Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

I Wor Kuen

History of I Wor Kuen


Published: In the pamphlet, Statements on the Founding of the League of Revolutionary Struggle (Marxist-Leninist), 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

EROL Note: This history was written by IWK as part of the process of merging with the August 29th Movement to create the League of Revolutionary Struggle (Marxist-Leninist).

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I Wor Kuen (IWK) today is a multinational nationwide Marxist-Leninist organization in the U.S. IWK regularly publishes Getting Together, its political organ, which is distributed across the country. The organization has ties within the national movements, especially the Asian national movements, and in the industrial working class. IWK has also led a number of mass struggles in some of the key cities of the country. Along with other Marxist-Leninist organizations, IWK is moving ahead firmly in the struggle to forge a single, unified communist party.

IWK has a relatively long history in the contemporary revolutionary movement. Since the organization’s founding in 1969, IWK has been an integral part of the U.S. revolutionary movement. There have been weaknesses and errors in IWK’s history as well as contributions. Overall, the history of IWK is marked by a steady development in our understanding and application of the science of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought to the U.S. revolution.

This paper’s purpose is to review the history of IWK. We will try to do this by placing IWK’s history in the context of the objective situation at each stage of its history, the state of and struggles in the revolutionary movement, and the struggles that IWK was itself engaged in. The history is broken down into several periods:
1) The formation of IWK
2) The period of 1969-1972
3) The period of 1972-1975
4) The period of 1975-1978

We will try to run down the line and practice of IWK in each period and the key two-line struggles that occurred, as well as indicate the strengths and weaknesses of the organization in its development.

Formation of IWK

IWK was one of the many revolutionary organizations that arose in the late 1960’s. These organizations were a tremendous step forward for the revolutionary movement, for they were a decisive break from revisionism and Trotskyism. The CPUSA had become revisionist in the 1950’s and had attempted to stifle the mass movement by channeling it into reformism. The Trotskyism of forces such as the Progressive Labor Party, too, sabotaged and attacked the mass movement. There was no genuine communist party to lead the mass movement forward.

But oppression breeds resistance, and the masses rose in militant struggle in the 1960’s. In particular, the Black liberation movement rose in an unprecedented storm and shook the capitalist system to its very foundation. The struggle of Black people inspired and set an example for other oppressed peoples, the Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, the Asian nationalities, Native Americans and others.

The 1960’s was also marked by a broad anti-war movement against U.S. aggression in Indochina. Hundreds of thousands of people actively took part in this movement.

It was from these great movements that IWK developed, in particular, out of the struggles of the Asian nationalities. It was not originally founded as a Marxist-Leninist organization, but like similar organizations from the oppressed nationalities such as the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords Party, IWK consciously saw itself as a revolutionary organization dedicated to uniting with other revolutionary forces in leading the masses to overthrow U.S. imperialism. It drew great inspiration from the Chinese revolution, including the Cultural Revolution, and the national liberation struggles around the world. The organization stood for revolution, armed struggle, the unity of oppressed and exploited peoples, and solidarity with the Chinese, Vietnamese, and other people’s revolutionary struggles.

In the absence of a genuine communist party, organizations like IWK played a leading role in reconstructing a revolutionary movement in the U.S. They were the first steps in breaking the chains of revisionism which had bound the working class movement.

1969-late 1971

IWK first formed as a revolutionary collective in New York City in late 1969. During that same year, the Red Guard Party in San Francisco also formed. Later, during the summer of 1971, IWK became a national organization as a product of the merger of these two groups.

IWK and the Red Guards played a vanguard role in the Asian national movements during the years between 1969 and 1971. Both organizations recognized that only revolution could solve the contradictions in capitalist society. They set out to build a genuine revolutionary movement in this country, to boldly challenge the oppressing forces, and to show that the everyday oppression and injustices that the masses face come from the system of imperialism.

The IWK collective in N.Y. was formed by Asian-American revolutionaries from diverse backgrounds, including students, workers and working class youth. During its first year and a half, IWK waged a number of mass campaigns against poor living conditions in the community as well as struggles against harassment and repression of the masses by the state. The organization also conducted a number of serve the people community programs, and conducted broad political agitation and educational work among the masses. IWK published Getting Together in Chinese and English, and used it to educate and organize, and to put forward the organization’s revolutionary views.

IWK took up problems such as the horrible health care facilities in Chinatown as a way of organizing the masses in the community to take up collective political struggle against those conditions. In March 1970, IWK launched an extensive campaign of door-to-door TB testing in Chinatown. The organization realized that Chinatown had the highest TB rate in the country because of the extremely overcrowded, decaying living conditions caused by capitalism and bad health care services. In New York Chinatown, there were no hospital facilities, TB clinics or hospital staff who spoke Chinese. The door-to-door campaign helped arouse the community to fight for better services and to join with Puerto Ricans, Blacks and working class whites in the Lower East Side community of New York to fight for the new Gouverneur Hospital, and to force the city government to provide a TB X-ray and testing center.

The struggle around Gouverneur Hospital continues to be a focal point of health struggles to the present day. In 1972, IWK helped wage a mass struggle and held several important demonstrations resulting in the hiring of more Chinese-speaking workers at the new Gouverneur Hospital.

Simultaneous to the health campaign, IWK initiated Chinatown’s first draft counseling service. Many young Asians were being drafted to fight against the Indochinese people. In Chinatown, many young men did not want to go, but they had no organization to fight for them and no way to find out about possible draft exemptions. IWK took the service right into the streets of Chinatown to seek out youth facing the draft and convince them to resist the draft. It was an important part of revolutionary work among the youth sector.

Another basic serve the people program was the childcare school program, which was a way of organizing Chinese working mothers and taking up their concerns for their children’s education. Besides trying to deal with the critical lack of childcare services, the program was important because it was conducted bilingually, upholding the equality of languages and the importance of teaching Chinese to the children. It was important in developing progressive educational materials which mothers supported. Many progressive community women despised and worried about the education their children received in the Chinese after-school programs which had long been monopolized by the KMT reactionaries.

The same attitude of serving the people, of promoting revolution, and of waging mass struggle was the basis for the active and often leading role that IWK played in many community struggles. In early 1970, IWK played a major role in the “We Won’t Move” campaign in New York Chinatown, in which residents and community organizations united to defend housing which the Bell Telephone Co. wanted to tear down to build a telephone switching station. IWK helped to physically move many Chinese families – some recently arrived immigrants – into abandoned apartments on the block, to strengthen the tenants’ forces and show the seriousness of the struggle. The block of housing still stands today because of this mass resistance.

In late 1970, IWK waged a militant struggle against the government’s attempts to close down small Chinese grocery stores selling Chinese produce and roasted and preserved meats. The government branded these traditional Chinese foods as “violating health codes.” IWK was approached by Chinese store owners to help fight this government attack because IWK had become known as an organization that stood on the side of the masses. Through taking direct action and confronting the government inspectors right inside the stores, the state’s attempt to wipe out small Chinese-owned grocery stores was halted. The government health ordinances on Chinese produce were changed as a result of this successful struggle.

IWK also joined with many youths to directly confront the Chinatown reactionaries in the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA), demanding access of city youth to the CCBA gym facilities. The CCBA reactionaries used the money from the pockets of community people to build their offices and the gym, but didn’t even allow the young people to play in it after it was built. Demonstrations were held in protest. These were the first demonstrations ever to publicly challenge the CCBA in New York Chinatown.

IWK was also the first organization since the early 1950’s to openly declare its support within the Chinese community for the People’s Republic of China. For twenty years no one had openly campaigned in support of socialist China. The reactionaries had brutally persecuted and even murdered progressives who had supported China. IWK showed films from China which drew thousands of people. IWK worked with a broad range of forces and individuals to organize October 1st mass programs, annually celebrating the founding of the People’s Republic of China. IWK played a leading role in organizing demonstrations at the United Nations to fight for China’s rightful seat in the U.N. and for the ousting of the illegal Taiwan KMT clique from the U.N.

IWK’s bold stand infuriated the KMT fascist reactionaries and anti-communists. They tried to intimidate the masses by firebombing IWK’s storefront several times, slandering IWK in their Chinese language newspapers and physically assaulting IWK members and street vendors selling Getting Together. The FBI and police kept IWK programs under surveillance and frequently tried to frighten the masses by posting special FBI notices against communists and revolutionaries.

The reactionaries’ attempts to separate IWK from the masses and stop the organization’s work were not successful. More and more people came out in support of the programs and mass campaigns led by IWK. Because of IWK’s consistent stands in the interests of the masses, the organization gained widespread respect and support in the community. Thousands of people from the Chinese community attended IWK sponsored or initiated programs.

Getting Together was an important part of the organization’s work. The newspaper was used in a mass way to get the views of IWK out in a broad way – Getting Together was sold openly in the streets, an act which itself challenged the reactionaries. From its very beginning, Getting Together carried extensive coverage on the struggles of Asians in the U.S. There were many articles exposing the exploitation and oppression of the Asian nationalities. Getting Together was the first revolutionary newspaper regularly published in the contemporary Asian national movement.

