " Slave trade and slave monopolies in the Caribbean"
(18) Karl Marx. "To Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America" Marxists Internet Archive, 2001.
(19) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States". 1980
(20) " We define a Form of Accumulation as the companies that the capitalist class uses to accumulate capital in a given period . " Daniel Campos. The End of Multinationals, Chapter III "1929 and 2007".
(21), (22) y (23) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States". 1980
(24) Karl Marx. Capital Volume I
(25) George Novack. " The Negro Slavery in the USA " New International, October 1939
(26) Ferdinand Lundberg " The 60 Families of America" 1937
(27) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States". 1980
(28) (29) (30) Richard Fraser & Tom Boot. "Dialectics of Black Liberation." Revolutionary Integration: A Marxist Analysis of African American Liberation. Richard Fraser and Tom Boot. Red Letter Press 2004
(31)Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States". 1980
(32), (33) and (34) Tom Boot. "Dialectics of Black Liberation." "The next Southern Revolution." Revolutionary Integration: A Marxist Analysis of African American Liberation. Richard Fraser and Tom Boot. Red Letter Press 2004
Chapter VII Vietnam
"Vietnam shows the true ignorance of those who control the American power structure...it shows their ignorance, their blindness, their lack of foresight and their hindsight, and their complete defeat in South Vietnam is only a matter of time"
Malcolm X, 1964
the popularity of the Bush Administration was declining, after the
events of Hurricane Katrina, the popularity of the Bush Administration
began a process of plummeting. At
the beginning of 2005, the Bush Administration still enjoyed the high
popularity that had given it the electoral support of 2004 when it
obtained an absolute majority in the parliamentary elections and the
largest vote in history up to that point. But
in the middle of the same year, all the polls gave him declining
popularity margins, with high rates of disapproval of his management
compared to what happened in New Orleans. This
phenomenon of rejection and disapproval of the openly racist policy of
the Bush Administration in Katrina also began a slow and sustained
rejection of the Iraq War, with multiple expressions.
The first crises in the Bush Administration affected Donald Rumsfeld and the high command of the Pentagon, but if we talk about the Pentagon crisis, we talk about a fundamental institution of the American state that did not always exist in the history of the country as we know it today. In fact, the current structure of the Armed Forces began to develop around the Second World War, and in a special juncture, the end of the Second World War in which the capitalist world was in ruins and presented a panorama of devastation: All The old imperialisms that had dominated the capitalist world for centuries were in a state of destruction. By the time World War II ended England, France, Germany, Spain, Holland, Portugal, Belgium, among other nations that had been important imperialist capitalist nations, were completely in ruins.
years earlier, the phenomenon of the emergence of great tycoons in the
United States was linked to the development of monopolies on an
international scale. That
is to say, the emergence of monopolies in the United States was part of a
process that occurred simultaneously in France, England, Germany and
all the major capitalist economies. This
new Form of Accumulation was integrated through a conglomerate of
companies that came together to dominate a branch of production in the
country, for which they agreed on prices, production goals,
distribution, benefits, etc., to eliminate competition.
This is how Lenin defines it : "...they agree among themselves regarding the conditions of sale, payment terms, etc. They divide the sales markets. They set the quantity of products to be manufactured. They establish the prices. They distribute the profits between the different companies, etc." (17) With the emergence of monopolies the stage of "free competition" in capitalism ended, because through these agreements, companies formed a kind of league or union that allowed them to advance in the dominance of a branch of production in their country, while they also tried to extend that domain internationally.
These leagues or unions developed from 1860 under the name of trusts in the United States and in Germany under the name of cartels. The emergence of monopolies went through three moments according to Lenin: " 1) 1860-1880, culminating point of development of free competition. Monopolies constitute nothing more than barely perceptible germs.2) After the crisis of 1873, long period of development of posters, but these are still an exception, they are not yet solid, they still represent a temporary phenomenon. 3) Boom at the end of the 19th century and crisis of 1900-1903; posters become one of the bases of all life economic. Capitalism has been transformed into imperialism." (18) That is to say, although they emerged since 1860, monopolies became the predominant Form of Accumulation of capitalism from 1903 to the beginning of the 20th century. The structure they presented turned out to be complex, as a result of the fact that although they dominated one branch of production, they were combined companies that concentrated several branches within themselves based on the dominance they acquired over one of them, as Lenin explains: "an extremely An important aspect of capitalism, which has reached its highest level of development, is the so-called combination, that is, the meeting, in a single company, of different branches of industry that represent in themselves or successive phases of the production of a raw material. ...or different branches that play an auxiliary role in relation to each other..." (19)
is why we define monopolies as a group of companies that establish
agreements to dominate a branch of production in a country. When
these companies became the predominant Form of Accumulation after 1903,
the capitalist system entered, in historical terms, its highest and
final stage of decline. When
we talk about stages we are referring to a period that in historical
terms can last several centuries, since its birth and as part of its
evolution process, capitalism went through different stages from the
10th century in which it began its rise and battle to displace the
Until 1903, capitalism had gone through 2 major stages: First, the stage of original accumulation between the 10th and 16th centuries, secondly, the peak or apogee stage, around the 17th and 19th centuries. Starting in 1903, a third historical stage opened, imperialism, the stage of decadence of capitalism, with 5 characteristics as Lenin puts it: "... 1) Monopolies emerge that are placed at the center of the economy and play a role. decisive role in economic life 2) Monopolies are the product of the fusion of banking capital with industrial capital, which gives rise to a financial oligarchy 3) The process of capital export acquires exceptional importance 4) Monopolies tend to be international and divide the world 5) The territorial distribution of the world between the greatest imperialist powers culminates and the domination of monopolies and financial capital is established..." (20)
Monopolies tended to be international due to the existence of the capitalist world market, but the scope of their international dominance of the branches of production, commerce and finance at the beginning of the 20th century was still very limited. Some of them had branches in other countries, in the oil industry for example, and attempted operations for global expansion. But its global dominance did not achieve the dimensions that were achieved, as we will see, by multinationals in the 20th century, or by the Multinational Corporations that emerged from 1980 and 1990, which are superior monopolistic forms.
The current structure of the United States Armed Forces was born in this context. The
Pentagon is the product of the panorama of colossal development of the
productive forces that the United States presented in contrast to the
devastation and destruction that surrounded it. By
the end of World War II, the United States constituted one third of all
export operations in the capitalist world, had two thirds of all
existing gold reserves in its possession, and was the producer of 50% of
all merchandise in the world. World Market. From
then on, the United States took control of the world economy, which was
achieved with the implementation of the Marshall Plan, which produced a
change in capitalism: modern multinationals displaced monopolies from
the center of the world economy.
The Marshall Plan, the economic assistance to Europe, by the United States established after the Second World War, was not a disinterested measure, but with it the United States sought to extend its monopolies and finance military bases abroad to consolidate its world dominion. The US monopolies took advantage of the formidable business of the capitalist reconstruction of Europe to massively export their goods, using the economic reactivation of Europe as a bridgehead for their global expansion . That is, with the contribution of the North American state to Europe, the US monopolies were transformed into multinationals. A good example is the monopoly automobile producer Ford of the United States, which created an organization throughout Europe in 1967. The current structure of the United States Armed Forces was born in this context.
What differences are there between Multinationals and Monopolies? As we saw, Monopolies are companies that emerged since 1860 called cartels and trusts, unions or leagues of companies that dominate a branch of production in a country. On the other hand, Multinationals do not limit their dominance of a branch to one country, but do so on a global scale. Multinationals are not a league of companies like monopolies were, but rather they are a single company that dominates a branch on a global scale, which represents a qualitative leap in the process of monopolization of capitalism. By establishing themselves as a company that dominates branches of production, commerce and finance on a global scale, they became a superior form of accumulation, which contained and surpassed monopolies.
The mutation of monopolies into modern multinationals is the fundamental, structural change, in the productive field, of the international division of labor and commerce, that develops in capitalism. Thus the capitalist system adopted the physiognomy that we know it today. As Nahuel Moreno pointed out: "... The fact that I want to point out to you is the emergence of transnational corporations... This is a new phenomenon. Until the Second World War, no monopoly had branches... with the exception of the oil companies. ...that is, they are companies that have ten, twenty companies in different countries and all coordinated, working together" (1) After the great conflagration of the Second World War, the United States imposed its monopolies globally, with which monopolistic corporations such as General Electric, Ford, Coca Cola, etc., which had managed to dominate a branch of production in the US, became multinationals.
When the Wall Street crisis broke out in 1929, a Commission of Inquiry into the events that occurred between the banks and the financial system was formed in January 1933, headed by Ferdinand Pecora, who was assistant district attorney of New York County. In that investigation, Pecora denounced the role of City National Bank (currently Citibank). The testimony of the powerful banker JP Morgen Jr. provoked a repudiation and public protests because he admitted that he and many of his companions had not paid any income tax between 1931 and 1932. The world had emerged from the First World War and in all this period the dominance of the monopolies was concentrated in the conglomerate of companies of the Morgan group as described by Nomi Prins: "...The Morgan Bank had been the preeminent financier, at the level of 75% of private financing, in the First War World Cup, and was very closely linked to Woodrow Wilson and the Secretary of the Treasury of the time. She was very involved in the decisions that Washington made to finance the war effort through government bonds intended to raise additional funds, etc." (2)
World War I and World War II there was a transition from the dominance
of the Morgan conglomerate to the dominance of the Rockefeller
conglomerate, as stated by Nomi Prins: "... But at the time
when World War II broke out, Chase - a bank of Rockefeller -, since its
president Winthrop Aldrich was a friend of Roosevelt, he pressed to
withdraw the financing of the war from the Morgan Bank...Thus, the
operation of the war bonds, and the Liberty Bonds, was directed by
Aldrich and the National City Bank..." (3)
Between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th until
the First War, it was the Morgan group that had the most influence on
the country's governments, but after the First War with the emergence
and predominance of multinationals, the weight and influence was leaning
towards Rockefeller's Chase group who established deep relations with
the government of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower.
The balance tipped towards Chase and National City. The entire postwar political and economic order was established around this predominance, as Naomi Prins states: " After World War II, when Truman was president of the United States and the World Bank had just been created with the Bretton agreements Woods, along with the International Monetary Fund and other institutions, there was a character named John McCloy who had been Deputy Secretary of Defense under FDR, and who had also been a private attorney and had worked alongside the Rockefellers, first with Nelson Rockefeller and later with David Rockefeller. After World War II, he was offered to become the second president of the World Bank. He accepted the proposal, with one condition: that Wall Street be the engine of distribution of the bonds that were going to finance many of the World Bank's initiatives. So he asked for something that was outside the legislation, after conversations he had with Truman's Treasury Secretary, in the sense that Wall Street would actually be the deciding party regarding which countries the World Bank would support. These countries were capitalist countries and as the Cold War entered the capitalist countries got better deals. The Eisenhower government would finance countries that were most aligned with the ideas of John McCloy, who later became president of Chase, and those of other bankers of the time "
After the Second World War and from the period 1945/47 onwards, multinationals expanded globally, imposing production and marketing goals, counting in their favor the fact of having an immense world market without limits, and without competition, because the monopolies of the Other imperialist countries were destroyed after the Second World War. The political regime of the United States began to express the rise and dominance of the world capitalist economy by the American state. Upon becoming the new leading imperialist power in the capitalist world, the United States began to undergo changes in the country's political regime as a result of the emergence of institutions such as the Pentagon and the CIA, a whole series of new institutions that until then did not exist in the political regime.
The advent of these institutions transformed the political regime into one much more undemocratic than that which emerged from the First and Second North American Revolutions. As Novack states: " A representative democracy is alien to the economic tendencies of corporate capitalism. The advent of monopolistic rule not only stopped the spread of new freedoms, but also meant the contraction of the rights already acquired by the people. The Imperialism accentuates the contradiction...between the coexistence of power, the desire for profits and property of the dominant capitalists and political democracy. It inevitably feeds anti-democratic forces and tendencies due to the high centralization of command, required by the operations of big capital both in production as in political life" (5)
The appearance of horrific political regimes such as the Nazi or fascist regimes in advanced capitalist nations such as Italy or Germany endangered the lives of millions of people, and had its expression in all political regimes in the world. In the USSR, a totalitarian regime was established that deported dissidents and established concentration camps with millions of opponents. In the United States, to the extent that the growing presence of monopolies and the social class of magnates had transformed the state, giving it an increasingly imperialist character, institutions of a growing Bonapartist or totalitarian nature appeared in the political regime, such as the Pentagon, the CIA or the FBI. These institutions are opposed to the institutions of the bourgeois democratic regime, which express another different stage of the country's capitalist development.
With the emergence of the Pentagon, the CIA and the FBI, and the country's entry into World War I and World War II, in addition to the growing military interventionism in other countries such as Mexico, Haiti, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, or Cuba, it was taking shape. the American imperialist state, which became the first world power. The United States began to dominate the entire world politically, socially, economically and militarily. It moved its multinationals, and with it, its values, its culture, its language and its way of life globally. In the middle of the 20th century, the 5 continents of the planet began to live, breathe, feed themselves and carry out their daily lives, around the US system of life.
After the Second World War, the so-called "Cold War" ensued in the field of foreign policy, while in the field of domestic policy the so-called "Truman Doctrine" was developed , a brutal witch hunt and persecution of thousands of American citizens and journalists. , workers, artists, intellectuals, and soldiers. Both doctrines had as a common denominator the declaration that the Soviet Union was an imminent threat to the country's security. Truman promulgated Executive Order 9835 of 1947, which initiated a program of investigation of government officials, and the chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Joseph McCarthy, unleashed an extensive process of denunciations, unfounded accusations, denunciations, interrogations, irregular processes and blacklists with accusations of being communists, disloyalty, subversion or treason that developed between 1950 and 1956.
