UNITE WITH WORKERS, NOT RULING CLASS LIBERALS, TO BUILD MILITANT, MASS, COMMUNIST WORKER-STUDENT ALLIANCE NEEDED TO SMASH HARVARD’S BOSSES
Table of Contents:
On May 8, 2001, Harvard students ended a long, spirited sit-in protest demanding that the university pay its employees a living wage. Hundreds of workers, students, and faculty supported this action. Progressive Labor Party members played an active role in the campaign. Despite many political weaknesses, the sit-in has exposed an obscene inequity behind Harvard’s genteel facade. Harvard is sitting on an endowment of nearly $20 billion. The university paid Jack Meyer, the fund’s top manager, $45 million in 1998. A typical Harvard janitor, however, takes home barely $309 a week, not enough to feed his family.
Protest against low wages at Harvard should continue and grow. Our Party applauds the student’s desire to ally with workers. Such unity is crucial to our common aspirations for a decent life. However, it is important to recognize that neither Harvard nor the profit system it serves can ever be reformed in a lasting, meaningful way. Unfortunately, the Living Wage Coalition led by AFL-CIO president John Sweeney fosters just that illusion. The paltry raise it calls for will not end Harvard’s exploitation of its workers. In fact, they would remain wage slaves at several times their current salary. Sweeney’s job is to promote the falsehood that capitalists and workers are ultimately on the same side and that no alternative to capitalism exists. That’s why the Ford and Rockefeller foundations donate heavily to the Living Wage Coalition and why the New York Times has printed multiple op-ed pieces in praise of the Harvard protesters.
Harvard is far worse than an unfair employer. Funded by the owners of the nation’s biggest corporations, Harvard leads the academic establishment in providing the ideological underpinnings of U.S capitalism’s deadliest crimes. For centuries, research, theorizing and teaching carried on in Harvard’s ivy-clad halls has justified and enabled genocidal U.S. wars of imperialism abroad and racist assaults on workers at home.
In other words, Harvard’s arrogant contempt for the workers it employs is no aberration or mistake. Communists in the Progressive Labor Party make a class analysis of institutions. Harvard serves specific interests. It’s not neutral. It is the instrument of the class that holds state power. It can be nothing else. The interests of billionaire capitalists can never coincide with those of the working class. The Harvard campus workers should get as big a raise as they can. However, no pay hike can change Harvard’s character. The university’s long, murderous history proves the point.
Harvard bears a large measure of guilt for the killing of 3 million Vietnamese workers and 55,000 U.S. troops in the Vietnam War. As a key advisor to Kennedy and Johnson, Harvard Dean McGeorge Bundy insisted on building U.S. forces to over 500,000 and on escalating attacks on North Vietnam. Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington devised the "strategic hamlets" program, under which the U.S. set up concentration camps to imprison Vietnamese workers and peasants. Anyone not in them was considered an enemy, worthy of assassination by death squads like Bob Kerrey’s Navy Seal Unit. When it became clear that U.S. rulers were losing the war, former Harvard professor and Rockefeller protege Henry Kissinger improved the U.S’s bargaining position by orchestrating the infamous Christmas bombing of Hanoi. Napalm, the U.S.’s most barbaric weapon in the war, had been invented by Harvard chemist Louis Feiser who was assisted by Harvard president James Conant, an early apostle of the A-bomb.
The bloody tradition continues. In the past few years, Harvard has transformed its Kennedy School of Government from a refuge for washed-up liberal politicians into a major policy factory. It focuses on retaking the Middle East’s oilfields by force and on helping U.S. imperialism prevent the rise of Russian and Chinese rivals as threats to its world supremacy. Robert Zoellick, a research fellow at the Kennedy School and senior advisor to George W. Bush throughout his campaign, "proposed seizing control of parts of Iraq as a way of undermining President Saddam Hussein" (AP, 5/19/00). General Bernard Trainor uses his status as a Kennedy School fellow to broadcast his disappointment that "we didn’t beat up the Iraqi army enough [in the Gulf War]" (WBUR radio, 2/20/01).
