Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

History of the Modern Black Liberation Movement and the Black Workers Congress Summed-Up

First Published: In the pamphlet, The Black Liberation Struggle, the Black Workers Congress, and Proletarian Revolution, n.d. [1974].
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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In the year 1955, in the old southern city of Montgomery, Alabama, a Black woman by the name of Rosa Parks stood up, and then sat down. The masses of Black people kicked oft the modern Black liberation struggle.

The NAACP filed over 55 desegregation suits in 1955. Emmett Till was lynched in Mississippi while Roy Wilkins was named to succeed Walter White as head of a hounded NAACP throughout the south. Black veterans were, by and large, home, or on their way back from Japan and Korea telling stories of how they had seen those courageous Chinese troops fighting a much better equipped American Army. The ruling class and Joe McCarthy had just finished the job of catching the CPUSA disarmed and flabby – the results of a criminal, revisionist Policy unable to have been turned around. White mobs lined UP to block school doors throughout the south. The battle of Little Rock broke after the people of Montgomery had defeated the Montgomery BUS Company’s Jim Crow Policy.

1957 was the year of Ghanian independence and the founding of SCLC. Members of the elite wing of the Black bourgeois and petty bourgeoisie proudly talked about going to Africa to serve the Ghanian government. The struggles of the African, Asian, and Latin American peoples revealed more concretely to masses of Black people here the lie of the “colored Peoples inferiority”. On through Tent City, the lynching of Charlie Mack Parker, massive voter registration campaigns, the bursting upon the scene of the heroic, young Black students, Robert Williams and the people of Monroe, N.C., demonstrating the lie of “natural negro passivity”, expressed through ’non-violence’, and the Black liberation movement surged onward. Toward the last couple of years of the ’50’s, the Black masses were hit with an unemployment they were to never recover from. The face of the Black community would reveal more and more growing numbers of unemployed youth and their underemployed fathers and brothers of all ages. This is what was happening brothers and sisters.

By 1960 only 59% of Black people resided in the South. Outside and inside the south Black people lived overwhelmingly in large metropolitan areas. The same year saw the birth of SNCC and the election of the ruling class politician – JFK – who wanted to “lead” the Black liberation movement (into the lion’s den). Black people unfolded mass struggle against every stronghold of Jim Crow, using sit-ins, freedom rides, legal suits, etc., while defying white mobs, dogs, and lying, “benevolent” politicians.

Malcolm X! Black Patriot! Malcolm summed UP the decade 1955 to 1965, and even though the ruling class murdered him, his ideas and spirit are with us now. He articulated the aspirations of the period, even though many of us couldn’t understand what he WAS saying then. On the heels of tumultuous mass struggle, Black people shouted: “Black Power”! as they learned that the Federal government was not really their friend but their enemy from to1^ to bottom. In the last half of the 60’s, Black people proclaimed straight up that if we were to be mashed into the dirt any longer, then the government needed its Army, Navy and police, but no unruly band of civilian whites would insult Black, people, north or south, ever again. The chips were down. The “American system” was on the line. There was no where to run, no place to hide, except maybe one – the Uncle Toms of the Black bourgeoisie, and the right opportunists, like the CPUSA.

Lets back up a few years or so. During the entire period Black peoples struggle baptized a generation of white youth and progressive white Americans in wave after wave of mass struggle and ruling class violence, opening the eyes of Americans of every class and strata to the hypocrisy of “American Democracy–, more so than any other mass movement with the possible exception of the mass peonies struggle against the imperialist war in Indo-China. And the Black peonies struggle played a key role in helping to launch the struggle against the aggression in Vietnam. The Black peoples struggle was a huge inspiration to the Chicane and Puerto Rican peoples whose struggles also shook U.S. society. The Black peoples struggles exposed the good-for-nothing CPUSA and all their foul weeds. The Black peoples struggle was objectively anti-imperialist from the ’git’, and in the late 60’s it was becoming consciously anti-imperialist. This new, anti-imperialist force reached its height at that time, with the birth of the Black. Panther Party. The Black peoples struggle for liberation shook American imperialism to its knees throughout the 1960’s, giving Birth to a host of anti-imperialists: black, brown, yellow and white, many who evolved into a small sector of conscious, anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninists.

By 1967, almost 50% of Black people lived outside the south and almost 90% of Black people lived in metropolitan areas of over 250,000 in population. Black, people were overwhelmingly an urban people, a proletarian people. Black workers caucuses sprung UP in practically all the basic industries. These caucuses aimed their fire at the fact that Blacks held the dirtiest and lowest paying jobs and were excluded from active participation in the unions.

