Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Union

Red Papers 4

The RU Leadership

Marxism vs. Opportunism, The Class Struggle Within our Organization

As the ideological struggle within our organization intensifies, it becomes increasingly evident that what is at issue is not simply the question of the military aspect of struggle, not even just the question of the military strategy for the American revolution, but the whole question of political line: specifically, on what group in society must we rely as the leader and main force of revolution, and what are the main reserves of this central revolutionary force. In other words, comrades: this is not just a struggle between right and wrong views. It is a class struggle, within our organization.

The authors of the original paper on “Military Strategy” (and of the revised version on the “Military Aspect” of struggle, which presents the same political line and class outlook) have made this obvious. They have come out with a third paper charging those of us responsible for the paper, “Revolutionary Adventurism or Proletarian Revolution,” with “taking a revisionist line.” Revisionism is counter-revolutionary ideology, bourgeois ideology, which does not base itself on the proletariat and promote the class struggle to overthrow the bourgeoisie, but seeks to reconcile the interests of the proletariat with those of the bourgeoisie. It is a betrayal of the working class and the oppressed peoples of the world. According to these authors, the main form that our revisionism takes is to “deny the national character of the Black liberation struggle.” So, we are not just plain revisionists, but “racist,” and “national chauvinist,” as well as “pro-imperialist” and “anti-proletarian.”

Now these are serious charges, and they require a serious answer. It is not at all surprising that much of the current struggle centers on the national question within the U.S., since this is at the heart of the American revolution. (It is quite surprising that the authors make no attempt in this last paper, to show how the national question relates to a strategy of a protracted urban war of attrition. They seem to have retreated from this obviously anti-Marxist “strategy” and redirected their attack – but that is another question, which we will deal with later). The relationship of the Third World liberation struggles, inside the U.S., to the U.S. proletarian revolution is the main practical and theoretical question that Marxist-Leninists will have to solve in the process of developing and leading the revolutionary movement in this country. Our organization has recognized this from the beginning. In RED PAPERS 2 we state clearly: that we recognize that the Black liberation struggle is both a national question and a class question .. . (and) We recognize ... (this understanding) as the key to understanding the dynamics of proletarian revolution in the U.S. (R.P. 2, p. 11-12).

At the same time, we made it clear that our understanding of this question – like many others – was primitive and would have to be developed through the application of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought to the struggles of the working class and oppressed peoples in the country, through a scientific summing up of these struggles and the formulation and development of policies based on this scientific summing up. But we have also firmly formulated a basic Marxist-Leninist analysis of the national question and its relation to proletarian revolution. This is the foundation of our thinking, without which we cannot solidify and strengthen our understanding. This analysis, presented in RED PAPERS 1 and developed further in RED PAPERS 2 is the same view that is presented in our paper, “Revolutionary Adventurism or Proletarian Revolution.”

In attacking this line as “revisionist ... racist ... national chauvinist,” the authors of the “Military Strategy” (or “Military Aspect”) are attacking the line of our organization. And, in this attack, they dredge up most of the same arguments, accusations and wrecking tactics of the various opportunists from the student movement who have attacked us, from within and without, over the past two years. We will go into this shortly in examining these latest arguments of the “military strategy” authors, and in answering them point-by-point.


[At this point in the original document there followed a section which reviewed the R.U.’s position on the national question and its relation to proletarian revolution in the U.S. Because it was simply a review and did not add anything new to the development of the struggle, in order to save space we have omitted it here. Document X in this RED PAPERS includes a statement of our position on the national question. The section concluded with the following summary paragraph:]

To sum up our position on the national question in the U.S.: The national liberation of Black and Mexican-American people and support for the democratic demands of all oppressed minorities is one of the key spearheads of the United Front and the basis for the revolutionary unity of the proletariat. The struggle of the Black people and brown people, especially, is both a national question and a class question. Black and brown workers will increasingly play the leading role in linking up the struggle of the Black and brown peoples as a whole with the struggle of the proletariat as a whole. This alliance will be the solid core of the United Front in overthrowing U.S. Imperialism and the main content, the backbone, of the proletarian dictatorship.


This is our position on the national question in the United States. It is our organization’s position. It is the Marxist-Leninist position, which our organization has developed in opposition to many opportunist lines.

In answering the “revisionism” paper, which attacks this position as “racist” and “national chauvinist” we will also try to answer the crucial questions: How can we build support for the national liberation struggles against U.S. Imperialism and link them up with the struggle for proletarian revolution in the U.S.? What is the correct path for building the unity of multinational proletariat? What does proletarian leadership of the United Front mean, and what is the road to building proletarian leadership?

The “Revisionism” paper starts out by standing things on their head. It tries to give the appearance of defending the organization’s line, while accusing us of betraying this line:

... at least one of these comrades (the authors of “Revolutionary Adventurism or Proletarian Revolution”) has been one of the leaders nationally in smashing the very same line he is now following.

The paper then quotes a section from the introduction to the last article in RED PAPERS 2, “Revolutionary Youth and the Road to the Proletariat.” (While it is true that one comrade wrote the first draft of this article, it was adopted by the organization as an official statement of our political position, and was presented as such in R.P. 2.)

Now, since the “Revisionism” authors seem to agree that the line of this article in RP. 2 is the correct position, then the question comes down to: who is, in fact, upholding this line, and who is betraying it? On page one of the “Revisionism” paper an accurate summary is provided of the first three paragraphs of the last article from R.P. 2. It cites the fact that the principal contradiction in the world is between the oppressed nations and U.S. imperialism. It points out the duty of revolutionaries “in the (white) mother country” is to build support both for the national liberation struggles, inside and outside the U.S., and for the leading role of the proletariat in these liberation struggles.

It warns against “two, equally dangerous errors”: (1) to reduce everything to the struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat without recognizing the revolutionary content of the national struggle and its dialectical relationship to the class struggle; and (2) to deny the class struggle, within the liberation movements, which means denying the leading role of the proletariat and surrendering the struggle to the leadership of the bourgeoisie. It points out that both these errors come down to the same thing: betrayal of the national liberation movements.

So far, so good. But after this good beginning, the “Revisionism” paper completely parts company with the R.P. article (and as we will show, with our organization’s line and with Marxism-Leninism in general). The R.P. article goes on to answer the very important question it has posed:

For revolutionaries in the mother country the crucial question is: How can we build the greatest possible support, within the mother country, for the third world liberation struggles, inside and outside the United States, and how can we help prevent the co-option or reversal of the revolutionary development of these movements? We cannot allow ourselves to be reduced to mere spectators, however enthusiastic of the third world liberation struggles. But, on the other hand, we cannot allow our subjective desire to personally support these struggles to prevent us from building a movement for mass support. We believe that, in the immediate period, the greatest assistance mother country revolutionaries can give is to spread our present anti-imperialist movement to the masses of people, especially the working class, who are beginning to experience in sharpening terms the heightening contradictions of moribund U.S. imperialism. And, in the long run, the best, indeed the only, way we can help consolidate the victory of the world proletariat is to overthrow the system of U.S. monopoly capitalist imperialism and replace it with socialism. We believe that this can only be done by fighting for the leading role of the proletariat, by developing a basic strategy for initiating and carrying out the fight for proletarian leadership. (RP. 2, pp. 35-36, emphasis added.)

It is no accident that the “Revisionism” authors did n quote this passage from the “Revolutionary Youth” article in R.P. 2 or make any further reference to the article at all. In fact, we think that their own statement applies here: “Revisionism today always reveals itself by what it omits in discussing the liberation struggles of the oppressed peoples within the U.S.” (pg. 2, “Revisionism The heart of revisionism – in fact, of all forms of opportunism – is to deny the leading role of the proletariat the revolutionary struggle, to deny the necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat for the resolution of t contradictions of capitalist society.

This is exactly what the comrades responsible for the “revisionism” paper do in that paper. To raise the article from RP. 2 as a defense for their opportunism – or, m accurately, as a smokescreen – is extremely hypocritical. These comrades know that the “Revolutionary Youth“ article presents the same political line as our paper “Revolutionary Adventurism or Proletarian Revolution” a that it was written in opposition to exactly the line that these comrades are now promoting.


The whole point of “Revolutionary Youth” is that the industrial proletariat must be the leader of the revolutionary movement. The workers employed in large scale industry; not the unemployed. This is clearly laid out on page 39 of R.P. 2. And, again, on page 42, an analysis is made of the strengths and weaknesses of the permanently unemployed Black people. The article goes on to explain why Black workers – suffering national oppression, but also “superexploitation in highly organized and socialized work” must play the leading role within the Black liberation struggle. A long passage from an interview with John Watson of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers is also cited to make the point even more clearly.

We urge comrades to go back and study this article, as a basis for evaluating both the political line and the method of analysis that characterizes the current papers in our ideological struggle. The “Revolutionary Youth” article was written as an answer to an article, “More on the Youth Movement,” by Jim Mellen, who was a leader of the SDS faction that one month later came out openly as “Weatherman” (Mellen was a signer of the original “Weatherman” paper, and, for a short time was a leader of Weatherman, although he fell into disfavor and quit within a few months).

In “More on the Youth Movement,” Mellen tries to define nearly everybody – including large sections of the petty-bourgeoisie – as members of the working class. Then, since we’re all in the working class, he argues, the dogmatic concept of the industrial workers as the leading revolutionary force no longer applies. All we have to do is determine what section of this large “working class” is doing the most trashing, and then we have found the leader of the revolution. All youth, are members of the working class, according to Mellen. And the majority of ’youth’ are supposedly students, servicemen and unemployed. So this majority of youth, suffering the heaviest oppression under imperialism, will make the revolution, along with the people of the third world (Mellen is referring mainly to white youth).

What is the point of all this metaphysical nonsense from Mellen? To lay the basis for a strategy of protracted war in the U.S., as the strategy for overthrowing U.S. Imperialism, since the old Russian model of revolution is outdated. On page 40 of R.P. 2 we quote Mellen as follows:

For the youth of the mother country, the class struggle manifests itself around issues like the draft, the ruling class’ uses of the university, police and other agents of the ruling class, for social control. Throughout society institutions designed to stabilize and serve capitalism are breaking down and struggle ensues.

If the breakdown of the U.S. capitalist system is not necessarily going to come as a huge depression, but as a gradual deterioration of the social structure, then our revolutionary movement must be prepared for the eventuality not just of a general strike, but of a gradual raising of the level of struggle around various issues resulting in a general protracted civil war. (R.P. 2, pg. 40).

Comrades should ask themselves who is it in our organization that is now presenting a political line substantially the same as Mellen’s. And what is the class outlook of both- what class do they actually promote as leader of the revolution?

How did our organization answer Mellen? First of all, we pointed out that a general strike was not the form of the overthrow of the capitalist class, that “It would take a rare combination of circumstances where the capitalist class has become deprived of almost any strength, before a general strike could immediately trigger the death of capitalism.” But, much more importantly, we went on to say:

We do not deny that bourgeois society in this age of declining imperialism is coming apart at the seams; nor that a civil war is likely to break out in the U.S.; nor, least of all, that the struggle will be protracted. But we do believe that this civil war will come when the U.S. has more totally fallen apart in the midst of a great depression or other vast economic and political crisis, such as a devastating defeat in war, for instance, and the ruling class can no longer rule in the old way, nor the lower classes live under the old system. And none of this argues against the leading role of the industrial proletariat. Actually, if in the time of devastating crisis the proletariat has not assumed leadership of the struggle and has not developed its multi-class Marxist-Leninist party, the monopolists will be able to weather even the most devastating crisis, and in one form or another, retain command.” (R.P. 2, pg. 40. Again, we made it clear throughout this “Revolutionary Youth” article that by “industrial proletariat” we mean first and foremost the workers, employed in large-scale, socialized production.)

Once again, comrades should ask themselves: who in our organization is putting forward this line, the line of our organization as presented in the “Revolutionary Youth” article. And what is the class outlook of this line – what group does it promote as the leading force of the revolutionary movement?

The authors of the “Revisionism” paper advise comrades to read the article, “Against the Brainwash,” in R.P. 1 – especially the section attacking PL. They must really hope that nobody follows this suggestion, because it doesn’t at all prove what they say it does-that the line of our “Revolutionary Adventurism” paper is the same as PL’s line on the Black liberation struggle.

In R.P. 1 we attack PL for opposing mass revolutionary organizations of Black people, Black workers’ caucuses, community control, and almost every other struggle of the Black people. We point out that their position that “all nationalism is reactionary” is itself reactionary and that there is a dialectical relationship between the Black liberation struggle and the class struggle in the U.S.

Where in “Revolutionary Adventurism” is this PL line put forward? Certainly not in the part which describes as a great strength of the revolutionary movement in this country, the fact that “Already the employed and unemployed (and here we are talking mainly about Black people) are developing unity in exactly these kinds of struggles – around the hospitals, schools, government agencies, pigs.” We go on to say:

Our task is to sum up these struggles, develop them to a higher level and promote the leadership of the proletariat and its communist organizations (and eventually its Communist Party) in these struggles. Armed struggle must be developed as a part of this process. Armed self-defense of the Black and brown communities must be developed as a mass question, a struggle conducted on all levels, including military level.

The only thing in our paper which even sounds similar to a position of PL’s is our criticism of the Panther approach to organizing ”around the gun.” But we also point out that the Panthers provided leadership in armed struggle in the early pig patrols and the recent prison revolts. In R.P. 1 we showed that PL at first criticizes the Panthers for concentrating on armed self-defense, and then downs the Panthers for the tendency “to de-emphasize the armed struggle.”

