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Vol. 74/No. 43      November 15, 2010

‘Matter of time before
capitalism collapses’
Part 3 of January 1965 interview
with Malcolm X for ‘Young Socialist’
(feature article)
Below we continue our installments from the recently published book Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power, by Jack Barnes, national secretary of the Socialist Workers Party. This week we reprint the third and final part of an interview with Malcolm X in January 1965 that originally appeared in the Young Socialist magazine. The interview was conducted by Barnes, then national chairman of the Young Socialists Alliance, and Barry Sheppard, a staff writer for the Militant. Copyright © 2009 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.

YOUNG SOCIALIST: What is your opinion of the Democratic Party?

MALCOLM X: The Democratic Party is responsible for the racism that exists in this country, along with the Republican Party. The leading racists in this country are Democrats. Goldwater isn’t the leading racist—he’s a racist but not the leading racist.1 The racists who have influence in Washington, D.C., are Democrats. If you check, whenever any kind of legislation is suggested to mitigate the injustices that Negroes suffer in this country, you will find that the people who line up against it are members of Lyndon B. Johnson’s party. The Dixiecrats are Democrats. The Dixiecrats are only a subdivision of the Democratic Party, and the same man over the Democrats is over the Dixiecrats.2

YOUNG SOCIALIST: What contribution can youth, especially students, who are disgusted with racism in this society, make to the Black struggle for freedom?

MALCOLM X: Whites who are sincere don’t accomplish anything by joining Negro organizations and making them integrated. Whites who are sincere should organize among themselves and figure out some strategy to break down the prejudice that exists in white communities. This is where they can function more intelligently and more effectively, in the white community itself, and this has never been done.

YOUNG SOCIALIST: What part in the world revolution are youth playing, and what lessons may this have for American youth?

MALCOLM X: If you’ve studied the captives being caught by the American soldiers in South Vietnam, you’ll find that these guerrillas are young people. Some of them are just children and some haven’t yet reached their teens. Most are teenagers. It is the teenagers abroad, all over the world, who are actually involving themselves in the struggle to eliminate oppression and exploitation. In the Congo, the refugees point out that many of the Congolese revolutionaries are children. In fact, when they shoot captive revolutionaries, they shoot all the way down to seven years old—that’s been reported in the press. Because the revolutionaries are children, young people. In these countries the young people are the ones who most quickly identify with the struggle and the necessity to eliminate the evil conditions that exist. And here in this country, it has been my own observation that when you get into a conversation on racism and discrimination and segregation, you will find young people are more incensed over it—they feel more filled with an urge to eliminate it.

I think young people here can find a powerful example in the young simbas [lions] in the Congo and the young fighters in South Vietnam.

Another point: as the dark-skinned nations of this earth become independent, as they develop and become stronger, that means that time is on the side of the American Negro. At this point the American Negro is still hospitable and friendly and forgiving. But if he is continually tricked and deceived and so on, and if there is still no solution to his problems, he will become completely disillusioned, disenchanted, and disassociate himself from the interest of America and its society. Many have done that already.

YOUNG SOCIALIST: What is your opinion of the worldwide struggle now going on between capitalism and socialism?

MALCOLM X: It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck. Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody’s blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, then capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.

YOUNG SOCIALIST: What is the outlook for the Negro struggle in 1965?

MALCOLM X: Bloody. It was bloody in 1963, it was bloody in 1964, and all of the causes that created this bloodshed still remain. The March on Washington was designed to serve as a vent or valve for the frustration that produced this explosive atmosphere.3 In 1964 they used the civil rights bill as a valve.4 What can they use in 1965? There is no trick that the politicians can use to contain the explosiveness that exists right here in Harlem.

And look at New York Police Commissioner Murphy. He’s coming out in headlines trying to make it a crime now to even predict that there’s going to be trouble.5 This shows the caliber of American thinking. There’s going to be an explosion, but don’t talk about it. All the ingredients that produce explosions exist, but don’t talk about it, he says. That’s like saying 700 million Chinese don’t exist. This is the same approach. The American has become so guilt-ridden and filled with fear that instead of facing the reality of any situation, he pretends the situation doesn’t exist. You know, in this country it’s almost a crime to say there’s a place called China—unless you mean that little island called Formosa.6 By the same token, it’s almost a crime to say that people in Harlem are going to explode because the social dynamite that existed last year is still here.7

So I think 1965 will be most explosive—more explosive than it was in ’64 and ’63. There’s nothing they can do to contain it. The Negro leaders have lost their control over the people. So that when the people begin to explode—and their explosion is justified, not unjustified—the Negro leaders can’t contain it.

1. In the 1964 presidential election, the Republican candidate Barry Goldwater was defeated by Democratic incumbent Lyndon B. Johnson.

2. The “Dixiecrats” were the openly segregationist wing of the Democratic Party dominant at the time in most of the U.S. South.

3. The August 28, 1963, March on Washington drew more than 250,000 people for a rally at the Lincoln Memorial. The march called for passage of civil rights legislation then pending in Congress. Malcolm X opposed the political perspectives of the leadership of the march, but he participated in the action. That evening, speaking with a Militant reporter covering the demonstration in D.C., Malcolm, at the time still the leading spokesman for the Nation of Islam, said that while march leaders were “talking about a ‘civil rights revolution,’” the truth is that revolution is not a halfway process. “You are either free or not free.” (The Militant, September 16, 1963.)

4. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed into law by President Johnson, barred discrimination in voting, public facilities, schools, and employment.

5. On January 10, 1965, New York Police Commissioner Michael J. Murphy sharply condemned Black leaders such as Malcolm X who had pointed to growing frustration among Blacks and predicted outbreaks of resistance. Such statements, Murphy implied, were causing the trouble.

6. Until the early 1970s, the U.S. government refused diplomatic recognition to the People’s Republic of China, maintaining that the capitalist government of Taiwan (Formosa) represented China.

7. In what the government and big business press called a “riot,” the anger of Blacks in Harlem and the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant had exploded into the streets for five days in July 1964 in the aftermath of the cop killing of a fifteen-year-old Black youth, James Powell. The uprising was sparked by the actions of New York police. The cops had broken up a demonstration demanding the arrest of the officer who had killed Powell. They arrested protest organizers and then staged a cop riot, beating and arresting Harlem residents and killing one.

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Campaign to sell 'Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power' & 'Militant' (chart)  
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