First Published: Marxist-Leninist Quarterly, Vol. I, No. 2, no date 
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The overthrow of bourgeois rule can be accomplished only by the proletariat, as the particular class whose economic conditions of existence train it for this task and provide it with the opportunity and the power to perform it. – V. I. Lenin
Since Marxists-Leninists have always believed that the working class in the highly developed capitalist countries would be the main force for progress and revolution, they have designed their strategy and tactics to secure a political base among the working class. This fundamental concept is under fire today. Many radicals reject it completely. Others, who accept the premise abstractly, reject it in practice. Many socialists have no revolutionary strategy because they ignore the revolutionary potential within the working class.
Two tendencies and several false notions are at the heart of this downgrading or dismissal of the working class by some Marxists. These tendencies are to view the working class exclusively through its organized sector and to view its organized sector exclusively through the action and attitudes of its leaders. The false notions are:
1) That there is no revolutionary potential among the workers because they have secured a high level of wages and because real wages continue to rise steadily;
2) That the monopolists have largely won the class struggle by enlisting most labor leaders as partners in plunder; that a kind of corporate liberalism, which willingly grants concessions when necessary, can successfully head-off militant labor struggles;
3) That automation and general technological progress is constantly reducing the work force and thereby destroying the working class as a vital revolutionary force;
4) That poverty is not a real factor on the American scene and, at best, afflicts only a small section of the population; that, in any case, impoverished people are too downtrodden and demoralized to play an important revolutionary role.
These tendencies and notions have led many Marxists and radicals to conclude that the working class is thoroughly corrupt, or at best can be completely dominated by the ruling class with assistance from most of the labor leadership. They have also led many to the conclusion that the workers, essentially stupid or dulled by society, place their welfare in the hands of the state. The conclusion is that the fight for peace and social progress must center on the “more enlightened sections” of the ruling class and on the reformist leaders in the labor, Negro, and peace movements, rather than the broad masses of working people.
No doubt this view has appeal in the most powerful imperialist nation. It would appear on the surface that the ruling class has matters well in hand. The press, the radio, TV, the schools, and the churches are busy spewing forth the line of the ruling class in a massive attempt to convince the oppressed of the correctness, omnipotence, and infallibility of the oppressor. To back up this massive brainwashing machine is a powerful police system, supported by a judiciary ready, willing, and able to crack down on dissidents who will not conform to the anti-communist mentality. Until recently the ruling class has been able to buy off key sections of the working class, especially the skilled workers. Thus, bribery has been as important a weapon heretofore as propaganda and repression. Marxists have a greater responsibility than to consider merely the obvious and superficial: They have to take full account of the changing situation and estimate the period ahead in order to project strategy and tactics for the development of a revolutionary movement.
The United States ruling class is in a titanic but losing battle for world domination. It is arrayed against the forces of the international socialist movement, the colonial and national liberation movements, and the working classes of the other capitalist countries and is in sharp economic competition with other imperialist nations, especially the European nations. Socialism has emerged as the most powerful political and economic system in the world. One billion people have been removed from the orbit of capitalist exploitation. Significant areas of the world, particularly in Asia and Africa, have embarked on an independent economic course. European and Japanese Imperialism have, to a great degree, recovered from the ruins of World War II and are fighting fiercely to protect their home markets, while expanding their world trade. In short, U.S. Imperialism is being set back in area after area all over the world. This comes after a decade of great expansion into many new areas, particularly where it was able to push out its capitalist rivals. These serious economic and political reversals limit the ability of the U.S. capitalists to maneuver. As a result, they are attempting to shift them on to the backs of the working class in order to maintain their profit levels and their competitive position vis-a-vis the western capitalist powers and in order to compete economically with the socialist world.
This over-all condition of U.S. Imperialism is having a profound effect on the class struggle at home. Not only is the bourgeoisie unable to make significant concessions to its own workers, but it is being forced to squeeze the workers harder. Because of the decline of the foreign market and the export of capital and the glutting of the home market, U.S. industrial expansion has come to a standstill. Overproduction has become the condition of many industries. Very few major industries, outside of the electronic war industry, produce anywhere near full capacity. “Get the economy moving again,” was and is the cry of the Kennedy Administration, but the results are the same. Automation and the failure of the of the economy to grow significantly have produced widespread permanent unemployment. Five recessions since the end of World War II have proven that capitalism cannot resolve its contradictions and that wider and wider sections of the working class are in for more difficult, times. (In my judgment, Stalin’s theory of maximum profits, put forward in 1953, is still the most concise formulation for monopoly capitalism in this period. See Economic Problems of Socialism in U.S.S.R.)
The bourgeoisie has done a magnificent job of obscuring the facts about poverty in America and about the actual conditions of the working class in general. It has fostered the illusion that we are moving to an equalitarian society without classes. It has convinced a large section of the petty bourgeoisie that the workers are for the most part, overpaid loafers, many of whom are on the job because of powerful union intervention. It has even convinced some sections of workers to believe this tale about other sections. The bourgeoisie has insisted that there are only isolated pockets of poverty, and that poverty therefore is a personal failing. The ruling class has been successful in maintaining these notions among the people by isolating the working class physically, politically, socially, culturally and economically from the rest of the population. Most students going to City College or Columbia University, which are located in the Harlem ghetto, do not have the vaguest idea of how the Negro workers are forced to live. The intellectual community in Buffalo, N.Y., a heavy industrial city, has little idea that thousands of workers are permanently unemployed – that in certain periods 15,000 workers lined up each month at the armory for surplus foods in a 1960 version of the breadline. Of course, these things are sometimes read about. Hit the attitude is: “Well, no one is starving to death. ...The worker is still better off in the U.S.A. than any place else in the world.” Several years ago none other than George Meany nailed this bit of sophistry when he said, “When your neighbor is laid-off, that’s a recession. When you are laid-off, that’s a depression.” Poverty is becoming so widespread today that even bourgeois organs are forced to pay lip service to it. They are doing so, not to change these conditions, but to see how to prevent militant or revolutionary tendencies from developing. The one-third of the nation that was “ill-housed, ill-fed, ill-clothed”, in the words of FDR, is still here and growing rapidly.
The New York Times Magazine Section of November 18, 1962, carried an important analysis by Herman P. Miller (Special Assistant to the Demographic Section of the Bureau of the Census) of the distribution of income in the U.S.A. Miller explodes the theory that the income gap is being closed. In his article, based on 1960 census data, he debunks the popular myth that a continuous leveling process goes on. He clearly demonstrates that in the past twenty years, the so-called prosperity years, income distribution “has hardly changed at all.”
In a recent study, The Conference on Economic Progress concluded that seventy seven million Americans lived in “poverty” and “deprivation.” Some of the pertinent statistics of this report are: Almost ten and one-half million families have incomes under $4,000 per year. There are almost four million unattached individuals with annual incomes less than $2,000 per year. At the opposite end of the pole, or what might be called the affluence level, there were three and one-eighth million families with incomes of $15,000 per year and over about twelve and one-half million Americans, or about 7% of the population. During the years 1953-1960, marked by a very low economic growth and chronically rising idleness of manpower and plant production, the average annual rate of reduction in the total number of Americans living in poverty dropped to 1.1%. From 1929-1960 the total number of Americans living either in poverty or deprivation was reduced at an average rate of only 0.7%. During 1953-1960 distribution of income also worsened. The share of total personal income flowing to the lowest income fifth of all consumer units, to the second, and to the third lowest, all declined, while the share flowing to the highest income fifth rose. In 1960, the highest 5% of all consumer units received about 20% of total personal income, or very much more than 15%% of income received by the lowest 40% of all consumer units.