The political context of the attacks of McCarthyism were the enormous revolutionary processes that occurred between the world wars, which had given rise to the Soviet Union, had made it possible for the bourgeoisie to be expropriated in half of Europe after the Second World War, also in Korea, and that in 1949 the Communist Party led by Mao Zedong came to power in China. It was the fear of the advance of the revolutionary process and communism within the country that explains why Mc Carthy launched a furious persecution, leaving aside all legal principles, and destroying civil rights. Personalities such as Alger Hiss, president of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who were executed in 1953, or Hollywood actors such as Humprey Bogart, Charles Chaplin, or Bertolt Bretch, were accused of collaborating with communism.
The "witch hunt" carried out by McCarthy forever left the word "McCarthyism" as a term for situations where political opponents are persecuted and civil rights are not respected in the name of national security . Many sectors opposed McCarthy and denounced the "witch hunt" process , such as the prominent playwright Arthur Miller who wrote the famous play "The Witches of Salem" in 1953 or Edward R. Murrow who denounced it on the television program See it now . John Henry Faulk, radio comedy host and union leader of the Federation of Television and Radio Artists, also confronted McCarthyism, as well as the organization in Defense of the First Amendment of the Constitution, or the organization of actors who refused to appear before the McCarthy courts known as the "Hollywood Ten" . The battle of mass sectors ended with McCarthyism, and McCarthy was finally expelled from the Committee in a motion of no confidence by the US Senate in 1954, by 67 votes to 22.
The growing development of antidemocratic tendencies caused by the emergence of multinationals was expressed in the field of the political regime with the development of the CIA, the FBI and the Pentagon. Until 1941 the country's army was small, according to Novack: "...until 1941, the professional army - although not the navy - was relatively small for such a powerful power. This has been totally transformed over the course of the last quarter of a century. The United States now has military forces of unprecedented size, with enough firepower to pulverize the planet" (6) The Second World War was the great driver of the growth of the Armed Forces. Before the war there was no Pentagon, nor joint activity between the Army and the Navy, nor was there any command that centralized the actions of the troops.
It was in the Second World War that Franklin D Roosevelt and UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill established the Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) in 1942, a combined military body between the United States and the British Empire. Recruitment for World War II was a mass phenomenon with more than 18 million soldiers and millions of working families who supported the war either by purchasing state bonds, contributing their children and loved ones as soldiers, or demonstrating at rallies. , and concentrations in the cities to farewell the troops that were massive. The number of soldiers killed in World War II was 400,000, a figure that was only surpassed by the Civil War, which shows that the fight against the horrible regime of Nazism was an enterprise supported by the masses.
This massive intervention in World War II involved a qualitative expansion of arms production from the development of the Department of Defense (DoD) that emerged from the merger of the Department of the Navy and the Department of War in 1947. DoD emerged under President Truman, and a joint staff led by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of the Allied troops in the Second War, was formed. All these new Bonapartist institutions that emerged after the Second World War revealed the imperialist character of the North American state, and the cruelty of these institutions was revealed practically at the moment of their emergence. The Pentagon was in its infancy when in 1945 Curtis LeMay, general of the Air Force (USAF), carried out the strategic planning of the raids carried out by the Boeing B-29 Superfortresses that destroyed entire cities in the country. LeMay recommended that pilots fly at night at low altitude over Japanese cities to drop their incendiary bombs. The Bombing of Tokyo on the night of March 9 to 10, 1945, carried out by 334 B-29 bombers, was of unprecedented cruelty, with napalm bombs that destroyed a third of the city, and caused 100,000 deaths.
The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were ordered by President Harry S. Truman, and were carried out on August 6 and 9, 1945, when the nuclear weapon Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima on Monday, August 6, 1945, killing 166,000 people instantly followed by the detonation of the Fat Man bomb on Thursday, August 9, over Nagasaki, which killed 80,000 people and injured 130,000. They are the only atomic bombings in history. Of unprecedented cruelty, the victims died from radiation poisoning, leukemia, and different forms of cancer attributed to exposure and the radiation released by the bombs. The perpetrators of these crimes against humanity were decorated as "Heroes", and as a consequence of the defeat, the Japanese Empire was occupied by allied forces led by the United States, Australia, India, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
new emerging institutions such as the Pentagon and the CIA were
equipped with qualified personnel for war, espionage, and the military
industry through mechanisms such as "Operation Paperclip" carried out by
the Intelligence and
Military Service, which resulted in the incorporation of scientists
from Germany specialized in rockets, chemical weapons, naval weapons and
medical experimentation, through which more than 700 scientists and
their families were secretly transferred, without an entry visa because
they had all served the Nazi cause.
The brain of "Operation Paperclip" was Allen Dulles, lawyer and close friend of the Bush family, who, in addition to carrying out the mission of hiding the relationship between the Bush family and Nazi Germany, offered contracts to Nazi scientists during 1945. . In September 1945 the first group of 7 scientists arrived as "Special Employees of the War Department", among them Wernher Von Braun, Eberhard FM Rees, Wilhelm Jungert and Walter Schwidetzky . The Pentagon's concern was to recruit aeronautics and synthetic fuel experts, recover weapons and operatives to obtain secret Nazi nuclear weapons, equipment and personnel, or capture Nazi aeronautical technology.
It was in the period of rise of the United States, before the First World War, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) emerged, created on July 26, 1908 at the initiative of Attorney General Charles Bonaparte, who requested the hiring detectives, and investigators for civil rights issues and fraud cases. In the following years, local FBI offices were created in the main cities of the country under the command of J. Edgar Hoover, who became director of the FBI in 1924, and spent 24 years at the head of that institution, becoming the most senior official. important part of its history. The FBI is the institution in charge of espionage and internal intelligence in the country. But the institution that most expresses the growing dominance of US Corporations over world capitalism is the CIA. If the FBI does domestic espionage, the CIA does global espionage.
CIA was created on September 18, 1947 by Harry Truman as an agency in
charge of the collection, analysis and use of intelligence, espionage
abroad, whether for governments, corporations or individuals, with the
capacity to carry out covert operations and paramilitary actions and
exert foreign political influence through its operational office, the
Special Activities Division. The
CIA had as its predecessor the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and
the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI, Office of National Intelligence),
which were denounced for their relationship with the Italian and
After World War II, the FBI and CIA became ubiquitous secret police and military agencies, employing a legion of informants and provocateurs. All of these institutions that emerged in the first decades of the 20th century were covered by antidemocratic laws such as the Taft-Hartley, Smith and Landrum-Griffin laws, along with the witch hunt launched by McCarthy that affected democratic freedoms against unions, social organizations, and left-wing parties, especially the Socialist Workers Party and the Communist Party. As Novack states: "The unprecedented concentration of economic, political and military power in the gigantic corporations of private wealth and the exclusive command that monopolists seek over the decisive spheres of national life, are opposed to the preservation and extension of the democratic rights and institutions" (7)
The CIA tried to intervene in Cuba after the outbreak of the revolution in 1959 in defense of the interests of the North American corporations that dominated the Cuban economy protected by the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. This is how Howard Zinn tells it: "In the spring of 1960, President Eisenhower gave secret authorization to the CIA to arm and train anti-Castro Cuban exiles in Guatemala for a future invasion of Cuba. When John F. Kennedy began his presidency, he continued They went ahead with the plans and, on April 17, 1961, CIA-trained forces...arrived at the Bay of Pigs, on the southern coast of Cuba, 90 miles from Havana.They hoped to incite a general revolt against Castro. But it was a popular regime and there was no revolt. Castro's army crushed the CIA forces in three days." (8) Allen Dulles was the first director of the CIA, and led operations such as coups d'état or operations like the " Paperclip", but fell into disgrace due to the failure of the "Bay of Pigs" operation to invade Cuba.
American culture goes global
When the United States came to dominate the world economy in the post-war period, it also began to impose its culture, its music, its customs, its ideas and its traditions, as Leon Trotsky explained: "In recent years, the economic axis of the world has shifted . has displaced considerably...Naturally, this evolution has been in preparation since ancient times; there were symptoms that pointed to it, but very recently it has become a fait accompli, and now we are trying to realize this formidable change effected in the human economy and , consequently, in human culture...The European bourgeois does not want to believe that he is relegated to the background, that the United States are the owners of the capitalist world" (9)
If something symbolizes the dominance of the United States over global culture, it is Hollywood. The propaganda machine that culture means reached monumental proportions with the development of an industry that constituted a true machinery of social and political penetration of colossal dimensions, which allowed the culture, traditions and customs of the United States to become globalized. The history of cinema began on December 28, 1895, when the brothers Louis and Auguste Lumière made the first public projection of moving images, the cinematograph. The Lumières' invention had as its predecessor Thomas Alva Edison's kinestoscope. They managed to make a more portable and functional camera from that device that recorded moving images, although it was not capable of reproducing them.
The Lumières did not have excessive confidence in the technical and artistic possibilities of the new invention, but even so the screenings were attracting an increasing number of spectators with films that interchangeably combined two cinematographic trends: documentary cinema and fiction cinema. This is how the famous " Departure from the Factory" or "The Arrival of the Train at the Station" both from 1895 remain in our memory. Different German, North American and English inventors copied and improved the cinematograph, and once its economic potential was proven, the Cinema soon became a cheap and popular sideshow, despised by intellectuals. The firm of Charles Pathé extended cinema to all of Europe, so before the First World War, French cinema had taken over the world, the Pathé firm equipped 95% of the theaters in Belgium, 60% in Russia and 50% from Germany, just as US cinema imported French films.
From this era are David W. Griffith, Frizt Lang, Sergei M. Eisenstein, Cecil B. DeMille, Charles Chaplin, Friedrich W. Murnau, Vertov, and Jean Epstein. Already at the beginning of the 20th century, the production of the United States began to stand out, and in 1920 it produced 796 feature films, compared to the 646 produced by Germany or 65 by France, nearly 80% of the films shown in Europe were American, and Hollywood It started as the world headquarters of the film industry. At the end of this decade, the evolution of cinema was marked by the revolution brought about by the arrival of sound cinema, with the first film " The Jazz Singer" , by Alan Crossland. The studios, which at that time brought together all cinematographic activities vertically in the fields of production, distribution and exhibition, were forced to make large investments to adapt to the new sound recording technology. Film cameras, to ensure good tuning between the soundtrack and the image, began to roll at 24 frames per second, which also implied the reform of the exhibition halls and the financial structure of Hollywood.
Sound cinema concentrated the industry in the hands of big banks and the electronics industry, boosting the importance of screenwriters, which allowed the arrival in Hollywood of journalists, writers and playwrights such as the Mankiewicz brothers, Charles McArthur, Ben Hecht, etc., both from the East Coast and Europe, attracted by the enormous job offer that writing for the film industry represented. In the first years the film production center was installed on the East coast, around New York, but the climate of the area, rainy and with long winters, meant that many hours of filming were lost, so the producers moved in 1906. to the other West coast in an area around Los Angeles plagued by the species of trees called hollies, from which the name Hollywood comes, which in English means "holly forest ."
The '30s and '40s are the golden age of Hollywood, in which the "studio system" was forged when ten major film equipment manufacturers joined together to form the Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC). MPPC took advantage of its monopoly power to impose the payment of fees to producers and exhibitors, but litigation led to the failure of the monopoly, and this allowed the emergence of the 5 that began to dominate the industry: Paramount Pictures, Loew's Inc. .which later became Metro Goldwyn-Mayer, La 20th Century-Fox, Warner BROS, and Radio-Keith-Orpheum (RKO). The consolidation of these business centers, called "majors", integrated the production, distribution and exhibition of films, and allowed the 1930s to become the "golden age" of Hollywood, based on the "star system", or cinema. based on glamorous movie stars, and the development of different genres such as musicals, film noir, adventure films, or horror films.
was during this period that the North American film industry began to
dominate the world scene not based on film production, but on the
extensive distribution network they had not only throughout the United
States, but throughout the world. These
networks provided them with enormous advantages in terms of the
possibility of lowering distribution and exhibition costs, and of
directly accessing the benefits left by viewers at the box office, with
which production did not account for more than 5% of the investments,
distribution 1% and film exhibition the one that accumulated the most
money, with around 90%.
The big 5 had managed to take over the most profitable theaters in the entire country, 16% of the total theaters, but those that contributed the best income. The Big 5 did not exercise their hegemony in the United States alone, but this power extended to the world market. After the First World War, the eight main companies were established outside the borders of the United States. During the last half of the '20s and the decades of the '30s and '40s, income from abroad was going to account for half of what was collected by an average feature film. By the end of the 1920s, Hollywood already dominated the markets of Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan, and since foreign taxes and tariffs were an impediment to the spread of Hollywood influence, the American State Department helped in a first moment for film companies to overcome these restrictions by collaborating with their trade association, the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA), created by the Big 5 to consolidate control over the industry.
Paramount, created in 1905 by Adolph Zukor, was the most powerful monopoly with studios in Los Angeles, New York and Paris, and a global distribution and exhibition network that had the largest number of theaters in the world, the Publix cinemas. Although its dominance suffered during the Great Depression, after the Second World War it managed to recover and once again took the lead with profits for 1946 that amounted to US$39.2 million. Paramount launched actors such as Mary Pickford or John Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks, Gloria Swanson, the Marx Brothers, Mae West, or Marlene Dietrich to fame. Metro Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) dominated the 1930s and was founded by Marcus Loew, who partnered with the distributor Metro Pictures in 1919, and absorbed the Goldwyn Pictures Corporation in 1924.
MGM launched Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, James Stewart, Judy Garland, and Elizabeth Taylor, among others. 20th Century-Fox was born on May 29, 1935 by the merger of the Fox Film Corporation and 20th Century Pictures, and launched Shirley Temple, Will Rogers, Tyrone Power, Betty Grable, Don Ameche, Maureen O'Hara, Gregory Peck, Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney, and Dana Andrews, although in terms of profits it was a long way from MGM or Paramount. Warner Bros. was founded in 1923 by Harry, Sam, Albert and Jack L. Warner, four Polish emigrants who released the first talkie feature in the history of cinema, The Jazz Singer , in 1927 and acquired control of several hundred theaters.
