Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Philadelphia Workers’ Organizing Committee

Modern Revisionism: You Can Fool Some of the People Some of the Time . . . The Anti-Monopoly Coalition

First Published: The Organizer, Vol. 1, No. 4, August-September 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Quite often, what people say about themselves is contradicted by their actions. In almost every factory, office, and community there are individuals who talk a good game, who never hesitate to separate themselves from the rest of the people by telling stories of their bold and heroic actions. But somehow, when it comes time for action, they find their way to the back of the line.

The Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) is just such a braggart. It claims that it is the leading fighter for socialism in our country, the main standard bearer for the democratic and revolutionary aspirations of our people.

It maintains that it is the most rigorous defender of the rights of the working class, the national minorities and all oppressed peoples and strata. As the stalwart of the downtrodden and oppressed, and the protector of the revolutionary essence of Marxism-Leninism, the Party lays claim to being the people’s champion.

Such a champion our people do not need. In our article in last month’s Organizer, we criticized the CPUSA’s propagation of a peaceful parliamentary road to socialism.


Far from being a vehicle of revolution, the US government, with its tremendous bureaucracies, its large armies and its extensive connections to monopoly capital, is a main bulwark of counter-revolution. In order to defeat this many-tentacled monster, the working class must be prepared for armed confrontation with the bourgeoisie. And in such a confrontation, the working class will need a much stronger weapon than the ballot box!

To advocate such a path is a most criminal course. For it can lead to nothing but a repeat of the events of Chile – the slaughter of thousands of unarmed workers, peasants, and their families. All this was demonstrated in our last article.

However, the idea of a peaceful parliamentary road to socialism or “social change by peaceful means . . . within the American Constitutional framework,” as they put it in their 1969 program, has profound implications for the working class movement today. It is not just a question of what will happen in a revolutionary situation, when the question of power is posed.

The CPUSA has developed an entire strategy which is geared towards this parliamentary road, a strategy which must be fought right from the beginning if we are to prevent the sacrifice of the working class on the altar of the bourgeoisie. The Party calls this strategy “the anti-monopoly alliance” or “the anti-monopoly coalition.”


The Party’s anti-monopoly strategy calls for the formation of a broad coalition of social forces. These forces include not only the working class, national minorities and the middle strata (professionals, farmers, and intellectuals) but also small businesses which they describe in their 1969 program as “an elastic term stretching from the corner grocer to firms employing hundreds of workers.”

These social forces are to be mobilized around a “program of radical reforms” aimed at curbing the power of monopolies. Reforms calling for an end to the war policy of imperialism, an end to Pentagon domination of the government, controls on monopoly pricing and business practices, equality for national minorities and other democratic demands are all part of this perspective.

The coalition is to take shape through a combination of broad series of struggles, all directed against the monopolies. But the pivotal area for the whole struggle is the electoral arena, for these “communists” are, as they said in their 1966 Draft Program, “defenders of the Constitution in principle and practice.” The long run strategic aim is to be eventually able to assemble sufficient forces to elect “an anti-monopoly people’s government” that would implement the reform program.

It is wrong, these “communists” argue, to advocate a frontal attack on the capitalist system as a whole. Such a course, they argue, could only lead to defeat because “the strength of monopoly capitalism prevents such a policy” and “the working class and its allies are not strong enough to make such ... an attack.” Thus, they argue, the development of the US revolution must go through an anti-monopoly stage – “a stage that we cannot skip over.”


This strategy is wrong from a number of angles. First and foremost, it subordinates the struggle for socialism to the struggle for reforms. The basic needs of the working and exploited people in the United States cannot be met within the limits of monopoly capitalism.

Certainly, their are many democratic and economic reforms that can be won under capitalism and the working class does not take a neutral attitude to any reform which really betters its political or economic situation. But no reform, no matter how radical, can end the basic exploitation and oppression of the working class which is the very foundation of monopoly capitalism.

