Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Workers’ Viewpoint

Blackout Sheds Light on RCP’s Chauvinism

First Published: Workers Viewpoint, Vol. 2, No. 8, September 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The recent events of the July 13 blackout in New York City forced different classes and their representatives to react. The bourgeoisie launched a frenzied campaign to brand the masses “criminals”, “animals”, and “savages”. The “Communist” Party USA showed where they stand – and their fear and hatred of the masses and revolution by editorializing: “There is nothing good about looting, whether by Con Ed or by individuals.”

The “Revolutionary Communist” Party (RCP) is no different. Long notorious for their thoroughly chauvinist line and practice, the phoney revolutionaries of the RCP once again exposed themselves.

In an article on the blackout in the August issue of “Revolution” the RCP slandered the tens of thousands of youth, workers, and entire families who participated in the spontaneous redistribution of goods throughout the oppressed nationality and working class neighborhoods of the city.

According to the RCP, the “masses had to take things into their own hands...by helping each other defend against terror like muggings and arson by lumpen elements”. But when the streets went dark on the night of July 13 there was not more, but less crime against people in the community, as even the police themselves admitted. This was plain to everybody – everybody except the RCP, that is. By speaking of the “terror” (and without once mentioning the vicious and brutal terror of the state during and after the blackout) the RCP echoes the chauvinist and racist lies of the bourgeoisie that when it is dark the masses will prey on each other.

According to the RCP, the “people in the Black and Puerto Rican neighborhoods and throughout the city were scared by the violence”. But obviously it is the self-proclaimed but sham “communists” of the RCP who were scared, because in the streets of the South Bronx, Harlem, Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant where the so-called “looting” was taking place, it was like a festival where the masses took the opportunity to take some of the necessities of life denied by the capitalist system.

According to the RCP, “cases like the looting in New York are often joined in by lumpen and criminal elements” But by focusing on and playing up the role of the lumpen the RCP peddles the bourgeois line that the actions of the masses were no different than the individual crimes of the strata of professional pimps, pushers, and robbers. And by playing up the “lumpen and criminal elements” these so-called revolutionaries not only reveal their own isolation from the masses but also, in fact, reveal that they know even less than the bourgeoisie whose statistics show that almost half of the “looters” were workers with jobs (not even counting those unemployed workers).


The power of the spontaneous motion of the oppressed masses forced the RCP to call the July 13 events “generally righteous” (mark that – “generally”).

Their half-hearted stamp of approval, the fact that they focus on the “terror” and “violence”, and on the “lumpen and criminal elements” betray that they do not and cannot stand with the masses, and indeed, by not clearly standing with the masses, condemn their actions. To the bourgeoisie it was the “Night of the Animals;” to the petty-bourgeois outlook of the RCP it was “terror and violence” – in spite of themselves, their chauvinism jumps out.


This chauvinist line is no accident. It is a continuation of the rampant chauvinism which has marked the RCP since its inception as the Revolutionary Union.

Communists, and especially those from oppressed nationalities, in the earlier period of our movement, had long ago condemned the outright chauvinism of the Revolution Union for its notorious position on the forced busing plan. They totally liquidated the special demands of the Afro-American national minority as being “divisive” and “splitting.”

Minority workers and others remember the Revolutionary Union’s slander and lies directed against the struggle for jobs and against national oppression in the construction industry.

The workers don’t forget that in the middle of a fierce and bitter fight for jobs and to defend and extend the union in both theory and practice, uniting all the workers against the state, the bosses, and the reactionary construction union misleaders, the RU was on the sidelines crying “splitting off our struggles doesn’t do us any good,” and “union busting.” They don’t forget that the RU, blinded by their chauvinism and worship of motion, praised to the skies the demonstration of thousands of construction workers at City Hall two years ago – without once mentioning (much less struggling against) the fact that the thrust of the demo (instigated by the union misleaders) was to keep minorities out of construction and to deport “aliens” – and where some even burned an effigy of a Latin worker.

