Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

I Wor Kuen

On Wei Min She’s “Reactionary Line”


First Published: IWK Journal, No. 2, May 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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We urge everyone who has not done so to read the above publication by WMS. We feel that this is a good negative example of how not to conduct political struggle. Those who have ever tried to engage in political struggle with the RU probably have experienced already their thoroughly dishonest and unprincipled approach, which has became an integral part of their line. The WMS article is just another example of this.

WMS’s “Reactionary Line” uses many underhanded methods and the use of these methods has made understanding what actually occurred, what each organization actually advocated in concrete political terms more difficult.

It is more difficult because WMS printed outright lies, distorted our positions, attributed positions to us by fabricating alleged quotes from us, and in general did not try to grasp and deal with the essence of our position and respond to that primarily.

A few examples:

Their charge that “IWK put rumors in L.A. that WMS put out a leaflet in S.F. Chinatown telling people not to go to the Chinatown 5/1, and that it would be attacked by reactionaries, and instead for everyone to go to the Bay Area 5/1.” (page 5)

We never put out any such ideas. This is just one of many fabrications in their article.

Another example is when they constantly rephrase our position of ”the absolute right and primary necessity to organize, activate and raise the political consciousness of Asian and other Third World workers”. (This quote can be found in our first issue of the Journal and refers to the importance we hold of developing communists from the workers of the oppressed nationalities.) WMS distorted our statement to mean the “absolute right and primary necessity to organize along national lines.” The two points are obviously different. One does not flow from the other. Nowhere have we ever maintained that all organizing should be along national lines; in fact a look at what we have said and one shows how divorced from reality WMS’s accusation is.

Another example of an unprincipled method of struggle is when they attribute quotes to us, even when they know and have admitted that we never said those things. On page 5 of “Reactionary Line” it is stated:

As a communist organization, IWK had the responsibility to bring out the political nature of 5/1 – that it is a day of working class struggle and not a “middle of the road between employer and employee’ day.

This is another ridiculous assertion and has no connection to actual event.

We are pointing out these methods of struggle because it is important for everyone to recognize that extremely destructive and unprincipled methods are being utilized by WMS (and through them the RU) and to examine why and for what purposes WMS resorts to these tactics.

We think there are two reasons (or basis) for the use by WMS of these tactics. One is that WMS’s political line, characterized by vulgar materialism (as discussed earlier), is incapable of really explaining and struggling over political questions in a concrete and dialectical way. Hence, they are unable to grasp the essence of our line, to present a political position of their own in opposition to our line, or to defend and unfold their own political position without having to resort to piecemeal, made up facts and situations.

Secondly, their use of these tactics indicates desperation to defend themselves and attack us indiscriminately, without regard to the consequences and without keeping in mind the very purpose of this struggle. We feel that this indiscriminate flinging of mud and hysterical charging that IWK thinks “white people are genetically inferior”, etc. does great harm to the entire movement, makes the truth more difficult to come out. And in this hysterical atmosphere the bourgeoisie and its agents are bound to rejoice. WMS’s fabrications when coupled with the tactics WMS has chosen to implement their general political position is objectively destructive to the movement.

WMS’s “Reactionary Line” does not contribute anything to helping develop a correct understanding of the revolutionary movement; but rather, in both words and deeds they are trying to wreck the Asian movement and our organization in particular. WMS will not be successful because such sectarianism and unprincipleness will be rejected along with their opportunist line.

The present is a time of great ideological debate and ferment both within the communist and mass movements. This is a very good thing, for out of such struggle will emerge new clarity on the tasks of communists. Revolutionaries must put forward what they believe to be correct ideas, clarify differences and struggle to develop a correct line for the revolutionary movement.

This struggle however is certainly not helped but hindered by the activities of such groups as WMS, which is only fostering opportunism and sectarianism in the movement. WMS is a teacher by negative example, of how not to engage in struggle – we all should learn from this example and stand against WMS’s attempt and others to throw into the dirt the ideological and theoretical struggle, the very heart of the communist movement.


The WMS article is so full of lies that it is impossible and fruitless to reply to all of them. We will reply to those lies which are important to clear up for the sake of clarifying the political basis of differences between WMS and our organization.

They are as follows:
1) The actual circumstances surrounding the distribution, revision and final reading of the Bay Area Asian Contingent May Day Statement;
2) The actual circumstances that resulted in the conflict of time between the “Bay Area Coalition for May Day” and the “Chinatown Committee to Celebrate May Day”; and
3) The political content of the Chinatown Celebration of May Day.


When the first draft of the Contingent’s statement was shown to groups we were asking to join us in the Contingent, it was made clear that the statement was open to criticisms and changes. At the final Asian Contingent meeting, many honest forces offered a number of suggestions. A new draft was written which in essence was the same as the original plus more examples of Asian American working class struggles. IWK did not take the opportunity to raise honest criticism about the statement before it was revised and read on 5/1. Rather they chose to criticize it after the fact...(WMS,“I Wor Kuen’s Reactionary Line on May Day and the Workers’ Movement”, page 1)

We are replying to this particular distortion because it is completely contrary to the actual posture WMS has taken towards struggle. First of all, we were give the paper two days before the event itself. We were not invited to any meetings, nor did we know at that time that there were any meetings going on at all. Subsequent to that time we have learned from unaffiliated individuals who were involved with WMS’s Asian Contingent that there were in fact meetings to discuss and revise the statement among the forces in or close to WMS; and that the draft statement had been available quite some time prior to when our organization was give a copy.