At the same time, the newspaper wrote about the conditions and struggles of other oppressed peoples in the U.S. The coverage of international events and developments in China were also an important part of the newspaper. Overall, the newspaper played an important role in propagating revolutionary ideas among the masses of people.

The Red Guard Party

The Red Guard Party started doing revolutionary work in San Francisco Chinatown in the Spring of 1969. It was formed primarily by Asian-American youth who had been active in fighting against police harassment in Chinatown, in various community struggles against national oppression and in the San Francisco State College Third World student strike of 1968.

The Red Guards opened a storefront office in the community. They began to conduct serve the people programs and weekly showing of films from China and other third world struggles. They also took up a number of mass struggles in the community. They were the first political force in San Francisco Chinatown which came out openly to challenge the local reactionary forces of the KMT. They took the lead in advocating a forthright revolutionary stand against the imperialist system as the source of the oppression Chinese have faced in the U.S. for over a century.

One of the most important struggles was to stop the destruction of the San Francisco Chinese community by redevelopment.

The Red Guards played an active role in the struggle to save the International Hotel. The Hotel occupies the last remaining block of the San Francisco Manilatown community. The other nine blocks have been destroyed and replaced with office buildings and luxury hotels. The Red Guards and other community youth and Asian-American students mobilized mass support and actions against the first attempts to evict the I-Hotel tenants in 1968-69. The tenants’ resistance and these mass actions won the tenants a lease in 1969. Although the landlord set fire to the Hotel the night before the lease was to be signed, killing 3 tenants and destroying a wing of the Hotel, continuous mass organizing and community outrage forced the landlord to sign a lease. Over the next year, the Red Guards and hundreds of people from the community and Bay Area college campuses worked to rebuild the fire-damaged portions of the Hotel. This mass collective effort brought the Hotel up to code and defeated the landlord’s attempts to evict the tenants by using housing code violations.

Throughout these first years of the I-Hotel struggle, the Red Guards played an instrumental role in the struggle against various liberal-reformist elements in the community. These reformists preached reliance on legal tactics and the good graces of city politicians, red-baited the revolutionaries, and discouraged any militant mass struggle.

Throughout this work and struggle, many people became involved in the revolutionary and progressive movement in the Chinatown-Manilatown area. The I-Hotel became a center for this growing movement, housing community organizations and revolutionary groups which took up a broad range of activity including serve the people programs, struggles against national oppression, U.S.-China people’s friendship work and anti-war activity.

The Red Guards also took up a struggle to stop one of the few public playgrounds in Chinatown from being torn down by big business to build a garage. The organization did massive leafletting to build community support for this struggle, organized picket lines at the site of the playground, and worked directly with other progressive forces to hold a demonstration confronting the city government. The struggle was successful, and the Chinese playground still stands today in the community.

Another mass struggle the Red Guards took up was to prevent the federal government from closing a vital TB treatment and testing center in Chinatown. The Red Guards initiated a struggle encompassing a broad range of forces in the community to petition against the closing of the center, and to demand federal funds and a Chinese-speaking staff for the center. The Red Guards, together with other community groups, succeeded in maintaining the program.

The Red Guards conducted various serve the people programs, including a free lunch program and a draft help center. The free lunch program was directed particularly at elderly Chinese residents of the community who are forced to live in dilapidated apartments with no facilities for cooking. The organization tried to serve the needs of these elderly Chinese and in the course of carrying out this work, expose the injustices of the system, and why it was necessary to wage a revolutionary struggle against the system.

A draft help center was opened in 1969 and was the only such center in the community. Its purpose was the same as the draft center opened by IWK in New York, and it provided draft counseling services and education around the Vietnam war.

The Red Guards also led in the rebirth of a mass movement to build U.S.-China people’s friendship and learn from the People’s Republic of China. The local KMT had suppressed this movement for 20 years. In May, 1969, the Red Guards played the leadership role in uniting with other forces to sponsor an open rally in Chinatown to commemorate the 50th anniversary of China’s May 4th Movement, a great anti-imperialist movement which directly preceded the formation of the Chinese Communist Party. During this rally, they took the unprecedented step of unfurling China’s five-star flag and playing revolutionary music in defiance of the local KMT reactionaries. On October 1, 1969, the Red Guards organized the first mass celebration of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in twenty years in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Simultaneous to the demonstrations which IWK helped to organize in New York, the Red Guards held a mass demonstration in San Francisco Chinatown drawing 800 people and demanding the restoration of China’s seat in the U.N.

In addition to this work in the Asian national movements, both IWK and the Red Guards played a leading role in the anti-imperialist movement and worked to unite with other revolutionary forces in the U.S.

The Red Guards and IWK fought for the anti-war movement to take a firm stand of support for the liberation forces in Indochina, and this stand brought them into sharp battle with the revisionist Communist Party, U.S.A. (CPUSA) and Trotskyite Progressive Labor Party (PLP). The Red Guards and IWK mobilized the masses into concrete action against the war, initiating many militant mass protests, participating in and helping lead major anti-war demonstrations on the East and West Coasts. They conducted extensive education among the masses to show how the national liberation movements are at the forefront of the worldwide struggle against imperialism and how they are an ally of the working and oppressed masses in the U.S.

The two groups also rallied support for revolutionary struggles taking place in the U.S., including the Black liberation movement and the national movements of Puerto Ricans, Chicanos, and other oppressed peoples. IWK worked together with revolutionary organizations such as the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords Party around struggles against national oppression and for the independence of Puerto Rico. In San Francisco, the Red Guards worked with the Black Panther Party in struggles against police repression. The Red Guards also worked closely with Los Siete de la Raza around anti-police repression struggles and in other community struggles and serve the people programs.

In the course of carrying out all of this work, the Red Guards and IWK had to combat social-reformist, cultural nationalist and narrow nationalist tendencies within the Asian movement.

One of the major struggles was against a reformist tendency that consolidated into an organization called Wei Min She. This organization linked up with the RU in 1971 and afterwards was promoted by the RU as their model of a so-called “mass anti-imperialist organization” in the national movements. The Wei Min She consistently opposed raising political issues in the Chinese community, claiming the masses were “too backward” to take up political struggle. For example, they opposed organizing demonstrations in Chinatown against the Viet Nam War, saying the masses could not support the Vietnamese people, but could only grasp issues which “affected their pocketbook;” they opposed doing mass agitation and propaganda around the revolutionary significance of the Black liberation movement, claiming that Chinese were too “racist” to support the Black movement; and they opposed public rallies and celebrations of October 1st.

There were also struggles against petty-bourgeois tendencies in the Asian movement, such as those which equated the revolution to finding one’s identity and advocated that this should be done through “culture” devoid of politics. Another incorrect tendency was a narrow nationalist view which opposed Asians working with other nationalities.[1] IWK and the Red Guards consistently upheld the principle of uniting all working and oppressed people and seeing the struggles of Asian peoples not as separate, but as an integral part of the revolutionary movement as a whole.

These first few years of the histories of IWK and the Red Guard’s histories were also marked by sharp internal struggles against incorrect political views and tendencies. The two groups were young and inexperienced in revolutionary work, and had not taken up Marxism-Leninism as a guiding ideology. Nevertheless, they struggled to develop a correct political orientation and line for their work, and this process of internal struggle pushed forward their development towards Marxism.

As soon as the IWK collective formed in New York, a struggle broke out over the basic orientation of the collective. One line, which was the more correct line, emphasized the importance of the collective taking up mass work, carrying out political agitation and propaganda work among the masses and striving to lead and organize the masses. The other line was a terrorist line, similar to that of the Weathermen terrorist organization. It saw the revolution occurring through the actions of a small handful of revolutionaries who would take terrorist actions to “excite” the masses. This line negated the fact that it is the masses who make history and the revolution, not just a few individuals.

The correct tendency advocated building a revolutionary political organization to help lead the mass movement and work to unite with other revolutionary groups. The terrorist tendency, on the other hand, called for IWK to create an apparatus to carry out terrorist activity alongside of mass work in a “two tier” approach which objectively advocated a retreat from doing mass revolutionary work. It even went to the extreme of attacking all who opposed this line as being “afraid to die.”

Those who adhered to the terrorist line left the collective soon after its formation for various reasons, as it became clear that the majority of members of IWK could not be consolidated around a terrorist line. Although this terrorist view was not thoroughly exposed and defeated due to the immaturity of the collective at that time, it was rejected and the correct line became the dominant one guiding the collective’s work.

Starting in 1970, IWK and the Red Guards began to have discussions to share experiences and lessons from their work and seek unity between the two groups. In the Red Guards, a line was present similar to the terrorist tendency which had existed in IWK. It took the form of an ultra-militarist line. Through these discussions, both groups were able to draw lessons from the earlier struggle that had taken place in IWK, and a struggle began to sharpen within the Red Guards against the ultra-militarist line.

Within the Red Guards, the ultra-militarist line promoted an incorrect view on the question of armed revolutionary struggle, placing military questions primary over politics. It called for building the Red Guards as a revolutionary “army,” and mass work was seen only as a means of building support for this “army.” While upholding correctly that it was necessary to wage an armed struggle to overthrow the bourgeoisie, this line failed to see that the masses must be won ideologically and politically to the side of the revolution and organized to carry out the revolution. Thus, it downplayed the importance of the organization participating in and leading mass struggles.