(Radio-Keith-Orpheum) emerged in 1928 from the merger of the
Keith-Albee-Orpheum (KAO) theater circuit and the Film Booking Offices
of America (FBO) studios of Joseph P. Kennedy, father of who was later
the President John Fritzgerald Kennedy. The
studio produced many interesting films, the Fred Astaire and Ginger
Rogers musicals, but it will most be remembered for Orson Wells' Citizen Kane . The
golden years of RKO passed between 1943 and 1947, but in 1950 the
millionaire Howard Hughes would appear, who took over the presidency
through a collaborator of his and ended up dismantling the company in
Universal, Columbia and United Artist were the small 3, with less importance within the industry. In 1938 the Roosevelt administration filed a lawsuit against the monopoly formed by the Big 5 and the Little 3. After
being accused of conspiring to determine the contractual conditions of
distribution and exhibition, in 1940 they were forced to comply with a
system of rules regulating commercial practices. In
1944 the government again pressured the big five companies to divest
themselves of their exhibition circuits, and finally, in 1948, the
Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the simultaneous use of
means of production, distribution and exhibition was exercising
monopolistic activities and that the studios had to get rid of their
That is, the system that had made Hollywood prosper not only in the United States, but throughout the world was dismantled, marking the end of the "Golden Age" of Hollywood studios. At the beginning of the '50s Hollywood could not cope with the general decomposition of the studio system, but the arrival of television had a lot to do with this progressive decline, which became a tough competitor. With the end of the post-war period, the film industry entered its stage called "Post-Classical Cinema", while Hollywood entered the stage called " New Hollywood" with directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Brian de Palma, Martin Scorsese. , and Steven Spielberg who created products that innovated on existing genres and techniques such as "The Godfather", "Jaws", "The Exorcist" or "Star Wars" with which the modern concept of "commercial cinema" or Mainstream was established. .
Independent cinema later emerged in the '80s and early '90s with another generation of filmmakers including Spike Lee, Steven Soderbergh, Kevin Smith, and Quentin Tarantino. The world continued under the influence of American culture, although the Copernican axis of its influence changed: From cinema and Hollywood being the center of the global influence of American culture, it became music and rock. Rock became the universal artistic expression, a true cultural-political-artistic movement that encompasses an almost infinite universe of genres and sub-genres and marked generations at all stages of their lives. But this movement that became global, has its origin in the very bowels of the country from an original form known as "rock and roll" that emerged from the fusion of 2 genres and cultures: Blues and country, black culture and white, a fusion not only of musical styles but of 2 cultures.
The white culture of country music is a descendant of the immigrant peasants from Europe who arrived in America and the African-American culture is a product of the massive arrival of people of African culture due to the development of slavery. That fusion that gave rise was only possible due to the rise of African Americans, young people, and women, a product of the process that unleashed the Third American Revolution. Rock incorporated influences from jazz, classical music and focused on the electric guitar, incorporating the new technologies of the time that allowed the incorporation of electric instruments and amplification, which led to the activity of large recitals and shows of masses. The Woodstock festival at the end of the '60s became the backdrop and soundtrack for the rebellion of the youth, black people's fight against the Vietnam War.
Starting in the '50s and '60s, and especially after the global impact that the emergence of The Beatles implied, the music industry became a global business with a penetration power greater than cinema, which displaced it as the dominant industry in the field. of entertainment, art and culture. In this way, it is not surprising then that many of the multinationals linked to the film industry later turned to the music market, and to dominate an industry among which were EMI of British origin, Universal Music Group of American origin, Sony Music of Japanese origin, Warner Bros Records, the American film company that expanded its businesses into the field of music, Polygram / Polydor controlled by the Dutch multinational conglomerate Phillips, and BMG Music of German origin.
As the decades passed, these companies intertwined their interests, absorbed others, or absorbed each other as part of the concentration process typical of capitalism, as the mass music industry developed on a global scale, and produced the transition from multinationals to Multinational Corporations. This is how there were finally 3 large conglomerates dominating the industry on the one hand Universal Music Group that absorbed Polygram / Polydor in the '90s, and EMI in the 2000s.
On the other hand the conglomerates
BMG and Sony were unified into the company Sony BMG in 2004 and Warner
Music Group. Rock
dominated the music scene between the '50s and '90s, and in this way
music displaced cinema in the field of the entertainment industry, in
turn other modern musical trends such as electronic music and rap
displaced rock, developing a whole series of new techniques and
developments linked to the digital era. If
the guitar and electrical amplification were the center of the music
industry during rock, the turntable, the DJ, software and digital
programming are the center in the era of electronic music and rap.
Rap is a musical genre with global impact that emerged among the black community that gave rise to the hip hop culture that emerged in the South Bronx of New York in the mid-1970s. The vocal technique that characterizes this genre is the rhythmic recitation of rhymes and word games accompanied by a rhythmic musical background known as the English beat voice, which gave great rappers to the world such as 2pac, The Notorious BIG, Rakim, Eminem, Eazy- E, Ice T, among others. It is not the subject of this work to analyze the complexity of the artistic evolution of cinema, rock and rap, only to point out the impact that these artistic trends had on global culture, as an expression of the dominance of the United States over culture and art. during the 20th century.
The Bush Administration and the ghost of Vietnam
Ten days before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, lead singer of the country music band Dixie Chicks, Natalie Maines publicly criticized US President George W. Bush during a concert at the Shepherd's Bush Empire theater in London. There Natalie said: " We are ashamed that President Bush is from Texas ." The growing resistance of the people to the war began to be expressed in the emergence of a series of movements and organizations such as "Gold Star Families for Peace (GSFP), " Veterans for Peace " (in English, VFP) , " United for Peace and Justice " (in English, UFPJ ), " Code Pink ", "Military Families Speak Out", and " Casa Crawford Paz ", among others. GSFP was headed by Cindy Sheehan and her husband Patrick Sheehan, parents of soldier Casey Sheehan, who had been killed in Sadr Baghdad on April 4, 2004.
began their activity by organizing talks, testimonies before Congress
and then began coordinating more than 65 families of soldiers killed in
Iraq. On August 7, 2005,
22 days before Katrina made landfall, the group camped in Crawford,
Texas, where President Bush was vacationing on his ranch. Also
leading the delegation were Bill Mitchell, father of Army Sergeant
Michael Mitchell, Celeste Zappala, mother of Army Sergeant Sherwood
Baker, Lila Lipscomb, mother of Army Sergeant Michael Pederson, and Sue
Niederer, mother of Lieutenant Seth J. Dvorin. They,
along with other relatives of soldiers killed in combat, set up camp in
front of Bush's ranch and remained there in protest against the Iraq
war, an activity that allowed them to achieve national notoriety.
Along with GSFP, another important organization called Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) began to mobilize, made up of personnel who had been serving since 9/11, in Iraq and Afghanistan. IVAW had been founded in July 2004, by Kelly Dougherty, representing Army Veterans, Tim Goodrich, for Air Force Veterans, and Mike Hoffman for the Marine Corps, among others. The organization is made up of veterans and active duty personnel from all branches of the Armed Forces, and launched a campaign against the government's recruitment of young people and the poorest sections of the population to send them to war, and He gained sympathizers throughout the country.
IVAW also gained supporters in Canada, Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan. Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) launched the "Bring Them Home Now " campaign in August 2003. It also emerged " Code Pink" was founded on November 17, 2002 by Jodie Evans, Medea Benjamin and other leaders, and was established as a women's organization against military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan. Code Pink took delegations to Iraq, brought 6 Iraqi women on a tour of the country, made important exposes on war crimes in Fallujah, reporting on how the occupation affected the situation of Iraqi women. Another organization that launched a campaign against the Iraq War was the Crawford Texas Peace House, which accompanied Cindy Sheehan's protest, and carried out a courageous campaign in the state of Texas against the War. . Also emerging were "United for Peace and Justice " (UFPJ), which emerged in October 2002, and ANSWER "Act Now to Stop War and Racism." that emerged in September 2001.
In Europe meanwhile, the "Stop the War" Coalition (STW) emerged, bringing out the very popular slogan: "Not in my name." STW organized the largest demonstration against the impending invasion of Iraq on February 15, 2003, with attendance estimates of nearly 2,000,000 people, and on December 10, 2005 held an International Peace Conference attended by speakers from all over the world. Both GSFP, IVAW, MFSO, Code Pink, CTPH, UFPJ, ANSWER and STW had a common denominator: All of these organizations emerged between 2001 and 2004 in response to the invasions of Afghanistan or Iraq, the regime of the Patriot Act and the PNAC strategy. Its development expressed a profound process in defense of democratic freedoms against the policies of the Bush Administration, and its campaigns were based on the repudiation and rejection that millions began to express against the war, which explains why they were able to progress and develop quickly.
In turn, the emergence of all these organizations, along with that of thousands of activists who founded them, got involved, associated, collaborated or attended their events and calls, expressed a new generation of fighters for civil and social rights, who emerged in the first decade of the 21st century. This new generation of leaders and fighters provided the basis for the new movements that emerged later such as Occuppy Wall Street, but began to take the first steps in the defense of civil and social rights, confronting the Patriot Act regime, collecting the post of those who mobilized in the decades of the '60s and '70s, in the Vietnam and Cambodia Wars, the fight for the rights of the black race, youth, and women, an entire movement that defended civil rights and faced to the administrations of JFK, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon.
Now, in the first decade of the 21st century, it was not easy for these new leaders and fighters who emerged to carry out these demands, but they did it. And not only that. The new movement began to coordinate and link with the old movements of the '60s, '70s and '80s. For example, the leaders of the new anti-war movements began to coordinate with organizations such as Veterans for Peace (VFP), which was founded in 1985 by men and women veterans in the state of Maine promoted by Jerry and Judy Genesio, the Reverend Willard Bicket, Doug Rawlings, Ken Perkins, and Gerry Amelot. VFP organized protests against the intervention in Nicaragua in the '80s, but starting in 2003 it organized protests against the Iraq war, supported Cindy Sheehan, spoke out in favor of protecting civil liberties threatened by the Patriot Act, and demanded the dissolution of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
old organization also began to operate, such as Vietnam Veterans
Against the War (VVAW), which affiliated almost 25,000 veterans during
the height of the Vietnam War. VVAW
was one of the most influential anti-war organizations of the time,
founded in New York in 1967, amid protests against the Vietnam War. Did all these new organizations already have the support of the majority of the country's population? No.
When these organizations began to emerge, the majority of the
population still supported President Bush's proposals and his claims and
actions were only supported by a small minority of activists. Could
then the activities of these organizations and their incipient
development worry the Bush Administration and the establishment?
Yes, they could do a lot. The history of the country showed where circumstances could go, because it had lived the experience of the emergence of anti-war movements, which at first were small, but thanks to their insistence and persistent activity, they managed to transform themselves into a powerful mass movement that put on their knees to the Democratic and Republican administrations. There is a tradition of mobilization, resistance and struggle of the American people against war, a tradition that reappeared now facing the Patriot Act regime.
This tradition was punctuated through decades, confronting the policies of Democratic and Republican governments, as the United States emerged as an economic, political and military superpower, and it developed around a movement that had as its epicenter the fight against The vietnam war. The ghost of Vietnam once again hovered over the country's political situation, and appeared like a shadow over the Bush Administration. To better understand what the "Vietnam Syndrome" means for the country, it is necessary to know the entire process of mobilization against the Vietnam War that broke out in the '60s and then in the '70s. While the Pentagon troops were sinking in Iraq, the "Vietnam Syndrome" took shape again , a ghost that reappeared on the country's political scene, but now it went against the Bush Administration.
The entire process of fighting the Vietnam War involved an enormous process of mobilization that spanned the decades of the '60s and '70s, and jointly promoted the claims of minorities, youth, women, gays and lesbians, and He placed his demands at the center of the national situation. The fight against the Vietnam War took up the path of the struggle of African Americans as part of the Civil Rights Movement, a true social earthquake, of global reach, that impacted the political, economic, and social situation of the country, and detonated a series of new social and cultural phenomena whose impact remains valid to this day. Precisely, the social and political phenomena that were unleashed in the '60s and '70s are what the Bush Administration and the entire ruling elite feared would occur as their war efforts in Iraq failed. And his worst fears began to take shape.
The powerful mass mobilization against the Vietnam War
The Iraq War was a relatively brief military process, compared to Vietnam. NATO troops entered Iraq in 2003, and by 2006, the fundamentals of the military events had already been resolved, that is, the war and the defeat of NATO was accomplished in just 3 years. On the other hand, in the Vietnam War, the intervention of United States troops lasted 11 years, and without a doubt the experience of what happened 30 years earlier in Vietnam made the events in Iraq develop in a different and much more accelerated way, precisely because of the existence of a previous experience and tradition. When the Iraq War began, there were thousands and thousands of activists in the country and around the world who understood the content of the events that were about to unfold in Iraq, before the war took place.
An entire generation of activists had witnessed and witnessed the horrors, the massacres, the genocides of what the Pentagon and NATO troops were capable of in Vietnam. And when they saw the threat looming over the Iraqi masses, they did nothing more than respond in the same way that tradition and experience of 30 years earlier had indicated should be done. This accumulation of historical experience gave rise to the phenomenon that before Bush formally declared war on Iraq, mobilizations spread throughout the world, in numbers even greater than that which occurred during the Vietnam War.
By the time the Iraq war began, the experience accumulated in the Vietnam War was still fresh in historical terms, but it is worth reviewing the events that constituted it to understand how that experience began to act as soon as NATO troops entered the war. Iraqi territory. By 1964, Vietnam was a small nation that had become independent in 1956 from French imperialism after a long war of national liberation carried out by the League for the Independence of Vietnam (Viet Minh, abbreviated in Vietnamese).
