Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Amilcar Cabral/Paul Robeson Collective
Greensboro Collective

The Greensboro Massacre: Critical Lessons for the 1980’s

Part II: The Black Liberation Movement and the Struggle for Socialism


The anti-Klan struggle must take place in three arenas, ideological, political, and military (here we mean self-defense). They are simultaneous struggles that must be conducted at all times. Yet, in this period the chief arena is necessarily ideological. This is based on a number of concrete historical and current conditions in the U.S. The slogans “Death to the Klan” and “Smash the Klan” are not as clear and explanatory as they may seem. We know many people who use them who are not advocating, at least for now, the physical death or smashing of the Klan. What they are referring to is the organization’s existence, its influence and its ideas.

Other forces, such as the CWP, PLP, and the Trotskyist Revolutionary Socialist League are advocating the actual physical smashing of the Klan. As we see it there may be a need for the physical smashing of the Klan, but, if so, it cannot be done by a small band of well-meaning and “courageous” petty bourgeois revolutionaries or scattered and isolated individuals. If we agree that it is the masses that make history, we will understand that it will be the black masses in the main and white democratic and revolutionary forces that pick up the gun to defeat the Klan. But first there must be sufficient ideological preparation. This is critical and must be taken up immediately with skill and resolve. At the same time black people must be encouraged to defend themselves from all acts of Klan and Nazi terror by the use of firearms. Ideological preparation without self-defense would be criminal on the part of revolutionaries and suicide for black people.

Among blacks, the need for this preparation is real. Some cannot believe that this would be necessary. As a former black activist commented to us, “Everybody knows that black folks hate the Klan, so why should we waste time at a march.” That black folks hate the Klan cannot be disputed but this is accompanied by two dangerous phenomena. One is that many blacks are not aware of the resurgence of the Klan, their current activities and what it can and will mean to them if they do not get into motion against these fascists. This is made worse by the activities of the CWP. The other is the robbery of black history that Malcolm X always polemicized against. Without a knowledge of this history, people are ill-prepared to deal with present and future struggles. If communists and revolutionaries would open their eyes to the fact that events of the two previous decades (Civil Rights movement, Black Liberation movement, and Anti-War Movement) that they took part in and are familiar with, are becoming increasingly unknown to our youth. Many black high school and college students know nothing of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Birmingham 1963, the student movement against the war, etc. This is because the bourgeoisie through the’ media and its educational establishment have covered or liquidated this vital history.

The other dimension of the ideological struggle as far as blacks are concerned is the understanding of what program is necessary to stem this reactionary tide. Many are aware of this growing trend, but are unclear as to how they should deal with it. Still others reflect a militant (and in some cases revolutionary) but spontaneous response. That is, if the Klan comes to terrorize them, they will ’blow the racists away.” The essence of this, expressed by many rural and urban blacks, is correct but must be channeled into an organized collective response with philosophical underpinnings and a program. As we said before, individuals must defend themselves but we must create motion towards a mass response. In many ways the United League of Mississippi exemplifies the kind of action that is necessary. They combine armed self-defense with organized struggle for some of the democratic demands of the black liberation struggle. That is for land, particularly retention of currently owned land, and for an end to discrimination in employment.

Among whites this struggle, of course, will be extremely difficult but all the more necessary. As the upper strata of the working class of an imperialist nation, many white workers enjoy petty privileges of higher wages, better working conditions, etc. Until they reject these fruits of imperialism or until the decay of imperialism removes them, they will retain ties to imperialism and the racism that justifies the oppression of other nationalities. White workers especially have to be helped to see through the lies and distortions that serve as propaganda of the fascists. What makes the job all the more difficult is the more sophisticated methods and rhetoric used by imperialist propaganda. Poor whites who find themselves in the soup as a result of the ever intensifying economic crisis are open to either the silver tongue and slick image of David Duke or the get-the-job-done militancy of Bill Wilkerson or Virgil Griffin.

Anti-Klan fighters, especially whites, must take painstaking efforts to expose how, in fact, the Klan ideology works against the best interests of whites. This must be shown through all the social phenomena of our society. The appeal has to be based on the mutual penetration of the interests of whites and blacks, not a moral appeal for brotherhood, etc. Once white workers, not just white intellectuals or revolutionaries, see this and engage in the struggle against the common enemy, the concepts of brotherhood (class brothers) and humanity and even internationalism will have a material basis for developing.

A key component of this struggle of ideas is political education. There are various forms that are available and they should all be employed. For communists, their propaganda and agitation is a critical vehicle to get these views to the masses but even more so to the advanced workers and militants with whom they come in contact. Community and campus forums, slide shows and movies should be used. We should struggle along with others engaged in anti-Klan work to get school districts to teach courses on Afro-American history and the relationship of the Klan to the black struggle. Sunday schools and other settings where learning goes on should likewise be used.

Also, in connection with this education is the dire need for popular literature on the Klan for children and adults. This is distinct from highly analytical critiques, theoretical pieces or even polemics. For example, The Klan by Patsy Sims is a must reading but is too long and does not concisely draw out the important political points in 15-20 pages. This is needed for farmers, factory workers and people in the communities.

Finally, wherever we have any influence over the media or contacts with it, we should put the message out in talk shows, commentaries, letters to the editor, etc. There appears to be numerous possibilities for this.

The realm of political struggle against the Klan is also vast. In this, marches and demonstrations must remain a centerpiece of the activity. National mobilizations should continue but with regional and local actions increasing. When the Klan attempts to march in the towns and cities or through the communities, we must get people out by the hundreds and thousands and say, “No, we will not have you here.” This is not a call to go to the Klan rallies in rural cowpastures to demonstrate or disrupt (something CWP might have advocated several months ago). Nor is it a call to go chasing the Klan around.