To advocate a strategy whose admitted strategic aim is the reform of monopoly capitalism is to mislead the working class. In order to build a movement which will have the consciousness and the forces to overthrow capitalism we must always and everywhere point out the systematic class exploitation that is at the root of the oppression of the working people. In addition, the absolute incapability of any strategy short of socialist revolution to end this exploitation must be exposed. This, of course, does not mean that the working class and its communist vanguard has no interest in the struggle for reforms. But for those who are conscious of the limited and circular character of this struggle, for those who really desire to lead the masses beyond the narrow reform struggle and its narrow reform consciousness to the level of revolutionary class consciousness and a struggle for socialism, it is absolutely critical that they constantly fight the illusions engendered by the reform struggle.

The Communist Party, of course, is conscious enough of this historical truth that it does play lip service to it. They do say that during the struggle for the anti-monopoly stage, they do advocate building revolutionary consciousness. However, their very strategy cannot help but make a real exposure of the reform struggle impossible (except by way of a repeat of the Chilean events.)

If your strategic aim is a reform program and a reform government, you would only be defeating your own purposes to argue that reforms will mean little in real terms to the masses of the oppressed and exploited. Either you see reforms as a byproduct of the struggle for socialism (the Marxist-Leninist view) or you see socialism as the byproduct of the struggle for reforms (revisionism). There is no middle view.


A second problem of the anti-monopoly strategy is the forces that it advocates bringing into an alliance against monopoly capitalism. No one (except the most infantile leftist) would deny the possibility of uniting the broad masses of our people in a struggle against the crippling effects of monopoly capitalism.

No one would deny either the desirability of uniting the working class, the oppressed national minorities, professionals, intellectuals and small businessmen of the corner grocery store type in a struggle for the overthrow of monopoly capitalism. However, when a “communist” advocates drawing “small and medium businessmen” (our emphasis) into such a coalition, when a “communist” makes statements like “millions of capitalists.. . can be drawn into the fight against the monopolies”, real revolutionaries sit up and take notice.

The idea that “millions of capitalists” can be drawn into a consistent fight against the influence of the monopolies on American life is the grossest absurdity. While it is true that there are contradictions between the short-run interests of the non-monopoly and monopoly sectors of the bourgeoisie, these contradictions are not antagonistic in character.

In the final analysis, all disputes between these two sectors amount to squabbles over the share of profits each will receive from the exploitation of the working class and the broad masses. Thus, while these two sectors may have disagreements at times that break into open struggle, their unity of interest in the exploitation of the working class survives.

This, of course, does not mean that the working class should ignore these differences. Certainly it would be foolish not to attempt to take advantage of the contradictions between sectors of the bourgeoisie for our own purposes. It is even important for the working class to make tactical alliances with the non-monopoly sector of the bourgeoisie when it serves to aid the working class and its allies in their struggles against monopoly capitalism.

However, we must make clear that while tactical alliances are correct and permissable, a long-range strategic alliance is not. While both the non-monopoly capitalists and the working class are objectively struggling to break the grip of monopoly capitalism over the state apparatus and over society as a whole, our ends are quite different.


The non-monopoly capitalists desire to move society backwards; they want to break up the monopolies and to decentralize economic and governmental power, because they desire to improve their competitive position.

The working class and its allies, on the other hand, have a different method for removing the power of the monopoly bourgeoisie. Far from desiring to break up the centralization of economic and political power, the working class demands its further centralization. That is, further centralization under the hands of the dictator ship of the working class and its allies. The working class desires the elimination of the bourgeoisie as a whole.

It should be clear that the long run goals of the working class and the non-monopoly bourgeoisie run at cross-purposes. But even in the short run, the struggles of the working class and this sector of the bourgeoisie are incompatable. In fact, some of the most pressing demands of the working class have greater economic consequences for the non-monopolists than for the monopolists.

In the final analysis, all disputes between these two sectors amount to squabbles over the share of profits each will receive from the exploitation of the working class and the broad masses. Thus, while these two sectors may have disagreements at times that break into open struggle, their unity of interest in the exploitation of the working class survives.