The Geneva agreements recognized this victory and stipulated the division of the Indochina Peninsula region into 2 parts: North Vietnam and South Vietnam, areas that were to be unified after the call for general elections. But the South Vietnamese government led by Ngo Dinh Diem ignored the Geneva agreement and carried out a coup d'état with the support of the government of President Lyndon B. Johnson, the CIA and US troops as military advisors. Thus began the colonization process of South Vietnam with the tyrannical dictatorship of Diem. The Vietnamese people faced this dictatorship, forming the Southern National Liberation Front (Viet Cong, abbreviated in Vietnamese), a political and military force that achieved its first triumphs and opened a crisis in the Diem dictatorship. Faced with the collapse of its puppet government, the Democratic administration of Lyndon B. Johnson decided to intervene directly and bomb North Vietnam on August 5, 1964. Thus began one of the most important wars of the 20th century, between a small country, such as It is Vietnam and the most powerful capitalist power on the planet.
The War was a horrific human carnage and left a horrific toll of destruction with 281,896 soldiers dead and 300,000 wounded in the US military field; while for the Vietnamese people it was a true catastrophe: 5 million one hundred thousand civilians dead, 1 million 100 thousand soldiers and guerrillas killed in combat and a minimum of 600 thousand wounded. The US Armed Forces launched a total of 7 million tons of bombs, equivalent to 500 atomic bombs like those of Hiroshima, among which were a large number of chemical weapons, Napalm, bacteriological weapons, defoliants, etc., prohibited by the Geneva Protocol of 1925.
This is how Howard
Zinn explains it : "... million
tons of bombs on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia - more than double the
bombs dropped on Europe and Asia in World War II...the planes sprayed
toxic products to destroy trees and any type of vegetation, resulting in
an area the size of the state of Massachusetts being affected by the
poison. Vietnamese mothers reported birth defects in their children...
Yale biologists, after exposing mice to the same poison (2,4,5,T),
reported the birth of mice with defects and said they had no reason to
believe that the effect in humans would be different." (10) The people of the United States protested vigorously against that horrible war.
protests began in 1963 when an action committee called the League of
Resisters emerged, which began its protests when no US soldiers had yet
set foot on Vietnamese soil. In
1964 David Miller, a Catholic worker, decided to burn his military card
in an act that received tremendous publicity, since it was the first
card that was burned after the enactment that summer of a law of
Congress that equated the destruction of a military card , to the
serious crime of desertion. On May 12, 1964, 12 young men in New York publicly burned their draft cards, emulating Miller. After
the bombing began, some 1,500 people marched through New York on
December 19 in sub-zero temperatures, at an event featuring speakers
Norman Thomas, Philip Randolph and AJ Muste.
At the same time, similar demonstrations took place in Minneapolis, Miami, Austin, Sacramento, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, Boston, Cleveland and San Francisco with the prominent presence of the singer Joan Baez. The axis of the fight against the Vietnam War was the student movement. Students by Democratic Society ( SDS) arose, a movement that expanded rapidly in the mid-1960s and grew from a small group to thousands of students at 32 different colleges and universities, the which issued the Port Huron Declaration in 1962, where it called to stop the arms race, the rejection of war, and the call for peace.
February 1965, Lyndon Johnson began bombing Vietnam with Operation
Flaming Dart, and the introduction of ground troops, which caused
protests to grow. SDS organized sit-ins, events and pickets on University Campuses throughout the country; Signatures were collected and a call was made inciting civil disobedience. The
Cincinnati Pacifists group organized a committee against taxes for the
Vietnam War, a form of protest that came to organize more than 200 tax
resistance committees. On
March 16, 1965, Alice Herz, an 82-year-old widow who had fled Europe in
the Nazi years, set herself on fire in protest in downtown Detroit and
died 10 days later.
On April 17, the first major demonstration against the war was held, when the SDS called for mobilization together with the Civil Rights Movement, which brought together nearly 25,000 protesters in Washington DC. At that time in 1965, 48% of the population had a positive opinion of the war, 28% were against it, and the remaining 24% had no opinion. In August there were new protests in front of the Pentagon, with the massive participation of pacifist and civil rights movements, at the same time Berkeley activists carried out attempts to stop trains dedicated to transporting troops destined for war. Between October 15 and 16, protests were called in up to 80 cities around the world, including Rome, Paris and London.
New York, the Fifth Avenue Pacifist Committee, a coalition made up of
liberals, pacifists, communists, socialists and all groups opposed to
the war, managed to bring more than 50,000 protesters to the streets. On
November 2, 31-year-old pacifist Norman Morrison set himself on fire
under the window of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's office in the
Pentagon, and a week later, Roger La Porte, a young activist in the
Catholic Worker movement of New York blew itself up in front of the UN. On
November 27, 30,000 people mobilized in Washington and on the same day,
President Johnson announced an escalation in military participation,
raising the troop contingent from 120,000 to 400,000.
In February 1966, about 100 war veterans tried to enter the White House to personally return the president's war decorations, but were expelled. On March 26, demonstrations took place throughout the United States and several cities around the world. The demonstration that marched through New York managed to gather more than 20,000 people. In July 1966, Joan Báez and Muste proclaimed a tax war throughout the country, launching a campaign and refusing to pay their taxes to finance the war.
the middle of that year, the polls already showed parity between those
who opposed the war, reaching 37%, and those who supported the war,
reaching 41%. Strikes,
protests and demonstrations spread throughout the country as the famous
heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali declared himself a
conscientious objector, and refused to go to war. Cassius
Clay was sentenced to 5 years in prison and stripped of his champion
title, and was banned from professional boxing for 3 years. But
the mobilizations grew and were unstoppable by April 1967, when 400,000
people marched through New York with Martin Luther King, Benjamin
Spock, James Bevel and war veteran Barry Crumb at the head.
On May 2, Nobel Prize winner Bertrand Russell denounced the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the United States. The SDS movement became radicalized and made resolutions about supporting resistance to the war within the Army itself, called for the immediate withdrawal from Vietnam and, for the first time, made resolutions about the liberation of women and machismo. By 1967, in what was called " The Summer of Love," polls began to reflect that the majority of Americans thought that "war was a dead end."
In October 1967, a thousand recruits staged a massive return of their military cards in the Californian city of Oakland; and
a group of 300 students from the University of Wisconsin tried to
prevent an event from being held on the campus of the Dow Chemical
Company, the company responsible for the manufacture of napalm destined
for Vietnam. The police intervened and 68 were injured. On
October 21, the day after the incident, 100,000 people demonstrated in
front of the Lincoln Memorial, and 50,000 surrounded the Pentagon. In 1968, the assassination of Martin Luther King sparked a wave of violence and protests across the country.
The SDS carried out a fighting plan called "Ten Days of Resistance", which continued with rallies, marches, sit-ins, and public classes that culminated in the strike day on April 26. Nearly a million students participated in that strike, the largest student strike in the history of the United States. After this, support for the SDS took a leap, and student membership in the organization increased drastically during the 1968-1969 academic year. This leap in student organization and people's mobilization coincided with a political event that was a turning point in the Vietnam War: The so-called "Tet Offensive."
A before and after in the Vietnam War: The "Tet Offensive"
On January 30, 1968, the Tet Offensive began, a military operation planned by the North Vietnamese government in which they launched attacks on 26 provincial capitals throughout South Vietnam. Although the armies of North Vietnam were defeated, the political consequences of the offensive tipped the balance in favor of their cause: After the Tet offensive, due to the large number of American soldiers killed, around 4,000, the rejection of the war in the country it increased. The Tet Offensive dispelled the myth that "US armies were invincible ", and demonstrated that North Vietnamese armies could enter anywhere in South Vietnam. In this way, they completely broke the feeling that "the US is winning" and left all the effort of almost three years of campaign useless. When General William Westmoreland asked for 200,000 more troops, his request was rejected, and he was removed from General Command actions in 1968.
political crisis opened in Washington, and sectors of the Pentagon and
the State Department perplexed and astonished by the Vietnamese
offensive began to think that defeat was possible, or that Vietnam had
to be abandoned. The credibility of Lyndon Johnson's government fell sharply, and by that time, only 35% of Americans supported intervention. To
stop the Tet offensive, the US army had to resort to increasingly
atrocious and aberrant killings and tactics that aroused global outrage.
The My Lai Massacre,
which occurred in March 1968, was hidden from the public until 1969, but
veteran investigative journalist Mike Wallace asked war veteran Paul
Meadlo on CBS News in 1969 if babies were murdered in Vietnam.
The answer to this question had a profound impact on American public opinion, on Nixon's presidency, and on the course of the Vietnam War. As Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan explain "Babies too," responded Meadlo, an Army private who, along with many other American soldiers, had carried out a raid against a Vietnamese village called My Lai on March 16, 1968. ..American soldiers massacred more than 500 civilians over the course of the day. "They begged and said, 'No, no.' And the mothers hugged their children and... well, we kept shooting... Instead of meeting the enemy, there were only families in the village, women, children and the elderly. "And then they began to kill them. They threw them into a ditch, they raped the women, they killed them. They threw the babies and shot them with bayonets." (11)
The political crisis in Washington was deepening. Joseph Hansen, leader of the SWP, described the situation in this way in February 1968 in an article in World Outlook: "The climate is not new. In fact, history teaches us to expect this type of atmosphere in the dominant circles when they confront to revolutionary rises that for them are always "something totally strange and inexplicable" (12) Hansen described the situation perfectly. What for Washington was "something totally strange and inexplicable" is that they were not facing a regular war in Vietnam, but rather they were facing a revolution. That is why, despite the enormous economic, technical and military superiority, they could not subdue the Vietnamese masses. And after warning of the problem they were in, Washington began to sense that their worst problems were also becoming reality within the country. nightmares. That revolution, which seemed so far away in Southeast Asia, had also begun to break out within the country.
The action of the masses in the United States was increasingly massive, forceful and defiant, and was annihilating the Johnson Administration. The political crisis set in, and with it, the debate in the dominant circles about what to do with the war, because the resistance of the Vietnamese masses joined the action of the masses of the US and the world, to put Washington facing defeat. On April 26, millions of college and high school students staged a massive boycott of their schools across the country, while in Chicago the authorities lost control of the city when during the Democratic National Convention in August 1968, the famous , and at the same time tragic, Chicago Riots.
The mayor of Chicago, Richard J. Daley, prohibited assemblies, rallies, marches or meetings in public spaces, justifying the use of force to "break" the masses, but about 10,000 people surrounded the pavilion in which it was being held. the convention to demonstrate against the war. Daley deployed 23,000 police and National Guard units, protesters clashed with them, leading to violent riots and riots throughout the city. During the 6 days that the convention lasted, a real battle was fought between protesters and police for control of the streets of Chicago, but, while these events were developing in Europe, the French May broke out, another revolutionary process led by students and workers. Richard Nixon won the presidential election in late 1968 and took office on January 20, 1969, announcing the beginning of the phased withdrawal from Vietnam. On May 22, 1969, Canada announced that it would not detain the numerous military deserters from the United States who showed up at the border seeking permanent residence in Canada.
The Woodstock Festival, held between August 15 and 18, 1969, gathered between 400,000 and 500,000 and became a mass protest against the war, a symbol of the hippie movement and American counterculture. John Lennon, leader of The Beatles in protest against the Vietnam War, returned his Medal of Member of the Order of the British Empire in September 1969 through a letter addressed to the Queen of England herself, and on October 15, 1969 they had Thousands of demonstrations calling for the withdrawal of troops took place throughout the country. Millions of American citizens asked for the day off from work to participate in local demonstrations throughout the nation. In the first major demonstrations since Nixon came to power, on November 15, 1969, approximately 500,000 people participated in a large demonstration in Washington, DC. In that month of '69, 58% already thought that the participation of the United States was a mistake. In November 1969, when 69% were already opposed to the war, Nixon announced a gradual withdrawal of the more than 500,000 soldiers who were fighting in Vietnam at that time.
The withdrawal would last more than 4 years, but on April 30, Nixon announced military intervention in Laos and Cambodia, which intensified the protest. In response to these events, new waves of protests were organized, in one of which, held at Kent State University on May 4, 1970 in Ohio, the National Guard broke in and began shooting at the protesters, causing the 4 students died and 9 were seriously injured. The student reaction was unprecedented with more than 5 million students on strike. A few days later, 100,000 protesters gathered in Washington DC to protest the invasion of Cambodia and the shooting of the Ohio students. Police surrounded the White House with buses to block protesters from entering. In California, on August 29, some 25,000 Americans of Mexican origin participated in the largest anti-war demonstration held in Los Angeles. George Meany, leader of the AFL-CIO, began to feel that he was losing control of the workers' union center, when the first anti-war demonstration called by the unions was called in New York, ignoring the position of the Central leadership. who had been supporting the war.
In 1971, anti-war organizations announced that more than 500,000 people had demonstrated in Washington and California, the largest demonstration since November 1969. On May 13, 1972, protests spread again across the United States when Nixon announced its decision to mine North Vietnamese ports and launch new air attacks, in the so-called Operation Linebacker. But along with the irruption of the masses, the new fact was that the US army was collapsing.
