Latino and Black Unity
One of the important outcomes of the presidential elections was the emergence of Black and Latino objective unity. This Black and Latino unity was not a conscious effort. That is, Latinos and Blacks did not say “Let’s unite and vote for Obama.” But by voting for Obama, however, Blacks and Latinos were objectively moving along the same lines — a common demand for health care, for decent housing, for education for their children, for jobs and a way out of poverty. Revolutionaries can rest upon this objective unity to develop the subjective unity of class.
This Black and Latino unity is not the same as the slogan put forth by the Communist Party USA calling for “Black and Brown Unite and Fight!” That slogan was ideological and based on color and ethnicity and not on class. It is based only on common social oppression and not on the common exploitation as labor. Everyone is going to come at the Blacks and Latinos based on their ethnicity and their special interests. The revolutionaries’ tactic will have to be to expand and solidify the objective unity of Blacks and Latinos, but based on class.
This unity is important and advantageous to the revolutionary process because if revolutionaries propagandize these two groups on the basis of class, it will strengthen the working class fight for change. Revolutionaries start with this unity and propagandize about class interests. This unity has to be seen within the context of the line of march of the revolutionary process.
Blacks and Latinos turned out in record numbers on November 6 and voted for President Obama by broad margins. They tipped the balance in at least three swing states and secured their position as an organized force in American politics with the power to move the national elections. Obama won 71% 75% of their vote. The strong turnout among Latinos lifted them to 10% of the American electorate. 93% of Blacks, or nine out of ten, solidly voted for Obama. They represent 13% of the electorate. By all accounts, the Latino and Black vote brought Obama victory.
This is not to say that Latinos and Blacks are happy with the Obama administration. Unemployment plagues the Black community with 15% official unemployment and 25% among Black youth nationally and even higher in some cities. Many Latinos were upset because Obama did not deliver on immigration reform during his first administration as he had promised. But at the end many Latinos were more afraid of Mitt Romney’s policies on immigration of “self-deportation”. Of course, the deferred action policy which Obama issued June 15 of last year helped him with the Latino vote.
It’s important to point out that Latinos are not a homogeneous group. They are divided by economic interests and stratified by nationality, i.e. Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Chileans, Cubans and so forth. Yet, Latinos are no different than other workers, and the main issue for Latinos is the economy or jobs. The second issue of importance is immigration reform. In exit polls conducted by ImpreMedia and Latino Decisions, immigration was a major factor in the decision-making process. A majority of those polled said they knew an undocumented immigrant.
The 2012 elections revealed a stark problem for Republicans. “Clearly, when you look at African American and Latino voters, they went overwhelmingly for the president,” observed Iowa Republican strategist John Steinman. “And that’s certainly a gap that’s going to require a lot of attention from Republicans.” In addition, women voters favored Obama by 55%; three out of five voters between the age of 18 and 29 voted for Obama, and Obama got about 70% of the Asian vote.
Strategy and Tactics
Strategic and tactical considerations in any battle need to be taken by both sides, the capitalists and workers, as well as within both sides, among the capitalists and among the workers. What must be asked is “If I move this piece on the chessboard what will be the consequences and what am I willing to lose?” Revolutionaries must determine what is happening in the real world at any given time, in any given situation, that can provide an opening to develop the consciousness of the class.
The two main parties appeal to and attempt to control different sections of the workers, but their primary purpose is the same — to channel the political grievances and allegiances behind the program of the capitalist class. Where they differ is tactics. The Democratic Party’s tactic will be to preserve and expand the unity of the Latinos and Blacks. The Republican Party’s tactic will be to break that unity by going after a sector of the Latino vote. The Republicans know that they don’t stand a chance with the Blacks so they won’t even try. Both parties will ground their efforts in the ethnic card and special interests.
Jobs and immigration reform are the two main issues that will be used to drive a wedge between Latinos and Blacks. The workers can’t live without jobs and the capitalists can’t deliver jobs with an economy based on electronic production. The workers’ goal is to have a good life with enough food, housing, health care and education to live that life. Jobs are the means to that goal.
Revolutionaries have to propagandize based on class. They have to anticipate and blunt the Republican party’s tactic to divide Latinos and Blacks based on their “own specific agendas.” There are enough misleaders in both camps of Latinos and Blacks who will attempt to break this unity.
Immigration, for example is a key issue for Latinos. Already, Democrats are offering immigration reform that will lead to citizenship for the millions of undocumented, while Republicans are also putting forth a kind of immigration reform. But in order not to be alienated from their constituency, Republicans are talking about piecemeal immigration reform that will lead only to legalization and not citizenship. Legalization and citizenship are two different things. Legalization can mean a work permit, bracero-type programs, and legal residency but not citizenship. The Republicans are also putting forward politicians they hope will appeal to Latinos on the basis of ethnicity. Marco Rubio, for example, is playing a central role in Republican immigration reform proposals and there is talk about him being the Republican Party presidential candidate in 2016.
Jobs and immigration reform are tightly wrapped around each other. It is jobs that drive immigration. The capitalist class, particularly the Republican Party, will take advantage of the competition for jobs to attack any effort for citizenship of the undocumented immigrant, and will propagandize the Black workers against the Latinos.
Vision of a New Society
How do we stop the class from fighting along national struggles? We have to stop the ruling class from setting up the political terrain. When the ruling class propaganda machine talks about ethnicity and special interests, revolutionary propagandists need to talk about class but without ignoring the historical oppression of these two groups. Here lies the art of politics. If revolutionaries do not do this then both groups will end up fighting each other for the crumbs dispensed by the capitalist class. Revolutionaries wage a fight for human rights and equality for everyone.
Revolutionaries have to propagandize for a different type of society, a cooperative society. We have to raise the issue of a new society where work does not have to mean the back-breaking labor and dangerous jobs of the past; a society where everyone can have what they need to lead a decent and cultured life. We have to talk about how with the political power to utilize the potential of the new technology workers can achieve their goal of a good life for themselves and their families.
Report of the LRNA Standing Committee, December 2012. March/April 2013. Vol23.Ed2
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The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011