For example, the Nazis and Klan has planned a motorcade through Raleigh and a rally in nearby Johnston county on April 19 to commemorate Adolf Hitler’s birthday. We summed up that there were not sufficient numbers of forces in the area that could be mobilized to counter this motorcade. Our plan was to do some agitation and propaganda in some housing developments where we have contacts, protest the City government’s complicity with the Klan by letters, telegrams and petitions. We were also open to working with some people in Johnston County who wanted to talk about what they could do about the Klan. The motorcade was cancelled by national Nazi leader Harold Covington who alleges that the RCP planned to show up with guns. He claimed that since they were “law-abiding citizens,” they would not break the law or their promise not to be armed. But they would not get into a situation where they could not defend themselves from the communists.

Here, too, it is important to get out and support those who have been arrested or harassed by the state for their anti-Klan activities. The CWP has made this virtually impossible in North Carolina as far as their own trials are concerned.

Then, there is legal action. We must guard against the “left” tendency to totally dismiss such actions because it is fruitless and will create illusions that there can be justice under capitalism. Remember this is only one tactic, not a strategy, and must be utilized. Lawyers around the country are preparing, in some cases, and contemplating in others, suits against the Klan. The technical part of this work, and thus the lion’s share of it is being done by the attorneys. Therefore, it is not a diversion from other activities by the masses and should be aided through moral, political and material support.

Many on the left have criticized the National Anti-Racist Organizing Committee (NAROC) for its proposal to initiate a Congressional investigation. As a semi-legal device this is acceptable as a good educational tool. When it is put forward to the people, it will not or should we say should not include any optimism that Congress will take any significant action against the venomous Klan. But the process of lobbying (struggling) for such an investigation or an actual investigation that at least brings to light some crucial facts will have a definite educating effect. The fact that the hearings would be open will help to broaden the exposure. Then, too, the government’s failure to take any decisive action will further educate the masses, through some of their own experiences, that the bourgeois politicians representing the capitalists’ interests cannot and should not be relied upon.

At present we do not have a President or Supreme Court judge, as far as we know, that has past or present direction connections (membership) with the Klan but there are scores of government officials and law enforcement officers that are members, supporters, or sympathizers, campaigns must be mounted to expose them and drive them from their positions. This applies to sheriff’s departments and corrections departments, as well as right wing politicians like Jesse Helms and I. Beverly Lake in North Carolina. Careful local research and investigation can give good results on this score.

In developing strategy and tactics to deal with the Klan, it is not sufficient to understand the political role they play in the U.S. and the effective use which capital and the state puts them to. It is of utmost importance to have an understanding of the ideological and cultural/social foundations of the Klan.

Most Americans are familiar with some or all of the notions o white supremacy. To some, it is simply that whites have beet discriminated against by a government that now favors blacks and whites must fight this movement that is designed to take control over them. And to others, it is the notion that white people are superior to blacks in almost all areas of life and, therefore, blacks are not entitled to the rights and privileges of the white race. In fact, these are just some of the notions that are a component part of what has evolved into a sophisticated and pseudo-scientific body of thought. Its development can be traced from the 18th century American social scientist’s justification for the brutal enslavement of African people to the biological theories enunciated by the cream of the Third Reich’s scientific crop to the recent works of Shockley and Jensen.

People are no doubt aware that the recent scientific and political struggle against Jensen has not quieted him and he has recently published new findings that he claims further substantiates the genetic inferiority of blacks.

It is also significant that with the convergence of the Klan and Nazis (United Racist Front, and David Duke and others who move from one organization to another) the Klan’s philosophical arsenal is becoming more developed and sophisticated. It transcends the “niggers need to be kept in their place” idea.

Add to the above the traditional hatred for Jews, Catholics, and anyone foreign, plus a vulgar and off-beat version of Christianity and patriotism and an increasingly virulent anti-communism, and we have the foundations of one wing of the fascist movement in the U.S. As one can see, it is not just a fight against some “dumb rednecks.”

In spite of all the above, it is certain the majority of Klansmen are not attracted to the fascists by this complete philosophical system with its political solutions. There are cultural and social factors at work that are essential for anti-Klan forces to grasp. It is part of the fullest possible investigation that communists must always make in terms of knowing the enemy.

All around the country people are asking for explanations as to why the Klan is on the rise. Left, progressive and even mainstream bourgeois historians cite the deterioration of economic conditions as a primary factor. This is advanced not only as a contemporary phenomena but one that has historical parallels. While put in different ways, this analysis says that in times of economic crisis people are searching for answers and the promising program of the Klan and Nazis is appealing to disenchanted and disinherited white people.

This of course, is absolutely true and is also consistent with the communist view of fascism in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, and their henchmen in the other capitalist countries built their movements on the basis of a severe worldwide economic crisis in which the monopoly capitalists had to turn to naked terror and chauvinism in order to maintain their rule. It stands to reason that the American variant of fascism with its similarities and differences would rise on this same material base.

In U.S. conditions and perhaps others, this economic analysis has limitations. Its limitations and are reflected in a kind of “left” economism. That is, causes of conditions and solutions are seen solely in terms of economic conditions and struggle. It leaves out politics and in this case national oppression. When this “left” economism is applied to the rise of the Klan, it generally liquidates the rise of the national movements as a major source for this resurgence.

In addition, the CWP reduces the role of the Klan during this period of economic crisis to “scapegoating.” They say that the Klan uses blacks as the “scapegoat” to point away from the real source of economic problems and in order to divide the working class. What they leave out altogether is the material basis for national oppression–that for the imperialists the intensifying of national oppression is a means of boosting their sagging profits. Given the low level of unity between black and white workers and the low level of working class struggle at this point, it is important to see the crushing of the national movement as a means of increasing the super-exploitation of the oppressed people.

Although the Klan is alleged to have been formed to relieve the post-Civil War boredom of four former confederate officers, its real thrust was in response to the gains of the Reconstruction period, the second and unfinished bourgeois democratic revolution in the U.S. The 1920’s resurgence came at a time of motion amongst black people, the Garvey movement and the subsequent communist influence of the black movement in the 1930’s. The Klan’s major activity of the 1960’s was without a doubt in direct response to the growing civil rights and black liberation movements in the South and around the nation.