The ultra-militarist line had a strong influence in the Red Guards. As a result, while the Red Guards played a vanguard role in the Asian movement, it did not always carry out its mass work in a sustained and systematic way with clear political objectives in mind. It did not develop as deep roots among the masses as it should have.

In both IWK and the Red Guards the struggle against the terrorist and ultra-militarist lines were closely interconnected with a struggle around the role of women in the revolutionary movement. The same individuals who advocated terrorism and an ultra-military line also promoted blatant chauvinist views toward women and denied the role women must play in the revolutionary struggle.

The terrorist tendency in IWK, for example, advocated sexual degeneracy along the same lines that the Weathermen organization did. The Weathermen and this tendency in IWK argued that “breaking up monogamy” would develop “collective” relations and “liberate” relations between men and women. It was actually a cover for degeneracy and the most blatant forms of male supremacy and the oppression of women.

In the Red Guards, there was also struggle against the view that women’s worth is only in the home and in producing children. Certain individuals advocated that women should stay home, have babies and raise the children while the men went out and took part in political struggle. In certain cases, the individuals promoting the ultra-militarist views felt the role of women was to produce “their children” since they thought they were going to die tomorrow. The women also had to struggle against their own thinking, influenced by capitalist society, that having children and being mothers was the center of their lives and their only function.

Around family relationships, struggle also took place for men to take up equal and shared responsibilities for raising children and household work. Women had to go through struggle to understand that they could raise their children and also remain active in revolutionary work.

It was through these struggles against male supremacist tendencies and incorrect ideas on the role of women in the revolution that many women broke with previous oppressive relationships. They broke with old ways of thinking that had prevented them from contributing their fullest to the organization and the revolution. Out of these struggles, many women came forth as active and leading members of IWK and made many contributions to the organization.

In the spring of 1971, IWK and the Red Guards intensified their discussions towards unifying the two groups. IWK played an important role in helping defeat the ultra-militarist tendencies in the Red Guards. In June 1971, a decisive victory was won against the ultra-militarist line in the Red Guards, and along with this, the ideological and political understanding of both groups was advanced. This helped to lay the basis for the two groups to merge in July 1971 to form the national IWK.

National IWK formed

The national IWK united firmly around the need to build a disciplined revolutionary organization that would unite with other forces to lead and organize the masses in a revolutionary struggle to overthrow the ruling class. IWK affirmed both the necessity for a violent overthrow of the capitalist class and also the importance of placing politics in command of the military question.

The merger of IWK in New York and the Red Guards in San Francisco brought together two leading forces which played a pioneering role in the development of the Asian national struggles in the U.S. The national IWK emerged as the largest revolutionary organization in the Asian movement and a major force within the U.S. revolutionary movement.

Towards the latter part of 1971, this first period in IWK’s history began to come to a close. IWK, as well as the other revolutionary organizations that had arisen in the late 1960’s, began to face new demands and many pressing theoretical and practical questions. The objective conditions in the mass movement demanded that the organization acquire a scientific and broader overview of the direction and tasks of the U.S. revolution. The bourgeoisie was stepping up its attempt to destroy the young revolutionary forces, both through violent suppression and through promoting reformism as an alternative to revolution. They were conducting an all-out campaign of terror and murder against revolutionary forces. At the same time, they were stepping up funding of anti-poverty programs and promoting the growth of a stratum of reformist forces to try to keep the masses from following a revolutionary path. Many revolutionary organizations throughout the country, including IWK, were struggling to understand how to lead and sustain a mass movement under these conditions.

These and other questions came to the fore at the end of 1971. IWK began to take up more study of Marxist-Leninist theoretical works to analyze the international and domestic situation, and to take up struggle around the general questions facing the revolutionary movement.

In December 1971, the first major national meeting of the leadership was held. At this meeting, the organization made its first attempt to systematically analyze from a Marxist stand the objective conditions in the world and the U.S., as well as the state of the revolutionary movement and some of the key questions facing it.

This meeting was a major step forward for the organization. IWK adopted Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought as its guiding ideology. In a position paper written at this meeting, IWK affirmed the role of the working class as the most revolutionary class, whose historic mission is to overthrow the system of capitalism and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat.

At this national meeting, the organization summarized its history up until that time and the tremendously positive role that the young revolutionary forces had played during the previous years. At the same time, the national meeting summarized certain weaknesses and errors in the organization’s thinking and work. While IWK had consistently advocated revolution, it had not put forward the leading role of the working class. For example, in Getting Together, various incorrect concepts had appeared such as the “youth as the vanguard” and other theories which denied the leading role of the working class. While they were not consolidated views, they reflected that the organization lacked a scientific ideology to guide its revolutionary work. At the meeting, the organization united around the view that Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought is the only truly revolutionary ideology and theory in this era, and that it must struggle to grasp Marxism-Leninism Mao Tsetung and make it a guide to all of its work.

The organization also analyzed the international situation, identifying the U.S. and the Soviet Union as the two main enemies of the world’s peoples. It also put forward the importance of building a broad united front against the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and recognized the correctness of the slogan, “Countries Want Independence, Nations Want liberation, People Want Revolution.” The paper analyzed the national question in the U.S. in a revolutionary way. Finally, it recognized the need to build a genuine communist party in the U.S. and criticized the revisionist and Trotskyite forces in the U.S.

There were shortcomings in the paper, the most important being an incorrect view of how a vanguard party would be formed. It belittled the need to wage ideological struggle in the communist movement to unite Marxist-Leninists. Despite this and other shortcomings which stemmed from the organization’s immaturity and weak understanding of Marxism, the December 1971 conference laid the basis for the organization to move in a consistent Marxist-Leninist direction during the next few years. It opened up a new period in IWK’s history.


The period from early 1972 to late 1975 is the second general period in IWK’s history.

This period was one of great upheaval in the world. Internationally, the U.S. was suffering big setbacks in its war of aggression in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos; and by 1975, the last U.S. forces were driven out. The defeat in Indochina signalled the decline of U.S. imperialism from its position as overlord of the capitalist world. At the same time, another imperialist superpower, the Soviet Union, was rising to try to take the place of the U.S. wherever the latter suffered defeat. Since the 1960’s, the alignment of world forces had changed, and now the world’s peoples were faced with two imperialist superpowers contending with each other for world domination.

Within the U.S., there was also great turmoil. Starting in 1973, the U.S. entered one of the worst economic crises in its history. The U.S. bourgeoisie faced great economic and political troubles, as evidenced by deep recession and the Watergate affair. The crisis intensified national oppression and class exploitation of the masses. This gave rise to increasing struggles by the working and oppressed peoples.

The anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninist movement was in its formative stage in the early 1970’s. It was just emerging from the revolutionary upsurge of the late 1960’s. It drew the great majority of its fighters from these mass movements, who were still very young, inexperienced and untrained in Marxism. Despite the immaturity of the communist forces, the questions and tasks before them were extremely complicated.

The upheaval in the international and domestic situation placed great demands upon them to develop their understanding of Marxism-Leninism, grasp the changing conditions and sharpening contradictions in the world and in the U.S., and determine a correct general path for the revolutionary movement. In addition, the Marxist-Leninists had to deal with complex questions in their mass work. These included how to deal with the influences of reformism in the mass movement, the increased attacks coming down upon the masses in all spheres, how to relate to different class forces, and how to define the concrete strategy and tactics of waging mass struggles. Under these circumstances it was inevitable that mistakes were made, some serious, and that the young communist movement would only advance in the course of struggle and learning from its experiences.

The Marxist-Leninists also had to wage sharp battles against the opportunists hiding within the communist movement itself. A number of opportunists put on a Leninist and anti-revisionist mask in order to push their opportunist lines. Thus, it was necessary to struggle to distinguish a correct line from all sorts of deviations and distortions of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. The major opportunist forces also tried to systematically attack and destroy the genuine Marxist-Leninist organizations. In some cases the opportunists made temporary gains and grew. On the whole, although significant gains were made during these years in exposing the opportunists, the struggle to defeat their influence was by no means thorough or complete.

It was in the course of building the revolutionary forces step by step, fighting for a correct line against opportunism, studying Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and learning from practical experience and the masses, that the genuine Marxist-Leninist forces grew and matured during these years.

IWK developed steadily along a Marxist-Leninist path during this period of its history. The organization made many contributions to the revolutionary movement and emerged as one of the major communist organizations in the U.S. At the same time, there were serious shortcomings and errors which IWK had to identify and overcome.

IWK took up the struggle to develop its grasp of Marxism-Leninism and develop a Marxist-Leninist line on the questions facing the revolutionary movement. At first, the organization’s theoretical understanding was not developed and its understanding of the actual concrete conditions within the U.S. was limited. IWK took a generally correct approach of basing itself on the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism, and strived to integrate them with the actual practice of making proletarian revolution in the U.S. This struggle to integrate theory and practice was particularly important. The organization had to summarize lessons from its practice, integrate among the masses, and test its line through practice. IWK based its line on dialectical and historical materialism, and the interests of the revolution and the masses.

