OUR FIGHT

 

Progressive Labor Party (PLP) fights to destroy capitalism and the dictatorship of the capitalist class. We organize workers, soldiers and youth into a revolutionary movement for communism.

Only the dictatorship of the working class — communism — can provide a lasting solution to the disaster that is today’s world for billions of people. This cannot be done through electoral politics, but requires a revolutionary movement and a mass Red Army led by PLP.

Worldwide capitalism, in its relentless drive for profit, inevitably leads to war, fascism, poverty, disease, starvation and environmental destruction. The capitalist class, through its state power — governments, armies, police, schools and culture —  maintains a dictatorship over the world’s workers. The capitalist dictatorship supports, and is supported by, the anti-working-class ideologies of racism, sexism, nationalism, individualism and religion.

While the bosses and their mouthpieces claim “communism is dead,” capitalism is the real failure for billions worldwide. Capitalism returned to Russia and China because socialism retained many aspects of the profit system, like wages and privileges. Russia and China did not establish communism.

Communism means working collectively to build a worker-run society. We will abolish work for wages, money and profits. Everyone will share in society’s benefits and burdens. 

Communism means abolishing racism and the concept of “race.” Capitalism uses racism to super-exploit black, Latino, Asian and indigenous workers, and to divide the entire working class.

Communism means abolishing the special oppression of women — sexism — and divisive gender roles created by the class society.

Communism means abolishing nations and nationalism. One international working class, one world, one Party.

Communism means that the minds of millions of workers must become free from religion’s false promises, unscientific thinking and poisonous ideology. Communism will triumph when the masses of workers can use the science of dialectical materialism to understand, analyze and change the world to meet their needs and aspirations.

  Communism means the Party leads every aspect of society. For this to work, millions of workers — eventually everyone — must become communist organizers. Join Us!

 

 

 

 