The mass struggle of Black people burst forth before the Black proletariat was class conscious or organized enough to play the leading role. Consciousness of the necessity for revolutionary class struggle, a struggle against the Black bourgeois forces dominating the movement, of the need for independent organization which represented their class interests and could lead them into action against the imperialist system, only penetrated into a very small circle of Black workers in the early sixties. Therefore the crisis of the Black liberation struggle which Became apparent in the late sixties, revealed itself more and more as a crisis of the leadership. With each advance of the struggle the bankrupt leadership of the Black bourgeoisie and the vacillating influence of the Black petty bourgeoisie became clear to the masses of Black people. For almost a decade and a half of active mass struggle, every coalition and organization in the Black community was led by preacher so-and-so or attorney so-and-so. They carried on “negotiations” with the ruling class whites for “reforms” – civil rights legislation, programs for housing, education, economic assistance, etc. NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THESE PROMISES HAVE BEEN KEPT! These promises turned out to be simply gestures to hide the exploitative nature of the present system and the class interest of the Black bourgeoisie, who knew how to use the militancy of the masses for their own selfish ends.

But it has been the Black masses themselves, 90% of whom are part of the laboring masses, who have been the driving force of the Black liberation struggle. They have taken to the streets, to the marches, and to the barricades demanding jobs, better housing, better education, increased wages and an end to the ’heavy hand’ of the state, especially in the form of “police brutality”. It was these demands and this reality which must be taken as the starting point in understanding the storms unleashed by the valiant Black people in the latter half of the sixties. Though the Black, bourgeois and petty bourgeois classes assumed what it thought was its natural 100 year old right to leadership, the Black masses literally set fire to America in the 60’s after a decade of prattling about “non-violence” by these bourgeois forces.

In the midst of the smeltering cities the working class content of the Black peoples demands could not be mistaken, nor could they be altogether denied. In the face of such storms the ruling class showed that it knew ho to use the carrot as well as the stick - they knew how to bribe and flatter, and who to run to. Under the guise of “economic self-development”, and “Buy Black”, “Do our own thing”, etc., the monopoly capitalist pumped literally millions of dollars into Black enterprises – banks, cooperatives, farms, franchises, night clubs and insurance companies, with the accumulating wealth of the Black bourgeoisie, jumping from $500 million in 1965 to $1.6 billion in 1973! The Black petty-bourgeoisie on the other hand, was regarded with a host of new positions in the corporate structure, and the proliferating “Poverty Programs” popping UP in every Black ghetto in the country. Nevertheless, these bourgeois and petty bourgeois forces maintained their leadership of most of the major Civil Rights organizations – SNCC, COPE, SCLC, the URBAN LEAGUE, and the NAACP. Even where militant, younger forces had come forward to challenge the old guard forces, like in SNCC, it was the radical wing, by and large, of the petty bourgeoisie speaking, a younger, radical wing who would vacillate between continuing in the revolution or capitulating, to the ford foundation, the “liberal” bourgeoisie, and the Democratic Party.

The reasons the Black bourgeoisie took the course that they did were not accidental:

1) Their objective economic position in society – small and medium size capitalists who wanted a “bigger piece of the action” of imperialist America. And a chance to exploit more of the ’Black Market’.
2) The fear of arousing and bringing into revolutionary action “their own” deprived peoples, many who already recognized the need for destruction of the present system as the only way out.
3) Fear of the working class and communism in general, especially frightened by the victories of the heroic Vietnamese peonies whose examples were an inspiration to oppressed peoples everywhere, including Black people in the U.S.

The Black Panthers became the first to see through this unholy alliance, and from the far off shores of the Bay Area California, gave the call for Black people to continue to fight against U.S. imperialism and racism. They helped to expose the treacherous activities of the Black bourgeoisie who were ready to sell out Black people for a few pieces of silver. They raised the banner of Marxism-Leninism as the only ideology for Black people, and conducted merciless criticism of cultural nationalism, mysticism, and Pan Africanism of the Black bourgeoisie. They raised the banner of armed struggle as the final answer to any oppressed peoples situation and actively participated in the armed self-defense of several Black communities. Because of the Black Panther Party, the ruling class was unable to douse the flames of the Black liberation movement that many thought was already dead.

But the BPP made some serious mistakes, foremost among them being the idea the lumpen, or street elements of the Black community were the vanguard of the struggle. Responding to what they saw as the main elements in the city rebellions of Detroit, Newark, Harlem, Cleveland, and Watts, the BPP concluded that it was the unemployed and semi-employed youth that were the main forces in the Black community. They were unaware of the powerful Black proletariat in the big industrial cities, and the leading role of the proletariat in general, which was just beginning to stir. Also, the Panthers were reacting to the revisionist line of the CPUSA which was advocating the “peaceful transition to socialism”, and who had already sold-out the working class in the U.S. and condemned it to a state of disorganization and disarray. The desperation and despair of the unemployed youth, which made up the BPP, was real, as was their revolutionary fervor. Undoubtedly, this element of the Black community will play an extremely important role, but again, only the proletariat, with its ideology and its vanguard, a Communist Party, can lead. Despite the mistakes, the BPP placed a tremendous role in raising the mass struggle of Black people to a new level, and paved the wav for the Black proletariat to play the role it is historically destined to play.