Our criticism of the Panther Party centers around the question of making military struggle primary over political struggle, and has nothing in common with PL’s double-talk. The authors of “Revisionism” can disagree with our position here, but they can’t get away with calling it a Trotskyite (PL), counter-revolutionary line. (Comrades should study our paper, and R.P. 1, pages 18-21 and decide for themselves whether the political line of our paper is the same as the PL line we attack in “Against the Brainwash.”)

But let’s move on to more substantial questions. The “Revisionism” paper’s argument that we are “racist” and “national chauvinist” seems to evolve around our analysis of the level of political consciousness and struggle of the Black and brown peoples. The “Revisionism” authors cite our statement that in a colonial or semi-colonial country the masses are always in a revolutionary situation, while in an imperialist country, the majority are in a revolutionary situation only during periods of extreme crisis. Referring further to our paper, they make the following argument:

By its own logic, if it recognized the Black nation and Aztlan as colonies or semi-colonies, it would have to admit that they are in a ’revolutionary situation.’ So therefore the paper, in trying to prove that they are not in a revolutionary situation, assumes from the beginning to end that what it calls the “Black and brown people” and the “Black and brown communities” are not in fact oppressed nations. (emphasis in original).

No, comrades, it is your method, not ours, to make everything hang on a word, or phrase, to start from a subjective stance and then try to twist the facts around to correspond to your idealism (as we pointed out in our first paper). We agree with Lenin that “the living soul of Marxism is the concrete analysis of concrete conditions.”


It is not the word “colony” or “semi-colony” that puts the people of the colonial and semi-colonial world-Asia, Africa, and Latin America in a revolutionary situation. It is their concrete conditions, and especially the fact that the great majority are bound by semi-feudal relations of production and the fact that no central regime can effectively exercise nationwide power. (We laid this out in detail in “Revolutionary Adventurism.”)

In analyzing the concrete conditions of the Black and Mexican-American people, as oppressed nations within the U.S., can we say that they are the same as the people In Asia, Africa, and Latin America? In R.P. 1 and 2, and in this paper, we have spelled out the differences between the Black and Mexican-American nations and the oppressed nations of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Even Eldridge Cleaver pointed to the fact that Black people in the U.S. are in a qualitatively different situation from the people externally oppressed by U.S. imperialism. And he recognized that this explained the difference in the level of revolutionary consciousness and struggle. Upon arriving in Algeria, Eldridge wrote in the Panther paper that, compared to the conditions of the people in the colonial world, the oppression of U.S. imperialism’s internal colonies is like “being pressed between two velvet sheets.”

Our comrades insist on ignoring the crucial differences between the Black and brown peoples within the U.S. and the people of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. They insist that not only the Black and Mexican-American peoples, but Puerto Rican people and Native Americans within the U.S. are each in fact a colony or semi-colony of U.S. Imperialism, just as much as ’South Vietnam,’ ’South Korea,’ Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and Liberia.

Setting aside our disagreement with the formulation of Puerto Ricans, within the continental U.S., and Native Americans as nations, the major question is not one of quantity – “just as much” a colony – but of the qualitative differences between the Black, and Mexican-American people within the U.S. and the people of Vietnam, Korea, Guatemala, Liberia and the Dominican Republic. Are the people of these countries dispersed within the United States? Do they vote in the same elections? Do the same pigs, bureaucrats and administrators oppress them? There is not one bit of science, of Marxism-Leninism, in the whole approach of the “Revisionism” authors. They rely, instead, on a word or phrase, and. on emotional bombast. But, comrades, a Marxist-Leninist organization must be ruthlessly scientific, or we will be totally incapable of serving the people and organizing them to make revolution.

If the test of revisionism, racism and national chauvinism is a word or phrase, then Mao and the Chinese are at least as revisionist as we. In his 1968 statement in support of the Black people’s struggle Mao never once calls them a “nation,” and in the Peking Review No. 46 (which our authors quote in another context), not only the Puerto Rican and Native American peoples, but the Black people and Mexican-Americans are referred to as “minority nationalities,” not nations. When we use the term “people” – Black people, brown people – we are not at all “denying the national character.” In fact, Marxists use the term “people” to refer to a nation – the Vietnamese people, the Korean people, the Cambodian people or at least to a national minority. By using the term “Black and brown communities” we are describing the main content of the national oppression of the Black and brown peoples (comrades can convince themselves of this by rereading our paper).

But again, Marxism does not base itself on a word or phrase, but on the concrete analysis of concrete conditions. When our comrades berate us for the “assumption that the so-called United States of America is a single nation which can be treated merely as an “imperialist nation,” they completely part company with Marxism, with any honest attempt to analyze concrete conditions, and they completely degenerate into metaphysics and emotionalism.

The United States is not “so-called” at all, but in fact an imperialist country, the most powerful and dangerous in the world. Sure, the U.S. ruling class has an empire, which extends not only throughout the Third World but throughout Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. Within this empire, there are many separate countries, each with a different social system. The people of France do not live in the same social system as the people of Italy, to say nothing of India. Or as the people of the U.S. itself. To treat the “U.S. empire” as a single social system, or to act as though the U.S. itself is not a separate country with a single social system, bears nothing in common with Marxism and is of no service to the people.

When Lenin, Stalin and Mao refer to Russia, before the October Revolution, as an imperialist country, they are not ignoring the fact that at that time, Russia contained many internally oppressed nations – the Ukraine, Georgia, Byelorussia, etc. In fact, at that time, Russia was referred to as “the prison-house of nations.” But the most important characteristic of Russian society, taken as a whole, was the fact that its productive forces and relations of production had reached the stage of imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism.

The same is true of the United States, and has been for at least 70 years. Even in 1928 when the Communist International formulated the line that the “Negro People” in the Black Belt of the south constituted an oppressed nation within the United States, they recognized that the most important characteristic of the United States, taken as a whole, was the fact that it had reached the stage of imperialism. Even in Vietnam today, south as well as north, there are tribesmen (Meos, for example) who have as much claim to nationhood as the Native Americans in this country. Is it therefore incorrect, or worse, yet, “racist” and “national chauvinist” to treat Vietnam as a single nation?


But, we are spending too much time combatting obvious metaphysics. The whole point of our comrades’ word game is to try to build a case that we are telling the Black and brown peoples to “give up their fight for national liberation” and asking the revolutionary masses of these oppressed nations not to fight until the proletariat of the imperialist nation is ready, willing, and able to unite with them to seize state power! We might as well make the same request of the Vietnamese.

Nothing of the kind! We do not for a moment suggest that the Black or brown people should abandon their struggle for liberation. But we say, with Mao, that their liberation means the overthrow of U.S. Imperialism, which will require the unity of the entire proletariat, and its allies in struggle. Here our comrades have completely thrown out our organization’s line on the national question – that the Black and brown peoples are oppressed nationally, but that the Black and brown workers are also part of the single U.S. proletariat – not proletariats separate from the white workers whom our comrades describe as “the proletariat of the imperialist nation.”

We do not at all ask the Black or brown peoples to slow down their struggle and wait for the white workers to catch up. Exactly the opposite. Our organization is not just a white organization. Our Third World comrades have the task of helping to develop the liberation struggles of their peoples, under proletarian leadership, and to develop the most advanced Third World workers as leaders of the workers’ movement as a whole. Our white comrades have the task of giving leadership to the struggle of the working class, as a whole, and the special duty to build support among white workers for the liberation struggles of the Third World peoples, as the basis for proletarian unity. And this unity can be built, is already being built, through struggle, because the objective interests of the great majority of white workers are in unifying with Black and Brown people – their short term interests, as well as the long-term interest of building socialism.

Contradictions will, of course arise between Third World and white working people – and among Third World peoples themselves. The role of Communists is to rely on the most advanced sections of the proletariat, to win over the less advanced to the position of the more advanced.

It is, however, an objective fact – and has nothing to do with any paper written by anyone in our organization – that even advanced Black and brown people do “hold back” to some degree, because of their recognition that white workers are not yet on the same political level as they are. This is not because Black or brown people are sentimental about white workers; but exactly because they are realistic and know that the struggle for state power will require the united struggle of the working people altogether. This makes it all the more necessary for white communists to join with white working people, and in the process of struggle, develop support for the liberation struggles and unity with the Third World workers and Third World people as a whole.

But it is not mainly their correct understanding of the level of consciousness of white workers that determines the political outlook of Black and brown people. Whether it fits our comrades’ romantic visions or not, it is simply the case that the contradictions of U.S. imperialism have not yet developed to such a political and economic crisis that even the Black and brown people, in their masses, are convinced that all-out revolutionary struggle for state power is the only way out. Of course they resist oppression. Of course they hit back at counter-revolutionary violence with revolutionary violence. But this does not mean that, in their masses, they are conscious of the revolutionary necessity, or united around revolutionary program and organization.

But to return to this accusation that we are trying to hold back the liberation struggles, and denying their, national character. When our comrades exclaim, “We might as well make the same request of the Vietnamese” they demonstrate how completely they have abandoned materialism. Would Mao say of the Vietnamese, as he does of the Black people, that they can win liberation “only by overthrowing the reactionary rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class and destroying the colonialist and imperialist system?” Of course not! For the Vietnamese people, who occupy a single territory, invaded by U.S. imperialism, the question is driving out U.S. imperialism and establishing an independent, new democratic state, under proletarian leadership: not completely overthrowing U.S. Imperialism and destroying the whole U.S. Imperialist system.

We will not repeat all the reasons why the national question for Black people is qualitatively different than for the Vietnamese. But, as Marxists we must base ourselves on a correct understanding of these differences and their strategic implications. All the accusations of “racism” and “national chauvinism;” all the flaunting of revolutionary phrases and rhetoric; all the waving of the red flag, cannot eliminate these differences, and the need to base our strategy on a correct understanding of them.


Next our comrades say that we “seem unable to grasp the most basic principles of Communist Internationalism.” Their proof? A quote from Stalin’s FOUNDATIONS OF LENINISM. We won’t reprint this long quote here: it’s on pages 28-29 of FOUNDATIONS OF LENINISM. The point Stalin makes is that, because capitalism has developed to its highest stage, imperialism, and has drawn the entire world under its control, it is no long correct to look at each country separately, but to view it as a link in the imperialist chain. Now the whole world is becoming ripe for revolution, which may break out, not necessarily in the most advanced capitalist countries, but in a more backward country.

What is Stalin getting at? He is combatting the line of Trotsky, and other counter-revolutionaries, who argued that socialism could not be built in one country, especially not in Russia, which was the most backward imperialist country. He is specifically opposing the line that socialist revolution must come first where the development of capitalism is the most advanced and the working class the largest. Lenin and Stalin formulated the concept of “the weak link in the imperialist chain” as an explanation of why Russia could be the first proletarian revolution.

Stalin is certainly not saying that the internal conditions within each country don’t determine when the revolutionary situation ripens. When Lenin stated that imperialism is the eve of proletarian revolution, he never meant to deny the unevenness of the development of the revolutionary movements in various countries. He never meant to imply that, now all countries are permanently ripe for proletarian revolution. Otherwise he could not have formulated the concept of “weak link in the imperialist chain.”

Imperialism as the age of proletarian revolution means that we have entered the period of the final collapse of capitalism, in which, one-by-one, the imperialist powers will be overthrown. And this period is an entire historical epoch, which began around 1900 and may not end for another 50-100 years. In fact, if our comrades had read a little further, they would have seen that Stalin next analyzes the concrete internal contradictions of Russia that made it the “weakest link” and made it ripe for the first proletarian revolution.

Actually, we suppose our comrades have read this. But that only makes it worse! The question then, becomes: Why do they continue to misrepresent Marxism-Leninism? If comrades are still in doubt as to who it is that “seems unable to grasp the basic principles of Communist Internationalism,” we urge them to study this section from FOUNDATIONS OF LENINISM (pp. 27-31, Chinese Foreign Language Press edition).

Apparently our authors are trying to use the quote from Stalin to back up the notion that the whole world is in a revolutionary situation, and even more so the Third World, so you have to conclude that the U.S., especially the Third World nations inside the U.S. are also in a revolutionary situation. This makes a mockery of Marxism-Leninism. As Mao says, the general trend in the world today is toward revolution. The struggles of the revolutionary peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America are growing in strength and intensity. But does that mean that France, or Japan, or the Soviet Union is in a “revolutionary situation?” – or that the revolution in every Third World country is at the same level, developing at exactly the same pace?

The development of the revolutionary situation in each country is determined primarily by the contradictions within that country, the internal contradictions, not external factors. Especially in the age of imperialism, the revolutionary struggle throughout the world affects the struggle within each country; but it is not the main factor in determining the course of the struggle in any particular country. As Stalin says in DIALECTICAL AND HISTORICAL MATERIALISM, external factors may be the cause of the changes in things, but internal factors are the primary force, the basis of the change.

This raises the question of the relationship between the principal contradiction in the world – between the oppressed nations and U.S. imperialism – and the U.S. class struggle. First of all, the principal contradiction for the world as a whole is not necessarily the principal contradiction within any single country. The principal contradiction in Italy is between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The same is true in England, or Australia. In the U.S. the question is more complicated, because of the internally oppressed nations.

Within the U.S. today we can say that the contradiction between the nationally oppressed peoples and the imperialists is still the principal contradiction if we understand that to mean: the contradiction that involves the most intense struggle. But exactly as the strength of these liberation struggles grow, as they gain allies from among the white workers and proletarian unity develops, the fundamental contradiction within the U.S. – between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat – will become the principal contradiction. The very essence of dialectics is that things are constantly changing, developing through the struggle of opposites (contradictions), and that when one side of a contradiction becomes completely dominant, and the other side is then eliminated, the dominant side changes qualitatively into something new – part of a new contradiction. (Comrades might study DIALECTICAL AND HISTORICAL MATERIALISM once again as a guide to interpreting what we just wrote here).

