Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

M.M., S.F.

Busing: A Fight for Equality


First Published: Proletariat, Vol. 2, No. 1, Summer 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

Few positions of the Communist Labor Party have caused so much discussion within and around the party as has the position on busing. It is unfortunate that the discussion has not been even more widespread as there is a tendency on the part of some to accept the line of the People’s Tribune and of others to resist it while neither understands it. For this reason and no other the article entitled “The Boston Busing Crisis: Liberalism as the Breeding Ground for Fascism” should be welcomed. It offers the opportunity to openly refute the line of white chauvinism and cultural nationalism that is quite popular among revisionists and Trotskyites and to more fully understand the party line on the national question in general and on busing in particular.

The struggle around busing currently sweeping the country is extremely important for the unity of the working class. The question is whether the Negro national minority will be forced into second class citizenship, further enslavement and extermination by the fascist terror of the imperialist warmongers or whether the working class will unite to break the drive for fascism. The bourgeoisie forces the busing issue now to antagonize the distrust between the Negro national minorities and the Anglo-American workers. They know that the Negro people’s struggle for busing and equality is the spearhead of the struggle of all the working and oppressed people of the USNA, and are intent on breaking this struggle. They also know that the working class has nothing but its children and the desire for life to be better for the younger generation. The question of education can arouse the greatest emotions of the working class and the bourgeoisie seeks to use these emotions to set one section of the working class against another.

It is hardly surprising that one set of bourgeois politicians’ should support busing, supposedly championing the rights of the Negro people while attempting to bring the struggle under bourgeois control. Another set of bourgeois politicians meanwhile oppose busing, direct their white chauvinist appeal to the Anglo-American workers in an attempt to rally them in the defense of their social and economic privileges. It should be emphasized that both camps of the imperialists are pro-fascist. One tries to rally the Negro workers against the Anglo-Americans, the other tries the opposite. There is no such thing as a “liberal, i.e., non-fascist imperialist scheme.”[1] Lenin made it very clear that imperialism is reaction down the line. All the imperialist groups within the USNA are driving for fascism and the only disagreements are around how to get there and which imperialists should benefit by it. They seek to use busing to arouse a section of the Anglo-American workers to the lynching frenzy to support and carry out armed terror against the Negro people. This notion of “good imperialists” and “bad imperialists” comes straight from the anti-monopoly program of the CPUSA. However, imperialism is a system of vicious exploitation and oppression, of predatory war and aggression. Only a fool can call some of those who direct this system “good.”

The struggle for busing means a struggle for the integration of the Negro national minority. It is only the latest battle in the historic struggle of the Negro people for the freedom of the Negro nation and for equal rights in the Anglo-American nation. This struggle for freedom began while slavery existed and has continued through Reconstruction, the Negro Bourgeois Democratic Movement of the Negro Peoples’ National Liberation Movement of the present.[2]

Each of these periods is full of the struggle against the political, economic, social and physical isolation and segregation of the Negro people. Millions of Negroes and Anglo-Americans have fought this oppression for hundreds of years. The strength of this movement can be seen by the fact that in no other area has there been so much reform legislation and court decisions, so many stands taken by so many bourgeois politicians supposedly on the side of the Negro people. Yet some comrades, ignoring the history of the class struggle in this country, say: “The Negro people don’t want busing.” The Boston Busing Crisis paper, (herein referred to as the LARK position after the initials of its authors), goes so far as to cite a poll purporting to show that the Negro national minority in Boston opposes busing as a justification for their anti-busing position.[3] The poll, of course, appeared in the bourgeois press. This merely justifies segregation. The defeat of busing can only mean the further political isolation of the Negro people and the open declaration of armed terror against them. Such terror is already on the rise not only in Boston but in other areas. In Los Angeles, the reversal of the Gitelson Decision, which called for busing to achieve integration, has led to a torrent of white chauvinist statements by politicians and attacks by the police on the Negro national minority population.[4] The pattern is the same: defeat busing, enslave the Negro people, split the working class.

Although LARK asserts that the Negro national minority in Boston doesn’t want busing, they have offered no evidence that the Negroes have resisted busing. It was the Anglo-Americans in the streets rioting against the Negro children not the other way around. The Negro people were marching for busing. And what if the cultural nationalists had been successful in getting part of the Negro people to oppose busing (which is not the case). Is it not the obligation of Marxist-Leninists to fight for what is in the interests of the working class even though our position encounters hostility among the workers due to bourgeois propaganda? Bolshevik speakers calling for the defeat of Russia during World War I were sometimes beaten up or even killed by the workers and peasants in 1914 and 1915. But the Bolsheviks seized state power in 1917 largely because of their position on the war. Just as we must combat white chauvinism among the Anglo-American workers by winning their support for busing, so must we combat cultural nationalist influence on the Negro workers. Although the former is more difficult than the latter, the working class in the USNA is a democratic, decent class that will support the equality of all nationalities.