The Rockefeller family and its allies (i.e., the Eastern Establishment) cemented their ties to Harvard in the 1930s. These owners of the Standard Oil companies were then consolidating their position as the dominant bloc of U.S. capital. To ensure that the economy and other key aspects of society would work in their interests, the Standard Oil heirs acquired Chase Manhattan and other big banks and made massive donations to major universities like Harvard. Standard Oil money actually transformed Harvard’s physical appearance in the 1930s, when Standard heir Edward Harkness plunked down $13 million to build the undergraduate residence houses. Harvard became a prime recipient for the philanthropy of the Rockefeller family and its various foundations.
But, however powerful, oil companies, banks, and universities were not enough. The Rockefellers and their allies in the Eastern Establishment had to employ military might against foreign rivals. At this time, their faction gained control of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the single most influential think-tank formulating U.S. foreign policy. Often working jointly with Harvard, the CFR has helped guide U.S. imperialism from World War II to Kosovo. David Rockefeller, a generous Harvard benefactor, long-time Harvard overseer and the CFR’s chairman emeritus, recently headed a CFR delegation to Havana to begin figuring out ways to put U.S. business investment back in now-capitalist Cuba.
If anything, the Rockefeller-Big Oil-CFR forces have only tightened their grip on Harvard, as the old Standard companies have reunited into Exxon Mobil and Chevron Texaco, and Chase has swallowed up its old nemesis J.P Morgan. Incoming Harvard president Larry Summers, when he was Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, praised these mergers as "Darwinian, with the fittest surviving." Of the seven members of the Harvard Corporation today, six, including Summers, belong to the CFR. The seventh, Robert Stone, is married to a Rockefeller. One member, James Houghton, sits on the boards of both Exxon and Chase J.P. Morgan. Another, Hanna Gray, was a Morgan director.
Another commuter from Cambridge to the war-rooms of Washington, Kennedy School professor Richard Falkenrath, has recently joined Bush’s National Security Council. A CFR member, Falkenrath’s research covers all the main threats to U.S. imperialism. He studies nuclear proliferation, Russia’s influence in Europe, Europe’s military readiness and the balance of power in the Persian Gulf. Falkenrath writes extensively about the growing possibility of massive terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. As the reports of the government’s Hart-Rudman Commission reveal, U.S. rulers fear such assaults in the near future but are also counting on them to mobilize the nation, Pearl Harbor-style, for a major war.
Oil looms large on the Pentagon’s radar screen and Harvard’s. The Kennedy School has begun a Caspian Studies Program, which "analyzes the geopolitics of the Caspian Basin border states as well as their strategic importance to the U.S." A consortium of companies led by Exxon Mobil and Chevron "makes the program possible." Harvard’s goal here is clearly to stem Russia’s growing influence in the oil-rich region. The current International Security, a joint MIT-Kennedy School publication, has a lead article focusing on "the assessment of China’s overall future military power compared with that of the United States." China is building a "blue water" navy to challenge the U.S. Navy’s control of increasingly strategic oil routes from the Persian Gulf to the Far East.
Through its hand-in-glove support of MassInc, a relatively new but highly influential think-tank, Harvard fosters racist police terror in Greater Boston. Needing tighter control of the urban working class, Boston’s bigger capitalists have employed MassInc to develop a fascistic "community policing" system. In it, churches and other community groups funnel information to the cops on "criminal activity" in their areas. The arrangement has reduced street arrests because it allows cops to haul off "criminals" directly from their homes and workplaces. Most of those jailed are young black and Latin workers suspected of petty, non-violent offenses.
In 1996, MassInc, which lists Harvard as a major sponsor - along with financial powerhouses Fleet, Fidelity, and State Street - issued a report demanding that "we build new jails and fill them." Community policing and merciless sentencing laws, it said, would bring "safer neighborhoods." State and local officials quickly got with the program. By 1999, MassInc was gleefully reporting that prison construction was booming and conviction rates more than doubling.