It is true that after World War II real wages of the workers rose for a number of years. This came at a special point in history. It followed the period of the New Deal, in which various economic concessions were granted to the working class as a result of sharp struggle. Large sections of the workers, favorably disposed to the capitalist system, as a result of the New Deal, saw the period of relative prosperity following World War II as an extension of the New Deal period. However, the prosperity at that time was founded on the depletion of the consumer market due to the war, the effects of war on the principal competitors of U.S. capitalism, and the destruction of European capital assets and their restoration by U.S. business. The Soviet Union was in a total effort to rebuild its economy, and could not compete on the world market. Bourgeois predictions of an enlightened, controlled, guided capitalism “looked good.” However, in time, overproduction, the loss of markets and areas of exploitation, and competition began to change things, Mass unemployment, which was only ended with World War II, reappeared. This added millions more to the millions of other workers who never benefitted from the early “lush” years of the Cold War. The arms economy, which had been foisted upon the American people to save them from “Communism”, was expanded periodically not only to save us from doom, but to “save” the workers from unemployment.
The period of the rise in real wages was short lived. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate clearly the trend of real wages during 1955-1960 when wages were caught in the squeeze of a rising cost of living and increased monopoly resistance to wage increases
Year.........Gross Average Weekly Earnings.....Worker with No Dependents.....Worker with Three Dependents
Adjusted to 1947-49 dollars.
The worker with three dependents had a net loss for the full period of 29 cents per week, but he lost $3.02 per week in take home pay between December 1959 and December 1960.
The Industrial Union Department Bulletin (AFL-CIO) of February 1963 analyzed recent Labor Department statistics in the following manner: “Recent Labor Department figures show that factory workers’ wages were relatively static last year. Money wages advanced only four cents an hour and overall gross pay – including overtime – was up only an insignificant $1.38 weekly. ...Price increases of 1.3% all but wiped out these paltry money gains. ...Even on the guide lines laid down by the administration, there should have been a real rise of 3% in worker income. ...Labor’s wages have lagged behind productivity for the past six years. ...Real spendable earnings of factory workers – the buying power of the workers’ net spendable earnings after adjustment for changes in the consumer price index – showed little or no gain between the December 1961 and December 1962 period in terms of 1957-1959 dollars, the factory production worker with no dependents had a wage gain of 0.1% while the same worker with three dependents actually had a decrease of 0.1%.’
The same article observes: “Productivity is being translated into joblessness instead of higher living standards for the nation’s producers. ...The jobless worker, obviously, failed to benefit from the nation’s rising personal income. Nor for that matter, were there significant gains for the family farmer. The aged, living mostly on social security benefits, supplemented to some degree by modest industrial pensions, gained virtually nothing. ...The gap between the rich and the poor is widening once again.”
Many people tend to view the wage structure of the working class through rose colored glasses. They rely on the well publicized versions of the high hourly rated union worker, of the well organized heavy production industry worker, or of the “fabulously” paid organized construction worker. BLS figures show that in the country as a whole, retail workers in 1960, earned $1.20 per hour as compared to $2.30 per hour for manufacturing workers. 2.1 million retail workers were getting less than $1.25 per hour. At the end of 1960, 917,000 were earning less than $1.00 per hour. In the apparel industry average weekly earnings were $56.00, $36.00 per week less than other manufacturing employees. If we were to extend these figures to hospital, laundry, hotel, migrant farm workers, etc., the results would be more devastating. Suffice to say that it is a smaller section of the walking class that receives the so-called high union pay for its labor. The overwhelming majority of the workers do not earn the minimum; requirements put forward in the Heller Committee budget for a family of four. The budget calls for $124.00 per week (1960 figures) for a family of four to maintain an adequate but modest standard of living.
Much is being made these days about the alleged disintegration of the working class, which supposedly is no longer the revolutionary class. Although the U.S. economy has reached a period of stagnation, it has expanded since the end of World War II. Consequently, the work force has grown. The relative decline in the number of production workers vis-a-vis the relative increase in transport, distribution, service, and some categories of technical workers, does not alter the fact that the working class has grown. This only indicates that there have been changes in the composition of the working class – unless one would argue that teamsters, department store clerks, etc., are not part of the working class. An extensive discussion was carried on in the World Marxist Review during 1960-1961 on the changing character of the working class. The general conclusions indicated that many strata of non-productive workers should be considered part of the working class. One of the articles by L.A. Leontyev (May 1961, Vol. 4, No. 5) ana [missing text in original – EROL]
Marx begins his analysis of the process of the production of surplus value, by taking the individual worker as the personification of wage labor, aid after studying the development of capitalist co-operation and division of labor, he proceeds to examine the “collective laborer” all of whose organs consist of particular laborers participating in production. (Capital, Vol. I) With the transition from the manufactory to large-scale machine industry “a radical change takes place in the composition of the collective laborer, a change of the persons working in combination.” (Ibid.)
From this it is clear that Marx examined the concept of collective laborer, as of all categories of capitalism – and not only capitalism for that matter – on the historical plane. If one looks beyond the words to the meaning behind them it should be clear that with the development of capitalism the concept of collective laborer, and hence of the working class, is inevitably extended. For in order to understand the significance of Marx’s “collective laborer” concept and the relation it bears to the concept “working class,” we have only to remember that the struggle associated with the legislative determination of what is a working day is seen by Marx as ”a struggle between collective capital, i.e., the class of capitalists, and collective labor, i.e., the working class.” (Capital, Vol. III)
The development of the social division of labor and social production inevitably leads to the participation in the production process of a vast number of workers of various trades and professions. New branches are continuously springing up in which wage labor is employed, and the various auxiliary branches of production, without which production could not go on, are enormously expanded. It is precisely here that the labor of the main mass of the salaried workers exploited by capital is employed.
But even those who held a minority point of view considered the production workers a potent force. V.S. Semenov observed:
Hence the proportion of the working class as a whole in the social structure somewhat diminishes. In the United States the proportion of the urban and rural proletariat, respectively, in the total labor force was (in per cent) in 1870–28.0 and 29.0 (total 57.0), in 1910–41.1 and 14.5 (total 55.6), in 1950–43.8 and 4.3 (total 48.1). But these changes in the working class do not weaken it, on the contrary, it gains immeasurably in strength since it is the industrial proletariat that plays the decisive role in history.
And if Marx, Engels and Lenin spoke about the might of the working class when the industrial proletariat comprised but 15-30 per cent of the overall labor force, what is its strength today when in the leading countries it accounts for some 50 per cent? According to official statistics, the working class in the United States accounted, in 1950, for 48 per cent of the labor force (including 44 per cent industrial workers), and in Britain, in 1951, for 55 per cent (51 per cent in industry). There is not, therefore, any need artificially to incorporate into it professional and office workers the working class is now strong enough to fulfill its historical mission of grave-digger of capitalism and builder of socialism.
