First Published: Progressive Labor Vol. 10, No. 1, August-September 1975
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The U.S. ruling class is carefully and deliberately nurturing the conditions for a full-blown nationwide fascist movement. At the present time, this movement is most readily recognizable by its virulent racism. Within the past five years, the new fascist forces have exposed themselves in the following developments, among many others:
–The 1974 San Francisco “Zebra Killings” hoax, during which liberal Mayor Alioto used a series of murders as a pretext for ordering mass police terror against the city’s entire black population. During the “Zebra” affair, virtually every black man between the ages of 18 and 40 was officially considered legitimate police bait.
–The 1972 Forest Hills (Queens, N.Y.C.) movement against integrated housing, led by a two-bit real estate shark named Jerry Birbach, who used racist demagoguery to organize several hundred people in demonstrations against a low-income housing project. Birbach, who was really acting as a P.R. man for a construction and real estate tycoon named Levitt, had tacit backing from New York’s Mayor at that time, the liberal John Lindsay.
–A similar movement in 1973 against integrated low-income housing in Newark, N.J., led by gangster Anthony Imperiale and staffed mainly by his small army of personal thugs.
–A racist 1973 school boycott in Canarsie (Brooklyn, N.Y.) that attempted to stop black children from going to their classes.
–Dragnet Palmer-type raids conducted by the U.S. Immigration Service against so-called “illegal aliens” (foreign workers whom the international capitalist economy forces to come here and to whom the bosses’ government will not give legal documentation) in every major U.S. population center, especially California, Texas, Chicago and New York City. These raids and proposed Nazi-type legislation to increase arrests and deportations of “illegals” are openly encouraged by every section of the ruling class. Liberal Ted Kennedy was one of the initial sponsors of the anti-immigrant Rodino Bill, while conservative Mario Biaggi is the proud father of an even tougher bill. By February 1975, both the liberal New York Times and the conservative New York Daily News had written a series of articles to express their unconditional support of anti-immigrant legislation and to blame the ”illegal” immigrants for every burden the present depression has placed on the backs of the working class.
These and many other developments typify the infancy of the new fascist movement in the United States. In the cases cited, however, significant active popular support for the movement has not existed. The Gauleiters have been Mayors, Congressmen and well-heeled goons like Imperiale and Birbach. The storm-troopers have been uniformed policemen. Even the few hundred people mustered in Forest Hills and Canarsie weren’t too reliable over a prolonged period of time.
But, from the viewpoint of the ruling class, this is not adequate. Racism must lead to the threat and ultimately the reality of race war. And race war, like any other war, requires an army–a fascist army. The developing U.S. fascist movement needs a large armed force of civilians who will use violence to carry out the logic of the bosses’ racist policies. The fascists must develop an aggressive mass base.
This base exists today only in Boston, Massachusetts. The well-publicized racist anti-busing movement in that city–particularly in South Boston–can count on several thousand people among its enthusiastic supporters. It has organized a number of large demonstrations within the last year. Many of these demonstrations carry out the cowardly, criminal violence that is the stock: in-trade of Hitlerites: rocks, stones and knives thrown at school children, bombs planted in the homes of black people, solitary black men dragged from their cars and brutalized by gangs of racist punks.
This movement has an open, public leadership in City Council woman Louise Day Hicks, former Boston School Committee Chairman John Kerrigan, and a number of other political hacks and ward-heelers who have tied their fortunes to racism. However, as we shall see later, it also has a clandestine liberal leadership in the Kennedys, Mayor White, Governor Dukakis, President Ford, and other representatives of the U.S. ruling class.
The racist movement against black schoolchildren in Boston is the most developed and therefore the most dangerous example of fascism in the United States today. If workers and their allies everywhere do not unite to smash it now, it will be emboldened to mushroom in its own right and, more to the point, will enable the bosses to carry out their plans for developing similar and larger mass movements. The racist movement in Boston is a trial balloon for coast-to-coast fascism.
The thousands of people who have taken to the streets to terrorize black schoolchildren in Boston were not mobilized overnight. The forces of racism have worked long and hard to produce this movement, whose roots go back well over a decade.
The public schools in Boston are among the most dilapidated in the country. The atrocious conditions in the all-black schools, which were well-documented for the 1960s in Jonathan Kozol’s book, Death at an Early Age, have worsened in the interval. Conditions in the all-white schools are not much better: overcrowded classrooms, antiquated and inadequate facilities, insufficient books and supplies. The reading level at South Boston High–the Alma Mater of the fascists–is not much higher than in the Roxbury ghetto schools. Boston teachers went on strike against these conditions in 1970. During the course of this struggle, many appalling facts came to light. Only three of 68 schools had gym facilities. Two hundred thirty-one teachers filed reports about insufficient heat, 360 complained about not enough light, and 276 pointed to the lack of furniture. Two hundred ninety-six teachers reported that no textbooks were available. Forty percent of Boston’s high schools were so unsafe even by low government standards that they were threatened with loss of accreditation. This is the state of public education in the cradle of U.S. liberalism and scholarship.
The Boston schools are also among the most segregated in the U.S. Kozol’s book attests to this. Moreover, the city’s minority population–although sizable–does not begin to approach the percentage of the aggregate minority population in cities like New York, Detroit, Newark, and Washington, D.C., where black, Latin, and other non-white people comprise nearly half or, in some cases, more than half the total.
