Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Union

The Desperate OL Concocts Lurid tales

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.

We notice that the front page of the October Revolution got a lot of attention. The Spartacist League’s Workers Vanguard, the Socialist Workers Party’s Militant, the October League’s Call, and the Guardian all reprinted part of that front page–the purpose being to attack the RU’s stand on the current struggle in Boston ever the school busing plan.

All of them shrieked that the RU’s stand was “racist.” “white chauvinist,” “reactionary,” “opportunist,” etc. If one were to believe these reports, which call to mind nothing so much as a copy of the latest sensationalist magazine, one would be left with the impression that RU comrades in Boston were out marching with the Ku Klux Klan, cheering on attacks on Black people, and maybe even throwing a few rocks at Black kids themselves.

But the pages of sensationalistic magazines, with their lurid tales of eight-headed babies, instant cures for cancer and voices from the grave, aren’t exactly the same thing as reality. The stories may be entertaining and not infrequently reap the publisher a few quarters. But still, you know it just ain’t so.

Similarly, the spectre of the Boston RU comrades’ dastardly deeds, conjured up both by the Trotskyites, the October League (OL) and others, are such incredible lies that we are tempted to nominate their authors for next year’s Nobel Prize for fiction.

We won’t repeat everything we’ve said before on our position on the Boston situation, but instead we urge any who either missed our articles or have become confused as to what we actually said, to go back and read them in the Oct. and Nov. issues of Revolution, as well as the other article we have in this issue.

But a brief summary of our position is this:

The present Boston busing plan is being consciously used by the ruling class to stir up antagonisms between white, Black and Latin working people. The busing plan does not really do anything to either improve education–for either Black or white students–or to really do anything about discrimination and miserable conditions in the schools in the Black and Latin communities. Reactionaries like City Councilman Hicks and School Committeeman Kerrigan are using the situation to spread reactionary ideas, including racism, and the RU stands opposed to them and the boycott they are leading–for this boycott just intensifies the antagonisms between the people. The RU also stands in support of the right of self-defense for Black and other third world people against attacks. The RU opposes the Boston busing plan and is helping to organize Black and white parents and students to fight for decent and equal education for all and an end to discrimination.

We strongly disagree, of course, with the OL, SWP, Youth Against War & Fascism (YAWF), Progressive Labor Party (PL), and others who say that the only or main issue involved in Boston is “racism.” This means treating a contradiction among the people as the primary thing, while hardly even mentioning what in fact is the primary contradiction–the conflict between the people and the ruling class. What this position boils down to is pointing a finger at the white workers as the enemy of Black people, and really amounts to tailing behind the line pushed by the liberal bourgeoisie like Kennedy, who also try to drive wedges in the working class by claiming that racism is the main problem.

The Enemy is the Ruling Class

The real source of all oppression and discrimination is the imperialist ruling class. There of course is racism among white workers in Boston, but this is created and seized upon and promoted by reactionary bourgeois politicians like Hicks and Kerrigan and the real estate brokers in order to maintain their profits and protect their own hides by getting different sections of the working class to fight among themselves.

Masses of people have been stirred into motion around the busing question in Boston because they are righteously upset with the growing effects of the imperialist crisis on their lives, their jobs, their schools and their communities. Many of them do not have a firm understanding of who the enemy is and what is the source of their problems. Some bourgeois forces point to Black people, other bourgeois forces point to white workers. None, of course, ever point the finger at themselves.

With the deterioration of the imperialist system, conditions are worsening for all working people, and especially for Black and other third world communities. The job of communists is to get the entire working class to see who their enemy is, to organize the entire working class to engage in revolutionary struggle against that enemy, and to recognize that a crucial part of that struggle which the entire working class must take up is the fight against national oppression and discrimination.

Most of this, one would think, would be quite elementary to all these “communists” who are falling all over themselves attacking the RU’s proletarian stand. But along comes self-proclaimed “communists” like the OL, screaming that all the white people involved in the anti-busing movement are hopelessly “racist” and “backward.” And calling on the U.S. government to “break up the fascist gangs”!

The job of real communists in this situation is to plunge into the fray, not stand above the battle, issuing proclamations and posturing as the defenders of Black people’s “democratic rights” while attacking white workers and doing virtually nothing to actually deal with the situation that exists.