It was through this struggle that the basic features of the organization’s line were defined during these years. The organization developed a Marxist-Leninist line on the international and domestic situation, the nature and role of a vanguard party, the national question, labor work, the woman question and other basic points. IWK upheld and defended the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and developed a correct general view of the proletarian revolution in the U.S.

IWK also made significant advances in developing its mass ties and was able to draw valuable lessons from its mass work. These in turn deepened and enriched the organization’s line. IWK expanded its ties in the national movements, particularly among the Asian nationalities, in the multinational working class, among students, in the anti-imperialist movement, and in other progressive movements and sectors of the population.

The organization greatly developed its ties and influence in the Asian national movements. This included building ties with activists and progressive Asian organizations throughout the U.S.

Beginning in 1972, IWK helped in the formation of many progressive mass organizations in the Chinese community. These mass organizations were to become a significant force in the struggles of the Chinese-American national minority, taking up many struggles against national oppression. These mass organizations based their work among the working masses of the Chinese national minority, and strived to unite a broad sector of the masses.

IWK also helped lead a number of mass struggles in the Chinese American national minority during these years. One of the most significant was the defense of Harry Wong, a progressive news vendor in San Francisco Chinatown. He openly defied the KMT reactionaries and police by selling literature from China and the U.S. revolutionary movement on his street newsstand. Over a period of a couple of years, the reactionaries constantly harassed him, arrested him, and even sent goons to brutalize him. But he could not be terrorized and continued to sell this literature. IWK took the lead in defending and protecting Harry Wong and successfully made the reactionaries and police back down. Harry Wong became a symbol of the left-wing movement in the Chinese community through his struggle.

IWK also conducted a number of other struggles against the national oppression of the Chinese people in the U.S. For example, the organization helped to lead the fight against the “confession cases” which the Immigration Department had set up to try to get Chinese to “confess” past immigration law infractions in order to get legal status. Of course, the Immigration Department used this just to find more ways to deport and suppress the Chinese. IWK helped to lead the mass campaign to expose the Immigration Department’s fraud and to help Chinese obtain legal status.

IWK also waged a number of other mass campaigns, including struggles against poor health and housing conditions in the Chinese community. In New York, the organization helped organize and lead a rent strike. The organization also continued to be active in the campaign to demand full and decent health services at Gouverneur Hospital in New York. In San Francisco, IWK helped build similar struggles. Through all this, there was also a continuous battle against police harassment and KMT terrorism in the community.

In these struggles, IWK learned that to carry out a struggle in a way that was genuinely in the interests of the masses, opportunists also had to be exposed and combatted. The opportunists in the national movements, sometimes under the guise of being “revolutionaries” or “leaders of the masses,” tried to channel the mass struggles into reformism by promoting the government social service agencies or relying on politicians to solve problems. The opportunists at the same time covered for the class enemy and attacked and tried to smash the revolutionary forces.

Opportunist forces like Wei Min She, connected to the RU, called themselves “Marxists” and “revolutionaries” but promoted working through the government poverty agencies. Wei Min viciously attacked the revolutionary forces. In work supporting China, Wei Min opposed uniting all who could be united and attacked those who wanted to bring out political lessons from China.

The struggle against the opportunist forces was necessary in order for the mass movement to advance and for the organization to develop its ties with the masses. The attempts of the opportunists to get rid of the organization did not succeed, but rather the organization deepened its ties with the masses.

The organization was able to draw many theoretical and practical lessons from its work in the Chinese national minority.

During this period, IWK conducted theoretical study on many of the key questions of the U.S. revolution, including the national question. By applying its study of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought to the concrete conditions, and drawing upon the organization’s experiences and investigation, IWK developed a relatively advanced and comprehensive understanding of the Chinese-American national question in the U.S. The organization also developed a concrete and practical understanding of the tasks facing Marxist-Leninists in the national movement. This included a class analysis and a strategy of basing work primarily among the working masses while also working with other strata and classes to unite all who could be united in the struggle against national oppression. The organization also developed its understanding of how communists must wage a class struggle against reactionary and opportunist forces within the national movement. Another important lesson the organization drew was on the building of mass forms of organization and their role in the national movement.

In 1973, IWK began to expand its work in the Japanese-American national movement. IWK helped to build mass support for the struggle against the destruction and dispersal of the Japanese community in San Francisco by the city’s “urban renewal” plan.

The organization participated in struggles to defend several buildings, which housed residents and small shopkeepers, to keep them from being auctioned off or torn down to turn the Japanese community into a high rent and commercial tourist center. Picket lines, mass demonstrations, sit-ins at the offices of the city government and other actions were organized to stop these attacks and demand that the government provide low-cost housing at these sites. Through the collective and organized resistance of the masses, some of these buildings were saved from a number of eviction attempts.

IWK also helped wage a struggle to demand reparations for the injustices Japanese-Americans suffered during World War II. One of these was around the Salvation Army building in San Francisco’s Japantown. In the 1930’s, thousands of Japanese immigrants had donated money to construct this building as a social service center. But due to the Alien Land Laws, Japanese could not own the building, so it was entrusted to the Salvation Army. In 1942, when 110,000 Japanese-Americans were forced into concentration camps and their property was confiscated, the Salvation Army took away the building. After the war, it shut the door on returning Japanese who asked to use the building. Massive education was done about this issue, linking up the demand for community services in the building to the long history of struggle by Japanese people in the U.S. against national oppression. IWK’s work in the Japanese national movement continues to this day.

During this period, the organization’s student work also expanded. IWK played a leading role in the formation of several Asian Student Unions on various college campuses. These mass student organizations were also forged in the heat of class struggle against the Trotskyites who opposed their stand of support for the national liberation struggles around the world. They were also forged in struggle against forces like Workers Viewpoint Organization and the Revolutionary Union who held that mass student organizations based on a particular nationality were “narrow nationalist.” The ASU’s were to play a significant and leading role in the progressive student movement, focusing on the struggles of Asian students against national oppression and supporting the struggles of workers and all oppressed people. They were to draw many progressive students into active political struggle. Many students became revolutionaries and Marxist-Leninists in the course of these struggles.

IWK helped to lead several of the major student struggles which occurred during this period. These struggles were mainly around the development and protection of Ethnic Studies, such as at UC Berkeley, Laney College in Oakland, and at the City College of New York. The organization played a key role in these struggles, bringing out the connection of the student fight with the overall battle against national oppression.

IWK also continued to play a leading role in the anti-war movement during this period, fighting for a correct line on the anti-war movement against the revisionists and Trotskyites, and other opportunists. For example, in New York and San Francisco, IWK struggled vigorously against the Trotskyites who slandered the Vietnamese people and refused to give support for the Vietnamese 7 Point Peace Plan. IWK also continued to struggle against the social pacifist line of the CPUSA and other forces. IWK played a leading role in various coalitions, such as the Bay Area Asian Coalition Against the War, and the November 4th Coalition in New York.

The organization organized and helped lead mass demonstrations such as the April 22, 1972 march in San Francisco, the May 12, 1972 march of 5,000 people in San Francisco, and the November 4, 1972 march in New York of 6,500 people. In these and other anti-imperialist demonstrations against U.S. aggression in Indochina and other countries like the Philippines, IWK militantly expressed its internationalism and won the respect of many activists in the anti-imperialist movement.

During this period, IWK continued to play an active role in the movement to build friendship between the People’s Republic of China and the people of the United States, which was growing throughout the country. IWK played a leading role in building the movement to demand normalized relations between the U.S. and China, to build friendship between the peoples of the two countries, and to promote education about life in China and the progress of socialist China. IWK helped organize mass educational and film programs, and organized broadly for the masses to attend the cultural performances and sports activities of visiting Chinese delegations. IWK also played a leading role in helping to unite many people from all sectors of society through its work in broad coalitions formed around China friendship activities. These activities included “Friendship Fairs” and yearly October First Celebration Committees which sponsored mass celebrations on China’s national day.

In 1973, the organization began to take up the task of labor organizing in certain industries, focusing on the garment and culinary industries, hospitals, and other service industries, as well as postal and transportation. As the organization moved to expand its work in the proletariat, a right opportunist line within the organization was raised to oppose this decision, and it was necessary to wage a sharp struggle to defeat this line.

The opportunists advocated that instead of moving to base the organization in the proletariat, that the organization’s work should be focused exclusively on student organizing and anti-imperialist struggles. They tried to support this rightist line by distorting Marxism. For example, they said that the entire working class in the U.S. was “bought off by the bourgeoisie, and that it was “useless” to try to organize the proletariat. Furthermore, the opportunists tried to “prove” that U.S. imperialism was growing stronger, in spite of its tremendous defeat in Indochina. They vehemently opposed the organization’s move to do labor work and tried to appear “left” by advocating militarism and adventurism in demonstrations. Although they were not able to win over anyone to their line, the struggle against this line helped to consolidate the organization on the importance of rooting itself in the proletariat. It also sharpened the organization’s understanding of imperialism, the labor aristocracy and the tasks of communists in imperialist countries. The defeat of the line of this clique led to the expansion of the organization’s labor work.