Even on a world scale, as the revolutionary struggle of the oppressed nations grows and defeats imperialism, other contradictions grow in intensity. Over the past few years, especially with the growing defeat of U.S. Imperialism in Indochina, and the growth of the general crisis affecting every imperialist country, we have witnessed the intensifying not only of the main contradiction-between imperialism and the oppressed nations and peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America-but also of the three other decisive contradictions in the world today: the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in the capitalist countries; the contradiction between the various imperialist countries; and the contradiction between the imperialist countries and the socialist countries.

In RED PAPERS 2 we refer to this shifting of the world picture. We conclude that the principal contradiction in the world is still between the oppressed nations and U.S. Imperialism. But we also conclude that we must “keep hold of the fundamental contradiction running through capitalist society” – the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie-and we must base ourselves on ... the necessity, at each stage of the struggle, to develop the leading role of the proletariat and proletarian ideology within the united front and the people’s movement. For only the leading role of the proletariat, in the inevitable crisis in the capitalist system, can carry the struggle through, sweep away the old bourgeois order and build a new, socialist society. (RED PAPERS 2, p. 6)

At the present time, our task is to support and develop the liberation struggles inside and outside the U.S.; and, most importantly to build this support within the working class, by demonstrating to the workers, through their own experience, that these liberation struggles are part and parcel of the struggle they are waging against the monopoly class.

It is ironic that our comrades who base themselves on the wrong view that the U.S. is already in a revolutionary situation, ignore the shifting world scene and try to satisfy the question of principal contradiction. If the U.S. is in a revolutionary situation, then the principal contradiction with the U.S. is between the entire U.S. proletariat and the U.S. bourgeoisie. If you say, as our comrades do, that the Third World people are in a revolutionary situation, while the whites are not, you can only mean that the Third World people can make revolution, can defeat the U.S. ruling class all by themselves, without white workers. You can’t say there is a “revolutionary situation” if there is no chance of winning!

In promoting this line, the comrades part company with Mao and Marxism-Leninism, and take their lead from the original “Weatherman” paper, which says Black people could do it alone. This is objectively a reactionary, racist line, because it liquidates the most important duty of white revolutionaries: to build mass support among white workers and progressives for the liberation struggles, as the basis for proletarian unity, and for proletarian revolution – the only road to complete liberation for the Third World peoples.

If we put our comrades’ “Weatherman” line into practice, if we told white workers the Third World people could do it alone, all but the most heroic whites would say (even if they supported revolution): “good, let them do it for us all.” Our “leadership” would not be “revolutionary” at all but a betrayal of the Third World people and the working class!

The “Revisionism” authors try to use another quote from FOUNDATIONS OF LENINISM to support their incorrect, undialectical view of “proletarian internationalism.” This quote is from chapter VI, “The National Question,” where Stalin points out that any struggle which weakens imperialism is objectively revolutionary, even if it is not led by the proletariat. Stalin cites the Egyptian independence movement against British imperialism as one example. The comrades want to prove that Marxism-Leninism demands support for the struggles of the “Black, Chicano, Puerto Rican and Native American nations, whether or not they have proletarian leadership and a socialist program.”

Yes, but remember that at the start of the “Revisionism” paper the authors agreed with us that the failure to support the struggle of the proletariat for the leadership of a liberation struggle comes down to the same thing as failing to support liberation at all. As dialecticians we know that things can turn into their opposites. An objectively anti-imperialist struggle cannot remain anti-imperialist if it does not get the leadership of the proletariat. This is because any other class, especially the bourgeoisie, will eventually capitulate to imperialism, or be overthrown by imperialism. In any oppressed nation, the bourgeois elements are too flabby, undeveloped, to stand up to imperialism by themselves and they are afraid to completely mobilize the masses, because, then they might not be able to keep the masses, the workers and peasants, from taking leadership. We run all this down in the “Revolutionary Youth” article in R.R. 2, and cite Kenya and Indonesia as examples of the bourgeoisie’s capitulation (Kenya) or overthrow (Indonesia) by the imperialists.

Let’s look into the Indonesian example a little more. Because Sukarno, a representative of the Indonesian national bourgeoisie, had been one of the leaders of the independence struggle against Dutch imperialism, following World War II, the Communist Party, under opportunist leadership, formed a united front, behind Sukarno. They did not develop the independent struggle of the workers and peasants and the independent role of the Communist Party within the United Front. The result was that, when, in 1965, Sukarno tried to move against the U.S. Imperialists by nationalizing some of their oil and rubber holdings, the CIA together with reactionary Indonesian Generals, overthrew Sukarno, and established a fascist dictatorship.

Because of the opportunist role of the Indonesian CP., the masses were completely unprepared for the bloodbath that followed in the wake of this fascist dictatorship. At least a million workers and peasants were slaughtered within a year and Indonesia was turned completely over to the imperialists to ravage and exploit. The Indonesian party has ousted its opportunist leadership and done an extensive self-criticism of their previous policy.

But what would the Indonesian people have thought if, instead of this self-criticism, the party had pulled out the quote from Stalin to justify their fatal policy? Or, would the Indonesian party have considered “fraternal,” any Communist Party that cited this quote from Stalin as a basis for praising the opportunist policy of the Indonesian party as true “internationalism!”

And this applies all the more to the liberation struggles within the U.S., because unlike Indonesia, where it was possible to gain a measure of independence from Imperialism through a bourgeois-led struggle, it is not possible for the nations dispersed within the U.S. to achieve liberation without the leadership of the proletariat in overthrowing U.S. Imperialism.

Lenin and Stalin never raised the national question above the question of proletarian dictatorship. True, they labelled people “philistine” who refused to uphold the right of self-determination. But they also labelled “bourgeois democrats” people who made the right to self-determination an absolute (See, “The National Question in our Program,” Lenin, Vol. 6, pp. 454-463). Lenin always stressed that, for the oppressed nations within Russia (Ukraine, Georgia, etc.), the right of self-determination was a negative demand. That is, the Communists of Great Russia (the oppressor nation) upheld the right of self-determination for the oppressed nations, in order to build unity between the proletariats of the oppressor and the oppressed nations, and to defeat the bourgeois separatists within the oppressed nation. The party members from the oppressed nation actively opposed separation and struggled for unity between the proletariat of the oppressed nation and the proletariat of the oppressor nation.

And, in practice, when an attempt at separation, under bourgeois leadership, conflicted with the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship throughout the Soviet Union, Lenin and Stalin had no hesitation in smashing this attempt at separation. Take the Ukraine, for example. During the civil war that followed the seizure of state power by the proletariat, bourgeois forces in the Ukraine tried to secede from the Soviet Republic and set up a bourgeois Ukranian Republic. Stalin was personally dispatched to the Ukraine to break up this attempt. And he succeeded, largely because he had the support of the Ukranian proletariat, due to the correct policy of the Bolsheviks on the question of the right of self-determination and its relation to proletarian revolution.

Lenin and Stalin were certainly not “racist” and “national chauvinist”; and they were also certainly not bourgeois democrats or sentimentalists. They were Marxists who subordinated every question, including the national question, to the one absolute for Communists: proletarian revolution, dictatorship of the proletariat.

As the revolutionary center shifted from Europe to the East, from the capitalist and imperialist countries to the colonial and semi-colonial countries, Lenin and Stalin and Mao creatively applied and developed Marxist theory on the national question. For the oppressed peoples of the colonial world the immediate question was not the overthrow of the capitalist class, but the overthrow of the landlords and driving out the imperialists and their internal flunkies (the comprador or bureaucrat-capitalists, like Chiang Kai-shek). So Mao developed the establishment of a new democratic state, as the basic and necessary first step toward socialist revolution.

For the Vietnamese workers and peasants the question could not be direct unity with the French (or today, the U.S.) working people in a single revolution. The internationalist duty of the proletariat in the imperialist countries in these situations is not merely to uphold the right of the colonially oppressed nation to self-determination, but to actively and militantly support the struggle of the oppressed nation to drive the imperialists out.

But our conditions basically correspond to those of Russia, “the prison house of nations,” an imperialist country with internally oppressed nations not to China before 1949, or Vietnam which are semi-colonial, semi-feudal countries. And Lenin and Stalin’s policy for Russia applies at least as much to the nations dispersed within the U.S., where proletarian unity is not only possible, directly, but the path for national liberation is the overthrow of the ruling class, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.


We don’t know any way to make our comrades Marxists, or force them to face reality against their will. But from the standpoint of scientific socialism, we simply can’t find any point of agreement with their blast at our first paper:

Only a pure white view could be so blind to the Black and Brown proletariat as to say: “Within the U.S. working class today there are a small number of people who have become completely fed up with the capitalist system and are looking for revolutionary leadership and organization to, fight against it. But there is still no mass, revolutionary working class movement and the experience of the advanced minority within the working class like the experience of Communist organizations is very limited.”

Let’s leave aside white working people for a second. Can anyone with any contact with the Black and brown proletariat (employed or unemployed) seriously quarrel with the statement that there are only a very few conscious revolutionaries and that there is still no mass revolutionary movement? Of course, wherever there is oppression there follows resistance, or another way of saying the same thing, in class society there is always class struggle. And very often this resistance and class struggle becomes very violent. But some comrades seem to be mistaking militancy and outrage for revolutionary consciousness and a revolutionary movement.

To cite Black and brown rebellions and the killing of pigs in the Black and brown communities as evidence that the masses of Black and brown people are revolutionary is to abandon Marxism. Killing a pig is not necessarily a revolutionary act. It is only a conscious revolutionary act if the person who kills the pig is conscious of the pig as an agent of the imperialist state and is killing the pig as part of the process of building the revolutionary movement to overthrow the state. This is not to put down Black or brown people who strike back at pigs without this full consciousness; it is only to approach revolution scientifically. We can certainly defend the killing of a pig without demanding that the executioner have full revolutionary consciousness; but we should never raise this spontaneous act, however righteous, to the level of revolutionary strategy. (We are using “spontaneous” in the Marxist sense: an act not guided by revolutionary organization, program or consciousness. It is not an emotional, but rather a scientific term).

On the other hand, an act can be objectively revolutionary, whether or not the person committing the act is consciously revolutionary. The killing of a pig may or may not be objectively revolutionary: the basis for deciding is whether it objectively advances or sets back the struggle of the masses. Killing a pig at a demonstration, when the masses are not prepared to defend themselves against the inevitable pig reprisals is not a revolutionary act, whatever the intention of the assassin. The recent wildcat of San Francisco cable car drivers in response to a pig attack on a Black driver was far more important than any number of spontaneous assassinations of pigs. The drivers, Black, brown, and white, stuck together for several days, despite tremendous pressure from the sell-out leadership of the union. They drew support from drivers in other parts of the transportation system, and they gave a splendid political lesson to thousands of other workers.

From a military standpoint, the drivers “lost.” Severe drivers were beaten and arrested. But from a political standpoint, even though the wildcat did not win all its demands, it was a very important step, if still a small on for the working class – in raising consciousness and beginning to build the fighting organization of the workers themselves.

The Black and brown rebellions are not part of “a revolutionary war – an urban guerilla war of attrition.” Actually, if we evaluate these rebellions from the point of view of warfare then we would have to say that almost every one of them was a bad thing and should not have happened! Why? Because the first principle of warfare especially guerilla warfare, where the enemy starts out with far greater numbers, is to preserve yourself and destroy the enemy. In almost every Black and brown rebellion, the people have suffered far heavier losses (deaths, injuries, arrests) than the pigs. An incorrect assessment of these rebellions as acts of war would lead a revolutionary organization to discourage the rebellions. In fact, the Panthers have tended in that direction, because of just such an incorrect assessment. But the rebellions are good things, if you view them as part of the class struggle, the political struggle of the masses – as signs that the people’s resistance is growing, that their consciousness is being raised, that they are fighting back harder, meeting reactionary violence with revolutionary violence.

But to mistake the killing of pigs and the spontaneous rebellions as conscious revolutionary acts by the masses, leads to a line that is actuality right in essence (right opportunist), however left in form. Why? Because it means tailing after the masses. When Lenin talks about tailing after the masses, in WHAT IS TO BE DONE, for example, he means tailing after their political consciousness. If we mistake militancy for revolutionary consciousness, then we will not recognize our most pressing task as communists: to promote and organize struggles which the masses themselves participate in and, through these struggles, raise their consciousness. So long as the working class – and the Black and brown people vote in large numbers for the candidates of the ruling class; so long as they have very few independent mass organizations within the factories, and the communities, they will not be able to develop revolutionary consciousness, no matter how militant and heroic they are.

To equate the level of violence with the level of political consciousness is to violate the Marxist law that Mao formulates: the human factor (the political consciousness of the masses) is the decisive factor, not weapons. Even fascists kill pigs, but that hardly transforms them into revolutionaries. The history of the class struggle in the U.S. has always, been extremely violent, even if we only consider the resistance of white working people. In his book, PAGES FROM A WORKER’S LIFE, William Z. Foster, former head of the CPUSA (in its non-revisionist days) talks about growing up in Philadelphia in the 1890’s and joining a gang called the “Bulldogs,” which made life so dangerous for the pigs that they didn’t dare come into the neighborhood alone. And he even mentions more conscious acts of class struggle by the “Bulldogs”: for example, during the street-car strike of the 1890’s, the gang attacked and wrecked every scab-operated car that came through the neighborhood, even though they were guarded by armed police. But the “Bulldogs” were hardly revolutionary: they were generally characterized by racism and a criminal mentality.

