Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Union

Main Lesson of Boston Busing Struggle
Workers, Unite To Defeat Divide and Conquer Schemes

First Published: Revolution, Vol. 2, No. 11, December 1974.
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.

(This article is being distributed as a short pamphlet to workers and others all over the country–Ed.)

The U.S. workers movement is surging forward. Every day our ranks swell, our unity strengthens, and our political awareness of our great revolutionary tasks further develops. And with each passing day, the need for us to further deepen our unity and awareness becomes even greater, as the collapsing monopoly capitalist system comes down on our heads.

We, the working people, have built this society with our brains and hands, but the monopolists take everything and leave in their wake a devastating crisis, a crisis that means we, and not them, are faced with not being able to provide for ourselves and our families.

Soaring inflation and huge price hikes, layoffs everywhere and whole industries threatening to do the same. The monopoly capitalists’ government cutting back even further on the things we need, like educational facilities, health care, transportation. The monopolists are in trouble: that’s why they were forced to throw out Nixon. The monopolists are in trouble: that’s why they’re threatening to throw all of us into another murderous war, with working people killing working people so that the monopolists can continue to reap their profits.

Recession...Depression...“Waffling Sideways”– the U.S. kings and queens–the robber barons–sit in their golden counting houses adding up their fortunes and playing cute word games. But we, the workers, are faced with reality, whatever name you give it.

And as we scratch to survive, we become more disgusted, angry, outraged, asking questions and beginning to find answers, beginning to see that it’s the whole system itself that’s rotten and sick and must be done away with, replaced by a new society–socialism–run by the working class itself, for its own benefit and the benefit of the vast majority of the people.

And as we become increasingly aware of what must be done, as we begin to organize and fight back, the ruling class becomes increasingly terrified. The throne on which they have safely sat for so long begins to shake beneath them. And so, in an effort to preserve their rule, they intensify their efforts to create dissension and divisions in our working class ranks. They try to set one nationality against another, white against Black. This they have always done, but now, with their crisis deepening and our movement growing so rapidly, they are stepping it up, and we in turn must step up our efforts to defeat it. Their plan is simple: Divide and Rule. Our plan is also simple: Unite and Overthrow Them.

The big struggle in Boston over the busing of school children is a good example of the ruling class’ divide and rule schemes, and what we must do to strengthen our unity. First of all, the Black, Latino, and white working class schools of Boston are lousy–just like they are in working class communities everywhere in this country. And, as the monopoly capitalists’ crisis gets worse, they cut back in funds for education even more, making a lousy situation even lousier. To find decent schools with all the modern facilities, etc., you have to go to the schools where the capitalists send their own kids. And, as we all know, those schools may as well have a big sign on them saying: “Working People Keep Out!”

Boston Busing Plan: Ruling Class Scheme

So, given the deteriorating school situation in Boston’s working class communities, what do the capitalists come up with? A ballyhooed busing plan that involves sending about 8,000 Black and Latino kids into white working class schools, and about 7,000 white working class kids into Black and Latino schools.

What’s the point of this? Our working class movement favors integration of the schools, because the more that kids from different nationalities mix, the more they learn about each other, the more they come to see that they share common problems and a common enemy, and the more their unity and desire to fight grows.

But what does this busing plan have to do with improving the schools in the Boston working class communities, and especially in the Black and Latino communities, where things are the worst of the worst? Nothing. In fact, the busing plan is just a scheme by the ruling class to make it look like they’re doing something to meet the people’s needs while they’re doing nothing, except taking the heat off themselves by setting one section of our class against another.

Using local reactionary flunkeys like City Council-woman Louise Day Hicks, the monopolists have gone into the predominantly Irish working class community of South Boston–where most of the Black kids are being bused–and have succeeded to a certain degree in inciting strong racist reaction among a section of the white people there.

Some of these people have been organized by Hicks and the monopolists into groups that have attacked, stoned, and beaten Black kids and also Black adults. The Blacks, in self-defense, have fought back. The local bourgeois politicians and the Boston Tactical Police Force have used the opportunity to intensify their own attacks on Blacks and Latinos, and, to a lesser degree, on some whites too. This, in turn, has led Black people to form self-defense units in their community to fight back against the cops and force them to end what amounts to an enemy occupation. Similarly, the monopolists took the opportunity to call in the National Guard.

Friends and Enemies

At the same time, the ruling class propagandists have been churning out reams of inflammatory material designed to further create dissension and divisions between the nationalities.

This propaganda has been two-edged. One edge has been to portray the entire white working class community of South Boston as a gang of howling, racist Neanderthals with blood dripping from their hands and “Kill All the Niggers!” coming from their lips. The other edge has been to portray the Blacks as narrow-minded nationalists, out only for themselves and ready to go to war with their “enemy”–the white workers of Boston.

