"The solid core of the united front the proletariat must build under its leadership is the revolutionary alliance of the class-conscious proletarian movement as a whole with the struggles of the Black, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Native American and other oppressed peoples against the common enemy—the imperialist system and bourgeois dictatorship.''
From the Programme of the RCP, USA
An important aspect of our strategy is what we have termed "the solid core" of the united front. What do we mean by this "solid core" and what is its relation to the broader United Front and to the leading role of the revolutionary class-conscious proletariat within that united front and in the overall revolutionary movement?
First, as a foundation and framework for discussing this question, it is worthwhile to give a brief and basic summary of our Party's analysis and line on the national question—and more particularly the Black national question—and its relation to the "class question," that is, the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat. This analysis and line has been put forward in our Programme in a basic way and expanded on and elaborated on in Cold Truth, Liberating Truth (CTLT).
As the Programme says, there are many different nationalities in the U.S., and each has its own particular features and problems that must be solved: the Native American peoples have a long history of lands being stolen and their cultures suppressed; the oppression of the Puerto Rican people within the U.S. is closely linked to the colonial status of their homeland, which must be freed; the Black people have a history of slavery and of the historical process of their formation as an oppressed nation in the Black Belt areas of the South; the Chicanos have the particular history of U.S. oppression of Mexico, the theft of its land and the maintaining of large parts of the Southwest as a backward area, and the continued persecution of "illegals." Here I am going to focus on the situation of Black people to better understand what we mean by the "solid core."
An Oppressed Nation Within the U.S.
A decisive point of our line is that Black people in the U.S. are not simply a "racial group" (or an "ethnic group") but are an oppressed nation. The historical development of Black people as an oppressed nation within the U.S. took place and was anchored in their common oppression in the "Black Belt" South. This southern "Black Belt" (called that because of the color of the soil) is the historic homeland of the African-American nation. Today the great majority of Black people in the U.S. have been dispersed from this historic homeland: most who remain in the South are now living in cities, some of which are outside of this historic "Black Belt" territory; and, millions have migrated to urban areas in the North. But still Black people remain an oppressed nation within the U.S., with their historic homeland in this "Black Belt" South.
African-Americans have undergone a distinct development as a people that is different from the experience and the development of the dominant (oppressor) European-American nation. It is not just a matter of the history of literal (or chattel) slavery (in which Black people were the actual property of the slaveowners). Even after the abolition of slavery, Black people were still concentrated on the plantations, subjected to serf-like oppression under semi-feudal conditions (sharecropping in particular). Black people were still chained to the land, through a combination of economic relations—in particular the patterns of land-ownership, with monopolization of the land by white plantation owners, many of them former slaveowners (or their descendants)—and extra-economic-superstructural oppression (outright terror as well as "Jim Crow" laws, etc.).
It was through all this that the Black people were welded into a nation, having the essential characteristics of a nation: common territory, common language, common economic life, common culture and psychological make-up. And, more particularly, it was actually during the period after the Civil War that Black people were firmly welded, in the furnace of basically feudal oppression, into one distinct nation, an oppressed nation, separate from and dominated by the oppressor, European-American nation. Not only the basic masses but all classes and strata of Black people are part of this oppressed nation. And, given this whole historical development, they cannot be assimilated into the dominant European-American nation in the same way that, for example, European immigrants to the U.S. have been. (This is also true—the fact that they cannot be assimilated into the dominant European nation—of Chicanos and large numbers of immigrants, from Latin America and other parts of the Third World, in the situation of the U.S. and its global empire today, although, unlike the African-American people, these immigrant groups do not form distinct nations within the U.S.)
At the same time, the Black (or African-American) nation exists in the same multinational state as other nations and nationalities in the U.S., in addition—and this is a most important, fundamental point—the masses of Black people are a part, a crucial part, of the single multinational proletariat within that state (the USA). There are not separate proletariats in the U.S.—a Black proletariat, a white or European proletariat, a Latino proletariat (or a Mexican, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, Nicaraguan proletariat), a Filipino proletariat, and so on, within the U.S. All proletarians in the U.S. are objectively part of one multinational proletariat, even while there are differences and inequalities within that proletariat—very pronounced and sharp ones.
