First Published: Progressive Labor Vol. 7, No. 1, May 1969
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Over the past few years, the Black student movement seems to have surged ahead with the rest of the movement for Black liberation. On campuses across the country there have been some sharp, lengthy battles against school administrations. One thing is very clear: Black students are ready, willing and able to fight; they want to battle against racism and imperialism. Often, some sections of white students have shown similar capabilities. These developments could be another blow to the racist-imperialist ideas of the bourgeoisie if they are properly conducted.
The ruling class, using Black nationalism and nationalists, has side-tracked the aspirations of the students. Taking advantage of good tendencies, it has temporarily turned the movement into its opposite. The movement for such things as Black studies departments and Black administrators is bad. Students are mainly from the middle class. The outlook of most is to eventually find a place in the Establishment. This has enabled school administrations and various nationalist leaders to bring the Ford Foundation program of community control to campuses.
Ghetto rebellions have inspired most Black students and many white students. Unlike the demands of the ghetto rebellions–jobs, housing, education, hospitals, no police brutality, job upgrading, equal pay with white workers, preferential hiring, shorter hours and more pay–student demands are mainly bourgeois. These demands, as we will spell out later, perpetuate imperialism.
It is no accident that school administrations from Harvard to CCNY have quickly given in on these demands; in many cases they have taken the initiative. Some schools have even gone beyond the demands. What appears to have nettled racist administrations most is that students demand–take–rather than ask. In California, under Reagan’s leadership, this section of the bourgeoisie has used the tactic of attacking the students head on. Eventually, it will give in on all the demands’. Consequently, a movement cannot be built depending on the stupidity of a section of the ruling class or rely on liberal imperialists–splits in the ruling class. At Queens College the administration gave in to the demand for a Black administrative head of the SEEK program. Shall we fight for more Black administrators at Queens now? Should we fight for more nationalist Black study courses?
We feel the courageous attitudes of Black students must move to higher ground. We urge they move for a worker-student alliance. Nationalism can only be curbed and defeated by an all-out assault against racism by Black and white students–especially white students.
In the course of these battles we must learn how to unite with and encourage students’ anti-racist-imperialist attitudes while opposing their reactionary nationalist ideas. This means fighting racism, police brutality and Army intervention, fighting nationalism and anti-communism. We will work in these movements and try to prevent their cooption by the ruling class. But we cannot build these groups while they are essentially reactionary or call on the students to support their middle-class demands. We do not build support around community control. (Nor could we support the racist “strike” of the Shanker leadership.)
One thing for sure: We cannot have illusions that the ruling class will teach us anything good–let alone a pro-working-class, anti-imperialist outlook. The bourgeoisie will never do this’. The revolutionary movement– the Marxist-Leninists– are the only teachers. We will never take “aid” or ask for help from the rulers.
The community control movement in the community and on the campuses is a counter-movement to the ghetto rebellions. The bourgeoisie has organized and leads it to prevent working-class and communist leadership from emerging. The bosses would prefer nationalist study to class action in ghettos and schools. Nationalism–the reaction to racism–acts to further the division among the people.
We must understand the difference between movements that are progressive, even if limited, such as ghetto rebellions, and movements that are ruling-class-nationalist organized to be counter-revolutionary.
The ruling class’s use of the carrot (bribery) and the stick (vicious police terror) to suppress these struggles clearly indicates the importance it attaches to winning Black students to its camp and away from an alliance with Black workers. Black workers (especially industrial workers) are now fighting the ruling class harder than any other sector of the population. Rebellions, rank-and-file movements against the bosses and racist sellout union leadership, and struggles for decent education are some of the key actions. The superprofits reaped by the ruling class from the exploitation and oppression of Black and other national minority workers are being threatened. A real alliance between Black students and workers frightens the ruling class even more. The struggle at San Francisco State College shows the great potential of Black students if they fight with and in the interests of the masses of Black working people.