After the struggle against the rightist line, the organization deepened its study of the questions of labor work. The struggle against the rightist line as well as the struggle against the RU’s rightist and economist line on labor work, were key struggles in the development of the organization’s line and work in the working class.

As a result of these struggles, and the general struggle to develop labor work, the organization began to play a key role in some labor struggles, such as in a number of restaurant workers’ struggles in the Chinese community during this period. These included the Asia Garden and Nam Yuen struggles. In 1974, the organization began to be actively involved in the Mandarin Restaurant unionizing drive, which continues to this day.

The organization also started to do work in the garment industry, where large numbers of Chinese women are concentrated. Several struggles broke out in the garment factories and sweat shops in San Francisco and New York, in which the organization became involved. These included San Francisco Gold, the Triumph Curing Company in San Francisco, several sweat shops in New York, and then at the Jung Sai strike in San Francisco.

The Jung Sai strike was an important garment workers’ struggle. It was a unionizing drive involving some 135 workers, mainly Chinese women workers. The campaign lasted nine months and involved a pitched battle not just against the Esprit de Corp Co., but also against the labor bureaucrats and the RU, which tried to sabotage the struggle.

IWK drew many important lessons from the Jung Sai strike. The organization pointed out that it was correct to bring out the significance of the national question to this unionizing struggle, and that the struggle against national oppression strengthened the unity of the multinational working class. The strike was of significance since it was a struggle of mainly Chinese working women, which brought out the triple oppression that minority women suffered.

The struggle pointed out how the bourgeoisie superexploits minority working women in the most tedious, lowest paying jobs. In addition, the organization also further developed its line on the trade unions and tactics of labor organizing. It also developed its understanding of the task of raising the political consciousness of the workers in the course of the struggle. All this was in distinction from the RU which promoted a national chauvinist and economist line in the strike. IWK summed up that the RU pitted the interests of the workers movement against the interests of the national movements. The RU belittled the task of bringing political ideas to the workers, liquidated the national question, and bowed in worship of the spontaneous economic struggle. Because of the work which IWK did in this strike, the RU line was exposed as bankrupt to many workers and supporters.

IWK was also involved in several labor struggles not directly connected to the Asian nationalities. This included organizing at Gouverneur Hospital in New York and support for strikes of workers at Sears in San Francisco, the San Francisco city service workers, and along with the August Twenty-ninth Movement, Farah strike support work and the Dasco struggle in Oakland, California. Later, beginning in 1974, the organization became active in organizing at Pacific Telephone, among the San Francisco bus drivers, and in the hotel and restaurant industry in San Francisco.

The organization deepened its understanding of labor work through summarizing its practice in workplace organizing, intensifying its theoretical study, conducting discussions with other Marxist-Leninist groups, and evaluating the lessons from the struggle against the economist line of the RU. For example, the organization developed a more comprehensive line on the tasks of communists in labor work, including the role that communists must play in striving to lead the day-to-day struggles of the workers, raising their revolutionary class consciousness and organized power in the course of these struggles. The organization also developed its understanding of the tasks of building factory nuclei in the workplaces, and its line on trade unions, including the view of the trade unions as the basic organizations of the working class and the necessity of winning the trade unions to the side of the proletarian revolution. IWK also deepened its understanding of the role of the labor aristocracy and the necessity of the working class to wage a vigorous struggle against this arm of the bourgeoisie in the working class.

In summary, IWK’s mass work developed steadily during these years. One of the strengths of the organization was that it always recognized the importance of rooting itself firmly among the masses. The organization strived to participate in and lead mass struggles in a revolutionary direction, raise the revolutionary consciousness of the masses, and win the revolutionary elements to communism in the course of these struggles.

On organizational matters, there was a continuous struggle throughout this period to weld together a stable, efficient, unified organization based on Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, capable of giving revolutionary leadership to the mass struggles and also capable of fighting under different conditions. Especially during the first two years after adopting Marxism-Leninism, the organization did not have a developed understanding of democratic centralism, the role of a national center, how to build a smoothly functioning organization, and other organizational matters.

One serious mistake was made in Spring 1972, soon after IWK had adopted Marxism-Leninism. A national leadership had been formed but it was not clear on its role and became immersed in the work of the San Francisco area. A decision was made to temporarily dissolve the democratic centralist structure of the organization, largely because the national leadership did not feel capable of giving national and overall leadership. Although the formal dissolution of democratic centralism lasted only a brief period of a few months, it was a serious right error stemming from both liberalism and failure to understand the key role of centralized leadership. Throughout 1973-1975, the organization struggled to correct this weakness and strengthen the national leadership, and place itself on a firm organizational footing.

An important part of IWK’s history during this period was the struggle it waged within the communist movement to build unity with other Marxist-Leninist groups and demarcate a correct Marxist-Leninist line from opportunism.

IWK worked to unite the various revolutionary forces in the Asian national movements which were scattered in different local collectives around the country. The organization also worked to build unity with other communist groups such as ATM, East Wind, the October League and others to help further the task of party building.

In the course of developing its line and mass work and as it tried to find ways to build unity with other Marxist-Leninists, the organization had to wage sharp struggles with a number of opportunist forces. Some forces like the Revolutionary Union, Communist League, and Workers Viewpoint Organization were pushing various opportunist lines and trying to establish their own “parties.” IWK’s line developed in sharp opposition to these forces, and in many cases IWK became one of the main targets of their attacks because of the deep differences over line.

One of the first attempts IWK made to build unity with other Marxist-Leninist groups was the National Liaison Committee (NLC). The NLC was proposed at the Young Lords Party Congress in 1972, and was supposed to be a means to promote more struggle among the Revolutionary Union, Black Workers Congress, Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization and I Wor Kuen. It was not formed as a party building process, but to promote more discussion and coordination of work. It was initially not formed as an exclusive body, and while secret, it was not supposed to prevent or replace open struggle within the communist movement. Soon after joining the NLC, however, IWK began to see that the RU had no interest in promoting principled struggle and relations among the groups. The RU wanted to use the NLC to squash struggle within the communist movement for a correct line; turn the NLC into an unprincipled alliance by excluding other forces who could agree with the principles; and use it to simply strengthen the RU’s forces while trying to split, factionalize, and smash the organizations in the NLC if they would not accept the RU as the “center.” IWK struggled against the unprincipled actions of the RU, including the exclusion of other groups and the blatant sectarianism, opportunism and careerism of the other NLC representatives. IWK itself became the first target of the RU’s attacks, when it attempted to struggle against the RU’s moves to form an unprincipled alliance, and when it raised struggle against the RU’s line. IWK sharply criticized RU’s line, particularly around the national question, and its right opportunist line in the Asian national movement.

The representatives of the PRRWO and BWC united with the RU’s line and practice and joined with the RU’s attempts to factionalize within their organizations. They even engaged in loose, opportunist talk in the NLC about how different parts of the country would be the “kingdoms” of the various NLC representatives once the “party” was formed.

When the RU’s plans became evident, IWK left the NLC. IWK had maintained a firm stand opposing the RU’s opportunism and attempted to struggle against it, but was unable to raise the differences to a general theoretical level and thus draw lessons for the communist movement as a whole. The criticisms of the RU at the time were correct and hit at the core of the RU’s rightism. For example, IWK criticized the RU’s rightism and chauvinism on the national question and their lack of principle and sectarianism on party building. IWK struggled against their rightism of refusing to raise political issues, such as their limiting of mass agitation and propaganda around the Vietnam War to “how it affected one’s pocketbook.” But IWK did not pinpoint clearly the roots of these deviations, and did not develop a general exposure of their line.

These weaknesses stemmed from the organization’s relatively weak grasp of Marxist-Leninist theory at the time, and also an underestimation of the importance of waging an active and vigorous struggle in the communist movement for a correct line to unite Marxist-Leninists.

The struggle against the RU’s line continued throughout 1974 and 1975. In early 1974, IWK began to place more attention on its theoretical tasks, after summarizing its weaknesses in the struggle with the RU in the NLC.

After the break-up of the NLC, there was another attempt to form a party based on opportunism, this time by the Trotskyite-revisionist Communist League (CL). IWK opposed the CL’s National Continuations Committee (NCC) because of the CL’s revisionist line which called the Soviet Union “socialist,” denied the dictatorship of the proletariat, attacked the national liberation struggles and the third world, openly promoted Hegelian idealism and advocated uniting with a section of the liberal bourgeoisie. Although IWK had little actual contact with the CL, it recognized that the CL was not a genuine Marxist-Leninist force because of the revisionist stands it took.

This period was also marked by sharp struggles against the opportunist line of the Workers Viewpoint Organization. IWK was the first communist organization to oppose the WVO’s ultra-rightist line and try to expose its phony “leftist” posturing. During WVO’s rise in New York between 1973 and 1974 as the “Asian Study Group,” IWK attempted to struggle against their opportunist line and practice. The ASG advocated following a road of capitulation to the bourgeoisie and uniting with the most reactionary elements within the Chinese national minority. It opposed any form of open communist work in the Chinese community, using the revisionist argument that such work would “invite police attacks” and “give fuel to the bourgeoisie’s charge of Chinese in the U.S. being China’s fifth column.” They openly declared opposition to revolutionary work among the masses of Chinese in the U.S.

