Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

L.A. & R.K.

The Boston Busing Crisis: Liberalism as the Breeding Ground for Fascism


First Published: Proletariat, Vol. 1, No. 1, Janauary 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Boston, the capital city of the only state of all the 50 states in the U.S.N.A. that voted for the “liberal” McGovern against the “reactionary” Nixon in the Presidential election of 1972, has now become the center for the imperialists’ generation of a fascist movement among the white section of the U.S.N.A. working class. How could this happen?

The principle vehicle for this development has been the forced busing of Negro pupils into white working class neighborhoods and white pupils into poor Negro neighborhoods.

The federal government, the main prop of our main enemy, the U.S.N.A. imperialist ruling class, forced the busing on the people of Boston. In the September issue of People’s Tribune, we said the following:

Why are these decisions coming now – at a time when the whole of our class is already uptight about inflation and rising unemployment? The bourgeoisie knows that the class is disunited, having created these conditions through years of playing the ’game’ of ’divide and conquer’. Bringing the busing issue to a head at this time only exacerbates the already existing hatred and mistrust that many Anglo-Americans and Negro national minorities have towards each other. All of the frustration caused by working harder and harder trying to ’make it’, but always slipping further and further back, is now being turned inward on ourselves, rather than on our class enemy, the bourgeoisie. (p.3)

This is certainly a large part of the answer. The other important aspect, the national aspect, of this issue is the imperialists’ attempt to turn the clock back to the era of the civil rights movement, to focus the Negro national minority in the North and through them, the Negro nation in the South, on the “problem of segregation” and the problem of “white racism,” viz. the white section of the working class, rather than on the problem of national oppression and imperialism; and on the solution of “integration” rather than on the solution of national independence and socialism.

During the period of the Civil Rights Movement, there were massive Negro school boycotts, which were in effect a demand for equal education, including busing to achieve integrated (“equal”) education. In the mid-1960’s, the Negro people advanced beyond this era of the “civil rights” movement into the short-lived but significant era of the Black Power Movement. Under the impetus of the Black Power Movement, the Negro people’s demand for quality education took on a more advanced form – Black community control of the schools.[1]

Forced busing decreed by the federal government through the federal courts in 1974 must be distinguished from the stage in the Negro liberation struggle which was highlighted by the Supreme Court decision of 1954. Forced busing today is a liberal, i.e. non-fascist, imperialist scheme which includes the obsolete shell of a just demand of the Negro national minority, emptied of its mass, anti-imperialist content.

In the course of the Negro liberation movement, the majority of Negro parents had come to understand that “integrated” education is not the same thing as quality education. Today, the only popular expression of the desire of a section of the Negro people in Boston to bus their children to school is the MetCo program, a remnant of the old integration era, which buses a small percentage of Negro children whose parents voluntarily send them into suburban white areas, where they get some of the white middle class children’s education. The present forced busing includes only Boston proper so that the largely poor and working class schools of the inner city are the only ones being “integrated.” On the surface, the busing which was a part of the just demand made by the Negro masses during the late 1950’s for quality education for their children resembles the present busing in Boston; but this is only on the surface. In fact, all the polls taken before the opening of the schools this year indicated that the majority of Negro parents as well as the majority of Anglo-American parents in Boston did not want to bus their children to “integrate” the schools!

* * *

The forced disruption of both the Negro and white working class communities with no substantial gain in educational opportunity for their children, was bound to create resentment or at least irritation among both communities, especially the white community of South Boston which has for years fed on the poison of white supremacy and the idea that “you may be poor but you’re still better off than the Black people.” The result in the first few days of the school year was that the small number of white children who came to the schools of the Negro neighborhoods were generally treated in a civil if not friendly fashion; whereas in South Boston there occurred the disgusting spectacle of young white hooligans throwing rocks at small Negro children coming to school.

In the first days of school only a small number of white thugs were involved in the attacks on the Negro school children. Large masses of the white community were involved, however, in the white boycott of schools.

The boycott of the schools by the white working class people of Boston had two aspects to its political content. The fact that during the past 20 years the white workers have been bribed to one degree or another out of U.S.N.A. imperialism’s super-exploitation of peoples of color throughout the world, and have been poisoned with white supremacist ideas, has served to divide them from and made them hostile to the Negro people. The negative side of the white school boycott was that it represented an organized expression of the white and great nation chauvinism of the white workers. At the same time, however, the white boycott also represented an organized resistance of working class people to the dictates of the federal government.

In Charlestown, a white working class area of Boston and in other areas, boycott of the schools was initially directed against the forced nature of the busing and against the government. But to the forced busing alternative offered by Senator Kennedy, Mayor White, Judge Garrity and other liberal government politicians, the parents in all the white working class communities in Boston, and in South Boston in particular, were offered only the fascist politics of City Councilor Louise Day Hicks and School Board Chairman Kerrigan.