Our working class movement must expose and put an end to this divide and conquer plot of the monopolists. We are in a class war–the monopolist class against the working class–and in a war it is fatal to think of enemies as friends and friends as enemies.

Are the Black and white working people of Boston each other’s enemies or each other’s friends? Life in predominantly Irish South Boston, called “Southie,” has never been a bed of roses. For many years, the Irish workers of this community have been ruthlessly exploited and discriminated against by the capitalists.

Until recently, want ads in the Boston newspapers had “N.I.N.A.” (No Irish Need Apply) at the bottom. And today, as yesterday, the Irish are among those who get the worst-paying, hardest work. A large part of Southie is a slum. The public housing is terrible. The unemployment and welfare rates are high. There’s a lot of alcoholism and drug addiction. The dropout rate at South Boston High, one of the major schools involved in the busing plan, is twice as high as the rest of the Boston schools.

Who’s responsible for this? The white working people of Southie themselves? No. The Black people? No. The monopoly capitalists, in their constant drive to squeeze more profits out of our labor, in their constant efforts to keep us just on the margin line of survival so they can mount new treasures on top of old, are responsible.

The situation in the neighboring Black community of Roxbury and other predominantly Black communities is generally even worse than the situation in Southie. A good part of Roxbury is also a slum. The public housing is, on the whole, even more terrible. The unemployment and welfare rates are even higher. There’s also a lot of alcoholism and drug addiction, perhaps more. Who’s to blame for this? The Black people of Roxbury themselves? No. The white working people of Southie? No. The monopoly capitalists are responsible.

For centuries the Black people of this country have been ruthlessly exploited and oppressed. First brought here as slaves to serve the rich, after the Civil War Black people were denied the rights they had fought for and won. They remained chained to the land in the “Black Belt” South, where they developed into a separate nation–mostly made up of sharecroppers and tenant farmers; dirt poor themselves but producing plenty of profits for the big banks and landlords.

Today, the Black people remain an oppressed nation, only now most of them are workers in the big cities–spread out throughout the country, and at the same time forced to be concentrated in ghettos. Now most of them are part of the lowest-paid, “last hired, first fired” section of the working class, and therefore a continued source of super-profits for the ruling class.

For centuries, the Black people have fought back, paying in dear with blood for any and every gain they’ve been able to rip from their oppressors. And for all these years, many white working people and others have fought alongside their Black brothers and sisters. During the Civil War, for instance, tens of thousands of young white working people gave their blood, too, to put an end to slavery. And now, with most Black people being workers, with millions of whites and Blacks working and slaving side by side in the monopolists’ hellholes, the potential for multinational unity against the common enemy is even greater.

Who Profits From Oppression of Black People?

And speaking of the common enemy, who profits materially and politically from the fact that there is an oppressed Black nation, and that Black workers are among the most savagely exploited section of our class? Not the white workers. By keeping the average wages of Black workers lower than that of white workers, the monopolists increase their profits. And By keeping Black workers in this position, the monopolists can keep the general wage and working conditions of the entire class down–also adding to their profits. Their “logic” is as simple as it is disgusting. If white workers don’t want to work for a certain miserable wage, then there are some unemployed Black workers, or employed Black workers who are making an even more miserable wage, who have to.

So, by forcing Black workers into the lowest section of our class and as a large part of the unemployed, the monopolists add to their fortunes and at the same time intensify competition and divisions among us. They try to inject their racist poison into the veins of white workers, to further divide our class and confuse us about who are real enemies and who are real friends. Also, by using especially brutal and barbaric repression against the Black people and their righteous ghetto rebellions, the monopolists try to intimidate not only Blacks into line, but our entire class and all oppressed people.

But the monopolists’ vicious game isn’t cutting it. Everywhere in this country, the people of our class are fighting back and are beginning to see that we are not each other’s enemy, that we must lock arms and move forward against the real enemy-the source of all exploitation, oppression, discrimination and misery-the monopoly capitalist class itself. That small stinking band of zombies who live off our living flesh, whatever its color.

Is there an attitude among some white workers in South Boston and some white workers everywhere in this country that Black people are inferior to whites, that Black people are “scheming” and “dangerous” and must be kept in concentration camps (ghettos)? Of course there is. The monopoly capitalists never do any work that’s constructive, but they spend a lot of time working out a million different ways to drum these backward and reactionary ideas of theirs into white workers’ heads in order to keep our class divided and chained.

Our revolutionary workers movement must take up the fight against these poisonous attitudes injected into our class. We must recognize that the only way these attitudes can be overcome is in the course of uniting and struggling for what we all need, especially the thing we need most–revolution and socialism. We must explain in the course of this struggle that it’s the monopoly capitalist class that’s the wellspring of these attitudes, that it’s the monopolist class and not our class that profits both materially and politically from them.