It is our view that today’s resurgence, while strongly related to the economic crisis, is also related to the slow but growing resurgence of the national movements. The affirmative action programs, the struggle that Blacks and other nationalities waged over Bakke and Weber, the activity of the United League of Mississippi, more elected Black officials, the defense of Tommy Hines and massive organizing against police brutality, the Miami Rebellion are all vivid signs to the racists that the nationalities are stepping up their assault against racism, repression and privilege.

A further limitation, or danger of “left” economism is that it promotes the multi-national struggle against capital at the expense of building the national movement. This will be addressed later.


We accept the idea of an anti-Klan united front in terms of the objective existence of forces engaged in other work who take up the struggle against the Klan. We do not think that this is a tactical issue that is synonymous with the united front against fascism of the 1930’s. As people engaged in the struggle against imperialism in different theatres, they need to build the struggle against the Klan and fascism as part of their overall struggle. Therefore, the BLM takes up the struggle against the Klan as the Klan actively stands in the way of the forward progress of the BLM and its democratic and revolutionary demands. Likewise, the labor movement should take up the struggle against the Klan as a chief functionary against organized labor, whether from the outside when they try to obstruct organizing the unorganized or from within when they try to seize leadership of locals. This is part of the struggle for union democracy and against discrimination.

Of course, it is important that these forces and others understand the overall threat of the Klan and what can happen if they are not stopped. But it must be done from the perspective of these different movements and building them. Only in this way do we present a strong and broad united front that also has depth in terms of the numbers of people it represents.

There are some forces who will do anti-Klan work exclusively. Although we disagree with this orientation to the struggle, we would unite with them in many activities in the hope that we can lend some clarity to the nature of the struggle, its many sides and how to conduct it. Furthermore, we do not see building an organizational formation that will reflect this front but we will support various coalitions that develop in relation to the struggle.

Because of their conditions of life and consciousness, black workers in particular and black petty bourgeois elements and intellectuals and progressive whites will constitute the majority of the forces. As the material conditions change and the struggle escalates, larger numbers of white workers will join the ranks. Also, from time to time black representatives of the monopolists will be close by. (The personal endorsement of the February 2nd March by Vernon Jordan is an example of this.)

How the work proceeds still needs to be mapped out and many are currently putting forward proposals. In this regard, we do not want to rehash some of the old debates in the communist and Black liberation movements, but do want to affirm the appropriateness of employing the “united front from below” and “united front from above” approaches. Overall the united front from below is the most important form of organizing as it gets directly to the masses or the rank and file and allows for drawing in the real sentiment of the people. It makes it easier to get around the obstacles that the reformist leadership creates for revolutionaries and progressives. At the same time, it exposes the hesitancy and reactionary character of some of the leadership of the masses. It also puts us in a position of strength when approaching the leaders. In order to accomplish this, it is not always necessary to launch vicious attacks on this leadership. In most cases it can best be effectuated by taking the masses the correct line; they are usually able to draw their own conclusions from that. Then, there are times when sharp and well-aimed criticism must be leveled at the leaders.

On the other hand, the front from above has its place and when used should always be used together with the front from below. It is fairly apparent to observers of the real world that many circumstances call for united fronts from above with labor leaders, ministers, and other civic leaders. They can help to get an issue out if they so desire and have access to large numbers of people. This second form of organizing has been the primary one in the February 2nd Mobilization at least in the early stages. This is largely because of the issue, the fear of many people, and the resistance of the state. Two other factors necessitate this. In trying to organize a national march, it is difficult to get people to travel hundreds or thousands of miles. Organizations can better do this through their influence and their financial resources. The second reason has to do with the relative isolation of the revolutionary forces from the masses and the inability to mobilize large numbers of them on short notice or without a great deal of difficulty. As the march approached, the more progressive forces in the coalition began to concentrate on housing projects, plants, community centers and shopping areas.

In sum, we would say that both tactics should be used with the UFFB being primary and the UFFA being employed when necessary but always in conjunction with the UFFB.


Given the petty bourgeois class base of most of the communist movement at this time, it can be expected that most of these forces will withdraw if they are not able to immediately gain control or hegemony over this front. This comes precisely from a narrow view of what leadership means. For us, it does not always mean that communists must be in positions of organizational control or that a mass organization is following the line of a communist organization. In its broadest and perhaps most important sense, in this immediate period, it is primarily a question of influence. How many and what people do we influence? Do people take up correct positions because of our analysis? Do people close to us who work in mass organizations fight for an effective program because they have united with some, if not all, of our views, strategy and tactics? This influence is what leads to leadership and is, in fact, leadership in embryo. This can and will lead to a point where open communists, as individuals or part of an organization, will assume full leadership at the request and demand of the people.

The all or nothing approach is the “left” approach to leadership. On the other hand, there is the rightist approach which opts for absolutely tailing the masses and the reformists. The right fails to put forward a program for struggle and does not attempt to win leadership. The right typically refrains from criticizing or struggling against the most backward views of the masses for the sake of “unity.” Most comrades familiar with CP(ML) functioning in this way especially in relationship to SCLC. They should struggle against Joseph Lowery as hard as they struggle against polygamy, an insignificant trend and practice in the Black community.

The lack of fusion with the masses and the low level of communist leadership is closely related to the danger of isolated left organizing. This factored heavily in the events of November 3rd and the chaos and confusion in its aftermath. The conditions are not right for a communist organization, in the South no less, to make a call for a march against the Klan. Such a call is the most fertile soil for the “extremist groups” analysis that the media so handily advances. “We ain’t neither one of them,” say the people, “so it is not our struggle.”

In effect, it diverts the necessary consciousness-raising that must go in terms of the real threat that the Klan represents to the masses. It does not advance the view that Black people are the principal target and that such assaults can and are, in fact, happening to them around the country. We must get this view to the people, and we will, but the CWP has muddied the water by getting the focus on only one target of fascism.

There is also the vulnerability of the left in terms of this left isolationism. With small numbers and limited popular support, communists and other left forces are easy targets for the state and fascists. This has and will continue to lead to serious physical and organizational damage.