Or let’s take another example. The miners in this country have a long history of militant struggle. In the 1920’s, the struggle to organize the union in the mines of West Virginia broke into the famous pitched battle of Blair Mountain, where thousands of miners fought off the state troopers for several days, and were only defeated when the U.S. Army was called in and planes were used to bomb the miners’ strongholds. But even this level of militant struggle did not mean that the majority of the miners were revolutionary, because their consciousness was generally still on the trade union level.

Or, in the struggle for women’s rights in the early 1900’s, was the most important aspect the bombs and dynamite that the women used as part of the struggle for the right to vote? Of course not! Often these tactics were necessary, and correct. But the most important aspect was the militant, mass demonstrations of working women and other women, which linked up the struggle for womenís rights in the factories (for example, the textile mills), with the struggle for the right to vote.

Our comrades completely misunderstand the importance of the Black and brown rebellions. For example, in their paper on the “Military aspect” of struggle, they say that the most important aspect of the recent East Los Angeles Chicano rebellions were the few individuals who sniped at pigs. Absolutely wrong! The most important aspect, by far, was the mass resistance of the Chicano people, even if they only threw rocks and bottles. To call the acts of sniping and Firebombing “individual acts” is not to put them down – or to ”reduce them” – as our comrades claim. It is simply to make an objective analysis: to recognize the fact that the great majority of incidents of sniping and Firebombing are not organized by a revolutionary party, or united front, as part of the revolutionary struggle.


The comrades call us “racist” and “national chauvinist” because we argue that the people who “have participated most heavily in the rebellions” are the unemployed. Actually, our formulation is partially incorrect, in one aspect, though it is certainly not racist or national chauvinist. It is not only the unemployed, but also the “under employed” (to borrow a phrase from the bourgeoisie): those who work, on and off, or work in low-paying jobs, mainly in non-production industries (service industry etc.: maids, janitors, cooks, gas station attendants, etc.). This is borne out by the only comprehensive statistics we have seen: the Kerner report. According to the Kerner Commission, the “typical rioter was a teenager or young adult .. . (who) was underemployed or employed in a menial job.” (p. 7) And, also, according to the Commission report, 61% of the active participants in the Newark rebellion had been unemployed for at least one month during the past year.

Our central point – that the Black workers in the basic industries were not most heavily involved in the rebellions – is correct, from the evidence available. That is not to say that these rebellions are not an important part of the growing people’s struggle. It is not to say that Black working people opposed the rebellions. It is only to say that spontaneous rebellions are not the form of struggle characteristic of the proletariat as a class. Finally, it is no to “degrade” the masses who participated, or to deny that they are heroic, as our comrades state in their ”Revisionism” document. Once again, it is simply to make an objective analysis of these struggles. Our comrades have difficulty rising above emotion but they should not make a principle of their lack of science.

By the way, as part of their attack, they throw in the following snipe: “If the masses of the white proletariat were doing the same thing (taking part in mass rebellion) would our present inaction also be defended as Marxism-Leninism.” The comrades should speak for themselves. Our organization is not all-white (a fact they continually seem to forget), and we have not been completely “inactive” in all the recent rebellions. As we become more and more a multinational proletarian organization, we will increasingly play a role in the resistance of the people, whatever form it takes, leading it forward and developing the consciousness and organization of the masses whether Black, brown, white, Asian or Native American.

Finally, the “Revisionism” paper gets around to attacking us for supposedly “placing the masses of Black and brown proletarians outside the proletariat.” Our class analysis and class loyalties are not proletarian, according to the authors of ”Revisionism.” We are not loyal to the entire proletariat as a class, but only to the employed workers, they claim. We are actually glad that they make this accusation, because in their attempt to justify it, they raise a crucial question – what section of the proletariat must be the leader of the working class and the United Front. They also completely reveal their petty-bourgeois outlook and their contempt for the masses of working people, Black and brown, as well as white. Let’s look at their analysis.

They advise us to “go back to the ABC’s” of political economy. Then they run down a series of quotes from Marx and Engels, on the crisis of capitalist production. But, in each case, they completely misrepresent the meaning of Marx and Engels. If this is the ABC’s, it is certainly some other language than Marxism. In fact, they completely throw Marxism out the window. They put forward the unemployed as the main force and leader of the revolution; and they imply that workers who have a job, and can afford a few commodities, including (God forbid!) a little house, are some kind of non-proletarian elite. They repeat the non-materialist model: the more oppressed equals the more revolutionary. And they belittle the main revolutionary characteristic of the proletariat as a class, its “largeness of mind.” (In “Combat Liberalism,” Mao says that this very “largeness of mind” is the most important aspect of proletarian ideology, the most important quality of a communist).

Let’s take a closer look at both the political line and the class outlook they promote, as well as the method they use to rationalize this outlook.

They start out with a quote from the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO, which describes how the overproduction crisis of capitalism reduces the working class to pauperism. That is certainly true. But it is not true, and Marx and Engels never meant to imply, as our comrades do, that the majority of the workers are unemployed. Comrades can convince themselves of this by reading the first section from the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO, “Bourgeois and Proletarians.” To make it clear what Marx and Engels did mean, we quote a paragraph from a primer on political economy published by the Soviet party, during a period of devastating crisis in the capitalist system, the Great Depression of the 1930’s:

The present crisis brought a colossal reduction in wages in all capitalist countries without exception.

Attempting to shift the entire burden of the crisis unto the shoulders of the working class, the capitalists of various countries vie with one another in reducing wages, bringing them to pauper limits, making it impossible for the worker to satisfy even his most pressing needs, (from POLITICAL ECONOMY, A BEGINNER’S COURSE, by A. Leontiev, first printed in the USSR. We recommend this book to all comrades, especially those comrades who would teach the rest of us the “ABC’s” of political economy).

There is no question that the authors of “Revisionism” try to use the quote from the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO to support their completely erroneous analysis that capitalist crisis means the majority of workers become unemployed, and that unemployment is the reason for their pauperization. Listen to this pseudo-Marxism:

But we suppose that at the time when the majority of the proletariat is in the streets (i.e., unemployed, our parenthesis), there will still be some little sect of ’Marxist-Leninists’ basing themselves on the ’workers who are regularly employed’ and waiting for their ’largeness of mind’ to lead the rabble out in the streets. (from the “Revisionism” paper)

But in the very crisis that Leontiev analyzes, the depression of the 1930’s, the majority of workers, especially of the industrial workers, were not unemployed. In the United States, at its very peak, unemployment reached 17 million, about 30% of the work force. (See William Z. Foster, HISTORY OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY, USA). Even in Germany, where the crisis was as great as any in the history of capitalism, unemployment never went beyond 35% for the work force as a whole, and probably never went above 25% for the industrial workers. (In 1932, the worst year of crisis, the number of employed workers was 12 million, the number of unemployed, 7 million, according to the German Communist Party. These statistics can be found in a little book, FASCISM, MAKE OR BREAK.)

At the time of the 1905 Russian revolution, and even in 1917 in a period of crisis there was plenty of unemployment, but it never reached majority proportions. It is not impossible that in a future world crisis of Imperialism, unemployment in one or more capitalist countries, may climb over 50%. But when this has never yet been the case, it is very unbecoming for our comrades to state it as a foregone conclusion and arrogantly rail against Marxist-Leninists who don’t base their thinking on a mere future possibility that has never yet been the basis for revolution.

In any case, no matter how high the unemployment, the unemployed sections of the proletariat, and especially the permanently unemployed, have never been the most advanced sections of the proletariat, and certainly not the leading force in proletarian revolution. In Russia, it was exactly the workers employed in large-scale industry who were the vanguard of the proletariat. In fact, Lenin points out that in 1905, the Russian metal workers were the vanguard within the proletariat; and he also points out that they were among the better paid workers (though, not labor aristocrats). (See, “Lecture on the 1905 Revolution,” Lenin, COLLECTED WORKS, Vol. 23, p. 241. Lenin crossed out the passage about the metal workers in the original manuscript, perhaps for security reasons; but in any case, the vanguard role of the metal workers is also mentioned in the HCPSU, p. 59.)

In Germany, it was not the unemployed, but the employed workers, in large-scale, socialized production, who were the vanguard of the proletariat and the people in the anti-fascist struggle. This struggle several times reached the level of armed uprising, but never succeeded in consolidating proletarian state power and was ultimately smashed by the fascists. (See THE LESSONS OF GERMANY, published in 1945.) In fact, many of the members of the “brown shirts” were recruited from the ranks of the permanently unemployed and from the true lumpen-proletariat – the criminals. But, under the leadership of the Communist Party and the most class conscious workers, many of the unemployed also joined the ranks of the revolutionary movement and fought heroically against fascism.

In the United States itself, during the 1930’s many unemployed workers were organized by the Communist Party, which led demonstrations of millions of unemployed for relief. But the unemployed were not the main force of the movement. It was the workers in auto, steel and rubber who waged the most militant, class conscious struggles and developed the highest level of organization of the proletariat. (Some comrades claim that the CPUSA was always revisionist, because they never had a strategy for armed struggle. We do not agree with this. Of course, even while it was a revolutionary party, the CPUSA had revisionist influences, even revisionist leaders within it, as is the case with all parties. But it also had real revolutionary fighters and leaders, like William Z. Foster (whom the Chinese praise in their 1963 statement to the CPUSA).

We agree with the Chinese analysis that the CPUSA became completely revisionist when it followed the path of the Khrushchev revisionists, after 1956. Despite some right errors during the 1930’s, the CPUSA was certainly a revolutionary party during this period. As for the simplistic notion that revisionism consists in ignoring the strategy of armed struggle, comrades might consider the fact that the revisionists have recently published an entire book on the subject, MARXISM AND GUERILLA WARFARE, a grab-bag of Marxism and opportunism.

One final example: in the May 1968 general strike and uprising In France, it was not the unemployed who were the leading force (although there was plenty of unemployment and unemployed workers played an important role). Once again, it was the workers in the large industries, auto workers, for instance, who played the leading role. We can’t go into the many reasons why the May, 1968 events in France and the class struggles in the U.S. and Germany during the 1930ís did not develop to the point of a successful armed revolution for state power. But in the U.S., and even more in Germany, there were many armed clashes where the workers hit back at reactionary violence with revolutionary violence.

Every Marxist-Leninist analysis we have seen of these struggles cites the fact that either the ruling class was not completely helpless and the masses determined to rise in arms and fight or, if this was the case, Marxist-Leninists had not gained leadership of the movement. In Germany during the 1930’s, the latter aspect applied (the Communist Party had made “left errors” and the majority of workers still looked to the Social Democrats for leadership.) In the U.S. the former aspects applied (the bourgeoisie found a way out with World War II). In the 1968 events in France, all the aspects applied (the crisis had nor matured to revolutionary dimensions and the revisionist party still had the allegiance of the workers). In any case, no Marxist-Leninist analysis of any of these situations concludes that the working class movement failed to gain state power because it was based on the workers in large-scale industry, rather than the unemployed. This very base among the production workers is always cited as a great strength of the communist movement.

There is not an ounce of Marxism in this analysis that the unemployed are the leading force in revolution.

Yet there is no doubt that the authors of “Revisionism” are not only clearly taking this position, but trying to twist Marxism inside out to buttress this wrong analysis. How else can we interpret the following butchery of Marxist political economy:

Marx and Engels set out in general terms the developing crisis of capitalism, which throws more and more members of the proletariat into the ranks of the unemployed and thus produces the revolutionary force destined to overthrow it. (“Revisionism,” our emphasis.)

In the part we have italicized it is not clear that our comrades mean that only the unemployed are the “revolutionary force.” But it is clear from pages 5-6 [original numbering] of their “Revisionism” document that they consider the unemployed the most important and leading revolutionary force. They show complete contempt for the workers who manage to hold onto their jobs in a severe crisis.

What Marx and Engels describe is the process by which the ranks of the unemployed, the “reserve army of labor,” grows, as the crisis matures. This allows the capitalist to intensify the exploitation, to depress the wages, of the employed workers, who remain the majority-and the main and leading force of revolution. The “Revisionism” authors cite a passage from Marx which lays this out; but they don’t allow it to dampen their determination to make the unemployed the main and leading revolutionary force.

Then they talk about the necessity for the unity of the employed and the unemployed sections of the proletariat. Of course. But the question is, which section of the proletariat must lead? Marxism, the scientific summing up of the class struggle, teaches that it must be the workers in large-scale socialized production. In the 1930’s in this country, one of the big measures of the success of the Communist party was the fact that, relying on these workers as the most class conscious leaders of the working class, they were not only able to build a movement of such strength that it rallied millions of unemployed workers, but they forged such close unity between the employed and unemployed that, in most major industrial strikes, the bosses were very rarely able to recruit scabs, despite the tremendous unemployment.

Actually, we do know of one situation in which the majority of workers became unemployed, but it occurred under the dictatorship of the proletariat, during the Civil War in Russia, between 1918-1920. This Civil War so completely ravaged the economy that industry nearly came to a standstill. Workers were thrown out of work and reduced to making and selling cigarette holders and other similar items. Stalin refers to this in the HCPSU. But does he say that this made the workers more revolutionary? No. Exactly the opposite. In fact he says that, because of this situation, “The class basis of the dictatorship of the proletariat was being weakened.” (HCPSU, pg. 249).

