Thursday, May 24, 2012
radical militant, James Boggs
.Home.The American Revolution: Pages From a Negro Worker's Notebook
In 1963, drawing on his own experience as a factory worker and radical militant, James Boggs wrote this pamphlet. It addresses (among many things) the failures of the CIO, increasing automation, rising unemployment and the emergence of new social actors ('the outsiders') that he saw as a threat to capitalism.
James Boggs, born in Marion Junction, never dreamed of becoming President or a locomotive engineer. He grew up in a world where the white folks are gentlemen by day and Ku Klux Klanners at night. Marion Junction is in Dallas County where as late as 1963, although African-Americans made up over 57 percent of the total county population of 57,000, only 130 were registered voters. After graduating from Dunbar High School in Bessemer, Alabama, in 1937, Boggs took the first freight train north, bumming his way through the western part of the country, working in the hop fields of the state of Washington, cutting ice in Minnesota, and finally ending up in Detroit where he worked on WPA until the Second World War gave him a chance to enter the Chrysler auto plant. In 1963, drawing on his own experience as a factory worker and radical militant, he wrote these pages.
Boggs offers both a keen analysis of U.S. society and a passionate call for revolutionary struggle. He sees the growing trend toward automation, the decline of organized labor, the expansion of imperialism, and the deepening of racial strife as fundamentally rooted in the contradictions of U.S. capitalism. And he concludes that the only way forward is a new American revolution—one that, from his perspective writing in the 1960s, appeared to have already begun.
Above description from Monthly Review Press. Text of pamphlet taken from History Is A Weapon
There are two sides to every question but only one side is right. I believe in democracy, but I don't believe in being too damn democratic. In other words, I believe that everyone has a right to his opinion, but I don't believe he has a right to be hypocritical or sly about it, and I believe that it is my responsibility to fight and right those opinions that are wrong.
People are not born with opinions. Their opinions are shaped by their environments and their teachers, and they can be shaped by the wrong environment and the wrong teachers. A baby is not born with hate, but a lot of babies in the United States are taught hate.
Those who have the most power can do the most shaping and the most teaching, and if they are teaching what I believe is wrong, then I believe their power should be taken away from them.
That is what I hope this book will help to achieve. I especially recommend it to the FBI and the CIA and all those who plan to save and secure the world on the false premise that the world can be made safe and secure by freezing the ideas and creativity of man.
I am a factory worker but I know more than just factory work. I know the difference between what would sound right if one lived in a society of logical people and what is right when you live in a society of real people with real differences. It may sound perfectly natural to a highly educated and logical person, even when he hears people saying that there is going to be a big riot, to assume that there will not be a big riot because the authorities have everything under control. But if I kept hearing people say that there was going to be a big riot and I saw one of these logical people standing in the middle, I would tell him he'd better get out of the way because he sure was going to get killed.
Reforms and revolutions are created by the illogical actions of people. Very few logical people ever make reforms and none make revolutions. Rights are what you make and what you take.