In terms of composition of the united front, the various strata cited above should be included but it is imperative that the core of this front and the leadership be black. Concretely, because they are directly affected by Klan terror and its accompanying ideology, they will definitely get into motion against the Klan. Black people are taking up the call to fight for their rights, defend previous gains and to sruggle for their liberation. This response to material conditions is also critical because oppressed nationalities must take the chief responsibility for their liberation. This responsibility is taken up in conjunction with the various allies of black people’s struggle. This relationship is also important because the anti-Klan struggle is one of the many fronts of the Black liberation struggle and as such must be waged as a component part of that struggle.


As communists, our understanding of the historic role of the working class and the objective interest it has in overthrowing capital is the basis for all of our strategy and tactics. Yet, we must examine the particularities of the class struggle in each country to determine its level of development, consciousness of the masses and their motion. In looking at these things in the U.S., we must conclude that Black people are at the receiving end of all the brutal forms of capitalist oppression. Inadequate, overpriced housing, depression level unemployment, low paying jobs; poor medical care, high infant mortality rates; poor education, high illiteracy rates; crime and high rates of incarceration. This list goes on and on. This is supplemented with severe repression in the form of killer cops roaming the streets of the black community acting like crazed gunslingers. Where the police do not reign supreme, or in concert with them, the Klan and Nazis bomb, shoot and intimidate Black people.

Because people always respond to their oppression, it stands to reason that the severe oppression and exploitation of Blacks would elicit a forceful response. The current response does not equal that of the 1960’s and early 1970’s when all over the country Black people were going up against the system in a variety of ways. In that period, we witnessed a rebellion of the Black masses. Today we are coming out of a ebb period and in the early stages of an upsurge with many signs of resistance. One of the reasons for the ebb was that in spite of winning some major battles against Jim Crow and national oppression, no serious program was put forward to take the black masses forward to genuine liberation.

Some forms of this resistance were cited above. Again, we would cite the United League of Mississippi, the Black United Fronts being built across the country, activities of the National Black Human Rights Coalition and the local coalitions and committees fighting police brutality and racism. With this developing trend, there is a growing consciousness of the need to fight against the system for reforms or revolution.

This mood and movement can be contrasted to that of white sections of the working class. The conditions that they face are not as crippling as those that plague Blacks and other oppressed nationalities but even in the face of their exploitation as wage slaves and the increasing attacks on their standard of living, consciousness is still low and the fighting posture of the class has not been assumed yet. In the country overall, the consciousness of militant trade unionism is not even a significant trend. Nor do we perceive an earnest movement for reform much less revolution. All of this notwithstanding, there is and will continue to be motion against capital whether spontaneous or based on class consciousness. Rank and file movements in the major unions are promising signs and should serve to intensify the struggle in the coming months and years as the crisis heightens and conditions further deteriorate.

We have read too many self-serving analyses describing the massive workers upsurge that are illusions, fabrications or based on some militant workers grouped around or close to the organization putting forward the analysis (the Call claims to reach 10,000 workers). Among white workers, there is not much internationalist sentiment (whites do not support the Black struggle in general; large numbers of white workers and many Blacks are lining up behind the ruling class in the Iranian crisis and even willing to go to war against the Soviet Union over Afghanistan); communists and revolutionaries have much work to do.

Based on the foregoing, it is our view that the Black liberation struggle is the most acute expression of the struggle against imperialism in the U.S. today. Black workers as part of the multinational working class and the Black liberation movement and the dialectical relationship of this movement to the working class movement constitute a force that will move the struggle for revolution forward. What we are doing is acknowledging what the real conditions are in our society and the movement for revolution.


We are not agreed on whether or not there is a Black nation in the Black Belt South with the right to self-determination up to and including secession but we do unite that Black people in the U.S. are subject to national oppression and that they must wage a liberation struggle for freedom and justice. This movement must have an independent character. Its relationship to the struggle for socialism must be clearly understood if we are to develop correct tactics and strategy.

There are a number of mistaken views on this relationship put forward by the various opportunists. Some of them revolve around Mao Zedong’s statement that the ”movement of the Black people and the working class is bound to merge.” Different forces have made almost unbelievable use of this formulation. Some to the extent that Mao’s statement supports the existence of a Black nation in the U.S. We do not draw the same conclusions from this statement. Mao may have had views on the Black National Question based on various contacts he had with U.S. communists over the years, but it is a distortion to say his statement supports one view or another on this question. As far as merging is concerned, he certainly did not say they had already merged. Moreover, he expressed no ideas on how and on what basis the merger would occur. Without a doubt, these are the key questions on this issue. Thus, Mao’s correct general statement cannot be taken as a concrete plan for proletarian revolution and national liberation in the U.S. It speaks to what must and will occur but not how, and certainly not when.

We cannot examine all of the incorrect formulations that abound in the movement and will look at two major expressions of opportunism on the question. We will only outline these views.


The RCP line in essence and in practice holds that the two movements have merged. From their line on the national question which in sum posits that the nation has been dissolved and blacks absorbed into the multi-national working class without any democratic tasks to complete) to their position on Boston bussing (which liquidated the special oppression of blacks and the complicity of some whites in that oppression) to their lack of practice in the national movement, it can be seen that they reject the existence of a Black liberation movement with an independent character. As an example, last year at a Chicago forum on Black liberation and in commemoration of Malcolm X (which drew many Blacks interested in fighting for the liberation of their people) the RCP offered a lucid view of how they see things. They gave a summary of the Civil Rights movement, its leaders, victories, setbacks and the state’s efforts to destroy it. From this they proceeded to lay out that what is now left for Black people is to make socialist revolution and that they should fall in behind the leadership of the RCP. Many were outraged that no one spoke to the special fight for demands of the Black masses or that the struggle for these demands would be led by blacks.

Another example is the lack of a mass organization to do work in the black national movement. The closest they came to trying was the ALSC or what they called the New ALSC. They (RU) had no involvement in the original ALSC and when forces tried to rebuild it after its destruction by the “left” opportunist line of the Revolutionary Wing, RCP saw an opportunity to get involved. They saw this as undesireable because they would not only be supporting the liberation movements but it would also put them in contact with the black masses and through Africa get them involved in the revolutionary movement at home.