We believe that the concept of a worker-student alliance against racism and imperialism provides the best overall strategy for the Black student movement. It is the only strategy that will enable it to play a progressive role in the elimination of racism and imperialism. This strategy is based on the following analysis.
The material basis of Black oppression is capitalism’s insatiable drive to maximize profits. The bosses make billions of dollars a year from the wage differential between Black and white workers. Black workers are thus a super-exploited section of the working class. This super exploitation is by no means accidental or temporary. And the ruling class is well aware of this. Consider, for example, the conclusion of the 1966 Report of the National Commission on Technology, Automation and Economic Progress concerning the long-term prospects for Black employment:
If non-whites continue to hold the same proportion of jobs in each occupation as in 1964, the non-white unemployment rate in 1975 will be more than five times that for the labor force as a whole... If trends in upgrading the jobs of non-whites continue at the same rate as in recent years, the non-white unemployment rate in 1975 would still be about two and a half times that for the labor force as a whole.
It should be added that the unemployment rate among Blacks and other national minority workers (as recorded by the Government) has generally been twice that among white workers for the past fifteen years. There is every indication that this situation will continue in the future. In addition to low wages and tremendous unemployment among Black workers (which depresses the wages of all workers), rent and food prices are higher in ghettos. This means big profits to merchants and slumlords. Black workers are singled out for the worst part of the raw deal bosses give the vast majority of Americans.
Black workers are a major (and a growing) section of the industrial work force. The Wall Street Journal (Nov. 29, 1968) offered the following:
Between 1960 and 1968, Government statistics show, the proportion of non-whites working in the auto industry rose to 14.8% from 9%. In electrical equipment manufacturing, the proportion rose to 8.9% from 3.7%, while in metal fabricating it increased to 8.4% from 5.1%. Even these figures tend to understate the change in some union locals, because Negro membership often is concentrated in certain cities, giving Black workers majority or near-majority status in locals in those places. UAW officials figure nearly half the auto-plant workers in the Detroit metropolitan area are Negroes, up from about 20% five years ago.
The same source goes on to say that nationally the membership of the UAW is approximately 25% Black.
Black workers suffer lower wages and greater job insecurity than their fellow white workers. They suffer the harshest, most degrading working conditions. In addition, they are subjected to racism from white workers. The Black industrial proletariat is concentrated in factories whose owners make up the key sections of the ruling class. They are placed in a constant day-to-day, almost life and death battle with such giants as GM, Ford and U.S. Steel. Their oppression is very sharp. Of all sections of Black people, workers see clearly that the main enemy of Black people is the ruling class. Superexploitation forces Black workers to fight harder now than white workers. This militancy is helping to lead more and more white workers against the bosses and their labor lieutenants. Because of their strategic position and their militancy, Black workers can hit the ruling class where it hurts most–at the source of profits. Black workers are the most stable, the most uncompromising and the most reliable force in the Black Liberation Movement. And they are the ones most capable–in fact, the only ones capable–of leading the movement to victory.
We say the Black Liberation Movement must be led by Black industrial proletariat, together with all Black workers. We do not mean to dismiss the oppression of other strata of the Black people, or to exclude them from an active role. The majority of Black people are workers. The liberation of Black people means, first and foremost, liberation of the Black working class. We believe working people like Black teachers, Government workers, artists and intellectuals also have an important role to play within the movement. A large portion of the Black middle class has a material stake in the defeat of U.S. imperialism. While members of this group are not directly exploited, they are oppressed. Their special talents and skills are used by the ruling class to strengthen its hold on the Black (and white) working class. The ruling class pits this group against Black workers, and treats it only a little better in return.
Because of their position between the ruling class and the working class, members of the Black middle class often straddle the fence when confronted by Black workers in sharp struggle with bosses. Many times they take the side of the ruling class. Sometimes they ally with Black workers to advance their own narrow interests. Vacillation is inherent in the position of the Black middle class, which, unlike the Black working class, cannot provide militant sustained leadership.