A crisis opened in the Armed Forces, which was going to leave an open wound forever. Marine historian Colonel Roberto D. Heini Jr. made the following assessment : "The morale, discipline, and combat capability of the United States Armed Forces are, with a few exceptions, below and worse than ever in this century, and possibly worse than any other time in American history . Heini wrote the report on June 7, 1971, in the Armed Forces Journal, which continued: "All indications show us that our army remaining in Vietnam is in a state approaching collapse, with individual units avoiding or refusing to fight, murdering his officers and non-commissioned officers, riddled with drugs and with low morale where he is not on the verge of mutiny. Elsewhere, the situation is almost as dangerous as in Vietnam" (13)
This is how Zinn explained it: " Vietnam produced an opposition of soldiers and veterans like never before seen. They began as isolated protests...Individual acts multiplied...desertions increased in the armed forces. Thousands left for Western Europe, to France, Sweden and Holland. Most of the deserters crossed the border with Canada; a number was estimated between 50,000 and 100,000...The pacifist movement of American soldiers gained organization Near Fort Jackson, South Carolina, the first "American soldiers' cafeteria" a place where soldiers could drink coffee and pastries, consult pacifist books and talk freely with others...Other "American soldiers' cafeterias" were created in half a dozen points throughout the country. ...Clandestine newspapers began to appear on military bases throughout the country; in 1970 there were already more than fifty in circulation...In December 1970, hundreds of members of this group (veterans) went to Detroit to what would be called "Winter Soldier" investigations, to testify publicly about atrocities in Vietnam...In the summer of 1970, twenty-eight Army officers - including several Vietnam veterans -, saying they were acting on behalf of about 250 other officers, announced the formation of the Concerned Officers Movement, to oppose the war." (14)
On June 26, 1972, the US Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in the case Healy v. James by which he declared that Central Connecticut State University's refusal to recognize SDS, the anti-Vietnam War student organization, was unconstitutional. The highest court found that the denial of recognition by university authorities to SDS was a measure that violated the First Amendment, which meant an enormous triumph for the student movement, and for the youth that constituted the heart of the movement against the Vietnam War. The ruling noted that SDS members were unconstitutionally deprived of their First Amendment right to freedom of assembly when a group was denied permission to form a group on the campus of Central Connecticut State College in New Britain. SDS.
The movement to fight for women's rights
To understand what the entire process of mobilization against the Vietnam War meant, it is necessary to carry out the analysis of another powerful social movement that developed alongside the fight against the war: The Women's Struggle Movement. Although this movement developed alongside the fight against war and as part of the Civil Rights movement, it is a historical movement that began much earlier and has its roots in the oppression suffered by half of the world's population. since centuries. The Women's struggle movement is of enormous depth because with its mobilization it questions the pillars of capitalist society such as patriarchy, and private ownership of the means of production. Women have been developing a historic process of fighting for their rights that far exceeds what happened during the fight for Civil Rights known as the "second wave " of fighting for women's rights, but it is necessary to know that this wave was a successor of the "first wave" that addressed a series of demands among which the demand for women's suffrage was placed as central. Knowing the first wave is essential to know why a "second wave" was necessary and also essential to know the development of the Civil Rights Movement and the history of the country. In the United States, the struggle of an oppressed sector such as women was always linked to the struggle of another oppressed sector, the blacks, as expressed by the integration of women in the American Anti-Slavery Society (ASS). ) in the Convention of 1839 .
The black slavery abolitionist movement incorporated women after a strong debate, since women could not speak to the public on an equal basis with men. When the Grimké sisters, who had been born into a slave-owning family in South Carolina, spoke out against slavery, the ministers of the Congregational Church issued a statement condemning their actions. But despite the disapproval of the church, Angelina Grimké spoke against slavery before the Massachusetts legislature in 1838, becoming the first woman in the United States to speak before a legislative body. On the other hand, Sarah Grimké published "The equality of the sexes and the condition of women", a text that was widely disseminated, and other women began to give public speeches in opposition to slavery such as Ernestine Rose, and Lucretia Mott who was a minister Quaker and abolitionist, Abby Kelley Foster, and Lucy Stone.
as the leaders of the women's rights movement supported the abolition
of slavery, several members of the radical wing of the slavery abolition
movement supported the fight for women's suffrage. The
first women's rights convention was the Seneca Falls Convention on July
19-20, 1848, in the Finger Lakes region of New York, convened by five
female Quaker social activists including Lucreta Mott, and Elizabeth
Cady Stanton, who presented resolutions fighting for women's suffrage
with strong support from the abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, in
successful conventions with a lot of impact in the press.
Two weeks later, the Rochestere Convention on the Rights of Women of 1848 met, the first convention presided over by a woman, a step that was considered radical at the time. Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Candy Stanton began a teamwork that was crucial to the suffrage movement and the fight for women's rights: They agreed to suspend women's rights activities during the Civil War to focus on the abolition of slavery , but in 1863 Anthony and Stanton organized the Woman's National Loyal League, the first national women's political organization that collected nearly 400,000 signatures to abolish slavery in the largest campaign in the nation's history up to that time, with an impressive reach of more of 5000 members who constituted an extensive network of women activists.
After the Civil War, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the first woman to run for Congress, calling attention to the irony of being legally entitled to run for president and being denied the right to vote. The American and Equal Rights Association emerged, which divided into two wings, one, whose main figure was Lucy Stone, who were willing for blacks to achieve suffrage first, if necessary, and wanted to maintain close ties with the Republican Party. and the abolitionist movement. The other wing was that of Anthony and Stanton which argued that black women and men should be emancipated at the same time and work towards a politically independent women's movement that would no longer depend on abolitionists for financial and other resources.
But other women leaders emerge like Lucy Eldine González Parsons, a radical and anarchist labor leader, with powerful oratory, born a slave, and daughter of a black Mexican and a mestizo father from the Creek indigenous nation, who fought with her husband Albert Parsons against racial segregation. When her husband Albert Parsons was imprisoned and sentenced to death in the episode known as the "Chicago Martyrs" that became a reference for the entire labor movement, Lucy Parsons continued her fight and in 1920 she would be labeled by the Chicago Police Department. as "more dangerous than a thousand insurrectionists." Lucy had ideological disagreements with other anarchists such as Emma Goldman, due to her idea of considering the class issue more important than gender issues and the fight for sexual freedom. Emma Goldman was an immigrant, Lithuanian, anarchist and revolutionary who suffered imprisonment and persecution. She made public her opposition to the First World War, considering it an act of imperialism, for which she was deported to Russia.
and as a result of the developing division in the women's movement, the
American Women's Suffrage Association (AWSA) led by Stone was formed; and on the other hand, the National Women's Suffrage Association (NWSA) led by Anthony and Stanton. The
AWSA, which was especially strong in New England, was initially the
larger of the two rival suffrage organizations, but declined in strength
during the 1880s, during which Stanton and Anthony were more widely
known as leaders of the suffrage movement. and most influential in
determining its direction. The NWSA was led by women only, while the AWSA included both men and women among its leadership.
the country's Constitution was amended with the 15th Amendment that
granted equal suffrage without regard to race, Stanton and Anthony
opposed it and claimed that by emancipating all men and excluding women,
the amendment would create an "aristocracy of sex. " " which gives constitutional status to the idea that men were superior to women. In 1869 Francis and Virginia Minor, husband and wife suffragettes from Missouri, outlined the "New Exit" tactic,
which consisted of women attempting to vote and filing lawsuits if they
were denied that right, protected by the 14th Amendment.
In 1871 the NWSA officially adopted the New Exit strategy, and soon hundreds of women attempted to vote in dozens of localities, but the Supreme Court in 1875 ended the " New Exit" strategy by ruling in Minor v. Happersette "the Constitution of the United States confers the right of suffrage on no one." The NWSA decided to pursue the much more difficult strategy of campaigning for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing women's right to vote. Susan B. Anthony was arrested for voting in the 1872 presidential election, and when asked during the trial if she had anything to say, Anthony responded: "... my natural rights, my civil rights, my political rights, my judicial rights , are all equally ignored." In 1878 Senator Aaron Sargent, a friend of Susan B. Anthony, introduced a women's suffrage amendment in Congress, which 40 years later would become the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
Over time, the NWSA became more aligned with the AWSA with less emphasis on confrontational actions and more on negotiation, and in 1890 the two organizations merged as the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), with Stanton as president. , and Stone as president of its executive committee. Anthony became president in 1892 when Stanton retired in her old age, increasingly radicalizing her positions which made her uncomfortable in the new organization that was becoming more conservative. In 1895 Stanton published "The Women's Bible" which attacked the use of the Bible to relegate women to an inferior status, thereby distancing Stanton further and further from the suffrage movement which was itself suffering a decline. and was declining in strength. In 1895 Carrie Chapman Catt came to the leadership and modified the movement's policy by establishing a work plan with the organization of Women's Clubs, which had been mostly reading groups focused on literature, transforming them into organizations that fought for civic improvements for women. .
The International Women's Suffrage Alliance (IWSA) was created in Berlin in 1904 with Catt as president, as an alternative to the International Council of Women, which was reluctant to support the fight for suffrage. NAWSA redoubled the fight by confronting reactionary organizations such as New York's Tammany Hall that opposed suffrage because they feared that women would lead them to lose the control they had established over groups of male voters. At the end of the 19th century, the concept of the "New Woman" emerged to characterize the increasingly independent activity of women, especially the younger generation, moving from domestic places to public spaces, riding bicycles or marching. and parades with thousands of women marching through the streets, something unusual for the time. NAWSA organized a suffrage rally in Washington the day before Woodrow Wilson was sworn in as president, which was brutally suppressed by the cavalry, sparking widespread public outrage over the incident, which cost the police chief his job, brought publicity to the movement and gave it new impetus.
Women gained the vote in Washington states in 1910; in California in 1911, in Oregon, Kansas and Arizona in 1912, and in Illinois in 1913, which opened the prospect of achieving the vote nationwide. In 1912 the Progressive Party formed by Theodore Roosevelt supported the female vote, as well as the Socialist Party. In 1916 the conventions of both the Democratic and Republican parties approved women's suffrage. The entry of the US into World War I in April 1917 had a significant impact on the women's struggle. NAWSA cooperated with the war effort, with Catt and Shaw serving on the Women's Committee for the National Defense Council, but without abandoning the fight for women's suffrage: In January 1917 they picketed the White House with banners demanding the vote. feminine, and a flag that read: "We, the women of America, tell you that America is not a democracy. Twenty million American women are denied the right to vote." But from there enormous political and social changes took place after the country entered the war.
The first theorists of the socialist Women's movement date from this time, such as Alejandra Kollontai, who was the Russian Minister of Social Affairs in the time of Lenin, in her work "The New Woman and Sexual Morality" written in 1918, and in Germany, Clara Zetkin, who organized the first International Women's Conference from which she promoted a great women's socialist movement. As soon as the Russian Revolution took place, abortion was declared legal and countless rights were granted to women. In this same period in which the First World War occurred an enormous change in the social situation of women based on the need to replace the men who had entered the army, and women moved to the workplace. such as steel factories and oil refineries, which meant the massive proletarianization of thousands of women, and an enormous sociological change of social mobility with great political consequences.
millions of women had access to jobs that put them in a position to
fight for equal conditions with men, carrying out the same jobs, which
also meant that many women became breadwinners in their homes. By
June 4, 1919, the 19th Amendment was presented to the Senate, was voted
to be ratified by the state legislatures, and after being ratified on
August 18, 1920, it became law, thus the election of 1920 It became the
first presidential election in which women were allowed to vote, a
historic victory that put women at the center of the revolutionary
process and had international repercussions. During this period, great scientific research emerged on the question of Women.
The American Margaret Mead, in her ethnographic research of the 1920s and 1930s, questioned the sexist and sexist vision of a biological nature according to which the sexual division of labor in the modern family was due to the innate difference between public behavior, productive of men and women. In her comparative study "Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies" in 1935, she introduced the revolutionary idea that, because the human species is enormously malleable, sexual roles and behaviors vary according to sociocultural contexts, and she was a pioneer in the use of the concept. "gender" widely used later in feminist studies.
The process of transformation of women in society was just beginning. By 1945, more than 2.2 million women were working in the war industries, building ships, aircraft, vehicles and weapons, munitions plants and farms, driving trucks, and entering the professional areas of work that were previously the exclusive domain of men. The country echoed a phenomenon that was global. In the Allied countries, thousands of women enlisted as nurses who served on the front lines, and there was a large increase in the number of women serving in the armed forces, especially in the Red Army of the Soviet Union. In the US approximately 400,000 American women served in the armed forces, and with the Women's Armed Services Integration Act women served as permanent and regular members of the armed forces in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and the Force Recently formed Air.
This entire process of social transformation of women was the basis for the development of the "second wave" of the Women's Movement that began in the early 1960s and lasted throughout the 1970s. Just as the first wave of feminism focused primarily on overcoming legal obstacles to suffrage, the second wave had a wide variety of issues, such as unofficial inequality, sexuality, family, place of work and perhaps more controversially, and the right to abortion. In 1949 Simone de Beauvoir contributed one of the best-known books of feminist theory of the 20th century: "The Second Sex" where she explains the role of the state, the church, the school, the family in continuing female oppression. It demonstrates that the inequality in which women find themselves has no biological, physiological or psychological reason, but that the economic structure in which they are found and their material conditions intervene in the situation of women.
In 1963, the American author Betty Friedan wrote a book from the field of social psychology called "The Feminine Mystique" and together with Kate Millet and other important figures of feminism they founded the National Organization of Women (NOW). Millet promoted radical feminism that criticizes patriarchy, the family, and relationships. When in 1960 the Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive pills, a true "Sexual Revolution" was triggered , from sexual activity no longer being linked to a merely reproductive act. In 1965 Casey Hayden and Mary King circulated a text on sexism in the Civil Rights Movement, and NOW spread throughout the country. In 1968 Robin Morgan led several members of the New York Radical Women to the No More Miss America protest because they considered the pageant sexist and racist. In 1970 there was an immense mobilization of women in Washington and on January 22, 1973.
This entire process of struggle and mobilization of women, which was developed together with the struggle of African Americans, gays and lesbians and the youth movement against the war, obtained a historic triumph when the Supreme Court of Justice in a historic ruling established the right to abortion, in relation to the case called Roe vs. Wade. With the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Jane Roe, the fight for women's rights achieved a triumph with national and international repercussions. Due to its hierarchy, the Supreme Court ruling annulled the laws that criminalized abortion in the different states and prevented legislation against it. It established that denying the right to abortion could be considered a violation of the constitutional right to privacy protected by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, and forced the modification of all federal and state laws that prohibited or that restricted abortion, and were opposed to the new decision.