After the final split in ALSC (in opposition to WVO and RCL), the RCP formed the New ALSC. In terms of accomplishments, there was a national tour of ZANU representatives, a fairly good ALD demonstration in DC, and a small ALD demonstration in Detroit. The main organizational force was RCP and it was not representative of a broad section of people (the two exceptions were Raleigh, NC and Chicago). Such is the extent of their organizational work in this sphere.

The RCP does much theoretical work attacking the role of Martin Luther King and his entire history as one of front man for the bourgeoisie, summations of the Black Panther Party and the revolutionary role of Malcolm X. In practical work they come into (from the outside) community struggles against police brutality and make calls for communist revolution as the answer to police brutality, never connecting with the thrust of the community or helping them practically deal with the immediate issues of the masses and try to attract them to their issue, e.g. Moody Park, Houston Rebellion, Teng Hsiao-Ping, Mao Memorial, Stop the Railroad, Revolutionary May Day, etc.

The RCP goes from liquidating the special oppression of blacks to underestimating the intensity of white chauvinism among white workers. Chauvinism which manifests itself in views from “Niggers have too much already,” “the oppression of blacks is separate from and has no relation to the problems we face as white workers” to “we are all poor so why should there be special considerations for the problems of black people.” These and other similar views on the part of white workers are widespread and consequently create serious obstacles to struggling around the issue of national oppression with total working class participation.

This view to a large extent is connected to their idealistic summation of themselves as “representing the vanguard of the working class.” And then they raise this up as proof that white workers can and will struggle around issue of national oppression.

Fortunately, neither their line or organization has been able to take hold or sink any roots in this area. They still have to rely almost exclusively on their ability to pull their cadre from other areas to make a show of force at local demonstrations and picket lines. However, a negative result of their infantile antics has been that they make communists appear to be buffoons and idiots bent on self-destruction.

The CP(ML) line also claims to find support in the Mao statement. Unlike the RCP, they hold that the Black nation that existed at the time of the 1928 and 1930 Comintern resolutions is still in tact. As their cadre and some leadership outline their views, they see two movements and the need to bring them together; As this is a process that has not yet taken place they want to keep the two movements equal. This may appear to be the height of democracy and internationalism to some, but what it is is the cornerstone of right opportunism, in this case based on a failure to consider the objective situation in the U.S. We say this because to keep the two movements equal or parallel objectively means to hold back the Black liberation movement. We have already stated what is objectively the case in terms of the two movements. Therefore, the BLM would have to stand still in order to wait for the working class movement to come abreast or even go backwards to achieve this “equality” at the present time or in the immediate future. This is enhanced by their idealistic view that they can direct the movements and control them, that they will not develop independent of their wishes.

Even with this patently opportunistic view the CP(ML) is engaged in practice in the Black national movement through SCEF, Fight Back, the National Black United Front and other ad-hoc formations. We will not deal with their practice in these organizations (this needs to be summed up at another time) but simply state that such views can only bring serious harm to both movements eventually and the BLM most immediately.

Of the two lines under discussion, the CP(ML) line objectively represents a more dangerous deviation in relation to the struggle of Black people because they will participate directly in the struggle and try to divert it from a correct path. In general, the character of this participation is to follow the lead of whatever bourgeois reformist that is giving leadership to a particular struggle. In doing so they give the reformist their uncritical support. The line in effect disarms the masses in that they offer no alternative as communist must, to the weak and worn-out reformist schemes.


Some comrades working in other parts of the South have put forward an analysis of the relationship between the two movements which we think accords with the needs of the BLM and the socialist revolution in the U.S. Communist, when speaking of the social forces that will make the revolution, cite the proletariat and its allies, the oppressed nationalities. Yet, no serious look is taken at what this really means. If people or movements are allies, then there is independence, cooperation and coordination. Using the military analogy, it can be seen in terms of separate fronts in some cases and common fronts or joint operations in others. The struggles must be coordinated and enhance each other.

For communist this calls for a division of labor. This would have Black communist and revolutionaries doing work in the national movement. They would base their efforts on Black workers and provide guidance and eventual leadership to community and mass organizations as they exist or develop locally and nationally. Work in high schools and colleges is also necessary. Where Black communist work in plants, hospitals, etc. they should draw other Black sin to the fight for Black liberation. They will also bring Blacks into the trade union movement (of course we realize that many thousands of Blacks are integrally and militantly involved already) to fight for better wages and working conditions, against national oppression and sex discrimination and for union democracy. It is here that the two struggles will have at least one point of convergence. It is in this work that white communist must invest most of their energy. The trade unions must be built into organizations that fight for the working class. In this work, particularly with white workers, every opportunity to create solidarity (based on concrete material interest, not abstract moral principles) among the different nationalities should be taken. Where community or mass organizations exist in white neighborhoods, white cadre must work in them. Or, if these groups are fascist, white communists must counter them by building mass organizations of progressive whites. All too often we find white communist working exclusively in Black activities when so much work is needed among white workers (this work is difficult at present but must be undertaken).

This is not a call reminiscent of the SCC or CORE “expulsion” of whites when they were told to fight racism among their own people and -that somewhere down the line the two groups would come together. In fact, we are not so much suggesting that white comrades not do work with the Black national movement as we are insisting that Black communists re-sink (more on this later) their roots in the Black struggle.

Of course this division of labor will not be effective if it is spontaneous and uncoordinated. Thus, only a genuine Communist party with a broad view of the two movements and the numerous tasks before them, can guarantee that they will be coordinated with one helping the other to move forward.

The merger of the two movements will not come as a result of a conscious decision on the part of either movement or a plebescite but rather the intensification of the struggle on the part of both movements against imperialism. Thus, as white sections of the working class become more conscious of themselves as a class and see the heed to overthrow imperialism, they will see and act on the common interest they have with the Afro-American masses.


