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March 27, 2006


Lao Hong Han

Davey D's on the spot reaction to the LA demo is one of the best things I've seen on the eruption against racist immigration laws. And that highlights a big fat problem that has come up on other threads here.

Bad enough that no one on the US left has had anything particularly bright--anything particular, period--to say about it (unless somebody is hiding their light under a bushel).

What’s worse--let’s face it—nobody saw this coming. Even after the trigger event, the order-of-magnitude 100,000 who hit the streets in Chicago on March 10, when the already aroused Spanish language media from Univision to the press and especially talk and news radio got on this 24-7 and laid the groundwork, the numbers and the determination of the masses last weekend were still as much of a surprise to most of us as they were to the white supremacist ruling class of this country.

This simply underlines how far we are from having organizations, or dast I say it, a party with deep ties in different sectors of the oppressed and exploited, capable of carrying out the mass line among them to help build and shape such struggles as this while they are still coming to a boil. I mean, hey, we’re not meteorologists, so we can take a Get Out Of Jail Free card on Katrina. On the other hand, to the extent we assert that we are using a science (or even a meta-science), MLM, with unparalleled analytical tools for understanding political, economic and social currents and contradictions in society, we kinda have our asses hanging out here.

Let me shift gears quick though, because the recent record shows that whether or not Red Flags needs another debate on epistemology, mass line and leadership, any thread is gonna wind up there soon enough anyhow.

In the meantime, there are two particular concerns it would be nice to see posters to this list address. (Hey, burningman, if this were threaded, it would make sense for me to dump each of these points in a separate post.)

First, what next? The ongoing uprising comes as a response to a particular frontal attack by Congressional Republicans in the broader post-9/11 immigrant-bashing context. It is, however, an offensive against oppression, not a defensive struggle to preserve rights under attack. That said, there is no evident central leadership to give tactical and political guidance in the coming weeks. As for self-identified reds, the Party of Socialism and Liberation (d/b/a International ANSWER) and ISO, have both, to their credit, managed to put themselves in the mix in LA, but I suspect neither has the troops or resources to play that role to more than a handful of the advanced who they have developed contact with.

The House has already passed a savage version of the Sensenbrenner Bill, and a Senate Committee has just delivered to the floor a proposed version with some of the most egregiously racist and nativist stuff pulled out and some candy-coating. Within a week or so, it will be voted up or down in the Senate and then, if they can pass something, face one of those closed door Senate-House reconciliation Committees. All this is going to happen pretty quick and there’ll be a lot of changes. What are progressive organizations based in Latina/o communities and particularly those organizing immigrants proposing? IF we can unite with it, what should the likes of us be doing?

Second, we’d better get braced for a longer wave of reactionary nativism, which will be centered among white folks, but also appeal to African Americans facing job competition and downward pressure on pay and living standards. With an increasing large majority in this country grasping that there is a direct link between the billions being flushed down the can in Iraq and their own problems, immigrants will provide a handy scapegoat for defenders of the regime and the system (the “Teenage Immigrant Welfare Mothers On Drugs” problem explicated by the Austin Lounge Lizards).

There will probably have to be some division of labor here. Folks working mainly in communities of color and among immigrants will be addressing the already serious divisions, based on capital-created conditions, which exist between and even within different nationalities.

Others of us will have to figure out a strategy to unite forces strong enough to neutralize or weaken white-supremacist and nativist currents among white workers. The trade unions? They will likely splinter on this, with the building trades veering toward a reactionary position and others uniting with some Democratic Party program that will be worse that the status quo and better than Sensenbrenner. The ideological and political stance most unions will likely take, though, is far better than it was 20 years ago, when the AFL-CIO was solidly nativist, and this may give us room to work. The churches? Many are already in the fray, proclaiming the immorality of targeting the weak and the needy. The liberal petty bourgeoisie? On a guess, a lot of ‘em will make their decisions based on what they think will lead to victory in the mid-term elections so keep your eyes on the liberal blogosphere.


I was in L.A. last Saturday for that incredible outpouring of humanity. The cliche about a sleeping giant awakening is actually the most accurate way to put it. The people who are supposed to work hard and be quiet, the people who are supposed to live in the shadows and never be seen (think about all those janitors cleaning at night when no one is in the buildings, the housecleaners that come when the rich folks are off at work, the cooks that work in the kitchen where the customers can't see them), these are the people who were defiantly out in the streets that day. And it is these people's children that have been walking out, spreading the word through text messaging and myspace. Is this a new civil rights movement, which can quickly become a new revolutionary movement? Or will it be demobilized, putting the giant back to sleep? Related to these questions is the question of why these reactionary attacks on immigrants are coming now. What is the necessity that the ruling class is facing? Why would they want to wake the giant up?

We know that there is the necessity of increasing the exploitation of immigrant labor. But there is also the necessity of a new social glue, a new American social consensus necessary for unending war and a fascist police state here. This is where the Christian right comes in. This is where the anti-islamic xenophobia, in the name of the war on terror, comes in. Are latino immigrants a liability to the forging of this new social consensus? Clearly Senssenbrenner and others think so. Undocumented immigrants are an uncontrolled population that is growing and coming to be a majority of the population in large areas of the Southwest, and have little loyalty/tie to this new american glue. The ruling class as a whole seems to have decided that this is dangerous, and they need to gain "control" of these immigrants -- yet, as we've seen, this has backfired!!! So the question still is, how great is their necessity, and will the ruling class continue pushing this? Will they advance the ultra-racist HR4437 and then settle for Bush's fascist "guest worker" program -- think retinal scans, ankle bracelets, and instant deportation if caught at a demonstration. Think about the "guest workers" rebuilding new orleans in toxic conditions at sub-minimum wages. Senssenbrenner and Bush's proposal are both aimed at "control" of immigrants, although senssenbrenners may actually come into contradiction with the first point of necessity, which is exploited labor. But clearly some believe that an overall reduction in the immigrant population, and a significant increase in racism and intolerance is necessary for this new social glue -- that the social glue must have a strongly white supremacist character. Bush is balancing neo-cons and christian fascists, free-market capitalists and nativist racists. How will these contradictions unfold?


If we look at the institutionalization of the black population, through a huge prison state and the "war on drugs" that never ends -- then mash that up with the illegalization of the Mexican workforce -- what we see is the criminalization of the proletariat.


That's what it is, with racism the glue that obscures the mechanics of it.

None of these bourgeois politicians is saying Mexicans have to leave: they want them downpressed and productive.

The question of how revolutionary forces are to be FULLY in the mix is out there. I don't know exactly, but we have to be.

Christopher Day

What this discussion is missing is how this explosion has put the question of legalization on the agenda. The Senate bill has a lot of fucked up shit in it, but it makes an important concession on legalization (admittedly on the 11-year plan). The apartheid nature of the status quo, the House bill AND the whole "guest worker" racket is being exposed. The liberal blogosphere, BTW, is profoundly divided and confused about all this with the dopey expediency of "we don't want to alienate (white) joe sixpack" doing battle with earnest liberal moral revulsion. So if people are looking for places to screw around online, its ripe for strategic interventions.

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