Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Workers Congress (Marxist-Leninist)

LPR (M-L) Supports WC (M-L) National Proposal

First Published: The Communist, Vol. V, No. 4, January 8, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Workers Congress (M-L) Introduction: We are reprinting the article below from the October 1978 issue of RESISTANCE, the political organ of the League for Proletarian Revolution (M-L). We welcome the comrades’ views on our national proposal and their efforts to build the nationwide struggle to defend and expand affirmative action.

In their article, the League mentions the issue of affirmative action programs in police departments. They say, “At the same time there are certain so-called affirmative action programs that we do not support such as those calling for more oppressed nationalities to be hired as cops.” In our view the fundamental issue in those programs is still the right to equality in employment, even though police are part of the repressive force of the state.

Just like other aspects of affirmative action such as super-seniority and consent decrees, this issue is complex and needs full discussion in the communist press. The League’s initiative is good. For our part we plan to state our views on affirmative action in police departments in the coming months.

We urge others to submit their views on these issues and our National Proposal to Build the Anti-Bakke Movement. Copies of the proposal are available upon request. For copies of RESISTANCE, write the League for Proletarian Revolution (M-L), PO Box 513, Triboro Station, New York, New York 10035.

* * *

Since the Supreme Court’s decision supporting Allan Bakke’s claim of “reverse discrimination”, the anti-Bakke movement has been in an ebb. The two largest national organizations dealing with this issue, the National Coalition to Oppose the Bakke Decision (NCOBD) and the Anti-Bakke Decision Coalition (ABDC),have scaled down their activities around the case.

Yet, daily, the bourgeoisie’s attacks on affirmative action programs continue to intensify, particularly since the decision. These attacks are a reflection of the deepening crisis of imperialism. The bourgeoisie is attempting to divide our class, to find scapegoats whom they can blame for the existing crisis, in order to divert the struggle away from the real enemy–the bourgeoisie itself.

It is necessary that we unite to fight against these attacks, which greatly affect oppressed nationalities and women, in particular, and the working class as a whole in general. It is in the spirit of uniting all those that can be united that we examine the National Proposal to Build the Anti-Bakke Movement put forward by the Workers Congress (M-L) in its political organ THE COMMUNIST of September 11, 1978, vol. IV, number 20. The proposal says:

1. Nationwide, we must organize a broad mass movement to defend and expand affirmative action programs for women and oppressed nationalities.

We agree with the WC(ML)that it is correct to focus the struggle on affirmative action programs and link that to national oppression. We disagree with the IWK-ATM’s intentions to change the character of the movement to one against national oppression in general. This would narrow instead of broaden the base of the movement, which would also lose continuity by jumping from one struggle to another without a national perspective and plan of action.

From the beginning, LPR(ML) saw the Bakke case as not merely reduced to an issue for students, but one affecting oppressed nationalities in general and women as well. We said:

Its effects are not limited merely to the medical School of the University of California at Davis. It establishes the legal precedent for the elimination of many such programs throughout the country, not just in education, but also in labor contracts and in housing. The Bakke case constitutes the stepping stone for far-reaching attacks against the hard won gains of oppressed nationalities in the US.

The Bakke Decision seriously threatens the gains that had been won as a result of the mass struggles, especially those for working women, such as the quotas establishing that a certain minimum of women has to be hired by companies such as AT&T, NY Telephone, GE and others. This is especially hard on working women who need to keep their jobs for the survival of their families in these times of serious economic hardships. (see RESISTANCE,vol.8, no.9)

At the same time there are certain affirmative action programs that we do not support such as those calling for more oppressed nationalities to be hired as cops. We think that to support the “right” of oppressed nationalities to repress others is to see democracy in the abstract, not from a class viewpoint. Also such programs would only aid the capitalist State in their repressive measures.

2. In the immediate period ahead we must pay special attention to affirmative action in the field of employment rights, as typified by the need to defend against the WEBER attack in steel.

