Resolution passed by the SDS national council meeting in Austin, Texas, on March 30 1969.
The sharpest struggles in the world today are those of the oppressed nations against imperialism and for national liberation. Within this country the sharpest struggle is that of the black colony for its liberation; it is a struggle which by its very nature is anti-imperialist and in-creasingly
Within the black liberation movement the vanguard force is the Black Panther party. Their development of an essentially correct programme for the black community and their ability to organize blacks around this programme have brought them to this leadership. An especially important part of the Panther programme is the Black People’s Army— a military force to be used not only in the defence of the black community but also for its liberation. Given the military occupation of the black community, it is especially true that ‘without a people’s army the people have nothing.’ A second important part of their programme is their efforts to organize black workers. They are increasingly moving into the factories and shops, e.g., Drum, Panther caucuses, Black Labour Federations, etc. It is important for us to understand that the black worker is not only a ‘subject’ in an oppressed colony fighting for its liberation but that he is also a member of the working class. Thus the black worker, as a result of this dual oppression, will play the vanguard role not only in the black liberation movement but also in uniting and leading the whole working class in its fight against oppression and exploitation.
The fundamental reason for the success of the Black Panther party is that it has a correct analysis of American society. They see clearly the colonial status of blacks and the dual oppression from which they suffer: national oppression as a people and class exploitation as a super-exploited part of the working class. The demand for self-determination becomes the most basic demand of the oppressed colony. And nationalism becomes a necessary and effective means for organizing the black community and forging unity against the oppressor.
We must be very clear about the nature of nationalism. If the principal contradiction in the world today is that of the oppressed nations against imperialism, then support for these revolutionary national movements becomes the most important criterion for dividing revolutionaries from counter-revolutionaries (and revisionists). To say that ‘in the name of nationalism, the bourgeoisie of all nations do their reactionary and dirty work’ is to obscure the reality that in the name of national liberation the workers and peasants of all oppressed nations will struggle against and defeat imperialism. To say that ‘all nationalism is reactionary’ is objectively to ally with imperialism in opposition to the struggles of the oppressed nations.