Because of IWK’s opposition to WVO’s line, IWK became the first target of WVO’s attacks. Although the organization understood the ultra-rightist nature of WVO, it did not struggle hard enough against WVO when it launched a vicious campaign of anti-communist slander, red-baiting and wrecking tactics against the organization. In 1973, WVO disrupted and blocked IWK’s attempt to form a progressive mass organization in New York Chinatown from a core of community activists who worked in mass programs through the IWK storefront. These attacks by WVO and other difficulties led IWK in late 1973 to make an erroneous decision to close the IWK storefront and halt plans to continue trying to build the mass organization. This was a right error of adopting a defensive posture in the struggle against WVO. Furthermore, it was damaging to the organization’s work, since after closing the storefront, IWK was unable to maintain a strong presence in the community. In late 1975, IWK summarized its errors as not waging a vigorous enough fight against WVO, both theoretically and practically. During this time, steps were also taken to strengthen the national leadership of the organization so that it could correct weaknesses in being able to give leadership to the work in New York and nationally for the entire organization. Soon after this, the organization was able to deal significant blows to WVO and reestablish its work on a firm footing in New York Chinatown.

In late 1975, WVO, PRRWO, ATM and some elements from the split of the BWC came together to form a bloc which called itself the “Revolutionary Wing.” The “Wing” united on certain metaphysical and idealist formulations, and engaged in frenzied attempts to proclaim themselves the new center of the communist movement. IWK struggled against the sectarianism, metaphysics and idealism of the “Wing,” and against WVO’s ultra-rightism posing under a “left” guise as well as against PRRWO’s “left” dogmatism.

IWK learned many important lessons in the course of these struggles in the communist movement. The struggles against the right opportunism of the RU and WVO, as well as “left” opportunist lines and deviations helped to raise the organization’s ideological and political understanding. IWK’s line developed and deepened in the course of struggles against these lines, and during this period, lines of distinction were drawn between IWK’s line and the opportunism of these forces.

But IWK’s contributions were seriously limited by weaknesses of narrowness in its scope and approach to the tasks of party building. When IWK first took up Marxism-Leninism as its guiding ideology in early 1972, it had a naive and idealist conception of how the party would form. In the position paper passed at the December, 1971 national meeting, there was an underlying assumption that the revolutionary forces from the diverse sectors of the movement would develop in common, and then at some unspecified time in the future would come together to form the party. It confused the struggle to unite various mass movements and the struggle to unite Marxist-Leninists. This weakness laid the basis for an incorrect view of party building which was to develop later during the period roughly between 1972-1973.

During this year, IWK held certain incorrect views which belittled the organization’s theoretical tasks and did not recognize the need to wage an active and aggressive struggle in the communist movement for a correct line to unite Marxist-Leninists. For example, IWK tended to place the struggle for communist unity on only the immediate questions which arose in specific situations, which was a manifestation of narrowness. IWK did not establish party building as its central task. These were right errors.

Especially after summarizing the weaknesses of not being able to raise its differences with the RU to a theoretical level in the NLC, IWK began to raise its ideological understanding and saw the need to develop its views on party building. However, the organization still did not take up in an active and thoroughgoing way the struggles in the communist movement and did not publish its stands on the important debates going on. For example, while IWK was the first organization to recognize the essence of WVO’s ultra-rightist line, it did not publish a theoretical critique of WVO. In mid-1974, IWK began to publish a theoretical journal to try to contribute more to the communist movement, and this was a significant advance. But still the organization did not develop a correct understanding of party building.

IWK’s incorrect views on party building stemmed from a tendency of narrowness, or a tendency to look at only the most immediate mass work and tasks and not place primary the demands of the whole communist movement to unite Marxist-Leninists and to build the party.

Another manifestation of narrowness was that in late 1973, Getting Together ceased to be the national political organ of IWK and became a “local anti-imperialist newspaper.” This was a step backwards, which showed a narrowness of scope and outlook and belittling of the role of communist leadership. It reflected a right deviation of localism and proceeding just from the organization’s immediate work and experiences. The paper also limited its main thrust to the Asian national struggles. This was an error. It was correct to continue to promote the revolutionary significance of the Asian national struggles and deepen the organization’s work in this area, but the organization should have expanded its newspaper work beyond the Asian-American movement and begin to take up the full scope of questions facing the entire revolutionary movement. During 1975, Getting Together suspended publication to do an evaluation of its history and future role and struggle to correct these weaknesses.

During late 1975, IWK began to recognize the urgency of waging a more active struggle for Marxist-Leninist unity based on principle and the necessity to develop its views on party building more quickly.

During these years, IWK’s strengths were that it stood consistently on the principles of Marxism-Leninism, developed revolutionary ties among the masses and waged a continuous battle against the major opportunist lines in the movement. IWK stood firm against attempts by the opportunists to revise and replace Marxism-Leninism with their own opportunism and stood up against their intrigues, schemes, and maneuvers to declare themselves the new “center” or party of the working class.

Another strength of the organization was that it learned to view its own history and role from a dialectical materialist standpoint, rejecting metaphysics and idealism as well as attempts of the opportunists to slander the history of the young Marxist-Leninist movement and its origins in the revolutionary movement of the 1960’s. IWK criticized and learned from its shortcomings, while building upon its strong points. Because of this, the organization was able in the next period of its history to make many advances in correcting its errors.


The last period in IWK’s history has been one of rapid development. In these years the organization built upon its positive work, corrected some of its weaknesses and advanced to become a major national Marxist-Leninist organization in the U.S.

A critical time in this development were the months between mid-1975 and early 1976 when IWK consolidated its views around party building, the communist movement and other important matters. IWK identified and criticized certain right errors that had prevented the organization from contributing more to the revolutionary movement in the past. These self-criticisms, along with the development of IWK’s general line and work, formed the foundations for the significant advances the organization has made from late 1976 to the present.


During the spring of 1975, the organization struggled to summarize its experiences in the communist and mass movements, intensely studied Marxist-Leninist theory, and assessed the situation in the U.S. revolutionary movement to develop its position on party building.

At this time, within the communist movement, there was sharp ideological struggle taking place against various opportunist forces, such as the RU, WVO and the “Revolutionary Wing,” which were all promoting various incorrect views and practice on party building.

Within the Asian movement, IWK was also waging struggle against incorrect tendencies influenced by WVO, such as a tendency which pushed metaphysical and idealist ideas of self-cultivation and various rightist deviations under a “revolutionary” guise.[2] IWK’s position on party building developed in part through summarizing the lessons from the organization’s struggle against opportunism.

In August 1975, IWK held a National Conference to push forward the development of the organization’s line, further strengthen and consolidate the organization’s ranks, and lay out the tasks for the coming period.

IWK united around the view that party building had been the central task of Marxist-Leninists since the degeneration of the CPUSA into revisionism in the 1950’s. The basic task in party building is to develop a correct ideological and political line around which genuine Marxist-Leninists can unite. Lines of demarcation must be drawn with opportunism. IWK put forth that party building was fundamentally an ideological task to integrate Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought with the concrete conditions of the revolution – theory and practice had to be linked, not separated as the “Wing” and other forces had advocated.

IWK also put forward correct views on matters such as the advanced worker. The organization pointed out that winning over the advanced workers was an important part of the party building task. These advanced workers are revolutionary-minded elements who come forth through the course of struggle. Communists must unite with the advanced workers and win them to communism. This view was in opposition to the opportunist view of the RU which had put forth that advanced workers were trade union militants, who might even be anti-communist. IWK also opposed PRRWO and other “left” opportunist forces who insisted that advanced workers were already Marxist-Leninists. The definition of an advanced worker was a major issue as it had a direct connection to the overall orientation and practice of the work of communist organizations.

An important part of passing on the party building position was the evaluation of IWK’s past views on party building. IWK criticized itself for not earlier having put forth party building as the central task. This error was linked to the failure to recognize the key role of theoretical tasks in the pre-party period. IWK had belittled the necessity to conduct ideological struggle to forge unity in the communist movement. This had been a right deviation.

IWK criticized the narrow scope of its work in the past and pledged to take up wider tasks and struggle in the revolutionary movement. The organization pointed out that it had contributed to the struggle against opportunism, such as the RU, and that it had made some recent advances in correcting its weaknesses, such as the publication of the IWK theoretical journal. However, the organization agreed that it still had to further develop its theoretical work, expand its activities, and participate more vigorously in the struggle to forge a new communist party.

The national meeting in 1975 also passed on other important matters, including the reaffirmation and development of its view of the national question. The organization reaffirmed its view that the national question was a revolutionary question and that national oppression could only be eliminated through proletarian revolution. The working class and the national movements formed the basic core of the revolution. IWK also reiterated its view that revolutionary working class leadership was necessary to lead the national movements to achieve full liberation. The organization soon united around upholding the right of self-determination for the Afro-American nation in the Black belt South and the right of equal status of the oppressed national minorities.

The national meeting also decided to strengthen the national leadership and democratic centralism of IWK and made plans to republish Getting Together. IWK also decided to expand its work among all nationalities.