Learning to Unite the Class

The RU comrades in Boston have gone into the white community of South Boston, as well as into other communities in the city. They are working hard -to show people who the real source of their problems is, to point to real and revolutionary solutions, and to bring people together in order to unite, rather than to divide, the working class. No one ever said that this was easy. But it’s what must be done.

The RU has put forward its own analysis of the Black national question in the U.S. in Red Papers 5, and has further expanded on this in Red Papers 6. In the course of trying to apply the RU’s line on the national question to the concrete situation in Boston, the Boston RU comrades have both achieved some successes and had some weaknesses. But they certainly have been out there in the thick of it, testing the line in practice, learning, and slowly but surely finding the ways to unite the class.

Could one say the same for the OL? Hardly! For all their posturing and all their denunciations of the RU for being “totally absent from the struggles of the Black masses for their rights,” the OL has truly distinguished itself in Boston by its absence from the sharpest arenas of struggle. Specifically, OL is almost not to be found in the white community of South Boston. They speak up bold and brave in the pages of the Call but they’re truly afraid to get out and speak with and struggle with the actual people involved in the Boston situation. And with the line they have on white workers, no wonder they’re afraid!

Basically, the OL latched onto the busing question because they’re desperate. Increasingly exposed as politically bankrupt ideologically and in practice, the OL is acting like a drowning man grasping at straws in launching its all out attack on the RU on the busing question. The RU summarized in the November issue of Revolution that the headline we used in the October issue, “People Must Unite to Smash Boston Busing Plan,” was one-sided, and indicated a tendency on our part to overemphasize the question of the busing plan itself, rather than the fight for better education and the struggle against national oppression and discrimination. But, of course, it was the wording of this headline, rather than the overall analysis of the article, that the OL jumped on. That’s because the article itself treated the situation more all-sidedly, although we also criticize ourselves in the Nov. Revolution for emphasizing the fight against the busing plan too much in the earliest stages of the struggle.

What is OL’s Position?

But what is OL’s position on Boston busing? Reading the November issue of the Call, one cannot help but be confused. Their own article on the Boston situation criticizes the “busing solution as proposed by the liberals and backed by the CP” as “reformist in the sense that it poses no real solution to the problems of the people.” On the other hand, they refuse to oppose the busing plan. OL’s refusal to take a clear stand either in support or opposition to the busing plan is just another sign of their vacillation and cowardliness. If, as they say, the busing plan “poses no real solution to the problems of the people,” why don’t they come out and oppose it, go into South Boston, like the RU, and help to drive a wedge between the reactionary leaders of the school boycott and the masses of people who agree that busing “poses no real solution.”

If they did this, they could struggle with whatever racist ideas people have and point to some real steps forward. But, no, instead the OL attacks those who dare to take a stand, who dare to go into South Boston and fight against Hicks and the big bourgeoisie behind her. No–the OL prefers to make up vicious stories of RU comrades “enthusiastically” backing roving bands of white youth beating up blacks.” We have just one thing to say to the OL in response to these disgusting distortions: you better watch what you say–for if you think you can go around calling communists “racists” without any consequences, and viciously lie about what they do, then you are sadly living in a dream world of your own creation, and will soon be rudely brought back to reality.

The Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party openly called in the pages of the Militant for federal troops to be sent to Boston to “protect” Black people. For them, of course, this was nothing new. At one point in the early 60s, these Trots called for U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Vietnam and sent to Mississippi, where the SWP claimed that the same government that was murdering the Vietnamese people would champion democracy for the Black people!

The OL has been a little slicker than the SWP in the Boston situation–but not too much! At first, OL proposed as a slogan that the “Government” be called on to “Break Up the Fascist Gangs!” This was nothing other than a call for the National Guard to be sent to Boston, as though this would somehow better the situation. The OL and a coalition it built, including the Trotskyite YAWF, went on to hold a demonstration around this and other demands, as reported in the October issue of Revolution.

The OL apparently was ashamed and embarrassed by the slogans it raised and the company it kept. For none of this has been reported to date in either the Call or the Guardian. It really is a sorry sight to see OL cadre having to read Revolution to see what slogans OL was raising in Boston.

Of course, OL hasn’t explained why it hasn’t reported any of this, nor has it explained whether or not its stand has changed or, if it has, why. Apparently it hasn’t, however. The November Call attacks the “lack of federal protection” in Boston, saying that the “liberals” such as Kennedy “have refused to send in help. This stand goes back a long way in the Kennedy family to when then Attorney General Robert Kennedy refused to send troops into Selma, Ala. in the early 60s to protect civil rights marchers.”