Many members of the Black petty-bourgeoisie aspire to join the ruling class or become well-paid lackeys. Demands for more Black cops, Black businessmen, politicians and school administrators emanate from the Black petty-bourgeoisie. Desires for admittance to the power structure are hidden behind demands for community control or more poverty programs. This means continuing the same old oppression of Black workers under a new, more deceptive guise.
For a large portion of the Black middle class, joining the power structure is impossible. For a major section of the Black middle class, an alliance with Black workers (and white workers) is a necessity. Those members of the Black petty-bourgeoisie who want to play a positive role in the liberation of their people must ally with the struggles of Black workers. They need a pro-working-class outlook. They should place their talents and skills at the service of Black workers.
Black students, despite their relatively more privileged position than Black workers, and workers generally, are also harshly oppressed. They will continue to be oppressed even if they are fortunate enough to graduate and become mental workers (teachers, social workers, white collar workers). Like their white counterparts, the education they receive is racist and imperialist in content. The “education” is designed to prevent them from allying with the working class, especially Black workers. Their vital needs as students (the defeat of imperialism), and later on as mental workers, can only be satisfied through a worker-student alliance.
Black students are more likely to be drafted, have a higher flunkout rate, a harder time paying for their education and receive a lower quality education than do white students. Moreover, Black students suffer, sometimes physically, from the racism of white students. And proportionately fewer Black students attend colleges and universities.
The struggles of Black working people in the over 1000 rebellions that have occurred since 1964 are responsible for even the token admissions of Black students that have occurred. We must be sure that these students receive a pro-working-class and anti-imperialist outlook from us.
In light of what we have said, racism is, in essence, the superexploitation of Black and other national minority workers by the capitalist class. Superexploitation is the material basis of racism. Over centuries, the ruling class has built and propagated a set of laws, customs, attitudes, practices and beliefs that serve to maintain and justify the superexploitation of minority group workers. This is the superstructure of racism; it is a vital part of the ideology of the ruling class. Racism thus has two aspects: (1) and this is most important, a material basis in the superexploitation of minority peoples, and (2) a superstructure (of myths and lies) that is perpetuated by the ruling class because it helps the rulers extract superprofits from Black workers.
The superexploitation of minority workers serves to divide the working class. Likewise, the relatively privileged status of white students over Black students tends to undermine struggles in which both have a common interest. White workers and students derive seeming benefits from racism: higher wages and better working conditions, more jobs and more places in colleges and universities. However, the ruling class has not been able in the past, and will never be able, to buy off completely the overwhelming majority of white students and workers to its side against Black people. Racism and imperialist policies operate against the interest of whites. This objective fact acts to mitigate the lies and myths of racist ideas.
The rulers only have a few ways to keep white workers and students divided from Black workers and students. The first is to give a few extra crumbs, in the short run, to white workers and students. But since imperialism is now being attacked around the world, the drain on its resources limits that ability of the ruling class.
The second tactic is to step up its already heavy barrage of racist propaganda in the schools and communications media. The fact that the ruling class has to resort to all-out racism to continue its rule testifies to its weakness.
The third is to undermine the Black Liberation Movement by vigorously promoting Black nationalist leaders who will try to organize Blacks against white workers and students instead of the ruling class.
However, as such struggles as Newport News (see PL, Nov. 1967), Hotpoint (PL, this issue), San Francisco State and Columbia University illustrate, masses of white and Black workers as well as Black and white students can be united to fight racism of the class enemy. In the course of struggles, significant blows can be struck against racism implanted deep in white workers and students. Eventually, racism can be limited and entirely overcome.
It cannot be stressed often enough that because racism is based on class exploitation, it is in the material interests of the entire working class and the majority of students to defeat it. Students must take sharp action in opposing racism, and must ally with Black workers. They should try to enlist white students and workers in this fight.
