AFFIRMATIVE ACTION-or CLASS SOLIDARITY?
There are good people trapped on both sides of the affirmative action debate.
We think there is a way out of the trap which can unite working men and women of all races.
TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN
The liberal and conservative positions on affirmative action claim to be opposites. In fact they amount to the same bad idea.
Liberals support affirmative action, saying that it is important to make competition between the races and genders fair; by favoring one group over another now, liberals say, affirmative action makes up for past discrimination.
Conservatives oppose affirmative action, saying that, by favoring one group over another, affirmative action unfairly affects competition between individuals.
The liberal and conservative positions on affirmative action both favor the idea of competition. They share the view that society consists of groups and individuals all competing in a war against everyone else for jobs and other goods. Liberal and conservative both accept class inequality as permanent and competition among working people as good.
WHAT "GROUP" DO YOU BELONG TO?
The corporate and government elite always tell us to identify with one group against all others. "What group are you part of?" they ask. "Asian male?" "Black female?" "Angry white male?"
People care most about what they have in common, but the government stresses the differences. People know there has always been discrimination in job and other opportunities. Yet people also know that more discrimination, even in the name of "fairness," attacks people's natural inclinations to overcome differences and work together.
Affirmative action continues the game of pitting people against each other. It distorts what people mean by racial justice, which would require decent jobs for all. Instead the government promotes unemployment while it encourages competition among racial groups.
There is only one "group" that the powerful do not want us to identify with-the working class. The ruling elite know that they can keep groups based on race or gender fighting each other forever. The elite cannot control a united working class.
SCARCITY IS ARTIFICIAL
The elite force us to compete for scarce jobs and necessities like medical care.
But the scarcity of jobs and other goods is artificial. The US economy is more productive than ever. The corporate and government elite intentionally cut jobs and programs, while taking an even greater share of the wealth for themselves. While corporations lay off millions, the government gives them tax rebates to ship jobs overseas. The government cuts taxes on the rich, then slashes Medicare for workers, saying that there's no money to pay for it.
The goal of job and program cuts is to control people by making them feel insecure.
PART OF A LARGER BATTLE
The debate over affirmative action is part of a larger battle over the direction of society. Politicians may play roles as "liberals" or "conservatives," but they all have the same goal: to tighten elite control over working people. They promote competition in every way they can.
Most working people believe in equality and solidarity of all workers. We have been at a terrible disadvantage in this battle, however, because no working class leadership has firmly rejected both affirmative action and discrimination of all kinds in favor of solidarity of working people against elite rule.
SOLIDARITY: THE ANSWER TO DISCRIMINATION
Solidarity is the answer to discrimination. The real struggle for equality has always come from the solidarity of working people in their everyday lives. Let's continue and extend the fight:
Build bridges among people in your plant or neighborhood. Stand up if any of your brothers or sisters is treated unfairly. Fight against all layoffs. Slow down against speed-up. Refuse overtime, so businesses are forced to hire more workers. Support strikes and spread them. Fight for real equality: not the false equality of fighting each other for a handful of jobs, but a world where the wealth we create is ours.
Please copy this flyer and pass it on.
New Democracy works for democratic revolution. Call John Spritzler (617)566-9637. For free literature: New Democracy, P. O. Box 427, Boston, MA 02130, USA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org