Yet the LARK position not only call for an end to busing but proposed “a joint Black and white [sic] boycott of the schools: 1) to end the busing plan.”.[5] LARK applauds the anti-busing position of CORE, a cultural nationalist organization, but exposes the fascist nature of both its own and the CORE position when it notes the approval of the Kerrigan-Hicks forces for the CORE position. Hicks quite naturally supports CORE for in content it calls for fascism by supporting segregation.

LARK would like us to believe that the content of the struggle in Boston is the opposition of local control democrats to big government fascists trying to impose something on the local people. But this is the line of George Wallace and Ronald Reagan. This fascist ploy tries to divert the struggle of labor against capital into forms useful to fascism by trying to fool the workers and democratic forces.

Fascism has historically sought to pose as a movement of the petty bourgeoisie and workers against capital. The fascist extra-legal terrorist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan can only exist with state support in the form of arms, money and the participants are often police officers, sheriffs, and the like. The fascist movement acts in the interest of monopoly capital regardless of its form. The fascist gangs in Boston have state support, including limited noninterference by the police as well as encouragement by statements by such as President Ford. The anti-big government pose is exactly that and nobody should be taken in by such “democratic” slogans.

Lenin makes it clear that the bourgeois state in the age of imperialism is a centralized body for the suppression of the workers and oppressed people. The LARK position is merely the CPUSA line of ripping off bits of power. What else is the meaning of the LARK program: “(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.”[6] But every Marxist-Leninist understands that political power resides in the state machine. It cannot be ripped off piecemeal but can only be seized as a whole and then dismantled. But LARK forgets Lenin easily while having no trouble recalling Gus Hall.

Lastly, some comrades say “we are for quality education, not busing because the Negro students will only be bused to white working class schools that are no better than the ones they are in now.”

The predominantly Anglo-American schools are actually better than the predominantly Negro schools. This is part of the bribe to the Anglo-American workers to deepen the division in the working class. This coincides with the fact that Anglo-Americans generally have better jobs than Negroes. Better education is essential for better jobs. Inferior schools for national minorities cannot help but retard the political and cultural development of these people:

At the present time we see that the different nations are unequal in the rights they possess and in their level of development. Under these circumstances segregating the schools according to nationality would actually and inevitably worsen the conditions of the more backward nations. In the Southern, former slave states of America, Negro children are still segregated in separate schools, whereas in the North, white and Negro children attend the same schools.[7]

Lenin wrote the above in 1913 and it is clear that since that time the schools in the Anglo-American nation have been largely segregated. The effect can only be the same: segregated schools can only mean inferior schools for the national minorities. The bourgeoisie always tried to retard the political and cultural growth of the oppressed peoples and nations.

But this is only a smokescreen to hide the essential issue of class unity. The working class cannot win any reform, much less defeat fascism, without unity. But unity can only be built on the basis of the struggle for the freedom of the Negro nation and equality for the Negro national minority. But LARK tells us that the way to unity is through segregation. This is not surprising since the LARK position is basically a white chauvinist and cultural nationalist, syndicalist line. The Negro people are to remain in the ghettoes, armed and waiting to repel any attack from the Anglo-American workers or the police. They are to have their own schools, and, what is merely an extension of this reasoning, their own factories within the ghetto because “armed self-defense is impossible to maintain outside the Negro community.”[8] “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 in the same city, particularly the Puerto Rican and/or Chicano [sic] 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.”[9] It is interesting that factory organizations have been left out or have we discarded the slogan: Make Every Factory Our Fortress? But perhaps there are no Negro workers? The factories have been left out because they are multinational and the Negroes according to LARK must be segregated.

Nothing would please the bourgeoisie more than this state of affairs. With the Negro national minority isolated from the Anglo-Americans, the slaughter of the Negro people becomes inevitable. But such brave revolutionaries LARK is! Let you and him fight! This particularly dispicable form of white chauvinism was strong in the “new left” and the CPUSA when the Black Panthers were big. Clearly it has not gone away.

We should make it clear that we are not repudiating armed self-defense. It is a tactic to be employed as any other tactic in the course of the class struggle. But what LARK advocates is not a tactic but the virtual secession of the Negro areas of Boston. This is a flimsy attempt to concretize the ephemeral nation of the cultural nationalists, to give it some territory known as the Negro community. But more on this below.