The struggle of the LGBT movement
At that time another powerful movement developed and was a fundamental pillar of the Civil Rights Movement, the sexual liberation movement. As Sam Deaderick and Tamara Turner explain : "...After the destruction of the European gay rights movement by the Nazis and Stalinists, compounded by the social, economic, and political disorganization of Europe during and after World War II Worldwide, international gay political activity waned until it gained momentum in the U.S. But even before this revival, American gays had a profound influence on popular culture—theater, film, dance, art and design, poetry and drama. - and many gays became activists in movements, parties and organizations that did not address gay rights. Gay bars and bathhouses, private clubs and other gathering places flourished, but the gay community was virtually invisible to outsiders Gay protest was difficult to organize in the United States, a land that had institutionalized women's oppression, sexual puritanism, and sexual stereotyping. Only rare and short-lived attempts at organization were made before the second half of the 20th century, and only a few stellar people showed courage to defend sexual freedom. (14)
The struggle of the gay movement had a historical milestone from the events known worldwide as the " Stonewall riots", an uprising that was a true insurrection of gays, lesbians, transvestites and transsexuals that took place in the early morning of June 28, 1969. against a police raid on the pub known as the Stonewall Inn located in the New York neighborhood of Greenwich Village. This insurrection is frequently cited as the first time in the country's history that the LGBT community fought against a system that persecuted them, and is generally recognized as the beginning of the modern pro-LGBT rights movement in the country and the world. When at 1:20 in the morning on Saturday, June 28, 1969, plainclothes police officers burst into Stonewall together with the Public Morals Squad, they triggered a true insurrection that unleashed an unstoppable movement throughout the country and gave rise to fighting organizations that They established the general guidelines of the gay movement nationally and internationally.
The Stonwall attendees, gays, lesbians, transvestites and treansexuals, were brutally repressed that night and the police tried to take them all to prison, but they refused to be imprisoned, and to hand over their documents. They joined together to avoid the raid, they overturned the buses in which the police were trying to transport them to the police stations, they took over the pub, the surrounding streets, they picketed and violently and bravely rejected the police raid. The events of the early morning of June 28 of 1969 were not the first confrontation between gays and the police, neither in New York nor elsewhere. There had already been riots at Compton's diner in 1966 and at the Black Cat Tavern in Los Angeles in 1967. However, several circumstances made the Stonewall riots memorable: One of them was the location of the place that favored the protesters over the police through the narrow streets, and the other is that it was developed in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York. The New York neighborhoods of Greenwich Village and Harlem had become the place of residence of a considerable part of the gay population after the First World War despite the fact that New York City had passed laws against homosexuality in public and private businesses.
The social repression of the 1950s sparked a cultural revolution in Greenwich Village, and a group of poets and artists known as the "Beat Generation" emerged who wrote openly about anarchy, drugs, and homosexuality, including Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs were both residents of Greenwich Village, and in the early 1960s a campaign to rid New York City of gay bars was in full swing. The struggle of gays had been going on for several decades since pioneers such as Henry Gerber, a German immigrant who in 1924 had founded the Society for Human Rights in Chicago, which was the first homosexual association in the country, to Harry Hay, who in 1950 together with a group of Followers founded the Mattachine Society or San Francisco women who came together to form the Daugthers of Bilitis (DOB) group for lesbians.
But without a doubt Stonewall was a before and after. Gays, lesbians and transgender people who were for many years publicly humiliated, physically harassed, fired, imprisoned or admitted to psychiatric hospitals; who lived a double life, keeping their private lives secret and away from a sociopathic personality disorder, had proudly taken to the streets with the Stonwell uprising, giving them freedoms and organizations on a level never seen before. The insurrection had defeated the city's police department's Tactical Police Force (TPF). The next day, and in the following nights, thousands of gays and those who supported the gay cause returned to Stonewall's Christopher Street, and courageously and determinedly displayed their homosexual affection in public. They went from marginalization and clandestinity to showing themselves in public and on the streets like never before seen in any city in the world.
Rumors claimed that the Stonewall uprising had been organized by SDS students or the Black Panthers, but the reality is that for several days thousands of people took to the streets and clashed with the police in street battles that included looting in the e They promoted the "Liberation of Christopher Street" day . Within weeks, Village residents quickly organized into activist groups to concentrate efforts on establishing places where gays could demonstrate openly without fear of arrest. Within six months, gay activist organizations such as the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Gay Activists Alliance had been created. In addition, 3 newspapers were founded to promote gay and lesbian rights and a process of founding homosexual rights organizations broke out throughout the United States and internationally. On June 28, 1970, the first Gay Pride Marches took place in the cities of New York and Los Angeles, commemorating the anniversary of the riots, which was established as a methodology of struggle that is celebrated to this day throughout the world.
The Gay Movement had achieved a triumph. Thousands of gays began to show themselves and publicly defend their condition, which was unthinkable just a few years ago. Stonewall could have been possible because it occurred within the framework of a revolutionary process that questioned the Nixon government, the Armed Forces, the decisions of the Democratic and Republican Parties and mobilized millions of people, young people, workers, African Americans, the most humble strata, and oppressed of the population. The victory of Stonewall allowed gays to raise their voices, take to the streets and develop a powerful movement.
The Bonapartist attempt of the Nixon government
This immense victory was the product of an enormous mobilization that encompassed the Sexual Liberation movement, the women's movement, the anti-war movement, the youth movement, and the movement for the rights of African Americans, based in working-class sectors. and popular. At the same time, this entire enormous mobilization process collided with the framework of deeply reactionary institutions such as the Pentagon, the CIA and the FBI, which had been consolidated since the Second World War. A revolutionary movement fighting for democratic freedoms and rights could not coexist within the framework of an increasingly undemocratic regime. Inevitably between both opposing trends, enormous clashes were going to occur.
The reactionary and increasingly dangerous nature of the new political regime that was beginning to loom over the United States was denounced by President Eisenhower himself in 1961 in the speech at the end of his mandate, a speech in which the concept of "complex" appeared for the first time . military-industrial". There Eisenhower stated: "...In the councils of government, we must avoid the purchase of unjustified influence, whether sought or not, by the military-industrial complex...We must never allow the weight of this conjunction to endanger our freedoms or democratic processes" (15) Several reactionary counteroffensives were launched from the regime and the Democratic and Republican administrations against this entire mobilization process, and these counteroffensives sought to hit, crush and roll back the set of processes that led to the mobilization. .
the framework of the first reactionary counteroffensive, one of the
most dramatic moments in the country's history occurred on November 22,
1963, in Dallas, Texas: The assassination of President Kennedy. This assassination turned Eisenhower's warnings into a prophecy. According
to the investigation carried out by the Warren Commission, Lee Harvey
Oswald, an employee of the Texas School Book Depository, murdered
President Kennedy while he was driving in the presidential car. However, like Lincoln's assassination, the assassination is subject to controversy and speculation. The
Warren Commission investigation was based on FBI reports and after 10
months of investigation the report concluded that it could not find
evidence of an internal or external conspiracy, but rather that Oswald
The theory of the lone assassin was a characteristic of the great assassinations in history. The deaths of Kennedy, that of Abraham Lincoln, that of John Lennon were the work of "loose madmen" without any "internal or external connection", in the words of the Warren Commission, something that is almost impossible to accept without qualms. Much evidence has accumulated around the possibility that Kennedy's assassination was linked to the CIA and that Lee Harvey Oswald himself was a CIA agent, which was denounced by Victor Marchetti in his book "Cult of Intelligence" Subsequently, the US House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), established in 1976 to investigate the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, issued its final report based on the testimony in 1979. by James A. Wilcott, former CIA finance officer, that Oswald was recruited among the military by the CIA with the aim of placing him as a double agent for the Office of Naval Intelligence in the USSR.
The HSCA concluded in its 1979 report that President John F. Kennedy was likely assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. He severely criticized the Department of Justice, the FBI, the CIA, the Warren Commission, and the Secret Service was called deficient in its protection of the President. Regardless of the direction of the assassination investigation, Kennedy's death had political implications that expressed a growing tendency towards Bonapartism within the country's regime. The pressure from Bonapartist institutions such as the CIA, the Pentagon or the FBI, which needed to confront and defeat a revolutionary rise that was shaking the country and the world. When Kennedy was assassinated, he had presented the Civil Rights Bill to Congress 4 months ago. But after JFK's assassination, the credit and prestige for the sanction of the Law went to the Administration of his vice president, Lyndon Johnson, who had become president after JFK's death.
On the other hand, the Johnson Administration, while presenting the Civil Rights Act a year after the draft was written, began the operations that led to the Vietnam War, an escalation that was of interest to the Pentagon that began shortly after the death of JFK. . None of this means that Kennedy played a progressive role in relation to the workers and people of the country or the world, quite the opposite. The Kennedy Administration shamelessly governed in the service of the Corporations, as demonstrated by the role played by Kennedy Administration Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, a Ford man. The Kennedy Administration provided enormous services to the development of the Military-Industrial Complex by placing President Ford as Head of the Pentagon. On the other hand, the imperialist character of the North American state was accentuated in the Kennedy Administration when the invasion of Cuba was carried out. However, the Kennedy Administration proved unable to stop the revolutionary rise that engulfed the country.
The growing tendencies towards Bonapartism in the country's regime ended up liquidating the Kennedy Administration itself, so the death of JFK was a coup d'état that aimed to impose a Bonapartist escalation that developed during the Johnson Administration and reached a peak with the Nixon Administration. There is a direct connection between the death of JFK and Nixon. Jack Ruby who murdered Oswald was a mafia-linked thug employed by Richard Nixon, who had been a witness for Richard Nixon during the McCarthy witch hunt in 1947. Under the Johnson Administration, a second reactionary counteroffensive was developed consisting of aberrant acts, true attacks on democratic freedoms that expressed the antidemocratic bias of the country's political regime. During that period, the leaders of the black struggle movement Malcom in 1959 and during the Lyndon Johnson government period it was against the Black Panthers, the Socialist Workers Party and various political and social organizations. As part of this second reactionary counteroffensive, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, one of the younger brothers of former President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated.
Robert Kennedy served as one of JFK's most trusted advisors, and after his brother's assassination he remained in the position of Attorney General of the United States for nine months in the Johnson Administration. After his resignation in September 1964, he was elected senator for the state of New York and ended his relationship with Johnson due to their disagreements over the Vietnam War, announcing his own campaign for the presidency in a battle for control of the Party. Democrat in which he defeated McCarthy in the California primary election. But after making his victory speech he was assassinated in the early hours of June 5, 1968, an assassination that eliminated Nixon's most important rival in the presidential race, which opened the doors to the reactionary government of Richard Nixon who no longer He had no major contender on his way to the White House.
the first and the second reactionary offensive could not stop the
revolutionary process that was shaking the country, which is why the
third counteroffensive was even more important and more serious. The
Nixon Administration led this counteroffensive in which there was a
serious attempt to establish an undemocratic political regime where the
Executive Branch would override other powers of the state and overwhelm
democratic freedoms to hit hard, crush the mobilization process that the
country was experiencing, and intervene. also about the world
situation. The Nixon
Administration relied directly on some of the most undemocratic
organizations of the country's political regime for its objectives, the
FBI, the Pentagon, or the CIA, with an essential pillar of the Nixon
Administration being Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Kissinger was the direct representative of the military-industrial complex, and the Corporations based on his close relationship with Nelson Rockefeller, a figure who, based on his dominant presence, eclipsed all the rest of the cabinet officials. From his position as National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State, Kissinger acted as a true royal power, surpassing the functions of the Executive Branch, and of diplomacy, that is, of internal and external government. Kissinger was the clearest expression of the attempt at Bonapartism that the Nixon Administration involved.
In 1955, Kissinger had been an Advisor to the National Security Council and the Security Operations Coordination Board. He worked in foreign policy supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation and was a member of the RAND Corporation. At
the same time he served as a consultant to several Government agencies,
including the Office of Operations Research, Arms Control and
Disarmament, and the State Department. Kissinger
was president of the powerful 40 Committee, a high-level organization
made up of representatives from the State Department, the CIA and the
Pentagon, who made decisions and measures about the situation that most
concerned these institutions: Communism. Kissinger
was appointed National Security Advisor in the Nixon Administration and
not only limited himself to carrying out his duties, but also became
involved in practically all the activities of Richard Nixon's
Once re-elected in 1972, Nixon awarded Kissinger with the Secretary of State, the position that Colin Powell would hold in the Bush Administration. But by taking over the leadership of " Foggy Bottom," as the State Department is ironically known, and controlling international politics, Kissinger redoubled his power in the Nixon Administration's cabinet, and imposed a new approach on it, assuming a role, not one of advice. and obedience as usual, but dominant, strong and to a certain extent self-sufficient, regarding the foreign policy of the United States.