Harvard’s complicity in this shift towards fascism runs deep. MassInc’s founder and chairman Chris Gabrieli is both an advisor to Harvard’s Board of Overseers and a director of its school of Public Health. MassInc counts no fewer than six Harvard faculty members among its directors and advisors. Some of these, like Business School professors Michael Porter and Rosabeth Kanter, also advise giants of U.S. imperialism such as GM and IBM.
Another, Ira Jackson of the Kennedy School, personifies the union of Harvard, the banks, and racist cop terror. While pursuing his master’s at the Kennedy School in the mid-1970s, Jackson served as a top advisor to Boston’s Mayor Kevin White. At the time, racist politicians and thugs used school desegregation as an excuse for a flood of assaults on black workers and their children. Counseled by Jackson, White punished the victims of racist violence, ordering his cops to protect the racists and attack their opponents - especially our Party and its allies in the Committee Against Racism. Harvard made Jackson a dean at the Kennedy School as soon as he left White’s employ. After a decade at Harvard, Jackson worked as an executive of BankBoston for 12 years, directing its notoriously racist community lending. Now Jackson is back at Harvard, and helping to guide MassInc’s war on workers.
Greater Boston is just a laboratory for a much wider design. Harvard plays a leading role both in developing fascistic community policing ideologically and in implementing it in cities across the nation. Harvard has bestowed upon George Kelling, community policing’s chief theoretician (now at Rutgers), the title of research fellow, as well as invaluable assistance in research and publishing. William Bratton, community policing’s best known practitioner, was also rewarded with a Kennedy School fellowship after his reign of terror as New York’s police commissioner. Bratton criminalized poverty. Under him, panhandling or failing to pay a subway fare became grounds for incarceration. Under the pretext of reducing petty crime, the Harvard/Bratton vision of "community policing" has turned growing numbers of working class neighborhoods into occupied territories, in which it’s a felony to be poor and non-white.
Harvard’s contempt for campus workers reflects its history of furnishing ammunition to generations of "Master Race" ideologues in the service of big capital. One of the earliest, a "Teutonist" named Prescott Hall, along with a Harvard climatology professor named Robert DeCourcy Ward, co-founded the Immigration Restriction League.
Official Harvard jumped on this racist bandwagon. Vice-presidents of the First International Congress of Eugenics, held in London in 1912, included Charles Eliot, Harvard president - emeritus, and Charles Davenport, a Harvard biologist who became director of the Eugenics Record Office (ERO) in Cold Spring Harbor, NY.
Under Davenport, the ERO practiced murderous social Darwinism. In addition to justifying U.S. government policies that both limited immigration and called for terror against immigrants residing in the United States, Davenport’s ERO found convenient "hereditary" explanations for various diseases of poverty. Pellagra was the deadliest example. Pellagra can be cured with a vitamin-rich diet. Denying evidence, Davenport and the ERO said the disease was caused by genetic factors affecting poor people of "inferior stock." This lie allowed the US government to justify denying food supplement programs to farm workers in areas with high pellagra incidences. Millions of pellagra-related deaths in the United States during the first third of the 20th century can thus be directly charged to Davenport, the ERO and the Harvard laboratories that helped spawn them. The ERO also played an important role in forcing thousands of U.S. workers to undergo thousands of sterilization procedures during the 1920s and 1930s.
All this was a mere warm-up. Harvard’s racist eugenical theorizing really came into its own with the rise of Adolf Hitler. The connection between U.S. and Nazi eugenics has been well documented. Harvard students, faculty, and workers would be well advised to read Allan Chase’s The Legacy of Malthus and Stefan Kühl’s The Nazi Connection to learn more about it. One example will suffice here. The inventor of the modern phrase "under-man" (meaning genetically inferior races) was no German, but Harvard’s own Lothrop Stoddard, holder of a Harvard history Ph.D. and Law School degree, and author of The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace of the Under-Man. This racist babble was applauded by President Harding and used in the drive to limit integration. The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s also picked it up and celebrated it.
