Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Communist Party

New Programme and New Constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

(Drafts for Discussion)

Uprooting National Oppression

Since the history of the development of capitalism in the U.S. is a history of the most savage oppression of the Black, Native American, Mexican-American, Puerto Rican, Asian and other oppressed peoples, taking up this question for solution is crucial for the U.S. proletarian revolution.

Discrimination, the denial of democratic rights, violent police repression, suppression and mutilation of their cultures and languages, exploitation and oppression as members of the working class, with the lowest position, constantly high unemployment, the lowest paid jobs, the worst housing, the worst of bad health care and other social services–this is daily life for the masses of these nationalities in the U.S. today. And it is these conditions that the proletariat in power must and will eliminate.

All this, of course, cannot be done in a minute. But much of it can and will be. This is not because of some sort of greater moral determination on the part of the proletariat. The capitalists today have thousands of laws on paper outlawing discrimination, but still discrimination thrives and even worsens. This is because they have a greater law in command–the law of maximizing profit–and under this law all of society is maintained in a twisted state. The proletariat, on the other hand, has no such interest and every interest, in fact, in eliminating all these inequalities which are both leftovers of the old society and festering grounds for overall capitalist restoration. Discrimination, for example, will be immediately and forcefully banned in employment, housing and all other spheres. As part of this general process in society, the army of police which enforces all this through systematic terror in the ghettos and barrios and other areas where oppressed nationalities are concentrated will have been destroyed, just punishment handed out to its hired thugs, and in its place will be armed and organized militia made up of the masses in these neighborhoods and areas.

Segregation in neighborhoods, schools and the like will be banned and integration promoted. Segregationist groups will be broken up, and the demagogues who have initiated attacks on oppressed nationalities will be immediately crushed. And if, for example, somebody in a factory jumps up and starts some racist mouthing off, although he will probably not be jailed unless he is really organizing a reactionary movement, the masses of workers will be mobilized right then and there to wage a sharp struggle against all this and to isolate and defeat this reactionary poison. This method generally will be spread throughout society as the basic means for dealing with all aspects of this.

The new proletarian state will take immediate and special measures to change the situation of all-around social inequality. This will require struggle to win the masses of all nationalities to see the absolute necessity for this in order to develop–and even to keep–the victories of the new society. For example, the question will be posed about what to do to rebuild the neighborhoods after the seizure of power. There will be a lot of destruction generally after the civil war and in the wake of the likely world war. But it will still be the case that the ghettos and slums, where mostly the oppressed peoples were forced to live, will still be the most run down and broken down. Everybody is going to have an urgent feeling that their own conditions must be improved from this ugly devastation of capitalism. But Party members and other class conscious people are going to have to go out and struggle with the rest and set an example in practice, in self-sacrifice and voluntary labor, to see that the neighborhoods at the very bottom are rebuilt–and improved–first, while people in other areas will have to largely live with what they’ve got for a time until the resources can be devoted to that problem too. If the proletarian state does not apply this policy, then the basis for proletarian power will be seriously undermined, because the oppressed people will rightly say, “How is this different from before? We’re still on the bottom.” And the basis for new or old capitalists to “divide and conquer” and establish power over society will be greatly strengthened. Over the long-term, the state will give preference in resources and assistance to the less developed and backward areas, of course in coordination with and on the basis of the overall development of society; and in the immediate situation after the seizure of power, the policy of “raising up the bottom” will be applied across the board.

There are many different oppressed nationalities in the U.S. and each has its own particular features and problems that must be solved: the Native American peoples have a long history of lands being stolen and their cultures suppressed; the oppression of the Puerto Rican people within the U.S. is closely linked with the colonial status of their homeland, which must be freed; the Black people have the history of slavery and of the historical process of their formation as an oppressed nation in the Black Belt areas of the South; the Chicanos have the particular history of U.S. oppression of Mexico, the theft of its land and the maintaining of large parts of the Southwest as a backward area, and the continued persecution of “illegals”. Such particularities exist in the case of each of the oppressed nationalities. But, at the same time, there are certain broad features common to many or all of the oppressed peoples that must be grasped and dealt with by the proletariat in power by mobilizing the masses of people of these nationalities and at the same time mobilizing the whole proletariat to take up these questions.

The proletarian revolution in the U.S. will not be a simple affair. It will involve many complex phenomena and varied social movements, many led–even at the time of revolution–by different class forces and mobilized under different programs. This will be true particularly, though not exclusively, of the oppressed nationalities. There will likely be a number of actual armies in the field and while there is only one overall and fundamental revolutionary solution to the contradictions of society, this solution has many varied aspects, each or many of which will propel different social forces into motion. Upon victory, and in fact in order to achieve victory, the Party will have to lead the class-conscious workers in assessing these different forces, establishing principled unity with them wherever possible, struggling with them for the revolutionary program of the proletariat, while seeking ways to resolve differences non-antagonistically.

The question of land is an important one in this history of a number of the oppressed peoples of this country. While this question is not today the central question for most of them, it is one that has continued to give rise to struggle and will certainly do so in the future, particularly in the context of civil war. The aim of the proletariat is not for secession and small separate states. Instead it will be important to strive for a country united under a single proletarian state. But for this unity to be real, not forced, and for the legitimate rights of various oppressed peoples to be honored, the proletarian state will also seek to establish various forms of autonomy in areas of sizeable historic concentrations of these peoples.