Many Black students have learned in struggle, to one degree or another, two important points. The first is that their immediate enemy– the administration–is a tool of the ruling class. They are being educated, or rather miseducated, to serve that ruling class and not the Black masses. By consciously and clearly directing the main thrust of their struggle against the ruling class together with its agents and toms (as opposed to white students or white people generally), they can win. This does not mean that we do not recognize the reality of racism in white students and workers. It is necessary for Black students to constantly fight racism.
Second, many Black students have seen (although vaguely and incompletely) or at least have paid lip service to the idea that they must ally themselves with the Black masses. This is often expressed as “relating” or “going” to the Black community. Black students are generally unclear, however, about answers to questions like Whom do we go to in the community? and What do we take to them? Many Black students have recognized that they must play some role in the struggles of Black working people. Conversely, Black working people can be rallied to support student struggles.
The struggle at Columbia last spring, despite its eventual failure, demonstrated the potential of a sharp campus fight with support from Black working people in the community.
Two points, then, are central in advancing the worker-student alliance strategy to Black students: (1) the need for Black students to clearly attack the ruling class as the main oppressor of Black students and Black workers, certainly will not get very far if all we have to propose is a rather glib “Black and White, Unite and Fight.” This is especially true since racism among whites will often force Black students to act alone. The important thing is for Black students to clearly attack the ruling class (administration) as the main enemy of Blacks. They should also ally with Black workers whenever they fight racism.
To the extent that Black students see the ruling class as their main enemy, and the enemy of the vast majority of whites, they will regard white students and white workers as potential allies. Unity of the whole working class on correct demands is clearly in the interests of Black workers. If Black students develop a pro-Black working class outlook, they will necessarily develop a pro-white and Black working class outlook. Forging a real alliance between Black students and Black workers, and white students and white workers to defeat racism and imperialism is a very long affair.
Unfortunately, no significant portion of the Black student movement has yet worked out in detail an overall strategy based on the two key points above. Black students are partially organized. They have largely been organized into Black student unions and Afro-Ams under nationalist leadership. All indications point to the U.S. ruling class making some attempt to organize, under its leadership, a national Black student organization. Just as the CIA controlled the National Student Associations, the ruling class will try the same with a national Black student organization, probably through the Ford Foundation. Within the Black Liberation Movement as a whole, nationalism has replaced pacifism as the main ideological weapon of the ruling class.
Nationalist leaders in the movement consistently discourage militant struggle against conditions and bourgeois content of the education of Black students. They do not organize against the local university administration who oppresses Black working people. These leaders do not fight for substantial wage gains, unions or better working conditions at Black or white institutions. They generally don’t fight against the expansion of universities into Black working class communities unless there is strong rank-and-file pressure. They do not fight against the draft, ROTC or for immediate withdrawal from Vietnam. They do not rely on the masses of Black students nor on the masses of Black working people. They certainly do not rely on fellow white students, whom they regard as hopelessly racist. Instead, under their leadership, the Black student unions become complacent pressure groups, relying on liberal administrators–the ruling class–to provide a few more crumbs. Pretending to be “super-militant” and busy “getting our thing together,” they hide a no-struggle approach and acceptance of tokenism. As a result many of these unions have degenerated into social and cultural clubs or extended bull sessions concerning the problems of being Black.
Nationalism, as a fully developed ideology, is restricted to a few Black students. Nevertheless, given the prevalence of racism among white students and the weakness of class-conscious leadership in the movement, many Black students are rallied behind nationalism. This is illustrated by the frequency with which demands for more Black trustees, Black administrators and autonomous Black studies departments are being put forward by Black students all over the country.
More Black trustees or administrators means only expanding the Black middle class. It does nothing to alter the racist, imperialist character of the education Black students receive. It merely changes the faces of those carrying it out. This is essentially the equivalent of the discredited “student power” demanded by white students in the past.
