Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

October League (Marxist-Leninist)

UNITY: Rising Trend in the Communist Movement – Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization

First Published: Red Worker, the political newspaper of the October League (M-L), Atlanta District, Vol. 2, No. 7, September 1972.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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In recent years, as the struggles of the American people have grown more militant, the need for revolutionary leadership has become increasingly clear. In this light, the recent conference of the Young Lords Party in New York City has great significance for the growing communist forces in this country.


The Young Lords Party developed from a street gang in Chicago in 1969 to a revolutionary, anti-imperialist Puerto Rican organization guided by Marxist-Leninist-Maoist principles. They were based mainly in New York City. Since then, they have gone through a number of mass struggles. These included a “garbage offensive” (where they barricaded streets to force increased garbage collection in the ghetto) and struggles to force churches and hospitals in the Barrio (the Puerto Rican community) to better meet the needs of the people. They also set up chapters in Philadelphia, Bridgeport, and Puerto Rico.

In the past year, the Lords have been going through a number of changes, redefining their ideology and activities. This culminated in the conference, where the YLP renamed itself the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization.

The main theme of the conference was the need to build a multi-national communist party, that is, a party capable of uniting all U.S. workers, whether black, Puerto Rican, or white. The YLP criticized their previous position that they already were a communist party. They said that no small group without strong roots among the masses could claim to be a party. Their previous belief was seen as the source of continual errors.


Representatives from several fraternal organizations were invited to the conference. The Black Workers Congress, an all-black Marxist-Leninist organization based on industrial workers, spoke of the need for a multi-national communist party to unite the whole working class.

The Revolutionary Union, a multi-national Marxist-Leninist organization, and I Wor Kuen, a group of Marxist-Leninist Chinese in the U.S., also stressed the need for a new class-wide communist party. The YLP invited these groups because they are Marxist-Leninist organizations developing roots in the working class. The YLP felt that a new communist party could emerge out of the common work and discussions of these groups.

Along with the delegates from the fraternal organizations, there were observers representing a number of anti-imperialist organizations such as the Puerto Rican Socialist Party, the Rising Up Angry group in Chicago, the Venceremos organization from northern California and a number of Asian-American groups. These organizations were brought together to discuss how to build a unified, national anti-imperialist movement.


The YLP stressed the importance of building a party among the working class. They criticized their previous belief that the lumpen-proletariat was the leading revolutionary force.

The lumpen-proletariat is a class composed of thieves, pimps, prostitutes, dope pushers, junkies – in general, those people who survive mainly by hustling. It often moves into militant action more quickly than other segments of the population, but, because of its position in society, it vacillates and is unstable. It is not productive and is essentially a parasite on the working class. It can never replace the industrial workers as the leading revolutionary force, but rather is a stronghold for all kinds of capitalist ideas – individualism, adventurism, etc.

Only the working class, because of its concentration in the large factories and work places, can provide the advanced theory and organization to lead the masses in overthrowing the imperialists. This includes the vast “reserve army” of unemployed (composed largely of blacks, other minorities, women and youth), which the capitalists shuttle in and out of the work force as it suits their needs.


The YLP clarified their position on the relationship between the national question and party building. They said that Puerto Rican workers in the U.S. are part of the U.S. working class; therefore, there should be no special party of Puerto Rican workers in the U.S. A single communist party, including and representing all nationalities in the U.S., must be built.

They concluded that the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization should build toward that party by organizing Puerto Rican workers and at the same time working closely with other, similar groups.


This conference has been a big step toward unifying the fragmented communist movement in this country. It is a sign of the growth of the communist forces in the U.S. Three years ago most of the organizations present at the conference didn’t even exist. Today, these organizations and hundreds of small collectives have developed throughout the country.

A low ideological level, lack of ties with the masses, and primitive organization are the main weaknesses which still plague the new communist forces – including the October League. However, recognition of these weaknesses is a major step in correcting them.

But unity is the rising trend in the communist movement today! The ideological level is rising as revolutionaries participate in the class struggle and apply the universal principles of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought to conditions in the U.S.

Unity is growing throughout the communist movement as revolutionaries see the need to develop common practical .work among the masses. Unity among communists is growing because the struggles of the masses demand revolutionary leadership – the type of leadership which only a communist party can give.

By persevering in struggle, upholding the revolutionary principles of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, and integrating these principles with the conditions of revolution in the U.S., steps such as the YLP conference can be multiplied, our weak forces can grow strong, and a party capable of leading the masses can be built!