So did Hitler and Co. The Führer told Stoddard’s sidekick, Madison Grant (a Yale product), that Grant’s book The Passing of the Great Race, had become his "bible." Stoddard’s ravings were particularly prized by Hans F. K. Günther, Hitler’s chief "raceologist." The Nazis freely acknowledged that Stoddard’s views on forced sterilization had inspired them to write the Nüremberg race laws. Stoddard attended a Nazi Eugenics Court as an honored guest - and proceeded to criticize it for showing excessive mercy in refusing to order the immediate sterilization of a seventeen year-old girl (Chase, p. 351)!
For a few years following World War II, revelations of Nazi mass murders cramped the public style of Harvard eugenicists. By 1969, however, they had returned to a place of favor. The winter 1969 Harvard Review of Education published an article by Stanford educational psychologist Arthur Jensen which is entitled "How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?"
Jensen explained that IQ was inherited, that black people had fewer "intelligence genes" than whites, and that therefore spending money on compensatory education programs was pointless. This new version of the old Big Lie helped Nixon slash education budgets. It also sugar-coated the viciously racist police terror that big city mayors were unleashing at the time against rebellious black workers.
Jensenism found many enthusiastic advocates at Harvard. One was Daniel Moynihan, a former Harvard professor, who had made a name for himself by explaining that the main problem in black working class neighborhoods was the "matriarchal structure" of black families. Moynihan also "discovered" that poverty was no longer a serious problem in the United States and that the government’s best attitude toward it was one of "benign neglect." Moynihan approvingly stated that the "winds of Jensen were gusting through the capital with gale force." For this racism, he was rewarded by the bosses with a lustrous political career, which culminated in a New York Senate seat.
Hot on the heels of Jensen and Moynihan came Richard Herrnstein, Harvard Psychology chair, who announced in the Atlantic Monthly (1971) that America was a "meritocracy" in which socioeconomic status varied directly with genetically inherited intelligence. Herrnstein wrote a series of books to develop this drivel. The last was The Bell Curve, co-authored with Harvard’s Charles Murray in 1995, which also argued the racist lie that black people were genetically less intelligent than whites. Another was a collaboration with police-ologist James Q. Wilson which is entitled Crime and Human Nature. Herrnstein’s collected works have not only played an instrumental role in helping various presidencies justify drastic cuts in social services, they have also provided the theoretical underpinning for contemporary policing and prison policies that view crime as a genetic trait. The brutal, racist "Violence Initiative," backed by several presidential administrations and sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health, owes a large debt to Herrnstein.
No survey of modern Harvard racism would be complete without mentioning the contributions of the late Edward Banfield, Harvard government professor and author of The Unheavenly City. This is pure Social Darwinism. Banfield called for repealing the minimum wage, as well as for reducing the age of compulsory schooling. The reason, according to the learned professor, is: "The lower-class individual…does not care how dirty or dilapidated his housing is…Features that make the slum repellent to others actually please him. He finds it satisfying in several ways."
This racist, anti-worker nonsense got Banfield a slot as advisor to several presidential administrations. Most significantly, Banfield’s policy recommendations paved the way for the Clinton White House’s "welfare reform, known as workfare," a fascistic policy that forces former welfare recipients to work for slave labor wages. New Harvard president Lawrence Summers was a Clinton Treasury Secretary intimately involved in moving Banfield’s welfare theories from theory into practice.
