Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Practical Suggestions... Planning Bolshevik Work

First Published: NCP Report, No. 70, February 23, 1948
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Helping the working class bring into being a new, bona fide Bolshevik Communist Party in this country should be the immediate strategic aim for real Communists individually and in groups–and progress toward this aim will come more rapidly, we think, if a plan of work is put together with this single immediate aim always in mind.

The most effective way for a real Communist group to help bring a new CP into existence is to build itself.

By growth, one group becomes several groups. Higher bodies develop naturally for they become necessary as the means of linking two or more groups together in a Bolshevik fashion.

As this growth continues, questions of linkage on a larger scale will arise realistically for the first time.

What we call “pre-CP” groups, that is to say, groups already working in a Bolshevik fashion toward the formation of a new CP– grow by increasing the quantity and quality of their members.

Conditions of membership, generally speaking, are acceptance of the full Bolshevik program, compliance with the rules and with decisions of the collective, and meeting the test of class composition.

Wherever there are large numbers of workers there are also likely to be a few at least who already accept the proletarian dictatorship as the necessary fundamental strategic goal of the working class, A concrete plan of action should, first of all, ask and try to answer the questions, “Where are and who are these advanced workers?” What can we do to find them, reach them, get to know them, and recruit them?”

Starting Where You Are

The very fact that a pre-CP group has been able to form along correct lines (including protection of class composition) means that a majority in the group are themselves advanced workers. This in turn usually means they have a good idea of the lay-of-the-land in the shops and areas where they work, On the basis of this personal knowledge, specific plans can and should be made to reach all eligible workers with whom pre-CP group members are acquainted.

In most industrial communities, however, there is a good chance that the total number of such advanced workers is larger than the number known personally to pre-CP group members–and so a logical second step is to work out ways and means of reaching; these others.

Propaganda is required–and in view of the caliber of the workers at whom it is directed, it should be propaganda on a high political level.

With workers of this degree of advancement, there can be no serious question of A-B-C stuff–questions these workers already know forwards and (especially if they have had experience with CPUSA leaders) backwards.

Ordinary word-of-mouth propaganda is very important. It cannot of course cover as much territory as written propaganda and even word-of-mouth propaganda needs to be supplemented by written propaganda.

For published propaganda, a means of and plan for distribution are needed. The means should be as selective as circumstances permit, so that the circulation will be concentrated as much as possible among those particular workers most likely to be closest to the recruiting stage. A high degree of selectivity, although desirable, is often not possible – but the plan should aim at as much selectivity as seems practical.

The plan should, above all, provide for persistent propaganda. Such a campaign takes time and often quite a lot of time to yield results. It is foolish to assume that advanced workers, merely on the basis of three or four pieces of published propaganda, will without further ado begin to clamor for membership in your group. Workers necessarily base their judgments not on verbal statements alone but on an estimate of many additional factors.

The plan should provide for prompt and systematic following-up on a personal basis.

Extending Your Contacts

Finally, the plan should provide means by which members of the pre-CP group may go among and work cooperatively with other workers in addition to those in their own shops.

Work aimed at recruiting the most advanced workers on a principled basis is a permanent feature of real CP work at all stages of development. With growth, other jobs are added to this central job but cannot ever replace this central job.

General propaganda among large bodies of workers and among the masses of people in a neighborhood that seeks to explain just what a workers’ and farmers’ government really is and why the masses of exploited people should support such an aim involves a propaganda campaign that, while related to the above-described campaign, is not the same thing by a long shot.

General propaganda for the revolutionary goal aims at drawing people much closer to the CP but does not aim directly at recruiting. It aims, rather at developing bit by bit among the people a greater and greater degree of understanding of the workers’ and farmers’ government as the only practical solution to the mounting problems of ordinary people. It aims, too, to show the connection between this goal and the immediate struggle against the capitalist class.

Naturally, such general propaganda of a revolutionary sort has to be formulated very differently from the direct propaganda aimed at recruiting the more advanced workers. In the latter case, the assumption is that the advanced workers already have a fairly clear idea of what you are talking about; in the former case, the assumption is that the masses of exploited people do not yet have a very clear idea of the workers’ and farmers’ government.

Using the Marxist Classics

Inasmuch as the direct recruiting propaganda must be on a high political level, do not make the mistake of overlooking the vast amount of first class material of that sort to be found in the principal writings of Lenin and Stalin. Foundations of Leninism is particularly admirable. All these works are by and large easily available at present.

The main obstacle standing in between these great works and the convincing of an advanced worker will usually be found to be the widespread illusion – carefully fostered by the leaders of CPUSA – that Leninism does not apply to the U.S.

Hence a pre-CP group would do well to concentrate its propaganda-fire against this false idea; and the most effective additions a pre-CP group can make to the treasury already given us by Lenin and Stalin are additions to show and to prove exactly that these principles do apply to the U. S. and that it is in violating these principles that a working class guarantees its enslavement.

It is permissible for us to mention, we think, that one of the media through which the applicability of Leninist-Stalinist principles is developed into propaganda form is this publication, NCP Report, which, within the inevitable limitations, does the best it can to dig away the mud and debris heaped on Leninism-Stalinism by CPUSA leaders and others in this country. In many cases it will be found that NCP Report will materially help pre-CP groups to solve some of these questions of propaganda. It can be circulated just as it is published. Or, individual articles and items can be reprinted (with or without credit) either as they are or adapted to the needs and opinions of the group itself. Past issues will often be found to contain helpful material dealing with problems currently in front of a given group.

A further and no doubt temporary use of NCP Report arises from fact that, for the time being, a pre-CP group working in a rather “tight” situation can circulate NCP Report without implicating itself directly in the complications that may arise.

Special propaganda possibilities exist for any concrete pre-CP group in handling on-the-spot problems in their own areas. Each city, and each section of the labor movement always presents specific chances to apply a Bolshevik line, and only a group, right on-the-spot can do this really well.

Planning: A Summary

To sum up our opinions as to an effective approach to this problem of working out the initial phases of tactics for a pre-CP group.

1. The first thing to plan and to carry into action is propaganda that is (a) specifically revolutionary – i.e., based on the need to prepare the working class now for the future establishment of a workers’ and farmers’ government, (b) addressed to the most advanced workers, (c) on a high political level, (d) aimed at recruiting these advanced workers directly into the pre-CP group.

2. Once the above process is actually going, there should be added a second campaign that is (a) implicitly revolutionary and to a constantly greater and greater extent explicitly revolutionary; (b) addressed to all workers and to the poorer non-proletarian strata, (c) on a necessarily lower political level at first, (d) aimed at creating clearer understanding among the masses of exploited people of what the Bolshevik movement is trying to do and why it deserves the support of the ordinary people.

3. As soon as both the above processes are in motion, there should be added propaganda, agitation, and direct organizational work that is (a) addressed to all workers, (b) aimed at winning the understanding and support of all workers for one or more immediate mass-action slogans put forth by the Bolsheviks as concrete practical guides to the actions of non-Party as well as of Party workers.

The addition of the second and third processes to the first need not wait and should not wait until “perfection” has been achieved in the first–for that would involve waiting a mighty long time.

What is important is to plan the first process first, get it rolling first and then, while keeping it rolling, to plan and set in motion the second process; similarly, with the third process.

In this way, by concentrating forces, on first things first and then shifting the concentration to second things second, comparatively slender forces will be able to get much more work done than would otherwise be possible, and, in addition, by recruiting to increase the forces available. That is the best way, we think, to develop the many-sided work characteristic of an efficient Bolshevik group.