Because of automation, some people draw the conclusion that the working class is being displaced from the work force so fast that it is declining as an effective political factor, but it would be incorrect to assume that once a worker is unemployed he is no longer a member of the working class. As a matter of fact the unemployed worker may very well develop a higher and higher degree of class consciousness than ever before.
Those who conclude that the working class is disintegrating and cannot play its historic role must prove it. And, if they consider themselves Leninists, they must indicate which class forces can be oriented to move for state power.
Unemployment has become a way of life for millions of U.S. workers. Not only is the unemployed worker victimized economically, but he is stigmatized socially as well. Unemployment through the bourgeois eye is a sign of personal failure. It is not that something is wrong with the system but that something is wrong with the individual. The ruling class goes to great lengths to hide the actual unemployment figures. BLS figures show that from 1958 through February 1961 unemployment was equal to or greater than 5% in every single month except one. Since the beginning of 1959 full-time unemployment has always been at least 16% above the 1947-49 level. Official figures have shown that unemployment during 1961-63 hovered between 5 and 6 million. But even congressional investigations have raised serious doubts about these figures. The method used by the government screens out housewives, full time students and retired persons among others. The government, makes no allowance for part-time employment. Millions of workers are forced to work short work-weeks at correspondingly short pay. The time they lose is not considered as unemployment. The monopolists and the government prefer to have workers work part of the week rather than resort to mass lay-offs. Mass lay-offs make for poor images, sharper class antagonisms and for larger industry and governmental outlays for unemployment insurance. Government studies show that 2,777,000 workers were on a short work-week for economic reasons in December I960, and there is no indication of drastic change. Senator Douglas of Illinois estimates unemployment to be 25% above government figures. A BLS study, published by the U.S. Department of Labor (see Monthly Review, December 1962) showed that a total of 15.1 million persons were unemployed at some point during 1961, about a million more than in I960. About 5 million workers had two or more spells of unemployment.
Many of the unemployed, 1.7 million, had not worked at all du ring 1961 even though they looked for work; most of them were women and young people under 18 years of age. The national average of the rate of unemployment for Negro workers is more than double the average for white workers. A special pamphlet published recently by the U.S. Department of Labor, entitled The Economic Situation of the Negroes in the United States, says: “In 1958 downturn, unemployment rates rose in all groups, and continued to be roughly twice as high among nonwhite as among white men. Nearly 14% of the nonwhite male workers, a large proportion of them from unskilled and semiskilled occupations were unemployed and seeking work in 1958, as compared with an average of about 6% of whites. By 1961, both rates were lower, but nearly 13% nonwhite men were still unemployed compared with 5.7% of whites.” The latest studies (February 1963) are much more ominous, they show the rate of Negro unemployment as being 15.3%. This would roughly mean that almost 1,750,000 Negroes are unemployed today. Taking into account that these figures are the BLS figures, which really do not tell the true story, the unemployment situation among the Negro working class is catastrophic. Negro youth are hardest hit and find it almost impossible to enter the labor market. The latest economic survey by the Department of Labor for the Birmingham, Alabama area, shows that the overwhelming majority of the unemployed workers from the lowest income brackets are Negroes and that most of these Negroes are between 16 and 25 years of age (i.e. 79% of the lowest income quarter are Negroes; 65% of these are 16-25 years of age). In short, in this part of the South, it is almost impossible for a young Negro to work given the present economic situation. Given the overall unemployment situation, it is becoming increasingly difficult for large numbers of Negro workers to leave the South and find factory or service employment in the North.
The grinding down-of workers’ conditions takes on additional forms. The U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare reported in October I960 a shortage of 142,000 classrooms, an increase of 6,900 over the 1959 shortage. One school in every five was reported by the U.S. Office of Education in 1960 as a potential fire trap. The NEA report for I960 showed that 230,000 more public school teachers were needed. These acute inadequacies are found primarily in the working class, Negro, and Spanish-speaking districts.
The 1960 census revealed that, despite a considerable improvement in the quality of housing since 1950, almost 16 million dwelling units, more than 25% of the nation’s housing stock, were still substandard. While 38% of all dwelling units were occupied by renters, more than half of all substandard units were inhabited by them. Nonwhites occupied 5.2 million dwelling units, about 9% of all dwelling units. Of these 2.9 million were substandard.
A committee of doctors writing on “Waste In American Medicine” in the December 1960 Monthly Review, pointed out that, “With all the advances made in medicinal sciences, death rates have always been the highest among the poor.” Among the Negro people this brutal fact appears with the utmost fury. The U.S. Health Service reports that death rates from TB are 17.6 per 100,000 for nonwhites, 6.6 for whites; from influenza and pneumonia 62.5 for nonwhites, 32.5 for whites. Infant mortality for nonwhites (although the rate for infant mortality among Negroes is declining) far exceeds that for whites. A white boy may expect to live on the average to be 67.2 years old, 7 years more than a Negro boy.
One of the most insidious effects of automation and the general drive for maximum profits is the tremendous speed-up that is imposed on most workers. Here the worker is compelled to keep up with or out-produce the machine. Very often the employers find it more profitable to use hand labor than to introduce new equipment. Despite all the crying that the monopolists indulge in about their “unproductive” workers, output per individual worker has constantly risen and continues on upwards. A bulletin published in October 1962, by the BLS, entitled Output Per Mail-Hour For Selected Industries – 1939 and 1947-61 indicates that in the last 14 years output for most industrial workers has doubled and tripled. Present information included shows that “Output per man-hour of production workers also increased in 1961 in all industries for which data is available, including in this case the mining industry, in addition to railroad transportation, tobacco products, and steel ... For many industries, output per production worker increased at a rate above the average post war increase, but there are other industries for which the average was higher.”
Studying any other economic data including industrial accidents, rate of benefits gained in contract settlements, etc., can only lead to one conclusion, that the U.S. working class is being subjected to increasing pressure. It is important to note that automation resulting in wide scale unemployment is affecting the skilled workers as well as the unskilled. Automation, according to official estimates, is displacing workers at the rate of 40,000 per week. The Cold War economy, based on a massive armaments program, has not provided economic security for the working class and, in fact, is draining the working class of its ability to maintain living and working conditions that it secured in the past, although those workers who do have “defense jobs” view war production as personally beneficial. Actually, every facet of the worker’s life is being eaten away. This situation has already created the conditions for sharper class struggle, and the American workers are beginning to react. Objectively, the working class is pitted against the ruling class, and if the workers want to change their present conditions, they will have to wrest changes from the ruling class by the most vigorous class action. Undoubtedly, the growing resistance will develop unevenly, even sporadically, and. will vary to a great extent according to the way in which the offensive of the ruling class affects any individual sector. But unless we are prepared to say that the U.S. worker, whose history has been militant struggle for an improved life, has abandoned this outlook, then we must conclude that the class struggle will get much fiercer. The ruling class, locked in class battle on a world scale, will be forced more and more to refuse concessions to its workers. This will create the conditions for wider and wider sections of the working class to lose their illusions about the role of the state in a modern imperialist country. The intensification of the class struggle could lead to a greater politicalization of the working class, especially if there is an organized vanguard in the field which holds aloft the banner of socialism, and which presents the working class with the strategy and tactics necessary for the conquest of state power.