After the national meeting, the organization continued to evaluate its past work and developed further criticism of certain errors. The Central Committee recognized that the organization’s narrow scope had resulted in not expanding and broadening its work beyond the Asian national movements when it had been capable of doing so around 1974. This objectively resulted in nationalist errors, for the organization had not quickly or adequately enough taken up work among advanced elements of all nationalities nor developed labor work in the industrial working class. IWK made plans to accelerate the development of this work.

At the same time, IWK rejected the charge that IWK had been “narrow nationalist,” as had been raised by the RCP, WVO and the “Wing.” The organization upheld its line and practice on the national question as being a Marxist-Leninist one and that the RCP, WVO and the “Wing” had lines on the national question characterized by reformism and chauvinism.

The development in 1975 of IWK’s general line and the identification, criticism and campaign to rectify past errors were an important step in having the organization contribute more to the revolutionary movement.


The year began for IWK with the publication of Journal 3 which contained IWK’s views on party building. The Journal also included a major polemic on WVO and comments on the party building views of other organizations.

The article on WVO was the first major exposure in the communist movement of WVO’s metaphysical and idealist line. It showed that WVO’s veil of “theoretical profundity” actually tried to hide its own version of revisionism. WVO tried to replace dialectical materialism with idealism, rewriting sections from Lenin’s and Chairman Mao’s writings to try to deny that theory comes from practice and must be verified by the criterion of practice.

IWK’s article also showed how WVO aimed to turn the history of the entire communist movement upside down by claiming that everything prior to WVO had been “spontaneous,” “eclectic” and “pragmatist.” It did this to negate the victories the young revolutionary movement had scored against the CPUSA and the Trotskyist PLP and in this way make it seem that WVO had the “leading line” and was the “theory trend.” WVO had also promoted a mechanical and metaphysical view of party building as going through stages of first formulating ideological line, then political line and then organizational line, denying the inter-connection of these aspects of communist work. The purpose in all this was to cover the similarity of WVO’s line with its predecessor, the PLP, and elevate WVO as the self-proclaimed center of the communist movement.

WVO actually had been able to unite much of the “Revolutionary Wing” around its opportunist views, and the critique of WVO’s line by IWK contributed to the exposure and subsequent disintegration of the “Wing.”

IWK’s Journal 3 also carried an exposure of the RU’s party building line and practice. This article was a continuation of IWK’s view that the RU “bowed in worship of spontaneity.” The article linked the RU’s line on party building to its general right opportunism.

Following its decisions on party building, IWK stepped up its work in the revolutionary movement. After ATM split with the “Wing,” IWK began to have more systematic meetings with ATM to discuss its history, in particular to discuss its experience with the “Wing” and to discuss questions of political line. The two organizations began to systematize their relations in 1976.

IWK also struggled to resolve differences and build principled unity with other Marxist-Leninst organizations, including the October League. At this time, the OL was engaged in work around the Organizing Committee (OC). Talks were conducted with the OL to attempt to resolve some outstanding differences. Agreement could not be reached at that time on these questions.

IWK also took a leading role in combatting the centrists who were attacking the Marxist-Leninist view of the international situation. The centrists during 1976, in the Soviet and Cuban intervention in Angola, apologized and propagandized for the social-imperialists. The centrists attacked the revolutionary forces, including People’s China, which upheld the demand for the self-determination of the Angolan people and opposed the two superpowers.

But the most important development for IWK in 1976 was the republication of Getting Together in May. The newspaper was reestablished with the clear purpose of helping to integrate Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought with the concrete conditions of the U.S. revolution and to contribute to the building of a new communist party. The newspaper correctly set its objective to become a collective propagandist, agitator, and organizer.

Through the newspaper, which came out monthly, IWK put forth systematically its views on the key questions of the communist movement. These included views on the nature of the Soviet Union and the contemporary international situation, the danger of a new world war, the U.S. economic crisis, the labor aristocracy and workers movement, the struggle against the “gang of four” in China and other matters. The newspaper also published articles on specific issues in the mass movement in order to help give guidance to those struggles.

The newspaper was published in English and Chinese on the principle of trying to uphold the equality of languages and to continue the links with the positive work Getting Together had established in the Chinese-American nationality.

The newspaper was used throughout the entire organization to raise the political level of the membership and as a tool to help in the mass work. The local areas of the organization helped to support the paper financially; they also submitted articles, distributed the paper, and began to build a scaffolding around the newspaper. The paper became a major focus of attention for the organization.

At the same time, the organization struggled to develop and expand its mass work. The organization began work in two new cities. It continued to play an active role in the movement demanding normalization of relations between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China. Work in the national movements also advanced. IWK continued to play a leading role in various struggles against the destruction of minority communities by redevelopment, such as in the I-Hotel battle in San Francisco. IWK also continued to help build the Asian Student Unions. IWK had long been involved in helping to build the student movement, recognizing the active role students played in the mass movement. Many communists have come forth from the student movement. Within the Asian national struggles, the students have been an important force in struggling for demands such as for ethnic studies, against racist education, and supporting community struggles.

IWK intensified its work in the Japanese national minority. It continued to play an active and leading role in mass community struggles against the destruction of the Japanese community in San Francisco and later in Los Angeles. IWK helped to build mass organizations and committees against redevelopment in San Francisco and Los Angeles which were active in the struggle against the attacks on the Japanese community. IWK also helped conduct various educational activities and campaigns on the history of national oppression faced by the Japanese in the U.S., such as mass pilgrimages to Tule Lake and Manzanar, California, sites of concentration camps where the Japanese were interned during World War II. As part of this work, the organization developed a revolutionary line and analysis of the Japanese national question in the U.S.

The labor work of the organization also advanced. More forces were placed in basic industries. The organization developed concentrations of work in certain industries, and began to conduct some struggle in them. Similar work was also conducted in the hotel and service work and in some transportation facilities. The labor work with the Chinese nationality also continued. The organization played a leading role in trying to organize China Station restaurant and was active in the successful organizing of Sunley Food Distributors.

Internally, the organization continued to struggle against narrowness in scope and conservatism. There were struggles to raise the ideological and political level of the organization and a series of major study campaigns were launched. These included topics such as revisionism, the Black national question, the international situation and the danger of war, and others. Overall, the organization functioned more uniformly, efficiently and deliberately as the leading bodies gave more consistent leadership to all areas of the organization’s internal and external work.

These developments were noted at the December 1976 National Conference. The Conference noted that the organization was in its strongest and most developed state in its history and that its grasp and practice of Marxism-Leninism had advanced. It noted that the criticisms it had made of weaknesses and errors had helped to put the organization on a more correct basis and had enabled it to make important advances over the previous year.

The conference set out the general tasks of the organizations as: “... to conscientiously seek to build unity based on principle with other Marxist-Leninists, shoulder greater responsibilities and tasks towards developing a correct line to guide the American revolution, build deeper roots among the masses of workers and oppressed peoples in the U.S., expand and broaden the work of the organization in all spheres, train and recruit the advanced, raise the level of the intermediate and contribute to the further development of the revolution.” The conference assessed the situation in the communist movement and resolved that IWK would continue to struggle to draw lines of demarcation with opportunism, particularly with WVO and struggle for unity with communist forces such as ATM and the OL.

A labor resolution was also passed which developed further the political and organizational line of IWK’s labor work. The organization resolved to vigorously move ahead in its labor work, especially in the industrial area. The national leadership was strengthened and an election of a Central Committee held. The editorial staff of the newspaper was also increased. Decisions were made to expand the influence of the organization to the Midwest, the South and Hawaii.

A number of specific goals were established including the expansion of the membership of the organization, newspaper sales and fundraising. Overall, the conference was a turning point in correcting the legacies of conservatism and narrowness in the organization.

Throughout 1977, the organization played a more vigorous role in the intensifying struggle in the communist movement, especially around defense of socialist China and Chairman Mao’s theory of the three worlds. Following Chairman Mao’s death and the defeat of the “gang of four,” opportunist forces such as the Revolutionary Communist Party, Workers Viewpoint Organization and the Marxist Leninist Organizing Committee among others (who had never really supported China in the past) began to attack China directly and indirectly in a number of ways. The centrist forces such as those around the Guardian also stepped up their attacks on China. IWK took a principled stand and opposed these forces and propagated a correct view of the international situation and the developments in China. The organization stood firm in opposing the two superpowers and particularly the danger of the Soviet Union in launching a new world war for world domination. IWK helped to propagate the theory of the three worlds which defines the contemporary world situation, and supported the Communist Party of China under the leadership of Chairman Hua Kuo-feng in its struggle against the “gang of four.”

While struggling against opportunism in the communist movement, IWK also began to develop more unity with other forces, in particular with ATM. The two organizations held a number of meetings to struggle out differences and build on unities. IWK struggled with ATM to summarize and correct its serious deviation from the past, such as its uniting with the NCC of the CL and the “Revolutionary Wing.” ATM struggled with weaknesses in IWK’s work including continuing weaknesses in the scope of its work and helped IWK correct these errors.

IWK also met with and worked for better relations with other Marxist-Leninist forces including the Bay Area Communist Union, East Wind, Seize the Time and other communist collectives and individuals. Meetings with the Communist Party-Marxist Leninist continued. Overall, the work of the organization with other communist organizations improved and the participation of IWK in the revolutionary movement expanded in 1977.