So when you read closely, there is no difference between the stand of the OL and the Trotskyite SWP –both see the federal government as capable of protecting Black people against attack, rather than as the organ of the bourgeoisie to suppress the people! The same federal government that sent troops to suppress Black rebellion in hundreds of cities, to bust the postal strike, to shoot down anti-war protesters at Kent State, to put down the rebellion in Santo Domingo–this same imperialist government is called on to protect the Black people. All we can say is, this isn’t Marxism!

The OL reduces the whole struggle of the Black people to simply a question of “democratic rights”–cutting the heart out of this great revolutionary struggle and attempting to put a brick wall between the fight of the Black people and the struggle of the multinational working class for revolution.

Instead of trying to unite Black and white working people in struggle against national oppression and for better conditions for all the people, OL helps the bourgeoisie set white against Black in fighting each other for crumbs–essentially to redivide the shrinking pie as the imperialist crisis deepens. The kind of “equality” that OL stands for, it is clear, is to “equally” put the burden of the deteriorating conditions on both Black and white working people. This is not the kind of “equality” the proletariat fights for. We don’t want merely to redivide crumbs–we want the whole pie and plan to take it from the bourgeoisie who stole it from us in the first place. And since we’re the ones who bake the pie anyway, we’re also planning to make it bigger so that it can feed all the people.

Black people want, and the working class as a whole demands, the ending of oppression–not “equal,” “democratic” sharing in oppression. In reality, the OL’s line on this question comes down to: “make the people–and especially the white workers–pay,” instead of turning the spearhead of struggle against the bourgeoisie, fighting for an end to discrimination and better conditions for all working and oppressed peoples.

And while the OL says that the RU is “totally absent from the struggle of the Black masses for their rights,” the very page that this statement is made on has a photo relating to the campaign for justice for Tyrone Guyton, a young Black killed by police in California. This, as our readers know, is a campaign that we have been involved in from the beginning, which we have helped to make a mass issue on the West Coast, and which we have helped to take to workplaces, high schools, colleges, unemployment lines, and everywhere we can. And while the OL may print a picture about this struggle, by and large they have been absent from it. Posturing as “friends” of Black people, they have no interest in doing the tough day to day work, no interest in actually building the working class struggle against national oppression in a concrete way.

How Do They Expect to Justify Their Behavior?

In putting forth its distortions and confusions on the Boston situation and the national question in general (and it must be noted here that the OL, to this day, has yet to present a serious attempt at a scientific analysis of the concrete conditions of Black people in the U.S. today and the road forward towards their liberation), the OL is simply trying to speculate on the present primitiveness of the U.S. communist movement, the fact that there still is no single vanguard Communist Party, and that many politically “independent” individuals and collectives are still relatively isolated and may not be aware of the facts that refute OL’s blatant lies. What the OL is trying to do is cover up its own opportunism and do-nothing desertion of the struggle in Boston with a little old-fashioned bourgeois mud-slinging and name-calling.

But OL is just whistling in the dark in trying to do this. It just won’t wash. The period in which this kind of demagoguery was possible is fast drawing to a close. Honest revolutionaries aren’t interested in OL’s fairy tales presenting the RU as the Ku Klux Klan, Big Bad Wolf and Adolf Hitler all rolled up into one.

What honest revolutionaries and genuine Marxist-Leninists have sought, in vain, from OL is a clear statement of their political line–what they think is the road forward to unite the working class and oppressed people in revolutionary struggle. What is obvious is that OL has failed to say what its ideas are on what to do in the Boston busing situation. The reason is simply this: it hasn’t got the foggiest idea. Isolated from the people, afraid of even investigating the sentiments of the masses, they don’t even know where to begin.

When the November Revolution came out, Struggle, a Black newspaper in Boston closely aligned with OL, was so upset by Revolution’s criticism of their line on the busing question that they went down to a movement bookstore in the area, to try to talk the store into not carrying the November Revolution because of its criticisms of their line, and because of the RU’s “chauvinism.”

What are you afraid of, comrades? If you are afraid of a few words of criticism from our pens, how do you ever expect to explain and justify your outrageous behavior in the face of the Boston situation to the masses of Black people and to the working class as a whole?