When we called up WMS to tell them we could not endorse the statement as it stood at that time, we attempted to set up a meeting to discuss our disagreements despite the shortness of time. WMS said they had no time to do so.

However, as soon as we were able to physically find a member of the Bay Area May Day Asian Contingent we ran down our political differences with the paper. We then wrote up the differences we had and gave copies of it to the participating members of the Bay Area May Day Asian Contingent. We openly published our disagreements with the Asian Contingent statement only after WMS told us that they would not meet with and that they would reply publically and in print at a later time. We ask everyone to read our reply to the Asian Contingent Statement and to read WMS’s reply to our paper to contrast the content of our respective position papers. We feel that they demonstrate the different attitudes the two organizations have taken towards struggle over political disagreements. We feel that we have attempted to bring forward our disagreements in a principled fashion whereas WMS has stopped to distortions and slanders.


Although IWK claims to he a ’communist’ organization which is supposed to (by the very definition of communist) hold the interest of the entire class at heart, IWK opposed changing the date of the Chinatown event and forced the celebrations to compete rather than complement one another.” “Despite the fact that C.C., a leading member of IWK was at the first general meeting of the Bay Area 5/1 Committee, IWK disclaimed responsibility for either reporting on the date of the Bay Area celebration to the Chinatown Committee or raising the idea of the Chinatown celebration to the Bay Area 5/1 Committee. (WMS, “Reactionary Line”, page 4)

The position which IWK took at that time and which we still hold today is essentially that l) while we attended part of the first general meeting of the Bay Area 5/1 Committee, we had decided that due to serious political disagreements with the line of the Bay Area 5/1 Committee, we would not participate in that coalition and that therefore, we were not conscious about the time and date factors; 2) WMS and ACC were members of both the Chinatown and Bay Area May Day Committees and did not raise the question of conflict of time and date; 3) when the date conflict was pointed out quite late in the planning of the events, IWK took a stand of trying to resolve the conflict through mutual adjustment of time. IWK suggested that perhaps the Bay Area May Day Committee could hold their event earlier in the day, say 11:00 AM and the Chinatown May Day Committee could move theirs back to maybe 2:30 PM. The site of Portsmouth Square had already been obtained by that time and the date could not be changed.

Furthermore, when RU and WMS raised the change of date to the level of principle to one that since the Bay Area May Day was allegedly for the entire working class, therefore the Bay Area May Day Committee was more important and that therefore it should be the Chinatown Committee which should change its time and not vice versa. When this was raised to this general level we disagreed. First of all we did not accept the assertion that the Bay Area May Day Committee represented or spoke for or to the entire working class, nor did we accept the assertion by the RU that the Chinatown Celebration was only a narrow celebration for – Chinatown workers. Furthermore, we felt that for the RU and WMS to demand that the Chinatown Committee move its date because the RU event was more important, was outrageous. While we struggled against this political position, we still held to our earlier proposal and position of attempting to work out the actual conflict of time by mutual adjustment. This attempt was rejected by the RU.


While the Bay Area event was consciously an anti-imperialist program at the level the mass movement demanded, the Chinatown event was nearly apolitical, aside from a few workers speaking about their struggles. But workers struggles were not the main focus of the Chinatown event nor did it take up a working class outlook as a whole. Those who attended the Chinatown event pointed the political significance of 5/1 was watered down and consciously hidden. The M.C. brought forth the political level of the event with ’We’re not for the right or left, we’re in the center.’ As a communist organization, IWK had the responsibility to bring out the political nature of 5/1 – that it is a day of working class struggle and not a ’middle of the road between employer and employee’ day. Instead IWK pushed for it to be a Third World people’s event as an end in itself. In the context of the M.C.’s introductions, the slogans used at the event became “UNITY IS STRENGTH’ or class harmony and ’LABOR CREATES ALL WEALTH’ or capitalism is fact of life. (WMS, “Reactionary Line”, page 7)

This is another complete distortion of what really happened and of the actual political content of the Chinatown May Day event. Furthermore, this quote should illustrate the bankrupt, and unprincipled way in which WMS struggles. First of all, we are reprinting in the appendix to this paper the complete text of the speech presented by a representative of the Chinatown May Day Committee, which sets the political context of the event. We ask everyone to judge for themselves as to whether or not the line of the event was that of a “middle of the road between employer and employee day” or that the day should be a “Third World people’s event as an end in itself”.

Secondly, our organization was only one participant in the coalition. WMS and ACC were two others. There were also independent individuals and organizations involved. We did not control, nor do we necessarily agree with every single thing said by everyone within the coalition. On the whole, we think that the content of the event was a positive and correct one and moved the Chinatown workers movement, and the entire working class movement, forward. But this is not to say that it had no shortcomings.