For example, the power of the monopolies gives them greater financial resources to meet wage demands. It is the non-monopoly corporations which consistently pay the lowest wages and have the worst working conditions and it is those who represent the non-monopolists in Congress that have been the most vigorous in their opposition to minimum wage laws, national health insurance and occupational safety and health legislation.

There is no struggle more critical to the working class and its allies than the struggle against racism in our society. And here again, it is the non-monopolists who have the least economic resources to meet demands for an end to racial discrimination. It is in the non-monopoly industries where the conditions of discrimination are the harshest.

To the Party’s credit though, we do have to admit that it is possible to build a long run alliance between the popular forces and the non-monopoly bourgeoisie. Such an alliance, however, would have little to offer the working class.

In order to make it, the working class would have to sacrifice such ’incidental’ struggles as the struggles for better living conditions and the struggle against racism and sexism. Such an alliance would definitely be in the service of the bourgeoisie, but hardly in the service of the working class. In fact, such an alliance presently exists in the Wallace movement!!!


One final point on the so-called anti-monopoly strategy. Because the strategy is tailored to the peaceful parliamentary path, and because the Party advocates making “clear the struggles required at all times, beginning with here and now, to establish and safeguard the prerequisites for peaceful transition”, their strategy inevitably leads to a sacrifice of the interests of the working class on the field of bourgeois legality.

The laws of the United States were and are being developed with One purpose in mind – preserve the power of the bourgeoisie in general and the privileges of its monopoly sector in particular. These laws are consciously devised to restrict, curtail and channel the flow of the class struggle. And to restrict it in such a way as to strengthen the hands of the bourgeoisie.

For this reason, the working class does not recognize the rights of bourgeois law; the working class is not a “defender of the Constitution in principle and practice.” The working class pursues whatever course is necessary to wage the class struggle. And just as this means the smashing of the entire constitutional apparatus at the time of the revolution, so it means breaking the law whenever necessary.

The entire history of the working class movement in the United States, of the Black Liberation movement, and of all popular movements against capitalist oppression proves the necessity to break free from the shackles of bourgeois legality.

Trade unions were held to be illegal for well over one hundred years in this country and still the militant and class conscious workers continued to organize. Slavery was held to be a legal institution in the United States for two hundred years and yet the downtrodden Black slaves did not hesitate to revolt.

The revisionists will be quick to answer, “Yes, but these laws were eventually overturned by the constitutional system.” No, revisionists you are wrong. These laws were overturned by the militant struggles of the working class and the Black people.

They were overturned because they could no longer be enforced without inciting a challenge to the entire bourgeois Constitutional system. It was not the great “defenders of the Constitution in principle and practice” but the defenders of the great cause of the oppressed and exploited who forced the repeal of these laws!

Thus, by striving to preserve the possibility of parliamentary transition, the Communist Party channels the working class movement into confines most advantageous to the class enemy.

It is for this reason that the CP is always trying to convert the demands of the working class into bills which are to be mired in the legislative bureaucracies of Congress. It is for this reason that these “communists” are always trying to channel working class militancy into hearings on this or that aspect of working class life. Bills and hearings may be useful in certain circumstances, but only a parliamentary cretin would place them in center stage.


It should be clear, then, that the anti-Monopoly strategy is a strategy for disaster. It is a strategy which leads to the subordination of the struggle for socialism to the struggle for reform – a strategy bound to create reformist illusions about the true character of the US imperialist system.

It is a strategy which leads to the sacrifice of the most vital working class immediate demands on the altar of the non-monopoly capitalists, a strategy offering to tie the working class to the tail of the bourgeoisie. And it is a strategy which advocates placing legalistic shackles on the hands of the workers and a ball and chain on their legs. In short – it is a strategy conceived and advocated in the interests of monopoly capital.

We do not think the working class will be fooled by this strategy. Possibly, for a short time, some people will fall for the revolutionary rhetoric of these revisionists. Perhaps some will believe the Party’s claims to revolutionary leadership of the working class. It is true, after all, that a few individuals believed Richard Nixon when he said, “I am not a crook.”