The successful establishment of socialism on a world scale and the remarkable progress workers are making under this system, which they themselves have developed, will also have a profound effect on the U.S. workers. Socialism will eliminate all of the injustices of capitalism and has taken enormous strides in that direction.
For the ruling class to maintain its drive for world domination, or at least to hold to what it has, it must have a secure home base. Until recently the ruling class has been able to contain the working class through bribery, coercion, and terror. In the unfolding period coercion and terror will be the main tactics of the ruling class. It would appear that the ruling class understands and anticipates this coming period more clearly than some self-professed Marxists. The ruling class has a keen sense of the class struggle at home and recognizes that things will not remain the same forever. The ruling class will not wait until the class struggle explodes with fury, but, rather, is acting on the assumption that the working class will move vigorously in its own interests. In the last issue of MLQ, an excellent article by Dorothy Lewis demonstrates the inability of U.S. capitalism to function as it has in the past. In this article Miss Lewis defines the dead-end that American liberalism has reached: “Whereas liberalism in the domestic crisis of thirty years ago could give the people large concessions it now finds itself, in the world crisis of today, with little room left to maneuver. Where during the 1930’s it could rely on the reformist carrot, it now leans more to the repressive stick. Perhaps one reason for the recent spate of theorizing on the ’philosophy of liberalism’ is the need to emphasize the ever-shrinking distance between liberalism and the conservative off-shoot...The crisis of world capitalism is today the crisis of liberalism.”
In the lead article of this issue of MLQ, an analysis is made of the “Counter Offensive of U.S. Imperialism.” In this article MLQ attempts to expose the strategy and tactics by which U.S. imperialism hopes to reverse the new set of relations that exist in the world. Just as imperialism has a direction and a strategy on the international front, so does it have a strategy on the domestic front. If it is launching an offensive against the international workers’ movement, it is and has been in the process of doing the same against the U.S. workers. The capitalist offensive has been moving along several fronts. Ore has been to isolate and destroy the communist movement in this country. A massive ideological campaign was launched to guarantee the ideology of the ruling class in the ranks of the workers and its vanguard. Various repressive laws and actions were passed and used to intimidate communists. Having in large measure, over the list 15 years, succeeded in accomplishing this, the ruling class moves resolutely to head off any fresh attempts to rebuild a serious Marxist-Leninist movement in this country. By converting the Communist Party into an instrument of class collaboration, it has erected a powerful obstacle preventing the workers from building a revolutionary socialist movement. If the working class has no serious vanguard, it finds it difficult to develop a counter class strategy. Second, the ruling class has relied to a great extent on most of the labor leadership to act as a buffer between themselves and the workers and to convert the unions into a labor front. Labor leaders have helped sell the Cold War line to the working class and have helped the ruling class to purge the labor movement of radicals. With the corruption of most labor leaders, limits were set on the ability of the labor movement to act militantly even on the economic front.
The labor leadership was to a great extent successful in convincing the mass of the workers that the program and policies of the ruling class were sound and in the interests of the workers. As the economic situation changes for the worse, the ruling class has no great confidence that the labor leadership can continue much longer to restrain the organized section of the working class preventing the mass of the workers from opposing the ruinous cold-war policies. It does not anticipate a period of tranquility among the workers and therefore a whole series of anti-workingclass laws have been passed: the Taft-Hartley Act, the Kennedy-Landrum-Griffin Act, Right-to-Work Laws, etc. But with all of these laws and injunctions, the ruling class still does not feel secure. It is moving to head off a growing strike wave by proposing anti-strike legislation. Compulsory arbitration and other anti-strike statutes are now being readied in Congress for legislative action. At the sane time, by various forms of deception, the ruling class tries to preserve the image of the Government’s impartiality. At the request of the labor leaders “impartial” study commissions are set up by the President to make objective recommendations in strike situations. These commissions then make further suggestions to prevent or to end labor turmoil. In almost every case they rule against the workers. More and more workers are beginning to balk at these commissions and to resist their resolutions. The growing role of the state in the class struggle is exposing itself to the workers as agents of the monopolists. A key role of the state is to preserve the profits of the monopolies by imposing automation, low wages, speedup and unemployment on the workers.
Another tactic to maintain the working class in check is to disunite the workers. A big weapon has been the penetration of the working class with the poison of racism. Racism not only is a weapon for dividing the class, but is the instrument through which the ruling class can maintain enormous numbers of low wage workers. These in turn act as a brake on the wages of all workers. Billions of dollars of super-profits are involved in the system of racism. The ruling class has a fantastic stake in maintaining racism and in keeping the black and white workers disunited. But racism with all its concepts of superiority and inferiority is not sufficient to win large sections of the white workers to the poisonous ideology of the ruling class. Bribes have to be doled out. After World War II, thru 1955, large sections of organized skilled workers were given significant wage increases to tie them to the ruling class. Class collaboration was to be their repayment to the monopolists. While this section of the working class was relatively prosperous, the larger section, including the Negro and minority workers, was not. Low wages exist in most service industries, many light manufacturing industries and among various categories of farm workers. These workers’ wages do not even come close to the norms of subsistence. This situation has created antagonisms regarding the higher paid skilled workers.
On the political front the ruling class has been preparing a reserve position if they have to move onto new terrain, as the class struggle sharpens. It has developed the Ultra-Right, whose heart is the industrial-military combine. The open fascists constitute a reserve for a new period; at the same time, in this period they intimidate the population and act as a buffer between the government and the people. The ruling class attempts to create the impression that there are two mutually independent centers within its ranks. It calls on the people to support the so-called “moderate” section, whose outlook is for world domination, rather than the Ultra-Right, whose outlook is also for world domination. The emergence of an open fascist force indicates a class in trouble, which can no longer rule through traditional means and which can no longer bank on servility from its own working class. The ruling class moves reluctantly into these positions, if for no other reason than it exposes its true character to more and more sections of the world and to the workers at home. It is not a sign of stability or strength but a sign of weakness. At the sane time the monopolists move to operate the state directly, no longer confident that agents are capable of dealing with the complex situation. Kennedy and Rockefeller indicate a do-it-yourself outlook.
One of the main ideological props of the Cold War has been the concept of national interest. With this ideological cant, the ruling class is making a desperate bid to hold the workers, faced with declining conditions, to the Cold War band wagon. The general idea is to appeal to the national chauvinism of the workers in order to hold the wage and hour line. This is presented as the only way to maintain a “competitive, growing economy,” and to defeat communism. In other words to be patriotic you have to work “hard, fast and cheap.” While the Meany-Reuther leadership hailed this position, the rank and file workers were something less than happy. Despite poor leadership and often no leadership, the workers have been involved in some serious strike actions. The “docile” workers in this supposedly classless society waged 3,367 strikes in 1961, averaging 23.7 days, involving 1,450,000 workers, and costing 16,300,000 working days.
