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Building revolutionary consciousness

Published May 19, 2006 10:34 PM

Professor Tony Van Der Meer
WW photo

How do we build mass revolutionary consciousness among oppressed nationalities and working people in this nation? How do we get working people to become conscious of themselves as an exploited and oppressed class while also taking into consideration the deeper divisions that are centered on race and gender?

If white workers can’t see how institutional racism and cultural imperialism has created internalized white supremacy on their part, how can they see how racism -be it personal, systemic, covert or overt -not only dehumanizes non-whites, but divides the very class of people whose lives are smothered by the political, cultural and economic elite of this nation?

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While there are many different movements, the Black liberation movement, the undocumented worker movement and the antiwar movement are three that have greater potential for building the class solidarity critical in forging an anti-imperialist movement.

Hurricane Katrina has resurfaced the central issue of self determination and reparations for African Americans in perhaps the sharpest ways.

Katrina is not an isolated political act, it is an extreme example of a form of gentrification that is happening to African Americans and other oppressed nationalities throughout this country.

At the recent 2005 Millions More March, hundreds of thousands of African Americans participated in another historical gathering. The march raised strongly the quest of justice for Katrina survivors, had a strong anti-war presence and an internationalist perspective with a video broadcast of solidarity from Ricardo Alarcón, president of the Cuban People’s National Assembly, and Prime Minister Patterson of Jamaica.

The recent mass demonstrations in sup port of undocumented immigrant workers are a breath of fresh air. This development was centered more around the historical bases of the Chicano national movement fighting for self determination in the Southwest, which played a major role in this important political upsurge, than getting Democrats to replace Republicans in November.

As a result of the call for a national day of absence on the 50th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ arrest, Boston developed the Bos ton Rosa Parks Human Rights Day Com mittee. In many ways the committee is an example of “forging class solidarity; unity with the oppressed and overcoming fragmentation in the movement” [the title of the panel]. The BRPHRDC was an alliance of the Black liberation movement, labor and the anti-war movement connecting Katrina, immigration, violence, workers rights and jobs, healthcare and housing to the billions being spent on the Iraq war.

It is becoming clearer everyday that we need an anti-imperialist movement. However, we must recognize the racial, class, gender, cultural, political and ideological differences in order to build a common ground and develop a program that speaks for the oppressed and by the oppressed. The rank and file of the working class must be challenged and supported in opposing policies that are diametrically opposed to its own interests.

We must go door to door, school to school and shop to shop and develop a genuine relationship and dialog with the youth and working masses, employed and unemployed.

—Professor Tony Van Der Meer,
co-chair, Boston Rosa Parks Human Rights Day Committee