Finally, Boston is not the site of a basic heavy industry (like auto in Detroit or steel in Chicago) or a major profit-making industry (like garment or transportation in New York). Therefore, the objective unity that exists between super-exploited minority workers and exploited white workers at the point of production–where daily life constantly exposes the boss as the common enemy has not been developed as fully in Boston as elsewhere. For example, the important General Electric plant in Lynn (a Boston suburb) has a black work force of only 3%.
The seeds for fascism were planted in Boston as part of the nationwide racist response organized by the ruling class to the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950s and 1960s. The racists functioned on two levels, then as now. First, the scenario was written and staged by liberals. In April 1965, the State Board of Education presented a 132-page report on “racial imbalance” in Massachusetts schools. The report, which was signed among others by Kennedy father-confessor Cardinal Cushing, pointed out the obvious fact that northern “racial imbalance” and southern “legalized segregation” were one and the same, and that there was just as much “racial imbalance” in Boston as there was segregation in any comparable southern city. The report shed many crocodile tears over how this situation deprived black children of a chance to fulfill the American Dream. It was written, in part, to co-opt the fierce struggle black parents had waged to improve the Boston schools.
Disguised in liberal rhetoric and dripping with humanitarian niceties, this report cynically set the stage for an organized racist movement against the very things it pretended to support. By implying that the all-white schools were qualitatively better than the segregated schools, by covering up for the bosses who run the Massachusetts school system, and by calling for “integration” without improving the schools, the report cleared a path for the racists to start spewing demagoguery that would get white people to fight black people for the paltry crumbs of a shrinking pie.
Integration in every phase of life–at the point of production, in the communities, in the schools, and elsewhere–is in the vital class interests of all workers. Segregation intensifies disunity, racism-and therefore the oppression of the whole working class. Integration is possible only on the basis of a united fight for more jobs, more schools, more benefits, more money, etc. for everyone. This is precisely the kind of fight the bosses of the Mass. State Board of Education wanted to pre-empt or smash. If the Board of Ed. was so deeply concerned about the effects of racism in the Boston public schools, why didn’t it evaluate its own role in the situation? Why didn’t it come up with the money needed to make a dent in the appalling conditions outlined above? Why, by promoting the racist myth that the segregated all-white schools were significantly better than the segregated all-black schools in Boston, did it give a blank check to the “Save our neighborhoods” lies and demagoguery of the racists?
The answer is that the ruling class wanted to have its cake and eat it too. Without spending any money from their profits to improve schools, they wanted to mislead the sincere anti-racist forces and at the same time spread maximum antagonism between black and white people.
The public leadership of the anti-integration movement, in 1965 as today, was centered in the Boston School Committee, of which Louise Day Hicks was Chairwoman between 1963 and 1965. Hicks and others on the School Committee used the “racial imbalance” report to whip up racist hysteria against school integration. On March 3, 1965, Hicks crony Joseph Lee delivered a speech to the School Committee that must have been researched in a Nazi manual on “Aryan superiority.” He warned that school integration would bring about a “population take-over” by black people. Later, commenting upon the State Board of Education report, he said that “White children do not want large numbers of backward pupils from un-prospering Negro families shipped into their present mainly white schools...” (Death at an Early Age, p. 138).
This white supremist trash from Lee, Hicks and others received massive attention from the Boston press. Hicks and Co. were organizing for race war by now. The opening salvo came on St. Patrick’s Day, 1965, when, according to the Boston Globe, “trouble cropped up at 1 Street, where a group of youths in their twenties held forth, their beer mugs held high. One stepped out from the gutter and spewed a mouthful of beer on Archie E. Dickerson, a Negro from Roxbury. . . The parade hadn’t gone a block when another youth staggered out and cursed a priest. . . At Perkins Square, Father Serino flew out of line of march a second time when a young group in front of a bar chanted, ’Nigger-lovin b . . .”
Hicks was already recruiting storm-troopers. In a much-publicized move, she got the Boston Police Dept. to give her a gun permit on May 20, 1965. Civil rights demonstrators had picketed School Committee meetings, and she used this as a pretext for further provocative racist actions.
For her meritorious service, the Boston City Council named Louise Day Hicks “Woman of the Year” in 1964 and the city’s “Outstanding Citizen” of 1965. The same City Council named Michael J. Flaherty, who is currently a Massachusetts State Representative and with Hicks a leader of today’s fascist movement, South Boston’s “Outstanding Citizen” of 1962. The Boston City Council, however, sleazy as it may be, is not a fly-by-night operation run by a few crackpots. It is the titled mouthpiece of the Boston and Massachusetts ruling class. Bestowing these awards on Hicks and Flaherty was no accident. It meant that Massachusetts bosses wanted to encourage racists to organize in Boston. These awards were a green light for Hicks and Co. Soon afterwards, the Boston Globe, the New York Times and the television networks transformed Louise from a local ugly duckling into a national monument. She ran for the Boston mayoralty in 1967 and lost to liberal Kevin White–but the very fact that she was able to mount a serious campaign added to the legitimacy of organized racism. In 1970, she became a member of the Boston City Council. In 1972, she won the Congressional election for the 9th Massachusetts District and was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for two years.
The racism which Hicks and her cronies had whipped up during the 1960s was to serve the ruling class well as its economy began to sink further and further. By late 1973, although today’s depression-level layoffs and unemployment had not yet reached full force, zooming inflation had the bosses in plenty of trouble. To offset workers’ militancy in the face of their own growing weakness, they had to resort to more drastic tactics. And so Boston’s local ruling class received the task of launching a new round of race war ballyhoo, to serve as an example to the rest of the country.
The pretext for this campaign was an incident at Dorchester High School. Dorchester High is in a section of Boston that is being block-busted by big banks and their real estate front men. Real estate parasites are paid to spread racist panic so that white families will sell out cheap and black families will be forced to buy for exorbitant prices.