Kissinger carried out a policy of rapprochement with the People's Republic of China, as part of a new strategic alignment against the USSR. Kissinger managed the ceasefire and withdrawal from Vietnam, for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize, but while he appeared as a "Standardbearer of Peace" in Vietnam, because he gradually withdrew troops from South Vietnam, at the same time he proceeded to carry out a massive bombing of Cambodia to disrupt the operations of Vietnamese People's Army and Viet-Cong units. The Pentagon sought to dismantle the Viet Cong and to that end launched raids into South Vietnam from within Cambodia's borders.
had been involved in Indochina even before his appointment as National
Security Advisor since 1965 at the invitation of Ambassador Henry Cabot
Lodge with successive tours. The
bombing campaign of Cambodia aggravated the civil war against dictator
Lon Nol and the insurgency of the Khmer Rouge, who sought to overthrow
that dictator in 1975. The Pentagon bombing of Cambodia caused the
deaths of some 40,000 combatants and civilians. While receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Kissinger promoted "Operation Condor"
, a plan to coordinate operations between the leadership of the
dictatorial regimes of the Southern Cone of America - Chile, Argentina,
Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia - with the CIA in the 1970s and
1980s. Framed in the Truman Doctrine, "Operation Condor"
, translated into an international clandestine organization for the
practice of State terrorism that orchestrated the murder and
disappearance of tens of thousands of opponents of the aforementioned
The strategic blow that American imperialism suffered in Vietnam meant a qualitative weakening from the international point of view that prompted the Pentagon and Kissinger to act trying to balance positions with the Soviet Union. Kissinger's negotiations on strategic arms limitation that culminated in the SALT I Treaty - Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Leonid Brezhnev, then Premier of the Soviet Union, did not mean a decrease in the arms race, but the limitation of certain weapons considered more dangerous while the Military-Industrial Complex continued to develop spectacular weapons production.
also negotiated rapprochement with China through summits with Zhou
Enlai and Mao Ze-Tung in 1972, seeking to form a tacit, anti-Soviet
alliance between China and the United States, the purpose of which was
to create even more pressure on the USSR and begin to gain ground. The
agreement was of great strategic importance considering that this
management allowed China to later be a great lifeline for capitalism 20
years later. After the
fall of the Berlin Wall with China's entry into the WTO (World Trade
Organization), there was an enormous flow of investments from North
American Corporations to China, a perspective outlined 20 years ago by
Kissinger from "Foggy Bottom".
Then, under the leadership of Kissinger, the Nixon Administration supported Pakistan in the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971 with the aim of confronting the Treaty of Friendship signed by India and the USSR, using an alliance with Pakistan, India's enemy, and therefore of the Soviet Union. In this way, Kissinger also sought to increase American influence over the Middle East region, especially when the Yom Kippur War occurred in 1973 in which Egypt and Syria jointly and by surprise attacked Israel, crossing the line established by the armistice of the Sinai.
The Nixon Administration ordered the largest military air operation in history to help Israel on October 12, 1973, which triggered the Oil Crisis of 1973, following the decision of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which grouped the OPEC countries plus Egypt and Syria, to not export more oil to countries that supported Israel during the Yom Kippur War, a measure that included the United States and its Western European allies. Kissinger's number one priority was to end the Yom Kippur War, and then try to lift the economic blockade imposed by OPEC. Meanwhile, with military and logistical support from the Pentagon, Israel advanced with military victories that led it to recover the territories lost at the beginning of the war and gain new ones in Syria and Egypt. Kissinger pressured the Israelis to give up part of the newly captured territories, contributing to a resumption of relations between the United States and Egypt, which ended in a close partnership between the two.
After the end of the Yom Kippur War, the Carter Administration, through the Camp David Accords, achieved that after the return of the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt recognized the state of Israel. Kissinger also actively participated in the negotiations regarding the Rhodesian War, and sponsored the negotiations between the Moroccan representatives and the Spanish Government, which ended with the departure of the Spanish Army from the Sahara territories and its transfer to Morocco and Mauritania. as well as annexation of East Timor by Indonesia ruled by dictator Suharto.
It is because of this immense position as an all-powerful official of the Nixon Administration, as the most emblematic Secretary of State, even to the point that this position is directly identified with him, that Kissinger became the maximum expression of a Bonapartist political regime that attempted prevail by relying on the CIA, investigating and perpetrating crimes against humanity on various continents. However, not even Kissinger's intense activity was enough to defeat the revolutionary process that was developing within the United States. At that time, the denunciations of Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo, known as the "Pentagon Papers" , broke out and were published on the front page of the New York Times in 1971 .
As Howard Zinn explains : "... Ellsberg was an economist who had studied at Harvard, had been a naval officer and worked for the RAND corporation...he helped write the history of the Vietnam War for the Department of Defense, and then he decided to make public a classified document, with the help of his friend Anthony Russo, a former man from the RAND corporation. They had both met in Saigon where they were so affected by the different experiences they had as direct witnesses of the war that they felt. There was great outrage over what the United States was doing to the people of Vietnam. Ellsberg and Russo spent night after night, hour after hour in a friend's advertising agency making copies of the 7,000-page document. Ellsberg then gave copies to vain congressmen. and the New York Times. In June 1971 the Times began printing selections from what became known as the Pentagon Papers. This was a national sensation. The Nixon administration attempted to have the Supreme Court prevent further publications from appearing, but the Court ruled that this would be a "prior restraint" on press freedom and therefore unconstitutional. The government then prosecuted Ellsberg and Russo for violating the Espionage Act by distributing classified documents to unauthorized persons, and they faced a long prison sentence if convicted. However, the judge threw out the trial while the jury was out. deliberating given that the events of Watergate, which were then coming to light" (16)
After Daniel Ellsberg's publication of the "Pentagon Papers" in 1971,
Perry Fellwock, who had been an official at the National Security
Agency (NSA), contacted Ramparts Magazine, a monthly of the radical,
progressive and anti-militarist left, where he spent hours explaining
what the NSA was, which revealed the existence of the Echelon satellite
network and further lifted the veil on the practices of the CIA, the FBI
and the NSA. The "Pentagon Papers" scandal was another hard blow for the Nixon Administration, which pushed it even further towards its crisis and subsequent fall. It was the event known worldwide as the "Watergate"
scandal , consisting of the discovery of telephone spying against the
Democratic Party, which caused the fall of the Nixon Administration.
Planned by Nixon's main advisors, HR Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, with the support of President Nixon himself, the advisors carried out espionage in the Watergate office complex in Washington, headquarters of the National Committee of the Democratic Party, as denounced by 2 journalists from the Washington Post, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, June 17, 1972. The Senate investigation revealed that Nixon had a magnetic tape recording system, a very serious attack on democratic freedoms.
the enormous mass mobilization that the anti-War movement represented
liquidated this anti-democratic attempt and what remained of a
government immersed in crisis and unpopularity. That is why the Watergate case was not a simple matter of espionage. It
was the end of the attempt to establish an undemocratic political
regime, in which the president would override other powers of the state
and subjugate democratic freedoms. A political regime of these characteristics called "Bonapartist regime"
, supported by spies, thugs, undemocratic institutions such as the
Pentagon, the CIA, the FBI, based on the persecution and elimination of
all kinds of internal and external opposition would have been in case of
prevail, a change in the history of the United States.
But the Nixon Administration's attempt failed. Cornered after a series of legal battles, the Supreme Court and accusations from the House of Representatives and the Senate, Nixon resigned on August 8, 1974 and became the only president in the country's history to resign from office. His successor, Vice President Gerald Ford, granted Nixon a controversial pardon for any federal crimes he had committed during his term.
Nixon's fall was depicted in the 1976 film " All the President's Men " by Alan Pakula, and was another enormous triumph achieved by the mobilization. As Nahuel Moreno explains : "... the policy...of imperialism, since the beginning of the revolutionary stage...Crush the revolution with military methods...Break down the Vietnamese struggle militarily and thereby threaten the rest of the colonial peoples of the world, do not go out and fight for independence because they are going to continue crushing you. This failed. It failed because they were beaten... there was a Bonapartist project that the government controlled everything, thoroughly, it went over the top of parliament and the two-party system, tried to control the other party... He was also defeated" (17)
The Third American Revolution of the 20th Century
The fall of Nixon was the final episode of a revolutionary process that shook the United States and the world. The
convergence of the women's struggle, the movement of the black race,
sexual minorities, youth and the fight against the Vietnam War resulted
in the triumph of a revolution that followed in the footsteps of the 1st
American Revolution, the War of Independence in the 18th century, and
the Second American Revolution, the Civil War of the 19th century. What was known as "The Fight for Civil Rights"
was an enormous revolutionary process that included the participation
of popular organizations and unions, which mobilized enormous masses of
the people, which had deaths, martyrs and leaders.
At the same time, the entire process of mobilization against the Vietnam War, together with the Civil Rights Movement, achieved a series of democratic triumphs of a historic nature that had an impact on the country and the world. It shook several governments, brought down Nixon, led the army to defeat Vietnam, won rights for blacks, women, youth, sexual minorities and the entire country's people, but they had a global impact, and they last to this day. . The triumphs achieved by the mass movement in this period constituted the Third North American Revolution, that of the 20th century.
In turn, the union of all these mobilization processes together, added to the resistance of the mass struggle in Vietnam, caused the simultaneous collapse of the Saigon regime and the Nixon Administration. Eight months after the fall of Nixon, the fall of the Thieu puppet regime occurred in Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, on April 30, 1975. That day the Viet Cong took control of the city and put an end to the war. War with the Vietnamese triumph which allowed the reunification of the country. The defeat of Vietnam was a blow that the country's ruling classes had suffered, a defeat that was felt by the army commanders, the bankers and the rulers, and led to the fall of Nixon and Thieu, almost simultaneously. For the ruling class it was a severe defeat.
But for the people, it was different. On May 11, 1975, more than 80,000 people celebrated the end of the war in Central Park, New York. These historical events forever marked the history of the United States, and left behind the so-called "Vietnam Syndrome", which the successive Democratic and Republican administrations that succeeded Nixon suffered. Every time some of the governments in power outlined the possibility of starting a war or an invasion, the ghost of Vietnam was present, again and again. The enormous mass mobilization, in which the most diverse social movements converged, the movement for women's rights, the anti-war movement, the movement of students, workers, and sexual minorities, had achieved the withdrawal of the troops in Vietnam, and caused military defeat in Southeast Asia, in partnership with the resistance of the Vietnamese people and the global mobilization against the war.
By itself, this extraordinary military triumph achieved by the conjunction of the global mobilization against the war, the Vietnamese masses, and the American people, is enough to classify what happened in the '60s and '70s as a revolution. But this was not the only achievement of the revolutionary process. The convergence of 3 struggles, that of women, that of the movement of the black race, sexual minorities, youth and the fight against the Vietnam War, and known as "The fight for Civil Rights" was an enormous revolutionary process . As Howard Zinn defined it: " The black revolution, both north and south, arrived - as if by surprise - in the 1950s and 1960s...Vietnam was the first great defeat of the American global empire after the World War II. This defeat was achieved by revolutionary peasants in a foreign country and by a surprising protest movement at home...the great revolt of sectors of the population arrived...the blacks, the women, the native Americans, the prisoners , soldiers, etc..." (18)
The characteristic of every revolution is that it provokes changes in the political regime. In the case of the Third American Revolution it was no exception. The triumph of the Third American Revolution of the 20th century introduced four enormous changes in the country's political regime: Firstly, it liquidated the Bonapartist project of Richard Nixon's government, supported by the Pentagon, the CIA and the FBI, leaving all of these antidemocratic institutions in crisis for several decades, installed the "Vietnam Syndrome", that is, for 30 years, the United States Armed Forces could not carry out any more invasions, except for the invasion of the small island of Grenada in 1983.
the triumph of the Third American Revolution caused the
disappearance of the Jim Crow regime of racial segregation that had
existed for a century in the country. The
police states whose racist and xenophobic political regimes were
semi-fascist supported by repressive institutions, the police, the Ku
Kux Klan, the White Citizens Committees, were liquidated. Along
with the disappearance of these police states, all the racist
legislation imposed since the time of the Compromise of 1877 that ended
the Reconstruction period fell. Thirdly,
the triumph of the Third American Revolution by consolidating the
granting of the vote to the excluded black population, definitively
instituted universal suffrage, an issue that was in the country's
Constitution, but was a dead letter since the racist oligarchy of the
South had prevented it from being implemented.
Under the impact of the wave of democratic victories, another occurred when the United States Supreme Court struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage, in the 1967 case Loving v. Virginia. This case, a landmark civil rights case, was brought by Mildred Loving, an African-American woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, who had been sentenced to a year in prison in Virginia for marrying each other. Their marriage violated the state's anti-miscegenation statute, the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which prohibited marriage between people classified as white and people of color. The Supreme Court decision ended all racial restrictions on marriage in the United States.
Fourthly, the triumph of the Third American Revolution achieved a historic achievement for the women's movement when it achieved the right to abortion, and another historical achievement for the Sexual Liberation movement: Gays and lesbians came out of the closet. Taking into account that every triumph of the women's movement weakens patriarchy and private ownership of the means of production and change that are pillars of the capitalist system, the triumphs achieved by the women's movement also had a profound impact on the country's political regime.
