Resolution on Racism (1956)

Resolution on Racism

The People May-June 2006

50 YEARS AGO --

The following is the text of a Resolution on Racism adopted by the 24th National Convention of the Socialist Labor Party in May 1956. As with all SLP resolutions pertaining to matters of policy, it was submitted to the entire membership of the party for a vote by ballot, and approved.

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RESOLUTION ON RACISM

At its 23rd National Convention in 1952, the Socialist Labor Party of America declared that property interests, fear and insecurity make the social soil of capitalism fertile for the seed of poisonous race prejudice.

As the Socialist Labor Party of America meets at its 24th National Convention in the City of New York, on May 7, 1956, it is evident that the above statement has been fully confirmed by the reaction to the Supreme Court's decision against segregation in public schools and elsewhere.

The decision intensified the already existing racism of the South. The results of that intensification include the following:

The creation of the White Citizens Councils as a new form of Ku Klux Klanism. Economic reprisals against Negroes who sign pleas for school integration. The use of economic and social pressures against whites who express opinions even mildly in opposition to segregation. The acquittal of cold-blooded murderers of Negroes, providing white supremacists with a license to kill Negroes at their pleasure. And so forth.

The fact is that the intensification of the South's racism, like racism itself, is the work of the beneficiaries of the system of exploitation. The policy-forming members of the White Citizens Councils are capitalists, bankers, landowners, lawyers, militarists, ministers. The anarchistic moves of the state legislatures and governments in contempt of the Supreme Court are directed by such ultra-"respectable" capitalist politicians as James F. Byrnes, former governor of South Carolina and former secretary of state under Roosevelt; and U.S. Sen. Harry F. Byrd, agricultural capitalist and political boss of Virginia.

A clue to the cause of racism was furnished by William Faulkner, Mississippi plantation owner and Nobel Prize winner in literature. In an interview with the London TIMES, Mr. Faulkner declared: "To produce cotton we have to have a system of peonage. That is absolutely at the bottom of the situation." Mr. Faulkner was then asked: "Are the psychological rationalizations for prejudice something grafted on to the economic root?" He replied: "Yes, I would say that a planter who has a thousand acres wants to keep the Negro in a position of debt peonage and in order to do it he is going to tell the poor class of white folks that the Negro wants to violate his daughter. But all he wants at the back of it is a system of peonage to produce his cotton at the highest rate of profit."

The evidence substantiates the Marxian analysis of racism by the Socialist Labor Party of America. The social soil of capitalism is indeed fertile for the flourishing of poisonous race prejudice. In the light of the foregoing be it therefore

RESOLVED, That the Socialist Labor Party of America reaffirm its stand that the race question is but a part of the larger social question, that the fundamental division in society is along class lines (exploiters and exploited), and that the workers of all races have a common interest in solving the larger social question. And be it further

RESOLVED, That all the evidence proves that the social question arises from the exploitation of the many by the few and that it can be solved in but one way, by the socialist reconstruction of society. And be it finally

RESOLVED, That the Socialist Labor Party of America appeal to the workers of all colors, creeds and national origins, and to all persons who recognize the evils of capitalism, to join with us in our efforts to bring a speedy end to the criminal capitalist system and to create the economic and social conditions for freedom, equality and universal brotherhood by establishing the free society of socialism, thereby eliminating the cause of racial prejudices.