The political situation within the Black liberation movement had seen the temporary lulling of the momentous mass struggles of the 60’s and the earlier part of the seventies. Repression was aimed like a killer knife at the Panthers, though all Black people were the target. But in the early 1970’s, rebellion after rebellion began to rock the prisons from Folsom to Attica. Inflation was already choking the American people: unemployment was astronomical in the ghettos. The Nixon-Kissinger gang in Washington was frantically pursuing their Nazi-terror in Vietnam, while lashing out at the people here at home. The ideological and political confusion caused by all the militant rhetoric of the “Black Power” days was dispersing the militants of the Black liberation struggle, and sending the “white radicals” back to their campuses. At the same time Black Workers in basic industry were building militant rank-in-file organizations to combat the oppressive conditions of plant life and the racist, sell-out policies of their “union leaders.” Within the working class, strike after strike hit the monopoly capitalists where it hurt most – in their pocket books – workers’ strikes caused a loss of 51.6 million man hours in 1970.

In 1969, the first revolutionary Black workers organization of the modern era – The League of Revolutionary Black. Workers – was formed in Detroit. As we stated before, there is a close connection between the mass anti-imperialist uprisings of the Black messes, especially the Black Panthers, and the awakening of the Black proletariat with the formation of the League. Without the Civil Rights struggle and the mass rebellions in the cities, the struggles of Black workers and the formation of the League would not have taken place when it did. The formation of the League, in turn, greatly influenced the Black struggle and the entire revolutionary movement of the proletariat in the U.S.

This is what Mike Hamlin, Chairman, and one of the founders of the League, had to say about the Leagues program:

The League of Revolutionary Black Workers is dedicated to waging a relentless struggle against racism, capitalism, and imperialism. We are struggling for the liberation of Black people in the confines of the U.S. as well as to play a major revolutionary role in the liberation of all oppressed people in the world. The formation of the League represented an important new turn, the beginning of a new stage in the anti-imperialist struggle of Black workers and the masses of Black people. Before the League, Black workers had participated in the mass struggle, but not as an independent and organized force, merely another “interest group”, following the leadership of another class. The formation of the League marks the beginning of the transition where the Black liberation movement merges with the revolutionary movement of the proletariat as a whole. And who but the Black sector of the proletariat is in a better position to lead such a transition? Indeed, the major question which confronted the League was precisely – ’who will assume the lead of the next high tide in the Black struggle?’ After 1969, only sheer opportunists, or people who didn’t know any better, could place any hopes in the revolutionary capacity of the Black bourgeoisie. The radical Black petty bourgeoisie, represented in the main by SNCC, were splintering – some going to the Ford Foundation, others to Africa, others underground, and still others, nowhere. A few had made attempts to link UP with the BPP, but that didn’t work either.

In response, the League put forward the following position: ’The sole class which owing to its objective position, is capable of leading the Black liberation movement is the proletariat.’ The League proved this by causing major shut—downs in the big auto slants of RM and Chrysler, which re-kindled the spark of the working class movement. Thousands of Black workers walked off their jobs to protest the racist and brutal treatment they received at the hands of both the company and the union. These struggles, which were also supported by many advanced white workers, scared the hell out of the giant auto companies which dominate the economy of the United States. Additionally, these struggles had a particularly profound effect on the workers and Black revolutionaries everywhere. The Black working masses had become active and revolutionary (at least in Detroit) and were led by an openly revolutionary organisation – the League! In light of these struggles, not only the national oppression, but the class exploitation of Black people was more clearly revealed, striking another blow at the bourgeois nationalism of those Blacks who said we are only fighting against ”all white people”. Though the social-political activity of the bourgeois led Civil Rights movement had a stimulating effect on the Black sector or of the working class, the open treachery of the Black bourgeoisie discredited it in the eyes of this sector of the Black population, and in tarn, stimulated the Black workers to organize themselves independently. The formation of the League, and its subsequent development, marks the point where a new current of events was to be observed in the Black movement:

– considerable numbers of the masses of Black working people, industrial proletariat, began to break away from the “bourgeois nationalist” leadership of the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie,
– the deepening of capitalist relations within the Black community, spurted by the development of the Black bourgeoisie and the growth of the Black proletariat, polarized the Black community even more as the struggle over “who will lead” the Black people intensifies. Class struggle within the Black Nation sharpens.
– The growth of Marxism-Leninism Mao Tse Tung Thought among the Black proletariat and the radical wing of the Black petty bourgeoisie, signals the waning influence of bourgeois nationalism among the advanced sector of the Black population.

The League played a key role in inspiring the Black Liberation Movement and spreading Marxist-Leninist ideas among Black workers and workers in general, as well as other progressive sectors of the population. HOWever, due to weaknesses in proletarian ideology, the League made mistakes in regards to succumbing in may respects to bourgeois nationalism and syndicalism.

Today the Black sector of the proletariat, though far from being in the leadership of Black liberation movement, is nevertheless making its presence felt. The great storm that was the mass struggle of the Black masses brought forth many individuals and organizations, each claiming to represent the “truth”, leading Black people to their “final place in the sun.” Most of these organizations showed the determination and fighting capacity of Black people, but in the main they have come and gone with little trace of their presence left behind. This only has proven what we’ve been saying all along. Only the proletariat, and within the Black liberation movement, the Black proletariat, is capable of leading all classes and strata in the final assault against U.S. imperialism and monopoly capitalism, to peace, liberation and socialism.