For the Black people, who were historically oppressed as a nation in the Black Belt South, there continues to be the right of self-determination there, up to and including secession, but again the proletariat does not favor this under now forseeable circumstances. Upon achieving power, or in the armed struggle to win it, if there are indeed significant forces based among Black people raising this demand, the proletariat will have to take this into account, in the light of the overall situation and the principle of weakening the enemy and strengthening the proletarian revolutionary forces. Whether to support a particular move for a separate state among Black people or to oppose it will depend on all this, but the proletarian state–and the proletarian forces nearing power–cannot rely on force against the people to resolve this question, but must rely on the masses, especially in this case the masses of Black people, and work to resolve the question non-antagonistically.

Native Americans, too, have special conditions and history in regard to the land question. They have been repeatedly forced off their land into concentration camps which are euphemistically called “reservations”. In undoing this long-standing atrocity the proletariat will, through consultation with the masses of the Indian peoples, establish large areas of land where they can live and work and will provide special assistance to the Indian peoples in developing these areas. Here autonomy will be the policy of the proletarian state–the various Indian peoples will have the right to self-government within the larger socialist state, under certain overall guiding principles. The overall guiding principles referred to are that practices and customs must tend to promote equality, not inequality, unity not division between different peoples, and eliminate, not foster, exploitation. The Indian peoples themselves will be mobilized and relied on to struggle through and enforce these principles. This will mean that policies related to local affairs as well as customs, culture and language will be under autonomous control, while at the same time the Indian peoples will be encouraged as well to take a full part in the overall affairs of society as a whole. Local customs and practices–such as medicine–usually dismissed (or occasionally “glorified” in all cynicism) by the capitalists today as “pure mysticism” will be studied for those aspects that have an underlying scientific content and these aspects will be promoted and applied generally by the proletariat. These kinds of principles, with different particulars in different cases, will apply in all cases of autonomy within the proletarian state.

Many will apply to the Mexican-American (Chicano) people, particularly in the Southwest, the area of their largest historic concentration. As a part of this, the proletarian state will uphold the right of the masses of the Chicano people to land denied them through violation of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which, as it sealed the U.S. rip off of land from Mexico in 1848, supposedly “in return” guaranteed Chicanos certain basic–and soon trampled–rights.

While Hawaii, too, is part of the U.S. and the proletariat will fight to win control of it as part of its new state, this state will establish some forms of autonomy of the peoples there–particularly the native Hawaiian people, but also the other oppressed nationalities.

These land and autonomy policies of the proletarian state will not mean that the oppressed peoples will have to live in these areas–which would amount to a new form of segregation. In particular, this will most definitely not be a new chapter in the history of oppression of the Indian peoples–forcing them onto reservations and treating them like special “wards of the state” when they move off them. Instead the new proletarian state, while favoring and encouraging unity and integration, will ensure these formerly oppressed peoples’ right to autonomy as part of the policy of promoting real equality between nations and peoples.

As far as the general question of the languages and cultures of the formerly oppressed nationalities, genuine equality will be upheld here as well by the proletarian state. In areas, for example, where many people have Spanish as their first language, both English and Spanish will be taught to all nationalities in the schools, and this will be promoted among the workers as well. Both languages will be spoken, so that neither–in particular the language of the minority nationality–is in fact treated as inferior.

A flowering of the cultures of the minority nationalities will be promoted. Only far in the future, when communism has been achieved, will nations be superseded and will the national differences, including in the area of cultures, be transcended.

In the U.S. today the influence of the cultural forms and creations of different nationalities do get spread among many others, and this is favorable for and will be built on by the proletariat when it wins political power. But still, the proletariat will encourage and support the development of separate national forms of culture, all serving the proletarian revolution in their content. Culture whose content is counter-revolutionary, no matter of what national form, will be opposed and suppressed. The state will pay special attention to supporting models within all the various national forms of cultures, models which will combine the best in artistic techniques in these forms with proletarian revolutionary political content.

As for all the ideological poison on the national question–the national chauvinism, racist thinking (as well as the overall secondary problem of narrow nationalism), all these things which the bourgeoisie insists are “everlasting human nature”–the proletariat will deal with these too. Obviously this is a protracted process, but the first and the major qualitative step will have been taken when the capitalist system that is the source of this sewer, and in turn thrives off it, is swept away. The material base for this among the masses, which includes the fact that capitalism throws them into a dog-eat-dog existence, including competition for a mere livelihood, will be overthrown and the struggle waged to finally, thoroughly uproot it.

Those who use the chauvinist banner to organize any kind of reactionary, racist movement and attacks on minority nationalities will be ruthlessly crushed. The KKK, Nazis and the like will be wiped out.

More broadly in society, the proletariat will deal with this problem by promoting education and struggle among the people. Education about the lives, cultures, history of oppression and resistance of all the formerly oppressed nationalities will be widely and deeply carried out. The capitalist source of the problems of all different sections of the oppressed will be constantly unveiled and hit again and again. The common myths among the people will be discussed and debunked, often relying on organized exchange between the masses themselves, and the lies of the bourgeoisie will be ruthlessly and thoroughly exposed. All this will be greatly aided by the constantly closer contact between people of different nationalities as the policies of integrating the workplaces, neighborhoods and schools are carried out, thus breaking down the ignorance-breeding separation in which bourgeois ideology generally feeds.

As indicated earlier, while all these measures are necessary to deal with the special forms of national oppression and its whole historical basis, it certainly does not mean that the masses of minority nationalities will be only or mainly concerned with ending their own oppression. In fact, they are overwhelmingly workers, part of the single multinational working class in this country, and many will be in the front ranks of the overall struggle to revolutionize society.

And in all this, as with all the measures outlined above, the overriding thing will be that the proletariat and the broad masses of people, even while there are many backward ideas left and much ideological struggle to be waged, will be at last living and struggling in a social system which allows them to consciously unite for the common goal, for a bright and classless future where the oppression of one people by another or one part of society by another will be buried in the prehistoric past.