Getting Together steadily developed during 1977 to become one of the major Marxist-Leninist newspapers in the U.S. It became national in scope, with readers and supporters among workers and activists of all nationalities throughout the country. The newspaper continued to be a major work area for the organization and its national leadership; and towards the end of 1977, the leading bodies of the newspaper were further augmented.

The organization’s mass work also advanced considerably. There were some successes in labor work, particularly with increased placement in strategic industries. By 1978, IWK had influence in some shipyards on the West Coast and in steel and auto in several cities. The organization and newspaper also played an active role in some local strikes and labor support work, such as during the national glass workers strike, the campaign against lay-offs at Zenith in Chicago, and the lengthy strike of women auto parts workers in Essex, Indiana.

The organization continued to develop its work in the Chinese and Japanese communities in several cities. IWK helped establish local mass organizations which became active in political and cultural activities in the Chinese and Japanese communities. The organization continued to be involved in struggles against national oppression in education, health and housing, and other aspects of people’s lives.

With the expansion of the organization’s influence to Atlanta, IWK began to take up more struggles directly connected to the oppression of the Afro-American nation. Some of these struggles were the support for the Atlanta city workers strike and some student struggles at Atlanta’s predominantly Black junior colleges.

Important mass work areas were the battle to save the International Hotel, which intensified in 1977, and the anti-Bakke struggle. The International Hotel, has been one of the most important political battles in the San Francisco Bay Area for a number of years. It received national and even international coverage due to the intensity of the struggle. IWK had long played a leading role in building the struggle to defend the hotel residents from eviction and the hotel from demolition, connecting it to the defense of national minority communities from destruction, and demanding low-cost housing for working people. Thousands of activists were involved in the struggle. IWK was the main Marxist-Leninist force in the battle and helped to give leadership in the fight against the landlord and the city government. IWK also stood up to the opportunist centrist and RCP forces who tried to sabotage the struggle. Through struggle, IWK was able to draw many lessons on how to wage the struggle for reforms in a revolutionary way, in a way that struck a blow at the capitalist system and relied on the masses. The organization also gained much experience in battling the influence of centrism and reformism. Through the struggle, many activists were won over to Marxism- Leninism.

The anti-Bakke struggle has been another important mass work area of the organization. Along with ATM, the two organizations helped to build the anti-Bakke struggle into a nationwide movement. Thousands of people came forth to protest the Bakke decision. The Anti-Bakke Decision Coalition, which IWK and ATM helped to build, played a major role in mobilizing the masses to oppose the Bakke decision, oppose national oppression and support the rights of the oppressed nationalities and women.

Through its work in the anti-Bakke campaign, IWK concretely linked the immediate struggle to the building of communist ties in the working class, oppressed nationality and student movements. IWK helped to wage the struggle in a way that connected it to day-to-day organizing struggles in the workplace, communities and campuses. The organization also helped raise the revolutionary consciousness of large numbers of activists in the course of the struggle and began to expose the opportunist forces in the mass movement. The organization itself summed up important lessons on waging a campaign of this magnitude which involved building a broad united front of diverse political and class forces on a nationwide scale.

Towards the end of the year, the second meeting of the Central Committee was held. The purpose of this meeting was to evaluate the state of the organization, as it was moving rapidly, and to prepare to take on even greater tasks in 1978. The Central Committee summarized that the situation was excellent. The goals laid out in the December, 1976 conference had largely been met.

Organizationally, IWK was more consolidated. The ideological and political level of the leadership had been augmented through conducting several cadre schools, the circulation of several discussion papers, and the improved functioning of the national leadership.

At the same time, the Central Committee noted continuing weaknesses in the organization and criticized certain errors and weaknesses. These errors had connections to those that had been criticized in the past, but had not been completely eradicated. The most important of these was “narrowness in scope.” The Central Committee noted that the first self-criticism for this had been in January, 1976, and although there had been steps taken to correct this aspect, it was still evident in areas of work of the organization. The Central Committee report stated,

This erroneous tendency manifests itself in our continuation in failing to shoulder and take up the overall task of building the party and of giving overall leadership to the working class and oppressed nationalities. We continue to view the task and scope of the work of the organization in a narrow way.

The tendency was reflected in such things as a lack of a concrete plan of how to unite Marxist-Leninists, and the failure of Getting Together to adequately cover working class issues on a nationwide basis. The error was also reflected in conservatism in recruitment and in the plans for mass work. Plans were often set on a too limited assessment of the conditions and of the organization’s capabilities. The Central Committee noted that this tendency of narrowness in scope of the organization breeds “liberalism, passivity and conservatism.” The sharp criticism of this error was necessary in order to launch an organization-wide campaign to eradicate its presence.

Connected to the narrowness in scope of the organization was the weakness of the organization’s labor work. The Central Committee pointed out that IWK’s work was “still very weak in the industrial proletariat.” The Central Committee also noted that objectively the organization committed nationalist errors in different instances. For example, the organization in some areas did not develop its work among nationalities other than Asians as rapidly as it should have.

The self-criticism included one of “abstractness in some thinking” that had appeared in some areas of the organization. There had been errors, for example, in some cadres viewing the tasks of communists abstractly and mechanically, such as carrying out the ideological struggle in the mass movement in a way that was disconnected to the concrete conditions.

The Central Committee concluded that while these errors did not characterize the organization overall, and were never the principal aspect of IWK’s line and practice, it was imperative to tackle them head on and correct them. If these errors were not corrected, the organization would have a difficult time making the advances that it had planned and it would damage the organization’s contributions to the revolution.

The errors were pinpointed especially in the light of the broad and high goals the Central Committee laid out for the period following the meeting. These goals covered propaganda, recruitment, finances and party building activities.

Overall, the 1977 meeting was an important juncture of the organization. The evaluation of strengths and weaknesses of the organization and the goals it laid out formed a strong foundation for the continuing development of IWK.

In reviewing the history of IWK from its beginning in late 1969 to eight years later in late 1977, what stands out is the consistent and steady development of the organization. It began as a small, inexperienced and amateurish collective and struggled to become a Marxist-Leninist organization. Today it is one of the leading communist organizations in the U.S., having influence in every region and many of the major cities of the country.

IWK upheld a consistent revolutionary line throughout its entire history and always based its work on the interests of the masses and the proletarian revolution. Particularly in regard to analyzing the international situation and our internationalist tasks, in promoting support for socialist China, in upholding the importance of the national question in the U.S. and in supporting and leading many anti-imperialist struggles, IWK has played a leading role in the U.S. revolutionary movement.

IWK was always closely connected to the mass movement and led a number of important struggles. It always tried to practice the mass line and to lead struggles in a revolutionary way. It has accumulated much valuable experience in the mass movement. The organization steadily deepened its ties with the working class and oppressed nationality movements.

In the communist movement, IWK has been principled and above-board and struggled against forces that tried to place their own immediate interests above the long-term interest of the communist movement. It has stood firm against the various forms of opportunism in the U.S. It has made contributions to the theoretical struggle and to the development of a correct line for the communist movement.

In its struggle with other revolutionary groups, IWK has strived to unite on principle and adopt an attitude of patient and comradely struggle to resolve differences.

An important lesson from IWK’s history is the necessity for communists to always proceed from reality and the basic interest of the revolution. Since 1971, IWK has upheld the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and advanced by integrating Marxism-Leninism with the concrete conditions. In such a way, IWK has been able to step-by-step develop its work, expand its ties with the masses, construct a disciplined and united communist organization, and contribute to building unity in the communist movement.

IWK’s history also has its negative aspects. Errors were made, especially in the early period as IWK began to grasp and apply Marxism-Leninism. IWK did not contribute as much as it should have to the communist movement in some periods, and right errors were made. There were also weaknesses in the scope of the organization. But while errors were made and weaknesses have existed, these never characterized the organization overall. IWK struggled to recognize, criticize, and rectify these negative aspects.

Keeping the history of IWK in mind, both positive and negative aspects, we can move firmly ahead to make even greater contributions to the forging of a single, unified communist party and to the victory of the proletarian revolution in the U.S.


[1] Some of the strongest proponents of narrow-nationalism in the Asian national movements during this period became the core of the Asian Study Group, later to become the Workers Viewpoint Organization. IWK struggled against various reactionary stands taken by these elements, such as saying that Asians should not march with whites in the anti-war actions. Later this clique, as the Asian Study Group and Workers Viewpoint Organization, proceeded to liquidate the national question from a chauvinist standpoint.

[2] The struggle against metaphysics and idealism was also reflected inside the organization during this period. Two individuals were purged from the organization because of their opportunist attacks against the organization and repeated violations of democratic centralism. These two advocated economism, tailing the labor bureaucrats and reformists, and questioned whether the concept of the third world was scientific. When they could not win anyone to accept their line, they started to try to spread all sorts of metaphysical nonsense, such as that a ”bourgeois wind” was in control of the organization. They quoted from articles by people who later constituted the ”gang of four” in China. All their efforts amounted to little, however, and they were soon purged because of their opportunism.