Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Union

Red Papers 4

The R.U. Leadership

On the Revolutionary Union’s Current Struggle to Uphold a Working Class Line

Expulsion from a revolutionary organization is a very serious matter. It is done only when it is absolutely clear that a person or group of persons are trying to destroy the unity of the organization by consistently putting forward ideas and engaging in actions which most members in the organization consider wrong and dangerous.

Recently, the Revolutionary Union (RU), a national communist organization made up primarily of workers and students, white and Third World, voted to publicly expel four of its members – Stanford professor Bruce Franklin, his wife, Jane Franklin, and Janet Weiss and Jeff Freed. This severe action was taken because these four were leaders in an attempt to turn the organization away from the goals it had set for itself when it first formed approximately three years ago. When they failed to convince people politically, they resorted to organizational factionalism, in a deliberate attempt to sabotage unity based on democratic centralism.

Unfortunately, they were able for awhile to throw the organization into quite a bit of confusion. In the end, they left the organization and took a fairly large number of people – mostly from the Palo Alto-Stanford section of the organization – with them. Even though the four have left the organization, the RU still feels it is important to formally and publicly expel them and to explain the reasons why.

Basically, the differences boil down to a question of how a socialist revolution in the United States can be made. As a communist organization, the RU is founded on the principle that a socialist revolution can occur in the U.S. only if it is led by the U.S. working class, and particularly by the U.S. industrial workers in largescale industry.

The RU has not come to this position by gazing into a crystal ball or by playing around with a ouija board. It is based on our reading and understanding of history, which shows that wherever there has been a successful socialist revolution, the industrial workers have played the leading role.

Even in a country like China, where peasants make up approximately 80 percent of the total population, the socialist revolution is led by the Chinese industrial workers and their political vanguard, the Chinese Communist Party. The same was true of the Russian Revolution over 50 years ago.

Why must the working class, especially the workers in large-scale industry, play this leading role? There are several reasons. First of all, working people, particularly industrial workers, are highly socialized. Working side by side in the capitalists’ huge factories, making the products the capitalists sell for profit, workers learn through their own experience the need for organization and cooperation. Clearly, the products could never be made if the workers themselves were disorganized and refused to cooperate with one another.

Similarly, workers gain through their own work experience an understanding of the need for discipline and a clear-headed, sensible approach to solving problems. Clearly, the products could never be made if such discipline and clear-headedness on the workers’ part didn’t exist.

Of course, in a capitalist society such as our own, these qualities of organization, cooperation, discipline and clear-headedness are used to benefit not the workers, but the capitalists. The capitalists use these qualities of the workers to make huge profits and, in the process, keep workers in a state of near or actual poverty. These qualities, however, are very important for leading a revolution and building a socialist society after the capitalist society is destroyed.

Moreover, since the workers are the ones who are directly exploited by the capitalists, they have the most potential for seeing most thoroughly the absolute unjustness and insanity of the capitalist system. Thus, of all classes in society, the working class also has the most potential for seeing the need to overthrow capitalism and to replace it with a new system – socialism – that will benefit not a handful of capitalists, but the workers and the masses of the people.

Also, in building the mass movement of all sections of the people to overthrow the capitalist system, the workers have the greatest power to cripple the capitalists. If the workers don’t work, the capitalists don’t profit. Finally, as the only thoroughly productive class in society, as the only class which produces and distributes the things necessary for life, the working class is the only class which literally holds in its hands not only the ability to destroy the old, rotting capitalist society, but the ability to build the new, healthy socialist society.

For all these reasons, the Revolutionary Union, learning from genuine Communist organizations throughout the world, believes that the working class, especially the industrial working class, must play the leading role in creating and developing the mass revolutionary movement to overthrow capitalism and to replace it with socialism.

Some people who call themselves Communists, however, do not believe that the working class will play this leading role. Bruce and Jane Franklin, Janet Weiss and Jeff Freed are some of these people. In a statement of this length, it is impossible to explain in detail the kind of anti-working class position these four were putting forward within the RU, and which they finally used to split the RU.

Essentially, however, their position came down to the old romantic notion of a handful of heroic revolutionaries making the revolution for the people, rather than the people, led by the working class, making the revolution for themselves. In every revolutionary movement there are some who lack faith in the ability of the people themselves to make a revolution, and who therefore feel that they must do it for them.

To try to look like they were basing themselves on the most revolutionary people, the Franklins, Weiss and Freed centered their romantic vision around the Black and other Third World peoples in the U.S. They called the Revolutionary Union “racist” because we refused to go along with their notion that Black and brown people were only concerned about shooting it out with the police, and were not concerned about basic problems like wages and working conditions, jobs, taxes, health care, education and housing.

The Revolutionary Union, both its white and Third World members, fights actively with the masses of people against violent police attacks, against discrimination and all other forms of oppression that are specially directed against Third World people. At the same time, we work to tie these struggles together with the workers’ movement as a whole. Our understanding that Third World people are overwhelmingly workers strengthens our understanding of the importance of their fight against the capitalist system, and the inspiration and leadership it is giving to all workers, who are coming under attack from the same capitalist system. People like the Franklins, Weiss and Freed apparently cannot face the world and the revolutionary struggle as they really are. They have to invent a fantasy world of Bonnie and Clyde adventure. And when this is rejected by an organization that is building ties with the real mass movement, they often turn from political scheming to organizational scheming and wrecking.

Such people never accomplish much. For example, in Russia at the turn of the century, there was a terrorist group which even succeeded in killing a Tsar, but certainly did not succeed in making a revolution. Only the masses of Russian people, led by the industrial working class and its political arm, the Bolshevik Party, were capable of doing this.

Lacking faith in the working masses, people such as the Franklins, Weiss and Freed cannot grasp the fact that revolutionary violence can’t be judged by the individual heroism involved, but only by the degree to which it aids in mobilizing the masses for revolution. The RU and other Communist organizations recognize the need for revolutionary violence, but we cannot support it when it is seen as a substitute for building a mass movement rather than as one of several tools to build that movement.

The mass revolutionary movement in the U.S. is still very young, and as yet it does not have the leadership of the industrial working class. In the absence of such leadership, it is easier for romanticists like the Franklins, Weiss and Freed to concoct all sorts of wild schemes for how the revolution can be made without working class leadership.

History shows over and over, however, that all such schemes are doomed to failure. The U.S. working class, the sleeping giant, is already beginning to stir, and when it fully awakens, when it recognizes the great power it has in its hands, the whole world will shake. It is only a matter of time.