The mass upsurge of Black people during the sixties – the Civil Rights Era, the rebellions in the cities, the Black Power era, the community and prisons struggles and the development of militant rank-in-file Black workers movement – largely spontaneous in nature – provided a real meaning and real basis for the calling of a Black Workers Congress. The masses of people knew that rebellions, no matter how militant and destructive they were, could only go so far without leadership and organization. The Panthers had been routed with their leadership split and their local organizations riddled with informers. There was no thought of turning to the Black bourgeoisie, and even less so to the CPUSA and various white “revolutionary” groups. The League was there but it was a local organization centered in Detroit, and was unable or unwilling to expand. Therefore, the desire for an independent Black worker’s organization, with a clear revolutionary line, that was national in scope, was a general aspiration of the advanced sector of the Black population.

Various Black worker’s organizations like the League, the United Black Brothers in Newark, caucuses in Baltimore, Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland and Gary Indiana, together with “movement activists”, students and revolutionary intellectuals from various backgrounds and experiences in the Black struggle, former members of SNCC, and the Black Panther Party, formed the Black Workers Congress, on December 12, 1970. Combined, these forces represented a sector of the most advanced wing of the Black liberation movement, some with wide experience through all the stages of the struggle. There were about 30 delegates representing a dozen or so organizations, divided more or less equally between worker and revolutionary nationalist groups. The overwhelmingly majority of the delegates and groups ware working class, but the leadership was clearly in the hands of the intellectual elements, and those who had little or no experience in the workers movement, or in organizing workers. As such the character of the founding conference was mainly petty bourgeois in its ideological and political outlook.

The ideological basis of this new, national organization was only superficially touched on. A draft Manifesto was passed out. James Forman, organizer of the conference, made a speech on the importance of organizing Black workers. Discussion of the Manifesto was light. The League representatives were hesitant and expressed concern as to whether such an organization could be built. The representatives of the United Black Brothers, however, pushed for the formation of a national organization, as did most of the other delegates. A continuations committee was formed and a second conference was scheduled for Chicago in January to review the work of contacting other workers groups in different parts of the country, and make further decisions. In the interim, the Manifesto was published on newsprint for distribution.

The Congress developed in a contradictory way. A fairly rapid tempo of organizing work, which pushed the organization into nearly 20 cities in a few months, began under the conditions of an emerging internal struggle. The United Black Brothers was to attend only one other meeting before leaving over a struggle about the “ratio of workers to activists on the central committee”. SNCC and the Third World Women’s Alliance attended no more meetings, apparently because they objected to Forman’s leadership of the new organization. The United Front of Cairo, although always open to the BWC attended one or two meetings later on, but they never really participated in much work of the organization. At just about every meeting there were long discussions and struggles on the questions of Marxism-Leninism Mao Tse Tung Thought, the National Question, how the organization was to be built, the political line of the BWC, the nature of the Black liberation movement, the “white left”, etc., etc., etc.

Without a doubt, the Manifesto of BWC reflected, especially in its demands, some of the aspirations of Black people, Black workers and the general anti-imperialist movement at that time. But demands are not a program, and the ideological and political basis of the organization was left unclear. For instance, the BWC in its Manifesto, stated its ideological basis in this manner:

The systematic study of revolutionary theory and experiences of movements and socialist nations so that we might learn from them, but in our learning we must at all times remember that we must apply all theory to the concrete realities of the U.S.

It was very difficult to tell what the BWC was guided by since Trotskyites, Revisionists, Anarchists, all claim to have a revolutionary theory. What we needed was not All Revolutionary Theory, but Marxism-Leninism and the Thought of Mao Tse Tung, which is the only genuine revolutionary theory in the world.

It was easy to see why the BWC was ransacked with ideological struggle, because its vague and opportunist line left room for all sorts of political tendencies which kept the organisation from becoming politically and ideologically unified. This was demonstrated clearly by subsequent events.

Throughout the years 1971 and early ’72 the BWC was engaged in a tremendous organizing campaign in about all the major cities in the U.S. from Los Angeles to New York, New Orleans to Chicago. Dozens of conferences were called in an effort to find anti-imperialist forces (individuals and organizations) and future cadres for the organization. This effort proved more than successful as hundreds of new revolutionary elements came to the fore thirsting for a revolutionary organization they could belong to. Though most of them were revolutionary students and youth, many advanced workers were contacted and joined the BWC. This activity also enabled potential Black revolutionaries and communist, who had not participated in the mass upsurge of the sixties, but who became inspired to revolutionary activity by what they had seen, heard, and read about those struggles. More than anything else, this organizing activity help dispel the myth that Black people “were not ready for Marxism”, and were “politically backward”, were “demoralized” by the Panther experience so on and so forth.

