Feeling Like Russians Again

"The status of the American Negro is that of an oppressed national minority, and only a Soviet system can solve the question of such minorities," William Z. Foster, long-time chairman of the Communist Party, U.S.A., wrote in his 1932 book, Toward Soviet America.

Accordingly, the right of self-determination will apply to Negroes in the American Soviet system. In the so-called Black Belt of the South, where the Negroes are in the majority, they will have the fullest right to govern themselves and also such white minorities as may live in this section.

Thus, by sheer sleight of hand, an ethnic majority would be transformed into a minority on its own home territory.

Thankfully, Foster and company never got the opportunity' to enact their program for rectifying what they believed to be America's irredeemably racist past. But suppose they had? Following the model actually put into effect by the Soviet Union on the territory of the former Russian empire, it is not hard to see how this principle would have worked out in practice: an African-American republic in the Deep South, a Spanish-speaking republic in most of the Mexican Cession, large territories in the West assigned to various Indian nations ("Navajo Autonomous Republic"), small francophone enclaves in Louisiana and northern Vermont and Maine, and so forth—all under the tight control of an avowedly...

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