How to not build unity

Bronx, New York, Oct. 15. SLL photo: Melinda Butterfield

The U.S. has ramped up its push towards World War III with further provocations against China and Russia. Not only has Washington admitted to and committed to adding more troops outside of Kiev – to engage more closely with the Russian troops in Ukraine – but this year’s National Defense Strategy document basically declares war on China in particular. The reasoning is simply that China is a “competitor” of the U.S. economically and in terms of military readiness, even though currently China has not declared war on anyone or participated in any proxy war against anyone – China belongs to no military alliance threatening anyone. 

Because of Washington’s escalations, it is absolutely critical that the anti-war, union, social justice, and liberation movements build even greater unity. We must organize to stop not only the U.S.-NATO trajectory of world war but the added danger of the rebuilding of fascist movements here and in Europe. Neo-Nazi groupings are being funded with billions of U.S. dollars in weapons and training in Ukraine.

Vladimir Lenin led the 1917 Bolshevik revolution in Russia, which led to the formation of the Soviet Union. In facilitating the formation and cohesion of the Soviet Union, he was forced to grapple with the reality of disunity, stemming from a lack of trust among the non-Russian populations in much of the Soviet Union. He realized that the privileges given to and the racism used by the white Russian population caused a lack of trust among the non-Russian communities and territories. Indeed, Czarist Russia had been called the prison house of nations. 

Lenin understood that to build unity, trust had to be built first. The formerly oppressed nations would not necessarily believe in the benefits of socialism or of becoming part of a country building socialism. Lenin could have lectured these nations about the benefits of socialism and demanded that their areas be incorporated into the Soviet Union. Instead, he advocated that people living in these areas be given the choice to become part of the Soviet Union, or enter as autonomous regions of the Soviet Union, where they would be encouraged to continue their own culture and language. They were to be provided with schools and medical facilities and all the benefits of the state, in hopes that this would first build trust and unity and thereby facilitate further incorporation into the Soviet Union. 

The Congress of Nationalities

The Soviets even established a Congress of Nationalities as a part of parliament. It was set up to ensure that the oppressed nations had a voice, equal in power to that of the Russian population. 

The successful unity that was built in most of the life of the Soviet Union has been a model for building solidarity in working-class movements around the globe.

As we endeavor to rebuild the unity of our class here in this country, we must remember 

that trust built with the most oppressed communities of color in the U.S. is absolutely essential – and mandatory – if any progress toward real unity is to be made.

However, there has been another current in the anti-war movement negating these truths. This current mistakes the necessary unity amongst working people and their allies with a unity that includes even the most racist sectors of the ruling class.

It’s very interesting that those in the anti-war movement who see promise in the right-wing forces like Trump and Tucker Carlson of Fox News and the Republicans, Libertarians, and LaRouchites do not seem to be from the oppressed communities of color.

No collaboration with white supremacists

There’s an obvious reason for this. Black and Brown people (in general) have no interest in any collaboration with people who want to commit genocide against them. 

They don’t want to associate with the Ku Klux Klan and any of the many manifestations of white supremacist groups like that, whether it be the Rise Above Movement responsible for the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, North Carolina, that killed anti-racist activist Heather Heyer, or the Proud Boys with their collaborator Kyle Rittenhouse who terrorized and killed anti-racist activists attending a march for Black lives in Wisconsin; or anyone who supports the genocide against Black and Brown people by former president Donald Trump. 

Before, during and after his presidency, Trump encouraged the genocidal murders against Black and Brown people by the police and Border Patrol. This is the person who called the countries of our ethnic origin s**thole countries and made immigration policies that corresponded with his racism while encouraging dangerous white supremacists who had killed or assaulted people in Charlottesville, North Carolina, as “some good people.” There’s more to say about Trump and his followers, but that is enough to get the point across – and that is this:

If the anti-war movement wants to build the necessary unity to combat this trajectory of World War III by the Biden administration or whoever gets in office next – don’t ask Black and Brown people to “just get over it,” or “move on” or any number of ways to negate the type of solidarity Lenin understood in unifying that prison house of nations. Speaking of another prison house of nations with the largest prison population in the world, the other thing Trump encouraged was putting more Black people in jail, from his calling for the death of the Central Park Five, framed for an attack they did not commit, to encouraging the prison-industrial-complex and its disproportionate makeup of Black and Brown people, following the lead of Joe Biden who helped write some of the bills making that possible.

Instead of building unity, that negation of solidarity will destroy it. 

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