This relates to the dual oppression of Black people—and other oppressed peoples—their oppression as part of an oppressed nation (or oppressed national minority) on the one hand, and their oppression and exploitation as part of the single multinational proletariat. And this dual oppression puts the masses of Black people, and of other oppressed nationalities, in a powerful strategic position in relation to the proletarian revolution. This is still true, as I've been emphasizing, despite the various "high tech" changes in the economy and in the class composition and configuration within the U.S. (See RW No. 885, 886 and 887). At the same time, Black people of all classes and strata, and not just proletarians, suffer oppression as part of an oppressed nation. Although this oppression affects different strata in different ways and to different degrees, there is a common experience and a common oppression as a people.
It is all this that provides the material basis for the "solid core." There are two separate contradictions here—there is national oppression and there's the oppression of the single multinational proletariat. Yet, while these are two separate contradictions—and they can't be merged together, "2-into-1"— they are both rooted in one fundamental contradiction and have one ultimate resolution, through the overthrow of capitalism and the continuation of the revolution to advance to communism together with the whole international proletariat.
As summarized in our Party's Programme, while there are differences between the African-American people as an oppressed nation and other oppressed nationalities within the U.S., there is at the same time much in common in terms of the experience of national oppression and its sharpest expressions: police brutality; segregation and discrimination, not only in housing and employment but in every other sphere of life, including in the suppression and mutilation of their cultures and languages. There are these crucial things in common in terms of their conditions and their demands and struggles, as well as the particularity of the right of self-determination for the African-American people as an actual oppressed nation.
All this—the dual oppression and the fact that there are two separate contradictions, national oppression and the oppression and exploitation of the single multinational proletariat, but at the same time these are rooted in one fundamental contradiction of capitalism and have one ultimate resolution through the thoroughgoing proletarian revolution—all this establishes what our Party refers to as the "thousand links" of the oppressed nationalities and their struggles against national oppression with the revolutionary movement of the multinational proletariat. A "thousand links" which unite these struggles objectively and in an overall sense and which lend great strength to the revolutionary cause of the proletariat.
Oppression Built into the System
Another way of expressing the strategic importance of the national question in U.S. society, and its "thousand links" with the proletarian revolutionary movement, is the fact that this oppression—of the African-American people, but also of other oppressed nationalities—is so thoroughly built into the foundation and structure of capitalist society in the U.S. and the whole structure of U.S. imperialist rule and domination in the world. It is so decisive and integral to the perpetuation of relative stability and strength in the "home base" of U.S. imperialism and to its worldwide empire, that the U.S. imperialists could not abolish and uproot this oppression and the whole structure of white supremacy even if they wanted to.
Along with the ways in which this oppression is profitable for them economically and serves their overall accumulation process—including by maintaining a section of people who not only can be super-exploited but whose position can be used (as these imperialists like to say) to "leverage down" the situation of the working masses overall and intensify the overall exploitation of the proletariat—besides all this, there is the basic and profound fact that, socially as well as politically, any attempt to really sever this national oppression from the fabric of U.S. society and reshape the society without this oppression would completely "unravel" and tear apart the whole social fabric as it now exists, as it has been historically developed under capitalist rule. Obviously, while we, representing the revolutionary proletariat, welcome this, the imperialist ruling class absolutely does not and can not.
Our fundamental point of orientation is to win the proletarian masses, of all nationalities, to a proletarian stand on this question—as on all other questions—in the broadest sense, guided by the most lofty and long-term objectives of our class. As set forth in the Programme and CTLT, our strategic objective is to win basic proletarian masses to the stand and program of their class, while at the same time recognizing the objective existence of national movements—including various class forces with contending lines and programs within these national movements—and the pivotal importance of forging a revolutionary alliance between these national movements and the struggle against national oppression, on the one hand, and the class-conscious revolutionary struggle of the proletariat on the other hand.
This means building on the "thousand links" between the struggle to uproot national oppression and the revolutionary objectives of the class-conscious proletariat—building on the profound objective fact that national oppression is built into the very foundation and the entire edifice, the whole structure, of capitalist-imperialist relations and can only be abolished through the overthrow and elimination of these relations—building on all of this without "reducing" the national question to the "class question," in narrow terms and, more fundamentally, without reducing the interests of the proletariat itself to narrow terms but instead grasping and acting on the all-encompassing, world-transforming nature of these interests.
