Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Workers Congress (Marxist-Leninist)

Unite to Build a Nationwide Campaign to Defend and Expand Affirmative Action

First Published: The Communist, Vol. V, No. 3, December 18, 1978.
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.

In a heated exchange between a Bolshevik and Menshevik in “The Revolutionist”, a movie made in the Soviet Union in 1936, the Bolshevik says, “It is not ideas alone, in the abstract, which makes the people wise, it is the right direction also.”

The two letters on this page from the former San Diego local of the Anti-Bakke Decision Coalition (ABDC), now the Affirmative Action Coalition of San Diego, show that the masses will not continue to blindlessly follow without the proper direction. The former ABDC local sought national leadership for “support and direction” but the national ABDC could not provide this. The reason is that the national leadership of ABDC, the IWK and ATM (now League of Revolutionary Struggle), consistently bowed to spontaneity. Their lack of leadership to the anti-Bakke movement is specified in the letters: no communication among ABDC locals, no democracy in the Executive Committee to provide a forum for developing ideas from the locals, no summing up of work and particularly lessons to be learned in doing outreach, no forum to air disagreements, and most important of all never developing a national plan to give the masses “the right direction”. Without this plan, bowing to spontaneity was inevitable. ATM and IWK proved this point by switching immediately over to Prop 13 work even before the Bakke Decision had been made.

These forces continuously tried to justify this lack of direction by squelching any criticism to the point of expelling individuals and a national organization. Since the June 28 Supreme Court decision the ABDC has continued to follow the path of spontaneity; one demonstration or rally to another, from the “week of struggle” to the “week of resistance”.

Clearly there continues to be no national direction or plan for the ABDC. Realistically there is no longer a national coalition around affirmative action work. The Workers Congress is working on this task with a number of coalitions, groups and individuals including San Diego. Our goal is to build a national coalition for affirmative action based on our plan published in Vol. IV, #20 of THE COMMUNIST.

On a local and regional level, the struggle to defend and expand affirmative action is continuing despite the lack of national leadership. In San Diego the Affirmative Action Coalition of San Diego is putting out literature on the struggle for affirmative action, including leaflets, petitions, surveys, questionnaires. They have developed a slide show which was recently very well received by the MECHAs in San Diego. They have aggressively taken up the task of setting up communication nationally with other groups. They have spoken at union meetings and emphasized the importance of the Weber Case.

Work around affirmative action is continuing and expanding in other parts of the country as well. In Detroit, the Michigan Coalition to Overturn the Bakke Decision (MCOBD) has continued the fight for affirmative action for over a year. It recently began to issue a monthly newsletter, EQUALITY IN CRISIS.

The Affirmative Action Coalition of Milwaukee had a speak-out in late October, which began to develop some local affirmative action work and also supported the struggle of the United League of Tupelo, Mississippi.

In Chicago, where the majority of the members of the local ABDC chapter were “expelled”, they have since formed the Affirmative Action Coalition of Chicago (AACC). The AACC has been developing work in the areas of discrimination in steel and auto, and in the future will be investigating the attempts to destroy open admissions at the Chicago Circle Campus, and the continuing segregation in the Chicago Fire Department. The AACC has consistently given its support (while in the ABDC and since) to the struggle of Latinos for more jobs in the Post Office, led by the Westown Coalition.

In New York City, the work of the Affirmative Action Coordinating Center is developing rapidly. The Center is a coalition of groups including the National Lawyers Guild, National Conference of Black Lawyers, Center for Constitutional Rights and La Raza Legal Alliance. Its goal is to “stimulate and coordinate resources and legal strategies for the defense and expansion of affirmative action programs.” It has just issued its first national newsletter and will be calling a conference in early 1979. It was the center of activities around the issuing of an amicus brief (friend of the court) against the Weber Decision. This brief was in the name of more than 15 legal and civil rights groups.

The fight for affirmative action is continuing in many parts of the country. We encourage all comrades and friends to establish the kind of nation-wide communication and exchange of information we need to lay the basis for a broad democratic national coalition. The columns of THE COMMUNIST are open to groups and individuals to share their criticisms, sum-ups and reports of their work,

Reprints of our national plan are available on request.

* * *

Correspondents Sum-Up ABDC Leadership

The following is a sum-up of the leadership of ABDC by two members of the Affirmative Action Coalition–San Diego and its effects on the San Diego ABDC local, ending with the expulsion of WORKERS CONGRESS (M-L) and the local’s resignation.

My friend and I joined ABDC because we saw the Bakke Case as a serious threat to affirmative action and special programs and because ABDC was a democratic, broad-based national organization working to overturn the Bakke decision. We joined the coalition with enthusiasm and had very good feelings about the people we would be working with.

