First Published: The Call, Vol. 6, No. 20, May 23, 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
The historical experience of the working class movement has taught us that it is necessary to combat the enemies within our ranks as well as those outside. In summing up this experience, J.V. Stalin pointed out that “the fundamental strategic rule of Leninism” is the recognition that the “main blow” must be struck against the compromising parties, who are the most dangerous social prop of the enemies of revolution.
History shows that unless we isolate these opportunist misleaders of the working class and win the broad masses of working people away from their influence, it is impossible to defeat our main enemy, the U.S. capitalist ruling class.
Examples can be drawn from the Russian Revolution, where Lenin and the Bolsheviks prepared for the October uprising by combating the influences of the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries who were petty bourgeois opportunist leaders within the working class organizations. These opportunists used their influence among the Russian people to prop up imperialism and defend the imperialist war as well as support the capitalist government in power. It was only after the Bolsheviks were able to win away the majority of the workers in the Soviets that the October Revolution could be successfully carried through.
As the Draft Program of the CP(M-L) points out, we too have enemies within the ranks of the working class movement. Our Program targets the revisionists and the trade union misleaders as the main defenders of the capitalist system within the working class and directs its main blow at these traitors.
In order to channel the powerful workers’ movement away from revolutionary struggle, the U.S. imperialists have used their superprofits which, as Lenin explained, are “derived from the plunder of colonies and oppressed nations throughout the world .. .to bribe a small upper stratum of the working class.”
This bribed stratum, the labor aristocracy, is composed in part of the full-time bureaucrats who control the trade unions today as well as the highly paid, privileged workers–mainly the white skilled workers in the unions. The Program states that “the world outlook of the labor aristocracy is thoroughly bourgeois” and their mode of life “is divorced from that of the majority of the workers.”
This aristocracy therefore is the social base of reformism and revisionism in the workers’ movement and at present exercises the strongest influence over the millions of U.S. workers.
This trade union leadership peddles the ideology of reformism and includes liberals such as Sadlowski as well as the old line leadership such as Meany. The only difference between the Meany-type and the Sadlowski-type of reformism is that Sadlowski’s brand comes under a more “militant” cover in order to capitalize on the growing discontent of the rank and file.
As the Program points out, the reactionary bureaucrats are “spokesmen for imperialist aggression, chauvinism, and class collaboration.” While claiming to be on the side of the working class, they promote trade unionism, which limits the struggle of the working class to economic questions while leaving the capitalist system intact. As George Meany, head of the AFL-CIO put it, “We have no quarrel with this system...the only thing on which we disagree with the capitalists is, how much do we get?” Furthermore, the union misleaders work hand-in-hand with the bosses to sell out every struggle of the workers for better working conditions and higher wages.
The labor aristocrats are also the main promoters of white chauvinism in the working class, dividing workers of different nationalities and greatly weakening the labor movement. The Program correctly states that “the labor lieutenants have historically excluded oppressed nationalities from the trade unions and aided the capitalists in keeping minorities in the lowest paying and most dangerous jobs.” The recent teachers’ strike in Milwaukee, where Black teachers refused to support the strike because the union leadership would not take up any demands against discrimination, is a blatant example of how the racist bureaucrats sow divisions.
In support of U.S. imperialism’s aggression abroad, the AFL-CIO annually spends millions of dollars in other countries, working closely with the CIA to split the working class struggles and defend the interests of the multi-national corporations. The AFL-CIO leadership supported the escalation of U.S. imperialism’s war in Vietnam, and Zionist expansion in the Middle East. They join in the attacks on third world countries and against immigrant workers whom they claim are the source of the crisis in this country. Furthermore, they willingly go along with the imperialist war preparations and are quite willing to lead the workers into another world war for their bosses.
Standing alongside these trade union bureaucrats, the revisionists of the Communist Party (CPUSA) promote reformism cloaked in the guise of phony “socialism.” Based in the labor aristocracy and the petty bourgeoisie, these counterrevolutionaries act as a “fifth column” for the Soviet Union. As the Program points out, “their goal is to turn the trade unions into social-fascist organizations, defenders of Soviet social-imperialism.” While not as influential today as the reformist bureaucrats, the revisionists are a greater danger as the working class grows more experienced and more revolutionary-minded.
Today, these imperialist agents are whipping up support for “detente” in the trade unions under the slogan “Detente Means Jobs,” trying to cover over the increasing aggression and intensified war preparations of the Soviet Union. Also, in order to gain leadership in the union structure, the revisionists pursue a tactical line of uniting with liberal trade union reformists like Sadlowski and Eraser of the UAW, hoping to ride to power on the basis of rank-and-file discontent with the old-line bureaucrats.
“Directing the main blow” at the revisionists and reformist trade union bureaucrats does not mean backing away from the struggle against the bosses themselves. On the contrary, it is the only way the bosses’ tricks can be defeated and their agents isolated.
Opportunists like the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) deliberately blur the distinction between the main compromisers, who are the object of the main blow, and the main enemy. They accuse us of “leaving the U.S. ruling class unscathed” and claim that the “main blow must be directed at the main enemy,” the U.S. bourgeoisie.
As Stalin points out, the Bolsheviks were similarly accused of displaying “excessive hatred” toward the agents of imperialism in the workers’ movement and “forgetting the principle goal of defeating the bourgeoisie.”
But Stalin answered these charges, pointing out that: “Naturally, the Bolsheviks at that time directed their main blow at these parties, for unless these parties were isolated there could be no hope of a rupture between the laboring masses and imperialism and unless this rupture was ensured there could be no hope of the victory of the Soviet revolution.”
The Program makes clear that the strategic enemy of the working class is the U.S. imperialist bourgeoisie and our strategic objective is the overthrow of this class. The revisionists and bureaucrats are the main internal danger and the focus of our main blow precisely because they are the agents and props of the capitalists.
Playing their role of frontmen for the revisionists and labor bureaucrats, the RCP has launched a wild attack against the Leninist principle of the main blow. They have leaped to the defense of these traitors to the working class, claiming that it is a “gross exaggeration” to say that the revisionists are among the main props of imperialism.
The RCP portrays the CPUSA revisionists as well as the liberal union mis-leaders as “confused” or “misguided allies.” They paint the CPUSA as “little old ladies in tennis shoes” rather than as the dangerous enemies of the working class that they are.
The RCP line led them into an unprincipled alliance with Sadlowski and the CPUSA during the recent steel union elections where they painted the liberal wing of the USWA bureaucracy as “middle forces” rather than as class enemies.
The staunch and correct stand of our Party against the main misleaders of the working class shows that this Party has distinguished itself from the RCP and all other phony “friends of the working class.” It is for this reason that our Program and Party are bound to win the most advanced and class-conscious fighters from the working class to its ranks. They point the way forward strategically and tactically to the broad masses in their struggle against capitalism.