Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Age

Editorial: The End of Progressive Labor Party


First Published: Revolutionary Age, Vol. 2, No. 3, 1972
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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EROL Note: The issue of Revolutionary Age in which this editorial appeared was published by (in the words of the editors): “three Maoist-Trotskyist groups: The Party of Progressive Socialist Workers in Milwaukee, the Seattle based Freedom Socialist Party, and Arne Swabeck and his co-workers in Los Angeles.”

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The imminent collapse of PLP is unfortunate. Maoist influence had drawn it out of Stalinism toward class opposition to the reformist policies of the American CP in its degeneration, providing hope that PLP could engineer a Great Leap Forward for the New Left in the United States.

This hope has been dashed by their sudden rejection of Mao, Lenin and the Bolshevik tradition. The leap from student radicalism and ultra-leftism to the working class and Maoism proved too difficult for PLP. As it became clear that Maoism cut away their Stalinist groundwork and drew them dangerously close to Trotskyism, the PLP leaders panicked. But they could not get rid of Trotsky without doing away with Mao, Lenin and Marxism.

This fear of bolshevik contamination brought to the fore the wretched high-handed organizational methods of ultra-left Stalinism that had embarrassed PLP sympathizers in SDS. They proceeded to drive out workers, black militants, and anybody who questioned the leadership or sought to resolve the obvious contradictions in its program.

Their political retreat was stimulated by an opportunist approach to the labor movement, and expressed a middle-class fear of the tasks of building a revolutionary Marxist party. The job of raising the class consciousness of the working class to the stage where it will conduct a conscious struggle for power is solved by economism, and ultra-left romantic illusions that workers are everywhere revolutionists, class-conscious, and at odds with the bosses, the labor fakers and the state.

The final blow to PLP’s socialist pretensions was the reluctance of the Chinese to lead a worldwide revolutionary adventure after the Cultural Revolution. The middle-class romantics became the rejected lovers and decided that China had become capitalist! Their estimate that a rightward consolidation took place in China after the GPCR may be correct, but this hardly warrants a whole new reevaluation of the Chinese revolution.

Unfortunately, PLP has not only separated itself from the first two socialist revolutions – but from the coming one in the U.S. as well.