Our Unity is Growing

At the same time, we won’t be conned by the capitalists into thinking that these backward attitudes are the main or developing thing in our class, that division is more popular than addition and multiplication. Just the opposite is true. As our political struggle and awareness expands, so does our unity deepen. In Boston, for example, there are many stories of people working for multinational unity and fighting back against the monopolists, flunkeys like Hicks, and the racist violence they have caused.

In early October, for instance, a Black man was attacked by a crowd in South Boston as he drove through the area to pick up his wife from work. Two white workers who live nearby, together with several of their neighbors, came to the Black man’s defense. Then, one of the two white workers, seeing that the cops were beating up his wife and one of his children, allegedly knocked out one of the cop’s teeth. This person has since found out that most of his neighbors strongly back what he did and don’t think the attack on the Black man was right.

And a local newspaper, Community News, says: “Several weeks ago on Charles Street in Dorchester, at the height of the recent racial violence, a Black homeowner was sitting at home when a rock crashed through her front window. She dashed out onto her front porch to try to spot the attackers. She had the courage to do this because she knew her neighbors would back her up. In a couple of minutes, a group of her mostly white neighbors, armed with heavy sticks, were chasing the rock throwers down the street.”

And in Jamaica Plain, a working class neighborhood near Roxbury, Community News reports that “an inter-racial group of parents and area residents formed a ’Committee for Safe Passage,’ which operated an emergency information center at the school during October and adopted a strong public statement condemning racist violence.”

And Community News also reports that in East Boston, “over 100 East Boston residents signed a letter to the East Boston Communities News condemning scare tactics and disruptions by racists. Gene Daley, a white working man who has lived in East Boston all his life, said, ’A lot of white people have been afraid to speak out because they see that the racists are organized and that they are pressuring people. We have to stop sitting back and letting the racists run our schools and our lives.’”

Our own organization, the Revolutionary Union, a multinational communist organization, is also trying in Boston, as we do everywhere, to unite our class and also as many other people as possible, of all nationalities, to fight back. We have helped to form a small multinational group called People for a Decent Education, which has made several demands around which all working and other oppressed people can unite, and, slowly but surely, are uniting.

The group puts it straight out to the monopolists and their local flunkeys like Hicks that there has to be equal education and decent educational facilities for all the working class and oppressed children; that there has to be more educational resources to hire Black and Latino teachers for language and cultural programs and better facilities in schools that are mainly Black and Latino. The group also opposes the Boston busing plan because it does nothing to improve education for our children. At the same time, the Committee supports integration of the schools an end to segregated housing patterns etc and the right of Black and Latino kids to go to better schools.

People for a Decent Education also has taken a clear and strong-stand against police attacks on poor and working people, especially on Blacks and Latinos, and has demanded that the occupying police force get the hell out of the Black community. In addition, the group supports the right of Black and Latino people to defend themselves against organized racist attacks.

The Future is Bright; Nothing Can Stop Us!

We in the Revolutionary Union don’t claim that hundreds of thousands of working people and others in Boston are taking up these demands overnight. But facts are facts and oppression is oppression. Some people have already been united around these demands, and many more–not only in Boston but throughout this country–soon will. This busing situation, after all, and the bigger questions that are related to it, are not something that only Boston people face. These demands and the fight around them are something we all must take up, because they reflect the real and revolutionary interests of our entire class.

The working people of this country weren’t born yesterday. We know that the monopolists don’t intend to give us anything since it will put a dent into their precious profits. We know that anything we force them to cough up they’ll try to take back through new laws, strong-arm tactics, or whatever. But we also know that we’ve got to fight them every inch of the way, that we have to force out of them all the concessions we can just to continue to survive under their decadent system. And at the same time, we must add to and strengthen our revolutionary working class ranks and our revolutionary unity with all other oppressed sections of the people. Because it’s not just a matter of fighting to survive under their system. It’s also a matter of preparing for the big battle–the socialist revolution–that will get these leeches off our backs and enable us to create our own system.

In 1905, Joseph Stalin wrote something about the revolutionary working class movement that was then developing in Russia that seems very appropriate for what is happening in our country now (recognizing, of course, that it’s the U.S. monopoly capitalist class that we must overthrow, and not the Tsar): “Citizens! The revolutionary proletarian movement is growing–and national barriers are collapsing! The proletarians of the different nationalities in Russia are uniting in a single international army, the individual streams of the proletarian movement are merging in one general revolutionary flood. The waves of this flood are rising higher and higher against the tsarist throne with increasing force–and the decrepit tsarist government is tottering. Neither prisons nor penal servitude, nor gallows – nothing can stop the proletarian movement – it is continuously growing!”