But the Negroes are not alone LARK informs us. They can call on the Puerto Ricans and Chicanos [sic] and get them isolated and slaughtered too. In addition, the Negroes can get support “through ties where they exist to the white section of the working class.” (They actually mean the “new left”) All of this will “be able to win the white workers to unity through their united strength in struggle.” The Anglo-American workers are portrayed here as vacillating petty bourgeois who move from side to side in the class struggled based on the relative strength of the contending class forces. This is not true about the working class but is for petty bourgeois radicals who we notice are moving to the right drawn by the drive for fascism.

What lies at the basis of this entire analysis is the application of the “Third World” concept to the USNA. The vanguard of the revolution is the national minority workers and the main force is the national minorities as a whole and the oppressed nations of the world. The Anglo-American workers are merely an auxiliary to be won over if possible. This has more in common with Trotskyism than with Marxism-Leninism. The basis for revolution in the USNA is not to be found in the internal contradictions but in external contradictions, the relationship of the USNA to the colonies. This is the same as the position taken by Trotsky regarding the building of socialism in one country. “Trotsky recognizes as basic and decisive in this question, not the internal contradictions of our Soviet economy (which are being resolved within the country), but the external contradictions, the contradictions between the Soviet Union and capitalist countries.”[10]

LARK’s position springs from its lack of faith in the Anglo-American workers who supposedly cannot be revolutionary due to imperialist bribery. But only a small part of the Anglo-American workers are permanently bribed. This group includes the trade union leaders and some of the most skilled trades. The vast majority have only been temporarily bribed and this bribe is and will further disappear as the economic conditions degenerate and the fascist drive continues. The Anglo-American workers are decent, democratically minded people who will not accept fascism nor the continued oppression of the Negro people. This is true despite the past history of blocking with the imperialists in the plunder of the colonies.

The political effect of the LARK analysis is the abdication of the responsibility of the Anglo-American revolutionaries. Since the Anglo-American workers cannot be won to the side of the revolution because of bribery, they should be fed a diet of economic struggle and anti-big government politics. The Anglo-American revolutionaries can do no more because the workers won’t accept more. Instead we should wait for the rising tide of the revolution in the colonies and among the national minorities to drag the Anglo-American workers into the revolution by the former’s “united strength in struggle.” A very comfortable notion indeed!

The basic fact LARK consistently ignores is that the Negro national minority workers are part of the Anglo-American working class. Everyone knows of the large migration of Negroes from the Negro Nation to the north. This is no different from the migration of peoples from the other colonies and neo-colonies to the imperialist country seeking to escape the poverty of their homelands. The bourgeoisie has allowed these migrations for several reasons. First, they want the cheap labor. Secondly, by making the working class in the Anglo-American nation multinational, the conditions exist to split it along national lines. The bourgeoisie has used segregation, armed terror and political disenfranchisement to put the national minorities in a position isolated from the Anglo-American workers. The plunder of the Negro Nation and later, other colonies provided the basis for the bribery of the Anglo-American working class–this bribery in turn allowed the imperialists to further plunder the colonies and neo-colonies.

Segregation has reinforced this bribe and prevented the unity of the workers. Nevertheless, the Negro national minority as well as the other national minorities have undergone a change during the generations of living in the north. They have become national minorities, i.e., members of the Anglo-American nation. They have adopted the ways of the Anglo-Americans, worked in the same factories, sold their labor to the same capitalists, and so forth.[11] At the same time, their connection to the Negro Nation has dimmed. The importance of segregation is that the Negroes could not be assimilated into the Anglo-American nation and so remained a national minority. Nevertheless, the Negro national minority workers and workers of other national minorities and nationalities form one objectively united multinational working class in the Anglo-American nation. This concept has tremendous significance for the proletarian revolution in the USNA. Small wonder LARK ignores it.

We have said before that LARK’s position is cultural nationalist. Their desire to split the schools up according to nationality and to take their operation out of the hands of the state was specifically repudiated by Lenin:

The essence of the plan, or programme, of what is called “cultural national” autonomy (or: ’the establishment of institutions that will guarantee freedom of national development’) is separate schools for each nationality ... [12]

It is as clear as daylight that the advocacy of such a plan means, in fact, pursuing or supporting the ideas of bourgeois nationalism, chauvinism and clericalism. The interest of democracy in general, and the interests of the working class in particular, demand the very opposite. We must strive to secure the mixing of the children of all nationalities in uniform schools in each locality; the workers of all nationalities must jointly pursue the proletarian educational policy . . . We must most emphatically oppose segregating the schools according to nationality no matter what form it may take.[13]

Historical experience proves that wherever the cultural nationalist program, was put into effect, the working class was split along national lines. In Austria Hungary, where the workers were first organized along national lines within the Social Democratic party, the party split into six different national parties. Following this the trade unions were organized along national lines so that six different unions represented each trade. The situation got so bad that the workers of one nationality would break the strikes of workers of another nationality.