In general, the ruling class has thrown up a significant array of obstacles that have prevented the workers from moving in a more class conscious direction. On the economic front it has included bribery, various welfare benefits, large scale credit buying, etc. On the ideological front it has utilized anti-communism, racism, and appeals to national chauvinism. It has penetrated the vanguard ideologically and turned it into an instrument of class collaboration. It has converted most of the labor leadership into agents or spokesmen, of the ruling class. Politically, it has developed new fascist forces and positions, passed and utilized scores of anti-working class legislation to eliminate or prevent sharp class struggle. Finally, it has identified and supports the reformist leadership in the Negro, peace, and youth movements, and uses them as buffers against the development of a revolutionary movement. These obstacles must be overcome by the working class if it is to take the offensive and reverse the tide of battle, which for the moment is still in favor of the ruling class.
In this period there has been a rash of strikes and threatened strikes that indicate the workers will fight for wage and hour benefits that exceed the guidelines laid down by the administration. Although these strikes were essentially defensive in character, they do point out the relatively high levels of militancy that exist among the organized sector of the working class. These strikes have thrown a scare into the ranks of the ruling class, because they marshal worker militancy and challenge some of the economic myths of our day – myths which if successfully challenged, and defeated can help undermine the profit position of U.S. Imperialism. A brief look at three strikes will give some clue to the coming sharpness of the class struggle: the Eastern longshore strike in January 1963, the recent NYC printers’ strike, and the continuing, strike-war of the miners in Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia. The three strikes were over job security, and deteriorating work conditions; all involved workers who either are earning or had been earning “high pay”; all, to one degree or another, took place against the wishes of the union leadership; all involved various government forces to a great degree.
Despite massive government pressure, company intimidation, union leaders redbaiting and general leadership ineptness, the longshoremen forced a strike that lasted several weeks beyond what the script called for. The lockers were able to win some minor concessions: the a proposed job cut did not go through and there was a small pay raise.” More important, the government, in which the workers have great illusions, had to resort to open coercion to help break the strike. Despite the threats from the Kennedy administration and despite George Meany’s interference (he withdrew “support” and denounced the strike) the workers kept up the fight. Finally, the administration had to send in its most untarnished spokesman, Senator Morse from Oregon, to arrange for a settlement. In this strike many longshoremen came into contact with the true character of the ruling class and learned that, in the future, they would have to rely primarily on their own strength for any meaningful advance.
The printers, a high-paid group struck for job security and wage and hour benefits. The strike lasted over 100 days. Here the Kennedy administration had to intervene openly and threaten compulsory arbitration. The administration characterized the strike as “intolerable.” The international leadership of the union was not sympathetic to the strike which threatened to expose its role in allowing automation to be introduced at will in other parts of the country. Despite this, the workers won some redress on all issues. Finally, with the full pressure of the government and with the abandonment of the workers by the rest of the labor movement, which had originally supported the strike, the strike was ended but not until the workers had rejected the offer which was hailed by the leadership and pushed for and proposed by the Wagner administration in New York City.
The strike of the coal miners hrs special significance for the following reasons: the mine owners in that part of the country found it more profitable to return to small scale hand mining (pot holes) than to auto, mate the entire industry. To make the hand mining pay off in a big way, the mine owners went all out to destroy union conditions. Using the large numbers of unemployed workers in the area, who had been driven from the industry by whatever automation had been introduced, the mine owners were successful in compelling these workers to work for pay scales far below union rates. The owners were also able to eliminate the tonnage royalties to the miners’ pension fund. In general the owners were able to destroy the union and union conditions in the area. They were backed up in this effort by local, state, and national politicians and had the complete support of the local and state police and the press as well as all other forms of mass communications. The rank and file workers in the area, realizing the implications of this ail-out attack, took matters into their own hands. This was especially necessary because the United Mine Workers Union had abandoned the workers in the area. The workers, in effect, set up an independent union in the area, with whatever meager facilities the UMW had. They developed the strategy of roving pickets – one hundred to two hundred workers driving from mine to mine, picketing and convincing the other workers to strike. This was enormously successful, and within a short time they were able to close down a good segment of the mining industry in the area. The owners struck back savagely. They made good use of all the agencies mentioned above and supplemented the police force with imported gun thugs.
Bombing, shooting and starvation, coupled with an intense propaganda campaign, were designed to blitzkrieg the workers back to their $3-5 a day jobs. To the eternal credit of the miners, they armed themselves and fought in what best could be described as a semi-military operation. At times hundreds of state and local police were pinned down by the gallant battle of these miners. The strike lasted seven months and the embers are still glowing. The miners were able to win some minor concessions on the pension money and in some cases on wages. But most important of all, many miners now see the role of the ruling class and the government more clearly and recognize that tinkering with reforms, although useful to a point, will not solve the problems that face the people in the area. Many of the miners are speaking of running their own local candidates in the coming local elections, including the office of sheriff. Others are speaking about the need for another union. The miner’s will and spirit was not crushed and many miners have responded to the idea that fundamental solutions are necessary – solutions that cannot be won under a capitalist government. The miners’ movement has been spreading to other states as the general decline in the industry becomes universal to all the workers. A linking of these movements in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and in Pennsylvania could result in an army of thousands challenging almost every aspect of the policies of the ruling class, and its state apparatus.
(For the full coverage and analysis of these three strikes, read the January, February, March, April and May, 1963 issues of Progressive Labor.)
To be sure these three strikes were weak in political development. It is also true that in the case of the printers narrow craft interest exists. No doubt there are various conclusions drawn by the workers from these protracted class battles. Bright spots nonetheless persist, especially since the miners recognized the need for unity with the Negro workers. The printers on the other hand run a “jim-crow” union, and Negroes working on the docks cannot get skilled jobs. The dominant feature of these struggles was the willingness of the workers to take on the triumvirate: the boss, the government, and their own union leaders. These strikes have confirmed the apprehension of the Department of Labor which predicted that thousands of workers were going to strike despite previously arranged agreements between labor and management.
The main forerunner of these battles was the historic steel strike of July 1959. At that time, the steel workers struck for 116 days to preserve their working conditions. The arrogant steel oligarchy was confident that the spineless MacDonald leadership would collapse. In that sense, they were right. However, they did not take into account the attitude of the men who carried the strike at the beginning and forced “the leadership to go along. MacDonald was in a precarious position, for he was almost ousted by an unknown candidate (Rarick) the year before. The workers halted the boss’ drive to bust the work rules and thus demonstrated to the labor movement the fact that the workers could check the bosses. In the steel strike, the cry of national interest was also raised. Thu “defense” effort was being injured. Finally, the Taft-Hartley Act was invoked to halt the strike. American capital recognized that if the forces were harnessed in steel and other industries for shorter hours at no loss in pay and other far reaching demands, their economic policies would be seriously endangered. The aftermath of the steel strike brought about a wave of joint labor-management meetings to eliminate “harmful strikes.” A presidential commission was set up to propose solutions on this subject. Five of the top labor leaders, including Meany and Reuther, were on this body. The commission recommended that the President be given unprecedented powers to enjoin strikes on his own authority.