The same is true of the demand for Black studies. Black and white students can never receive an anti-imperialist pro-working class education from the bourgeoisie. They can get this only by fighting for socialism and by studying Marxism-Leninism. Black studies will amount to more of the same liberal racism found in all the other courses and departments of the university. The university will use Black studies against Black workers and white workers. The department will be filled with courses designed to defeat Black rebellions using all sorts of sophisticated techniques–community control of police, redesign of cities, etc. (At Harvard recently, in a fight led by the Afro-American group and supported by SDS, such a course was defeated.) Many courses dealing with the special problems or concerns of Black intellectuals, designed to increase their alienation from Black workers and their struggles, will also be thrown in. Black studies departments will simply reinforce nationalism (often with a “militant” veneer) by dealing with such so-called revolutionaries as LeRoi Jones, Ron Karenga and others and Black capitalist reformers like Stokely Carmichael.
University administrations across the country are initiating degree programs in Black studies, often without a murmur of protest. Harvard said such a program would “enrich the Harvard experience” for Black students.
The ruling class wants to train Black students as teachers and intellectuals to become the nationalist leaders of all the Black people, including the working class. These Black studies departments would be centers to spew nationalism into the ranks of the working class.
The demand for control of the Black studies department also falls in the category of bourgeois demands. Black students should not want to become bosses. It is impossible to control such a department. The proposed Black studies programs pose no threat to the rulers. University administrations are often perfectly willing to let Black students have a say in such programs. In practice, control by Black students means becoming a part of the rotten administrative structure.
They are fooled into spending long hours trying to talk the administrators–through special committees–into having a more militant curriculum. Black students are persuaded to assume part of the responsibility for the inevitable racism that a Black studies program gives in the interests of the rulers. The way to avoid this is to develop a program that unites Black students and workers, fights imperialism, fights the draft and other important issues.
In its emphasis on cultivating one’s “negritude” apart from class struggle, nationalism (especially its cultural variety) feeds selfishness, elitism and anti-working class prejudices. For example, some Black students can reject the struggles of Black workers for material gains on the grounds that this will only make them crass and materialistic like the white working class and so lose the essence of their “blackness.” However, this ideology stands in direct opposition to the real needs and interests of the majority of Black students, who can’t enter the ranks of the ruling class nor those of its well paid lackeys. This is true despite ruling-class propaganda to the contrary. Black students will continue to be drafted to fight imperialist wars in Vietnam and elsewhere, which they may oppose but apart from workers cannot stop. Later on, as mental workers, they will continue to be oppressed though not to the same extent as their brothers and sisters in the shops and factories.
Nationalism can only be defeated by showing how it betrays the interests of Black workers and students. Nationalism cannot be defeated through discussion or just on paper. The way to defeat nationalism is to initiate sharp mass struggles on campus by Black and white students around working-class demands that rally workers in support. In such a situation it is easy to expose the “more militant than thou” nationalist.
Anticommunism is used extensively by the ruling class to defeat the struggles of workers and students. Anticommunism is really the chief weapon of the bosses. Just consider one way the rulers are now trying to handle the growing number of Black and white student rebellions against their racist practices in the high schools and colleges. In addition to nationalist schemes and violent suppression, the ruling class tries to label all these struggles as the work of “outside agitators,” of “a handful of SDSer’s,” or of “Maoists” or as the result of some “national conspiracy.” This is nothing but redbaiting.
The intent of the rulers is clear. They want to destroy the unity of the students who are fighting them and prevent Black and white workers from allying with them. When the bosses make such attacks, they are relying on and playing up to the false fears and distorted images that students and workers have about communists. According to the bosses, communists are cold, calculating, mechanically disciplined robots. Communists are supposedly evil manipulators who seem to be since re and militant fighters but who hide sinister motives. Because the bosses hold state power (which means among other things that they run the schools and news media in their interest), they have managed to infect each of us with the venom of anticommunism. Hence, we are all susceptible to appeals made on the basis of anticommunism. And in any struggle, if we do not fight to destroy all the rulers’ poison in ourselves and other Black students (and white students), we are bound to be defeated.