The Bund in Russia advocated the same cultural nationalist policy. The result can be seen from the following:

We regard the Polish workers, who are ousting us, as pogromists, as scabs; we do not support their strikes, we break them. Secondly, we reply to being ousted by ousting in our turn: we reply to Jewish workers not being allowed into the factories by not allowing Polish workers near the benches ... If we do not take this matter into our own hands the workers will follow others.[14]

Clearly, segregation in one area can only lead to segregation in all areas and tremendous national strife. The Bund went so far as to actually advocate segregation. Stalin notes “that speeches were made at the Eighth Conference of the Bund declaring that ’national existence lies in segregation’.” [15]

Rather than advocating segregation the class conscious workers must exercise all their influence to achieve the opposite.

It is not our business to segregate the nations in matters of education in any way; on the contrary, we must strive to create the fundamental democratic conditions for the peaceful coexistence of the nations on the basis of equal rights. We must not champion “national culture” but expose the clerical and bourgeois character of this slogan in the name of the international culture of the world working class movement.[16]

The entire basis for the unity of the working class lies in the objective conditions of the class internationally. Namely, all are exploited by capital. The Marxist-Leninist program for resolving the national question is the repudiation of all national privilege and the complete political independence and freedom for all nations. This means winning the workers of the Anglo-American nation to the slogan “Free the Negro Nation.” Yet LARK speaks not a word of this, instead we are to rally around the struggle against big government and separate but equal schools. It is all the more fantastic that such a line should arise in New England, an area particularly hurt by the wholesale movement of the shoe and textile industries to the Negro Nation. As a result New England has the lowest wage rates in the Anglo-American nation outside of the Southwest.

One cannot demand the freedom of the Negro Nation if one does not recognize its existence. Cultural nationalists do not limit nations to territory but believe them to be wherever the members of that nation go. Therefore, there is no nation capable of an independent political existence.[17] There is no Negro Nation but a “nation within a nation” to use Foster’s revisionist formulation. Once more the line of LARK is that of the CPUSA.

Finally, it would be a mistake not to recognize the threat of the LARK position to the very existence of our party. Stalin documents the dissolution of the Austrian Social Democratic Party because of its adoption of the cultural nationalist line and the consequent degeneration of the workers movement into bickering national groups. The CPUSA has degenerated in no small part due to its liquidation of the Marxist-Leninist line on the Negro Question. Its disbanding of the party in the South in 1949 and the following theoretical repudiation of the Negro Nation has left the CPUSA in the position of supporting the Negro bourgeoisie. Such must not be the fate of our party.

We have something different in quality: a multinational Marxist-Leninist Communist Party. We should of course note in passing that the anarcho-syndicalist new left has been unable to build such a party. Their white chauvinist and cultural nationalist conceptions have locked them into organizations based on nationality and not on the working class. The last year has proved that no amount of paper salvos fired by one group to expose the other can change this quality but only further marks their degeneration. LARK has tried to inject this into our party. Nobody should forget that the attack on our party comes first from the “left.” Be on guard!


[1] “The Boston Busing Crisis: Liberalism As The Breeding Ground For Fascism,” Proletariat, Vol. 1, No. l, p. 48.

[2] See generally, The Negro National Colonial Question, Workers Press.

[3] “Boston Busing Crisis...”, p. 49.

[4] Western Worker, Vol. 2, No. 3, p. 4.

[5] “Boston Busing Crisis...” p. 51.

[6] Ibid., p. 52.

[7] Lenin, Collected Works, V. 19, p. 504.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Leningrad Institute of Philosophy, Textbook of Marxist Philosophy, Proletarian Publishers, 1975, p. 173.

[11] Negro National Colonial Question.

[12] Lenin, Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1968, V. 19, p. 503.

[13] Lenin, On Youth, Progress Publishers, 1967, p. 46.

[14] Stalin, Marxism and the National Colonial Question, Proletarian Publishers, 1975, p. 74.

[15] Ibid., p. 70.

[16] Lenin, On Youth, p. 46-7.

[17] Stalin, Marxism and the National Colonial Question, p. 42 et seq.