Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Building Multi-National Unity: A Sum Up and Self-Criticism

Deepening The Struggle Against White White Chauvinism

First Published: Unite!, Vol. 4, No. 5, April 1, 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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In a shop in New Orleans, a white communist is struggling to organize a union. The comrade forged good ties with Black workers, but failed to take up the struggle to build multi-national unity. Isolation and alienation from the white workers developed, until steps were taken to overcome the problem.

In a factory in Atlanta, a white communist failed to struggle against white chauvinism while battling for a better contract. As a result, workers remained divided and a sell-out contract was pushed through.

These communists belong to the Marxist-Leninist Organizing Committee. They are part of a deviation, the tendency to belittle the struggle against white chauvinism, which was discussed at the historic First Congress of the organization.

While the fight for the right of self-determination for oppressed nations is a strategic question, the heart of our work to carry this out must be the struggle against white chauvinism, which is the main obstacle to multinational unity.... when we look around in our districts, we do not see the struggle against white chauvinism being placed in the forefront of the struggle for multinational unity. We see that there is no hesitation to mobilize the Black workers around the Dawson Five question, there is no hesitation to mobilize workers around other oppressed minorities. But when it comes to going into the ranks of the white working class, and there waging the struggle against white chauvinism, that is where comrades get weak knees. And no doubt, it is because there you deal with the Klan, the Nazis and every other counter-revolutionary force in this society. But that is where the center of our work on the national question must be placed. (Class Against Class, No. 10, p. 28)

History of Opportunism

The history of the struggle against white chauvinism is marked with deviations such as these. The Communist Party USA in the 1930’s and early 40’s did some good work to build multi-national unity, which included the trial and expulsion of white chauvinists within the Party itself.

But the revisionists who seized control of the CPUSA under Earl Browder took the wind out of this struggle. They liquidated the Party’s work in the South on the grounds that an oppressed Black Nation no longer existed. They stopped building and leading mass organizations such as the League of Struggle for Negro Rights and the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union, in which multi-national unity was being built.

When the Party itself was liquidated in the 1940’s, a strong force of struggle against white chauvinism was lost. As the example of the CPUSA has taught, liquidating the battle to build genuine multi-national unity in the struggles for socialism and self-determination for oppressed nations is the first step to the complete destruction of the Party as a revolutionary force. This is what the failure to seriously take up this struggle can mean.

Since that time, various organizations which have developed have been riddled with white chauvinism. They have failed to struggle aggressively to build multi-national unity and defeat white supremacism in their own organizations. The Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), because it denies the right of the Black Nation to self-determination, has no real basis to build genuine multi-national unity. In the South the Communist Party (M-L) works mainly with Black workers, and fails almost completely to struggle against white chauvinism in the working class. They believe multi-national unity will develop magically, without consistent struggle within the white proletariat.

The MLOC has also bowed to this error, as the examples show. In the South in particular, there has been great hesitation to confront white chauvinism head on and to expose it as bourgeois ideology, serving only the interests of the capitalist class.

Why Is It Important to Build Multi-National Unity?

Because national chauvinism and white supremacism are pushed by the bourgeoisie, many white workers think Black people are their main enemy. They are told Black workers take away their jobs, cause the crime rate to rise and property values to fall. They are told integration of schools leads to poor education. The Klan, the National States’ Rights Party and others publish degrading and grotesque lies about Black people.

After years of this bourgeois propaganda, many are led to believe they have more in common with white capitalists than they do with Black workers. As a large percentage of the white working class comes under this influence, their class struggle against their real enemies – the imperialist bourgeoisie – is stifled and grows weak.

Workers of different nationalities battle each other instead of uniting to defeat their common exploitation by the bourgeoisie. The longer the working class is divided by national chauvinism and white supremacism, the longer it will be exploited and oppressed by the bourgeoisie in every aspect of life.

How can the socialist revolution succeed if only part of the working class and its allies are fighting for emancipation? How can self-determination be won if only Blacks fight for it? This would be impossible. Victory will only come when a united multinational working class leads the revolutionary struggle.

Why Should the White Working Class Fight for Multi-National Unity?

Where genuine multi-national unity is built, the struggle of the working class advances by great strides. The struggles to unionize steel, coal, and other basic industries were successful only when multi-national unity was built. As far back as Reconstruction, Black and white labor joined together to fight against capitalist exploitation, and found strength in that unity. The political rights to vote, own land, be educated and organize unions were originally won in the South during Reconstruction when Blacks and whites for the first time formed integrated political caucuses in the Republican Party.

All inhabitants of the Black Nation would benefit from winning the right to self-determination. By fighting for self-determination and socialism, white small farmers are fighting for redistribution of the land, and an end to debt and high taxes.

By struggling for an end to the oppression of the Black Nation, white industrial workers are fighting for better working and living conditions, the right t0 unionize and strike, the right to refuse to support wars of aggression in foreign countries and other rights now denied them.

The Cause of the Error

What has caused the failure of the MLOC to aggressively take up the fight against white chauvinism, and to explain to white workers their interest in building multi-national unity?

Timidity, passivity and liberalism have all played their part in leading to this error. But the main reason this deviation has occurred is the continued existence of white supremacism and national chauvinism within the MLOC.

Any white communist who does not take up the battle against white chauvinism with white workers head on, and fight to build genuine multinational unity in the shops and mines where they work, is guilty of national chauvinism. In failing to adequately mobilize its cadres in the past to fight for multinational unity, the MLOC has bowed to national chauvinism.

Overcoming the Error

Recognizing this error, the MLOC has begun the struggle to rectify its practice. In the South, the organization has initiated a campaign against the Klan, to confront fascist white supremacism head on. As this campaign grows, and more workers see the organization truly taking up the battle against white supremacism, the basis for building lasting multi-national unity will grow.

Multi-national unity must be built primarily on the shop floor. White communists must battle the white supremacism and national chauvinism which is expressed daily in the context of immediate struggles for unionization, better working conditions or democratic rights. They must raise the struggle for the right of self-determination of the Black Nation, and fight for support of this among the white proletariat. They must do so by linking the immediate struggles with the struggle for socialism, and pointing out how socialism will never be reached without multi-national unity. They must combat white supremacism in their unions, and fight for Black participation in all union activities and posts. The influence of the labor aristocracy and trade union bureaucrats, who actively spread white supremacism, must be broken.

White communists bear the responsibility of struggling directly with white chauvinism. Multinational unity will not be built by working only with Black workers. It will not be built by working only with a select few white workers and ignoring the masses of white workers for whom the struggle against white chauvinism is a real problem.

The recent rise in membership and influence of the Klan in white working class communities shows that the battle against white supremacism and national chauvinism has not been strong. As the bourgeoisie moves towards fascism – a rule of terror based on dividing the class through national chauvinism and genocide of Blacks and other oppressed nationalities – the struggle to build multi-national unity must be taken up strongly.

Recognizing its past errors, the MLOC is determined to continue to mobilize and build the struggle for multi-national unity until all white supremacism is finally defeated.