The way that the so-called “vanguard forces” in Boston responded to the white school boycott helped determine that the neo-fascist movement, rather than making a one night stand in Boston, was given an open invitation to make its home there. The CPUSA openly fanned the flames of division and diversion by influencing a section of the Negro community to follow the pro-busing position of the federal government. The CPUSA justifies its support for the main tool of the main enemy, the federal government by calling for everyone to “oppose” the fascistic Hicks-Kerrigan forces. But the CPUSA’s united front against fascism, since it supports the still-dominant, non-fascist imperialist form of rule, strengthens reaction and thus strengthens the source of fascism. With the Massachusetts Congressional Black Caucus, the CPUSA led a march supposedly supporting the courage of the Negro children being bused into South Boston, but objectively pushing the forced busing plan. This demonstration was used by the imperialists and fascists as “proof” that the Negro people are behind the busing program. So, on the class aspect of the issue, the CPUSA served to divide the class further at a critical moment. On the national aspect of the question, in response to the attacks on the Negro school children, the CPUSA revisionists back the most conciliationist, Black Bourgeois liberal politicians like Thomas Atkins and push non-violence on the Negro community. At the same time the CPUSA revisionists have kept alive a proposed non-violent march into South Boston (hoping for protection from the federal government), an adventurist proposal, to help bury the real strength of the Negro people in their own communities through armed self-defense, etc. The October League and other so-called “anti-revisionists”, afraid to break with the CPUSA and the liberals, and having no confidence that the white workers can distinguish between pro- and anti-fascist opposition to busing, shrunk from taking an anti-forced busing position.

Our Party is not yet strong enough in Boston to respond organizationally to the busing crisis. The proletarian revolutionaries, then, have not yet been able to break the 10,000 or so white working class people actively involved in the white school boycott movement, its marches and demonstrations, etc. from the 200 or so young thugs that are in the vanguard of the neo-fascist movement.

As a result of all this, the fascist politicians were able to link up the just grievance of the white working class parents in South Boston who opposed the forced busing out of and into their community, with the fascistic anti-Negro movement that beat up small Negro children and eventually any Black person entering South Boston. In fact, the fascist movement has grown simultaneously with the growing fascization of the still-dominant, still “non-fascist” wing of the imperialist ruling class.

Newsweek Magazine reported:

When, for reasons that are still unclear, members of the city’s Tactical Police Force stormed into a rundown hangout of the anti-busing forces known as the Rabbit Inn, leaving ten people injured and causing $20,000 worth of damage, Southie [South Boston] snapped. The result was a protest against police ’brutality’, followed the next day by an anti-busing rally and the attack on Yvon [a black Haitian immigrant on his way to pick up his wife from work]. (10/21/74, p.37)

Thus the Tactical Police Force kept the fascist movement alive by physically attacking it! The Negro people counter-attacked and the liberal Governor Sargent and liberal Democratic Mayor White both argued for bringing federal troops, or national guard, or state or registry police, etc., etc. into Boston, not to keep down the fascist hoodlums but to keep down the Negro community as it began to retaliate. Finally President Ford, in the midst of the mounting violence, made his surprise criticism of the busing plan which pumped even more new blood into the growing fascist motion in South Boston. Newsweek observed, “cheered by the President’s remarks...suddenly, their growing pessimism about the future of their busing boycott disappeared...” (p.38)

It is no wonder that the working people of South Boston have allowed their massive white school boycott to be led by the same KKK-type forces who have historically attacked Catholics like themselves as well as the Negro people, and by School Committee Chairman Kerrigan and former School Committeewoman Hicks, who are the same fascist politicians responsible for their schools, as well as the schools in Negro neighborhoods, being in such terrible condition to begin with! With no alternative to their leadership of the white school boycott, the anti-Negro fascist movement has grown from strength to strength as the forced busing in Boston continues. And now, to their latest rally in South Boston, the Hicks-Kerrigan fascists have attracted large numbers of white middle class people from the suburban South Shore (of Boston). These middle class people may well become a more permanent base for the neo-fascist movement.

In late October, the first real political challenge to the Hicks-Kerrigan leadership has been put up by the five workers from CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) who have come into Boston to organize a local Chapter on an anti-busing basis. The acting national director of CORE, Mary Dennison, stated her opposition to busing and her support for community control of schools. She called for a city-wide vote to determine “the will of the people.” CORE thus challenged the Hicks-Kerrigan forces in the arena of “democracy.” And when Hicks tried to link herself up with the CORE opposition, Mary Dennison called Hicks’ praise “the lowest form of political hustle” and exposed Hicks’ ten-year drive fanning the flames of hatred, and orchestrating the chaotic educational crisis in Boston. While we recognize that CORE has a Black capitalist line and policy, and therefore a dual character, we support its anti-imperialist side wholeheartedly, and we recognize the fine political initiative that CORE has taken in this crisis.

Our position breaks with opportunism in two basic ways:

(1) Our support for the national aspirations of the Negro community has a class, anti-imperialist content and not a liberal content; and therefore we are able to have an uncompromising position on the class aspect of the struggle as well. Our position dares to challenge the Hicks-Kerrigan leadership of the white school boycott movement. We are very happy that CORE has come to Boston to organize around an anti-busing position in the Negro community. Hopefully we will be able to develop unity of action around this issue with the CORE forces who have already begun to challenge the Hicks-Kerrigan mob.