The Proletarian Point of View
The point here, in philosophical terms, could be put this way: we have to divide one into two on the national question and the "class question"—as opposed to combining two into one. Marxism-Leninism-Maoism takes up everything—not just "class"—but it takes up everything from the position of, in accordance with the interests and outlook of, the proletariat and no other class. From the standpoint of the proletariat, and only from the standpoint of the proletariat, can you correctly and fully grasp the essence of these different contradictions, including national oppression, the oppression of women and so on. And only from this standpoint can you see how these contradictions are all rooted in the fundamental contradiction of capitalism and have their ultimate resolution through the overthrow of the capitalist system, and the resolution of its fundamental contradiction through the advance of the proletarian revolution.
Only with the outlook of the proletariat can you see all this in a sweeping way, without trying to reduce and "mush" it down to one mixed bag of a contradiction—which then can't lead to any kind of a consistently and thoroughly revolutionary struggle.
Here it's very important to bring out a point that Lenin stressed in opposition to certain Marxists of his time, including among the oppressed nationalities in particular, who were tending to liquidate the national question. Lenin brought out a most profound point having to do with the whole historical process of the transition from the bourgeois epoch to the epoch of world communism. He pointed out that our ultimate objective, and what we will achieve in advancing to communism, involves superseding and surpassing national divisions and, in fact, the very existence of nations altogether—this will come about through the struggle for and ultimately with the achievement of communism. But, at the same time, he stressed, this can only come about through a transition marked by the struggle to uphold the right of self-determination and achieve the liberation of oppressed nations.
The Solid Core
Returning specifically to the question of the "solid core" of the united front, we could use a provocative formulation to get at an essential point here: Even if there were no white proletarians in the U.S., or even if there are white proletarians but none of them could be won to the proletarian revolution—and this is definitely not the case, but even if it were the case—the solid core would still be a correct formulation, it would still be necessary to pay particular attention to forging this solid core as a pivotal part of the broader united front, under the leadership of the proletariat, in order to make revolution—to seize power and beyond that to transform society toward the goal of communism, worldwide.
Besides emphasizing the general importance of the solid core, the particular point that's being made here (with this provocative formulation) is that the solid core is not a way for people of color to unite with white people, or more specifically with "white workers"; nor, to put it "the other way around," is it a means, or a gimmick, for creating some kind of alliance between two entirely separate forces—the "working class," conceived of as essentially "white workers," and the oppressed nationalities, conceived of as one indistinguished group, or mass, without class distinctions among them.
The solid core is based on the existence of both the single multinational proletariat in the U.S., including the crucial role of proletarians from the oppressed nationalities within this single multinational proletariat, and the existence of distinct national movements—arising from and revolving around the contradiction of national oppression, though ultimately rooted in the fundamental contradiction of capitalism—national movements which have different class forces and interests represented and contending within them.
The solid core is a way of building most powerfully on those "thousand links" between the oppressed nationalities and their struggle against their oppression as peoples and the revolutionary movement of the multinational proletariat. The solid core is a means for approaching these separate but closely intertwined things in a way that gives full expression to their powerful thrust against the system and that leads them, in an overall unified way, toward their ultimate and fundamental resolution through the overthrow of capitalism and the socialist transformation of society. It is important to stress the words "ultimate and fundamental resolution," because it is only through the proletarian revolution—first of all the seizure of power but beyond that the thoroughgoing transformation of society and the whole world to achieve communism—that national oppression as well as all other kinds of oppression and exploitation can be finally abolished and uprooted. While, on the other hand, the struggle against national oppression has its own dynamic—it has its own particular contradiction that has to be resolved, within the overall motion and the ultimate resolution of the fundamental contradiction of capitalism and the bourgeois epoch.
As Mao pointed out in "On Contradiction," qualitatively different contradictions are resolved by qualitatively different means (national oppression is resolved by struggle for national liberation; class exploitation is resolved by the struggle against that class exploitation). But at the same time, in an overall process, with all its complexity, there is one fundamental contradiction; and in this case we're talking about the process of moving from the bourgeois epoch to the epoch of world communism, which has one fundamental contradiction, the fundamental contradiction of the bourgeois mode of production, between socialized production and private appropriation. And all these other contradictions that are part of this motion from one epoch to another, including national oppression, have their own distinct character, their own particularity, while at the same time they are fundamentally rooted in—and they are fundamentally part of the overall motion of—that process of moving to resolve the fundamental contradiction of capitalism by revolutionary means, to proceed forward from the bourgeois epoch to epoch of world communism.