Dorchester High is a typical school hellhole. Headmaster O’Brien suspended a student for refusing to run outdoors coatless during a winter fire drill in 1972. That same year, he organized an “attack force” of the most anti-working class and racist teachers. Basically, this force acted to “discipline” (i.e. terrorize) the students. On Tuesday, Sept. 25, 1973, a minor racist incident took place. Two days later someone pulled the alarm system. School officials knew this was a false alarm. Nonetheless, they forced students and teachers to rush out of the building. A serious fight ensued. “Mysterious” racist rumors that had been circulating for several days helped prepare the conditions for this fight.
Immediately the press–not just the “right-wing” press, but the staid, respectable, liberal Boston Globe–seized upon this incident to mount a racist campaign with the tested technique of the Big Lie. The Globe printed fables about black “militants” savagely and wantonly attacking white people. It wrote that when the Dorchester High students returned to class on Monday, October 1, the senior class (which it wrongly described as “split along racial lines”) held workshops to support the police. In fact, school officials had banned all meetings. But 100 students defied them and met to formulate unity demands (like firing O’Brien and altering the black studies program to involve more white students). This the Globe ignored. A year later, the New York Times was to play a similar role in exaggerating a racist incident at Brooklyn’s New Utrecht High School and in “neglecting” to report the students’ serious efforts to promote unity.
After things calmed down at Dorchester High School, the Boston ruling class had to conjure up some fresh grist for its race war mill. On Wednesday, Oct. 3, 1973, a young woman named Evelyn Wagler was murdered–burned to death. There are two kinds of hard evidence about the murderer(s): flimsy and non-existent. Yet the press and liberal Mayor White (the same Mayor White who today parades as the best friend black people have) took the police story that she had been torched by “six young black people” and made it nationwide front-page news. Reporters for Challenge-Desafio uncovered several clues that don’t make the police story look too good. For instance, a local resident said that people had seen her arguing with a man about “bad drugs” before her death. The bosses’ press kept silent about this lead and others: after all, the truth about the Wagler murder would have shattered the “Black-hordes-out-to-kill-white-people” myth that White, the Globe and the police were trying to whip up into tidal wave force.
Another racist horror story that made headlines at the same time concerned the murder of fisherman Louis Barba. The press reported that he had been “stoned to death” by a “black mob.” Radio stations issued bulletins about the movements of this “mob.” Just two days after the murder, the police were forced to admit an “unfortunate mistake”: Barba had been stabbed with his own knife, net stoned. The mysterious “mob” evaporated into thin air without a word. Yet several days after the cops had acknowledged their “boo-boo,” the Boston Herald had the gall to print the headline: “Stoning Victim Buried.”
This campaign of racist lies must have had Dr. Goebbels chortling in his grave. Within limits, it also produced its intended effect by provoking a number of terrible incidents that could be considered steps in the direction of race war. On October 4, police organized some white racists to beat up black students at Boston’s Andrews Station. A black girl’s back was broken. No banner headlines reported this incident. Then the Globe faithfully carried the police version of another racist horror story, this time about a black minister, Rev. Hollins, who was accused of shooting a white boy.
Challenge-Desafio interviewed Hollins and got a different version. On Tuesday, Oct. 9, the Hollinses went to the Roslindale shopping center in response to a desperate call from Hollins’ sister. They found her by her car, which had just been vandalized. Nearby were some cops making racist jokes with a number of teenagers. When the cops left, some punks from among the teenagers surrounded the Hollinses. The family all got into Hollins’ car and attempted to drive off. As they did so, they heard some shots. They were then surrounded and dragged out of the car by a battalion of cops. During the frisking, the women were molested (standard police procedure) and then dragged off to the local precinct. The Rev. Hollins was framed for shooting a white kid with a stolen poiice gun. (All details about the Dorchester High, Wagler, Barba and Hollins incidents are cited in the Nov. 2, 1973 edition of Challenge-Desafio.)
Despite the local ruling class’ best efforts, despite all the lies trumpeted in the press, by the politicians and on TV, as well as the attention paid to Boston by the national media which of course swallowed the Globe-cop-White versions of everything hook, line and sinker, race war isn’t so easy to organize among a population that basically doesn’t want it. Over 40,000 Challenge-Desafio flyers were distributed during this time throughout Boston. They exposed the bosses’ lies and called for class unity against racism, for better conditions, and for socialism. The response at plant gates, on campuses, in communities was almost universally favorable to these ideas. Boston’s workers weren’t ready to goose-step their way into oblivion for the ruling class’ racist line.
The Hicks-liberal axis went back to work. The 1973 School Committee elections were won by the racists, as usual. This in no way represented a clear endorsement from the working people of Boston, because John Kerrigan, a nazi who served a term as School Committee chairman, received only 7.47% of the eligible vote. This is hardly a popular mandate for racism. It is exactly what it appears to be: the voice of the organized racist movement in Boston. Obviously, the Boston ruling class wants the School Committee run by people like Kerrigan, because mass pressure is certainly not forcing them to “tolerate” this situation. The shoe is on the other foot.
In the spring and summer of 1974, the bosses decided to use Hicks, Kerrigan, and Co. to bring racism to a boiling point in preparation for the coming fall school term. As in 1965 and 1973, the liberals set the stage. On April 4, Hicks and City Councilman Albert O’Neill led a demonstration of 10,000 people against school busing. On April 23, liberal Mayor White, who got his start in life as Corporation Counsel for Rockefeller’s Standard Oil of California in 1955, and then-Governor Sargent threw their support behind a non-binding referendum worded in the following manner: “Shall Boston public school children be assigned to a particular Boston school on the basis of race, sex or creed without the consent of their parent or guardian?”
