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Revolutionary Union

Red Papers 6: Build the Leadership of the Proletariat and its Party


Revolution. The one word that truly expresses the deepest hopes and aspirations of the great majority of mankind. The word our enemies fear and hate because it points to the end of their cruel and decadent rule. The word we inscribe on our banners because it points to the blight and splendid future.

The path to revolution and liberation for the people of each country is never exactly the same, but in the final analysis, in today’s world, it comes down to the working class overthrowing the capitalist class. As Mao Tsetung says, the ideological and social system of capitalism “resembles ’a dying person who is sinking fast, like the sun setting beyond the western hills,’ and will soon be relegated to the museum. The communist ideological and social system alone is full of youth and vitality, sweeping the world with the momentum of an avalanche and the force of “a thunderbolt.”

Revolution is no abstraction, no game, no mere “idea” divorced from the flesh and blood of reality and life. Nor is it a mere every day event that can be accomplished just by “trucking along.” It is a great social upheaval. Revolution is made by the masses, and it is the historic duty of communists to prepare the working class and masses for revolution –to develop their political consciousness, Organization and unity by leading them in political struggle to overthrow the enemy.

To carry out this primary duty of ours, it is necessary for communists in this country at this particular time–because the situation has now become ripe for it, because it is now possible to do so on the correct bask –to unite all who can be united to build the new Communist Party to lead the people in making revolution, because without such a Party the people can’t win.

This Party we have to build can’t be a loose knit bunch of individuals who come together around some ill-defined unity and limited, reformist objectives. Nor is it a mutual admiration society, isolated from the masses and concerned just with making a ripple or a splash. Our Party must be the advanced and organized detachment of the working class, and must be composed of workers and others who, once again in Mao’s words, are “the most far-sighted, the most self-sacrificing, the most resolute, and the least prejudiced in sizing up situations,” a Party that “should rely on the majority of the masses and win their support.”

But how do we go about uniting all who can be united to build this Party? As everyone well knows, there is considerable disagreement and disunity in the U.S. communist movement at this time. How, out of this, do we achieve unity around the Party question and the question of strategy and tactics for revolution? The tool for this is Marxism-Leninism–the theory and science of the revolutionary proletariat. It is not a case of seeking directives from on high or texts for sermons, as is the case with certain established dogmatists, or of using it as a fig leaf for counterrevolutionary betrayal, as is the case with the revisionist “Communist” Parties of the U.S.S.R., the U.S. and other countries.

We study Marxism-Leninism to apply it to our situation, to sum up the experience of struggle, to advance. To apply Marxism-Leninism is difficult, much more difficult than bible-spouting, but it is precisely what we must now dig in and do. Through applying Marxism-Leninism to the task of summing up the practical work many of us have been doing the last several years, we can engage in principled ideological and political struggle to unify around the correct line, strategy, and programme the Party needs to lead the masses to victory.

We are publishing Red Papers 6 – Build the Leadership of the Proletariat and Its Party!–at this time because we think it can contribute to this crucial ideological and political struggle that is now rapidly developing, and to the unity that all of us are trying to achieve. Real and lasting unity can only be achieved, as we all know, through real struggle. That is why this Red Papers contains our own views on major questions now confronting all of us, in opposition to the views of certain other forces and tendencies in the movement, and shows why we think these views are wrong and cannot lead the masses down the path of revolution.

The first two articles in Red Papers 6 are reprints from the May and June 1974 issues of Revolution, the RU’s national newspaper, dealing with why we think the main task has now become building the new Party, what kind of Party it must be, why it must be based on a programme and what a programme is, and what we think the principles of unity should be for bringing everyone together possible to form the Party.

These two articles are followed by written polemics that took place within a six-month period – November ’73 to May ’74 –between the RU and the Black Workers Congress (BWC), the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization (PRRWO) and some other forces. As is generally known, there was a time when the RU, BWC and PRRWO were working closely together, and when there appeared to be strong agreement and unity between us around what has to be done to push the revolutionary movement forward.

But in the fall of ’73, it became apparent that things were not what they appeared to be. The question came up of moving forward boldly in the immediate period to build the new Party, and this brought into clear focus serious disagreements between the RU on the one hand and BWC and PRRWO on the other. Much of this disagreement centered at first–and still does center a great deal –around the national question in the U.S., and especially the question of the Black liberation struggle and how it relates to the overall class struggle for socialism.

The difference boils down to the fact that BWC and PRRWO are treating the struggle of Black people and other oppressed nationalities for liberation as something separate from and above the struggle of the working class to emancipate itself and all other oppressed people. As the polemics show, this has come down to several points: the BWC-PRRWO attitude that Black and other third world communists should have a “special place” in the new Party when it is formed, in their position that Black workers are automatically advanced (reflected in the slogan “Black Workers Take the Lead”) and white workers are too racist and politically backward to provide leadership; and most recently in the argument that self-determination for Black people in the “Black Belt” South and “land to the tiller” is at the very heart of the Black liberation struggle, that Blacks should re-constitute themselves in the old plantation area in order to achieve these aims–and anybody who says different is a racist and revisionist.

The RU position is quite different. The struggle of Black and other nationally oppressed people in the U.S. has been a great inspiration and has sparked many others to fight back. But it is wrong to treat this struggle as something separate from and above the working class struggle for socialism, and to argue that separation and “land to the tiller” is at the very heart of the Black liberation struggle.

In fact, most Black and other third world people in this country are workers, and the struggle against national oppression and the overall, working class struggle are intimately bound up with each other and form the core of the united front that must be built to defeat the common enemy. There is one multinational working class in this country, and it must lead the struggle against national oppression and all oppression. The working class recognizes that it should uphold the right of the Black people to self-determination, but it is not true that it must now advocate separation or a “return to the Black Belt.” To the contrary, the major thrust of the Black people’s struggle today is not toward separation, and “land to the tiller.” BWC and PRRWO and others who say it is are distorting reality in order to fit their preconceived notions which actually lead away from the real struggle for Black liberation and proletarian revolution.

As for the question of building the new Party, BWC and PRRWO have joined the dogmatists who separate theory from practice, turning theory into abstract and useless formulas while condemning practical struggle as useless and “economist” until the Party is formed, and who think the Party must be built in isolation from the masses and mass struggle. The RU position is that the Party must be built not in isolation and retreat from mass struggle, but precisely on the recent and important advances of that struggle, that the Party must always be closely linked with the masses, that Marxism-Leninism is no dogma, but a mighty weapon to be used to lead the people.

In addition to the articles on party building and the polemics, we have also included in this Red Papers several reports summing up some of our organization’s work around certain practical struggles. The purpose of this is twofold: one, to focus on some key lessons about strategy and tactics in building the mass movement, especially in building a revolutionary workers’ movement; and two, to give some idea of the kind of summing up we think all of us in the communist movement must do together in order to form the Party based on a solid programme.

These reports don’t include any summations of our work in various major production industries. These are much harder to do and our organization is really just starting the process of doing them in earnest. More importantly, it is these summations that all of us must come together to do because they are central to developing the programme of our Party.

This Red Papers is very long. But despite its formidable length and appearance, we hope everyone will carefully read and study all the articles and let us know what you think. As we say at the beginning of the second article on party building, the time has come for us in the U.S. communist movement to make some important decisions on how to build the revolutionary mass movement, on how to develop the strategy, tactics, programme, and organization that will enable us to lead the people in making the leap from Hell to Hallelujah. This Red Papers should help us in that historic task.