In addition to Herrnstein and Banfield, Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson provided Clinton with useful ideological justifications for the abolition of welfare. Wilson was an influential advisor to Clinton. As an author of four influential books, including The Declining Significance of Race, and advisor to key politicians, Wilson has made the racist term "underclass" popular, legitimized liberal racism and justified the abolition of welfare, affirmative action and other "racially targeted programs." Wilson described welfare as an example of a racially targeted program that could not command popular support. He urged welfare reform and workfare as a means to rehabilitate the "underclass" by instilling in them a work ethic and other middle class values. Often misinterpreted as a Marxist because of his emphasis on class, not race, Wilson in fact is a black reincarnation of Daniel Patrick Moynihan who prescribes capitalist super-exploitation of low wage workers (i.e., racism) as the cure for ghetto related behavior.
Wilson wrote about the "Living Wage Campaign" in his most recent book, The Bridge Over the Racial Divide: Rising Inequality and Coalition Politics. On pp. 83-85, Wilson described the LWC as "an excellent example of what can happen when local leaders are able to forge coalitions to rally behind an issue that concerns all races, in this case economic justice." Wilson’s argument is that fighting racism is divisive. He claims "race-specific" or "racially targeted" demands or campaigns cannot create a basis for progressive multi-racial coalitions. Demanding a "living wage" for all workers is a good example of a campaign that particularly benefits minority workers yet makes a "universalistic" appeal.
Contrary to Wilson’s lies, the capitalist class needs racism. From racist discrimination in hiring, to racial profiling, to racist police murder, to disproportionate sentencing laws, to attacks on affirmative action, the ruling class continues to push racism. Workers of color receive the most vicious treatment under racism, and the ruling class reaps enormous profits from their super-exploitation (e.g., lower wages on average than white workers). However, racism is the bosses’ most potent and valuable ideological weapon for dividing workers. Because the systematic division of workers and students by race and nationality keeps us easily divided and exploited, all workers and students are hurt by racism. Wilson spreads the lie that racism is not a serious problem and should not be fought. However, all workers and students have an absolute need to fight to eliminate racism.
Wilson helps U.S. imperialism by advocating a multiracial reform coalition under the leadership of Democratic politicians and the sectors of the capitalist class who control the Democratic Party (i.e., the Eastern Establishment). If college students, faculty and workers enlist in the coalition Wilson advocates, they will be helping Democratic politicians and labor union leaders maintain racist wage slavery and build support for fascism and imperialist war.
This brief, incomplete overview of racist Harvard theorists ends with the most dangerous modern version, Professor Emeritus of Biology E.O. Wilson. Wilson’s Sociobiology hit the bookstores in 1975. In Sociobiology, he revived the social Darwinian view that all human social behavior is genetically determined. Having made a living as an entomologist, Wilson applied his notions about ants to his right wing view of society. All social organization, he opined, had a biological basis. Therefore, one could find a gene for everything from "creativity" to "entrepreneurship" to "territoriality." The media went wild. Wilson became a star. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his vulgarized version of Sociobiology, entitled On Human Nature. The open racists, including the anti-busing thugs who were being allowed to run amok in Boston in 1975 - and who were stopped only by our Party - claimed Wilson as one of their own, as did the Klu Klux Klan. But his most dangerous application was, and remains, the use made of his garbage by the ruling class and its successive governments. Change a word or two, and this is "Master Race" and "Under-Man" all over again. Wilson isn’t sitting on his poisonous laurels. He has updated Sociobiology and given it a new name: "consilience."
The unifying concept of "consilience" is human nature. According to Wilson, human nature "is the_hereditary regularities of mental development that bias cultural evolution in one direction_and thus connect the genes to culture." Therefore, in all human societies we favor our own family, ethnic and religious group, impose male dominance, create hierarchies of status, rank, and wealth and rules for inheritance, promote the territorial expansion and defense of our society, and enter into contractual agreements. Recycling the main ideological assertions of Sociobiology, Wilson claims that racism, religious hatred, sexism, and war are not inevitable features of capitalism, but universal traits of our genetically evolved human nature. The natural sciences, Wilson claims, have discovered these truths, and the social sciences and the humanities must adopt them in order to achieve "consilience."