This referendum was calculated to produce the most racist possible response. A referendum campaign that really had the interests of Boston’s black and white school children at heart would ask questions and make demands that related to the specific improvements desperately needed throughout the public school system. A referendum campaign organized for the purpose of winning meaningful school reform would concentrate on highlighting the points of unity for workers and working class students. This referendum was worded in the most divisive way possible. A referendum campaign that really wanted to convince people with a racist outlook to welcome black children into their schools would have to show that racist attacks suicidally play into the bosses’ divide and conquer strategy. Like the State Board of Education report of 1965, this referendum was the liberal ruling class’ device for parading as the good guys while in fact acting as the primary instigators and beneficiaries of racism.
The results of the referendum were interesting. It lost, by the overwhelming margin of 30,798 to 2,282. Given the manner in which the question was posed and the fact that this enabled Hicks and Co. to get out the vote with a vengeance among their most loyal base, this lopsided margin is not surprising. Far more interesting and positive from the point of view of Boston’s black and white working class is the fact that only 12% of those eligible voted. Only 25% voted in Hicks’ stronghold, South Boston. Only 3% voted in Roxbury. This was by far the lowest turnout for any election in the city’s history–and few issues have been trumpeted in the media with as much fanfare. Like the Kerrigan election, this referendum proved once again that, aside from a nucleus of several thousand (and one cannot include nearly all the 30,000 “no” votes among them), the vast majority of Boston’s workers were not ready to be led actively into the politics of race war. Those who stayed away from the polls in droves understood that they were being set up for something they wanted no part of.
The liberals forged ahead with their scenario for a showdown. After many proposals and counter-proposals had been put forth by Hicks and Co. on one side and White and Co. on the other over how much, if any, busing should take place in the fall, Judge Arthur Garrity handed down his ruling on June 21, 1974. He ordered 20,500 children bused at the opening of school in September and enjoined the School Committee from acting in any way to oppose his decision. Acting for the liberals, Garrity sought to guarantee that the busing would take place in the worst possible school conditions. His ruling also enjoined the School Committee ”. . .from beginning construction of any new school, expansion of old schools, or placement of new portable schools ...” (Boston Globe, June 22, 1974).
So the set-up for race war was virtually complete. The Garrity ruling enabled the liberals to pose once again as anti-racist champions and at the same time to organize the busing in the most provocative manner possible, Because the injunction clearly made any significant improvement in the Boston public school system appear contradictory to school integration. In effect, they were telling black and white schoolchildren and their parents: “Share the poverty.”
Leaving no stone unturned, the liberals proceeded to intensify the provocations. On September 9, shortly before the schools were to open, Teddy Kennedy appeared on the speakers’ platform of a large anti-busing rally organized by Kerrigan and his ally, O’Neill. Ostensibly, Kennedy came to speak in favor of busing. He told the anti-busing forces they were “entitled to (their) views” (New York Times, Sept. 10. After all, in the democratic U.S.A., the Kennedys aren’t going to deny anyone the “right” to be a nazi. . .) but was chased from the platform by a well-organized group of fascists. Inevitably, the story made Page One and prime time news.
The incident smacked of the blatant collusion between Kennedy and the fascists. Why did Kerrigan allow his most noteworthy “enemy” to address a rally of his own supporters? Why did Kennedy– who was not born yesterday–want to speak at a racist rally, when he must have known he would be jeered by a large number of the participants?
Again the answer is that the liberals–and in this case, their main national public spokesmen, the Kennedys, are in fact the principal chieftains of the fascist movement in Boston and elsewhere. Their heart-rending rhetoric to the contrary, the Kennedys have amply exposed their role as major racists on numerous occasions. On July 4, 1973, in Decatur, Alabama, Teddy presented George Wallace with the “Audie Murphy Patriotism” award. This is the same George Wallace whose mounted cops attacked black children with electric cattle prods. The event was described in the July 5 New York Times as “... a major political turning point... it (marked) the beginning of a serious effort to reconstruct the old Democratic coalition...” between liberal northern racists and their more obvious southern counterparts. In the speech he made to launch this love-match, Teddy said: “Let no one think I come to lecture you on that racial injustice which has proven as deeply embedded and resistant in the cities of the North as in the countries of the South ...” Coupled with his assertion that the fascist Kerrigan-led demonstrators were “entitled to their views,” this remark leaves little room for doubt about Kennedy’s favoritism toward racists. In addition, Kennedy’s support for the anti-immigrant Rodino Bill is backed up by his alliance with Cesar Chavez, who is the leading spokesman within the labor movement for the summary deportation of “illegals.” Beyond this, the Kennedy family’s role in organizing the U.S. imperialist war of genocide in Vietnam is well documented, as is the elder Kennedy brother’s sponsorship of such fascist and anti-working class legislation as the McCarran Act and the (Kennedy)-Landrum-Griffin Act. We mention these details as evidence that the liberals are the real conductors of the Boston Fascist Symphony, an orchestra in which Kerrigan, Hicks and their cronies are mere instrumentalists.
By the time Kennedy participated in the September 9 provocation, the Kerrigan-Hicks Storm Troop was already running wild in the streets of South Boston, openly promising to beat up bused students on the impending first day of classes. By September 21, the New York Times and the Boston Globe reported that members of the National Socialist White People’s Party and the Ku Klux Klan had set up shop in South Boston. On the first day of classes, the fascists arrived in force to shout disgusting insults and throw rocks at black children and also to attack a Progressive Labor Party demonstration–the only action that day calling on South Boston’s white workers to welcome black students into their schools and to organize a united fight against the bosses.
