Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Forum: Strategy 76


First Published: Unity and Struggle, Vol. IV, No. 16, November 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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With the raging struggle within the bourgeois ruling class over what strategy and what tactics will dominate in 1976, whether they will rule by reforms or open repression, 1976 is an intensely political year. And, while the ruling class is debating its strategy & tactics, so are the oppressed classes, struggling over what will be the correct strategy & tactics to end this oppressive system of capitalism and racism. In particular, the Congress of Afrikan People has proposed the ’76 Strategy for the 1976 elections, as one tactic to bring socialist forces into contact with the popular masses, in a campaign to oppose the bourgeois parties (democrats & republicans) in 1976. ”It must be a popular front drawing all who can be drawn to an anti-depression, anti-repression, anti-democrat, anti-republican electoral movement, put together by a united front of organizations and individuals, many of whom hold to anti-monopoly capitalist anti-imperialist views, some of whom will be Marxist-Leninists, whose ideology is Marxism-Leninism-Mao TseTung Thought, who understand that Socialism will emerge in the United States only as a result of armed struggle, and the destruction of the bourgeois state. But who also understand that it is the masses of people, led by the working class and its vanguard party, that must, through their own experience, come to understand that ‘capitalism is their enemy and revolution is their weapon to smash it forever’.”(Amiri Baraka, Unity & Struggle, April 2nd 1975).

But since this proposal, there have been a series of meetings and on many fronts an intense struggle over whether or not this is the correct tactic for 1976, both in the new communist movement and in the black liberation movement. So a series has been set up to bring this crucial question to the oppressed masses. What is the strategy to lead the people in 1976 national elections? The first of this series of forums was held in Harlem November 9th, at the Harlem Fight Back headquarters. The forum drew over 200 people and the panel presented the views of the Congress of Afrikan People, Fight Back, the National Interim Committee (NIC) for a Mass Party, and the October League on the ’76 elections, while many other views were expressed from the floor of the forum during the heated discussion.

Many questions were raised, but at the core of the argument over strategy and tactics, there were essentially three lines. The traditional social democrat and economist line was represented by NIC and Fight Back, and two different views in the new communist movement were presented by the October League and the Congress of Afrikan People on how to deal with the elections in 1976, on how Marxism-Leninism-Mao TseTung Thought should be applied to U. S. capitalism on its deathbed.

The National Interim Committee (NIC) came straight out and advocated building a mass party (as opposed to a revolutionary vanguard party to lead the masses of oppressed people in the struggle for power), to be an election oriented party to deal with the “bread & butter” or immediate needs of the people as a campaign and party platform. This in essence is no different than the other social reformist parties that have formed in U.S. history, that propose to solve the problems of this society thru elections. More recently Salvadore Allende in Chile made the same kind of political & ideological error, which cost him his own life and the lives of thousands of Chilean working people, because the essential point is this. Socialism will be brought to the U.S. and throughout the world, not by utopians but by the revolutionary theory of scientific socialism, which teaches as one of its lessons about the question of state power “that no reactionary forces will step down from the stage of history of their own accord,” to quote the Chinese position. Elections for revolutionaries is only one tactic in the struggle to win the masses and to draw them into the revolutionary movement, but state power must be seized by armed struggle, by the smashing of the bourgeois state by a class war between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and this revolution must be consolidated by the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. These lessons are not arbitrary, they are scientific, and they have been learned from the sacrifice of millions of lives in the war against oppression throughout world history. CAP is calling people together for an electoral movement, not an electoral “mass party,” because the party we need now is the vanguard party that will prepare and lead the working class in the struggle for power against the bourgeois ruling class. Talk of seizing state power outside of this serious context of the science of revolution is opportunism!

Fight Back spoke of the crisis in capitalism today, especially the crisis in New York with the danger of default, and called for the collective leadership that must lead the people out of this crisis. The problem is that the economist approach advocated by Fight Back, divorced from revolutionary theory, frankly cannot lead the masses out of this crisis. And, to advocate “American Exceptionalism”, saying that the U.S. capitalist system falls outside of the laws of revolution, objectively is to prolong the rule of capitalism by depriving the working class of its weapon to smash capitalism. But Fight Back does agree there should be unity around a strategy for 1976 elections calling for an alternative to the bourgeois parties, the depression, repression and the coming world war.

The comrade from the October League represented the view that they are opposed to using the elections in 1976 to oppose the bourgeoisie. To 0.L. 1976 is just another election year, no difference. To them bourgeois elections don’t mean anything, why should they pay attention to what the bourgeoisie is doing, they asked. But Mao said that we must not only know & study ourselves but also know the enemy, and it will help us win a thousand victories. This is especially key to the discussion of tactics in revolution, because Stalin points out tactics deal with, “those forms of struggle and organization which are best suited to the conditions prevailing during the flow and ebb of the movement at a given moment, and which therefore can facilitate and ensure the bringing of the masses to the revolutionary positions, the bringing of the millions to the revolutionary front, and their disposition at the revolutionary front.” (Foundations of Leninism, page 93) How can we discuss tactics without discussing the significance of the timing of these national elections in particular?

And, the October League also took the position that elections were obsolete, but we take the view that Lenin took when he said, “we must not regard what is obsolete for us as being obsolete, for the class, as being obsolete for the masses.” Lenin continued, “you must soberly follow the actual state of class consciousness and preparedness of the whole class (not only of its Communist vanguard), of all the toiling masses (not only of their advanced elements).” Left Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder, page 52)

On using the electoral tactic, Lenin said we “should everywhere strive to rouse the minds of the masses and draw them into the struggle, to hold the bourgeoisie to its word and utilize the apparatus it has set up, the elections it has appointed, the appeals it has made to the whole people, and to tell the people what Bolshevism is in a way that has never been possible (under bourgeois rule) outside of election times. . .” (Ibid. 105) We are talking of using elections in this new way to bring communism, Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought to the mass movement, and at the same time battle the intermediate lacky sector in their hour of weakness at their most vulnerable point, their misleadership of the masses. Wherever you are dealing with the masses in 1976, the intermediate lacky sector is going to be sent by the bourgeois parties to mislead the masses, and it is our duty to struggle with them for control of the mass movement. But we need a planned tactic to deal with them when they come. And Strategy ’76 is an outlined tactic for us to use in this coming battle for the leadership of the mass movement. But also, the nature of the campaign would demand the kind of unity, coordination and organization we all need to reach as communists on the way to creating a revolutionary vanguard party, and would give us the opportunity to work together coordinating a national popular front around an electoral movement, and at the very same time coordinate the united front of organizations and individuals to lead that national campaign.

These forums will continue to deal with the burning questions of our movement, and if you would like one set up in your community call the National Coordinating Committee for a ’76 Election Strategy. 13 Belmont Avenue. Newark. N.J. at (201) 621-2300.