From the beginning, contact with the National Office of ABDC was less than minimal. Our local received newsletters and a few suggestions for events. The majority of contact with the National Office centered around mobilizing for the April 15th and May 13th demonstrations.

At this point, many of us did not understand the importance of leadership and the role it should play. As our local developed, and we began to evaluate our work, we realized the need to establish, close ties with other locals. We also felt that the Executive Committee Meetings would provide a place for all locals to discuss ideas and develop a coordinated national effort. Our representative always went prepared with our local’s ideas. Generally, ideas were listened to but never acknowledged. No action was ever taken by the National Office to adopt those ideas into a plan of action for all locals. Plans for ABDC came packaged by the National Office, complete with dates, slogans, posters, cost to each local, etc. Although we adhered to the plans, we also implemented our own ideas.

Those representatives that did question the plans of the National Office or raised honest, legitimate questions ranging from voting procedure to principles of unity were not recognized any further or characterized as destructive.

We began to realize that we had no real voice in ABDC. The National Office talked a lot about a National Plan and fighting to overturn the Bakke Decision, but it was apparent that that was not the case. There was no national plan to build the struggle to defend and expand affirmative action and special programs unless there was an ongoing struggle around that issue, as was the case with Atlanta Junior College.

Meetings were cancelled with only a few hours notice or no notice at all. Criticisms around this issue were never answered. The National Office would ask for input for newsletters, etc. Sometimes we would get the letters the same day as the deadline to respond. A criticism of the National Office’s lack of organization was always responded to as a. lack of communication.

We consistently sent copies of all our literature and ideas to the National Office as well as other locals asking for feedback and criticisms. We never got a response. At this point, we were pretty fed up with the treatment our local was getting. The reports from the Executive Committee Meetings proved that communication was not going to get better. The more we raised questions and gave criticism, the more arrogant the response and denial. They were also not above lying to make themselves look good. (Example: National Office claimed that the principles of unity were unanimously voted on at the February conference. They were not even put on the agenda.)

Our local feels that the Weber Case is crucial to existing affirmative action and special programs. The National Office responded by saying that the Bakke Case was enough to mobilize people. The question isn’t whether we have enough issues, our purpose is to expose all the issues that threaten the rights of oppressed minorities and women.

It became crucial to our local’s development to re-evaluate our work and give it the direction that the National Office seemed unable to provide. Although we had mobilized people in our area, our outreach was not as effective as it could have been. We had several discussions about our literature. Our local’s decision on this issue was that the literature from the National Office, as well as our own, maintained a political level of language that was unclear to many of the people who read it. We felt that it would be more effective if it was written in everyday language.

Our local had disagreements with the principles of unity. We felt that the present principles of unity were not broad enough to include many groups in San Diego that were interested in joining the fight to oppose the Bakke Decision. Although we adhered to their use, we felt that the present principles of unity effected our outreach by excluding groups and individuals from joining or working with ABDC.

Our decision about the National Office was that our local work was moving forward in spite of the lack of leadership from ABDC. Our local then reaffirmed its commitment to focus on defending and expanding affirmative action and special programs. People in the local readily took up tasks in rewriting literature, questionnaires, surveys, contacts, etc.

The quick suspension and later expulsion of WORKERS CONGRESS was a serious manipulation by the leadership of ABDC. In our local, WORKERS CONGRESS had always provided ideas, direction and a lot of hard work. WORKERS CONGRESS representatives never attempted to disrupt the local and always worked toward the coalition’s goals. Their representatives were honest as well as being self-critical and open to criticism.

At the last Executive Committee meeting that our representative attended, the National Office of ABDC listed the reasons why WORKERS CONGRESS had been suspended. Our local was in complete disagreement with the reasons presented and we also objected to the total lack of democracy in the suspension process. Our local was contacted about the suspension after it had already taken place and never mentioned in our phone conversation with the National Office the day before the suspension. We were told later that Atlanta, Boston and New York did not vote in the process although it was stated that they did vote in a letter dated September 22, 1978. These locals did not even have members of WORKERS CONGRESS in their locals, yet their vote was polled and our local’s was not. Within a week from the suspension, a formal vote (1st time in Executive Committee) was taken to expel WORKERS CONGRESS from ABDC.

It was very clear to our local that we had no future with ABDC. With one abstention, our local voted to resign from ABDC.

We are now the Affirmative Action Coalition of San Diego. We are continuing to work around the issue that brought us into ABDC. Our coalition is enthusiastic and sees the future of our work unlimited rather than stifled under the leadership of ABDC.