In a recent Guardian article that very accurately detailed the many task facing the Black movement in the coming decade, Lynora Williams raised the most critical question in connection with that movement. She said, “...and there is the question of politics, the need to overcome the petty bourgeois reformist forces that characterized much of the national Black movement and whether those politically conscious forces that learned so many lessons from the 1960’s and 1970’s will be able to assert leadership over the movement.”

It goes without saying that the Marxist-Leninists an revolutionaries must move into the leadership of the movement. Leadership cannot be fought for and earned from the outside and the views expressed earlier on what leadership is must be studied carefully. But most of all the work must be done in the heat of the struggle, not as analysts or critics on the sidelines or in the libraries.

There is an explanation for the predominance of petty bourgeois reformists at the head of the movement in the 70’s. Political assassinations, incarcerations, cooptation and police disruption played a huge role in the destruction of revolutionary Black leadership. There is another factor. That is the withdrawal of a large section of Black revolutionary leadership. Many young Blacks came out of the Civil Rights Movement and have been on a political journey that has both positive and negative features.

From the Civil Rights Movement they entered the Black liberation struggle as revolutionary nationalists engaged in grassroots level community organizing with firm contacts with the Black masses. North Carolina is an example of this where revolutionary activists organized rural and urban Blacks into a political party with a program calling for political power for Blacks, clearly one of the essential and democratic components of the Black revolution. Their efforts were moderately successful and growing. However as they continued to study and seek out ways to radically transform the conditions of their people, their attention turned to Africa, the commonality of our cultures and struggles and thus, the resurgence of the Pan-African Movement. Most of the local and domestic work was abandoned in favor of liberation support work. The new Pan-Africanist movement promoted a variety of things because it had no one ideological foundation: support for the liberation movements, an updated form of Garvey’s repatriation, freedom for Africa would lead to freedom of Blacks all around the world, etc. Many Black people could not get down with this motion because of the realization of a need for struggle and/or revolution in this country at that time and not after the African agenda was complete.

If we really look at it Pan-Africanism as a new political thrust contributed nothing new and of significant value. Consciousness of the struggle in Africa and the need for Blacks here to support, the respect for African history and culture, the beginning understanding of imperialism as the enemy here and in Africa (as well as other parts of the world)–all of this preceded the Pan-Africanism of the late 1960’s and 1970’s. These ideas had been promoted by Malcolm X and by SNCC. What the Pan-African Movement did was to water down and detract from these correct ideas by promoting a reactionary an almost exclusive focus on the African struggle and an abandoning of the support for other struggles against imperialism, particularly the struggle here.

In spite of the set back that the Pan African Movement caused honest forces who had been involved in it moved forward. In supporting the liberation movements, meeting their leadership and studying their literature, it became clear that the source of colonialism and oppression was the imperialist system and not white people. Black revolutionaries were told that the best way we could aid the African revolution and liberation struggles is to make revolution in our own country, to defeat or at least weaken U.S. imperialism. This was grasped quickly and deeply by many and te study of Marxism-Leninism was undertaken by a large section of the movement (some forces around the League of Revolutionary Black Workers had already done this and formed the Black Workers Congress). Thus, from going off to free Africa, Black revolutionaries were now going to free the U.S. working class.

In the next phase Blacks steeped themselves in theory, moved to transform their world outlooks, broke with some of their petty bourgeois backgrounds, habits and privileges, and entered the communist movement and the efforts to build a genuine anti-revisionist communist party. This part of the journey was correct although flawed by numerous opportunist and petty bourgeois deviations. One of the flaws was the conception of the Black liberation struggle described earlier and the failure of Black communists to return to the important and strategic role in the Black movement. This is another reason for the revolutionary leadership vacuum i the 1970’s along with the others previously expressed. The repudiation of these errors can only come through active communist involvement in this movement.


In brief, we think that work within the Black liberation movement calls for communists to engage in two types of alliance. The principle one, and it is of a strategic nature, is with revolutionary nationalist forces. These are Black activists who see a need for revolution in order for Black people to be truly free. This sentiment is generally reflected in demands for self-determination, secession, armed self-defense, armed struggle or real Black power. These demands express a recognition of the need to fundamentally alter the social order and a rejection of band aid type solutions always advanced by the various reformists.

We are coming to a better view of the current forces in motion in the BLM and those that represent revolutionary nationalism. The Republic of New Africa (RNA), The African Peoples Socialist Party (APSP), the African Peoples Party (APP), The National Black Human Rights Coalition and the Black Resources Center in Norfolk, Virginia, at present are some of the forces putting forward a revolutionary program for the complete emancipation of their people. While most of these formations have some Black cultural perspective, they are not characterized by emphasis on African dress, language, rituals and feudal type relationships. They stand in stark contrast to the remnants of the cultural nationalist movement that still sees the development of a Black value system as the key to Black liberation and aims most of their fire at the “decadence of the white boy.” The way out of the cultural nationalist postulate is to build Black institutions from health food stores to schools. They are also politically distinguished from the revolutionary nationalists in that they have not come to identify imperialism as a system as a main source of oppression. They still see Afro-American and Africa oppression as a sickness characteristic of all Europeans and their descendents (whites in the U.S.).

In our alliance with the revolutionary nationalist, we must unite with their progressive and revolutionary views politically and practically. At the same time constant struggle must be waged against narrow nationalism and chauvinism. Great efforts must be made to develop an internationalist perspective, getting people to see how all nationalities are oppressed by imperialism to one extent or another and that they all have an objective interest in overthrowing imperialism around the world. This alliance should assume the appropriate organizational forms.

An organization that has received a great deal of attention from revolutionaries is the United League of North Mississippi. As time goes by and the League’s activities and views (particularly Skip Robinson’s) get more exposure, the opinions become more diverse as to the real character of the United League. The organization is clearly not a revolutionary nationalist group. This we say because they do not call for revolution or the creation of a separate political entity. On the other hand, they represent some of the more advanced forces of the Black movement given their program for keeping land in the hands of Black people, direct action for jobs and against discrimination and armed self-defense. This takes precedence over a tendency towards traditional Democratic Party politics. In addition, it outweighs charges that others have been making about their connection to the CPUSA; and whether Robinson raises armed self-defense outside the Black Belt and very little in it. As far as the changes are concerned, we do not have any information about links to the CPUSA; whether Robinson advocates self-defense in Mississippi or not is not as important as the actual practice of the UL which does in fact include armed self-defense.