After two weeks of school, during which the bused students were subjected to various forms of abuse, including violence, Hicks decided it was time to heat things up even more. A group of several dozen fascist thugs carried out the kind of “superman” action for which their Hitlerite grandfathers were internationally renowned, when on October 7 they dragged a young Haitian immigrant worker named Andre Jean-Louis out of his car in Dorchester and brutally gang-beat him. This incident, which received national front page attention, was taken by the Boston fascist movement as a signal to carry out similar deeds of valor elsewhere, and as a result, racist mob violence against black school children increased. It goes without saying that the bosses’ press seized on every attempt by black students to defend themselves and portrayed it in the same light as the actions of the fascists.
The fascist organizing was common knowledge. Hundreds of police were present at every high school where “trouble” had been anticipated. Probably half the police force of Boston was at South Boston High regularly. Yet the attacks took place and intensified while the cops either stood by or made perfunctory arrests for the sake of publicity. Facts prove therefore not only that the police themselves were anxious to let the racist mob have its way but also that Mayor White–the same Mayor White who a year earlier had gone on television to spread racist hysteria about the Wagler and Barba murders–was in league with them. The Boston fascist movement can sometimes turn out 10,000 to a demonstration. It can turn out less to insult black school children, less again to use violence against them–and, at this point, far, far less to take on a serious struggle with armed policemen. The cops easily had the physical ability to guarantee that not one single hair on the head of a bused student would be harmed–and White could have ordered them to do so.
Contrast this “benign neglect” of fascist thugs with the treatment accorded to minority workers or any other workers, for that matter, who undertake rebellions. In Newark, Watts, Harlem and scores of other cities, mayoral orders to the cops are an unequivocal “Shoot to Kill.” Some forces on the so-called “left” united with Mayor White to call for the National Guard in Boston as “protection” for the bused children. This brilliant suggestion calls to mind the great black working class rebellion of 1967 in Detroit for jobs, housing, schools and decent wages. When it became so large and violent that the city police couldn’t handle it, the government called in the National Guard. Even the National Guard couldn’t kill the rebels fast enough–so the bosses rerouted the 102nd Airborne Division from its Vietnam destination and sent it to Detroit. This decision had to be made by President LBJ. A ruling class with this kind of military power at its beck and call obviously can stop Louise Day Hicks and her ragtag Wehrmacht any time it wants to. Obviously it doesn’t want to. Obviously it wants Louise hanging around and flourishing.
If further proof of this point were needed, it came on October 9, two days after the incident in which Andre Jean-Louis had nearly been massacred by the Hicks thugs and one day after the pie-cards who run the Massachusetts State Building and Trade Council had unanimously voted to oppose busing. On that day, President Gerald Ford, the Paganini of imbecility, emerged from a strategy session with his Fuhrer Rockefeller and proclaimed that he disagreed with Garrity’s desegregation order for Boston. This was the first time since 1954 that a U.S. President had made a public statement to contradict a court-ordered desegregation decision. (New York Times, Oct. 10) To cover himself, Ford made a few bland statements about how he regretted the violence in Boston and how there were other ways to oppose busing. But the Hicksites and just about everybody else read the message loud and clear as a Presidential endorsement of Nazism in Boston. The newspapers and TV reported members of ROAR (the Boston anti-busing group) as sending telegrams of support to the White House and parading around South Boston with “We Love You Gerry” signs.
Since October, the fascist movement has continued its vicious attacks at South Boston High School, Hyde Park High, and other schools. Major battles flared up in December and January as a result of which South Boston High was temporarily shut down.
As of this writing (June 1975), daily racist violence continues in South Boston High, Hyde Park High and elsewhere. ROAR is brazenly attempting to form a national organization and is receiving massive publicity from the liberal press. Louise Day Hicks & Co. fly ROAR banners outside the windows of their Boston City Council offices.
U.S. bosses are promoting the violent movements against school busing in Boston and elsewhere as a key battering ram of their strategy for developing fascism. The main anti-busing organization, ROAR, is seriously attempting to constitute itself as a nationwide group. The ruling class wants the racist attacks against schoolchildren in Boston to serve as the springboard for similar attacks in dozens of other cities.
THE INTERESTS OF THE WORKING CLASS dictate that this strategy be smashed. In order to counter the rulers’ plans for fascism, workers and their allies must act upon an unwavering class position that will enable us to maintain vital unity within our own ranks and at the same time go on to the offensive. Therefore, the Progressive Labor Party offers the following program on the question of busing and the schools:
–We support and fight for the concept of quality, integrated education. Segregation in the schools, the communities, or anywhere else, harms the entire working class. It divides us, promotes racism, and therefore weakens our ability to fight back against the bosses. From a class standpoint, the fight for integration is inseparable from the fight for more schools, more jobs, higher wages, and more benefits for everyone, especially minority workers and their children who are hardest hit by segregation and racism,
–The public school system in the U.S. is generally rotten. However, because of racism, the worst conditions overall prevail in ghetto schools and in schools with a high percentage of minority children in attendance. Given this situation, many minority parents have reached the conclusion that their children will receive a better education in schools with a higher percentage of white children, where the effects of racism are not as devastating. These parents should be able to send their children to any school they choose. They should be provided with adequate busing service to accomplish this. When busing is used in this way, it can help to integrate the schools. The PLP supports busing for integration.