The early experience of the BWC proved that not only was the Black liberation movement alive and well, but that its real potential had hardly been tapped. For the masses of Black working people, here was an organization dedicated to working for their interest, around the concrete day-to-day issues of their lives, and not some pie-in-the-sky Black thing. The masses of Black people were tired of all the rhetoric of the Black Power movement which promised them everything and gave them nothing. Indeed the Congress saw as one of its main task, the spreading of Marxism-Leninism among the masses of Black working people who were clearly ready for it.

The sharpening of class contradictions between the Black masses and the imperialist, expressed most sharply in the “Law and Order” Nixon-Agnew Team, led to an intensification of the revolutionary struggle of Black people and the working class as a whole, particularly the strike movement of working class in the early 1970’s, and the mass prison rebellions throughout the country. For example, in 1972, during the first seven months alone, there were over 4,500 strikes in the U.S. in which 3 million workers took part. Many of them, like the “Oneita Strike” in South Carolina, were led by Black workers. Since 1970 there has been numerous struggles involving Black workers in Steel, Auto, Space, Rubber, Transportation, Communications, Longshore, etc. etc. The most important aspect of these struggles, however, were that in many cases, political rather than economic demands were put in the forefront, like in the Longshoremen’s strike in Louisiana, who refused to unload chrome from Rhodesia.

The BWC was able to play a good role in the prison struggle through the Harriet Tubman Prison Movement which it directed. This organization of activists and ex-prisoners also covered the country, and generally hightened the awareness of the masses to the nature and character of the prison movement which was sweeping the country. Harriet Tubman set up many organising committees of community-people to build outside support for the prisoners’ struggle and aided the prisoners inside with legal and political education, and also set up many Marxist study circles inside the prisons themselves. At the time of the Attica Uprising, the BWC in coordination with Harriet Tubman, called many significant mass demonstrations, rallying the Black community in support of the prisoners’ demands. In Buffalo, for example the largest demonstration in the history of the Black community there was called - over 4,000 angry Black people gathered!

Around the end of 1971 the BWC was in a very good position to build a mass anti-imperialist movement in the Black community as well as in the plants and factories, since it has a good deal of cadres, and was the only national organization that was beginning to sink some roots within the Black sector of the class. Additionally the organization had a year of organizing experience behind it with people who were really respected and known amongst the masses. The organization was just beginning to come out of its cocoon, so to speak, and was beginning to spread its revolutionary wings.

But this potential was not realized. At least not then, anyway.

The creation and advocacy of revolutionary theory plays the principal and decisive role in those times of which Lenin said: “without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.” When a task, no matter which, has to be performed, but there is as yet no guiding line, method, plan or policy, the principal and decisive thing is to decide on a guiding line, method, plan or policy. Mao

Just as the greatest political opportunities for the BWC began to mature, the organization became bogged-down in anintensified ideological struggle, over just what was its principal and chief task, its “guiding line, method plan and policy”. The continuing struggle was waged mainly within the leadership of the organization and was a reflection of the political and ideological differences within the organisation and movement, paralyzed the organization in almost every respect. The leadership of the BWC, in the later half of 1972 and early ’73, could not claim to have any unity on any of the burning questions of the revolutionary movement – the National Question, Party Building, the United Front, the Student and Youth movements, the Women Question, you name it. Naturally, this state of affairs could not continue for very long without something coming to a head. It did. The objective demands of the revolutionary movement along with a better grasp of Marxism-Leninism compelled the BWC to make the necessary criticism and self-criticism, compelled us to learn from our mistakes, compelled us to make the changes that were necessary if the organization were to go forward.

The struggle centered around the following question: “What is the principal problem facing the BWC and what is the solution to this problem?” On this question the leadership split, and two lines began to emerge. There was one line which said the principal problem of the organization was the absence of a unified proletarian ideological and political line, and the presence of a bourgeois and petty bourgeois line dominating the organization. The other position said that “administration” and “structure” and “incompetent personnel” was the principal problem. To get to the truth, it was necessary to sum-up the experiences of the organization and see whether or not its original ideas, theories, plans, and programs corresponded to what came to past.


Armed with a minimum amount of ideological unity, the BWC spread itself over the continental U.S. in a matter of a few months. The main way the organization was to build itself, was through the mass conferences we spoke of earlier. Reality turned out to be quite different. No more than 5% of any who attended those conferences became members (not altogether a bad thing). These conferences were open, mass events and anyone could attend, regardless of political outlook. Now these conferences were good for making contacts and meeting people, but it is just not the way to build a communist organization. Even then, the organization failed to establish any on-going committees that could maintain links with the masses after the conferences were over. All and all, the conferences turned out to be good rap sessions, and showed the organizing abilities of many of the BWC cadre, but they were all too expensive and really not worth the effort. Why then, did the BWC pursue its political and organizational work in this way?

The BWC operated with an erroneous and opportunistic concept of how to build a revolutionary communist organization. The Congress was to be simultaneously both a cadre and a mass organization. The concept was developed by James Forman and was called “cadre/mass”. In practice, this broke down to mean that some people in the BWC had to accept Marxism-Leninism while others did not. Forman, and the BWC leadership at that time thought that the main problem of the communist movement was “sectarian”, and in order to combat this, what we needed was a communist organization of thousands, even millions of people. Therefore, the BWC followed this line, the line of building the organization as a “mass” organization “with cadres”. The BWC was to be a group that was simultaneously a mass Party and a cadre Party. Forman predicted we would have 5,000 cadre by “1975”. In the final analysis, this was pure fantasy.

