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Marxist-Leninist Collective,/h4>

Win the Advanced to Communism


First Published: Workers’ Press, Vol. 4, No. 1, January 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The struggle to win the vanguard of the proletariat to the side of communism in order to build the proletarian party begins with a communist understanding of how to deepen the fusion between the spontaneous working class movement and the US communist movement. This understanding consists in where communists focus our work, what defines the ’better situated strata’ of workers who respond most favorably to socialism, how the advanced are identified, what is the Marxist-Leninist method of winning them to communism, what should be the level of our propaganda and agitation in this period, and how to combat and prevent the errors of economism and sectarianism.

For Lenin, the advanced workers making up the vanguard are the key to fusion between the ’two great social movements’ of our time. They are the link between the communist movement and the mass working class movement.

The advanced workers, as always and everywhere, determine the character of the movement and they were followed by the working masses because they showed their readiness and their ability to serve the cause of the working class, because they proved able to win the full confidence of the masses. (Retrograde Trend, Collected Works, Vol 4, p 260)

Winning the vanguard to communism means determining the character of the working class movement, and deepening it from spontaneous resistance to a class conscious struggle for political power under the leadership of the party.

Lenin spoke of a ’better situated strata’ of workers who respond more rapidly and easily to the ideas of socialism, from which ’in the main’ advanced workers come. Today this ’better situated strata’ consists in the most oppressed and exploited workers in large-scale basic industry, who objectively have the least stake in maintaining the capitalist system. This unskilled lower stratum is least influenced by the labor aristocracy. Who are the advanced workers and how are they identified. We agree with Lenin’s characteristics: those who can win the confidence of the laboring masses, who devote themselves entirely to the education and organization of the proletariat, who accept socialism “consciously and who even elaborate independent socialist theories. ..(who) study, study, study and turn themselves into conscious (communists), the working class intelligencia” (IBID). Identification of advanced workers is not a cut and dried process. Lenin summed up the experience of the Russian communists to give us a framework to identify the advanced. We would say they understand the class is oppressed and exploited and see beyond the narrow limits of trade unionism. They grasp the need for socialism and proletarian revolution as the only way to change these conditions. What the advanced do not have is a scientific understanding which tells them what socialism is and how we struggle to achieve it. The advanced respond to communist propaganda and agitation because it accurately reflects their class interests. It gives a comprehensive understanding of the entire society, the relationship between classes and the respective interests of each class.

Marxists-Leninists identify and win the vanguard to communism through persistence in fighting for both the immediate struggles and the long range goals of socialism. To consolidate the vanguard to communist thought and action, we must systematize propaganda and agitation, placing emphasis on the former and learning to skillfully integrate the two. Only through propaganda, the presentation of many Marxist concepts and their interrelation can the vanguard be won over to communism ideologically. Communist propaganda is aimed at the few advanced workers in order to pull them fully behind the science of Marxism. It must strive to impart an integral scientific socialist world outlook, following up all the tactical, political and theoretical problems of the communist movement. In Lenin’s words, we should strive to give every class conscious worker definite views on all important questions.

To avoid the errors of economism and sectarianism, we must grasp the dialectical relationship between the advanced, intermediate and backward strata of the working class. We must rely on the advanced to raise the political level of the intermediate and backward, and strive to promote them to a position in the vanguard. Lenin is very clear in demanding that communists strive to broaden their scope, connecting local and national phenomena with the ultimate goal of socialism. Only through the method of relying on the advanced can a true party of the US proletariat – one which is the advanced organized detachment of the working class – be built. We cannot win the working class to our side without first winning the advanced to the cause of communism.