In carrying out our work in defense of affirmative action programs the focus of our efforts must be in the working class. The bulk of our work should be aimed at the shops and workplaces. The discrimination against oppressed nationalities and women divides the working class, as well as the phoney charges of “reverse discrimination” used by the forces who oppose affirmative action. Therefore, we have also said:

Affirmative action programs benefit not only oppressed nationalities but the whole of the working class. It is in the interest of all workers to support the struggle to end national oppression and racial discrimination as this is precisely one of the tools of the bourgeoisie to continue to oppress workers by keeping us divided and fighting each other for a few jobs, and other opportunities. By keeping oppressed nationalities (and women–LPR) much below the level of the rest of the population, the bourgeoisie uses the minorities to keep down the level of the rest of the workers and to divide and weaken the working class. (see RESISTANCE, vol.8, no.9)

Thus it would be incorrect to limit our work to the colleges, as ABDC has done, to the point that when summer comes along affirmative action struggle seems to go underground because there are no students around to carry it out.

3. All national and local forces must be organized in a single, broad based, democratic coalition.

We agree that this is the best way to build a strong and effective anti-Bakke movement. Our experience in the ABDC with the CPML and the IWK-ATM leading it, is that they had no intentions of building a single movement on a democratic basis. Due to their sectarianism, they were unable to draw the masses into the ABDC. A movement that had seen thousands of followers in demonstrations and other actions was down to less than a hundred in its last highly publicized rally in New York City.

Decisions were being made exclusively by them, without the participation of the masses and other communists and advanced forces there. They would allow no political struggles to go on at the meetings, always claiming “that has been decided already”, and certainly no opposition which would be immediately labeled as sectarian, obstructionist, etc.

This is consistent with what happened with the WC(ML) in other ABDC chapters around the country. The ATM-IWK leadership of ABDC squashed the struggle raised by these comrades around the focus of the work and the need for a national plan. Rather than discussing the WC proposal, the ABDC leadership preferred to expel them from ABDC. This was done through a unilateral decision of the IWK-ATM leadership without any participation or discussion of the general membership. By taking the differences between communist organizations into the mass organization the IWK-ATM leadership are carrying out an incorrect, sectarian, non-mass style of work that can only help to destroy, not build, this mass democratic movement.

The anti-Bakke movement cannot be built in this way. The masses must be given ample participation both in making and carrying out decisions, and the broadest possible sectors must be incorporated in a single program for struggle around affirmative action.

4. We must rely on the direct action of the masses.

The fact that the NCOBD and the ABDC have scaled down their activities since the Bakke Decision was upheld by the Supreme Court objectively proves one thing: that both were relying on the courts. Now that the channel of the courts has been exhausted it seems like there’s not much else left for them to do.

But affirmative action programs must continue to be defended. And it is only through mass struggle that this can be done! In fact, the masses have continued to defend affirmative action and, scattered throughout the country small groups or coalitions have sprung up and have continued to struggle where the NCOBD and ABDC left off. It is our task now to organize all these forces into a single powerful movement.

5. While focusing mainly on affirmative action, we need to play a good role in giving support to the overall struggle for equal rights of women and oppressed nationalities.

The struggle for affirmative action is in fact linked to the struggle for the democratic rights of women and oppressed nationalities. It is our task to link them up and thus raise the consciousness of the masses in the course of the struggle, as well as point to the final solution to national and women’s oppression–socialism. It is by concretely showing the masses that we are active defenders of their rights that we can expect to win them over to the cause of socialism.

The step taken by the comrades of the WC(ML) in putting forward a national proposal is a very positive one. Besides being an attempt to provide leadership to the anti-Bakke mass struggle, it can help us in the tasks of uniting Marxist-Leninists and winning the advanced, crucial in our party building efforts.

We urge all comrades to study the proposal and in the spirit of Marxist-Leninists unite, put forward their views on it.