Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The New Voice

On Our Work: Using the Second Key Point

First Published: The New Voice, Vol. VII, No. 3, February 6, 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.

The New Voice has put forward three central points of unity and struggle to help build a genuine Marxist-Leninist Communist Party in the U.S. But the Three Key Points are not only a tool for determining unity and disagreement on the left. They should also be used as a guide for our work.

With this in mind let us examine more closely the second of these three points: Make the Workers’ Struggles the Party’s Struggles; Make the Party’s Outlook the Workers’ Outlook!

Making the struggles of the working class our own means involving ourselves in the day-to-day struggles of workers. It means becoming active in the fight that follows when a cop guns down a Chicano youth; fighting for better wages and working conditions on the job; demanding, along with fellow progressives, that the U.S. government normalize relations with China; and being actively involved in struggles against racism, sexism and national minority oppression. It means taking Marxist-Leninist theory to those struggles and integrating our theory with our practical work. With much still to learn, TNV is putting this into practice– Make the Workers’ Struggles the Party’s Struggles.

The second half of the slogan perhaps deserves even closer attention. Making the Party’s Outlook the Workers’ Outlook means taking the science of Marxism-Leninism to the working class, demonstrating how it works in practice and teaching about the need for revolution. “We must actively take up the political education of the working class and the development of its political consciousness.” (Lenin, What Is To Be Done?, English edition from Peking, p. 70)

If we become active in struggles but do not take a revolutionary outlook to the working class, we are doing the working class a great disservice. Lenin, in What Is To Be Done?, points to the danger of belittling or de-emphasizing socialist ideology. In dealing with the “economists” (persons who wanted to raise only immediate wage issues and questions of labor law to the working class), Lenin pointed out time and time again that revolutionary ideology does not arise spontaneously from the struggles of the working class. The revolutionary outlook is taken to those struggles by communists, those who have become conscious of the science of Marxism-Leninism. By denying the necessity of imparting revolutionary consciousness to the working class, the “economists” were leaving workers open for more bourgeois ideology.

Even if it is not our stated purpose like that of the “economists” to limit the working class to struggles for wages and reformist mass movements, we run the continual danger of neglecting socialist ideology. The spontaneous tendency to bourgeois ideology affects communists, too. We are not sealed off from the rest of capitalist society. We may gradually let the goal of our work be changed. For example, in fighting the bureaucratic officials of trade unions we may come to see the goal as replacing the sellout officials. The main goal is to serve the rank and file and to take the revolutionary outlook to them. Or when we fight non-militant leaders in mass movements, we may tend to put forward the view that more mass struggles will win any victory. Yes, mass struggle is the only way forward, but at some point we must say that revolution is necessary for victory.

While striving to make the party’s outlook the workers’ outlook, we should not forget the need to make the workers’ struggles the party’s struggles. Marxist-Leninist theory is a guide to action, not a dogma. It is not a polished book that we admire and discuss with fellow communists like a pearl. First, we should be able to find a way to get involved in almost any struggle by the working people. We are not waiting for struggles to reach a certain level of consciousness or certain correct reform demands before we get involved. We should be able to integrate with the masses of workers. We should find ways to support what is progressive and to advocate our views, too. Marxism-Leninism can be applied to class struggles to suggest the way forward to gains in them.

So this slogan–Make the Workers’ Struggles the Party’s Struggles; Make the Party’s Outlook the Workers’ Outlook!–is worthy of study as a guide to our own work. We should carefully examine whether we are applying this key point and its lessons to our involvement in mass work. The trap of economism is all too easy to fall into; so is its reverse image, sectarianism.

Through careful examination of our work in work places, on campuses and in community struggles, we can evaluate whether or not we are falling into either trap. Are we actively involved in the struggles of the working class? If so, are we taking Marxism-Leninism to those struggles, putting forward a revolutionary outlook and winning people to communism? While uniting with the people, how do we distinguish ourselves from the honest trade union militant, one who believes that mass struggle is the way to win reforms? We must consistently point out to people that we are not going to solve our problems by reforming the capitalist system but by putting our energy into preparing for a revolution to overthrow the capitalist class and build socialism. Are we taking this message to the working class?

If the answers to all these questions are yes, then we are doing fine work. If we need improvement based on this re-evaluation, then let us begin that task.

We cannot ignore the importance of the second Key Point as a guide for our work, as well as a point of unity for building a genuine Marxist-Leninist party. The real proof of the value of the slogan will be the advances in consciousness and the reforms won as by-products of class struggles today and the eventual victory of proletarian revolution.