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Friday
Aug112017

Students, Workers Win Fight to Change Racist School Name, Struggle Continues

FAIRFAX COUNTY, VIRGINIA, July 27—To thunderous applause from over 70 supporters in the room, the Fairfax County School Board (FCSB) voted 7-2 with two abstentions to change the name of J.E.B. Stuart High School, capping a campaign of over two years. The struggle was launched by a multiracial group of current Stuart students, the Students for Change, who declared in 2015 that having their school named for a Confederate general, with his image adorning some walls, was not acceptable.
The revolutionary communist Progressive Labor Party (PLP) salutes the brave antiracist student fighters of Fairfax County, Virginia! Workers and students throughout the nation are tearing down Confederate statues and renaming schools, and Fairfax County has joined this process! This struggle is an important victory that can add momentum to the antiracist struggles against Confederate monuments nationwide.
As in every struggle for reform under capitalism, there are limitations and challenges ahead, such as the opening left for the neo-Confederates. They have lost this round but are not out, as we shall see.
The U.S. Civil War
In 1861, southern U.S. states seceded and launched a war to create a purely slave-based nation. The U.S. government ultimately defeated the Confederacy after over 200,000 Black workers joined the Union Army, marching south with their white and immigrant comrades to liberate their sisters and brothers still enslaved.
J.E.B. Stuart, originally a U.S. Army officer, became a Confederate general to defend the slave system of Virginia and the rest of the South. He led raids into the North to capture Blacks in Pennsylvania and bring them back into slavery during the war. He was finally killed in the Battle of Yellow Tavern in 1864 by Union soldiers.
Naming the High School in 1958
Why would any school honor this racist slaver in the 20th Century? The Fairfax County School Board (FCSB) named the high school (originally designated “Munson Hill High School”) in his honor in 1958, during the period of massive resistance to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ordered the end of segregation in schools. The government of Virginia and FCSB members fought against the Brown ruling, refusing to allow Black children to attend formerly all-white schools.
In response to a racist citizens’ group objecting to the School Board even having a committee named “the Committee on Desegregation” in 1955, the Board quickly and unanimously changed the name to the Committee on Segregation. Robert Davis, School Board chair, said that the purpose of the committee was “…to equip ourselves with facts so that we can intelligently fight desegregation if we have to” (Washington Post, 9/21/1955). Despite successful lawsuits by Black parents, the School Board defiantly kept County schools almost entirely racially segregated until the mid-1960s, over ten years after the Brown decision.
Naming the school for a Confederate general was a logical action for a racist School Board, determined not to allow school integration. If putting a sign up blatantly saying “whites only” was now illegal, they had the next best thing with racist icon “J.E.B. Stuart” High School.
Two Years of Struggle
Today, the FCSB is made up of nine Democrats and 2 Republicans. Given the lip service that the Democratic Party pays to anti-racism, one might assume that the body would quickly agree to change the name of the school once students brought it to their attention. Students at the formerly all-white high school are today about 50 percent Latin, 24 percent white, 10 percent Black, 14 percent Asian, and 2 percent two or more races. The advocates for change had secured over 35,000 signatures on a petition to make the change. Even the Board’s very limited and biased poll of families in the area of the school showed that over 30 percent were offended by the name and wanted to see it changed.
But in the summer of 2016, after more than a year of struggle, the School Board member who supported the change was unable to get a majority in favor of the change. To buy some time, she secured agreement from the Board instead to form an “Ad Hoc Committee” of citizens to supposedly research the issue more fully and revisit the issue the following school year.
The Ad Hoc Committee was made up of those who favored the change. Those who opposed the change were called “Keepers” (also known as “racists”), and a few who initially were undecided. The high school students on the Ad Hoc Committee played a vital role in continuing the fight to change the name even in the face of some of the elite adults on the Committee (including the former Chief of Staff of the Republican Congressional Representative) who belittled them and spread lies about them as bullies in the school. The Ad Hoc Committee’s subcommittees ultimately submitted strong reports in favor of change, while the Keepers submitted their own reports opposing change.
Students Take The Lead
The Students for Change refused to back down. They continued to testify at School Board meetings (see CHALLENGE, 6/28) and organize other students to support the struggle. Meanwhile, parents and others who supported the students carried out media campaigns and lobbied school board members to take the right stand.
Finally, the night of July 27 arrived. Would the School Board reinforce the 1958 action and allow the racist name to stand?  Or would they vote to change it? Desperately trying to round up enough votes to pass the change, the school board member from the J.E.B. Stuart area agreed to a compromise that could prove fatal.
In addition to stating clearly that the name “J.E.B. Stuart” had to go, the resolution encouraged the community to adopt the name “Stuart” instead. No particular association with any historical figure was suggested. The stated purpose was to save money on changing sports uniforms since “Stuart” was already the only designation on them. On its face, this name would be absurd. Would each student decide which “Stuart” he/she liked? More dangerously, such a designation would preserve at some level the heritage of J.E.B. Stuart, and not represent a full rejection of racist Confederate values.
Our struggle continues today into a “community input” process for the new name. The Students for Change and their supporters insist that “Stuart” be completely eliminated, and that a more inspirational name be selected.
Students, PL’ers Fight Side By Side
A resolution to postpone the decision for many more months almost passed (5-6) before the motion to change the name came up for a vote, thanks to two school board Democrats, who then abstained on the main motion to change the school’s name! The Democrats were clearly worried about how their action might play out among their voters, while the two openly racist Republicans were happy to simply vote against the name change.
The working class cannot rely on such opportunistic politicians like the Democrats or open racist Republicans for any kind of leadership in the class struggle. It was only because of bold leadership  from students who refused to back down that the School Board finally agreed, however ambiguously, to change the name.
Our struggle continues. PLP members have been involved in this struggle for well over a year, working hard to win the name change while discussing with students to carry on the struggle against racism to communist revolution. Renaming a school from a known racist can be an important step to building working class consciousness and preparing for larger battles against capitalism, armed with communist ideas.
CHALLENGE is read by several students who are interested in our Party, and who want go beyond a name change for the school and change this entire racist capitalist system. We will continue sharpening this antiracist struggle and keep building a movement that can take our class all the way to communism!

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