Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Amiri Baraka

Against Some Bogus Types Posing as Revolutionaries (Part I)


First Published: Unity and Struggle, Vol. IV, No. 12, August-September 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Generally, its been agreed that the main danger in the communist movement today, is opportunism. What we at CAP have called “easy way outism”, the settling for short term “advantages” by sacrificing the long range revolutionary objective. The material base for opportunism, as Lenin pointed out long ago, is Imperialism, specifically the superprofits which imperialism derives from super-exploiting the peoples and nations of the Third World. These superprofits in turn are used to bribe and bourgeoisify considerable sectors of the working class in Europe and America, as well as set up mechanisms for the dissemination of bourgeois ideology to the working class.

One of the most important contributions to the struggle for socialism in the United States that the black liberation movement can make is to bring to that most important struggle a resolute determination to fight against opportunism, since we have come from peoples who suffer not only the exploitation of capitalism but a national oppression as well. A double oppression that has forced us to take the lead in struggling for ultimate social change here in the U.S., just as Third World people generally have taken the lead in fighting against imperialism throughout the world! In the main we have not been so bourgeoisified by reforms that our struggles have been suffocated by opportunism. Though the cooptation of some of the erstwhile progressive forces in the black community by the rebellion bred “reforms” of the late sixties and early seventies should be clear by now. Certainly the whole neocolonial development of letting black faces in high places try to pretend that our movement for self determination can be brought about by other than revolutionary struggle, should be pretty clear to many people by now. It will be much clearer to many more in a very short time. There is opportunism even in the Black Nation, to be sure, and in liberation movements and. revolutionary organizations.

For some there is opportunism around the concept of organization. Many people let the word “revolution” fall out of their mouths, but that is as far as it goes or is meant to. It is an elementary concept that no revolution can be made without an instrument of revolution, and that instrument is a revolutionary party. A party guided by the science of revolution, Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-Tung Thought. Such a party, or even organizations which aspire to build such a party (and in the United States we have no such party) must construct that organization, even as a pre-party formation, on the principles of Democratic Centralism. Democratic Centralism is the organizational form of Scientific Revolutionary Organizations, of organizations guided by the revolutionary science of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-Tung Thought. That is:

(1) The individual is subordinate to the organization;
(2) The minority is subordinate to the majority;
(3) The lower level is subordinate to the higher level; and
(4) The entire membership is subordinate to The Central Committee. (Selected Readings of Mao Tse Tung, Party Discipline)

It is the dialectical combination of Democracy plus Centralism, that supports and is a method of bringing scientific socialism. At one aspect the Organization is the ultimate authority, the people, and the majority of the people, must see to the overall direction of the party and the revolutionary movement if it is to succeed, and be victorious over monopoly capitalism & national oppression, and this majority of the people elect the Higher Levels and the Central Committee, and after the extensive democratic process of unity-criticism-unity, a decision is reached, and all forces within the whole must support the decision and carry it through until the end. Marxists-Leninists demand discipline and commitment to principles, an even greater discipline than bourgeois organizations because not only have the majority actually spoken on any given issue, but fierce struggle can be waged before a decision is reached, but once that decision is reached “Discipline of steel” is expected, because the revolutionary communist party must be the “general staff of the working class, prepared to lead the class to the armed seizure of state power, which is the only method of waging revolution.

Since the time of the Second International (1889) opportunists, bourgeoisified elements of the working class and petty bourgeois elements have been opposed to Democratic Centralism, and instead favored “loose assemblages of squabbling intellectuals” to disciplined revolutionary fighting parties. Socialist Revolution cannot be waged by loose study circles or individualistic little cliques. The protracted Peoples War that will bring socialism to the USA must be waged by an armed force of the people led by the working class and its revolutionary party. The Bourgeoisie will not be talked into exile, they must be beaten in warfare.

Certain people who think that individualized study circles “who may or may not practice democratic centralism” are the leading element in revolutionary struggle are idealists oridlers. Though study circles are positive contributions to the recruitment of new forces into the struggle. CAP, for instance, is trying to set up study circles all over the country. But the study circle should know itself as that, and endeavor to raise itself past that toward becoming part of some higher revolutionary formation, first by understanding the basics of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought and then by understanding and beginning to practice democratic centralism, as Marxist Leninist organization or pre-party formation rather than remain a formless huddle of self indulgent intellectuals. One of the major stumbling blocks to building revolutionary forces is the kind of petit bourgeois (middleclass) consciousness that is so subjective and individualistic that it views democratic centralism as an oppressive ordering about of their person in ways they would not choose. Excessive “studentism” is one clear drawback to organizing some of the would be revolutionaries into cohesive communist forces, where M-L-M, as “the science,” is talked to death, but very little practical work is ever attempted, and people are crammed full of theories drawn from other peoples revolutions and intense beery polemic sessions, but the working class remains hooked up to the intermediate lacky sector of petit bourgeois politicians, labor aristocrats, revisionists of one persuasion or another and outright social-democrats. While the ultra democracy that Mao Tse-Tung described as emanating from the “petit bourgeois individualistic aversion to discipline” completely undermines any fighting capacity an organization might try to develop.

Some forces, having been dominated by petit bourgeois types, and talking a good “sink roots in the class” line but nevertheless remaining unconnected to any class except the petit bourgeois college professors that assign them nightly readings of the bourgeois classics, make opportunism not merely an incorrect tendency but their political line and style of work. So strong is this kind of connection between some would be revolutionaries and the intermediate lackies as a result that these elements will say that our criticism of them is “too abrasive.” e.g., some so called revolutionaries objected to our “Tom Of The Month” column or our characterization of the scum who will next year come into our communities selling us Scoop Jackson or maybe George Wallace as “Nigger Punk Politicians.” But we view the petit bourgeoisie in a dialectical fashion seeing both the progressive wing and the reactionary wing, as well as a middle sector which can go either way, and we will unite with the progressive wing, try to win over the middle sector, and expose and oppose the reactionary aspect. But these same forces who object to our “too abrasive” approach to our enemies say that what we need from these compradors is “some leverage,” so we can get over in the big time with these biggyniggies. These “calmer” types also say that to come out for communism now is too dangerous, that it will alienate the people (not to mention the bourgeoisie) and they say we should just put forward such slogans as “30 hours work for 40 hours pay” or “the nationalization of the food and banking industries” as a maximum line! But to us, this is merely opportunism and reformism. Our maximum line is communism. A line in between the maximum and minimum lines must at least speak of the need for socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, and socialism. No minimum line should ever be put out, without at least the masses being told that it is a minimum line. That it will not solve our problems. A mass line should be a line gotten in part from the masses, which will be their urgent needs, but then these ideas must be made “concentrated and systematic” and given back to the masses, “from the masses to the masses.” We must combine the urgent needs of the masses with the longer range vision of the revolutionary. As the “. . .Proposal Concerning The General Line of the International Communist Movement” (Letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in reply to the letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, March 30, 1963) states, “While actively leading immediate struggles, Communists in the capitalist countries should link them with the struggle for long-range and general interests, educate the masses in a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary spirit, ceaselessly raise their political consciousness and undertake the historical task of the proletarian revolution. If they fail to do so, if they regard the immediate movement as everything, determine their conduct from case to case, adapt themselves to the events of the day and sacrifice the basic interests of the proletariat, that is out and out social democracy.”

(to be continued)