May 1, 1976

In their scramble to the right,the major party candidates have virtually ignored the problems of racism and minority oppression which still plague American society. This near complete silence is no accident. The interests these candidates represent not only have no solution for the problems of racism, in many ways they don't want to see racism ended.

The divisive fragmentation of the U.S. working class, which contains groups of many races and national origins, is one of the strongest props of capitalism. As long as it continues to obscure the lines of class struggle, the policy of divide and rule will pay dividends to the small class that remains unchallenged.

There are a thousand ways the profit system keep workers fighting each other, competing for scraps. It keeps workers whose children go to bad schools fighting with workers whose schools are worse. It pits lowpaid workers against lower-paid workers, those with bad housing against those with terrible housing. In each case it is workers who suffer when they fight each other instead of the system that is their common enemy.

Eliminating racism will take much more than general appeals to good will or the passage of occasional civil rights legislation. Such approaches leave untouched the root causes of racial division. What's more, the recent depression has shown how extremely frail and illusory gains toward equality are under capitalism. The underlying forces of the profit system, which make poverty, urban decay and unemployment permanent problems, continually overwhelm patchwork efforts to improve the status of blacks, Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Native Americans and other minorities within the working class.

To fight racism effectively requires two things -- a clear exposure of the capitalist roots of racism and a classconscious unity of workers to oppose it. Only a classconscious position can cut through decades of racist propaganda and expose the inadequacies of reformist or separatist approaches to this fundamental problem. It is impossible to work for a socialist society without fighting against racial divisions among workers. But it is equally impossible to mount any really effective campaign against racism that is not at the same time a fight against its capitalist cause.