Header image 

International Communist Workers Party

line decor
   To Contact ICWP, send an email to: icwp@anonymousspeech.com           
line decor


About ICWP

Red Flag newspaper

Article Series from Red Flag

Communist Dialectics


20th-Century Communists Fought Racism – 21st-Century Communists Will End It


“If the proletariat is to achieve victory, all the workers, irrespective of nationality, must be united,” wrote Stalin in 1904.

The Bolshevik party  fought racism on a class basis.  It developed members of “national minorities” as leaders.  It fought hard against racist police terror.  It pushed white communists in the US and elsewhere to fight harder against racism.  Black workers and intellectuals from the US happily visited the Soviet Union in the 1930s and some settled there.
But it mistakenly framed racism as a “proletarian national question.”  This sabotaged working-class internationalism.  It led to reformism, demanding political and cultural rights instead of exposing the material basis of racism in capitalism.  Communist leaders could not see that the socialist society they built couldn’t end the racism they hated.

Workers’ Internationalism versus “Proletarian Nationalism”
Bolsheviks argued against “Federalists” who wanted to build separate “national” parties within the Russian empire.  Stalin correctly predicted that, if adopted, “friends will be taken for enemies, enemies for friends—confusion will ensue, and the class consciousness of the proletariat of all Russia will wane.”
But they made just this mistake after taking power.  Their Comintern was just such a federation.  Their foreign policy led them to support nationalist rulers in countries like Iran even when those rulers were slaughtering communists.
In contrast, the International Communist Workers’ Party was founded as an international party. 
Stalin saw that capitalists in his native Georgia used nationalism to get Georgian workers to support them against the Russian rulers.  Once in power, however, the Bolsheviks acted on their line that “only the nationalities themselves have the right to abolish or develop this or that aspect of their national culture.” 
Semi-feudal regions like Tajikistan had few industrial workers and fewer communists.  The “nationalities themselves” allowed feudal rulers to exercise power.  “National culture” meant continuing the extreme oppression of women and other practices that undermined efforts to build socialism, let alone communism.

Communist Revolution versus Civil Rights
Bolsheviks fought for “civil equality of the nationalities in Russia,” for “freedom of language” and against the suppression of non-Russian cultures.  They opposed the Russian rulers’ land-grabs on the borders of their empire.  But they practically ignored racist super-exploitation of workers. 
Bolsheviks understood that Russian capitalists needed racism to divide the working class, but they didn’t generalize this to all of capitalism.  Capitalist competition forces bosses to find or create some section of the working class to super-exploit, driving wages down for all workers.  Racist terror enforces this super-exploitation and creates a material basis for “divide-and-conquer” politics. 
The focus on “civil equality” was reformist.  Socialism carried out anti-racist reforms, but it did not attack racism at its root. 
Chinese communists followed the Soviets, treating racism as a “national question.”  They struggled to reduce inequities between super-exploited ethnic minority workers and majority Han workers.  But their strategy was to organize non-Han workers into 55 officially-recognized minority “nationalities” within “autonomous” areas that were actually multi-ethnic. 

Communism Will End Racism
Communism will erase national borders.  The communist fight against racism must become the jackhammer that smashes the walls of segregation the rulers have erected to divide us.
Communism fights for workers to recognize our common needs and interests.  We will organize all of society around production for need, not for a market.  This will make it possible finally to defeat capitalism-imperialism’s racist ideology. 
Socialism in both China and the Soviet Union was essentially a capitalist wage-based money economy.  The socialist principle “equal pay for equal work” did not mean a “common standard of living.”  Even “equal wages for all” would have left worse off those historically disadvantaged by racism.
The wage system (even in socialism) fosters individualism, contradicting workers’ need for class solidarity and opening the door to racism. 
In communism there will be no profits and no competition for markets, and therefore no material basis for racist super-exploitation. In a society without money, life itself will reinforce the communist anti-racist consciousness we fight for.
The ideological struggle against racism will escalate as we fight to build communism. Masses of workers, soldiers and youth will mobilize against class enemies who try to use racism against us. 
By mobilizing the masses for communism today we begin to smash racist divisions.  We seek and build leadership from amongst the super-exploited and super-oppressed.  We must win all workers to respect this leadership. 
The victory of communism will create the material basis for ending racism forever.

Next Article