We recognize that with no real voice in the matter and with no tangible gains for their children, the Negro masses and white working people of Boston have had their children uprooted from their communities. In the name of liberal integration, dictatorship is being exercized against them. In the name of “democratic” opposition to this dictation from Washington, i.e. the right to have our children go to school in our own communities, fascism is being cultivated among the white working people of South Boston. This is how liberalism acts as the breeding ground for fascism.

Only by understanding this process of development can the proletarian vanguard break a link in the chain of events that is leading the white workers of South Boston into the laps of the fascists which development bodes ill for the future of the white workers throughout the U.S.N.A. and therefore would be a major setback for the cause of socialism in the U.S.N.A.

How do we break concretely with the liberalism of the “petty bourgeois democrats” and begin to reach the white workers of Boston with an anti-imperialist line and policy that includes unity with the Negro people of Boston? We must take the democratic form of the white school boycott and try to replace its fascist content with a democratic, an anti-imperialist content. This means projecting a call for a joint Black and white boycott of the schools; – (1) to end the busing plan forced on the people of Boston by the federal government, (2) to jointly demand quality education of their children, and (3) to put forth the demand for quality education through the form of Negro community control of their schools, and working class control of the schools in the white working class communities. Such a joint Black and white boycott with these demands would represent united opposition both to the sham liberalism and real dictatorship of the still-dominant “non-fascist” section of the imperialist bourgeoisie and to the sham “democratic” and really fascist motion being led by the Hicks-Kerrigan forces. Such a united struggle of the Negro national minority community and the white workers of Boston could be linked up with the fight for nationalization of education proposed by our Party, i.e. the fight for equal distribution of funds to every school district throughout the U.S.N.A.

(2) Most importantly, we come down strongly on the national aspect of the struggle. The right of the Negro people to armed self-defense of their community that has already had some organized expression at Columbia Point Housing Project, must be supported and encouraged. Armed self-defense by the Negro people is impossible to maintain outside of the Negro community. Therefore allowing their children to be bused out of their neighborhoods puts their children (and their community) in a position vulnerable to physical attack, and encourages the fascist thugs to continue and intensify their campaign. The Negro community in Boston should use any and all means necessary for the protection of their people, for the Negro people are the present targets of the neo-fascist movement.

As in their Black Belt homeland, the Negro national minority forces in the North will only be able to win the white workers to unity through their united strength in struggle, i.e. through their community organizations, both political and military, through their ties to other national minority communities within the same city, particularly the Puerto Rican and/or Chicano communities, through their ties to the Negro nation in the Black Belt, and finally through ties where they exist to the white section of the working class in their cities. Hopefully our Party can become the center for the coordination of this great potential strength of Negro national minority communities that come under siege in the North.

For only our Party has an understanding of (1) the fact that the white section of the U.S.N.A. working class has by and large been a bribed section Of the working class of the U.S.N.A. oppressor nation for the past 20-30 years; (2) the fact that we must break on a principled basis from the liberalism of the petty-bourgeois democrats, and particularly from the general white left movement, in order to be able to reach the basic working masses of the white population, in order to break the white workers away from the rest of the imperialist white society and to unite them back up with the rest of the working class and the oppressed peoples in the U.S.N.A.; (3) that while the fascist motion is gaining ground, the dominant wing of the imperialist ruling class is still operating through “democratic” forms, that Rockefeller, Kennedy, etc. are giving aid and comfort to the rising neo-fascist movement but have not yet adopted it as their own, that the main way to dry up the source of fascism’s strength is to keep the main blows directed against the dominant non-fascist form of imperialist rule; and (4) most importantly we understand that at present the main force for the defeat of the Hicks-Kerrigan fascist forces and their source, U.S.N.A. imperialism, is the Negro national liberation movement centered in the Black Belt.

L.A. & R.K.

(This article was originally submitted to the People’s Tribune, political organ of the CLP, and rejected because it did not represent the political line of the Central Committee of the organization. The authors re-submitted it to the Proletariat, which is meant to serve as a forum for debate, polemics and comradely criticisms by both comrades and friends of the Party. We welcome this sort of honest article. – Editor)


[1] In the Deep South, it was in response to the growing pressure by the Negro people for the control of their community’s schools that finally brought about widespread integration of the schools there. Not federal law, nor demands for integration, but struggle for power by a united oppressed people brought about integration in the South. Not federal government “desire” to unite Black and white people in the South, but their desire to keep the Negro people from uniting against the Southern and federal ruling class inspired their desegregation (of schools) in the Deep South.

So today we are faced with a paradox – the schools of the Deep South are largely integrated, while Boston, the center of the Abolitionist Movement of 100 years ago, and the center of liberalism in the present period, has become the stronghold of reaction against the integration of schools. In fact, in mid-October, an integrated group of 4 students from Hyde Park High School traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina to “see how integration can work”!