They don’t forget that the RCP called this demonstration an example and inspiration to millions of workers. And while these self-avowed communists were shamefully tailing the backwards workers under the influence of bourgeois chauvinist ideology, they were openly attacking the just and correct struggle of the minority workers. By telling workers that if we take up the fight against chauvinism it will split the class, the Revolutionary Communist Party sided with the labor aristocracy, the bourgeois agents in our ranks, who pushed that “Black workers are taking away our jobs.”

It is no wonder that the “Revolutionary Communist” Party’s chauvinism has earned it the hatred of scores and scores of workers and revolutionaries of all nationalities.

It is no wonder that given its chauvinist line of liquidating the national struggle in the name of class struggle, it has virtually no influence – much less leadership – in the national movement. By crying that the special demands of oppressed nationalities are “divisive”, the “Revolutionary Communist” Party pits the national struggle against the class struggle, treacherously attempting to justify their chauvinism theoretically.

The “Revolutionary Communist” Party uses the working class movement to deny the revolutionary potential of the national movement. Their vulgar view that “all nationalism is nationalism” (as they said in Red Papers 5) in fact liquidates the revolutionary content and essence of the national question. In fact their line sabotages the development of both the national and the workers struggle.

The legacy of their chauvinism, as well as their historically incorrect lines on party-building and the role of theory, has spread around the country. And this has left the “Revolutionary Communist” Party like “dried, beached fish.”

After ramming into a wall and getting booted out of the workers movement, and haunted by its total isolation in the national movement, the “Revolutionary Communist” Party has recently taken to all sorts of desperate flipping to prolong its life.

Thus from yesterday denouncing the organization and struggle of the minority construction workers, the “Revolutionary Communist” Party today has shamelessly asked(after watching them grow and flourish) to be admitted to the exact same organization and struggle. Thus from yesterday holding the position that the African Liberation Support Committee was a thoroughly reactionary bourgeois nationalist formation, it today has put together a bogus coalition around this year’s African Liberation Day and continues – along with the notorious careerist elements in the “Revolutionary” Workers Congress to engage in all sorts of self-serving and counter-revolutionary manuevering to try to wreck the ALSC.

This 180 degree flip-flop expresses the same instability of principle which led them to reverse the verdict on the role of Soviet Social imperialism – dropping their opposition to both superpowers in southern Africa and around the world for ten months, and just as readily picked it up again when trying to get into the ALSC.

The example of their position on the TV movie ROOTS again reveals their complete about-face. From their previously 1iquidationist position on the national question they flipped to singing endless praises to ROOTS – calling it a “great contribution”.

In the vain hope that it will increase its influence in the Afro-American national movement the “Revolutionary Communist” Party hails this gross distortion of the Afro-American people’s history of struggle, packaged in the form of an above-class pride in one’s “roots”. While ROOTS pushed the sinister themes of bourgeois democratic illusions and nonviolence, the petty-bourgeois nationalism of “hate whitey” and “like sticks to like” and an elitist disdain for the masses. The “Revolutionary Communist” Party called this “a powerful force in fighting some long standing myths about slavery”.

But aside from this chauvinist line which trumpets to the sky this, the bourgeoisie’s slicker and more advanced piece of counter-revolutionary propaganda, the “Revolutionary Communist” Party’s analysis of ROOTS also reveal their total isolation from the Afro-American masses.

It writes that ROOTS “refutes the modern and scientific myths of the Black family and Black people (like the Moynihan Report written by the New York Senator), which portrays Blacks as having no family feelings or ties.” The fact that the “Revolutionary Communist” Party feels it must polemicize against the Moynihan Report reflects more on what the “Revolutionary Communist” Party is thinking than anything else. Just as the “Revolutionary Communist” Party substituted its own fears when it said in their article on the blackout that the “masses were scared”, so too they are substituting their own view of reality when they say that “ROOTS refutes ... Blacks having no family feelings or ties.” The Afro American masses were never taken in by Moynihan’s blatantly chauvinist trash. And yet these impostors claim to be the spokespersons for the Afro American masses.

This again is the same “Revolutionary Communist” Party chauvinism which jumped out – in spite of themselves – in calling the masses “lumpen” and “criminal elements”. It is the same deep-seated chauvinism which has been the historical characteristic of the “Revolutionary Communist” Party and the same chauvinism, though in different form, as they desperately maneuver in their attempt to acquire influence in the national movement.