We urge everyone interested in the struggle for equal rights to take up work around this issue and build a national movement to defeat Bakke and Weber as well as all other attacks on the working people.

We welcome correspondence from anyone doing affirmative action work or anyone interested in starting an Affirmative Action Coalition at work, on campus, or in the community to contact us.

Our address is:

Affirmative Action Coalition,
P.O. Box 3127,
San Diego, California 92103

* * *

Letter to ABDC Locals: San Diego Forms Affirmative Action Coalition

October 10, 1978

P.O. Box 3127
San Diego, Ca. 92103

Dear ABDC locals,

The San Diego ABDC local resigned from the Anti-Bakke Decision Coalition on October 8. We want to communicate to all the ABDC locals why we made this decision. Originally in San Diego people formed the San Diego Coalition Against the Bakke Decision. This group wanted to educate people about affirmative action and the threat posed by the California State Supreme Court decision favoring Bakke. In February, 1978 people from the Coalition and other individuals attended the ABDC national conference in LA. We were impressed by the enthusiasm and energy to oppose the Bakke Decision head on and work to defend and expand affirmative action.

At the conference we saw the potential for a real nationwide movement against the Bakke Decision as ABDC locals and other Anti-Bakke groups from Atlanta’s Committee to Defeat the Bakke Decision, Oberlin’s Anti-Bakke Committee, BALSA, Bulk Mail Handlers 302 etc. were represented.

People returned from the conference and voted in March, 1978 for the San Diego Coalition Against the Bakke Decision to become an ABDC local. We joined ABDC because we thought ABDC was taking up the fight for affirmative action for oppressed minorities and women and to overturn the Bakke Decision. Very importantly we wanted support and direction from the national ABDC leadership. We based our decision to resign on the facts that these two expectations have not materialized.

Affirmative Action programs were won through the Civil Rights, women’s and oppressed minorities’ movements of the 60’s and early 70’s. Thousands of people were mobilized to put pressure on the government, employers and educational institutions. We all see what precedent the Bakke Decision accomplished. Through the racist lie of “reverse discrimination” affirmative action is being taken away in the name of equality for all. In the same way that thousands were mobilized to fight for affirmative action, thousands will fight to keep it. We need to develop a movement to defend and expand affirmative action. We think the national ABDC has failed to focus on the fight for affirmative action. In California after the Prop.13 (Jarvis Gann) Initiative passed the focus of the California locals except San Diego turned to working against all the cutbacks. The Fresno ABDC withdrew from ABDC to work solely against Prop. 13. We are against Prop. 13 cutbacks and have worked with the Coalition on Prop.13 in San Diego. We still think the focus of the Anti-Bakke movement should be to defend and expand affirmative action. Where Prop.13 cutbacks directly affect affirmative action there should be focused opposition. Sacramento ABDC has done this with the welfare workers.

We think the National Office (N.O.) has failed to give direction to ABDC. After the decision instead of a nationwide campaign to defend and expand affirmative action the N.O. called for the ABDC locals to take up whatever struggles are happening in their city–childcare, police brutality. Prop. 13 (Aug. 20 executive committee minutes). The national newsletter hasn’t addressed the issue of affirmative action. The N.O. leadership plans have been to call or support one demo after another – May 15, Day of Decision, Aug. 27 and Sept. 2 Moratoriums. None of these demonstrations brought out the numbers of people that are in support of affirmative action. There has not been a national evaluation of ABDC and a plan devised based on each local’s input. The latest proposal from the N.O. is for a Week of Resistance. We criticized the N.O. August 27 for having drawn up these plans and not being open to local’s suggestions or criticisms. The N.O. says they want input into the Week of Resistance plans at the same time they tell us they are sending the posters and national leaflet based on the N.O. plan. (Sept. 7 N.O. letter).

Our local sent criticisms and suggestions for the national newsletter August 27. We have received no formal response. At Davis, September: 24, we were told the N.O. had serious criticisms of our local for not using the slogan End National Oppression on all our literature. We explained that it had been an oversight and not a conscious decision by the local. Part of our criticism of the national newsletter had been the use of national oppression, oppressed nationalities, national minorities with no explanation. We said we didn’t think people understand what national oppression is. The N.O. representative’s response was that our local was the only one having any problems with it. When the N.O. representative explained what national oppression meant she couldn’t explain how Native Americans fit into the definition.