What is Stalin getting at? Is he saying, in the words of our comrades, “that whenever sections of the proletariat are’ thrown out of work for long periods that they lose their class as well as their livelihood?” (“Revisionism”) No. Workers who become unemployed are still part of the broad social class, the proletariat. But if they remain unemployed for long periods, and especially if they are forced to resort to small-scale producing and/or trading, they do lose much of the outlook characteristic of the proletariat as a class.

Or take another example from Russian history. In the period following the Civil War when the Kulaks (wealthy farmers) began to sabotage production in the countryside, the workers in the factories were actually forced to live under conditions worse than before the Revolution. Bui these workers put in many hours of voluntary overtime and willingly accepted a decline, in their own living standards, in order to produce goods for the countryside to aid the poor peasants. This was the only way the worker-poor peasant alliance could be maintained. And without this alliance the dictatorship of the proletariat could not be maintained. The most class-conscious workers, those employed in large-scale production, grasped this fact and made the sacrifices necessary to maintain political power.

Lenin hailed this as an heroic example of class consciousness – the very “largeness of mind” our comrades want to belittle! Lenin always emphasized that the movement must be based on the workers in large-scale production. In an essay in 1902 he put forward the slogan of making every factory into a ”fortress” (a political fortress, of course, not a base area for a protracted urban war of attrition). In the same essay, Lenin says straight out:

The main strength of the movement lies in the organization of the workers at the large factories. (Vol. 6, pg. 243, from “Letter to a Comrade on our Organizational Tasks,” emphasis in original.)

Marxism teaches that the basic factor in defining a class is relationship to the means of production. And Marxism also teaches that “being determines consciousness,” that relationship to the means of production determines class outlook. That is why the workers who are exploited, especially the workers who sell their labor power in high socialized production, are in the best position to grasp proletarian ideology, to understand the basic class forces in society and the basic contradiction of capitalist society – the contradiction between highly socialized production and highly developed productive forces (a high level technology and science) on the one hand; and individual ownership of the means of production, on the other.

The “largeness of mind” of the workers in large-scale production does not refer to their level of consciousness at any particular time, but to their potential, which is by far the greatest of any group in society, to grasp the proletarian world outlook. Unemployed workers can certainly play an important role in the revolutionary movement; and they already are. But in order to develop their full revolutionary potential, in order to develop their class consciousness, they need the leadership of a Communist party, based mainly on the workers in large-scale production.

(When we use the term “all-class Communist party” in RED PAPERS, we mean that the party is drawn from all classes, that people from classes and strata, beside the industrial workers can grasp proletarian ideology if they get direction and training from a communist organization. But the solid core of this organization must be the advanced workers in large-scale industry.)

Certainly an unemployed worker is more oppressed, living in far worse conditions, than the workers who still has his job. But the unemployed worker is not exploited, he does not create surplus value; and exploitation, the appropriation of surplus value from the workers, is the essence of the capitalist system. As we pointed out in our first paper, it is the character of the social system, specifically the contradiction between the level of the productive forces and the specific class relations of production that determine the character of the revolution in any country. That is why revolution in a semi-feudal, semi-colonial country takes the form of protracted war – which Mao says is inseparably linked with the establishment of rural base areas; while revolution in a capitalist or imperialist country takes the form of a long period of political struggle – which is often very violent – followed by an insurrection and civil war.

In arguing that the unemployed will be the vanguard because they are more oppressed, the “Revisionism” authors are themselves revising all of Marxism. When the Communist Manifesto says that the proletariat is the “lowest stratum” of society, Marx and Engels are pointing to the fact that, unlike any previous revolutionary class (the feudal aristocracy, the bourgeoisie), the proletariat cannot overthrow the old order without completely eliminating exploitation. They would have completely rejected the reverse twist our comrades try to put on Marx and Engels’ statement by setting up this formula; to find the proletariat in society, look for the lowest stratum.

By our comrades’ formula, the vanguard of the proletariat would have to be winos, vagabonds and pickpockets. (This is not to blame these people for their situation. Unquestionably the imperialist system has forced them into their wretched conditions; but, by doing so it has also prevented them from being the vanguard of the proletarian revolution.) Our comradesí real intent here is to say that, among the working people, the lowest stratum only, is proletarian. Marx and Engels’ statement has nothing to do with this anti-proletarian nonsense. From a scientific standpoint, the proletariat actually is the lowest stratum of capitalist society, although the workers may not be the “most oppressed.”

Sections of the petty-bourgeoisie may actually live in worse poverty than the workers, especially in times of crisis. At the time of the Communist Manifesto, there were many peasants in most of the capitalist countries, living in worse conditions than the proletariat. Marxists recognize that peasants are essentially petty-bourgeois, small producers. And serfdom (peasant farming) is actually a survival of feudalism. For these reasons Marx and Engels are absolutely correct when they say that the proletariat is “the lowest stratum of our present society (capitalism).” From the standpoint of scientific class analysis the small producers, the rural or urban petty-bourgeoisie may be poorer, “more oppressed,” but the proletariat is the lowest stratum within capitalist society.

Marx and Engels did not base themselves on moralism – “more oppressed, more revolutionary” – but on materialism. They not only showed that the workers must be the main force of revolution in a capitalist country, but that the working class itself could not develop fully as a revolutionary force until capitalism had developed large scale industry. Compare Engels’ uncompromising science with our comrades’ idealism:

... the ’driving spirit’ of the working class movement nowhere lies in ’principles,’ but everywhere in the development of large-scale industry and its effects, the accumulation and concentration of capital, on the one hand and of the proletariat on the other. (Engels, “The Housing Question,” Part 3 – more on this essay later.)

In the FOUNDATIONS OF LENINISM, Stalin points out that the reason the Russian revolution could establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, despite the small size of the working class Was due, not to unemployment (of which there was plenty) but chiefly to the fact that, more than any other capitalist country, the proletariat was concentrated in large-scale industry. (FOUNDATIONS OF LENINISM, pg. 59). Stalin cites the fact that, in Russia, in 1917 54% of the Russian workers were employed in factories employing more than 500 workers; while the corresponding figure for the United States at that time was only 33%.

In ”Analysis of Classes in Chinese Society,” Mao says that the primary reason the proletariat was the most revolutionary class in China was not its poverty, but its concentration. (See Mao, Vol. 1., pg. 18.) Mao specifically compares the proletariat in large-scale industry with coolies and other laborers in smaller-scale production and trade, and says that these latter ”are less concentrated and play a less important role in production” and therefore in revolution. (Vol. 1, pg. 18.) In another essay written in 1949, just before the seizure of nationwide state power, Mao says:

On whom shall we rely in our struggles in the cities? Some muddle-headed Comrades think we should rely not on the working class but on the masses of the poor ... We must rely whole-heartedly on the working class, unite with the rest of the laboring people... (Vol. IV, pg. 364)

Mao is not putting down “the masses of the poor” any more than he is putting down the peasants when he, like Lenin and Stalin, refers to them as “petty-bourgeois” (small producers). He is not putting down the “unemployed masses” when he refers to their “anarchist views.” He is not throwing the unemployed out of the proletariat when he says that “only the proletariat and the Communist party” can overcome “the destructiveness of the unemployed masses.” He is simply making a scientific analysis that the Communist party, based on the workers in large-scale production, must give leadership to all sections of the working class.

We have seen within our own movement that an organization based on the unemployed can develop “destructiveness” and “anarchist views,” For example, in a recent Panther paper (Nov. 21, 1970), two articles by Michael D. put forward the strategy of urban guerilla war, and called for destruction not only of goods, but of the productive forces themselves. Contrast this outlook with the outlook of the Black worker who told us the following story:

A few days ago I wore a ’Free Angela’ button to work. All the guys (the Black workers) came up to me and said: ’What do you want to do, blow up the plant?’ But I told them: look I work in this plant, and besides I might make a mistake and blow it up while I’m in it. After I told them that they started asking for buttons, and now a lot of guys are wearing them.

Or, to take another example of the difference in outlook between workers who are regularly employed, who have a stable relationship to the means of production, and workers who are in and out of work. A comrade who works on the waterfront reports the following difference in approach between the stably and unstably employed Black stevedores. When they are hassled by the foremen, the guys who are in and out of work respond to the foreman’s harassment by punching him in the mouth or cursing him out. The result is predictable: they lose their job. But the workers who have been there longer, who don’t like the harassment any more, but feel more strongly about keeping their jobs and understand how to combat the foreman, go around and organize the rest of the workers to get the foremen off their backs. The result is often that they temporarily put an end to the harassment and they all keep their jobs.

Or at Contra Costa Jr. College in Richmond, the base of the student movement, and especially of the struggle for the nursery, are parents who hold down a job while going to school. By relying on these more stable students – rather than on “hip” students who live at home or work only on and off (the students who may be first attracted to ”radical politics”), the movement has been greatly strengthened, gained stability that can attract and hold less stable students (who fell away last year) and resulted in more militant struggle.

Once again, in contrasting the outlook of the employed workers with less stable sections of the working class, we are not saying that these other sections cannot play a very important role in the struggle. We are not saying that oppression has nothing to do with resistance. We are only saying that, in order to develop revolutionary consciousness and organization, these sections, and the rest of the oppressed people need the leadership of a communist organization, based primarily on the workers in large-scale industry.

And these workers are not all-white, by any means. A large number of them – probably a quarter to a third of them are Third World. And they are not all male, either. Nearly 30% including many of the most exploited, are women (in textiles, food processing, electronics, etc.) True, in the “United Front” article in RED PAPERS 2, we say that the Communist party must be based on the advanced members of the oppressed sectors of the proletariat. But here we are talking about the workers on the assembly lines, as opposed to the labor aristocrats in the skilled trades. That is clearly shown by the statement that immediately follows in the “United Front” article: In this way the minority of labor aristocrats.. . can be neutralized and, parts . .. won over. (RP. 2, pg 10.)

And in the next paragraph, we say that “Black leadership within the proletariat as a whole is being established through the increasing concentration of Black and brown workers in basic industry . . , and by the militant struggles of Black and brown workers.” (R.P. 2, pg. 10, our emphasis.) But our comrades are entirely wrong in stating that “the Black and Brown peoples are .. . the most oppressed section of the proletariat.” (p. 6 “Revisionism”) In fact. Black and Brown workers (including unemployed, but not Black and brown shopkeepers, farmers, doctors, students, etc.) are a significant part of the oppressed section of the proletariat. But they are not even a majority-and certainly not the entire oppressed section.

In many parts of the country, the most oppressed section of the proletariat is almost all white. Our comrades may have contempt for white workers (and, for that matter, for Black and brown workers who hold down a job for anything above starvation wages). But they don’t have the right to throw them out of the “oppressed section of the proletariat,” and deny their crucial role in the revolution.

By the way, the reason the labor aristocrats do not have a proletarian world outlook is not only because of their high pay. Many of them make high hourly wages, but do not work all year round, so their yearly earnings may not be that much higher than production workers (this is especially true of some skilled workers in the construction trades). In contrast to production workers, many tradesmen work in much more individualized situations, which narrows their outlook. And, unlike production workers, many tradesmen are not completely separated from ownership of the means of production; a good number of them own hundreds, even thousands, of dollars worth of their own tools. Because of this, their labor is not as thoroughly alienated as production workers, even though they may be bossed around by foremen to some extent.

Separation from ownership of the means of production, being reduced to mere extension of the machinery, having nothing with which to earn their living but their hands, that is what Marx and Engels mean when they refer to the proletariat as “propertyless.” They certainly do not mean that the workers possess no commodities (literally “personal property”) such as clothes, food, means of transportation. But that is what the “Revisionism” authors try to lead us to believe by quoting passages describing the propertylessness of the proletariat and inserting in the midst of them quote from Engels, “The worker who owns a little house is ’no longer a proletarian.’”


First of all, they leave out part of the quote from Engels, who actually says: “The worker who owns a little house to the value of a thousand talers (three thousand marks) is certainly no longer a proletarian, but one must be a Dr. Sax to call him a capitalist.” (Engels, “The Housing Question,” section II.) Engels is making an ironic comment on the rare German worker, probably a higher-paid craftsman, who can afford to own a house of this value. His main point is actually that the scheme of this Dr. Sax (a bourgeois economist), to turn the worker into a capitalist by allowing him to own a house, is a farce.

In the paragraph preceding this quote Engels takes issue with Dr. Sax by pointing out that a house is just a commodity, like a coat, and is not capital, unless the worker rents it out. Engels’ whole point is that owning a house is not a benefit but a plague on the workers; not because, by the mere fact of owning a house they cease to be a member of the proletariat, but because it ties them down. So, in the event the plant they are working in shuts down, the house-owning workers will be at a disadvantage from other workers, who can immediately pack up and go to another town for work. The house-owners will be forced, all at the same time, to put their houses on the market and so will find it hard to get a buyer. Engels specifically says that, in stable industrialized areas, like Manchester, England, where the plants are not so likely to shut down and where “each married worker occupies a little house of his own,” house ownership is not such a burden on the workers. Engels is in no way implying that these married workers are “no longer proletarians.”

Engels did write to Marx in 1858 that, because of colonial England’s industrial monopoly, the English working class had been turned into “a bourgeois proletariat alongside the bourgeoisie.” And this remained true for many years. But Engels was talking about the corruption of the ideology of the British working class, he was not literally saying that they were “no longer proletarians.” If someone had asked him if he meant that the working class could no longer be the ma; force for revolution in England he would have explained that they completely misunderstood the intent of his statement, and probably would have advise them to study Marxism more thoroughly.