The second type of alliance that we would support would be temporary tactical alliances with some reformist elements in the Black movement. The purpose would be to help win a particular struggle that moves the overall struggle forward. This will allow us to do two things. For one, a victory may make the conditions of Black people somewhat better no matter how limited or temporary. The second would be the political education that takes place in the process. When the masses are involved they will learn how much strength they have, the limits of the reform struggle and the various forces that are at work against them. One of these forces is, of course the reformists themselves. Communists must undertake the process of exposing the reformist leaders by making it clear to the masses of the reluctance on the part of the reformist and their vascillating nature and the personal and class interest they have in maintaining the status quo.

The exposure of these forces can take a variety of forms. The dominant one should be the advocation of the correct political line with the appropriate strategy and tactics. When measured against the line of the reformists, the masses will see the barrenness of reformist politics. The masses, particularly the advanced elements, are perceptive enough to see through their bankruptcy. On some occasions, it is necessary to cite the reformist by name and action rather than simply being critical of their line. The conditions will determine what course should be pursued.

In doing this type of work, we should guard against making two typical errors. One is that of being so occupied with the exposure that no actual organizing work gets done and the struggle of the masses does not move forward. The second is being so engrossed in exposure activity that comrades fail to see that the masses are not even around but that they are struggling with the reformist with no possibility of winning anyone over.

We think SCLC, IFCO and certain ministers and community organizations are the reformists that we may work with under certain conditions. Again, the goal should be to win over the forces that are under the influence of these reformists (at present they clearly have more influence than revolutionaries). As the revolutionary process unfolds, more people will take sides and be won over to our views and thus our strength will have increased and the masses’ faith in us will have grown substantially.

There are other forces in the Black movement that occupy a position to the right of the aforementioned forces. They are the national NAACP leadership, the Urban League, Leon Sullivan, Andrew Young, and other who occupy positions in close connection with the monopoly capitalists or directly represent their interest at home and abroad. Our relationship with them, in general, should be one of constant struggle and exposure and not in the form of any type of alliance. On some occasions, some of these forces will at least objectively unite with us. A good example of this was Andrew Young’s address to North Carolina A&T students in which he told them not to be afraid to march and encouraged them to take part in the February 2nd demonstration.


In the struggle for Black liberation, communists must keep in front of them the goal of socialist revolution and communism and the strategy and tactics that will facilitate this. At the same time, we must be absolutely clear on the democratic aspects of the BLM and rigorously fight for them. Whether we are fighting a one-stage revolution for socialism or a two-stage revolution in the Black Belt South, the democratic tasks remain.

Part of this struggle will be the defeat of the idea that holds that those who fight for reforms are reformists and those that fight for economic changes are economists. This form of “What is to the Doneism” must be broken with. Here we mean that dogmatists and idealists use the correct lessons of the struggle against the economists in Russia to dismiss everything Lenin ever said, (before and after writing What Is To Be Done?) about the mandatory fight for reforms. The revolutionary fight for reforms will better position the masses to fight imperialism, give them some relief from their oppression and educate them that reforms are not enough to fundamentally and permanently alter their conditions. Communists must play a key role in this fight and consciousness-raising process otherwise the proper lessons will not be learned nor will the masses want anything to do with us.


The November 3rd Massacre was definitely a setback to the communist movement and objectively the masses, and not just CWP. At this stage of the game most people cannot make the distinctions between the lines of the various communist organizations. Therefore, at least initially, we are judged by the actions of others.

We are trying to convince people, particularly militants and advanced elements that our understanding of society and how to change it is correct and that they should follow our leadership. Then they get an example of alleged communist leadership in the form of the Greensboro Massacre. It causes people who are somewhat open to communism to question our ability to lead. They reason, if they cannot take care of themselves, how can they lead the masses.

In the class struggle as in military operations, we should be out to win. And if we have control over a situation, we should decide whether to fight or not, with retreat or abstention being acceptable courses of action. This was characteristic of the way the Communist Party of China conducted the military aspects of the anti-Japanese war. Then, too, only those with no familiarity with the streets (or those who have forgotten) would issue challenges and not expect or be prepared to meet the challenge. In the language of the streets, it’s called “selling wolf tickets.” Many militants and street people were astounded at the naivete on the part of the CWP.

Then, too, there is the issue of self-criticism. As near as we can tell, there has not been one shred of self-criticism directed to the masses or contacts. CWP maintains that they were correct and that tactically they bear no responsibility for the massacre. In fact, we met someone who attended the rally because he had been reading about Klan activity in the newspaper and wanted to do something about it. He is politically conscious, but had no relationship to WVO nor did he know about the press statements and letters to the Klan. In meetings after the massacre when he raised criticism about these tactics he was criticized for being influenced by the bourgeois press and that these were petty bourgeois vacillations on his part. He ceased dealing with them and remains interested in fighting for social change and is apparently not anti-communist.

The opportunists have given little thought as to how the masses do and will respond to communist leadership. Overall, there is not an openness on the part of the masses to communism. Needless to say, this comes from years of anti-communist ideology and red-baiting. The South especially is a hot house of such attitudes.

Most people are not familiar with what communism really is and are afraid of it, or have not really seen communist work and leadership. We have encountered some folks who, in discussions of the Nov. 3rd incident and about communists in general, have said they know little if anything about communist, why many are against them, or what they stand for. When they learned what it is they were surprised to learn that it has something to offer people. Even among some ministers and divinity students in Raleigh, sentiment was expressed that the communists have never done anything against Black people and that they are always working to help them; they also said that communists have the right not to believe in God just as they had the right to practice and organize their religion. On this positive foundation, communists must build their influence and peoples understanding of what communism is. The continued outburst of adventurism and infantile leftism do not help this process.