We sent a criticism to the N.O. in May because the executive committee meeting had been cancelled the morning it was to happen. Our reps had already left for the meeting when we found out it was canceled and they wasted a whole day. When the reps arrived in LA there wasn’t even a note on the door saying the meeting had been canceled. We never received a reply to the criticism and when we brought it up at the July 15 executive committee meeting we were told there just needed to be better communication.

We suggested to the N.O. on August 15, that ABDC take up a nationwide campaign against the Weber Case. We were told by the N.O. at the August 20 Executive Committee meeting that the N.O. didn’t object to locals taking up the Weber Case but they thought Bakke was enough to win over people to the struggle. The N.O. said it wasn’t necessary to use the Weber Case to win over workers that the Bakke Decision and LA County vs. Davis cases are enough to mobilize. We suggested again August 27 that the Weber Case be taken up nationwide. At the Sept. 30 Executive Committee the N.O. said Weber was important to take up. However the N.O. did not put forward that Weber be emphasized in the Week of Resistance and no other locals put out plans around the Weber Case.

We haven’t received suggestions on how to do outreach. After 6 months of work we figured out that we needed to concentrate our outreach on the people we think will be effected by the Bakke Decision. We sent out copies of our leaflets, presentations and endorsement letters to the N.O. and all the ABDC locals. At the August 20 Executive Committee meeting our rep talked about the reevaluation of our work and literature. She said although we had done alot of good work we had not mobilized alot of people. The N.O.’s response was that there had been no problems in uniting people around ABDC principles and in mobilizing people so that San Diego must be doing the work wrong. We criticized the N.O. in an August 27 letter for stating we must be doing our work wrong. We have been evaluating our work and trying to correct our mistakes. We received no formal response. At the Sept. 2 March in LA our chair spoke to the N.O. rep and discussed some of San Diego’s ideas for improving ABDC.

The N.O. rep basically said if “all” we wanted to do was overturn the Bakke Decision and defend and expand affirmative action we should join NCOBD. The N.O. rep was snotty when our chair said 3,000 people in May wasn’t alot for San Francisco and told our chair she “obviously didn’t understand the objective and subjective condition” and 3000 was the most since the war. We wrote a criticism Sept. 10 saying that this isn’t a friendly way to build ties with the locals and get the different locals’ ideas. We think it’s important for national representatives to develop a good way of discussing ABDC. At Davis Sept. 24, the N.O. rep said it was her word against the chair about what was said. When another person from San Diego said she’d heard some of the conversation in L.A. the N.O. rep changed the subject.

It became clear to us with the suspension of Workers Congress that there was not only a lack of direction or support from the N.O. but also a real breakdown in a democratic process. Our local was called Sept. 23 and told that the N.O. and the San Francisco local plus the Executive Committee reps from LA, San Jose and Sacramento had voted to suspend Workers Congress. There was no investigation of Workers Congress’ work in our local. We have always found it easy to work with Workers Congress and count on them to do their tasks. Workers Congress has never tried to dominate or wreck our local’s work. We asked why we weren’t contacted. The N.O. rep told us they had tried but were in a hurry. Our chair had talked to the N.O. rep Sept. 21 and no mention had been made of the suspension. We asked Sept. 24 at Davis if Atlanta, New York and Boston were contacted and the N.O. rep said no because Workers Congress was not represented there. W? received a letter dated Sept. 22 signed by all locals, Atlanta, New York and Boston included, except San Diego suspending Workers Congress. We think we have given the N.O. a chance but we can no longer trust the N.O. for a national plan to defend and expand affirmative action, for democratic process and for the truth.

We have voted to resign from ABDC and to be the Affirmative Action Coalition of San Diego. We want to continue our work around affirmative action. We want to insure that our coalition has a democratic process. We want to continue our support for struggles of oppressed minorities and women. We will have the Atlanta Junior College petitions against racist standardized tests and police brutality signed, get the petitions signed for the Hopi-Navajo right to decide their reservation territory, send money and supplies to the Hoopa and Yurok Native Americans involved in a fishing rights struggle and we will be in opposition to Prop. 6 the Briggs Initiative. We plan to contact locally national organizations who have been part of the Anti-Bakke movement such as the National Lawyers Guild, Black American Law Students Association and the Chicano Law Students Associations and continue to work with them around the issue of affirmative action. We support the work ABDC is doing against Prop 13 cutbacks in California and the different struggles ABDC supports. We would like to continue sharing information on affirmative action with ABDC locals and would appreciate any response or information ABDC locals have.

If we owe any money for national literature please send us a bill. We would like to receive a copy of the national newsletter each time it is printed.

We feel very enthusiastic about starting this Affirmative Action Coalition and encourage people nationwide to defend and expand affirmative action. Overturn the Bakke and Weber Decisions.