The BWC operated with the view that the main problems of the Communist movement was not of an ideological and political nature, but merely one of ”organization”. What was wrong with the Communist movement was that it was “too small”, rather than that it lacked a unified political line and program on which to unite all the genuine Communist into one organization, a new Communist Party. From its incorrect appraisal of the objective and subjective factors of the revolutionary movement, the BWC’s plans and programs were put together with the expansion of the membership of the organization as more important than anything else. To facilitate this, the organization’s structure was made so loose, that one only had to agree to the mixed-bag of points in the “Manifesto” to be a member. To make matters worse, never were any of these “organizing drives” carried out with an understanding of our ability to service and educate these new members. Thinking we could solve ideological and political problems through “organization”, the BWC only wound up dis-organizing itself! “Organization” only becomes key in the final analysis after there is ideological unity and clarity around the basic political line.

Of course, the Communist movement is small in the U.S., too small. But it must be clear that the mass character of a Party and its influence with the masses, it not determined above all by its LARGE MEMBERSHIP, but primarily by the CLOSE TIES WITH THE MASSES, by the Party’s POLITICAL LINE, which defends the interest of the masses, and how it carries out this political line in practice. The CPUSA, for example was at one time 100,000 strong, but that didn’t help it become a genuine Communist Party, which never happened.

Because of the lack of a correct line, the mistakes in the organizational field reflected themselves primarily in a mass, loosely structured organization with no centralized leadership. Thus the leading bodies of the BWC were unable to give firm direction and discipline. Unified: political action, even on a local scale sometimes was impossible, as was the proper selection and training of cadres. As a result, many of the members became demoralized, cynical, and finally left the organization before it had a chance to correct these errors. The collective leadership of the organization was undermined as a further consequence as each section of it operated semi-autonomously, each “doing their own thang”.

Internally, the incorrect organizational line manifested itself through Liberalism – the lack of a critical attitude towards the leadership by the members, and among the “leaders” themselves. It more or less had become a tradition that everything the leadership said was right, even though many of the directives were ignored anyway. Everyone would pat each other on the back. Programs (especially those proposed by Forman) were rubber-stamped, without being first discussed and thoroughly thought over. A correct Leninist style and method of work was consistently ignored for a style of helter-skelter campaigns which were started and stopped at a moments whim. Besides the liberalism prevailing within the organization, this lack of a critical attitude was due, among other things, to the theoretical weaknesses, which again stemmed from the lack of clarity around a basic line a necessary foundation upon which to refute any erroneous views, whether from the leadership or not. This naturally led to a lot of un-principled struggle (gossiping, rumor-mongering, etc.) and factional intrigue inside tae organization, because again, in the absence of a unified ideological and political line how can principled struggle unfold in an organization? If for some reason a comrade is in error or out of step, It is on the basis of the organization’s ideological and political line that he is struggled with-against either right or ”left” deviations. How can such a process occur in the abstract? And what if a comrade attacks the line itself? Well, in all cases that’s what right and “left” errors amount to, an attack on the line, but in direct assaults on the line we have the right to demand that the comrade prove their position concretely. It is on such a basis that changes are made or rejected inside Communist organizations. Of course there are certain Marxist-Leninist tenets which are not open for a vote or debate, like the dictatorship of the proletariat, etc.

The experience of the BWC in organizational work proved once again, that the best “organizers”, if not armed with a correct political line, will get bogged-down and not be able to carry out any serious political work.

Because of the bourgeois and petty bourgeois nature of its own line, the BWC fought the “sectarianism” of the Communist movement with “spontaneity”. Genuine revolutionary organizations cannot defer or bow to spontaneity, and must prepare ideologically, politically, and organizationally for any mass work and in the most serious manner possible. They must keep in close contact with the masses, who after all are the real makers of the revolution.

It became clear to more that a few member’s of the organization that what was passing for a guiding line and political program did not reflect an understanding of the unity of Marxist-Leninism Mao Tse Tung Thought with the concrete practice of the Black liberation movement nor of the worker’s or communist movement. All were agreed on this, but again there was no unity within the leadership as to how to resolve the problem.

In the meantime Nixon mined the harbors of Haiphong. A program called: “The Vietnam Summer Offensive”, which was put together and hurriedly written, then rubber-stamped by different sections of the leadership under pressure from Forman who was “morally-outraged” at what was happening in Vietnam. The Offensive was an entire package. The first event was to be an Emergency Summit Conference of Third World People held in Gary, Ind. In the meantime another conference was being held in Buffalo by the BWC for Vietnam Veterans, this being done without even the knowledge of the local BWC leadership. After cadres were exhausted, and everyone had gone home, what could be said about the blitz of conferences was not more than some more good “rap” sessions. NOT ONE CONCRETE PROGRAM CAME FROM ANY OF THIS! Again the BWC had substituted digging deep roots within the working class for the glimmer and shimmer of the movement spotlight!