A similar situation has existed in the United State since World War II. To a limited degree the workers, even many Third World workers, have been allowed few extra crumbs, from the spoils of imperialism including in many cases, the ownership of a “little house.” But, as we pointed out in R.P. 2, with the developing contradictions of U.S. Imperialism, this being turned into its opposite, the working class awakening and becoming more militant and it will certainly take its rightful place as leader of the revolutionary movement.

Marx and Engels did not live to see the era of imperialism. In all their writings on political economy the put forward the law of the continuing impoverishment of the working class – which accurately described the situation of the entire working class in pre-monopoly capitalism, where the further development of capitalism in any country meant the increasing impoverishment of the workers. But this law has been modified by imperialism, which creates, among a section of privileged workers a labor aristocracy whose condition actually improves with the growth of imperialism, which is, in fact, bribed with a small part of the spoils, the super-profits of imperialism.

Faced with this situation we can do one of two things. We can realize that it will be harder in an imperialist country to build the revolutionary movement of the workers, that it will take a longer period of struggle, and the development of a really devastating crisis in the imperialist system; or we can simply decide that the workers cannot be the main, leading force in the struggle, at least not so long as they keep their jobs and perhaps make enough money to buy a few commodities like a new car, or even a little house.

If we go in the second direction then we must either write the proletariat off; or, if we are really consistent, we can do our best to see to it that the workers lose their jobs and their possessions. If we do the latter, then we will be uniting with the bourgeoisie, which is also trying to rob the proletariat even more. We will throw out the window the United Front strategy which calls for a militant defense of the living standards of the proletariat, against the inevitable attacks by the ruling class.

The basis of the United Front strategy, and of our understanding as Marxists, is that the ruling class will do everything it can to deprive the workers of all but the barest means of subsistence, and that in the fight against this lies the basis for linking up struggles against the monopoly capitalists, building anti-imperialist consciousness among the workers, and organizing and preparing the masses of working people to overthrow the ruling class.

Actually, the “Revisionism” authors do not propose to apply the strategy of “the worse, the better” in place of the united front strategy. Instead, they simply propose to write off the employed workers as a revolutionary force. That is the entire purpose of the pseudo-analysis and the complete distortion of Marxism, on pages 5 and 6 of “Revisionism.” And, whether they do so consciously or not, they are writing off, not only the great majority of white workers, but of Black and Brown workers, as well, most of whom hold down a job, many of whom drive new cars, and, some of them, even own (or more accurately, are buying) a “little house.” (For example, the Black workers in the suburbs of Detroit and Chicago, and the Black and brown workers in places like East Oakland).

The question to ask is why do our comrades take this openly anti-proletarian stand? The answer is that their outlook is not that of the proletariat, but of the petty-bourgeois intellectuals.

The workers hate the oppression of the system much more than the intellectuals, but they have lived with it, and fought against it, all their lives. And they resist it in an organized way, to minimize the loss of whatever little comfort – a job, a car, even a house – they have been able to win through hard work and struggle. They become convinced of the revolutionary necessity when the bourgeoisie threatens to deprive them even of these things, when life is no longer worth living in the old way, and when they see the possibility of carrying through the struggle to victory.

They know how powerful the enemy is, because they are directly related to his base of power-the means of production. But they also come to understand through struggle, that this base cannot operate without the workers, although it can operate without the capitalist. They may go into a struggle more slowly than less stable sections, because they have more to lose, but, once they go into struggle, they are much more disciplined and determined to carry it through to victory, exactly because they have more to lose.


But the intellectual, who is divorced from production, and does not have to struggle for his daily bread, is much more given to impetuosity. He sees the atrocities of the system – which, to him, are abstract questions of justice and not concrete questions of survival. All this is new to him, and as soon as he becomes aware of it, he wants an end to it, RIGHT NOW. This is an admirable sentiment. But, unless this intellectual consciously struggles to remold his world outlook, to take direction from the working class, especially its most class conscious members, he cannot transform this sentiment into a revolutionary weapon for the people. He can only tail after the most unstable elements within the working class and society, those who share some of his weaknesses-absence of relation to production and the tendency toward destructiveness, impetuosity and anarchism.

This, unfortunately, is what has happened to the authors of the “Military Strategy,” the “Military Aspect” and the “Revisionism” papers. And, because of this, they are not capable of developing a real strategy for victory, but only a strategy for disaster, for “revolutionary suicide.” We do not question their sincere desire to support the struggles of the oppressed peoples, but their outlook prevents them from building any real support, no matter how sincere and admirable their intentions.

That is why they reduce everything to individual heroism. That is why they end their “Revisionism” paper focusing entirely on the military aspect. They quote the section from RP. 2 which correctly calls upon white revolutionaries to “join now with Black and brown revolutionaries in armed self-defense and other forms of armed struggle.”

Yes, this is absolutely necessary! But it is only one aspect of the work of white revolutionaries – or, for that matter, Black and brown revolutionaries. And it is not even the most important aspect. The central task of revolutionaries today, Third World as well as White, is not to prepare the small minority of people who are ready to die for a suicidal onslaught, but political work to build the fighting organization and consciousness of the masses, to expose the enemy and to prepare for the eventual insurrection and civil war.

Comrades need have no fear: in the course of these struggles there will be plenty of violence, and there will be plenty of opportunity, indeed necessity, for armed struggle. And we will have to develop and strengthen ail the appropriate forms of organization to carry on struggle on all fronts, and on all levels. But, until we are ready to launch an all-out insurrection and carry it through, all military work must be a subordinate part of the political struggle of the masses.


“Concrete support” for the liberation struggles, inside and outside the United States, consists primarily in building political support – which does not mean leaflets and propaganda only, but militant strikes and demonstrations as well. Let’s look at one outstanding example of concrete support by white workers, organized by communists, for the Black people’s struggle against violent repression. Shortly after World War I a strike was organized in the Packinghouse yards of Chicago. Under communist leadership, the white workers joined with the Black workers in unbreakable unity. So the bosses sent fascist gangs into the Black community to instigate a “race riot.” Then they sent the police in to occupy the Black community, in order to demoralize the Black people and divide the workers. But the Communists organized a militant demonstration of 30,000 workers, most of them white, demanding the withdrawal of the police from the Black community. The solidarity of the strike was maintained, and a full-scale police attack on the Black people was prevented.

There are other examples of this kind of concrete support and unity, in the history of the American workers’ movement; but it is obvious that today the working class, Third World or White, is not yet on that level. But the youth and students have demonstrated their willingness to give this kind of concrete support, and it is our duty to broaden the base of militant youth and student support for the liberation struggles, inside and outside the U.S. At the same time, we must join with the workers, and through their struggles, demonstrate that support for the liberation movements is vital to the interests of the working class.

Actually, as for “material damage” to the system, the workers’ strikes create much more difficulty for the imperialists than sabotage. The Chinese point this out in Peking Review No. 42, in discussing the General Motors strike which, they say, hit the imperialist economy “like a thunderbolt.” And as an indication of the workability of the strategy of urban guerilla war of attrition, we can examine the recent experience in Henderson, North Carolina. Faced with a Black rebellion in that city, the local authorities shut off all electric power in the Black community for a whole evening and thereby brought an end to that rebellion.

This is not to say that the ruling class can always succeed with this tactic, or that it would never be correct for the people to knock out these facilities in the course of a struggle. But it should make it obvious that this kind of tactic cannot be raised to the level of a strategy – “strategic action” to wear down the enemy through an urban war of attrition.

Mass struggle is the main form of “concrete support” – not individual acts, which, however heroic, can only get us wiped out – unless they are part of the struggle of the masses – and will therefore leave us incapable of giving any further support. The organization of mass demonstrations – not sabotage – that is the kind of support the Vietnamese ask for whenever they meet representatives of the U.S. movement.

Let’s look at two more examples from the history of the Communist Movement. First, in 1918, during the Civil War in Russia, when 14 imperialist countries, including the U.S. sent troops into Russia to aid the reactionaries in trying to overthrow the proletarian state, the workers of the European countries refused to load supplies for the Russian front. Lenin hailed this as an heroic act of internationalism by the workers of these countries.

At the same time Lenin wrote a letter to the American workers, whose level of consciousness and organization was not as developed as in Europe, and who did far less to stop imperialist intervention (workers on the Seattle docks stood out for their refusal to load war goods to be used against the Soviet workers’ republic). What did Lenin say to the class conscious workers, the revolutionaries in the working class? Sabotage the docks and railroads? Not at all. He said, “we know that help from you will not come soon,” because the revolution develops at different rates in each country. But, he added, the greatest support you can give is to build your own revolutionary movement. Remember that Lenin is writing this letter at a time when the survival of the first socialist government in the world is at stake, and the supplies sent to the U.S. troops are a direct threat to that socialist state. (This letter to the American workers is printed in Vol. 28 of Lenin.)

Secondly, let’s examine the role of the Chinese working class and progressives, in the Kuomingtang-held areas, during the protracted war to overthrow Chiang Kai-shek and company. Did the Communists in the cities organize the students and workers to sabotage military installations and the supply shipments of the Kuomingtang army? No, they organized student demonstrations, and strikes. Even the railway workers, among the most militant and class conscious Chinese workers, did not sabotage the shipment of supplies to the Kuomingtang army. Not because they had anything against sabotage, but because bitter experience had taught them that premature attempts of this kind only got them wiped out. Even when the Kuomingtang fled an area, as the people’s army approached, the workers organized to protect the factories from the “scorched-earth” policy of the retreating Kuomingtang forces.

Throughout Mao’s fourth volume, which covers the period between the end of the anti-Japanese War and the final defeat of the Kuomingtang (Mid-1945 to October, 1949), he makes reference to the importance of the student demonstrations and strikes in the Kuomingtang areas. There is no reference “to sabotage. In fact, in the Kuomingtang areas, the policy of the Communist Party was to politically disintegrate the enemy and in this way to prepare to launch an all-out attack, in coordination with the advancing People’s Army, when it had completely surrounded and choked off the Kuomingtang areas and was ready to deliver the final death blow. All of this political work was, of course, completely illegal in the Kuomingtang areas; it was for the purpose of carrying out this work, and not to conduct sabotage or wage a protracted urban war of attrition, that the Communist Party organized its underground apparatus.

In their “Military Strategy” and “Military Aspect” papers, our comrades make a comparison between the Chinese revolution and the world revolutionary struggle today. But they completely distort this analogy. If the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America can be compared to the countryside in China as the “base area” of the revolutionary struggle; and the capitalist and imperialist countries can be compared to the cities, under direct reactionary rule; then our role in the cities – whether under bourgeois democracy or fascism – is to combine legal with illegal political work (as the Bolsheviks did in Russia for many years, under conditions of war at times, and almost always under conditions equivalent to fascism – the complete denial of democratic rights).

Our task is to build the united front of all progressive forces, under working class leadership; to politically disintegrate the enemy, in order to prepare to attack him from within, in co-ordination with the people of the world, to launch an insurrection and carry through the civil war, when conditions are ripe. More and more this political struggle will become violent, and a major part of our work will be to join with the masses in striking back at counter-revolutionary violence with revolutionary violence. But military struggle will remain a tactic in the political struggle, until we launch the insurrection.

The authors of the three papers put forward a so-called strategy which, whether they want to admit it or not, treats violence as the essential factor, which makes weapons, not human beings (political consciousness) decisive, and which can only lead to defeat and destruction for the revolutionary forces. In formulating this line, they completely throw out Marxism, the historical experience of the communist movement, dialectical and historical materialism, and the line of our organization.

Actually, one of the authors prepared the way for discarding Marxism as long as a year ago, when he wrote in an article on the lumpenproletariat:

I would like to draw the following working conclusion: Marx and Engels, perceiving the existence of an important but ill-defined social class and angered by the treacherous role often played by that class, tended to make an ethical judgment rather than a Marxist analysis of its role in capitalist society and revolutionary struggle. (R.P. 2, p. 29, our emphasis)

So, this author, who is going to teach us the ABC’s of Marxism, is telling us that Marx and Engels – the greatest scientific thinkers of our age – decided to forget Marxism, when it came to analyzing the lumpenproletariat, and see how it felt to be subjective for awhile! If they could be subjective about the lumpenproletariat, maybe they could be subjective about the proletariat itself, and especially the need for workers in large scale industry to play the leading role in the revolutionary movement. Perhaps this contempt for the science developed by Marx and Engels explains why our authors do not feel the least bit guilty about twisting their writings inside out, and, in the process, distorting the essence of Marxism altogether. (For comrades who may not be aware of it, this article on the “Lumpenproletariat” is not the official line of the R.U., that is why it is signed by this one comrade.)

Actually, if these comrades had bothered to really study Marxism, they would have discovered that Marx made an extensive, thoroughly scientific analysis of both the unemployed and the lumpenproletariat, which Marx always treats as two different groups. In the first volume of CAPITAL, Marx describes three sections of the reserve army of labor: the “floating” (for example, skilled workers who can’t find a job in their trade); the “latent” (for example, “aged” workers, who can’t continue working in the industry they have been trained in); and the “stagnant” (extremely irregular workers, “hobos,” “nomads,” etc.).

Beneath these three strata of the reserve army, Marx defined another group of unemployed as the “submerged tenth,” which he also divided into three groups: 1) those who can work; 2) orphans, etc. who may work as newspaper boys, etc. and, 3) those who are sickly, the beggars, poor widows, etc. These three groups of the “submerged’ tenth” are still distinguished from the true lumpenproletariat by the fact that they do work, if only infrequently. Marx defined the lumpenproletariat as the group excluded from labor altogether: the criminals, pimps, prostitutes, dope-pushers, etc.