Another important development that is causing much concern to the ruling class is the continued growth of the Teamster’s Union, under the leadership of James Hoffa, a vital force in the labor movement. Under Hoffa’s leadership, the Teamsters have refused to knuckle under to the administration’s view of the national interest. Hoffa has not supported the Cold War line. He has not subscribed to the wage and hour freeze. His union has grown while others have declined. The Teamsters have cooperated to make it possible for many other unions to conduct strikes without fear of strike-breaking. In a number of areas agreement has been established on “unity in action.” Most notable of these is the understanding between the Teamsters and the International Longshoremen & Warehousemen’s Union on the Pacific Coast. Hoffa has established good relations with all the left unions formerly in the C.I.O. These unions represent almost two million workers and constitute an important force for the possible emergence of a strong anti-cold war position in the ranks of labor. The Administration has been doing everything possible to destroy the Hoffa leadership. It has been turned back so far.
The general attitude of the ruling class and the government cannot be characterized as one of confidence in the organized workers when it is trying unsuccessfully to snuff out all possibilities of dissent. The organized section of the workers, despite serious weaknesses in class consciousness, despite a corrupt leadership for the most part, despite serious illusions about the government and despite narrow craft interests, which isolate them from the mass of unorganized workers, have generally chosen to fight to maintain their own standard of living as opposed to the “national interest” of the ruling class. This is something to build on and makes possible the linking of the economic demands to the necessity for the formulation of workingclass political demands, especially in a period in which the fight for economic demands will get sharper and sharper.
These strikes also indicate a change in relations between the labor aristocracy and the ruling class. Because the ruling class can no longer easily make serious concessions to the high paid and skilled workers, it has forced these “junior partners” into battle. The wages and the conditions of these workers could remain on a high level, not however as a handout from the bourgeoisie, but as a result of increasing class struggle. This, too, is a qualitative change, which can lead to the politicalization of these workers and to an increase of their class consciousness – consciousness than can begin to overtly challenge the cold war line and put the working class in the forefront in the fight for peace.
In the past Marxist-Leninists have concentrated most of their political energies in the organized labor movement. Workers have been arrayed against monopoly most clearly and sharply in trade union organizations, and therefore political efforts have been concentrated there. However, things have changed considerably in the past twenty years. First, the working class has grown. More people are in the work force than ever before. The service industries have grown enormously, and workers in these industries now outnumber workers in the direct production industries. Secondly, with the failure of the unions to keep abreast with this growing work force, unorganized workers exceed those who are organized. The unorganized workers earn on an average a dollar-an-hour less than the organized. Most unions have separated themselves from the workers who have been driven out by automation and technological progress. The unemployed union workers, for the most part, lose contact with their unions in a short period after becoming unemployed. The outlook of the unions, modeled on the John L. Lewis pattern, is to accept automation on the bosses’ terms.
Their aim has been to get conditions for those remaining and paying dues. The unemployed have been treated as the government’s problem. Third, millions of young people have entered the work force in the last number of years, and it is the young workers, especially the young Negro and other non-white workers that are being driven out of work or prevented from entering the labor force.
Many people have raised the question about the general passivity among the unemployed. “Often the big news is when something doesn’t happen; there are no unemployment riots in the United States today. In London this past week, unemployed, battled police for three hours before Parliament. ...Unemployment is higher percentagewise in the United States than in any other big country....” (Christian Science Monitor, March 30, 1963) Unquestionably, unemployment insurance, supplementary unemployment benefits won in the steel, auto, and other industries, and various welfare measures have restrained more vigorous unemployment activities. But the biggest deterrents to militant action have been a combination of illusions that the government would not stand by while millions become permanently unemployed, reliance on the class collaborationist labor leadership to act in their behalf and the absence of a revolutionary movement to organize the unemployed into activity for jobs – activity which could raise the level of class understanding and lead the unemployed into battle for a socialist transformation of society.
This situation has left the unemployed with no immediate form through which they could fight. It undoubtedly has led to an attitude of cynicism and frustration – a kind of a “you can’t fight City Hall attitude.” On two occasions Walter Reuther, president of the United Automobile Worker’s Union, has organized demonstrations of unionists in Washington on the question of unemployment. Both actions involved thousands. However, this was largely for show and to head off the development of militant independent action on the part of the unemployed. The demonstrations involved, for the most part, paid union officials or local union skates whose fare was paid for by the union. The UAW never attempted to mobilize the unemployed and never followed up these actions with local grass roots organization. On the contrary, the union has allowed and encouraged the employed workers in the industry to work overtime rather than adopt a policy of forcing the companies to recall laid-off workers. The labor movement as a whole has made no serious attempt to fight for its own demand for the shorter work day or shorter work week.
All that can be said is that the total combination of the above mentioned factors has held back the development of an unemployed movement. But many signs indicate that this situation is changing. First of all, the failure of the government to act on unemployment is eradicating illusions. More and more workers encounter unemployment through the year. And millions are becoming permanently unemployed. It is becoming clear that most unions will not organize the unemployed. Benefits and unemployment insurance funds are expiring at a rapid rate. Welfare participants are subjected to substandard benefits, vicious persecution and public scorn.
The militant armed fight of 40,000 miners in Kentucky is not just a fight for union conditions. It is a fight for jobs, a fight against the consequences of automation. The forces involved are not only those miners that have been working, but also those who have been unemployed for some time. The demands of the miners include the shorter work day, full unemployment benefits for time unemployed and others.
The physical struggle that erupted in Birmingham, Alabama, was mainly conducted by young unemployed Negro workers, many of whom had worked in the heavy industry in the Birmingham area. It is they who have forced the integration leaders to include the demand for jobs for the first time. Full fledged street organization exists among these youth and it is only a question of time before these forces will more clearly act independently for jobs. This is true all over the country in the Negro communities – so much so, that A. Philip Randolph, leading Negro trade unionist, is calling for a demonstration of 100,000 black workers in Washington, D.C., in October. Randolph considers the plight of the Negro worker “catastrophic.” To be sure, one reason Randolph and the other integrationists sponsoring this march are doing so is to head off revolutionary developments among the Negro people. However, only revolutionary action is going to succeed on the job question in a situation where the economy is in decline and new jobs are not being created.
Independent unemployment leagues have sprung up recently in Detroit, Chicago, various cities in Pennsylvania, Buffalo, New York and elsewhere. While these groups vary in character they are an indication of a slowly emerging trend for the unemployed to organize, and act on their own behalf.
No less important to this development is the emergence of a small but growing revolutionary socialist movement in this country. The development of the Progressive Labor movement is an important part of this process. Such a movement can help to unite these growing unemployment movements, offer some practical and political assistance and lead sections of the unemployed directly. In short, although we cannot now examine all developments, an unemployment movement is maturing in the country and is developing in various ways among different sections of the unemployed, Negro and white.