–The bosses are able to use racism to build an anti-busing movement in cases where white parents and students oppose the arrival of new groups of minority students into their schools. These parents justify their action on the grounds that black, Latin and other minority children will create “inferior” conditions in the schools. This viewpoint is a nazi trap. It can lead only to worsening school conditions for everyone. Those responsible for the disgusting conditions in the schools are the bosses, the politicians and the school administrators. To the white parents who oppose busing for integration, we say: Don’t be a sucker for the ruling class. Nothing–absolutely nothing–can justify wanton attacks on anyone’s kids. When minority children are bused into our schools, welcome them. Make friends with their parents. Unite with teachers to build a movement that can fight to win significant improvements in everyone’s schools. Disunity and racism are certain roads to defeat. Hicks, Kerrigan and ROAR have yet to build a single school for the children of Boston–and the Boston public school system is one of the worst in the country.
–At the same time, liberal politicians like Kennedy, Boston’s Mayor White, and others, who represent the center of power in the U.S. ruling class, deliberately use the issue of busing to provoke as much racism and discord as possible in the ranks of the working class. When Judge Arthur Garrity (who was a high-ranking JFK campaign worker in 1958) issued his busing orders last year and this year, he made it illegal to build any new schools in the city. This is standard operating procedure when the liberals organize any busing program: they actually intensify racism by making integration appear contradictory to improvement of the schools. At the same time, liberal Mayor White stood by while the Boston police under his command let the ROAR-inspired fascists viciously attack black school children all year long. If we want to build a united movement that can win significant reforms in the schools and that can fight back against racism, we must smash both the open ROAR-type racists and the liberal bosses and politicians who stand behind them.
–Ultimately, decent, integrated, non-racist education that teaches important basic skills and that prepares children for productive lives is impossible under the capitalist system. We can have it only under socialism, after we have wiped out the big bosses and taken power by ourselves. Eliminating the obstacles that block our way to this goal therefore becomes a primary task for our class. The greatest of these obstacles at the present time–particularly in the mass movement to improve the schools–is racism. The most virulent racism manifests itself in the anti-busing movement. The fight for socialism, the fight for survival and the fight to win more and better schools depend on our ability to wipe out racism. Don’t fall for the bosses’ plans to split our ranks! The anti-busing movement is a deadly trap: reject it! We must act in Boston and elsewhere to guarantee that not one single hair is harmed on the head of one single bused minority student. Those who attack children violently are fascists. The working class will make them pay for their crimes.
Meanwhile, Garrity has announced the latest busing plan for 1975. It calls for more students to be bused this year than in 1974, with a heavier emphasis on grade school than on high school. The Garrity order of May 10 contains no plan to build new schools or expand existing facilities. On the contrary, it threatens to close down some schools, Thus, the same conditions that led to fascist violence in 1974-5 will prevail in 1975-6, unless the white and black workers organize for unity and to smash ROAR now.
Two signs indicate that this development is beginning to take place. First, thousands of black, Latin, Asian and white workers and students marched on May Day under the banners of the Progressive Labor Party, in the very stronghold of the Boston fascist movement. Despite the attempted terror tactics of the Hicks goon squad, despite constant attacks by the racist Boston police from one end of the march to the other, despite the hysterical chicken-hearted denunciations of every group on the so-called “left,” the May Day march took place. Its roars of “DEATH TO FASCISM” and “FIGHT FOR SOCIALISM” won hundreds of black and white Bostonians to participate in it. During the march itself and in the course of organizing for it, many people from South Boston came forth and expressed their hatred of Hicks, their desire to see the violence end, and their wish for better schools. South Boston has 35,000 residents. Doing their utmost, the ROAR Gauleiters managed to mobilize about 800 to oppose the PLP May Day march. Of these, only about 100 came ready to fight, and when these cowards tried to attack the PLP speakers’ stand before any of the marchers had arrived, 24 PLP fighters sent them scurrying to the hospital in a bloody panic. Fascists are good bullies. When a serious struggle is mounted against them, they usually do two things: run away and lose.
The second sign that the fascist movement in Boston can be put on the defensive and defeated is the response to the Committee Against Racism’s summer project, BOSTON ’75. Hundreds of young people from all over the U.S. have already committed themselves to fight ROAR between June and September. Hundreds more from all over Boston have expressed their support for the project. (See accompanying article on BOSTON ’75.) The May Day march and BOSTON ’75 are the hope of the future. They can also be the wave of the future.
The United States rulers are staggering like a punch drunk fighter. Their actions resemble those of a man caught in quicksand without a link to dry land: every move they make brings them closer to the brink of annihilation.
Their economy is a wreck. The official government figure of 9% total unemployment is only a fraction of the truth. For black, Latin and other minority adult workers, the figure must be closer to 30%–and the government openly admits it is around 45% for teenagers. Not one spokesman for the capitalists is willing to predict that this will change before the end of the present decade, and those who think it will end by then are optimists. Inflation has not stopped zooming. Housing starts are at a record low. Government spending is decreasing precipitously. The auto industry–the trend-setter for every other heavy industry in today’s economy, an industry vitally related to one out of every six jobs in this country–is in a shambles. No matter what kind of car the auto bosses produce–gigantic, standard, compact, subcompact, mini or pee-wee–they can’t sell it. Detroit has an inventory of almost as many unsold 1975 cars as it has people. The much bally-hooed “rebate plan” concocted by the Big Three has been a fiasco. These factors and others also combine to shake the whole credit system to its very foundations, a development that must ultimately lead to rack and ruin for the banks and the stock market.