It was on the basis of an objective, scientific analysis of the role of this group – as distinguished from parts of the unemployed workers – that Marx called them the “dangerous class,” and said that they were most often “the bribed tool of reactionary intrigue” – used as goons, storm-troopers, strikebreakers, against the proletariat.

The authors of the “Military Strategy,” the “Military Aspect,” and “Revisionism” are the true revisionists. They have completely abandoned Marxism, proletarian ideology, the leading role of the proletariat. They reduce the united front to a hodge-podge of elements, drawn from the petty-bourgeois youth and students mainly, plus a few workers, the minority of forces who are ready to “trash” the system, now. The essential ingredient of this stew is violence, acts of sabotage (from window breaking on up) which, according to their formulation, are:

... secondary aspects of the mass movement and . . . part of a protracted revolutionary war of attrition against the ruling class, (pg. 11, “Military Aspect.”) [This and following page numbers refer to original document.]

These comrades now insist that they “don’t make the military aspect primary.” But, however many times they repeat this phrase, they contradict it when they actually put their military line in writing. On page 17 of the “military aspect” they say right out that the “fighting arm” (People’s Army) of the Communist Party must be its “main and essential force.” If the military organization is the main and essential force, then military struggle must be primary. As long as political struggle, and not military struggle, is primary, the military organization cannot be the main and essential force.

The Bolsheviks did not develop a full-blown military organization until two months before the October Revolution. They did not make the military organization the “main and essential force” until the political struggle had changed, qualitatively, into insurrection and civil war.

They did not create a Red Army until after they had seized state power and established a regime. They could not create the Red Army before October, 1917, because until they established a regime they had no base area to equip, train and feed the army.

The Chinese, too, were able to create their military organization, the Red Army (later People’s Army), only after they had a base area. Our comrades not only think that they can create a People’s Army without a base area; they also clearly think that they can create it without a political base. Without doubt, for them, military organization is the “main and essential force.”

Our comrades also want to say that we must have both military and political struggle. We agree completely. But this only raises the same question: which is primary? Our position is clear: Until the period of insurrection and civil war, political work is primary, military struggle only a tactic in the political struggle. In this pre-insurrectionary period, certain military actions are sometimes correct and absolutely necessary. But, at other times, these same actions (or any military action at all) may not be correct. Our comrades have the opposite view, however much they try to hide it. For them, military actions, in and of themselves “raise the level of struggle.”

Even a strike of the workers, “no matter how economist its demands” (!), can fit into our authors’ science-fiction “strategy” of protracted urban war. Almost all these strikes get to the level of guns and bombs, they say. And, “No matter (!) how large the masses participating in the struggle, as soon as it advances beyond fists, pipes, picket signs, and chains, the workers begin to move in very small groups, usually in three’s and four’s.” (“Military Aspect ”)

First of all, the demands of the workers in a particular strike can be purely economic but they cannot be “economist.” Economism is a whole strategy that advocates the economic struggles of the workers as the sole means of class struggle. In WHAT IS TO BE DONE? Lenin attacks the economists. What does he have to say against them? That they are scared to engage in armed combat with the police? NO. In fact, as we pointed out in RED PAPERS 2, the Economists did at least as much of that as the Bolsheviks. Lenin demanded that Communists involve the workers in all-around political struggle against the State. Raising the level of struggle, for a Leninist, means broadening it beyond mere economic issues, linking up struggles, building the united front.

Secondly. It is not our experience that almost all strikes “of any duration” use bombs and guns. Some do, some don’t. And those that do are not necessarily on a “higher level” (as we pointed out with the example of the Flint Strike, in our first paper). Bombs and bullets may indicate militancy, but not necessarily a higher level of political consciousness. And political consciousness, not weapons, is the key factor in building the revolutionary movement. If the working class and oppressed peoples are armed to the teeth, but don’t have revolutionary consciousness, they cannot make revolution. And, if they do have revolutionary consciousness, even if they start out relatively unarmed, they know how and where to get guns. (The Vietnamese have proved that. Many, if not most, of their weapons are made in the U.S.A., and this was more true in the early period of armed resistance.)

The political consciousness of the masses must be raised, primarily through political struggle, in which the masses themselves participate, not through military struggle of some heroic individuals isolated from the masses.

In the Standard Oil strike in Richmond, Calif., in 1969, some firebombs were thrown. With a few exceptions the bombings came at the end of the strike, when more and more workers were getting demoralized, and a good number had already returned to work. These bombings were a reflection of the frustration of a few militant workers – and not a raising of the level of struggle (even though the bombers may have moved in “three’s and four’s”). This does not mean that bombings always reflect a setback in the mass movement; only that they do not always represent a raising of the level of struggle.

The firebombings – even those that weren’t done out of frustration – were far less important titan other, non-military (but very militant) aspects of the Standard Oil strike. What raised the level of struggle was the fact that, through the work of Communists and other revolutionaries – relying on the more advanced workers – the strikers were won to support for the San Francisco State strike and directly linked up their strike with the struggles of Third World students and people.

Our comrades have such a petty-bourgeois fascination with violence (after all, working people have been surrounded with violence all their lives) that they cannot help but make the military aspect primary in their thinking. They stop just short of saying that political struggle does not amount to anything, is in fact “revisionist,” if it does not lead immediately to violence.

They don’t say that, but that is the clear implication they make when they say that the reason all Communist parties in capitalist countries turned revisionist – changed “from red to pink to white” – was because their strategy was “we organize and organize and organize and organize and, some day when we’re strong enough we seize state power.” (pg. 10, “Military Aspect”). This is not the reason they became revisionist.

(As an aside, but not to allow the slander of the Communist Party of New Zealand, which did not become revisionist and bases itself on Mao Tse-tung Thought: we should point out not only that they are not revisionist, but that they do not advocate any kind of strategy of protracted urban war, even though New Zealand is an imperialist country, with investments abroad, monopoly rule at home, and even internally oppressed peoples [the Maoris, for example].)

In most west European countries there is not only a revisionist CP., but also a Marxist-Leninist party, or organization, basing itself on Mao Tse-tung Thought. None of these parties advocates protracted urban war of attrition as any kind of strategy. All of them follow Chairman Mao’s teaching that the October Revolution in Russia is still the basic model for revolution in the capitalist and imperialist countries.

In fact the Bolshevik strategy – and the correct strategy for us – is to “organize and organize and organize and organize,” and, when the movement is strong enough, launch an insurrection and civil war. But only a complete intellectual (bourgeois intellectual, not revolutionary intellectual) could think that “organize, organize, organize,” means anything other than “struggle, struggle, struggle.” Communists organize the people into mass militant political struggles that often involve hitting back at reactionary violence with revolutionary violence. When our comrades think of organizing can they only conceive of “tea-groups?”

To take one example of a Communist party that went “from red to pink to white.” The French CP.: During World War II, the French communists organized and led the military struggle against the occupying Nazis. Now that this party has become revisionist, it refuses to organize and lead armed struggle against the state (although it often attacks the Marxist-Leninists and the people). But it avoids armed struggle against the state, because its political line has become completely revisionist. It did not become revisionist for fear of guns, or because its members and leaders never engaged in armed struggle against the forces of a reactionary state.

Even the way our comrades incorrectly analyze the question of revisionism shows that they make the military question primary. One final example of how they do this. On page 16 of “Military Aspect” they cite Lenin’s reference to ”the secret side of work.” Then they say that this kind of work is already being done: ”... fairly large numbers of wounded have been cared for by the revolutionary forces.” Those who have done this indeed deserve credit. And a communist organization must develop an apparatus for such work (and for other actions necessary to advance the struggle).

But this is not the main form of work. It was certainly not the main form of “secret work” in Russia. As we pointed out in our first paper, except for the periods of actual insurrection, “secret work” in Russia meant political work – distributing leaflets, setting up printing plants, selling newspapers, organizing strikes and demonstrations – all of which was illegal. Lenin emphasizes political work to organize the masses in struggle and raise their consciousness. Our comrades emphasize care for the wounded. Can anything make it more obvious that they make the military aspect primary, and that they are not Leninists?

The struggle against our comrades’ incorrect line calls to mind the beautiful scene near the end of the movie, “Salt of the Earth,” a documentary of the mainly Chicano Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers’ strike in New Mexico 20 years ago. In this scene the leader of the strike (or at least the most militant), Ramon, has become temporarily discouraged, because the strike has dragged on for months with no sign of victory. He is standing in his house with his wife, Esperanza, who has become increasingly involved in the strike and taken great leaps in consciousness. Ramon is now trying to tell her that the strike cannot be won. At the same time, he is loading his gun, insisting that he will never give in. Finally, Esperanza looks at him and sums up the whole struggle: “You want to go down fighting. Well, I don’t want to go down fighting – I want to win!”

Our comrades’ political line also stems from frustration, from a lack of faith in the masses of working people. And they must know that by making the military aspect primary they are not developing a winning strategy. That is why they are so defensive on this point. To make military work primary when the political situation (pre-insurrectionary) demands that it be secondary, means that military work will soon become everything, which means that it will become nothing, because the organization will be wiped out. Our comrades try to get around this by claiming that they are creating new theory here. But this metaphysical nonsense is as old as the narodniks and socialist-revolutionaries, the petty-bourgeois anarchists of Lenin’s time. How perfectly the following passages from Lenin, attacking the theory and practice of the Socialist Revolutionaries, apply to our adventurist comrades:

... by assuming a disdainful attitude towards socialist ideology and seeking to rely simultaneously and in equal degree upon the intelligentsia, the proletariat and the peasantry, the Socialist Revolutionary Party thereby inevitably (whether it wants to or not) leads to the political and ideological enslavement of the Russian proletariat by Russian bourgeois democracy ... By including terrorism in their program and advocating it in its present day-to-day form as a means of political struggle, (the S-Rs) are thereby doing the most serious harm to the movement, destroying the indissoluble ties between socialist work and the mass of the revolutionary class.

No verbal assurances and vows can disprove the unquestionable fact that present-day terrorism, as practiced by the Socialist-Revolutionaries, is not connected any way with work among the masses, for the masses, or together with the masses; that the organization of terroristic acts by the Party distracts our very scanty organizational forces from their difficult task of organizing a revolutionary workers’ party; that in prccdce the terrorism of the Socialist-Revolutionaries is nothing else than single combat, a method that has been wholly condemned by the experience of history ...

Among the masses of Russian workers this advocacy (of single combat terrorism) simply sows harmful illusions, such as the idea that terrorism ’compels people to think politically, even against their will!’ ... or that ’more effectively than months of verbal propaganda it is capable of changing the views . . . of thousands of people with regard to the revolutionaries and the meaning (!!) of their activity,’ or that it is capable of ’infusing new strength into the waverers, those discouraged and shocked . ..’ These harmful illusions can only bring about early disappointment and weaken the work of preparing the masses for the onslaught of the autocracy. (Lenin, Vol. 6, pg. 173, 175, from “Why the Social-Democrats Must Declare a Determined and Relentless War on the Socialist-Revolutionaries,” emphasis, exclamations, in original).

Or, again, the following comments by Lenin:

We are not opportunists, cry the Socialist-Revolutionaries, and at the same time, they are shelving the dogma of proletarian socialism, for reason of sheer opportunist criticism and no other. We are not repeating the terrorists’ mistakes and are not diverting attention from work among the masses, the Socialist-Revolutionaries assure us, and at the same time recommend to the Party acts such as Balmashov’s assassination of Sipyagin (an official of the autocracy), although everyone knows and sees perfectly well that this act was in no way connected with the masses and moreover could not have been by reason of the very way it was carried out – that the person who committed this terrorist act neither counted on nor hoped for any definite support on the part of the masses.

In their naivete, the Socialist-Revolutionaries do not realize that their predilection for terrorism is causally most intimately linked with the fact that, from the very outset, they have kept, and still keep aloof from the working-class movement, without even attempting to become a party of the revolutionary class that is waging its class struggle;... Just listen to what follows: “Every terrorist blow, as it were, takes away part of the strength of the autocracy and transfers (!) all this strength (!) to the side of the fighters for freedom.” “And if terrorism is practised systematically (!) it is obvious that the scales of the balance will finally weigh down on our side.” Yes, indeed, it is obvious to all that we have here the grossest form of one of the greatest prejudices of the terrorists: political assassination of itself ’transfers strength!’ Thus on the one hand, you have the theory of the transference of strength (Protracted Urban War of Attrition .. . R.U.), and on the other – ’not in place of, but together with’ ... Do not these protestations weary them?” (Lenin, Vol. 6, pp. 189 and 191, “Revolutionary Adventurism.”)

Finally, once more from Lenin’s attack on the Socialist-Revolutionaries. In “New Events and Old Questions,” he refers to a strike in late 1902, in Rostov-on-Don, where 30,000 workers participated and only the most violent repression by the police and the army could defeat the struggle. Lenin refers to the death of six workers and ridicules the Socialist-Revolutionaries for thinking that it would have been much better if “six comrades murdered in Rostov had given their lives in an attempt on the lives of individual police tyrants.” Lenin says that this view represents a complete misunderstanding of the revolutionary movement. He goes on to ridicule the S-R’s for clamoring that “it is necessary to get down to ’individual resistance.’” He further ridicules them for calling for assassinations of police to avenge the dead comrades. He argues that the killing of 10 police, if it resulted in the loss of one comrade, would be a betrayal of the working class. And he insists that one hundred assassinations of the Tsar himself can never produce so stimulating and educational effect as this participation of tens of thousands of working people in meetings where their vital interests and the links between politics and these interests are discussed, and as this participation in a struggle, which really rouses ever new and ’untapped’ sections of the proletariat to greater political consciousness, to a broader revolutionary struggle.” (Lenin, Vol. 6, pp. 278-283, emphasis in original. We suggest that all comrades study these three essays by Lenin attacking the petty-bourgeois adventurists of his day.)