The question of secret and open work, of legal and illegal activity has been debated since the Second Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party when the Bolsheviks split with the Mensheviks over organizational matters and the type of party that was necessary to overthrow the Tsar and Russian capitalism. We will not go over the debate or any of its contemporary versions, but want to affirm the critical need to assess the possibility of doing open communist work under whatever the prevailing conditions.

Mao Zedong once commented to some U.S. communists that under U.S. conditions he would suggest a 90/10 ratio of secret to open work. One may reject Mao’s use of ratios or the precise one that he offered but the need for secret and illegal work must be grasped. The U.S. communist movement has done an amateurish job in this regard.

This question must be addressed: can communist work be carried out without being completely open? We say yes. First of all, when Marx and Engels said that “communists disdain to conceal their views,” they did not mean that wearing placards or tee shirts publicizing our views is required. To be a communist means ascribing to certain philosophical and political views. All tactical question must be based on the needs of the movement.

Moreover, in a Comintern document on Bolshevishing the parties of the 3rd International. We quote at length from this document because of the sharp and clear way it brings out this important point:

There are, of course, serious difficulties in the work in the factories which the teachers must not ignore. In Czarist Russia the Bolshevik Party was illegal and the Party cells were naturally also illegal. When the Party became legal the cells also became entirely legal. Abroad the situation is quite different. The Parties in the principal capitalist countries are legal, but the cells must be illegal. Unfortunately, they do not succeed in working unnoticed. The employers and their spies detect the revolutionary workers and throw them out the factory without meeting with any protest on the part of the reformist trade unions; on the contrary, the latter frequently act themselves as the initiator in the expulsion of the communist in the factories. But inasmuch as the work of the Communists in the factories is weak as a rule the workers do not defend the discharged Communists (though there have been opposite cases, as well, of course. Under these conditions the factory cells do nothing in most cases, or if they display the least activity, their members are thrown out of the factories, owing to failure to conceal even their insignificant work. There are frequently also cases when the Communists are thrown out of the factories even when they do nothing there, simply because of their membership in the Communist Party. The teachers of the International Communist Universities must remember this difficulty. They must explain to the students in the discussion on the work in the legal Communist Parties how such cells can and must organize their work, and it is here the Bolshevist experience of illegal work in the factories under the Czar which produced such excellent results, can be utilized. Let this not appear as a trifle. The Communist Parties suffer very much from their inability to conduct conspirative work in the factories, losing members and revolutionary workers, through their expulsion from the factories. To some Communists it may appear a shame that the Social-Democrats, the nationalists and the members of the other Parties are able openly to proclaim their Party affiliation while they, despite the fact that the Communist Party is legal, must hide their membership in it. Is not such secrecy cowardice? Or Right opportunism? Not in the least. This would be cowardice and opportunism if the members of the cells, or the individual Communists, feared and evaded addressing the factory workers’ meetings against the reformists and Social-Democrats, when they proposed to agree to a lowering of the living standards of the workers, to approve the dismissal of workers, or when they vote for the proposals of the Social Democrats and reformists, etc. Such cases, unfortunately, have occurred. But there is no need at all to shout in the factories and mills that we are Communists and while shouting thus, not always conducting Communist work. It is possible and necessary to carry on real Party work connecting the Party slogans with the every-day struggle in the factories, without calling oneself a member of the Party or cell. It is always possible to find appropriate forms for this. Is it not possible to say; today I read such and such a report, this or that, or ”a worker from our factory or from the neighbouring factory told me...” etc.? In short, everything in the spirit of the decisions of the cell and Party, though in form there is no shouting about it; it may even appear “innocent.” Even in those cases when anyone addresses the workers’ meeting in the factory on instructions from the cell, it is not always necessary to declare that he speaks in the name of the cell. The main point is that their speeches should always be in the spirit of the decision of the cell, while the motions should be prepared or approved by the cell bureau. The other members of the cell and their sympathisers must not only vote for the motion made by the comrade sent by the cell but also conduct agitation among the workers for this motion. In the illegal Parties the situation is different. There both the Party and the cells are illegal, but unfortunately even the illegal Parties have not yet learned properly to disguise their work. (The Bolshevisation of the Communist Parties of the Capitalist Countries by Means of Overcoming the Social-Democratic Traditions, Communist International, O. Piatnitsky, pp. 257-258)

Care must be given to the above concerns especially in the South where anti-communist, anti-union, and anti-outsider sentiment is high. Throughout the South, communists and socialists have been taking their lumps at the hands of the fascists. RCP cadre have been subject to a number of beatings in North Carolina and Louisiana. Although this is not new for them (Boston busing struggle and recently at a plant rally in support of Iran in Boston), it is indicative of the serious activity of the fascists. The same has happened to the SWP and people close to the CP(ML) in Mississippi. For comrades that work in rural plants and are the only cadre there, it is suicidal to openly sell “party” papers or to be identified as a communist by anyone other than close contacts.

Against this background and in the wake of the Nov. 3rd Massacre a massive witch hunt is underway in North Carolina at the behest of the Governor. He has called for the infiltration of extremist groups and advised the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) even after the weak protest of the State Attorney General. Many CWP cadre have been threatened and lost their jobs. This is mainly because they went all out in the plants to “avenge the CWP 5.” Many of them had not been open previously. Leading the movement for their expulsion in one case was the union itself. One CWP member who was the line cadre at a distant Virginia plant was a victim of this and CWP’s reckless and non-calculating tactics. Although she was a shop steward, when she issued her leaflets to “avenge the CWP 5” a movement was started to oust her from the plant. In fact, the union threatened to strike if the company did not remove her.

All revolutionaries will increasingly run into problems finding jobs and operating in the state. To be sure, any effectiveness that CWP may have had has been seriously damaged. At the same time, the bosses and owners have scored a major victory. This environment has been in many ways created by them (CWP) at a time when mass sentiment is not inclined to defend communists even though they are in great need of communist leadership.


The Communist and revolutionary movements must learn the important lessons this historical incident and its aftermath has provided and correct these problems as we move to build a genuine party and organize the masses for the coming battles. A thorough break with revisionism, right opportunism, and ”left” opportunism is essential if we are to move forward with this historic task.