These are the classic signs of a major depression–not a temporary “recession” or “minor slump” as the bosses’ media would lead us to believe.
On the international front, the United States ruling class is also going to seed. While they still retain vestiges of their former power as a major force to be reckoned with, their days as top dog of the worldwide imperialist dung-heap are clearly numbered. This decline is now being publicly lamented by every political pundit from William Buckley to James Reston. The facts are incontestable, and new signs of U.S. decay emerge daily. The Yom Kippur War, the war in Cyprus, the revisionist takeover in Portugal, the war in Bangla Desh, and most recently, the ignominious rout of U.S.-backed fascist puppets by nationalist forces in Cambodia and South Vietnam–all these developments and others reflect the dominant trend in the world today: U.S. imperialism is about to be overtaken by the “red” bosses of the Soviet Union.
Secondary but important contradictions have also emerged as part of this trend, and the U.S. is on the losing side of all of them. The sharpest of these at the moment is the growth of the OPEC countries as significant new imperialist forces. The Arab sheiks and nationalists as well as the Shah are sick and tired of grovelling for crumbs from Rockefeller. They want to sit as honored guests at the banquet table. They are acutely aware of U.S. decline and are organizing to maximize the economic gains they can get out of it. They know that within limits, they have Rocky and Co. over an oil barrel.
These two factors–the collapse of the U.S. economy and the weakened state of U.S. imperialism–are acting to produce one political debacle after another for the evangelists of the “Pox” Americana. Just look at the recent record of their Presidents. JFK was bumped off as a result of internecine squabbling among the big bosses. LBJ was hounded out of office by millions of anti-war demonstrators and ghetto rebels who exposed the bloody hands of the “Great Society.” Nixon found himself on the losing side of a battle between entrenched billionaires (Rocky, et al.) and upstarts in aerospace, oil, etc. looking to nudge them out. Ford is an impotent oaf.
In summary, the U.S. ruling class is not exactly looking into a rose-colored crystal ball.
In the long run, if they are to make a serious move to regain their lost stature, only one course of action is available to them: a World War to redivide the international organization of markets, resources, and supplies of labor power. All the maneuvering they are doing now in the name of “detente” can at best serve only to delay the war. In many cases, the maneuvers actually increase the danger of war. Every time Kissinger gets on an airplane, fighting seems to break out somewhere. The war in Cyprus and today’s escalated military activity in southeast Asia are the true results of the “peace” junkets Dr. Strangelove is taking for Rockefeller and the other U.S. imperialists.
Anybody who doubts that the U.S.-Soviet competition must inevitably lead to war would be well-advised to take a look at the history of previous World Wars, which took place under similar circumstances and for identical reasons. Anybody who doubts that the imperialists would hesitate to use nuclear weaponry if they deemed it necessary should think about Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as about the fact that every ruling class in history has always used every so-called “ultimate weapon” at its disposal. This includes the catapult, the cross-bow and gunpowder, all of which were at one time or another described as instruments of Doomsday.
Many people will concede the analysis made above but will ask what the relevance of U.S. Soviet war is to the events in Boston and the emergence of a fascist movement in this country. The answer is that fascism has everything to do with world war. War of this type presupposes a working class willing to fight it. Rockefeller isn’t about to dig trenches himself. The bosses can’t possibly carry out their strategy if they fail to cool down domestic class struggle, if they can’t inspire a mass jingoist movement with “America First” slogans, and if they can’t stifle the development of a revolutionary communist movement. Therefore, they must win the workers to class collaboration, extreme nationalism and anti-communism.
This isn’t so easy. U.S. workers are fighting mad over the onslaught against their standard of living. More strikes occurred in the early summer of 1974 than at any time for a comparable period since the end of World War II. As the depression deepens and drives so-called “middle class” people into the ranks of the working class, they too are rebelling, many for the first time. The recent strike of interns and residents in New York City reflects a growing trend. Most workers who are told that their demands for economic survival violate the “national” (i.e. bosses’) interest don’t act overly convinced by this hogwash. The war in Vietnam, which the ruling class initiated as a crusade to bring the American way of life to the “poor, dumb” Asian peasants wasn’t exactly a stunning success. It was in fact the most unpopular war in U.S. history. Toward the end, most of the fighting done by U.S. troops was against their own officers. Anti-communism isn’t all that easy to push either.
Most workers understand at the very least that communists aren’t their enemies, don’t lay them off, raise their cost of living, kill them with speed-up, or send their kids to school to become functional illiterates.
So if pacifism, jingoism and anti-communism aren’t readily made to appear convincing on their own merits, another approach has to be used. The ruling class understands that only a weak working class is ripe for falling into line. A weak working class is a working class divided against itself and therefore its class interests. This is the vital role reserved for racism. This is why the events in Boston are so important and so dangerous, unless we act to reverse them.
At the moment, the Hicks-Kerrigan forces in Boston represent the most highly developed case of mass fascist organizing in the U.S. today. If one wants to see the consequences of not smashing this movement now, one need only envision similar movements in New York, San Francisco, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Houston, Chicago and elsewhere, with thousands of demonstrators stoning black and Latin people and immigrants as scapegoats for the depression and then calling for U.S. bosses to seize Arab oil fields and bring the American Dream to Russia.
For nearly 15 years, the German ruling class stood by and allowed Hitler and his gang to develop. They realized the use they could eventually make of a huge mass movement ready to commit mayhem for the Fatherland and the “Master Race.” Secretly, many of Germany’s big bosses were bankrolling Hitler all along. One of the earliest was an industrialist named Thyssen. Eventually, the whole German ruling class decided that the Fuhrer was the only viable alternative to working class revolution and the collapse of their system and their profits. Hitler came into power because Krupp, I.G. Farben and others put him there. They had kept him around precisely for this emergency.
