Affirmative Action and reform

Scott Marshall Scott at rednet.org
Mon Apr 10 06:52:39 MDT 1995


I see two real problems with Justin's arguments against affirmative action.
Without a militant fight for specific reforms that seek to begin correcting
inequality, how can real unity be built with racially and nationally
oppressed workers. No workers are going to come to the revolution in a pure
abstract form "having been convinced" etc. That's how intellectuals come to
the table. The rest of us have to see the process and how the struggle will
change things. Getting there is half the fun. And I maintain that empty
slogans about fighting racism and chauvanism, with out real militant action
are useless. Oppressed people have been promised salvation "by and by" since
the dawn of the class struggle.

Polls and Kevin Phillip's data don't impress me one iota. If the question is
asked, "Do you support affirmative action which means that others will get
job preference over you? (The way company and the ruling class puts the
question) then you get one response. But, as anyone who has negotiated
affrimative action into a contract can tell you, if the question is put,
"Shall we use affirmative action to end the bosses use of preference and
discrimination in the work place? - then the answer is often different.
There is much working class experience to show that fairness is an important
idea to all workers. (Keep in mind that the heyday of union organization in
this country was advanced under the slogan of "Black, white, unite and
fight" a slogan that brought real change and affirmative action to the
workplace.) You won't find this kind of approach in big business polls or in
the books of rightwing thinktankers.

My other problem is with what I see as a classless analysis of racism based
on those who feel secure v. those who are not. Racism is a tool of the
corporations that has ideological, political and economic benefit for them.
Regardless of how even a majority of white workers see racism at any given
moment, they are also the class victims of racism.

If we approach racism as the problem of white workers rather than as the
tool of the ruling class then we will do little to unite the class. If we
see the main problem as the attitudes of whites workers rather than see the
source of racism as those who promote and profit from racism then we will be
fighting the wrong battle.

Thus how we approach affirmative action - for the ruling class "white
workers are the problem and we have to correct them and make them accept job
loss etc." For the working class "the corporations make extra profits and
devide the class by the use of racism and discrimination and we must make
the corporations the main aim of our affirmative action demands - the
solutions must be at their expense - it is part of the class struggle - our
gains are at the expense of their profits."

Marx pointed out that in intense struggles, like strikes, workers can cram
years of learning about the class struggle and capitalism into a short span
of time. This is seen time and time again on the question of fighting for
unity and equality. In every strike I've been in I've seen rapid progress on
underestanding racism and how it works by average white workers **if the
lessons and demands are raised and aimed at the companies.**

Lastly -it's no real big thing, but two times Justin raised the question of
"if it's true" refering to my experiences in steel. Hey I was just on the
civil rights committee of my local and active in this fight, what do I know.
Yet big business polls and Kevin Phillips are accepted with no such
questioning....hm. What do workers know anyway. This is the maxism list que no?

Scott

***************************************************
Scott Marshall                             *
3116 S. Halsted                              *
Chicago, Il. 60608                            **
(312) 842-5854                                 **
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e-mail: Scott at rednet.org                   ****  **
Ask me about the Communist Party, USA      *****  **
********************************            *   **
"An ounce of action is worth                * **
a ton of theory."   -Freddy Engels          **
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