The rulers have lovingly embraced "consilience." As our Party’s newspaper, CHALLENGE-DESAFIO, reported this past spring, Rockefeller University has widely promoted it. Wilson has dined with the CEO of American Express, the President of Texas Tech and Steven Rockefeller, to plan a national promotional campaign on college campuses. If the bosses have their way, "consilience" will be the curriculum of the future, and once again, Harvard is at the center of the racist stench.
According to this racist mythology, the criminalization of unemployment is justified, because "crime is in the genes," and therefore the U.S. government is right to keep building jails to house the world’s largest prison population. If "territoriality" is in the genes, then US imperialist foreign policy has a biological basis. If social hierarchy is in the genes, then trying to eliminate capitalism’s inequalities is pointless. In this "survival of the fittest" world according to Harvard’s Wilson, it’s even bad to demand that Harvard pay its workers a living wage, because they’re earning the wage their genes deserve. In recent years, thanks to Wilson and others, the capitalists have worked, with some success, to get workers, students, and professionals to believe that the causes for poverty, mental illness, alcoholism, violence - in other words, the worst of the problems caused by the profit system - are genetic.
Racist and fascist theories and statements put forth by Harvard professors lend credibility to U.S. government policies of racist police terror and mass incarceration of mostly black and Latin workers. Blaming youth for the problems of the racist education system, and drugging them as punishment, has become standard policy. In order to get away with the massive attacks that they have launched against workers, students, and professionals, the bosses have needed to win people to believe these ideas. They serve to keep people divided and passive in the face of fascism.
As one of U.S. capitalism’s major universities, Harvard will continue to spew forth racist ideology and policy blueprints. It can never change its character as an instrument for the super-profit of billionaires. The administration’s anti-worker arrogance in the present struggle accurately reflects the university’s essence.
Defeating Harvard requires an understanding of its class role in society. Harvard can’t be reformed, any more than Exxon can stop trying to corner cheap oil supplies. The fight to destroy racist ideas, racist policy, fascism and imperialist war must have the long-range goal of destroying the profit system. Only communist revolution can do this.
Harvard students have taken an important step in attempting to forge unity with workers. However, unity around a reform line and under the leadership of John Sweeney & Co. is a dead-end. Despite minor tactical differences, Sweeney serves the same liberal imperialists who need the Kennedy School, community policing and the racist ravings of Herrnstein, Banfield and the sociobiologists. Like John Sweeney, Ted Kennedy, Robert Reich and John Kerry serve the eastern establishment capitalists who need loyal, pro-U.S. workers and students. They preach support for workers’ rights in order to win students and workers to support U.S. imperialism and its wars such as in Iraq.
U.S. rulers are preparing to militarize society and to launch a series of escalating wars in defense of their increasingly shaky empire. The period ahead will see growing opportunity for struggles like the fight to win higher pay for Harvard campus workers. The litmus test for victory in these struggles is not the immediate reform demand. We are all for the highest wage hike possible for Harvard workers, and we will continue to help fight for it. However, the real test of victory is the growth of the only movement that can eventually end wage slavery and the racism that justifies it.
That movement is the revolutionary communist movement, and its organizational expression is the Progressive Labor Party. We urge Harvard campus workers, the students who support them and pro-working class faculty, to read our newspaper, CHALLENGE-DESAFIO, contact our organization and consider joining PLP and taking the long, hard but necessary road to communist revolution.
The PLP has a long history of leading militant struggle at Harvard. In the 1960s, we played a key role in organizing actions and campaigns against aspects of the university’s support for U.S. imperialism’s war in Vietnam. We led the 1969 University Hall sit-in against Harvard’s racist expansion into Cambridge and support for ROTC, an action which culminated in a campus-wide strike that closed Harvard for the spring term. In the 1970s, our members actively organized against Herrnstein and other Harvard academic racists. We also developed several militant campaigns to unite students and campus workers. Harvard continues to fulfill its mission of aiding U.S. rulers in their drive to maintain world supremacy. Our Party will continue to organize workers and students to fight against Harvard’s racism and service to imperialism.