Although certain differences exist between Hitler and Hicks, the similarities are overwhelming. Like the original Nazis, the Hicksites are violent racists. Like the original Nazis, they are tolerated and encouraged by the main section of the ruling class; otherwise, they could not exist. Like the original Nazis, they can look to the hallowed halls of ivy for aid and comfort: the mobs that beat up Andre Jean-Louis and stoned school buses are carrying out the doctrine of “master race” theoreticians from academia like Herrnstein, Jensen, Shockley and Banfield. Finally, like the original Nazis, the Hicksites and their counterparts elsewhere are the battering ram the ruling class hopes to forge into a movement for world domination.
If all of the above is true, then organizing to crush the Boston Nazis and their bosses is obviously one of the most crucial tasks now confronting U.S. workers and their allies. In fact, it is crucial for workers and their friends all over the world. As in any development, quantity turns into quality. The fascists are still weak. They have a mass base in only one city, and even there it is small. They can be taken. Destroying them in Boston will make it immeasurably more difficult for the ruling class to organize mass backing for another round of Zebra raids, Biaggi anti-immigrant demagoguery or Immigration Service dragnets, as well as the rulers’ plans for war. Think of what could have been avoided if masses of German workers and the German Communist Party had organized to obliterate the Hitlerites at the time of their abortive 1923 putsch.
Eventually fascism is bound to be smashed, no matter how strong it becomes. The class struggle is the law of history, and workers will sooner or later always take care of those who trample over them, commit genocide against them or use them as cannon-fodder for profit wars. The Hitlerites, who represented the apex of fascist virulence until now, managed to hold onto power for a scant 12 years before the international working class–led by the socialist Soviet Union–pulverized them.
The wisdom of historical hindsight should enable us not to pay the dreadful price for the mistakes made by our movement 40 and 50 years ago. World War II took 100,000,000 lives. World War III will take more in multiples–unless we limit it.
In particular, we must grasp and act on two fundamental points about fascism:
First, we must recognize it in its infancy and strangle it in the cradle. By 1939, not too many people had illusions about Hitler outside of Germany. The time for lucidity was 15 years earlier. The same conclusion must be applied to the Hicks-Kerrigan Storm Troop and its Kennedy puppeteers. The only reasonable treatment our class can accord to fascists–figuratively and literally–is death. Fighting fascism is not primarily a verbal process, although debate enters into it. Fighting fascism is primarily warfare, class warfare.
Second, we must fight the fascists and their bosses with the outlook of wrenching political power away from all of them and establishing a working class dictatorship. The main reason U.S. bosses are still around today to threaten war and fascism is that the communist parties that fought so valiantly against the Nazi beasts did not lead the workers to wipe out every other boss as well. As long as capitalism exists, imperialism will exist. As long as imperialism exists, war and fascism are inevitable.
In reality, the fascists are weak. They must ultimately lead even their most ardent supporters to destruction. The fact that the ruling class has to resort to fascism is a sign of decrepitude. How long will the people of South Boston keep swallowing the Hicks demagoguery about how much she “loves” them when they look around and see that their own unemployment rate is a scant few percentage points lower than that of Roxbury?
Our class must ultimately win. Nothing can stop us, and we cannot afford to lose. Internationally, workers, farmers, students, intellectuals and others have time and again braved the most apparently overwhelming odds to inflict defeat after defeat on murderers, bosses and fascists. Our list of landmarks is endless: the Paris Commune, the Bolshevik Revolution, Stalingrad, the Chinese Revolution, the great industrial organizing of the 1930s, the magnificent battles fought by the Vietnamese people against French and U.S. imperialists, the great ghetto rebellions.
We can, must and will add crushing Boston fascism to that list of historic victories. We can, must and will transform the fight against fascism and war into a battle for all power to the working class.
We can, must and will make the slogans of this year’s Boston May Day march living realities for our class:
30 Hours’ Work For 40 Hours’ Pay
Fight for Jobs Death To Fascism
FIGHT FOR SOCIALISM
To accomplish these goals, the following steps, among others, must be taken:
–JOIN THE PROGRESSIVE LABOR PARTY. Only a revolutionary communist party with the outlook of seizing state power from the bosses can effectively lead the working class out of the morass of war, fascism, unemployment, racism, and general oppression. Every worker, every ally of the working class who joins the PLP drives a nail into the coffin of capitalism.
–FIGHT FOR RANK AND FILE CONTROL OF THE UNIONS. The trade union movement is in the hands of the bosses and their handpicked lieutenants. We have to take it back from them. Therefore, we must devote painstaking attention to the development of rank and file caucuses capable of leading the fight to control production and, therefore, the ability to strike.
–JOIN THE WORKERS’ ACTION MOVEMENT.
Our class needs an organized force to initiate the fight for power in the unions as well as the fight to win 30 for 40. WAM is such an organization. Joining it and carrying out its line can help put us on the offensive.
–JOIN ANTI-RACIST GROUPS LIKE THE COMMITTEE AGAINST RACISM. CAR has played a key role in the fight against the academic racist theorists and is now organizing a movement against the practical application of their “ideas” in the field of budget cuts, health care, immigration and the schools. BOSTON ’75, CAR’s summer campaign against the Hicksites, can set an example for workers and students everywhere by promoting black-white unity and helping transform racist mob violence into its opposite–a fight against racism and for better conditions.