The large Northern industrial cities have become more ghettoized in recent years and the working-class districts have become more pronounced than before. If anything, they have spread and spilled over, encompassing more and more areas of the large cities, especially with the advent of suburbia, where the lower middle class, some skilled-workers and the upper middle class have taken refuge from the working people and the Negro people Tremendous concentrations of oppressed people now live in compact geographical areas. Slum conditions have grown worse. Social services, schools, housing, hospitals, sanitation, recreation, child care centers, etc., are steadily being reduced relative to growing need^ or do not exist at all.
An increasing number of Negroes are coming to the conclusion that integration and the integration movement are no substitute for Negro power. More and more, people are beginning to realize that the integration movement, despite the heroic actions of many of its leaders, represents the demands and aspirations of the Negro middle class. In the face of any other positive alternative many follow and support the movement extensively. On the other hand the conditions of the Negro people worsen North and South despite the so-called victories of the integration movement. The Urban League reports that the national average annual income for a Negro today is 54% of the white man’s average, while in 1952 it was 57%. The fact is the cold war has not solved the problems of the Negro people at home; in fact, the Negro people are its main victims in this country, for they are the first and hardest hit by its economic consequences. Conversely, a key aspect of the cold war policies is to put the colored people of the world down and keep them there. Counter-revolution is the heart of the cold war policies. The leadership of the Negro movement in this country (NAACP, Urban League, the Integration leaders, et al.) has by and large supported the cold war. Their argument most frequently is that if the U.S. does not treat its Negro citizens better, it will affect its ability to win the cold war against Communism. The Negro masses do not respond to this notion with any great enthusiasm. On the contrary, when Fidel Castro came to Harlem some years ago, Harlem was the scene of mess enthusiasm the like of which had not been seen in years. In the recent meeting of Negro intellectuals with Robert Kennedy, Jerome Smith, Freedom Rider, said he could not follow the flag. (N.Y. Post, May 26, 1963) This expresses the feelings of the Negro masses.
The Negro middle class attempts to hide the class aspect of the Negro movement. It does so because it seeks redress of its demands for equality within the confines of the capitalist system. The main by-product of racism for the ruling class is profits, which are derived from low wage levels. Differences in median income between Negro and white workers is $18,000,000,000 a year. It is hard to calculate the billions of profits derived from white workers as the result of using low Negro wages as a depressant. Billions more are derived from slum housing, and other forms. Racism means tens of billions in profits for the white ruling class. Unemployment will be a constant situation while the capitalist system exists. Therefore, if you want to end Negro unemployment, you must do away with capitalism. The Negro middle class would like to have equality on a social basis. It wants to be- integrated into the white monopolist’s political machine. It wants this not necessarily to end the economic exploitation of the Negro masses but to achieve equal status with the white ruling class. In order to enlist the Negro masses in their fight, the Negro middle class must advance some of the demands of the workers, but they cannot go all the way because they believe in capitalism, the two party system, the white monopolist’ s “power structure”, and in the courts, the police army and all the institutions of the bourgeoisie.
They feel that by granting concessions of a peripheral character to the workers (a job here, a lunch counter there) that this will hold the Negro masses in check.
And that this can maintain their reformist leadership over the Negro people.
Independent political movement on the part of the Negro workers for freedom, whether for desegregation, political separation, or both, coupled with a program of class demands will lead to direct conflict with liberals and the ruling class. The Negro workers will not wait for the white workers to act with them. On the contrary class action of the Negro workers can force the white working class to move faster on all class questions in its own interests. This is so because any class demands of the Negro workers objectively are against the white ruling class. Demands for the shorter work-day, for unions, for a government that can and will provide jobs and for a political system that will support freedom of workers all over the world, is a program that white workers can support. This can occur in a period in which the white working class is being ground down and will have to seek solutions in alliance with other workers or be swept up in a national chauvinist movement which end result will be fascism.
The government anticipates the development of militant struggle in the working class districts and in the Negro community. Various measures are employed to head off militant action. The Peace Corps is now being used on the Lower East Side of New York. Various sponsored government youth programs are put forward to give the impression that something is being done. The Mobilization For Youth is a part of this program. The government announces millions will be available to train youth for jobs. But for what jobs? A closer look at these programs reveals that almost all the funds are used to hire more and more social workers, who can do nothing for the people except mesmerize them into thinking that something is being done. What is being done is to strengthen the control of the social work agencies over the community. Generally, this activity stifles mass action around class questions. Scores of reform groups are springing up in these oppressed areas. All these groups have programs for jobs, housing and general neighborhood improvement, but all are tied in one way or another to the two party system and to the domination of the ruling class. Their main job is to channel the people into safe activities and to some extent they have been successful. In New York, the most oppressed areas have’ the most reform groups. It is becoming increasingly clear that reform movements are not even going to conduct a serious fight for reforms that they themselves advocate.
When a force like the Muslims develops and exposes the hypocrisy of the government and the inadequate leadership of the integration movement, it is immediately singled out for attack. When Robert Williams in Monroe, N.C., broke with the patterns of the NAACP and called for a class-race program, backed up by armed defense, and expressed anti-Cold-War. positions, he and his followers were hit hard but separation, self-determination, armed defense, class programs and the beginnings of socialist consciousness in the Negro area are on the ascendancy. This has panicked the ruling class into a furious campaign to head it off. Countless national agencies and publications are now attacking the Muslims, They are doing this not only to set back the Muslims, but to head off any reel revolutionary tendency.
The main prop of the bourgeoisie, North and South, for maintaining class rule in the Negro areas is brute force. In Birmingham, it was guns in the final analysis which held the Negroes at bay. When the Negro working-class youth struck back in Birmingham against the wishes of their leaders, then and only then could Kennedy find the statute to bring troops into Alabama. Those troops obviously were not brought in to defeat the racists. The troops were there to protect the class status of the Southern white Dixiecrats and the extensive holdings of the Northern industrialists.
Therefore, the workingclass districts, North and South, are important, if not decisive, areas for the development, of a revolutionary base. Many important forces in these areas, especially the Negro people, have proven that their oppressed conditions have not rendered them impotent for revolutionary battle. They need not wait and have not waited for anyone. The Negro people and other oppressed people will never be free end secure under capitalism.