Anticommunism is frequently the last resort of Black students who cannot rationally counter the arguments for a pro-working-class orientation of the Black student movement. It is frequently mixed with nationalism as when the worker-student alliance strategy is condemned for being Marxist, and Marxism condemned as a “white” ideology, hence irrelevant to the needs of Black people. This fusion between nationalism and anticommunism is important because it shows that anticommunism comes not only, though mainly, from outside the movement (that is, from the ruling class) but is also pushed by forces within the Black movement. (See, for example, “Stokely’s Anti-Communism” in PL, October, 1968.) Indeed, nationalists within the student movement, and the Black Liberation Movement generally, are inevitably among the most rabid redbaiters precisely because communists are the foremost advocates of proletarian internationalism–the very antithesis of nationalism. Communists, Black and white, will struggle ceaselessly to defeat all the schemes of nationalists to advance themselves and curry favor with the bosses by selling out and misleading Black workers and students (Black capitalism, community control, Black student power, etc.) The anti-communist aspect of nationalism is another reason that it must be defeated among Black students.
Pro-working-class (worker-student alliance) forces within the Black student movement are bound to be redbaited, precisely because they agree with communists that the movement must have a clear pro-working-class, anti-ruling-class orientation. Communists, however, go much much further and assert that despite some temporary improvements and possible victories the oppression that Black and white workers suffer cannot be ended under capitalism. Instead, to end forever all the exploitation they suffer, and among other things to lay the basis for the complete defeat of racism, workers and their allies must make a socialist revolution, guided by Marxism-Leninism and a Marxist-Leninist party that smashes the present bourgeois state and sets up a dictatorship of the proletariat. Still, because of the basis of agreement between communists and worker-student alliance forces, the latter will also be redbaited by Black and white students. And since we know what poison anticommunism is, we must meet it head on and expose it as the tool of the rulers. The complete and utter defeat of anticommunism among Black students must be one of the primary aims of the worker-student alliance forces.
One measure of success in winning Black students to a clear anti-imperialist, pro-working class outlook will be their rejection of aid from the ruling class. Money given to Black student unions by the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation and others, is meant to induce Black students to stop fighting hard against racism and imperialism in their universities and to devote their time to harmless social and cultural activities. Accepting this “aid” (much of which is extracted from Black workers) breeds reliance on the ruling class. Black students will avoid struggle for fear of losing it. When Black students have a clear class perspective they will refuse this “aid.”
Because of money given to them by rulers, and because of the prospect of entering the power structure, some Black student leaders have a material stake in keeping their organizations reactionary. Such leaders will try to crush, by any means necessary, any class-conscious forces developing in their groups. This is because Black students with a worker-student alliance outlook and practice threaten the status of these leaders as effective lackeys. Worker-student alliance forces must be prepared to defend themselves against the counter-revolutionary violence of the reactionary, nationalist elements in the movement.
We cannot support the movement for more Black working-class–or white working-class students. The movement implies that the university is going to teach working-class youth how to change society for the better–perhaps even how to make a revolution. It is a slap in the face of Black people, because it gives the ruling class another way to coopt some of the most disciplined forces from the ongoing Black struggle.
Many people say that education is what can be learned at universities under capitalism. This is a very, very narrow conception of education. It is true that some information and skills can be learned at school. However, the essence of education is understanding how class struggle guided by Marxism-Leninism can establish and consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat.
We can sympathize with many excellent people who hold this narrow idea. And we will try to win young Black youth to revolutionary activity just as we work among all students now if they are admitted into college. But the ruling-class plan will be to try and behead the people’s movements by putting working-class kids in schools and tying them up in administering Black studies schemes. And the ruling class gets an extra bonus by combing through thousands of working class youths to come up with a little more brain power to perpetuate the bosses’ system.
Why should we help the ruling class denude the working-class movement? The movement for preferential admission helps create the illusion that the way to solve workers’ problems is to send their children to the university.