On July 8th, 1972, the Central Committee called an extended meeting (Plenary Session), to be used primarily as an educational conference for the rank-in-file. What began as an educational conference developed into a full-blown ideological struggle between two sections of the leadership over the nature of the organization’s problems, its present condition, and its future development. From that meeting on, what was becoming clearer and clearer to the majority of the members of the leadership was the clean-cut ideological struggle in the BWC between proletarian and bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideology. It was not enough to just list what the contradictions of the organisation were – over-extension of cadre, lack of unity within the leadership, no positions on the burning questions like Party Building, the National Question, and so forth – for that had been done before, only to reappear again at another meeting. It became necessary to get to the bottom of these problems, to examine their social, historical, and ideological roots, and the class forces behind them. During the July 8th conference itself, almost every cadre present spoke about how his or her work was affected because there was no ideological and political center in the organization; on how the work suffered because there was no single part of the organization that knew anything about the work of any other, on how there were no unified positions on a number of important organizational and political questions around which disputes between individual members could be settled; and work carried out; on how demoralizing it was to watch different individuals within and outside the leadership set their own agendas; on the shameful manner in which the membership’s education was handled; on how criticism and self-criticism was unfolded in the organization; and finally, on how the work of the organization, as fragmented and disjointed as it was, teas never properly analyzed and summed up.

As the process to rectify the organization began, some elements of the leadership, led by James Forman resisted. They continued to maintain that “administration” and “incompetent personnel (meaning the rest of the leadership)” was the problem. According to Forman the ideological struggle which had unfolded, was no more than a “jockeying for power”, by a “factional majority”, that was “trying to seize absolute power” in the BWC, and were out to “wreck me personally and politically”.

The struggle Inside the BWC was indeed a struggle for power. Not so much between a “majority and minority faction”, as Forman and his people contended, but a struggle to promote the leadership of the working class over that of the petty bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie, to promote the interest of the revolutionary class over all the rest. There is no such thing as a struggle in class society – be it inside an organization, a family, between friends, etc. – that takes place isolated from the political and ideological tendencies of different classes. The struggle inside the BWC was only a reflection of the same class struggle taking place everywhere in the U.S. society. As Lenin said:

Every trend in Social Democracy (genuine revolutionism) inevitably receives the adherence of a greater or lesser number of not purely proletarian but semi-proletarian, elements; the question is for the proletarian elements, how rapidly it rids itself of the other trends, how rapidly it successfully combats them.

It wasn’t so much Forman the individual that was the problem, but the class tendencies he brought into the working class. Forman was an intellectual. He is part of the intelligentsia - the doctors, lawyers, writers, journalists, academics, students, etc. Generally these people occupy a privileged position in capitalist and revisionist countries. Subjectively, they regard themselves as being superior to working people. They generally come from the petty bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie, but in the U.S. many have working class and even “peasant” backgrounds. Intellectuals play an important role in these societies because of the division between mental and manual work which gives them a monopoly of the word and pen. During revolutionary times, many intellectuals come into the worker’s movement in large numbers. This both a good thing and a bad thing. On the good side, the proletariat needs revolutionary intellectuals because of their many skills and their wide knowledge. But the proletarian intellectual is an intellectual of a new type. He is a transformed intellectual, or one who is sincerely trying to integrate with the workers and peasants, one who gets rid of his or her bourgeois and petty bourgeois baggage. He integrates himself with the masses and learns from them as well as teaches.

Over a hundred years ago Marx said:

If people of this kind from other classes join the proletarian movement, the first condition must be that they should not bring any remnants of bourgeois and petty prejudices with them but should wholeheartedly adopt the proletarian outlook.

On the bad side, intellectuals, especially those in the U.S,, bring into the workers’ movement all sorts of bourgeois and petty bourgeois prejudices especially subjectivism; petty bourgeois radicalism. While this subjectivism takes many forms-empiricism, pragmatism, anarchism, individualism, etc. In essence it’s the same, an approach to reality that is dogmatic and one-sided and is based on wishful thinking, “feelings” and imagination, rather than on concrete analysis of concrete situations. Generally these tendencies led to “left” and right opportunism in political and organizational work. The bourgeois and petty bourgeois intellectual is generally removed from the masses and has little faith in their ability to make revolution. They are generally impatient and are apt to spontaneous activity.

These were the type of individuals which dominated the leadership of the Black Workers Congress, and whose ideological influences have played havoc with the organization. “Their way of appraising a situation was to take individual, incipient, indirect, one-sided, and superficial phenomena favorable to their viewpoint and magnify them into something widespread, grave, direct, all-sided and essential, and they were afraid to acknowledge or were blind to all the facts not in conformity with their viewpoint” (Mao). During and after the July 8th Conference, the more proletarian elements in the leadership waged a bitter struggle against the petty bourgeois tendencies and the opportunist line of James Forman. Forman and his group turned a deaf ear to the honest criticism of the cadres and leadership, branding such criticism as “unjust” and “incorrect;” never once did he admit to doing anything wrong, attributing all the organizations problems to “the historical conditions of the time”. His egotism was so strong, that he walked out of a central committee meeting while being criticized by other C.C. members, again refusing to acknowledge he was guilty of anything. This, together with the tremendous problems his line caused the organisation, precipitated his expulsion, together with a few of his followers. On April 4, 1973 James Forman was expelled from the BWC for refusing to criticise his opportunism, his elitism and bourgeois individualism.