The ability to corrupt and destroy the Communist Party in this country was an enormous victory for the U.S. bourgeoisie. The ideological penetration of the vanguard is worth more than the biggest military victories, for it robs the people of a vehicle in which they can move to the final victory of socialism. It eliminates the development of the strategy and tactics necessary for the workers to move to political power. To win power and to build a new workers’ state, a vanguard must base itself on the working class, not the so-called enlightened section of the ruling class and their puppet reformist leaders in the labor movement or in the Negro movement. A vanguard must constantly hold out the socialist path, the need for workers’ power, and the need to overcome the ideological and political obstacles that stand in the way. Economic data and an analysis of the internal and external factors in the world indicate that we are entering a period of sharp struggle. Our perspective must be to help prepare the workers for such struggle. Gus Hall, main spokesman of the Communist Party, sees the coming period in this manner: In a pamphlet called The Only Choice – Peaceful Coexistence Hall says, ”Because we can agree that it is an age of change and because it is an age of reasoning and probing it can also be an age of Reason.” Hall’s classless approach is explicit in these other remarks directed at Dr. Robert Hutchins, who had also called for an “age of reason” at an address to a Conference of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in New York City. Hall says, “You may rightly ask, why do I open my remarks by quoting from the spokesman of this big business financial research center? First, because this conference was a reflection of the concert and keen awareness by millions of our countrymen that we are truly in an age of change.” Hall then characterizes Marxism: “It grows by the method of reflection – that is by interpreting the contradictions and struggles in society on the basis of reality.” And again, “Marxism reflects all movement; but it is especially a reflection of life’s sharpest struggle during this age of change, the class struggle.” Now that Hall has reduced revolutionary doctrine to the state of “reflection,” he calls on the capitalist state to embark on a partnership with the people. ”The state must enter into the realm of our economic developments. But it must be made to do so in partnership with the people, to curb the power of the monopolies and not to add to their powers. ...” Hall continues, “The trade unions and the public should be democratically represented in the management of these institutions. But this development points to the necessity to have a state where the working class and the common people have the dominant influence. Such a state can then proceed to shift from private ownership of the means of production to the social ownership of the means of production.” I suppose we would “shift” into socialism by telling the ruling class that we are in a period of reason – especially after the ruling class, according to Hall, has set up some kind of “ impartial” multi-class management. Describing the fight for coexistence Hall says, “The policy of peaceful co-existence points out the door to the future and makes it unnecessary to break down an open door. It makes it possible for the working class to avoid the long march when a short cut is available. ...The policy of peaceful coexistence is the result of changing objective reality of accumulated experiences of class struggle, of realism, and of good common sense.”
No doubt Kennedy is to be the doorman and Hall will have the common sense to mislead people away from the outlook of state power. In another passage Hall shows his inability to analyze the development of the ultra-right, and reinforces the absurdity that it is separate and apart from the ruling class. ..“To assume that the entire administration and all public spokesmen for American capitalism are part of the ultra-right is to do a disservice to our class and people.” This flows from the CP’s thesis that there are “two power centers in Washington, one in the White House, the other in the Pentagon.” Hall then calls for a united front policy with various “peace” forces, which he feels should not be criticized and must be accepted at their own level “With such a policy, we would give up al united front relations in the peace movement. We would be denouncing as bourgeois pacifists’ the Quakers, the Student Peace’ Union, Women Strike for Peace, Sane...” Contrary to Hall’s assertion there is no such united front. And if there were, the task would not be to denounce, but to fight for an anti-imperialist outlook in the peace movement, to expose the ill-effects of anti-communism and to win workers to an active pro-peace orientation based on anti-imperialism. And finally, they at least are honest as to what they are – pacifists. Actually the line of the Party is essentially the line of the peace movement which pins its hopes on the “sensible-responsible” sections of the ruling class. Hall then proceeds to polish off Marxism Leninism by sneering at those “dogmatists” who call for, “militant revolutionary actions... the dictatorship of the proletariat, and in smashing the bourgeois state.” Hall claims that advancing these Marxist-Leninist, concepts would separate us from other Americans. Hall then accuses the dogmatists of wanting the Party to attack the labor leaders by calling them “vile and slanderous names.” If fighting for correct Marxist-Leninist principles can separate you from the masses, if exposing phony labor leaders is harmful maybe radicals should not expose capitalism after all. The Meanys, Reuthers and Dubinskys serve their capitalist bosses. Maybe the left should disabuse the workers in the garment industry from anti-Dubinsky efforts. Maybe Hall should simply call the Party the Marxist ADA of America clearing away other obstacles for “relations” with the masses. He says, “We reject such nonsense because we participate in the class struggle and to not intend to let phrasemongers and dogmatists create barriers between our party and the working class.” If the Party has eliminated all these dogmatists, what prevents them from having ties with the masses? Obviously, people are just rushing to join the Party! Its ties are growing very rapidly. Hall then ends his renovated “Marxism” with a call to support the good old Democratic Party. His profound observation is that, “In the 1964 elections the people will be functioning in the two party system...and that independent forms will be mainly in the Democratic Party. ...That is where the peace candidates of 1964 will emerge. ...It is where the Negro and Labor candidates will function.” He then indicates that if you do not follow this line you will have nothing to do. “The left has purpose only if it has something to do. There is nothing unless there are problems. There are very few problems unless there is a broader movement.” Well, this is what Marxism has come to. Some people call this “revisionism,” but to call someone a “revisionist” implies that he is revising Marx and Lenin and what Hall is saying has nothing in common with the science of Marxism-Leninism.
The specific forms in the fight for peace will in this country develop along the lines of militant class struggle not along the lines of exhortations to the workers to choose peace instead of war. Even Kennedy says peace is better than war. The job of the vanguard in America is to bring wider and wider sections of the people into sharp battle in their own interests. In the: course of these battles the political level of the workers will grow and the economic struggles will become more political in character. The Negroes’ fight for self-determination, economic security and for equality is an important component in the fight for peace and undermines the economic and political stability of the ruling class. Millions of workers in sharp class battle for the shorter work day and other key issues pose a big problem for the ruling class. If millions of workers were linked in a massive struggle for freedom and jobs, it would undermine the ability of U.S. imperialism to play an aggressive role in other parts of the world. So long as the imperialists have a secure home base they are emboldened to move vigorously. While participating in various kinds of struggle the vanguard must consistently advocate socialist solutions and must always expose the relationship of the monopolies to the state. At the same time a Marxist movement must try and prevent the isolation of the working class, especially from the intellectuals. The working class needs allies, it needs the introduction of socialist thought and theory into its ranks. On the other hand, the revolutionary socialist forces should fight off defeatism and pessimism as regards the working class. The working class is the only class that has the potential power for smashing capitalism. Once intellectuals and ethers lose their class perspective, cynicism and defeatism will set in.
Without a strategy based on the working class we are barren of any ways and means of changing society fundamentally. The CP has lost confidence in the working class and pins its hopes on the bourgeoisie. As such, its orientation gravitates to the petty-bourgeoisie. If the ruling class could succeed in destroying revolutionaries’ confidence in the working class it would be a big victory for it. We must certainly pay attention to the weaknesses in the working class but our prime concern must be how to overcome them.
The emergence of the Progressive Labor Movement is an important sign that U.S. imperialism was and is unable to destroy the drive for a revolutionary socialist movement in this country. PLM’s modest attempts to help launch a party based on the science of Marxism-Leninism indicate that revisionism and the ideology of the ruling class has not triumphed in America. It is our aim to encourage a program of an intermediate character for every phase of American life – a program that will develop sharp class struggle and expose the root of the war danger. It would include in it an independent Negro political movement in the: South, a second federation of labor uniting the more advanced sections of labor and eliminating the corrupt labor leadership, a national Labor-Negro Party and an anti-imperialist peace movement, especially among students. It is our aim to formulate a program for bringing the workers to power in our country. We intend to find out how to elevate every daily struggle of the people into revolutionary will. It is our intent to help build a mass revolutionary party. It is our belief that the objective conditions exist in our country and on a world scene for such a development. We will encourage every revolutionary or militant tendency among the people. We will attempt to unify the broadest strata of the working people into a mighty avalanche that can unite with their brother workers the world over to final victory over imperialism.