We want to build a mass Black student movement committed to defeating racism and imperialism, and capable of allying with and leading masses of white students in this fight. Black students will certainly not organize workers, but can help bring to them revolutionary ideas. The point is to develop an increasingly pro-working class Black student movement rooted in struggles against the ways imperialism oppresses all students, at the outset allied at least with Black workers, and more and more consciously allied with all workers in struggle. Developing a worker-student alliance is a long process. The following steps are important in building that alliance:
1. Support for Campus Workers–Preferential hiring for Black workers where there is discrimination. Support for higher wages, unionization and better working conditions for all campus workers.
2. Opposition to University Expansion at the Expense of Black and White Working-Class Housing–This is the case at Columbia (the gym was only a small part of their plans), University of Chicago, etc. Harvard owns houses with terrible conditions.
3. Support for the Struggles of Black Workers On and Off the Job–This includes support of strikes, actions by welfare recipients, rebellions by high school students and parents’ fights for decent education for their children.
4. Support for Black Rebellions–Support for Black rebellions on the part of Black students should be as large-scale and as sharp as possible. Direct participation in these rebellions with the aim of increasing the resistance and helping to guide them more against the class enemy is one possible course of action. Militant demonstrations on campus and before armories demanding all troops and cops out of the ghetto, massive leafletting among white students and workers explaining why the rebellion is just, pointing out that they have a common class enemy with Black working people, are other possible activities.
5. Opposition to Special Liberal Studies on How to Control the Ghetto–Many professors are involved with such studies.
6. Opposition to Racist Investments and Recruiting–Princeton has large-scale investments in South Africa. Many companies recruiting on campus have racist hiring policies.
7. Opposition to Racist Textbooks, Courses and Professors–Particular issues should be chosen and fought on. These struggles can be won, which is much better than spreading the illusion of “student power.” The main function of the university is spreading racist, imperialist, anti-working class education.
8. Attacks on Racist Teacher Training Programs–Up to 40 per cent of the graduates of many colleges become teachers. We should go into such classes and fight for support for working-class education and the struggles of working-class parents for better schools.
In points (5), (6), (7) and (8), as is the case with all reform struggles, the main lesson we want students to learn is that under capitalism the university and the state will always serve the same class–the bourgeoisie. There is a danger in advancing these points we may foster the illusion that the class nature of the university may be fundamentally altered without a socialist revolution. We must make it clear to students that while it is necessary to fight for and possibly win the moderation or elimination of certain racist policies and practices of the university, it is impossible to change its overall racist and anti-working class character.
9. Fighting Imperialism in the University-Black students must, to a much greater degree than at present, lead and take part in anti-imperialist campaigns against the university. The link between the superexploitation of minority peoples at home and abroad can be made clear. ROTC trains officers to put down revolutions in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and rebellions in minority communities here. The Institute for Defense Analysis maps plans to counter armed struggle by oppressed peoples at home and abroad. Nationalists reduce imperialism to the desire of whites as a whole to maintain “white power” and “white” values. But the ruling class does not hold on to the oppressed people of the world because it considers these people savages or subhumans incapable of governing themselves. It does so because it makes superprofits from their exploitation. This is the only basis on which Black students can be won to demand No Negotiations–U.S. Get Out of Vietnam Now.
10. Summer Work-in Projects–Going into factories to work over the summer can help Black students, some of whom are from the middle class, learn first hand the superexploitation of Black workers and develop hatred for the class enemy. Bringing out political ideas can help some workers gain a clearer understanding of the war and racism, and how to fight them. A number of permanent and useful contacts are likely to develop. Class barriers definitely do exist between Black students and workers. However, because of the position and militancy of Black workers, such barriers can probably be broken down more easily than those between white students and workers. For the same reasons the advanced ideas brought by Black students are likely to have a greater impact. We should begin immediately to organize such a project for this summer, and to coordinate our efforts.
* * *
Don King is an Afro-American student active in the Boston area.