But, in their three papers, our comrades echo not only the anarchists of Lenin’s time, but our present-day terrorists: the Weatherman. They show the same fatal contempt for the masses of working people – Black and Brown, as well as White. And, since they do not base themselves on the proletariat and proletarian ideology, they degenerate into fantasy and opportunism. All comrades should study the history of Weatherman, their degeneration into a terrorist sect. Many of the leaders of Weatherman were also leaders of one of the finest struggles in recent years in this country: at Columbia University in 1968. This struggle linked up Black youth and working people, with Black and white college students in opposition to Columbia’s war complicity and its demolition of the homes of Black people in Harlem. The struggle was very militant, lasted several months, and won important victories.

But the Weatherman participants – who had not yet crystallized their thinking into Weatherman ideology – made the fateful error of thinking that the militancy, the fighting, in and of itself, was the principal aspect of the struggle, rather than the political program, the united front that was developed through straggle and the raising of the consciousness of the masses of students and working people who took part in the struggle.

From that error, the Weatherman began to develop a strategy which equated militancy with revolutionary consciousness, substituted violence for a political program, and called for the creation of a “white fighting force” to “fight on the side” of the Third World people, inside and outside the U.S. Like our comrades, they argued that the whole world was already in a revolutionary situation, that it was only a question of the white revolutionaries joining the revolution. They put forward the concept that the revolutionaries, not the masses, make the revolution. They treated the revolution like a train: the Third World people were the conductors, the Weatherman had already climbed aboard, and anybody else could get aboard who wanted to. Anybody who didn’t, better get out of the way.

Even in the famous “Weatherman paper,” however, they talked about the necessity to organize the masses into this fighting force- and they even included among the potentially revolutionary masses, most of the white working class. One week before the now-famous “days of rage” in October, 1969, they expected 5,000 to 10,000 people to participate in what they saw as the most militant, most significant demonstration by whites in recent history, because they would be consciously fighting in support of Third World liberation. But only 300-500 showed up and they were smashed.

Instead of summing up this experience objectively and concluding that their political line was incorrect – that they were calling upon the masses of white youth to fight for something still abstract to them – Third World liberation – they decided to say, ”to hell with the masses.” They insisted that the Third World people inside the U.S. as well as outside, are already “waging guerilla warfare” and ”they can’t wait” for the white masses to catch up. They talked about the likelihood of “race war” and suggested that somehow they would be able to “fight on the side of the Black people.” On the other hand, they said that every violent act by a Third World person was progressive (unless actually aimed at “revolutionaries,” like them).

So Weatherman decided to turn itself into a “Red Army.” Since many Weathermen, and almost all their leadership, already had felony charges against them (most stemming from the Chicago fiasco), they were forced underground, cut off completely from the masses of people and reduced to a tiny terrorist sect. The degeneration of the Weatherman is a real tragedy because many heroic fighters have placed themselves in a position where they can be of almost no service to the people’s struggle. Comrades who are influenced by the “Military Strategy” of protracted urban war should study the history of the Weatherman very carefully. They will find there the future of those who cling stubbornly to an adventurist line that writes off the working class – the potential destruction of any good mass work that has been done.

But the authors of the “Military Strategy,” “Military Aspect” and “Revisionism” stubbornly refuse to learn from history and, instead, borrow from other opportunists in the recent student movement and in little sects of so-called “Marxist-Leninists” in their attack on those of us who have consistently upheld our organization’s line and principles. We are referring to social-pacifist and sectarian elements in the now-defunct RYM-II, and to certain dogmatist forces who carry out their work of “building a communist party” by tilting their pens at our organization.

When we published RED PAPERS 1, these same forces attacked our formulation on the Black People’s struggle:

Black people are an imported colonial people, brought to this country in chains and dispersed throughout it. Robbed of their land and resources and divested of their cultural heritage, Black people today are forced into oppressed communities, exploited by absentee white business interests and controlled and contained by an occupying army of mercenary police. (RP. 1, pg. 4.)

And they especially denounced our analysis that it is “extremely unlikely” that Black people can win national liberation without the overthrow of U.S. Imperialism.

According to these hacks, we were “revisionist” and “national chauvinist” because we talked only about the Black “communities.” According to these true defenders of Marxism-Leninism, the essence of the Black national question is the right to self-determination, secession in the Black Belt of the South.

About one year ago, a member of our own organization, who had come from a mixed background (bouncing from revisionism to extreme left sectarianism, but always characterized by isolation from the working class) had risen to a position of secondary leadership in our organization, because he gave the appearance of understanding Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought and its application to U.S. conditions. But he proved to be a complete opportunist, who came under the influence of these dogmatists, tried to promote their dogmatism as the line of our organization, and, when he failed, tried to organize a faction within the R.U.

He called upon the comrades to “bombard the bourgeois headquarters” (the “revisionist” leadership of our organization), insisting that “it is right to rebel.” He wrote a paper denouncing our organization’s position on the Black people’s struggle as “racist” and “national chauvinist” – declaring that the right of Black people to secession in the Black Belt was not only the key to the Black liberation struggle, but “The prerequisite” to proletarian revolution in the U.S. He mapped out a “war of national liberation” to be waged by Black people, with the Black Belt as a base area.

He argued that since white supremacy and male supremacy are inseparably linked, our organization was “automatically” male supremacist as well as white supremacist. He blasted us for refusing to repudiate our “white-skin privilege” and our “male privilege” (those of us who were white and male).

All of the leadership and all but a few of the rank and file of our organization united to defeat this attack. Four comrades, including one of the authors of the present “Revisionism” paper (and one of the authors of our papers) were sent to a conference one year ago to defend the organization’s line, especially on the national question and the woman question. Shortly after that, we came out with RED PAPERS 2. In the section on the first point of the United Front, “The National Liberation of Black and Mexican-American People and Support for the Democratic Demands of All Oppressed Minorities,” (pp. 11-12), we directly answered the “Black Belt is the key” argument. We pointed out that the Black people today are dispersed throughout the U.S. and concentrated in the urban centers as workers. We showed that Stalin’s definition of a nation, which does not strictly apply to Black people in the U.S. today, was developed to correspond to situations where “the national question is in essence a peasant question.” We pointed to the common history of oppression and resistance of the Black people as the basis of the Black nation.

And we emphasized that for the Black people within the U.S. today, the national question is in essence a proletarian question. We upheld the correct position of the “dual character” of the Black people’s struggle – the national character and the working class character – and the dialectical unity of the two. And we showed that liberation for the Black people lies in overthrowing the U.S. ruling class and establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat. Finally, we noted the leading role of Black workers as the pivot of the national and class struggle, and in the development of the political unity of the proletariat, forged through the united front struggles, and especially the support of the white workers for the more advanced struggles of the Black workers and Black people as a whole.

Finally, the renegade in our ranks was isolated and expelled, after it was clear that he was trying to split and destroy our organization. But not before he created some disruption, took a few newer, younger members with him and spread vicious rumors about the organization across the country – lies that we are still forced to track down and blow away.


Now, a year later, a handful of leaders within our organization have taken the same path. They have opened an all-out attack on the line of the organization (the very same line they defended so strenuously one year ago) as “revisionist . . . racist . .. national chauvinist.” They have consistently defied and attacked democratic centralism and have launched an open campaign of lies and rumors about those of us who continue to uphold the organization’s line and are trying to hold the organization together in the face of this completely unprincipled attack. They have even dragged the dead corpse of the “Black Belt as base area” into their attack; and they have revived the slogans: “bombard the bourgeois headquarters ... it is right to rebel.”

We are convinced that it is no accident that this attack comes at a time when our organization’s line on becoming a nationwide, multi-national, proletarian organization is being implemented, for the first time, in a serious way; when we are spreading across the country, beginning to sink real roots among working people and starting to tighten up our organization and discipline. As this process of proletarianizing the organization develops, it becomes increasingly difficult for comrades, even leading comrades, to be left alone to “do their own thing” to implement what is obviously a petty-bourgeois line. That is why their present attack is not only on the line of our organization, but on democratic centralism as well.

And, because many of our cadre do have ties with working people, and therefore a sense of the reality of the U.S. class struggle (and national struggle), the comrades now attacking the organization have systematically tried to create confusion around the current struggle, to short circuit the development of the struggle by talking openly and from the beginning, about “irrevocable splits.” All this because they know that if the struggle is carried on in a principled way, if time is allowed for all the cadre to study and investigate the question, they will thoroughly repudiate the petty-bourgeois line with which these comrades are now assaulting our organization.

These comrades call to mind not only the opportunists within the current U.S. movement, but opportunists from the history of the Communist movement. Lenin’s description of Trotsky fits these comrades very well:

Such people as Trotsky with his puffed up phrases ... are now the disease of the age . .. Everyone who supports Trotsky’s group supports the policy of lies and deceptions of the workers ... it is Trotsky’s special task to throw sand in the eyes of the workers ... It is not possible to discuss essentials with Trotsky, for he has no views ... we merely expose him as a diplomatist of the meanest description . ..

This bloc (of Trotskyites) is composed of lack of principle, hypocrisy, and empty phrases . . . Trotsky covers them by the revolutionary phrase, which costs him nothing, and binds him to nothing ...

Comrade Trotsky has never yet possessed a definite opinion on any single, earnest Marxian question; he has always crept into the breach made by this or that difference and has oscillated from one side to another.

Trotsky had at least three things in common with the renegades who have previously tried to destroy our organization: a monumental ego, a complete inability to grasp dialectical and historical materialism; and, the cause of the first two, complete isolation from the working class and its practical struggles. Trotsky invariably took the wrong position, the counter-revolutionary position, at crucial moments. Before 1905 he sided with the Mensheviks in arguing that the Russian proletariat could not lead the bourgeois democratic revolution. Then, when proved wrong, he went completely over to the other extreme (’left’ opportunism) and began calling for the immediate establishment of a workers’ state, rather than the necessary first step: the overthrow of the autocracy and the completion of the bourgeois democratic revolution under’ the leadership of the proletariat.

Finally, he insisted that socialism could not be built in one state, because the peasantry was hopelessly reactionary and could not be allied with. When he was proved wrong, instead of criticizing himself and accepting the correct line formulated by Lenin and Stalin, he raised his error to a principle, he declared that what was being built in the U.S.S.R. was not socialism, but a “degenerate bureaucracy,” headed by Stalin, which was oppressing the working class! This led Trotsky to actively seek the overthrow of the “dictatorship (of the proletariat),” to become an out-and-out counter-revolutionary.

We urge the authors of the “Military Strategy,” of the “Military Aspect” and of “Revisionism” to study the role of renegades, both past and recent, and compare it to their own present actions. This is not the first time in the history of the communist movement (or of our own organization) that opportunist attacks have been launched by leading figures within the movement or the organization itself.

In RED PAPERS 1 we outline the basis and the history of the struggle against opportunism:

Marxism, from its creation in the 1840’s by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels to its present day application and development by Mao Tse-tung, has had to fight for its position every step of the way. This is only natural, since it is the reflection in (the realm of ideas, of actual class struggles of the proletariat – viewed in the light of all past history. As the working class must struggle in the realm of practice against other classes ... so the theory of the working class must contend with those of other classes, and, primarily, of course with that of its absolute enemy, the capitalist class. .. This ideological battle takes place both between the Marxist-Leninist party and ether parties, and within the Marxist-Leninist party itself...

Proletarian ideology, Marxism-Leninism, is true social science, it is both partisan and an objective, true reflection of the real social process. This is so because the interests of the working class are in accordance with the progressive evolution of history ... Bourgeois ideology, on the other hand, in any of its variants, can only serve its class by concealing its own class character, and the objective nature of reality. What good are historical and dialectical materialism to the bourgeoisie? They can only predict the downfall of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie needs to infuse into .. . the working class and the Marxist-Leninist party: contempt for theory, pragmatism, anarchism, revisionism, corruption of individuals, bombastic left phrasemongering and bourgeois-liberal reformism even more than it needs police agents and provocateurs within the movement. (R.P. 1, pg. 14)

While our comrades’ opportunist attack is not new, it is very dangerous. It is already disrupting the work of the organization, demoralizing some comrades (especially working people), and misleading others with a political line and method that is completely unprincipled, completely opposed to Marxism-Leninism, which can only isolate us from the working class and which – whatever the original intent of the comrades who have promoted it – is objectively a betrayal of the working class and the oppressed peoples.

Our organization is presently the only national organization seeking to apply Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought to the struggles of the working class and to build toward a multi-national Communist party of the proletariat. Without such a party there can be no U.S. revolution and the sufferings of the people can only greatly increase with the development of the contradictions of U.S. Imperialism. We cannot build toward this Communist party and develop the struggles of the people unless we repudiate this petty-bourgeois line and unite behind Marxist-Leninist principles and adopt the proletarian world outlook.

We urge all comrades to study the questions raised by our current struggle and to thoroughly investigate the situation in our organization, with the greatest of urgency. We call on all comrades, on the basis of this study and investigation, to unite in defense of our organization and its correct political line and class stand; to completely reject and defeat the opportunism- both the destructive political line and the destructive method of struggle of those who are now raising a petty-bourgeois attack on our organization and its line.