Forman’s expulsion did not end the struggle against petty bourgeois and bourgeois tendencies however. Marxism-Leninism Mao Tse Thought teaches us that the law of the unity of opposites is universal, that there will always be contradictions in thing. Inside Parties and organizations these contradictions will be manifested in ideological struggle against “right” and “left” tendencies, and will only be a reflection of the class struggle going on inside the society at large. Liberalism, opportunism, revisionism, and subjectivism will remain dangerous tendencies that the developing worker’s movement in the U.S. will have to wage a bitter struggle against, at each twist and turn, in the revolutionary movement.

The temporary setbacks the BWC suffered only hastened the resolution of the problems of the organization. Subsequently, the organization has continued to consolidate a proletarian line by summing up its revolutionary experience, the experiences of the communist movement in the world and in the U.S., and the experience of the Black liberation struggle. Though not a very large organization, we have dedicated and able cadres throughout the East, Mid-West and Southern United States who are carrying out revolutionary work within the Black sector of the class, the workers movement as a whole, and the anti-revisionist Communist movement. As an organization of Black communist, we are fully dedicated to joining with, arousing and leading the U.S. proletariat and Black people in general, and other national minorities in overthrowing U.S. imperialist rule and building socialism in the U.S., under the dictatorship of the proletariat and its revolutionary, multi-national Communist Party.

In summing up the experiences of the BWC – the first national, revolutionary Black Communist organisation in recent history – the first stage of its existence was characterized by the penetration of bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideas in both mass and organisational work. In this stage too, the organization expanded tremendously, picked up many new forces, and sunk some roots in the working class and Black community. The second stage was characterized by the struggle against the bourgeois and petty bourgeois influences in ideological, political and organizational work. In this stage, the organization consolidated itself, and placed more emphasis on training its existing cadres, rather than recruiting new ones. The third and present stage is characterized by the consolidation of a more proletarian line, though the struggle against alien class influences is still continuing. And during this stage also, while we will deepen and expand our work and influence among the Black sector of the proletariat, and Black people generally, we will also give primary attention to the ideological, political and organizational problems of the Communist movement as a whole. All and all, we can say that the future is bright though the struggle is full of twist and turns and beset with many sacrifices.

In summing up once again the class struggle inside the BWC, we can say that the penetration of bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideas came from at least the following sources:

First, from the very class nature of the original leadership who were Black intellectuals and ”movement activists”, and whose objective position in U.S. society is in between that of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, and whose subjective outlook naturally tends to be a vacillating one between revolution.

These intellectuals were not armed with the Marxist-Leninist stand, viewpoint, method and outlook, but instead interjected their own petty bourgeois and bourgeois theories. Secondly, from the bourgeoisification of the proletarian elements in the organization who were greatly influenced by the, followed the leadership of the petty bourgeoisie. But even more so, what caused the proletarian elements not to exert their leadership was their own inadequate grasp of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought and the experience and reality of the United States and the communist movement as a whole. Third, these errors and alien influences was due to the uneven development of the Black liberation struggle and workers movement in different parts of the country, and the lack of experience and traditions of Marxism-Leninism within the Black community. And finally, to the lack of a genuine Communist Party in the United States, which has caused the necessity to build a new Communist Party that is armed with the theory of Marxism-Leninism Mao Tse Tung Thought and is free from subjectivism, opportunism and modern revisionism, has a correct political line which includes a revolutionary solution to the problems of Black people and oppressed national minorities in making proletarian revolution, has a thorough understanding of the problems of strategy and tactics of revolutionary struggle in the U.S., masters the main form of struggle at each stage, as well as secondary ones, and is capable of uniting all who can be united in a revolutionary united front against U.S. imperialism under the leadership of the working class, has deep roots among the masses of the people and consists of the most trusted and experienced cadres from the ranks of the revolutionary movement!

The revolutionary cadres of the BWC have acquired a better understanding of the Marxist-Leninist proletarian line as applied to the concrete situation of the U.S., and have raised their fighting spirit to an entirely new level. We have learned from our own experience the truth and wisdom of Comrade Stalin’s teachings: “The Party becomes strong by ridding itself of opportunist elements.”

At the same time, the BWC cadres know full well that truth does not fall from the skies, nor is it hatched in the brains of some great man of history. No! Mao Tse-Tung Thought teaches us, and life, our own experiences have fully confirmed:

Truth develops through its struggle against falsehood. This is how Marxism develops. Marxism develops in the struggle against bourgeois and petit bourgeois ideology, and it is only through struggle that it can develop. Mao Tse-tung