Imperialist crisis and the "Trilateral Commission"
The Third North American Revolution produced the fall of Nixon, and the failure of the Bonapartist project. In
this way, the antidemocratic framework embedded in the heart of the
country's political regime that emerged after the Second World War,
received its first slap. However,
the nature of permanent danger implied by the network of deeply
reactionary institutions such as the Pentagon, the CIA and the FBI
provoked all kinds of protests and the emergence of the anti-arms
As Howard Zinn explains: "...On June 12, 1982, the largest political demonstration in the history of the country took place in New York's Central Park. Almost a million people gathered to express their will to end the arms race. Scientists who had worked on the atomic bomb added their voices to the movement, which was growing by the day. George Kistiakowsky, a chemistry professor at Harvard University who had worked on the first atomic bomb and who later served as a scientific advisor under President Eisenhower, he became the spokesman for the disarmament movement. His last public statements, before he died of cancer at the age of 82, were published in an editorial in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists magazine in December 1982." I tell you this as my last parting words. Forget the channels. There is simply not enough time before the world explodes. Instead, focus on organizing with others who think like you..." (19)
The triumph of the Third American Revolution left the bourgeois democratic regime in profound weakness and its 2 most important parties completely in crisis. This was the sign of the James Carter Administration in the second part of the '70s. Not because it was a weak government, this government was still a government of the Corporations, as Howard Zinn explains: " The presidency of Jimmy Carter, between 1977 and 1980, seemed like the attempt of a part of the ruling classes - the represented by the Democratic Party - to win back disillusioned citizens. But Carter, despite making some gestures towards blacks and the poor, despite talking about "human rights" abroad, remained within the historical political parameters of the American system, protected the wealth and power of corporations, maintained the enormous military machine that depleted national wealth and created alliances between the United States and foreign right-wing tyrannies" (20)
weakness of the regime, its parties and the rise of the masses within
the country and the world were evident in the report that a group of
intellectuals and political leaders from Japan, the United States and
Western Europe, constituted in "The Trilateral Commission" , published in 1976, titled: "The governability of democracies." There
the neocon ideologue Samuel Huntington wrote the section of the report
that dealt with the United States as described by Howard Zinn: "Huntington
wrote that in the sixties, there was a great increase in citizen
participation "in the form of marches, demonstrations, protest movements
and organizations with 'cause.'" There was also "a much higher level of
self-awareness on the part of blacks, Indians, Chicanos, white ethnic
groups, students and women - all of these sectors mobilized and
organized differently ...HM has accused an increase in unionism among
white-collar workers." All these processes resulted in "the
reaffirmation of egalitarianism as an objective in social, economic and
political life" (21)
The traces of the Third American Revolution They are perfectly visible in the Huntington report. According to Howard Zinn in "The Governance of Democracies" he noted: " The essence of the Democratic wave of the sixties was a general challenge to the existing system of authority, both public and private. In one way or another, this challenge manifested itself in the family, the university, business, in associations... in politics, government bureaucracy and the armed forces. People no longer felt the same obligation to obey those they had previously considered superior in age, rank, social position, skill, character or talent. Huntington said that all this "produced problems for the governability of the democracies of the seventies" (22) Huntington added that the president needed the support of a large popular coalition to win the elections. However, as Howard Zinn explains: "the day after your election... what counts is your ability to mobilize the support of the leaders of the key institutions of a society and a government... This coalition must include the key people in Congress, the executive sector and the ruling caste framed in the private sector" (23)
What worried Huntington was the loss of government authority. But Huntington worked informing the organized Trilateral Commission, which expressed Rockefeller's dominance over the US economy and multinationals over the world economy. As Howard Zinn explains : "...Huntington was reporting all of this to an organization that was vital to the future of the United States, the Trilateral Commission, organized by David Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski in early 1973. Rockefeller was a leader of Chase. Manhattan Bank and an influential financial figure in the United States and around the world, Brzezinski was a professor of international relations at Columbia University and an advisor to the State Department. The Trilateral Commission was created to promote the union between Japan, Western Europe and " (24)
The Third North American Revolution, however, did not end capitalism. It
shook imperialism, its Bonapartist institutions and armies, but the
mobilized masses did not have in their front leaders and organizations
that wanted to end the capitalist state, and impose socialism globally. Quite
the contrary, existing socialist organizations, such as the Communist
Party of China or the USSR, invariably ended up making agreements with
imperialism, and renounced extending and coordinating the global
struggle against the imperialist state, its institutions and its
monopolistic companies. Left
to survive, even in crisis, and hit, capitalism globally launched its
counteroffensive to recover, and that counteroffensive was well prepared
by organizations such as the Trilateral Commission, which expressed the
domination of multinationals over the world economy.
As Howard Zinn explains: " The Trilateral Commission also wanted to resolve another situation caused by the fact that business no longer recognized national borders. In 1960 there were eight American banks with branches abroad, in 1974 there were 129. The The assets of these foreign branches amounted to $3.5 billion in 1960, and $155 billion in 1974. The Trilateral Commission saw that its task would be to help create the international relations necessary for the new multinational economy" (25)
Trilateral had to respond to another challenge of capitalism and the
North American state: The crisis of the Keynesian regime and the
multinationals that had led the post-war economic "boom", but by the mid-1970s it was already showing clear signs of exhaustion
and needed a transition to a higher regime of capitalist accumulation. All
this led the monopolistic conglomerates to align themselves around
conservative governments that had the capacity to impose their force,
and as we saw, around the governments of Ronald Reagan and Margaret
Thatcher, a counteroffensive against the popular and working classes
around the world began. . A brutal offensive by the Corporations, which benefited as Howard Zinn explains: "The
Reagan administration, with the help of Democrats in Congress, lowered
the tax rate for the very rich to 50%, and in 1986 a coalition of
Republicans and Democrats sponsored another "tax reform" bill that
lowered the top rates to 28%. A school teacher, a factory worker, and a
millionaire could all pay 28%." (26)
The Third American Revolution gave rise to social and political realignments. He caused the Roosevelt-led Democratic Party coalition to break up, and the racist wing of the party that included corrupt machines like New York's Tammany Hall to shift to the Republicans. On the other hand, he caused liberals who had often supported Republicans against racist Democratic machines like Tammany Hall to switch to the Democratic Party. In the economic field, Reagan's counteroffensive meant cuts in social assistance for the poor, lower taxes for the rich, an increase in the military budget, and an offensive within the judicial branch to roll back the legal gains obtained by the III North American Revolution. As Howard Zinn explains: " By the end of Reagan's term, the gap between rich and poor in the United States had increased dramatically. While in 1980, top corporate executives earned 40 times more than the average worker earned. On average, they earned 93 times more in 1989. Although all members of the lower classes had worsened, those who suffered the most were blacks, Hispanics, women and young people..." (27) Imperialist-capitalism needed to overcome the exhausted Keynesian regime, and move to a higher accumulation regime.
The union of the "two great struggles" against the Bush Administration
The historic achievements of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights laws of 1964 and 1965, and the triumph of the Third American Revolution of the 20th century, did not mean the end of oppression, racism and discrimination in the United States. They are enormous achievements , great advances achieved with revolutionary mobilizations, but the postponement, marginalization, oppression, and inequality in the country continued for African Americans and minorities. Economic marginalization, job discrimination, lack of equal opportunities, police persecution and murder of young people continue to be scourges suffered by African Americans to this day, which is why the fight for their rights continues to be a permanent and daily task.
with the arrival of the attempted establishment of the Patriot Act
regime 40 years after the promulgation of the laws of 1954 and 1965, the
Bush Administration intended to erase in one fell swoop many of these
achievements that the American people achieved with struggle, sacrifice
and martyrs When Hurricane
Katrina made landfall it laid bare the Bush Administration's horrific,
brutal and racist policy toward New Orleans. But
the repudiation that the criminal policy of the Bush Administration
provoked in the population was such that the historical movements of the
Third North American Revolution once again rose on the horizon.
These historical movements, the "two great struggles
" that marked the history of the country, the fight against War, and
for Civil Rights, resurfaced, reunited and were reborn, now with new
protagonists, leaders and organizations. In March 2006, the "Walking to New Orleans" march was held ,
organized by VFP, MFSO, GFSP and IVAW, the organizations that were
fighting against the War in Iraq, together with the organizations that
were fighting in New Orleans for the reconstruction of the city. after
Katrina. The march was
along the Gulf Coast from Mobile, Alabama, to New Orleans, and among the
protesters' demands was the immediate end of the war in Iraq and the
redirection of funds to help rebuild the areas damaged by Katrina not
only in New Orleans, but also in Mississippi and Alabama.
It was logical that these protests would develop: The entire behavior of the Bush Administration in the face of Katrina was criminal. The population saw through the media images of President Bush partying with his Republican friends in California, while the city of New Orleans was dying. Television screens broadcast images of Vice President Cheney playing golf, while thousands of African-American citizens suffered a catastrophe.
Bush Administration was completely unconcerned with the reality of
African-American citizens suffering from the scourge of Hurricane
Katrina, as recognized in his memoir: " No Higher Honor. A memoir of My Years in Washington." Condoleezza
Rice, who was Secretary of State at the time and the highest-ranking
person of color in the Bush Administration, recounts in the book that
when the hurricane hit New Orleans, she chose to take a few days off,
traveled to New York, and stayed at the Palace before going out to
dinner, and seeing a play.
The indifference of Bush Administration officials to the Holocaust of the people of New Orleans was shocking. Thousands of African Americans succumbed while the most important African American in the Bush Administration simply called Secretary of Homeland Security Mike Chertoff to ask if there was anything she could do to help in Louisiana, since Chertoff told her that he would call her if he asked her. needed. After speaking with Chertoff Rice hung up, got dressed and went to see Spamalot, a musical on Broadway. The next morning, she went shopping at the Ferragamo store.
In the midst of the tragedy in New Orleans, the African-American Secretary of State tried on shoes in an expensive store in New York. While the secretary of state enjoyed her shopping trip in Manhattan, TV images projected the cries of despair, the hardships of tens of thousands of needy and hungry black and white citizens barely surviving in a dark and nauseating convention center and in a sports stadium. The entire Bush Administration was plunged into discredit, FEMA and HS were left in the middle of the accusations. Michael Chertoff, head of HS, who had appointed Michael D. Brown as director of FEMA, and Brown himself were in the crosshairs of the crisis. On Friday, September 2, Bush praised Brown's work, addressing him directly in friendly terms saying, "You're doing a wonderful job," when FEMA's dismal performance was national knowledge.
Bush declared that he was not satisfied with the results and finally on
September 3 he accepted that the federal performance in New Orleans was
not good. Brown was temporarily replaced as head of FEMA and then resigned. On
September 12, Bush just appeared in New Orleans, and on September 13,
2005, after visiting New Orleans, he took responsibility for the
failures of the federal government during a press conference. Racism
when it came to receiving help from the authorities extended to the
Latino community, and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) alleged
that Latinos affected during the tragedy were marginalized when it came
to receiving help from the government.
The repudiation spread among the population and became increasingly important in public demonstrations, in concerts held in New York to raise funds, the legendary singer-songwriter Tom Waits expressed his protest against Bush, and the musician Cyril Neville, a member of one of New Orleans' most legendary bands, the Neville Brothers, wore a T-shirt that said "ethnic cleansing in New Orleans". The repudiation was also based on the disastrous situation suffered by the population of New Orleans.
In 2006, neither the promised aid nor the money raised had reached New Orleans; Half of the population had not yet been able to return to the city, its neighborhoods and its homes. The reconstruction of the countless homes destroyed by water and wind had not begun and the repair of the dikes was postponed. Some
leisure, jazz and cultural centers reopened in the French Quarter, but
tourism numbers remained well below pre-Hurricane levels for a time. In July 2006, the population had dropped to about 200,000 souls, from the almost 500,000 it had before the hurricane. That
is why on September 24, some 300,000 protesters against the war in Iraq
filled the main avenues of Washington in the first major anti-war
protest and in New Orleans, in one of the largest marches that would
take place. The "two great struggles" were once again united.
The "Vietnam Syndrome" was back, with a familiar postcard that the Bush Administration, the Neocon and the Pentagon immediately recognized. Ron Kovic, the mutilated Vietnam veteran who inspired the protagonist of the film Born on the Fourth of July by director Oliver Stone, spoke at the mobilization. Kovic addressed the protesters alongside actress Jessica Lange, MP Cindy Sheehan, British MP George Galloway, Reverend Jesse Jackson, popular leader Jim Hightower, former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, singer Joan Báez, Reverend Al Sharpton and Etan Thomas, star of the Washington Wizards professional basketball team. "The people of the United States are beginning to rebel. The force of a hurricane will be nothing compared to the storm of protest that is heading directly towards the White House," Hightower declared at the festival that took place at the end of the march.
And as the anti-war movement grew in the United States, thousands of people marched through central London to demand that British Prime Minister Tony Blair withdraw the 8,500 British soldiers stationed in Iraq. The fury of the Hurricane had been unleashed. But now it was not about the forces of nature of Hurricane Katrina. It was about the strength of the American mass movement, its outrage at the racism of the Bush Administration, and the beginning of the resistance against the war and the Patriot Act regime that was radiating everywhere. An Eminem rap, "Mosh" expressed it with all the lyrics: "... Let's go together, let's all explode just a little...all you can see is a sea of people, some white and some black, No matter the color, what matters is that we are together. To celebrate the same cause, no matter how long it takes...Rebel...stomp, push, crush, screw Bush until they bring our troops home...There outside the oval office...No more blood for oil, we have our own battles to win..."
Eminem published these lyrics in October 2004, when the Bush
Administration was winning re-election, and achieved the highest vote
for a candidate for office. president in history up to that point, in
the days when things were still going well for the PNAC. But 2005 was the year things turned around and by the end of 2005, everything had completely changed. Now what predominated was the rejection of the Bush Administration's policy, the PNAC, the Iraq War and the Patriot Act regime. The resistance and rejection of the masses began to hit hard all the institutions of the state and the country's regime.
The Bush Administration suffered the onslaught, and with it, all the institutions of the political regime, the political parties, officials, agencies, ministries and the state bureaucracy also suffered. The impact of the crisis hit the country's political regime starting in 2005, and impacted the complex and contradictory relationships established between the country's different institutions. But this political regime is designed to favor a certain social class that dominates the country and the world. The oligarchy that dominates the United States is a social class whose development must be studied exhaustively. The development of this social class, its birth, evolution and subsequent formation, are topics that we will develop and analyze starting in the next chapter.
(1) Nahuel Moreno. Painting School. 1984
(2), (3) and (4) Interview by Lars Schall with Nomi Prins 3-6-2014
(5) (6) y (7) George Novack. "Democracy and Revolution" Pathfinder Press 1977
(8) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States" 1980
(9) Leon Trotsky. " Europe and America." 1926
(10) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States" 1980
(11) Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan "Four words that changed the course of history." Democracy Now. June 22, 2018
(12) and (13) Joseph Hansen. World Outlook. February 1968
(14) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States". 1980
(15) Tamara Turner. "Clara Frasier synthesizer of feminism and Marxism." Freedom Socialist 2008
(16) Dwight D. Eisenhower in his farewell address to the nation, January 17, 1961
(17) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States". 1980
(18) Nahuel Moreno. Painting School. 1984
(19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 y 27) Howard Zinn. "A People's History of the United States" 1980
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