As to the quotes attributed to the M.C. of the event we would like to point out two things: l) That the M.C. of the event, as is well known to WMS, is an independent individual, not a member of IWK, and has strong viewpoints of his own. To attribute his statements to IWK is ridiculous; and 2) We reject the viewpoint that his statement amounts advocating May Day to be a day of class harmony, capitalism is a fact of life or a middle of the road employee and employer day.

* * *


The May Day Celebration event held at Portsmouth Square April 28 marks the first time that working people came together to celebrate this important event in an open outdoor park in the heart of the Chinese community. This is a great step forward for the progressive workers movements today.

In its planning stages for the May Day event, the committee faced many difficulties, both within and from reactionary forces who are opposed to the awakening of a workers movement in Chinatown. There were threats and harassment by the reactionary forces, but no real damage was done because the workers were prepared to deal with all the difficulties. The spirit and determination of the committee can be seen in the following speech, given by the representative from the Chinatown May Day Committee at Portsmouth Square. (This is a slightly edited version of the original speech.–Ed. Note)

Fellow laboring brothers and sisters and friends:

Today’s gathering is a pre-celebration organized by the Chinese workers and organizations in Chinatown to celebrate this year’s May First International Workers Day. We hope that through today’s celebration we can arouse the feeling of many more workers in Chinatown, and raise our consciousness of our status as workers. Also we express unity with all other Third World workers and the entire working class of the U.S. and all over the world. On May 1, 1886, 35,000 Chicago workers struck to demand better working conditions and to win what they called the 3-8 system: “8 hours for work, 8 hours for rest, 8 hours for what you will I” They mobilized a big strike and workers all over the country participated. Through much bloodshed and sacrifice the workers finally won the right to organize. The result was that many workers Joined labor organizations. This struggle, which is beneficial to laboring people everywhere, won the support of labor organizations all over the world. The 3-8 system later on was adopted by many other countries.

The fact that the Chinese workers in America have long suffered oppression, discrimination and even murder is well known by everybody. The labor unions which claim to represent the workers, not until recent years began to allow Chinese workers to join. However, the Chinese workers were determined not to be bullied and submissive. We have had many struggles which are worthy of praise. The struggle which has the most significance is the one of June I867, in which 10,000 Chinese railroad workers organized themselves and went on strike to demand from the Central Pacific Railroad Company more pay and fewer working hours. Recently in San Francisco’s Chinatown there have also been many struggles by Chinese workers, such as the Nam Yuen Restaurant’s busboys’ struggle, Asia Garden waiters’ struggle, and last year the S.F. Gold Sewing Factory Chinese women workers’ struggle. It should be noted that all the struggles mentioned were finally won by the workers. As for Chinese workers’ organizations, there was a Chinese workers’ Co-operative which was formed on Stockton Street in San Francisco in 1937. It was organized by a group of the Chinese Alaskan Cannery workers. This co-operative made many contributions to the Chinese workers. It also played a leading role in the Chinese workers organized movement. At present many workers in Chinatown are still being oppressed and are receiving very little wages or security in return for their labor, especially the Chinese women workers in the sweatshops in Chinatown. Besides receiving meager wages in bad working conditions, they have to work more than 10 hours in order to earn a decent living. This and other unfair labor conditions must be corrected and bettered.

To celebrate the workers’ day naturally leads us to think of the relationship between labor and society. From where, in fact, does the world’s prosperity and riches come from?, we ask. Some people say it’s from that which is provided by capitalists. But some people say that it’s created by labor. Of course the truth is not so difficult to distinguish. Let our vision travel as far as the cross-country railroad and as near as that building in front of us, which by the way was originally proposed as low-cost housing for the Chinese and was later on used for the Holiday Inn. If it were not for the blood, sweat and sacrifices of the laboring people, it is certain that these two constructions would never have been built. Then if this is true, is it not also true that we, the laboring workers, should receive the fruit of our labor? Unfortunately, the situation is just the opposite. If we compare the wages of the workers and the profits of the capitalist, we can easily come to this conclusion: The fruit of the workers’ blood and sweat is turned into profits by the capitalists, who return to the workers just enough to sustain them as workers.

Fellow laboring brothers and sisters, is this fair? Of course not. This is unfair. This is inhuman. In the past the laboring people have united together and continually struggled in many forms to demand basic necessities from the capitalist. They have done so in the past. We now and in the future should also do the same. The important thing is that we, the workers, must unite. Unity means strength.

Therefore we who live in the U.S. should every minute pay attention to the workers’ struggle, regardless whether a victorious struggle, a defeated struggle, a small struggle or a big struggle. We must pay attention and be concerned with them. Every struggle is related to the Chinese workers themselves. We must also regard each day as workers’ day. We must remember the struggle of the International Workers’ Day, its spirit and its meaning. We must also study friendship and love of class. Unite together and struggle together. Finally, let us call out loud these two slogans:

Labor Creates All Wealth.
Unity is Strength.