First Published: The Call, Vol. 6, No. 40, October 17, 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Two years ago, the RCP gained a certain notoriety when they joined ROAR and the KKK in posting the racist “STOP” sign symbol (for Stop Busing) during the heroic struggle to integrate Boston’s schools. Now they are scurrying to qualify their shameless attack on minority people, claiming to support busing if the particular plan is a “good” plan.
But their own “explanation” of this “change” as well as their actions show that the RCP still stands firmly against equal rights for minority students. These opportunists have now given their stamp of approval to the puny, tokenist, one-way busing plan in Chicago, while at the same time hurling the blame for racial violence on Chicago’s Southside against the white working people rather than the ruling class.
Let’s examine the Chicago plan to see what it is that is so appealing to the RCP. First of all, it consciously leaves school segregation completely intact. A handful of Black students who volunteer for the program are given bus tokens for public transportation to all-white schools. In other words, it is one-way busing.
No protection is afforded to the Black children who are being led into the midst of racist mobs. As a result only a thousand students have signed up for this “voluntary” program, even though there are 6,700 openings.
This is the “integration” program the RCP has endorsed, while at the same time maintaining their overall stand against the school desegregation movement.
In the October issue of their paper, Revolution, the RCP makes their views clear. It is not the struggle against segregation that they support. Rather they try to portray this historic battle for minority rights simply as a struggle for better education or against “overcrowding.”
“At this time, workers and others should unite to support the parents who have chosen to send their kids to a less crowded school...” they explain in the article “Reaction Erupts Over Chicago Busing.”
They follow this liquidation of the national question with the now familiar escape route of the vacillators who claim “the issue is not busing.” The RCP won’t take a stand in the overall struggle of Black and other minority people fighting for their rights, which has, in fact, focused in many cities on the demand for busing to achieve integration of schools. Instead they plead: “the particularities of each busing plan have to be analyzed, because in some cases busing can and should be supported.”
So it is only at “this time” for “this plan” that RCP has dropped their ROAR-type slogans. In fact they make it clear that any plan of broad busing would be totally opposed by them.
Why? The RCP explains: “Any plan to massively bus Chicago school children to meet state guidelines–every school at least 45% Black and at least 10% white–would unleash fantastic conflict and chaos in the schools and in the city at large.” [Our emphasis–ed.]
It is exactly this “conflict and chaos,” Revolution’s words for the Black freedom struggle, that frighten the RCP. This is the mealy-mouthed appeal for peace that the liberals pushed during the civil rights and Black power movements of the ’60s that RCP is now echoing in the ’70s. If the struggle against segregation is carried out in earnest on a mass scale, a “white backlash” will defeat the movement, according to their line.
This shows RCP’s contempt for the white workers as well as for the minorities. The RCP paper is filled with self-congratulatory praises for their alleged heroism in defense of Black children and supposed “defense squads.” But what about political work among the white people in South Boston, the Bogan area of Chicago or among the white workers in general?
For those whites who have been stampeded against their own interests into supporting segregation, the RCP has only insults with little in the way of political education. They refer to panicked mothers of white students as “politically shameless” and “hatchet-faced hussies.”
This liberal name-calling, however, is of little use to the struggle for freedom and certainly no substitute for political struggle.
Next, the RCP article pretends that their representative didn’t give an anti-busing speech at the demonstration outside the meeting of the National United Workers Organization, a speech which was picked up and quoted by the bourgeois media because of its value to them.
It is clear that the NUWO itself was kept from taking a position on this most important and most burning of questions facing workers and unemployed people. The RCP claims that “the discussion around the demonstration was limited by time and there was a certain amount of un-clarity about some of the issues related to the present voluntary busing plan in Chicago.
But if time wasn’t allowed for discussion of the busing question, what were the delegates to the convention discussing? What kind of leadership was RCP giving to this new organization?
This gets to the heart of the matter. RCP’s approach to the class struggle is based on economism and tailism. Their lack of confidence in the masses leads the RCP to tail behind the narrow economic struggle rather than taking the communist approach of diverting the spontaneous struggle down the course of political and revolutionary struggle.
This tailism will never lead to revolution. It will leave the working class disunited and the capitalist system intact.
But just as the masses can force concessions like the ERA from the capitalists, they can also prevent legislation and other reforms from being used in the capitalists’ interests. What accomplishes this, however, is not the wording of a bill, as the revisionists preach, but the strength and militant action of the workers’ movement.
The revisionist CPUSA seeks hegemony over the women’s movement in order to choke it with the noose of reformism and electoral struggle. They may try to hide their views on the ERA to keep from being isolated. But they will never be able to cover up their betrayal of the struggle for women’s equality.
For the RCP, talking about the narrow trade union struggle is fine. To talk even about the struggle for “quality education” and against “overcrowding” is fine. But talk to white workers about the Afro-American people’s struggle against national oppression and for self-determination and political power? Never!
RCP claims that they are being “slandered” and “misunderstood.” But the class conscious workers understand them fine. They know full well that there can be no real “quality education” under capitalism. They know there can be no “good” busing plan.
What kind of quality can there be in a school system that enforces segregation between white and minority students? What kind of “good” plan can there be when segregation extends to every phase of our society? RCP in their new-found praise of the Chicago plan is simply doing the public relations work for Mayor Bilandic and the rest of the politicians who are scrambling for government school money.
The question is not simply one or another busing plan as the RCP claims. The question is what side is RCP on in the fight for integration of the schools.
RCP doesn’t have to be slandered. They provide their own self-exposures. They are defenders of capitalist segregation and racism dressed up in a communist disguise.